NYC not for tourists
October 18, 2009 7:33 AM   Subscribe

If you only had one year left before moving out of New York City, what would you make sure to see and do before leaving?

I'm looking for tips on shows, shopping, music, tours, parades, expos, festivals, restaurants, exhibitions, food carts, bars, activities, green spaces, hidden gems--anything else that's unique to this city. Let's say prices are not a concern.
posted by HotPatatta to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
Visit: Highline Park, Queens Biergarten, Riis Landing, Wall Street on a Saturday morning, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, Greenmarket at Union Sq, top of the ESB, the Cloisters (museum, not restaurant), the Intrepid, the Brooklyn Superhero Store (aka 826nyc).

See: Avenue Q on/off bway, taping of The Daily Show and/or Colbert Report, Shakespeare in the Park, at least one improv/stand-up show in some shithole basement theatre in the East Village (I like the Improv Chompetition at Identity but there are many) and... a small shout out to The Whelk, consider a Dr. Sketchy's sitting (though I understand they aren't a NY only pheonmenon).

Eat: (if you really mean price is no object) Gordon Ramsay at the London, a Banh mi from the sketchy CD/DVD shop at Lafayette & Walker, a Gyro from a stand on 52nd St near 6th ave, Mercadito in the East Village.

Drink: Death & Company, Little Branch, the Russian Vodka Room, Rudy's on a weeknight til 4am.
posted by abulafa at 8:02 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

You have to eat a pizza at Di Fara. But be prepared to wait - Mr de Marco makes every pizza by hand himself.

Also, take a walk over to Tudor City on the east side between 43rd and 40th Sts and First Ave, sit in one of the Greens which is open to the public (one is private for residents) and enjoy the quiet and calm just a stone's throw from the madness of midtown Manhattan.
posted by essexjan at 8:04 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

In addition to Avenue Q, which is quite good, I'd see a bunch of off Broadway shows at some of the smaller downtown theaters. The one theater with which I am rather familiar, because its director is a friend, is the Rattestick Theater.
posted by dfriedman at 8:25 AM on October 18, 2009

I would get over to Governor's Island and spend part of a day, just walking around and seeing Manhattan and Brooklyn from different perspectives, plus soak in a lot of history of the area while there.
posted by Danf at 8:36 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh right - and Fornino in Brooklyn for pizza. And do the ESB on a weekday too - especially in the evening for the sunset - touristy maybe but still an incredible view.
posted by abulafa at 8:37 AM on October 18, 2009

Take the tram from 60th & 2nd to Roosevelt Island and back.
posted by agentwills at 8:53 AM on October 18, 2009

The north end of Central Park is vastly underappreciated and definitely tourist-lite.
posted by gaspode at 8:55 AM on October 18, 2009

Me, I would go to Arthur Kill road and see the ship graveyard. It was most excellent.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:03 AM on October 18, 2009

Since cost is no object, you say, I'd make sure to hit up the swanky, iconic restaurants and bars that are way out of my everyday budget: the Campbell Apartment in GCT, the Rainbow Room, the Central Park Boathouse, 11 Madison Park, the Four Seasons, the Modern, etc. (Honestly, that list is way longer, but you get the idea.)

Theater would be a big part of it for me, too. I'd see all the shows nominated for best play and best musical at the Tonys, and I'd see as much Shakespeare and Chekhov as possible (my two favorite playwrights, whose plays are often very well performed here). The play I'd see right now (and I fully intend to) is The Emperor Jones at Irish Rep.

I'd go to every party I was invited to, and would throw some parties myself. I'd make an effort to explore downtown (which I haven't really done yet), and to check out some museums that I've wanted to visit but haven't yet (Transit Museum, Tenement Museum, el Museo del Barrio), and return to my favorites (Metropolitan Museum, New-York Historical Society, the Frick).

I'd get good seats at the Metropolitan Opera for a show that I really love, instead of the $15 nosebleeds I usually do.

I'd go ice skating in Central Park (at Lasker and Wollman), and visit all the cool things in parks and parklike places that I haven't yet seen: the Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Puppet Shows in Central Park, the Central Park Zoo, etc. I'd visit Governor's Island for Figment, Roosevelt Island for the 4th of July, Liberty Island to go to the top of the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island for the museum there.

And none of this includes things like performing or showing art, but I imagine those things are more particular to me, and wouldn't transfer as easily to another person.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:23 AM on October 18, 2009

Subscribe to notfortourists on twitter?
posted by gaspode at 9:28 AM on October 18, 2009

Go to Babbo. My all-time favorite restaurant and have the pasta tasting menu with the wine tasting.

Check out Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations: The Outer Boroughs episode and go to a few of the places he went.
posted by hazyspring at 9:44 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ride the Cyclone!
posted by SisterHavana at 10:28 AM on October 18, 2009

Essential NYC food carts:
Dosa Man
Biryani Cart
El Rey del Sabor : Multiple locations
Red Hook Ball Field Food Trucks
posted by kmtiszen at 11:44 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Rather than going out in some convenient place with friends, I'd go to their hoods and see what it's like. Or take the subway and get off at a random stop and wander around--I've discovered some really amazing things doing this. Or ride a bus line from one end to the other and see what you see.

I prefer Top of the Rock to the ESB, partly because you can see the ESB from there.

Me, personally: I'd take the Staten Island Ferry at night. I'd sit on the bleachers in Times Square and marvel at the people. I'd go to Panna II at least twice. I'd walk around right before dawn and watch the city come alive. I'd see every show I could get tickets to. I'd go to the street fairs and farmers markets. I'd go to the Transit and Tenement Museums and Ellis Island, the Museum of Television and Radio and the United Nations. I'd go back to my old neighborhoods and see what's changed.

I'd take a lot of cabs and talk to a lot of strangers and try to have a lot of "only in New York" moments.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:46 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some suggestions from someone who is on a budget (and whose life apparently revolves around long walks, and food):

-Go see a Bollywood movie in Jackson Heights, maybe at the Eagle Theater (not fancy, but definitely unique). Consider getting dinner after, since the area is renowned for its food (Jackson Diner is pretty good, and on the way to the train).

-Stroll along the Coney Island Boardwalk in winter, and maybe strike up a chat with the guys fishing off the pier. Get some hearty Russian food in Brighton Beach, before heading home. In the summer, try to hit up a Cyclones game, and consider either the Mermaid Parade or the Siren Festival.

-Go to the Cloisters in the spring, when the gardens are blooming. Take a stroll through Fort Tryon Park. Other parks you might like: Prospect Park is always great, Inwood Hill Park has a primordial forest (and hiking), Pelham Bay Park is the city's largest. Green-Wood Cemetery isn't a park, but is one of the most beautiful historic graveyards you'll ever see.

-Hit up as many outdoor summer concerts as you can. Gather a big group of friends, a picnic basket, and some board games, and wait outside the Delacorte for Shakespeare in the Park tickets. Kayak the Hudson River.

-Go on a Working Harbor tour (

-Consider signing up for the Nonsense NYC list, which provides a weekly e-mai detailing some of the odder goings on.

-Take a walk through Chinatown. The area close to the East River is significantly different from the touristy area by Canal Street. That said, the Chinatown Ice Cream factory, in the touristy part, is definitely worth a visit (try the black sesame).

-Go to Ess-A-Bagel on 1st Avenue and 21st Street. Ask for whatever's warm, get it with cream cheese.

-If you want something on the pricey, and next-to-impossible end of things, see if you can get a seat at Rao's. Always wanted to try that.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:53 PM on October 18, 2009 [5 favorites]

er, "on the next-to-impossible end of things"
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:54 PM on October 18, 2009

Have you ever run a marathon? Consider starting your training now and making next November's NYC marathon your first.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:56 PM on October 19, 2009

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