Off the beaten path
If you have ever visited Manhattan, you have most likely experienced the popular, touristy (and overcrowded) main points of interest. If you have seen the must-do's, including the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, 5th Avenue Shopping, the 9/11 Memorial, and are looking for new trails to blaze, this post can give you a sampling of some of the best things to do. New York City has such a wide variety of things to do and see, and this list provides some hidden gems I have discovered. Come rested, hungry, ready to shop, and ready to take in all the wonderful things this city has to offer!
This blog post is designed to take to you "off the beaten path" and to offer some alternative places to see, experience, and dine. Between countless visits, and splitting my time between NYC and Nashville for the past 2 years, I have the perfect list of suggestions for you to experience at a decent price point. These suggestions give a slower paced, quaint, and more intimate experience of the greatest city in the world. As I always say, “Besides snow skiing, you can literally do anything you can name in NYC, all within walking distance or a quick train ride away”. From trapeze school, to writing classes, boating, kayaking, enjoying a quiet spot in a park, experiencing a different cuisine every night of the week, or shopping in trendy shops, NYC has it all. These are a few of my personal favorites, and I hope you take the time to check them out, and enjoy them as much as I have!
Our first stop is to caffeine up for ouradventure, at an amazing little coffee shop called Kaffe 1668. With 2 locations, one in SOHO and one in Tribeca, Kaffe 1668 has an amazing array of fresh juices, salads, sandwiches, and of course, the most delicious coffee in the city. They serve, what is, in my opinion, the best almond latte in the U.S. The atmosphere is quaint and cozy, and small fluffy wooden sheep decorate the walls. This is also a wonderful stoop for a mid morning snack, or a quick grab-and-go lunch.
Next we will head North to Chelsea to stroll the High Line. This old abandoned railroad, turned art-deco decorated walking path, is a beautiful (and free) way to spend an afternoon. Start on the South end and work your way North, giving yourself a good hour to an hour and a half to enjoy the scenery. If you have time, stop and walk down below to Chelsea Market, where you can dine at one of many delicious restaurants and also check out their shops which include consignment clothing, art, gourmet foods, and souvenirs.
If you are looking for a refreshing and healthy juice option in the city, check out Juice Press. With three locations, Tribeca, SOHO, and East Village, the Juice Press offers a rainbow assortment of different juices. My personal favorites are the Tumeric Power Blend, the OMG green juice, and if you are brave and needing an immune boost, the Ginger Fireball is a must (it completely cured a bad cold I had once). Its a quick and easy way to get in your vitamins and nutrients for the day, and their juices are organic, yummy, fresh, and made daily.
For an amazing way to get in a great cardio workout, and work up a sweat while you are here, definitely catch a SOULCYCLE Class. You can download the free SOULCYCLE app, and sign up for your class and bike here. SOUL CYCLE offers many locations throughout Manhattan. Be sure to sign up early, as most classes fill up. You will sweat like a maniac, burn off any anxieties, and find a power inside of you never knew you had. These classes are intense, but so rewarding physically, mentally, and emotionally. Its one of the best cardio workouts you will ever experience! My favorite location is the Tribeca location, and definitely sign up with Bevin as your instructor! She is rad and will kick your butt!! Each location provides showers, hair dryers, and toiletries if you need to get ready after a class. You will feel like Beyonce, and like you can take on the world after you are done!
Fancy bike riding, and want a casual and scenic experience of Manhattan, definitely rent a bike from one of many CITI BIKE kiosks on the South End of town (Financial District or Tribeca) and ride North on the HUDSON RIVER BIKE PATH. This is a great way to get exercise, and see beautiful sky lines of the city. You can always dock your bike, walk around and check out any given area, then hop back on for the remainder of your ride. Bike rentals are for 12 or 24 hours, so you have plenty of time to leisurely ride and see the sights! This is a really fun way to explore the west side of the Manhattan, with amazing skyline views.
If you are near the Financial District or the WTC, definitely check out Brookfield Place, a beautiful and upscale indoor mall, featuring designer stores such as Babesta, Lululemon, Salvatore Ferragamo, Warby Parker, and a brand new French Market, Le District, where you can purchase crepes, pastries, deli items, candies, groceries, and French noveltiesto go. On the second floor is a gourmet food court, with cuisine including BBQ, Cambodian, Japanese, and organic farm to table foods, and definitely don't forget to grab a Sprinkles cupcake on your way out.
Choosing a restaurant in NYC can be overwhelming, so if you are looking for a great spot to have a nice solo dinner, with that special someone, or with a group of friends, the David Burke Kitchen is a great option. Located in the James Hotel, in the SOHO district, this restaurant is in a prime locationIf the weather is nice, as to be seated on their rooftop “Garden” patio, and enjoy the sunset over SOHO. This restaurant offers an edgy, colorful, calm atmosphere, and decadent food and drinks. Definitely try the lobster toast, “canned” vegetables, and for a main dish, the Goffle Road Farm Chicken Breast.
After dinner, I highly suggest grabbing a nightcap at the Grand Banks oyster bar. Located on an old remodeled wooden schooner, this floating restaurant and cocktail bar (which does not set sail, but stays stationary at Pier 25) is truly an experience. Offering beautiful views of the skyline (especially at night), and providing a unique and fun atmosphere, it was voted one of the best outdoor restaurants in the city. The head chef uses herbs grown in hisherb garden, located on the front of the ship, and great detail is given to sustainability and proper harvesting of the oysters and food they serve.
If beer is your muse, make sure to visit McSorley’s Old Ale House, a 162 year old pub located in NOHO. This is the oldest bar in Manhattan, serving only two kinds of beer: dark and light. It is cash only, and the floor is covered in sawdust, just like it was when it opened in 1854. This is an historical pub, with several US Presidents having imbibed here, including Abe Lincoln and JFK, and which first opened its doors to include women in the year 1970. It's a cozy little watering hole, with relics and artifacts decorating the pub from as early as when its doors first opened. If you love history and beer, this is a must do on your visit to Manhattan.
Last but not least, a free and scenic excursion: walking the Brooklyn Bridge. As you take the 20-30 minute walk from one side to the other, you will get the best views of the skyline that the city has to offer. Take your time, and for a real treat, go at night, and see the Big Apple lit up in all its splendor. This is an iconic, historic, and awe-inspiring attraction that comes highly recommended.
These are a few of my favorite sights, shops, and eats in the Big Apple. If you ever go to NYC for an experience beyond the “main attractions”, I hope you will consider checking out some of my suggestions listed. They promise not to disappoint, and they offer a NYC experience “off the beaten path”. NYC is the greatest city on Earth, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!