If you’re a tourist, then congrats on finding this awesome list of things you definitely will not have enough time to do between trips to the M&M store. If you’re not a tourist — whether you’re a native or someone who’s just lived here for a bit — then you’ve got some work to do.
1. Take full advantage of our cultural landscape
You’re here, so you’re probably already taking pretty full advantage of the food and drink landscape of our city, but there’s a near-endless array of world-class cultural institutions like the Met, the MoMA, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall to spend your time at for the betterment of your mind. Highly recommended: stand under the whale at the natural history museum.
2. Eat pastrami while waiting for a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s
Did you know that you can taste Katz’s pastrami while your pastrami sandwich is being put together? Because you can do that. Once your sandwich is ready, sit down and eat the crap out of your sandwich and chug a Cel-Ray.
3. Go to one of the supper clubs in Brighton Beach
There’s really not much else in the city like this. The National and Tatiana are good options. Put on your finest, down some vodka, be prepared to dance like you’re at a bar mitzvah, and make it happen.
4. Eat bagels — lots of bagels
You may as well go to one of the best, but really just eat a lot of them, because when you leave, it will never be the same.
5. Get some of the best smoked fish you’ll ever have at Russ & Daughters
Lox, whitefish, the Super Heebster sandwich — there’s no wrong move. Chase it with a knish and wash it all down with an egg cream from Yonna Schimmel’s down the block.
6. Hit the Hamptons
Sleep on the floor of your coworker’s girlfriend’s share house, check out the surf spots, design a lobster roll crawl through Montauk, or just enjoy the beaches — but don’t let all your summers here pass without heading out East.
7. Ride the train out to Rockaway Beach
Just as essential as the Hamptons, and much easier to get to on the subway.
8. Ride the Wonder Wheel on Coney Island
What? Another beach? Yes, and it’s the most storied of the bunch. Hit up Coney Island’s amusement park for the famed ferris wheel, scope all the weird at the Mermaid Parade, and/or watch the gluttony during the July 4th hot dog eating contest.
9. See a show in Radio City Music Hall
It can be the Christmas Spectacular, but it doesn’t have to be. Whatever the show you’re seeing, this place is gorgeous if you stop to look around a little bit.
10. Do Brooklyn Bridge Park
In recent years there’s been a huge influx of stuff to do here: basketball, grilling, Smorgasburg — which is all great — but the enduring draw of the waterfront area comes from the straight-up incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Downtown Manhattan.
11. Eat a dirty water dog
You probably don’t need any convincing here since, well, these are delicious. And while we’re talking about it, you also need to get a pretzel, chestnuts, and some halal lamb and rice with a ton of white and hot sauce.
12. Smell the flowers at Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Most of the time in the city when you’re stopping to smell something it’s probably garbage, but there’s still a spot to stop and smell the flowers, too.
13. Spend the entire afternoon drinking on a rooftop
Perhaps the best way to spend an afternoon anywhere is by spending it drinking on an NYC rooftop.
14. Visit the Top of the Rock
The Empire State Building is great too, but you know what you can’t see from the top of the Empire State Building? The Empire State Building.
15. Eat everything at Smorgasburg
The premier outdoor Brooklyn eating fest is the birthplace of trends like the ramen burger and plenty of other straight-up amazing food — make your trek to the BK waterfront at least once.
16. Do bottle service at a club
This may be your plan every week, or you may totally disdain the entire idea of waiting in line only to be judged by a bouncer, but once you’re in, and you’re at the table, and you’re mixing up incredibly strong vodka cranberries surrounded by the smoke of expired sparklers, you’ll be glad you did it at least once. Or for the 112th time.16. Do bottle service at a club.
This may be your plan every week, or you may totally disdain the entire idea of waiting in line only to be judged by a bouncer, but once you’re in, and you’re at the table, and you’re mixing up incredibly strong vodka cranberries surrounded by the smoke of expired sparklers, you’ll be glad you did it at least once. Or for the 112th time.
17. Eat a meal way beyond your means
NYC is home to some of the absolute best and fanciest restaurants in the country, places like Per Se, Le Bernardin, Brooklyn Fare, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, and many, many more. You’ve gotta go at least once.
18. Go to a party/experimental art show/DIY rave in Bushwick
Hipster label be damned.
19. Drink at a hidden bar
There’s not much people in NYC like more than being in on a secret, and boozing it up at a bar hidden above a Five Guys or behind a phone booth in a hot dog shop is a great way to accomplish it.
20. Go to a Yankees game in the middle of summer
It really doesn’t matter if you hate sports or “don’t get it” or anything else. This must happen. A Mets game must happen also.
21. Visit the 9/11 Memorial
And the soon-to-open observation deck at One World Trade.
22. Go to all five boroughs
There’s no excuse to not do this. It’s a big city, experience it.
23. Go to a Broadway show
We understand that this isn’t for everybody, but would you live in the South without checking out some country music? No.
24. Run the NYC Marathon
Hahahaha, JK — you should definitely watch it though.
25. Soak up the booze at an old-school 24hr spot at 5am
Pierogies at Veselka would be an amazing choice here, but omelets, Monte Cristos, and cheese fries elsewhere would do just fine.
26. Cruise past Lady Liberty
We could have separated these into “visit the statue of liberty” and “cruise around the harbor,” but really you should just knock both of these out at once. Preferably with a beer in hand.
27. Get made fun of by a comedian at the Comedy Cellar
Sitting front row at one of these shows is a brave thing, but it’s brave thing worth braving, since they get a ton of top talent and have been known to get actually big stars like Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, and Chris Rock to drop by unannounced.
28. Blow past someone who’s walking too slow and be super annoyed about it
We know it’s cliche, but righteous annoyance at someone in your way on the sidewalk really is a feeling everyone should experience. Acceptable substitutes: yelling at a taxi driver, getting yelled at by a taxi driver, trying really hard to pretend you’re reading during SHOWTIME on the subway, and not giving a fuck if you see a famous person.
29. Feel worse about what you wear every day by going to a fashion show
This is another one of those things you should try to do, even if it’s not your thing. NYC is the style capital of the country, plus maybe you’ll see Kanye or something.
30. Go to one of the best pizza places in the city
Di Fara, Roberta’s, L&B Spumoni, Joe’s — there are quite literally 100s of amazing places for pizza in NYC. Frankly, if you’ve been here for even a day and haven’t done this yet, you’re doing it wrong.
31. Go to SNL
This is a pretty tough get, but finding your way into a taping or even one of the dress rehearsals should be high on your list of to-dos, hopefully above “laundry” and “be more organized.”
32. Take a look around Times Square
33. Explore the crap out of Central Park
You should absolutely crush box wine from solo cups here on a hot summer day, but really you need to spend a day and just walk around. Check out the ramble, check out the reservoir, check out the waterfalls in the Northern section, go fishing if the mood strikes — it’s all beautiful.
34. Take down as many dumplings as you can handle in Chinatown
Make that Chinatowns — there’s no excuse to not get out to Flushing’s as well as the one in Manhattan. When you’re done, you could make a sweep through Little Italy, but to be honest, you can skip that at this point.
35. Have several to multiple several pints at one of our excellent dive bars
McSorley’s is the obvious, and perfectly acceptable, choice for a “classic” NYC dive bar, but there are a ton of spots to hit: 7B, White Horse, Boxcar, Jeremy’s Ale House, Parkside, Rudy’s, Turkey’s Nest, Donovan’s Pub, etc.
36. Score pastries at Veniero’s
Scour the menu for a “deconstructed” dessert. When you can’t find one, order and eat an entire cheesecake.
37. Eat a black and white cookie
And quote Seinfeld as you do it.
38. Go to a concert at Madison Square Garden
Serious bonus points if it’s Billy Joel. You should try to catch a Knicks game too, but really you may have to wait a few years for that to be essential again.
39. Go uptown to the Apollo Theater
Amateur night is the move.
40. Celebrate X-mas at Rolf’s
Get there early, get a seat at the bar, get the schnapps.
41. Explore the secrets of Grand Central
More people pass through here daily than live in all of Alaska — be one of the ones who really appreciates it.