New York for the Young
August 22, 2009 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Help planning a 5 Day trip to NYC - Do you know of any secret delights that New York City has to offer? I need recommendations/advice on everything from where to stay to where to go. Much more details inside.

Just to spark some ideas, I'm a twenty year old single british male traveller who has clich├ęd hipster young adult interests like: music (open mic, gigs, records), antique fairs, flea markets, good cheap vintage/secondhand clothes, coffee shops, cheap carnivorous food, literature, art, film as well as all the usual tourist traps (brooklyn bridge, statue of liberty, modern art museum etc).

I'm very much boggled by my research, NYC is huge and I don't know where to stay which is relatively cheap ($80 a night would be pushing it) and in a good location to get to all the areas. I know the US hasn't got the travellers mentality to hostels, so any recommendations would be excellent.

Would be great if someone could tell me if there is a sightseeing tour which can hit most of the tourist spots leaving more time to do the more unique, quirky stuff. I've been told the Lower East Side and Williamsburg are all good places to spend some time.

Remember the cheaper the better and bearing in mind I'm not of drinking age, so alternatives for night life would be really great.
posted by ashaw to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
i stayed at the Carlton Arms after reading about it on MetaFilter. i highly recommend it. it's like a high-end hostel/low-end hotel. for a single person with shared bathroom, it's $80 per night. it's an awesome place - quirky and interesting, and only two blocks from the subway. when i go back to NYC, i'll stay there again.

if you're overwhelmed by all of the things you want to see, make a list of places you want to go/things you want to see, and then map them out on Google maps. i did this and it allowed me to hit a bunch of different things all in one day - and it prevented me from going back and forth on the subway. the only thing you have to be careful about is checking when things are open (i.e. MoMA is closed on Tuesdays) so you don't plan for it when it's not doable.

hope that helps a bit! have fun - NYC is awesome.
posted by gursky at 9:30 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've heard decent things about the Jazz Hostels. For convenience to the areas you are interested in, the best ones would be On the City or On Times Square (which isn't exactly on Times Square, but in the vicinity... and that's really better). There's also the Chelsea International Hostel, which is in a great location and very convenient to public transportation. I've never stayed in any of these place, but I know people who have, and haven't heard any horror stories.
posted by kimdog at 9:33 AM on August 22, 2009

You can priceline a 3 star hotel for around $90 if you'd like to stay in a nicer place. visit and check out the nyc forums for the going rates. have a great time!
posted by citystalk at 9:41 AM on August 22, 2009

I've recommended Barbes in Brooklyn on here a couple of times --- awesome music venue if you're at all into jazz, and very affordable.
posted by puckish at 10:00 AM on August 22, 2009

Best answer: Time Out NY will help plan specific events related to category (art, film, food, etc).
Oh My Rockness will help pick out music events that will be happening in the nyc area and cover large and small venues. (I recommend standards like mercury lounge and bowery ballroom).

There are lots of vintage/second-hand stores scattered around the city, but if you go over to Ave B and C between like 8th and 14th street there are a few there (at least last time I was there which admittedly was a while ago). Screaming Mimi's is also popular and Andy's Chee-Pees, those are closer to NYU.

If you want free art, go online and search for chelsea art galleries and pick a small handful. They're free, contemporary and there are so many you don't have have to stick to your list. You can just stop in and see anything that sounds interesting.

Catch a flick at the Angelika for something to do at night that doesn't involve drinking.

I hope the sites above help with picking activities.
posted by getmetoSF at 10:37 AM on August 22, 2009

Response by poster: Excellent Hostel suggestions, love the Jazz Hostels. Any recommendations in the other nightlife, shopping, market areas?
posted by ashaw at 10:38 AM on August 22, 2009

Hmm with my experience (i live on long island) no better way then just wandering around. As long as you have a subway map you should be ok .
posted by majortom1981 at 10:47 AM on August 22, 2009

Jazz Hostels, absolutely. I stayed at Jazz on Lenox a few weeks ago, and payed $17 a night, plus tax. Sooooo cheap. It's not a fancy place, but it's simple and clean, and they make pancakes in the morning. Lots of french speakers when I was there. That hostel is in Harlem, the others further downtown are more expensive.

Make sure you ride the Staten Island Ferry at sunset. It's free and wonderful.
posted by Sfving at 11:00 AM on August 22, 2009

Best answer: Most of the sightseeing stuff is probably kind of meh for someone your age and inclinations. You're young, get out there and walk around and see the city! Chinatown is a can't miss and little Italy is sandwiched in there too. Take the subway down to Canal Street (NRW or 6 reccomended) then walk north/north east for a while. You will pass a bunch of chinatown stuff on Canal and slightly north before going through Little Italy. Lots of street food in Little Italy too.

I reccomend buying some cheap vegetables, mystery meat items, and a hilarious knockoff in Chinatown. If you keep going north to Houston but stay to the east by the Bowery, you hit the real hipster areas where you can get a tea made by Moby or buy $400 jeans. Just north of Houston on the Bowery is Bowery Poetry Club which has open mics, whatever it is rap artists are calling small shows these days, etc., usually for around $5 and all ages. Often quite bad but that can be fun too- buy a zine while you're there for that "I'm too good for this' look.

On another day make sure to check out the West Village (head to West 4th subway stop and go down to bleeker, then West) for the best record stores. Generation Records and Bleeker Music are generally well-regarded. In the West Village you will also find a lot of shit for sale on the street, including records. Go to this gelato shop and lay down a tenner for kumquat whiskey gelato (I am pretty sure all ages can partake). It's great.

Hope you liked this quick tour of things I loved when I was young in NYC.
posted by shownomercy at 11:00 AM on August 22, 2009

Check out this free stuff ...not sure of your dates but there are always cheap/free activities. And awesome museums!
Fun comedy...not sure if you have to be 21.
Don't forget to visit Central's beautiful, a great way to watch people and catch some random sketches.
Union Square has a fun outdoor market on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - fun area to hang out as well.
Bowery Ballroom and Webster Hall sometimes have great concerts and you can be under 21 to get in.
There is a ton to do and you will be able to see and experience a lot in your 5 days. Let me know if you'd like any more info.
posted by Cuddo at 12:06 PM on August 22, 2009

I love barbes, great bar, great music. Their website is here, though their calendar doesn't seem to be up. I'm sure if you emailed them they could tell you what's going on.

If you're looking for music, another great venue is Arlene's Grocery, in the lower east side. And, of course, Time Out NY and the Village Voice are good resources for the other 100s of events (musical and otherwise) around the city.
posted by deliquescent at 12:12 PM on August 22, 2009

Go to Williamsburg for nightlife. You can do the lower east side, but it's mostly bridge and tunnel. If you want true hipster havens, go over the bridge into brooklyn. Better yet, there's a hostel there, looks like $49 a night right on Bedford Ave, the main strip. I just found that on Craigslist under vacation rentals. There are probably more options available on Craigslist if you don't like the sound of that one.

You can always subway it to the museums and touristy things during the day, W'burg is 5 minutes on the train, which you would likely be taking anyway, no matter where you stay,

It would be better to be sleeping close to where you're gonna want to be partying, and thats w'burg, you hipster, you.
posted by newpotato at 2:46 PM on August 22, 2009

Go to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.
posted by telegraph at 3:58 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

No one seems to have pointed out yet that the drinking age is 21 and most places that you're going to want to hang out at are going to card you. Specifically neighborhoods where college age kids hang out like Williamsburg and anywhere in the East Village/Lower East Side. Barbes may be a good option if you just want to watch music and I would also try the Bell House in Brooklyn.
posted by Unred at 3:58 PM on August 22, 2009

There's a hostel run by Hostelling International at 103d and Amsterdam where I stayed on my first trip to New York. Even if you don't stay there, I strongly recommend Jerry's Grand Tour as an introduction to the variety of experiences available in NYC. It's sixteen hours long, so wear comfortable shoes and bring a snack.
posted by tellumo at 4:16 PM on August 22, 2009

If you really want to see the out-of-the-way New York, get out of Manhattan. Go to Flushing or Elmhurst, in Queens, for amazing restaurants of every stripe and persuasion. Go out to Brooklyn's 5th Avenue and nearby Prospect Heights: great bars, great restaurants, great walking (nthing Barbes). There's also the Brooklyn Flea market. Walk down to the Gowanus Canal. Brooklyn's Chinatown, up on 8th Avenue, in Sunset Park, offers as much as its Manhattan counterpart without the clotted sidewalks. There are some amazing Italian bakeries and restaurants on Court Street. Williamsburg is the new East Village, and is worth checking out. Go to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and wander around the huge ballfields and wooded paths. And back here in Manhattan, Fort Tryon is a beautiful park tucked away near the uppermost point of Manhattan and includes the Cloisters, the Met museum's medieval annex.

I hope you're coming during the fall, in my view the best time of year here in NYC.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:09 PM on August 22, 2009

the high line
posted by nanhey at 8:30 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get off the big island (Manhattan) and visit smaller islands.
posted by paulsc at 12:41 AM on August 23, 2009

if you want some good food (italian) check out Via Emilia -- its a place i found via ask metafilter, and was great

but it is cash only...just as a heads up
posted by knockoutking at 9:53 PM on August 23, 2009

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