New York is undoubtedly one of the most talked about cities in the world and appears on countless bucket lists; when you finally get there, what should you do in the city brimming with history and entertainment? If you want to skip the usual touristy experience while studying English in New York, here are ten things to do that guarantee you get to know the real New York.
1. Hang Out at Grand Central
Whether you just want to take in the architecture or simply people-watch, the Grand Central Terminal is a great spot to feel the buzz of the Big Apple. The little alleys also have hidden gems in store for visitor; no matter how many times you visit, you’re sure to find something new at the busiest station in the country.
INTERMEDIATE LEVEL TIP: While you’re at the Grand Central, have some fun figuring out the routes to different parts of New York or the rest of America. It will help you work on your reading and comprehension skills, and you never know when this knowledge might come in handy. If you have any doubts, ask a member of staff – don’t be shy!
2. Discover the Foods of New York with a Tour
New York is also famous for its cuisine. Tasty hot dogs, cheesy pizzas, mouth-watering dumplings and delicious slabs of steak – you can find it all here. The best way to find out what the food scene has to offer is to participate in a Foods of New York tour. It’s been operating since 1999, so it certainly does know the right spots to take you.
3. Entertain Yourself at Coney Island
Coney Island reopened, better than ever, after Hurricane Sandy. You can still take a ride in the 87-year-old Cyclone rollercoaster and grab a bite at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Coney Island is a cool place to hang out with friends and be entertained by circus performers.
4. Visit the Slipper Room for a Burlesque Show
The Slipper Room is a fantastic Vaudeville and burlesque venue showcasing top-quality talent. The club has been producing cutting-edge burlesque shows ever since it opened in 1999. For anyone looking to make it in the industry, The Slipper Room is the place to be. This East Village venue runs shows all nights and the tickets are fairly priced. For the latest information, ticket prices and opening times, visit http://www.slipperroom.com/.
5. Enjoy the Sunset at Top of the Rock
Skip the long queues at the Empire State Building and head over to the decks of the marvellous Rockefeller Centre. The Top of the Rock offers impressive views over NYC, and gives you an unmissable opportunity to take gorgeous panoramic photos. The ideal time to visit is at sunset, when the sky turns a beautiful shade of magenta-orange. For more information visit: http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/.
6. Shop at Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market
Skip the massive shopping malls and try Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market just outside Times Square. Hell’s Kitchen market operates every weekend. You’ll be pleased to find a lovely mix of antiques, clothing, jewellery, and books. The place is filled with bright colours and a friendly buzz. Whether you’re there to spend a few dollars or just snap some vibrant photos, the market is a funky place to see.
BEGINNER LEVEL TIP: Ask as many questions as possible, from prices, to where the items come from or how old they are. Interact with the market sellers and buy some unique souvenirs for back home, if you find anything that you like.
7. Drink at the New York’s Smallest Bar
Copper & Oak in the Lower East Side is the perfect spot for a whiskey. The selection is even more impressive in size than the bar. You can find unique Japanese whiskeys and experiment with different flavours, such as vanilla and citrus whiskeys.
8. Slow Down at the Green-Wood Cemetery
Although the Central Park is a must-visit spot, you should definitely go for a stroll at the Green-Wood Cemetery. You can experience some amazing scenery at the 478-acre Revolutionary War site; the park is a lovely quiet location to take in the city’s history. Bring a good book with you and watch the world go by.
INTERMEDIATE LEVEL TIP: Take a notebook and take yourself on a tour of the Green-Wood Cemetery. Take a note of every piece of information that really resonates with you, as you never know when the information might come in handy. In addition, you will be practising your reading and writing skills.
9. Have a Drink at The Backroom Bar
The Backroom Bar was one of the only two venues operating during Prohibition (1920 – 1933), by serving alcohol in cups of tea. Rumour has it that this tradition started in 1920s in order to fool the police, but today it’s one of the bar’s main charms. The Backroom Bar is in a little hideaway, and you enter it through a back door located in an alley on the eastside of lower Manhattan! It’s a great historical spot to enjoy a drink and you might even run into a celebrity.
10. Immerse Yourself in History at The Tenement Museum
New York’s museums are known for being impressive, and you probably want to visit as many as you can. However, if you want to get a better understanding of the cultural hub that is New York, get down to the Tenement Museum, which explores immigrant life in the Big Apple through the eyes of the working class Irish and Italian families. The Lower East Side museum also has guided tours available.
INTERMEDIATE LEVEL TIP: Try to find your country in the museum and read as much information as you can about immigrant life in New York. Share what you learn with a friend or family member (in English!).