New York City: A Local’s Guide

As I squeeze into the tiny, albeit carefully decorated living room, Amy gushes with enthusiasm. “I love it here”, she beams, setting me down a decadent homemade peach tea, a warming welcome from the cold outside. “It’s the energy”, she explains. “The people, the friends I’ve made, we are all here for our dreams – even if they are a little bit crazy”, she laughs. We sip on our teas, talking like old friends even though we just met for the first time in person.


Photo Credit: Jesús Coto

Amy’s hoping to be accepted into the New York City Ballet Company next year, having moved here from Minnesota six months ago. I got in touch with her after being assigned the task of finding the best spots to see in New York City, and we’ve been bantering over Instagram for months now. I finally made it here and she’s even more fun in person. We head out into the brisk cold to check out a few of her favourite places.


Photo Credit: Jesús Coto

Our first stop is Times Square. It’s currently 11 o’clock in the morning, but there’s no way of telling since it’s constantly busy. Amy tells me this feels like the centre of the universe to her, and sometimes she passes by on her way home just to remind herself of the “rush”. It’s definitely busy that’s for sure, and for a second I get lost in the honking of the cabs and the digital screens all vying for my attention. It’s overwhelming, yet somehow intoxicating. Some 39 million people pass by Times Square every year, and Amy tells me it’s known as the “Crossroads of the World”.

Travel to: Los Angeles from New York City

We leave the adrenaline and noise and head across town to Amy’s favourite tea house. Cha-An Tea House is a welcome escape from the busy New York life, offering Japanese sweets, home-style dishes and an extensive tea selection. I take a Honey Phoenix Oolong Tea while Amy orders her favourite: a Flower Craft Green Tea. Although it’s quite packed, there’s an ambience to this cafe and I can imagine coming here regularly, especially during the long cold New York winters.


Our next stop is Lady Liberty herself. It’s just after lunchtime and that means peak hour for this patriotic symbol of the United States. Amy has pre purchased tickets, and after seeing the lineup, I’m so glad she did. We soak up the sparkling views of the harbour and New York City itself despite the crowds of tourists. Next up we head to Central Park for something to eat.  Amy takes me to a gorgeous little cafe, Kerbs Boathouse, located on Central Park’s famous model boat pond. Over lunch, Amy tells me that if you come here on weekends, you can watch races of model boats on the water. It can get pretty packed though so it’s best to come early. Central Park is huge, much bigger than I expected and I imagine you could spend the whole day here.

One of our final stopovers for the day is a gorgeous little charm shop in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Charm is a boutique store where you can design your own jewellery, and if you have some time, even take classes. There is an endless amount of beads, jewels, charms and trinkets, and it’s the perfect way to create your very own souvenir or gift. I purchased a beautiful little New York State charm as a momento, and Amy takes a few supplies home.


Photo Credit: Jesús Coto

As the day comes to an end, we head for the Empire State Building. Amy tells me on the way there that the view of the New York Skyline is incredible, and she’s right. We arrive just after sunset and although it’s crowded, there is still plenty of space to get photos. It’s my favourite spot by far and the perfect way to finish off my whirlwind visit. As we head for dinner at one of Amy’s favourite Italian restaurants “D’Amore Wine Bar and Ristorante”, she tells me about other great places to explore. We discuss lesser known spots of the city, such as The Film Forum and The Bowery Ballroom. She tells me that there are endless things to see and always something new to try.  

I can see why she loves it so much. It is intoxicating to every extent; the buzz and energy of the people, the sounds of different accents from people passing by, and the smells of foods from all over the world make it a glittering melting pot of cultures. 

The Classics

Times Square

Known as the “Crossroads of the World”, every visitor to New York City should experience the digital rush, honking yellow cabs, the soaring skyscrapers that is Times Square. Reported to be the most bustling area of a city that never sleeps, there’s a reason that 39 million people pass by to see it with their own eyes.

The Statue of Liberty

A gift from France in 1886, the Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol of the United States of America. You can purchase tickets to see Lady Liberty’s crown up close, as well as take in spectacular views of New York City and harbour. It’s a dedication of freedom and democracy, and something Americans hold dear to their hearts.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)


Photo Credit: Jesús Coto

One of the world’s most renowned collections of modern and contemporary art, you will discover works from the art world’s modern masters on display throughout this expansive building. Admission is free for all visitors during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, every Friday evening from 4:00-8:00 p.m.

Empire State Building

Opened in 1931, the Empire State Building is an integral part of the city’s unmistakable skyline, and a trip to the top offers an incomparable view of the whole New York City area.

Central Park

“The Heart of the Island at the Center of the World.” If you want to see Central Park in all of its 843 acres of glory, rent a bike and get pedaling! You can choose how far you want to go, and take your time to see some of the sights like the model sailboats at the Conservatory Water, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, Belvedere Castle on Vista Rock, and the Imagine Mosaic tribute to John Lennon in the Strawberry Fields area of the park.

New Hot Spots

The Bowery Ballroom

For music lovers, the Bowery Ballroom’s two level music venue features rising stars usually of the indie-rock genre, and has a downstairs bar for drinks before show time.

Film Forum

For cinephiles of all kinds, the Film Forum features films ranging from provocative indie hits to foreign titles selected from the best film festivals worldwide.


Dedicated to displaying the most experimental art in the world, at MoMA PS1 you’ll find the work of today’s emerging artists from across the US and the world.

Other highlights that you won’t want to miss: A stroll through the West Village, a trip to FAO Schwarz of Fifth Avenue, a stop at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Meatpacking District for some amazing eats!

A Few Extra Tips

  • The best time to see most New York City attractions is during the week (from Tuesday to Saturday).
  • If you’re after a real New York City secret, check out this bar. But make sure you book ahead!
  • Free WIFI is available at most parks.
  • Most New Yorkers eat dinner between 8pm and 10pm. If you haven’t made a reservation somewhere, try and eat before or after this time so it won’t be so busy.
  • If you’re into sport, bring your running shoes! On the weekends, Central Park becomes a huge open-air running track!
  • Do you have any favourite spots that are perfect visitors to New York? Let us know in the comments!