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New York in the summer….tourists, Times Square, Central Park, Fifth Avenue. Although these are all great ways to follow Hollywood’s trail of most famous landmarks and spots – I know it well, my local friend, bless her, took me to the very spot in Central park where one of the characters of Gossip Girl used to go to feed the ducks, I can’t remember the name of the actress or the place, that is how much it mattered to me.
New York is the center of creativity, innovation and crazy ideas. Let the city swallow you into a world of history, fascinating stories, great parks and examples of out-of-the-box thinking in these few fabulous ideas.
Nobody does living life to the fullest like New York City
It may sound crazy but New Yorkers know it best when it comes to working hard and playing hard. A new trend as started to let yourself lose before going to work. Daybreaker organizes early morning parties, from 6am to 9am, where parti-goers let some steam off before heading to work in a healthy and pure environment. Put on your fancy gym clothes, your trainers, grab your coconut water and head to one of their venues for an early morning dance party to burn some calories in style.
Although no longer a novelty but more of a well-established destination, the High Line always has something to keep one coming back.
An elevated park build along the old train tracks it offers regular music performances, shopping, food, drinks and evenings out in the summer. Walk along it entirety for the full experience and make sure to chill with a book on one of the sun beds along 14th street. There are cooling water fountains to deep your feet into. Check the various seasonal activities like Tai Chi, Meditation or Star Gazing.
Located by the Williamsburg Bridge, the Tenement Museum provides an insight into the lives of the immigrants who arrived in the US in the 19th Century. A variety of tours are in offer including tours of the shops in the area.
A famous Harlem landmark, the Apollo Theater is steeped in history. First opened in 1914 as an all-whites theater, it then closed and reopened in 1934 as a place to showcase African American talent. It was billed as the place where “Stars are born and legends are made”.
Although not unknown to tourists, the Apollo Theater receives 1,3 million visitors a year, it is a worthy visit to understand African American history and struggles. The theater offers tours once or twice daily, depending on the day of the week.
An area dating back to the 17th Century Williamsburg, today, is the center of the hipster community in New York City. Expect funky cafes, pop-up food markets, alternative designer shops and a melting pot of cultures as the previous residents of the area blend in with the new wave of gentrification. Spend the day at the flea market (on the weekend) and then wander around the main streets for second hand finds, great coffee, brunch, sex shops, record stores, parks (there is even a tiny stretch of beach facing Manhattan), visit the Brooklyn Brewery for a tour, and all-round hipster life. You may want to catch an independent movie at Nitehawk Cinema
A pretty market in one of the busiest parts of Mid-Town. Union Square is nice on it own but even better on the four days a week when the local farmer’s market, Greenmarket, is on. Expect to buy organic and local food and, even if you are not in for grocery shopping, there are food stalls and the general people-watching opportunities.
The renovated Courtyard, a New York institution, is the best place for a decadent tea and a dose of opulence. Have a cocktail, a premium luxury Grand Cuve tea and their fabulous scones, lemon curd and pastries. You can read my review here. And if you are looking for more affordable places to eat in the city, head out to Tales from a Fork.
If you want a romantic take on the park an afternoon paddling along the lakes on Central Park is a regular of the city’s romantic comedy movie scenes. Pass time in the lush, green surroundings. Enter through the Upper West Side and look for the lake.
Not keen on a boat but more on touring all of the park’s famous spots (bar the Gossip Girl duck feeding spot trust me), you could feel like Carrie in Sex and the City and ride a horse drawn carriage, or you could join a Central Park pedicab tour and avoid the horse smell, the poop and get a side of humour and history thrown in for good measure. You can book one for as long or as short as you want and ask to be taken to the spots you want to visit and make stops for photo ops.
New York only goes to sleep when the sun comes up. If you wander around at 6am, just before summer sunrise, the city looks like it has not gone to bed yet but as soon as the first sun rays come up the night life disappears and vampires return to their coffins. It is the only time of the day when Times Square will be all to yourself, well worth the early start (or late finishing).
Every Saturday at 7,30pm there are tango lessons on Central Park. Tango aficionados gather from 6-9pm every Saturday looking for a partner to practice. Arrive, look for a partner and dance for four songs before swapping partner. Tango music plays in the background. If you are not brave enough to join in, watching is mesmerizing.
On Saturday mornings, wander around Washington Square for lie performances and piano music, live. Bring a book and a coffee and enjoy the beautiful music and show.
A hidden gem and the largest collection of Tibetan Art in the world. Come here for a guided tour or a self-guided one. On Friday night, there is live music in the Museum and free entry after 6pm. Art from Tibet, China, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bhutan find a home under this Museum focused on the art element of Tibetan culture. Volunteer guides can be found around ready to provide details on the beautiful works on display.
Wander around this refurbished warehouse filled with alternative designer shop, clothes stores and lots of bars and restaurants for a drink. Come in the evening.
Just like in the movies, all the people you see sitting at the backbenches in the Courts as cases are dealt are regular people. Anybody can go to the Night Courts and hear the judges pass decisions. A truly fascinating evening out.
What more fashionable way to go to the airport than on an helicopter? Gotham Services is the Uber of heli trips. Start your trip and once the helicopter fills your trip is guaranteed. The best part, no traffic in the skies so the one hour trip is cut down to just six minutes to Gotham’s helipad. The seats go for $220 each when full. Bring carry on only.
New York is a foodies’ paradise. Almost every single cuisine is represented in one of the many neighborhoods. For a tour with a dash of history and soul, join one of the walking Soul Food tours of Harlem. Expect buttery biscuits, waffles with bacon, prawns, eggs and fried chicken. Yum!
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