New York City Travel Guide

New York City Travel Guide

Fifteen-course tasting menus, the rarest vintage clothes, exotic cocktails, panoramic views from above and unexpected waterfront pleasures. This is New York City, where hundreds of years of ambition, concrete and American dreams have culminated in a city where there’s so much to do that it became famous for never sleeping. The city is quite literally packed with things to see and do — all in a compact space that gives the impression of a never-ending pavement of skyscrapers. If planned correctly, New York City can still provide those quirky, tourist-obligated experiences, but also elevate the everyday with local flavour and off-the-beaten-path finds. If you’re in search of a definitive New York City travel guide, you’ve come to the right place.

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The best hotels in New York City

Ace Hotel is affordable without sacrificing anything that appeals to young creatives. The buzzy lobby cocktail bar and on-site, Michelin-starred restaurant, The Breslin, offer all the essentials under one roof in Midtown Manhattan. A stay at The Standard, East Village places you just a skip from Greenwich Village, NoHo and SoHo. NO BAR, the hotel’s new-wave gay bar, tops the charts in any New York City gay scene guide with its dance parties, drag shows and late-night DJ sets.

The Hoxton, Williamsburg is the British brand’s first opening in North America. Stay here for spectacular skyline views and proximity to all the ultra-hip things to do in Brooklyn. The hotel’s Summerly rooftop bar brings the Hamptons to Brooklyn with lobster rolls, dreamy cocktails and rosé aplenty. More stunning views await at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, where you can gaze at the hotel’s namesake, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, from 1 Rooftop Garden & Bar.

ACE Hotel New York | Photo: Fran Parente

Ace Hotel New York | Photo: Fran Parente

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Recommended hotels in New York City
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Things to do in New York City

Every gay New York City guide should tell you how to navigate the city in style. These days, it’s on a brand new fleet of ferries operated by NYC Ferry. Jet across the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn in mere minutes. Visit DUMBO for art galleries, Manhattan skyline views, and epic food at the historic Empire Stores, where the Time Out Market New York serves up bites from Jacob’s Pickles, Miss Ada and many more. Or take a ride to Greenpoint for concept shops, inventive restaurants and acclaimed cocktail bars. During the summer, take the ferry to Jacob Riis Park, one of New York City’s best beaches. Part of The Rockaways in Queens — a popular beach destination for more than a century — the seaside park is just 57 breezy minutes away from Wall Street / Pier 11 in Manhattan.

Exploring the world-famous arts scene is one of the unmissable things to do in New York City. While the big museums often steal the spotlight, Manhattan’s real treasures are its independent galleries in art-forward Chelsea. Don’t miss David Zwirner, a Renzo Piano-designed gallery that exhibits international contemporary artists like Diane Arbus, William Eggleston and Yayoi Kusama. For a classic museum experience, the Whitney Museum of American Art (also designed by Renzo Piano) focuses on 20th and 21st-century American art.

And no trip to New York City is complete without spending some time in Brooklyn. Visit Grand Army Plaza to explore the 1938 Central Building of the Brooklyn Public Library, one of the best-preserved Art Deco buildings in the United States. A short walk away, the Beaux-Arts Brooklyn Museum features works by Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell and Georgia O’Keeffe. If you’re willing to go to the end of the line, ride the D, F, N or Q train all the way to Coney Island where you can enjoy the sea breeze and a Nathan’s hot dog on the boardwalk.

The Whitney Museum | Photo: Karin Jobst

The Whitney Museum | Photo: Karin Jobst

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Recommended experiences in New York City
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The Brooklyn Bridge (and the view from it) has always been one of the best things to see in New York

Things to see in New York City

The Empire State Building and Top of the Rock need no introduction. But if you can, avoid tourist-packed Midtown and do your New York City sightseeing south of Houston Street. In the ’70s, the late artist Keith Haring created an original mural for the Houston Bowery Wall, a fixture at the intersection between the East Village and Lower East Side. Nearly three decades after the artist died of AIDS-related complications, street artists continue to create murals at the high-traffic corner. To continue the public art tour, head to The High Line. Built on a historic, elevated freight line, the highly-acclaimed urban park features rotating murals and installations. Bring an iced coffee and stay awhile to enjoy the breeze on the Hudson River.

Looking for less structure in planning what to see in New York City? Go off the grid in Greenwich Village, where the city’s orderly, numbered streets and avenues turn into angular, cobbled roads. Wander the neighbourhood without a plan to find charming cafes, restaurants and shops. In Washington Square Park, a 19th-century arc modelled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Nearby, pause in the much smaller Christopher Park for a quiet moment of reflection with George Segal’s Gay Liberation Monument. Across the street is the legendary Stonewall Inn, which features in every New York City gay bar guide as the birthplace of the Gay Rights Movement in the ’60s.

The High Line

The High Line

Photo: Dimitar Belchev

Photo: Dimitar Belchev

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Brunch in New York is serious business

Where to eat in New York City

Fanelli Cafe in SoHo, with its neon sign and red gingham tablecloths, is a classic, old New York experience. First opened in 1847, it’s considered the second-oldest restaurant in the city. Sit at the bar and order the no-frills burger. Brunch in New York, meanwhile, is serious business. Friend of a Farmer, a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement since 1986, is designed like a Vermont farmhouse. Across the river, the late Heath Ledger’s Five Leaves restaurant in Greenpoint has one of Brooklyn’s best brunches.

Pizza, the city’s undisputed favourite snack, is a food group all of its own. Step out of New York and into Naples at San Matteo, where more than 20 varieties of Neapolitan-style pizza emerge from a hand-built, wood-fired oven. Excellent toppings include house-made mozzarella by owner Fabio Casella, an authority on Italian cheeses. In Brooklyn, Paulie Gee’s serves inventive pies topped with unusual, locally-sourced ingredients like pastrami from Frankel’s Delicatessen and Mike’s Hot Honey.

Plenty more inventive options are found in every corner of the city. In the Lower East Side, teen wonder Flynn McGarry helms the kitchen at Gem restaurant. Reserve a table in the 16-seat dining room for an always-changing, 15-course tasting menu. In Brooklyn, Blanca offers an upscale tasting menu in a tiny, reservations-only loft space with an open kitchen. At Chez Ma Tante in Greenpoint, familiar dishes — such as pancakes for brunch and grilled pork shoulder for dinner — are kicked up several notches, yet served in a straightforward manner with a healthy disregard for refinement.

Paulie Gee's | Photo: Regina

Paulie Gee's | Photo: Regina

The Hoxton, Williamsburg

The Hoxton, Williamsburg

Shopping in New York City

Well-heeled locals head to the cobbled streets of Tribeca to do their shopping. Stop by Best Made Company, an outdoor lifestyle concept shop where you can get clothes and gear for a trip to upstate New York.

In the West Village, you can find coffee-table books and Marc Jacobs trinkets at Bookmarc. There’s no better place for high-end fragrances than New York-based Le Labo.

And going to Brooklyn no longer means leaving the cosmopolitan city behind in Manhattan. Drama Club founder Jack Sachs opened his modern general store to meet the demand for a highly-edited selection of globally-sourced menswear and plenty of unique accessories in Greenpoint. Head to this airy space facing McGolrick Park for Gitman Vintage shirts, Comme des Garcons zip-around wallets and D.S. & Durga fragrances. Over at Wolves Within the emphasis is on Made in USA and Fair Trade practices. Discover true American fashions at this artsy Greenpoint shop with handmade shoes, wallets and hats. Pair these artisan finds with classic Timex watches and reissue Vans for a look that’s all at once vintage yet thoroughly modern.

Best Made Co | Photo: Adrian Gaut

Best Made Co | Photo: Adrian Gaut

Photo: Daniel Schwartz

Photo: Daniel Schwartz

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The hipster set goes to Royal Palms for shuffleboard and tiki cocktails, while an edgier crowd heads to House of Yes in Bushwick

New York City nightlife

The late Sasha Petraske is said to have ushered in Manhattan’s modern cocktail culture when he opened Milk & Honey on the Lower East Side in 1999. The bar is no longer, but across the East River in Long Island City, Dutch Kills — one of Petraske’s bars — is worth the trip for its wooden booths, dim lighting and cocktails made with hand-cut ice. There’s a menu, but tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for and they’ll create a bespoke cocktail just for you. In the far reaches of Chinatown, you’ll find mostly locals only at Mr. Fong’s, known for its Chinese-inspired cocktails, bar bites and jukebox. Nearby, an equally-local crowd packs out the century-old 169 Bar for cheap beer-and-a-shot combos, plus a bring-your-own-food policy.

In Brooklyn, Long Island Bar is an old-school diner that was transformed into a retro cocktail bar by Toby Cecchini, who invented the Cosmopolitan in the ’80s. Sophisticated cocktails are on the menu at Henry Public in Cobble Hill, Clover Club in Carroll Gardens and Ramona in Greenpoint. The hipster set goes to Royal Palms for shuffleboard and tiki cocktails, while an edgier crowd heads to House of Yes in Bushwick. Located in a former ice warehouse, the performance-fueled nightclub hosts eclectic events and dance parties. For a classic dive bar experience, High Dive in Park Slope offers free popcorn and a summer patio – the perfect spot to relax and round out a busy trip to New York City.

House of Yes | Photo: Kenny Rodriguez

House of Yes | Photo: Kenny Rodriguez

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