• Of course The Big Apple has plenty of farms and orchards where you can harvest Gala, Pink Lady, Red Delicious, McIntosh, and Fuji apples for your ciders, pies, and cobblers this fall. Most apple picking locations bolster their quintessential fall activity offerings with hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and weekend festivals. Many are open nearly year-round, so you can plan to pluck strawberries in the spring and blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries come summer.

 

  • Art for art’s sake is fine, but art for likes’ sake has its place, too. Catch culture (and maybe a few new followers) at the city’s most photogenic cultural institutions like the Museum of the Moving Image and the New York Hall of Science, or stay on the cutting edge of exhibitions at pop-up newcomers like Color Factory and Candytopia.

 

  • Breaking bread together is among the best ways to spark cultural exchange, and Gottlieb’s Restaurant has been hosting the Orthodox Jewish community and curious strangers since 1962. The kosher, meat-forward menu dishes up matzo ball soup, pastrami, and other Jewish staples that are as delicious as they are unhealthy. Slightly more obscure finds include cherry soup, and a sweet noodle pie called kugel. Don’t plan your visit for a Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath. Gottlieb’s will be closed.

 

  • Strap on a pair of goggles and indulge in a variety of virtual realities at VR World — a multi-level futuristic gaming mecca where $39 buys two hours of game-play. Become a fruit ninja and slice up produce with a virtual sword, or sweat buckets boxing with a virtual opponent. Sick of your boss? Let out your rage in a job simulator game where it’s OK to willfully ignore her instructions. Make-believe will make you thirsty, so sip libations from the actual reality bar.

 

  • Once you’ve exhausted every spot on our karaoke guide, check out Iggy’s for something a little different. From the outside, it looks like any other Second Avenue dive. But inside, you’ll find a rollicking singalong dance party. Wannabe rappers, rock stars, and pop divas entertain the crowd with alcohol-fueled, off-key warbling and hilarious moves. Boozy karaoke is old hat in NYC, but Iggy’s animated, high-octane amateur superstars make it stand out from the pack.

 

  • Get ready to rumble with Brooklyn’s sharpest Bingo players — longtime residents of the borough with little sympathy for confused hipster interlopers. Fifth Avenue Bingo Hall may not coddle rookies, but be brave and you just might win some cash in this nondescript Park Slope storefront.
  • Take the beautiful (and free!) boat ride from lower Manhattan to Staten Island, and you’ll be rewarded with meals prepared by “nonnas of the world.” Enoteca Maria’skitchen taps grandmothers from locales like Poland, Colombia, Japan, and Egypt. Each nonna informs the eatery’s ever-changing menu with her unique fare, and even a little love. Cooking nerds can sign up for free daily afternoon cooking classes with the guest chefs to learn how to make meals from their home countries.

 

  • A perpetually packed museum may not sound ideal, but you can catch the Whitney’s rotating contemporary American art galleries for free on Friday evenings. (Or pay what you wish, a fancy phrase for free.) Once you’ve made the rounds, blow all that cash you saved at Untitled, the museum’s restaurant. Doubly impress your guests and arrive via the High Line.

 

  • By day, Baby’s All Right is a solid brunch spot with lots of boozy specials. By night, it turns into one of the city’s coolest live-music venues, with new performers every night and tickets starting at just $10 per show. If your guests need any more convincing, let them know the floor is etched with a replica of the maze from The Shining.

 

  • Yes, the Brooklyn Bridge can get crowded. But with great eating and drinking options on either end (The Dead Rabbit in FiDi and Nom Wah in Chinatown; Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s in Dumbo), not to mention those skyline views, this traditionally touristy activity is actually worth revisiting.

 

  • It may sound a little touristy, but being part of a live studio audience is kind of fun. Not only can you tell everyone you know to look for a cameo of your semi-obscured face on tonight’s episode of The Tonight Show but there’s just something exciting about watching TV being made (especially when you’re doing it for free). While Saturday Night Live tickets must be procured long in advance, Late Night and The Tonight Showboth have much wider availability and rehearsal tickets are available day-of.

 

  • Heading out to Astoria to visit this media-focused museum is not only a great way to circumvent the lines at the Met, it’s also the best place to learn the history of movies, TV, video games, and other digital media. Not even your most museum-loathing friend will be bored here. And since you’re in the neighborhood, check out some of the bestGreek food in the city.

 

  • Ever imagine taking a yoga class in total darkness, at 90-degree temps, all while hip-hop music is blasting? If so, Y7 just made your yogi dreams come true. Started in 2013, this innovative yoga studio is just hitting its stride, and with classes starting at $25 a session it’s the perfect fitness trend to try with visiting family or friends.

 

  • New York has the best bagels in the universe, so why not spend a day trying to eat them all? Get ambitious and make a loop around the NYC “bagel belt” at some of the best spots the city has to offer — Tompkins Square Bagels, Russ & Daughters, Black Seed Bagels, and Sadelle’s. Wear sweats.

 

  • The weather in New York rarely cooperates, so kill a day indoors with drinking and gaming at one of NYC’s many arcade bars. Ace Bar and Fat Cat are at the top of our list, but Full Circle Bar, Barcade, and Troy Liquor Bar are all great choices for a day of beers, Skee-Ball, and Ms. Pac-Man.

 

  • This is as close as you’ll get to resort vibes near the Gowanus Canal. Striped cabanas line the back wall, palm trees teeter on the edges of gleaming shuffleboard lanes, and ridiculous selfie props (leis, straw hats, novelty sunglasses) abound. Visitors needn’t be proficient in grandma’s favorite cruise activity to enjoy the enormous space, well-poured cocktails, or DJ sets, but, here’s a secret: Shuffleboard is actually fun.

 

  • Between the people watching and the wide variety of shopping, dining, and drinking options, there’s plenty to do at Grand Central. Take a tour of the history-rich terminal, grab some oysters and martinis at Grand Central Oyster Bar, check out the “Whispering Gallery,” and wonder why Penn Station still hasn’t caught up to this.

 

  • Chelsea Piers has lots of great activities, but the indoor rock wall is convenient, cheap, and seriously fun. Tough enough to be a challenge but still friendly for beginners, instructor-led climbing sessions are available every Wednesday and Thursday night for just $25 a person — a small price to pay, considering you’d probably just be drinking otherwise.

 

  • If your companion is fixated on going out — like out out — Bushwick’s underground party venue turned bar/club/aerial performance space will hit the spot. This place has everything. There will be live music. There will be costumes. There will be trapeze artists. There will be glitter. Get your tickets in advance and costume yourself accordingly.

 

  • Yo, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Imma let you finish, but this is one of the best trash galleries of all time. Same for this closet-sized collection of contemporary artifacts, this NYC treasure chest, and this ode to the American Gangster.

 

  • Tourists go gaga for those sweeping skyline views, and even real New Yorkersappreciate the genuine pleasure of a cold cocktail on a sunny rooftop. You might pay $15 for a so-so drink, but the Instagram will be priceless. Once you score a seat, it’ll be hard to give up, so drink slow or prepare to spend a king’s ransom.

 

  • Fancy New York City art galleries have become pop culture tropes. Some rube makes a faux pas that ultimately teaches scenester snobs a lesson they never saw coming. But our art spaces are actually quite welcoming. The Chelsea galleries open their doors to the public on Thursdays, and, get this, often even serve wine. Take a drink every time you hear someone say, “My kid coulda done this.”

 

  • While Washington Square Park or Central Park may be at the top of the tourist itinerary, Tompkins is a lesser-tapped resource almost exclusively filled with neighbors walking through or picnicking in nice weather. Grab a bagel with rainbow sprinkle cream cheese at Tompkins Square Bagels, a spicy Asian-fusion sandwich at Sunny & Annie’s Deli, or some snacks from Ray’s Candy Store and pick a bench to watch East Villagers (and not infrequently, celebrities!).

 

  • People love associating New York with extravagant prices, so give your guests a much-appreciated shock when they bite into the best dumplings of their lives for only a couple bucks. Stop at White Bear for the wontons in chili oil ($5.50), Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao for Shanghai shao mai ($3), Tianjin Handmade Dumplings for assorted meat and veggie dumplings (12 for $5) and sniff your way to the rest of the day’s cheap eats spots.

 

  • Urban surfers shred here year-round, no matter the winter’s nor’easter count. Take a class with an expert or lounge on the beach and watch the masters from a distance. As long as you’ve made the trek, grab a few tacos from from Rockaway Beach Surf Club. If the beach bug really bites you, check out the rest of the shore.

 

  • We love brunch around here. The only socially acceptable time to eat cake for breakfast and get drunk before noon, it’s like church for New Yorkers. And when you want your chilaquiles with a side of razzle-dazzle, it’s drag brunch time, baby! The Broadway Brunch at Lips on East 56th Street is one part Great White Way, one part eggs any way, and a whole lotta fun.

 

  • Not for the faint of heart, Sleep No More is an immersive theatrical reimagining ofMacbeth set in Chelsea’s McKittrick Hotel. You’ll don a paper mask and follow mysterious characters, explore vacant hotel rooms, and wander in and out of scenes. Stumble upon a woman shivering in a bathtub, a lovers’ quarrel, or a blood-soaked murder scene. It’s a zag from the typical Disneyfied Broadway show.

 

  • Not only does this weekend food festival sport a Queens-brewed beer garden run out of a shipping container, it’s also got dozens of local vendors selling everything from crafts to antiques. Plus, it’s a frequent filming spot of the HGTV series Flea Market Flipand there’s nothing like a reality show in progress (or the opportunity to be on one) to get visitors excited about being in NYC.

 

  • Did you know you can scope out the coolest arena in town for as little as $6? Pass on the season’s hottest ticket and learn to love pre-season hockey, or the pageantry of professional wrestling for a day.

 

  • Crowds, lines, and selfie-sticks are to be expected when visiting One WTC, but these minor annoyances will be worth every minute spent atop the highest building in the Western Hemisphere. The observatory isn’t just a view, it’s an all-out experience — one that’ll leave your guests (and even you, no matter how jaded you may be) practically speechless.

 

  • The city is packed with amazing venues to catch live jazz — among them, Jazz Standard, Arthur’s Tavern, Minton’s, and the Metropolitan Room. But the one you absolutely need to take your guests to is The Django. Nestled into Tribeca’s Roxy Hotel, its vaulted ceilings, vintage lighting, and excellent craft cocktails make for an experience that feels very old New York.

 

  • NYC is home to more food halls and markets than ever before, meaning you can likely find one in whatever part of town you’re already in and give your guests a tour of all different kinds of cuisines. Be sure to check out Brooklyn’s Dekalb Market Hall, featuring an off-shoot of beloved Jewish deli Katz’s, plus other must-try vendors selling things like pierogi and cake push-pops.

 

  • If you’re sick of playing tour guide, check out the showtimes at Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema, Bushwick’s Syndicated, or Downtown Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse, all of which show both new releases and classic movies with chef-created menus (not just butter-sauce covered popcorn) and cocktails served while you watch.

 

  • Unlock the secret to those crazy tasty Momofuku cakes with this user-friendly baking class based on Christina Tosi’s best-selling Milk Bar cookbook. Learn how to build the perfectly layered masterpiece and turn scraps into cake truffles, and then take home every delicious morsel you bake.

 

  • This beast of New York beer halls doesn’t just offer a great excuse to check out Astoria, it’s also a certified beer mecca that really celebrates its founders’ Czech and Slovak heritage. Enjoy a huge variety of brews for $18 a pitcher, and be sure to order some authentic brats and kielbasa off the perpetually fired-up grill.

 

  • Boasting one of the most extensive whiskey selections on the East Coast, The Flatiron Room is THE place to get your brown booze on, one shot at a time. Finally learn the difference between whiskey and rye from educated bartenders and their guide-like menus, then dive in with one of the half-dozen tasting flights.

 

  • People pay $2K for Knicks tickets that aren’t even that good, but if you’re willing to go nosebleed just to get in and feel how exciting the garden gets for a .500 team (and it really, really does), and you hit Stubhub at the right time, you can score tickets for around $50. Just plan ahead.

 

  • Nothing takes the stress out of some mandatory tourist activities (they just had to seeTimes Square) like a day spent in saunas, whirlpools, and maybe a massage. Head to Spa Castle, where a day pass is $40 on weekdays and $50 on weekends, for unlimited access to three floors (and a rooftop) full of spa facilities from 8am-midnight.

 

  • Taking the ferry to Red Hook is an activity in itself — with its close-enough views of the Statue of Liberty — but the real treat is spending the better part of a day strolling through this tiny neighborhood to shop at the boutiques on Van Brunt Street, taste locally made wine at the Red Hook Winery, fill up on seafood and play a round of mini-golf at Brooklyn Crab, and catch a concert or exhibit at Pioneer Works.

 

  • Once housed in a warehouse, the newest rendition of the Brooklyn Bazaar, located inside an old event hall, features a full-service restaurant hawking buckets of fried chicken; a bar; a stage for nightly events including concerts, comedy, and free movie screenings; a reservable karaoke room; and more attractions, all in one very Brooklyn-feeling dark space.

 

  • Suburban visitors may be all about the BYOB wine and paint nights, but New Yorkers have one up on the poorly mimicked Van Gogh recreations no one really wants anyway. Book a session at Craft Jam where you can learn to make embroidered wall art, macrame plant hangers, and more on-trend crafts you’ll actually want to keep — or be proud to gift.

 

  • You’re classy, right? Right. So why not show off your sophistication with a classic high tea? There are options to suit any number of budgets (Tea & Sympathy and Bosie Tea Parlor in the West Village are among the most affordable) but if you really want to impress your guests, go big with splurge-worthy teas at The Plaza, The Pierre, or The Ritz-Carlton.

 

  • Dining out is one of the best things about visiting NYC, which is why a diverse tasting menu should definitely be on your to-do list (especially when there are actually several great ones for less than $100). The Lower East Side’s newly Michelin-starred Contra has a nightly rotating seven-course menu for just $78.

 

  • Get a little outdoorsy without the snakes and spiders at Camp Rockaway, where you can “glamp” near plenty of bars, restaurants, and a golf course. This is a cut above traditional campgrounds, with fresh linens, phone charging stations, and full-fledged beds. Before retiring to your sturdy canvas tent, spend the day at Jacob Riis beach, take a yoga class on the ocean rocks, and feast at the local beach bazaar.

 

  • Cult favorite ice cream purveyor Ample Hills in July opened a brand-new, 15,000-square-foot factory in Red Hook — its 10th, and largest, NYC location. Browse the interactive confectionary museum while you savor butter pecan brittle in a sugar cone (brown sugar ice cream studded with homemade pecan brittle).

 

  • No outdoor space, no problem. There are dozens of charcoal grilling areas throughout the five boroughs. All you need is a stop at the grocery store, some barely concealed booze, and our guide to the best places to host a barbecue in NYC.

 

  • Meditation initiative The Big Quiet has managed the impossible: getting New Yorkers to shut up. The hosts of what they call “mass meditation for modern people,” the group offers large-scale meditations after hours in iconic locales like the Museum of Natural History. Register with your email to receive details on the next location.

 

  • The most exclusive ticket in town is . . . your library card. The Culture Pass program is free and unique to New York residents, or folks who work or go to school in the city. Book in advance and bring up to three guests — tourists or otherwise — to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Frick, The Intrepid, and 30 other other cultural institutions, depending on availability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *