This past weekend, I visited New York City for the first time. I really had no idea what to expect; the only experiences I had with New York City were...YouTube videos made by Emma Chamberlain and bestdressed and hearing how much my boyfriend disliked Times Square. But after only a few days there, I truly enjoyed the hustle and bustle. Here are some of my recommendations of where to go and what to do when you're around the Lower Manhattan area.
1. Buy from local restaurants and coffee shops
There is so much good food in New York. While we were visiting, I made it a personal goal to try restaurants and coffee shops that I haven't been to before. Here is a master list of where I went and what I got for meals and drinks:
Coffee: Lazy Llama Coffee Bar (Located in Lower Manhattan, I ordered an iced chai tea latte with almond milk and an almond croissant) and Tisserie (Located in Times Square, I ordered an iced vanilla latte with almond milk).
Bagel Sandwich: Heaven's Hot Bagel (I got the Heaven's Breakfast Burrito, they also have a plant-based option called the Heaven's Veggie Egg White Burrito!)
Burgers: Shake Shack (I don't remember what I got, but Shake Shack is always good).
Chicken Sandwich: Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken (Located in East Village, I got the Hot and Sweet Sandwich and... it was so amazing).
Overall, I loved all of the food I tried in New York and would love to try more from different cultures the next time I go. I recommend all of these options and know that most of them offer plant-based and cheaper options!
2. Walk around local art galleries
Going to walk around art galleries and appreciating the artist's works is a great way to pass the time in New York, especially when it is raining. Though you might not be able to buy any of the amazing paintings or artworks that you see, just looking and reading about the artist's intentions with the art was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. I recommend that you stop by any galleries you might pass by on your walks around the city!
3. Visit museums around New York
Before this past spring semester at my university, I probably would have walked around the Museum of Modern Art without paying much attention to each art piece. But after taking an art history class centered around Japanese, Chinese, and Korean art, I have learned how valuable and beneficial it is to learn more about art. I even recognized some of the artists we studied in my class! Whether you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Sex, or the American Museum of Natural History, you'll get to see some amazing things!
4. Go to some historical sites
Pictured above is me outside of the Ferrara Coffe Bar, a bit distressed because of the rain pouring down on my precious cannoli. This Coffee Bar and Restaurant originated in 1892 when the cafe first opened in New York City's Little Italy. Although I only got a cannoli, the coffee, culture, and cakes within the bakery and restaurant truly stood out as a cultural staple of Little Italy. Other than Ferrara, my sister and I were only able to visit Times Square and Central Park, but there are so many more great spots to stop by.
5. Go thrift shopping
Going thrift shopping is one of my sister and I's favorite past times and in New York, it gets even better! There are so many great thrift stores that I visited, including L Train Vintage and Cure Thrift Shop, which is a non-profit thrift store that benefits juvenile diabetes research. Outside of thrifting, one of my favorite stores that we visited was Flight Club, the perfect spot for a sneakerhead to look at the shoes they've been dreaming of.
Everyone's first experience in New York is different, and I would definitely recommend doing research on where you're staying before your trip. Even if you are a more spontaneous traveler, I would definitely recommend budgeting your trip and ensuring the place you're staying is safe, especially if you are traveling alone. Overall, I loved the time I spent in New York; the food there is great and so are the people and cultures.