Cool Alternative Things to do in New York


Because Times Square is Terrible

So you’ve been to NYC a few times already, and you’ve done ALL the touristy stuff. You vomit at the site of Times Square and you’ve hung out in Central Park. What are the cool alternative things to do in NYC? Because you just can’t take paying $25 for a bowl of pasta at the Times Square Olive Garden ANYMORE!

Or you just moved to NYC, and like most New Yorkers, rarely do the tourist stuff (unless you have guests). Either way, there’s so much to do in NYC that gets more to the heart of the city and lets you mingle more with the people.

I’ve lived in NYC since 2002, but as I travel full-time with Kinky Boots, I'm rarely home. And I miss it. But I have places that I try to hit up that are familiar to me. And places that I miss when I’m gone.

So let’s talk about some different things to do in NYC and let’s better your chances of making friends and meeting people. Maybe even SEXY people.

You Need Chelsea Market in Your Life

I LOVE Chelsea Market! It's the perfect combination of people watching, shopping and eating. Most importantly, Amy’s Bread is inside. Sweet lord, the bread. (Cue Homer Simpson drooling) Pastries, fresh croissants, bagels, a NYC staple, and awesome sandwiches. If you’re shopping in the market, you should definitely stop by. You can thank me later.

Homer Simpson - Drooling over Amy's Bread


You can get the best coffee in Chelsea market….

…at Nine Street Espresso. Just go and get caffeinated. There are many other great places in the market, including some awesome Japanese, but just add it to your list and go experience it.

Union Square Green Market…

….is a natural green market in union square and it is absolutely fabulous. You can get all kinds of organic produce, natural honey, flowers, eggs, clothes and much more. True to Union Square there are always interesting street performers there too. Some less talented than others. It's open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Get Your Hipster on at the Lower East Side

I can’t believe I just said that. But if you are a hipster or into hipster stuff or were hoping to find drugs (just kidding) the lower east side is a cool place to hit up.

It’s not nearly as sketchy as it used to be even 10 years ago and especially not 20 when it was a drug haven and the home of CBGB and the punk scene. But it’s still a cool place to see and meet alternative people, find a good hookah bar, eat some good Japanese food and find some of the last remaining dive bars.

8th street is a good place to go shopping for punk jewelry, hats, bracelets and even tattoos. Venture further into Alphabet City (Ave A and B are the safest) for some really cool bars and places to eat.

Harlem is Full of Culture

125th street is a good street to hit up for shoppers and to get a feel for the people of Harlem. Lots of good folks and if you love soul food, hit up Red Rooster or Sylvia’s. Go to the iconic Apollo theater for a show. Harlem has a special place in my heart and is a melting pot of various cultures.

Highline For Awesome Photos

The Highline is an elevated public park built atop a defunct freight rail line on the West side of Manhattan in the Meatpacking District. It runs from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, between 10th & 12th Avenues. It's a great place to take photos, people-watch and take a walk. There are also food carts if you want to nibble.

Honorable Mentions

55 Bar (Greenwich Village): It's my favorite dive bar/jazz club in the Village. It's a TRUE dive bar all day, then at night it hosts some awesome new singer-songwriters and fusion jazz. Drinks aren’t too expensive and it's a real locals hangout.

55 Bar Musicians

Food n Drinks

Reunion Surf Bar (Midtown): It's a cool tiki bar with creole and Australian food. It has a surf theme and it’s kind of a hidden treasure, as you have to go down some stairs to find it. It has great tropical drinks and tasty food. It’s also a hangout for young Broadway actors. Get the fish tacos.

Mother Burger (Midtown): If you happen to be in midtown, there’s a cool courtyard area that's awesome for people watching and drinking frozen margaritas in the summer. WorldWide Plaza is located on 49th Street between 8/9th Ave. It's an open court area that has 2 restaurants as well as open seating. Mother burger is a nice option if you’re into burgers. They also sell the same $5 frozen margaritas that the neighboring Mexican restaurant Blockheads sells. Blockheads has OK Mexican food but if you’re at all familiar with legit Mexican food you’ll be disappointed. Did I mention $5 margaritas?

NYC is my home and an amazing city for food, culture, rooftop bars, people watching and being yourself. Because there is a little of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING there. Skip the Empire State Building and find where you can go be yourself!


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