New York City Like a Local

by Olivia Balsinger

New York City is the epicenter for tourism—over 62 million tourists visit the Big Apple each year, and its no surprise why. Besides The Empire State Building and The World Trade Center, this metropolis has many more “off the beaten path” hotels, eateries and activities. As a New Yorker born and raised, let me show you my favorites!

To begin, it is important to get acquainted with the layout of the city and it’s many diverse neighborhoods. I would recommend a tour with Urban Adventures, which makes a large city feel less intimidating and more personal. One tour brings you around the breweries and historic beer locations of Williamsburg, a hip neighborhood in the already hip Brooklyn. Another takes visitors to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, known locally as the “Real Little Italy.”

Eat & Drink
After all this exercise, time to eat! New York City is home to some of the best food in the world for all palates—desire barbeque? Head to Randall’s Barbeque for mac n’ cheese and ribs! If you like fusion, Bar Moga is a delicious mix of Japanese food and American classics. Dessert time? Van Leeuwen Ice Cream is a favorite of locals—and vegan ice cream is better than you’d think! Thirsty? Head to Raise New York and try a cocktail for a cause—I’ll drink to that!

To Stay
One of my favorite hotels in NYC is dually hip and convenient—the luxury and boutique Sanctuary Hotel in Midtown West, a peaceful haven near Times Square, home to Haven Beer Garden with eleven types of beer on tab. And sushi lovers everywhere will appreciate the hotel’s Sushi by Bou, a timed 30 minute $50 omakase experience underneath the hotel or Handies by Bou, a fast casual handroll spot where the hotel’s concierge desk once stood. Another option is Dream Hotel in the fashionable Meatpacking District—trendy and near restaurants and clubs.

To Do
There’s never shortage of activity in NYC. One of my favorite’s is at the contemporary French Cheese Board, where visitors can learn how to pair wine and cheese, participate in cooking sessions and generally improve their cheese knowledge. If seeing NYC’s most famous attractions is on your “to do” list, there is still an affordable way to do it— New York CityPASS allows tourists to see up to six of New York City’s most beloved attractions for one low price, valid for 9 consecutive days starting with the first day of use. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Guggenheim Museum, oh my!

After a hectic day on the city streets, nothing sounds more enticing than a bit of planned mindfulness— the Soul Collective group brings together conscious humans for meditative and relaxing activities and guided lectures. Haven Spa in SoHo delights visitors with a Tourist Massage—focusing in on areas most affected by long flying hours and carrying heavy backpacks. Once you’re at the spa, however, you’d be remiss to neglect the INDULGE ME Mini Escape, which includes a pedicure, manicure facial scrub, body scrub and massage! If that’s not the most epic way to end your sprint through New York City, I’m not sure what is!