New York is unarguably one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It is famous for its cultural diversity, fast paced lifestyle and numerous entertainment options. Visitors walk the streets with stars in their eyes, as the skyscrapers and lights consume them. There isn’t a lack of popular sites in NYC, landmarks like the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty are iconic for the concrete jungle. But lets forget about the famous and over-exposed sites for a minute, and explore a few hidden gems in New York that deserve equal attention and praise.
1. Stone Street
To me, Stone Street is the heart of the Financial District. This centuries-old pathway recalls the magic and ambience of nineteenth century New York, and is home to an international mix of restaurants and bars. Located right next to the Goldman Sachs building, with skyscrapers towering over it, Stone Street stands out as foreign and uncharacteristically charming for its neighborhood. You will feel as if you walked in to a small side street in Barcelona, or Rome, rather than in New York City. The narrow, cobblestone alley includes the swath of land between Hanover Square and Stone, Pearl and South William Streets and during the warmer months, umbrella-topped tables fill the narrow, pedestrian-only street. Seating from one restaurant flows right into the next, and the atmosphere is priceless. You can enjoy Swedish meatballs at the Scandinavian restaurant, Smorgas Chef; on the weekends you can eat all you want at Greek-Irish pub Ulysses, for only $40; delicious Mexican food at Mad Dog and Beans; or try the gourmet pizza at Adrienne’s Pizza Bar.
2. The Brooklyn Flea Market
Brooklyn is only a hop and a skip away from Manhattan, and the borough has so much to offer. The Brooklyn Flea Market offers a great mix of art, clothing, and not to mention food vendors on a different level! From April through Thanksgiving, the markets take place outdoors: on Saturdays in Fort Greene and on Sundays in Williamsburg. From Thanksgiving through March, the market moves indoors to Skylight One Hanson, an event space in the landmark former Williamsburgh Savings Bank. And every summer you can find Flea food vendors at the Central Park SummerStage outdoor concert series, where the Flea operates the food and beverage concession. I would recommend the Williamsburg market on Sundays, as it located on the waterfront between North 6th and North 7th street, just south of East River State Park and it features a mix of vintage, antique and handmade stuff + the food is worth the trip even if you end up leaving empty handed – your belly will be full and satisfied. The gorgeous skyline view doesn’t hurt either.
The New York Times called the Flea “One of the great urban experiences in New York”; Travel + Leisure, Country Living, Budget Travel, and Fodor’s have ranked the Flea one of the best markets or antiques shows in the U.S. and the world; and Time Out NY named the Flea one of New York’s Essential Pick-Up Spots.
Williamsburg is known as “hipster heaven,” and it is by far my favorite place in Brooklyn. It is divided into two sides (North and South), and the area has undergone a massive transformation in the past 15 years. It’s hard to imagine that it was once a largely industrial landscape spotted with modest housing for the immigrants who worked in its factories. Williamsburg has become an eclectic mix of renovated luxury loft buildings, art galleries, breweries, indie and vintage shops and top class eateries all geared toward the artistic, music-loving, vintage-clad hipsters that now populate the local streets. Rest assured, you do not have to be a hipster to love Williamsburg. It is a laid back area, filled with awesome boutique shops, cafees, restaurants and surf lodges and you’ll get great food at fair prices. A WB visit is a refreshing change from the hectic and somewhat high-strung Manhattan environment.
4. The Highline Park
The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and was founded in 1999 by community residents. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a beautiful summer day in New York with good friends. The High Line is open from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily and access to the park is possible via any of the access points listed below:
5. Hudson River Park
Hudson River Park is a waterside park on the Hudson River that runs through the Manhattan neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan, Battery Park City, Tribeca, Greenwich Village, Gansevoort Market/Meatpacking District, Chelsea, Midtwown West and Hell’s Kitchen (from 59th Street south to Battery Park). Bicycle and pedestrian paths span the park north to south, opening up the waterfront for a good time for every taste, with tennis and soccer fields, batting cages, children’s playgrounds, dog parks, recreational piers, and lots of other fun features. This is an awesome place to go for a jog, bike ride, rollerblade, powerwalk, or a stroll (whatever floats your boat), or simply bring a blanket and some food and enjoy a picnic with good friends.
6. HBO Film Festival in Bryant Park
The Bryant Park Film Festival has become a summer tradition in New York, and inspired other outdoor movie screenings all over Manhattan and other boroughs. You can choose from recent blockbusters, classic movies, indie films, and cartoons. All films begin at dusk (usually between 8 pm and 9 pm), but the lawn opens at 5 pm for blankets and picnicking. Just a tip: You’re better off arriving early, anytime before 6 should be fine but after that the place gets pretty packed. Don’t forget to bring food and snacks, and enjoy a movie night outdoors right in the heart of the greatest city in the world!
Visit this site to find out when the movie festival starts, and which movies are screening this year: http://www.bryantpark.org/plan-your-visit/filmfestival.html