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New York City

New York City, Manhattan

Non-touristy "must do's" in Manhattan over the week of July 4th

I'm headed to Manhattan from July 1-4, 2014. I have been to NYC at least 10 times and I have done all the tourist stuff. I'm looking for recommendations of things to do that aren't touristy but "must do's" in Manhattan. 

I'll be with a friend and we are both in our late 20's/early 30's. We are looking for restaurants that are NY staples and unique to the city, things to do/see that aren't something touristy we would have already done, and we are looking for bars to go to on Thursday night (trendy is fine, but nothing too pretentious).

I know this is all very general but any suggestions would be great and appreciated!

22 Answers

top answer by
Michael from Manhattan

Hi Kathryn,

Unfortunately, the time you'll be visiting NYC will be the very same time that a vast amount of New Yorkers will not be in NYC, so no matter what you do, you're likely to rub elbows with more tourists than locals. Not to worry, there will still be a few NYers that couldn't beat bridge and tunnel traffic to escape toward beaches and mountains upstate or on LI.

Even New Yorkers love the touristy things you've probably already done, including picnicking in Central Park, running down the Hudson River, or just strolling the streets of SoHo. In my and most other 20s-30s circles, the common themes of summer activity (again, when we're stuck here), revolve around outdoor music, socialization, and pure laziness. Typically, this means a late bottomless brunch in Brooklyn at say Baoburg, Harefield RoadJuliette, or an early happy hour on the Hudson if mid-week (most start around 4-4:30). Fantastic suggestions to start the afternoon right while feeling the breeze include: Boat Basin Café, Pier I Cafe, and the Frying Pan.

Once the sun sets, you should continue to bar hop (dinner isn't fun until 10pm anyway), or you should make your way to any venue that shows what NY does best, live music. If you are near Central Park, you'll want to snag entry to Central Park SummerStage. Beck is playing July 1 under the stars, worth it. Other notable options include seeing Billy Joel on July 2 in his monthly residency at Madison Square Garden, or gobs of other shows going on that week.

From the show, grab some dinner outdoors at Back Forty or Pure Food & Wine, and afterward you can't go wrong hitting up an outdoor space for drinks. Depending on how well you'll be dressed that night, a great view, albeit pricey drinks, are had on top of 230 Fifth BarAva LoungeHudson Terrace, or The Empire Hotel Rooftop in Manhattan, or for more relaxed clothing, Night of Joy or Berry Park in Williamsburg will suit very well.

Circling back to Central Park picnicking, there are few things more iconic New Yorker than grabbing some food fixings at a bodega and rolling out some blankets in Central Park - Sheep Meadow. If it's a busy day, you'll even find some guys roaming through the field carrying bags selling handmade margaritas, beers, and other cocktails (not licensed, of course), or, you can covertly bring your own.

Have Fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Central Park (attraction)
  2. Hudson River (attraction)
  3. SoHo (neighborhood)
  4. Baoburg (restaurant)
  5. Harefield Road (attraction)
  6. Juliette (restaurant)
  7. Boat Basin Café (attraction)
  8. Pier I Cafe (restaurant)
  9. Frying Pan (attraction)
  10. Central Park SummerStage (attraction)
  11. Madison Square Garden (attraction)
  12. Back Forty (restaurant)
  13. Pure Food & Wine (restaurant)
  14. 230 Fifth Bar (attraction)
  15. Ava Lounge (attraction)
  16. Hudson Terrace (attraction)
  17. The Empire Hotel Rooftop (attraction)
  18. Night of Joy (attraction)
  19. Berry Park (attraction)
  20. Williamsburg (neighborhood)
  21. Central Park - Sheep Meadow (attraction)
17 thanks

answered by
Tania from New York City

Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has a fantastic show up and worth seeing before the building is transformed into a condo. Also, the good old Staten Island Ferry for a day of snapshots of the city. The ride is free and takes you right next to the Statue of Liberty. But our favorite thing during this time of the year, is catching the many free concerts part of Central Park - SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park. Have Fun! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Domino Sugar Factory (attraction)
  2. Staten Island Ferry (attraction)
  3. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  4. Central Park - SummerStage (attraction)
  5. Celebrate Brooklyn (attraction)
  6. Prospect Park (attraction)
12 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

For a true "New York staple" I would try Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. I know I recommend this constantly but it really is classic NY at its best. Not cheap but a lot of fun (and just FYI--Bemelman, who's murals are all over the bar as you can see, is the man who wrote and illustrated all the Madeline books).And I LOVE the suggestion you got above about the The Algonquin Hoteland the The St. Regis New York. Those are two serious classics that are just so much fun. The Algonquin has a more interesting history (it's where Dorothy Parker used to hang out with her posse) but personally, I prefer the St. Regis--just more elegant. Given how insanely hot and humid it's probably going to be that week, you might want to consider going ice skating at Chelsea Piers Sports Center. It's this amazing sports complex where you can do everything from work out to play volleyball to hang out on the sun deck. When I'm home visiting my family I live at the skating rink there. They have day passes for about $50, although I think you'll have to pay regular admission for the skating and the rock climbing. 
I would also look into seeing a play or show at a non-Broadway theater like the The Public Theater or the Delacorte Theater which is the outdoor theater in Central Park. I've seen some fabulous productions there and you can get free tickets (although be prepared to wait in line). It can also be very, very hot, so be prepared. :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bemelmans Bar (restaurant)
  2. Carlyle Hotel (hotel)
  3. The Algonquin Hotel (hotel)
  4. The St. Regis New York (hotel)
  5. Chelsea Piers Sports Center (attraction)
  6. The Public Theater (attraction)
  7. Delacorte Theater (attraction)
10 thanks

answered by
Jesse from New York City

Go to Eataly or Chelsea Market, the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, take the ferry to Governors Island and have a picnic, take the ferry to Staten Island and walk over to Enoteca Maria for a big family style Italian meal, grab a burger from Shake Shack go to Brooklyn to check out Smorgasburg open on Saturdays at East River State Park—Kent Ave. and N. 7 St.—on the Williamsburg waterfront; and Sundays at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5, if it's a nice night you can catch a great sunset at Boat Basin Café, indulge in a lobster, shimp or crab roll from Luke's LobsterThe Mermaid InnL&W Oyster Co. or Mary's Fish Camp ... or you can never go wrong with a dirty dog from a street cart and some roasted nuts!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Eataly (attraction)
  2. Chelsea Market (restaurant)
  3. Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (attraction)
  4. Governors Island (attraction)
  5. Enoteca Maria (restaurant)
  6. Shake Shack (restaurant)
  7. Smorgasburg (attraction)
  8. Boat Basin Café (attraction)
  9. Luke's Lobster (restaurant)
  10. The Mermaid Inn (restaurant)
  11. L&W Oyster Co. (restaurant)
  12. Mary's Fish Camp (restaurant)
10 thanks

answered by
Patrick from San Francisco

Hi Kathryn, here are a few places that were my favorites when I lived there!

Radegast Hall & Biergarten - super fun german beer hall in brooklyn, great for large groups too

Levain Bakery - This may qualify as a tourist place... but the cookies sure are amazing

Death and Company - this and Please Don't Tell constantly rank among the "best bars in the world"... I'm not really sure what that means, but they both do have amazing (+ unfortunately expensive) drinks!

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop - really good and unique ice cream!

That's just what's on the top of my head, but I hope that helps!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Radegast Hall & Biergarten (attraction)
  2. Levain Bakery (restaurant)
  3. Death and Company (attraction)
  4. Please Don't Tell (attraction)
  5. Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (restaurant)
8 thanks

answered by
Eric from San Francisco

If it's a nice day, I would check out Frying Pan in the late afternoon ... It can get a little crowded, but it's a lot of fun and something that's definitely pretty unique (it's a bar/restaurant that's on a group of old ships/barges on the Hudson).

For bars on Thursday night, there are too many good ones to name...really depends on what neighborhood you'd like to be in, what type of scene you like, etc.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Frying Pan (attraction)
8 thanks

answered by
Michelle from New York City

My favorite place to be on a Thursday night is Mehanata Bulgarian Bar. It's fun, eccentric and definitely non-pretentious. Live music, DJs + dance party as well as a bar with swings (when is the last time you were on a swing?!) and loft with tables for dinner. The party goes until about 4AM so bring your dancing shoes...  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mehanata Bulgarian Bar (attraction)
8 thanks

answered by
Paul from New York City

Rent a bike and ride the path along the Hudson River.  Spectacular during the golden hour and at sunset. Prettiest parts IMHO are Battery Park and Riverside Park.  Its about 8 miles between the two so give yourself ample time. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hudson River (attraction)
  2. Battery Park (neighborhood)
  3. Riverside Park (attraction)
8 thanks

answered by

here are some of my favorite things to enjoy in new york. 


  • the black label burger at Minetta Tavern
  • Beauty & Essex. the food is very good (not amazing, but good), but the place is extremely cool. you walk in through a pawnshop and find the restaurant in the back. there’s a champaign bar in the ladies’ bathroom. some good choices to order are the tomato tartar, the lobster tacos and the steak.
  • Miss Lily's has a very casual vibe, hip crowd and amazing food. great music plays all night long. this is one of the must go to places. the corn is a must have as is the banana pudding dessert. they also serve dinner till pretty late, so you don’t have to rush to get there but definitely reserve in advance as it’s usually quite packed.
  • breakfast at Clinton Street Baking Co. and Jane Restaurant
  • Cafe Habana is a delicious and quick / easy lunch meal in soho. the corn is fantastic and unbelievably addictive. skip the wait of the restaurant and order from their take out branch next door


  • Apothéke is another very cool new york spot. insane cocktails, they’re all done in the style of an apothecary and mixed together in a very funky way as if you’re in some guy’s lab. the presentation is unreal, the music is great, and they definitely show off at the bar while putting the drinks together
  • The Box it's an entertaining burlesque show and a good night out with friends. 


places to enjoy:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • High Line Park this is an old railway that runs above the city streets and was transformed into a public outdoor garden and walkway. if the weather is nice, it’s a very enjoyable and unique spot to walk through
  • Chelsea Piers - one of my favorite spots to hang out by the hudson. either take a frisbee and hang out on the grassy area, or just chill on one of the benches and catch the beautiful sunset by the river. whichever way you do it, it’ll be a very relaxing spot to enjoy the afternoon. within the piers, there are so many activities you can do including rock climbing, bowling, etc. if you want something less casual with a view, go to the The Standard New York Rooftop to catch the sunset. they also happen to have phenomenal mini burgers.

i would recommend avoiding mid-town that weekend. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Minetta Tavern (restaurant)
  2. Beauty & Essex (restaurant)
  3. Miss Lily's (restaurant)
  4. Clinton Street Baking Co. (restaurant)
  5. Jane Restaurant (restaurant)
  6. Cafe Habana (restaurant)
  7. Apothéke (restaurant)
  8. The Box (attraction)
  9. Momofuku Milk Bar (restaurant)
  10. Doughnut Plant (restaurant)
  11. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
  12. High Line Park (attraction)
  13. Chelsea Piers (attraction)
  14. The Standard New York (hotel)
7 thankscomments (1)

answered by

As a former resident, I'll give you Stuff I Miss The Most:

If you're there over a weekend, find the open markets - they used to be mostly clustered around Chelsea (New York). but I believe they've been moved to the west side around Hell's Kitchen. (There is one up by the American Museum of Natural History as well). To me, that's the best shopping because you can find the weirdest stuff imaginable.

For night life, I love jazz clubs, so 55 Bar and Smalls Jazz Club would be my top pics - both are in the Village and there are TONS of restaurants around them. Get off the Avenues and you'll find some pretty amazing places. I also love grand old bars, so The Algonquin Hotel and the King Cole Bar at the St Regis are favorites. 

If you haven't done the High Line Park, that's a great walk and a nice way to get out of the fray a bit. Similarly, The Cloisters up in Washington Heights is great. 

If you want to go a little further afield, head up to The Bronx to the New York Botanical Garden there and Arthur Ave, which is the real Little Italy. (The one near Chinatown New York is just silly.) 

Finally, I LOVE Coney Island - to me, it's old New York at it's best. There's the beach, the sideshow, the rides - it's one big spectacle. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chelsea (New York) (attraction)
  2. Hell's Kitchen (attraction)
  3. American Museum of Natural History (attraction)
  4. 55 Bar (attraction)
  5. Smalls Jazz Club (attraction)
  6. The Algonquin Hotel (hotel)
  7. King Cole Bar (attraction)
  8. High Line Park (attraction)
  9. The Cloisters (attraction)
  10. Bronx (neighborhood)
  11. New York Botanical Garden (attraction)
  12. Arthur Ave (attraction)
  13. Chinatown New York (neighborhood)
  14. Coney Island (attraction)
7 thanks

answered by
Sherrie from Harrisburg

Well I'm sure during the 4th there will be fun, unique stuff all over but what we like to do is hang out in Greenwich Village, have lunch The Blind Tiger the greatest little place with simple, good food and great beer..if you like beer!  Later in the night we head to the Cornelia Street Cafe right around the corner and head downstairs for jazz or a poetry reading.  It's a beatniky kind of thing to do, but let's face it, you are right off Bleecker Street.  It's also fun to take the Greenwich Village Food Tour.  You learn about the history of the area and eat some great food!  We had such a great time on that tour.  And heck, if you're up for it, go to Lips and see a great drag show!  It's really fun.  Hope that helps!  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Blind Tiger (attraction)
  2. Cornelia Street Cafe (restaurant)
  3. Greenwich Village Food Tour (restaurant)
  4. Lips (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by
Nina from New York City

You throw a stone in NYC and it falls on a museum but out of all, I highly recommend "The Cloisters," if you are into museums that is. It is better to drive up there as it can be quite an unwelcome hike. 

I personally like this bar called Brass Monkey in Meatpacking district. The barkeep Sean (who should be there on Thursdays) is amazing! Call and ask when they have the irish guys playing.. the sun room at the back is kinda amazing with the live music. Brooklyn's Cobble Hill area has some cool bars too. 

Instead of Empire State, give "Top of the Rock" a chance for a view of the empire state and central park and more.

Visit some of the interesting bookstores - Strand Books, Kinokuniya Bookstore.. 

Restaurants are endless in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It's difficult to suggest without knowing your cuisine or area preference. 

And if you really want to feel like a true NYker, put your sneakers on and go for a run around Central Park Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. And if you are too ambitious, take a bike tour around central park!

NY and its people will amaze you. In a good way. :) 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Cloisters (attraction)
  2. Brass Monkey (attraction)
  3. Cobble Hill (neighborhood)
  4. Top of the Rock (attraction)
  5. Strand Books (attraction)
  6. Kinokuniya Bookstore (attraction)
  7. Central Park (attraction)
  8. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by

There are a lot of amazing restaurants and bars in New York and it does depend a little on what you like.  

Go to John Dory Oyster Bar for oyster and seafood and stop by the Ace Hotel New York for a drink afterwards.

If you like steaks, go to Williamsburg and give Peter Luger Steak House a try.  Be aware that they're cash only.  In Williamsurg, there are plenty of cool bars to check out, nearby Peter Luger, there is Baby's All Right, if you prefer a more chilled environment, you can get cocktails at Dram (if you like it a little posh) or Post Office Whiskey Bar (if you like a good friendly crowd.  

Since you're in town for the 4th of July, a lot people will out of town, but I'd try to get yourselves invited to a rooftop party somewhere.

Lastly, The McKittrick Hotel / Sleep No More is a fun immersive theater experience that's definitely worth checking out.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. John Dory Oyster Bar (restaurant)
  2. Ace Hotel New York (hotel)
  3. Peter Luger Steak House (restaurant)
  4. Baby's All Right (attraction)
  5. Dram (attraction)
  6. Post Office Whiskey Bar (attraction)
  7. The McKittrick Hotel / Sleep No More (attraction)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Lauren from Long Island (New York)

I like a bar called Tonic East- its on the east side, midtown! Great drinks and an awesome view of the Chrysler Building. I also love a place call the The Meatball Shop, check it out.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tonic East (attraction)
  2. The Meatball Shop (restaurant)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
katie from Brooklyn

I would add North River Lobster Company to the list. It's a new floating barge with beer and lobster rolls, among other things. It sails around a few times a day. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. North River Lobster Company (restaurant)
5 thanks

answered by
Luis from New York City

New York is beautiful in any season. In the summer it is great to be by the water. You can visit The Cloisterswhich is a beautiful museum, I understand that you will rub elbows with some tourist here but the views and the exhibits are worth it. La Marina NYC is a restaurant with great views of the Hudson River and a great idea for a brunch excursion after the cloisters. La Marina turns into a night club in the evenings if that is what you are looking for and not too many tourist. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Cloisters (attraction)
  2. La Marina NYC (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Ashley from Everywhere

If you need a hotel, try the Library Hotel or Hotel Giraffe. both are in great locations! for bars, we love Henry @ The Hudson for cocktails, Bar 54 for amazing views, and Earl's Beer & Cheese for a VERY off the beaten track (but delicious!) experience. Restaurants: try Perla,Felice 83The Smith RestaurantWhitman & Bloom... we have so many. Hopefully this helps, or you can check out our site for more recommendations! We've both lived in and out of NYC for years. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Library Hotel (hotel)
  2. Hotel Giraffe (hotel)
  3. Henry @ The Hudson (restaurant)
  4. Bar 54 (attraction)
  5. Earl's Beer & Cheese (attraction)
  6. Perla (restaurant)
  7. Felice 83 (attraction)
  8. The Smith Restaurant (restaurant)
  9. Whitman & Bloom (restaurant)
4 thanks

answered by
Joe from New York City

You can also take a trip out to Randall's Island Park, or down to Staten Island and check out Fort Wadsworth

Brunch is always a must. Boozy, preferably. Barbounia is good or Agave Restaurant for bottomless margaritas.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Randall's Island Park (attraction)
  2. Fort Wadsworth (attraction)
  3. Barbounia (restaurant)
  4. Agave Restaurant (restaurant)
3 thanks

answered by
C from Taylorsville, Utah

Don't dismiss Brooklyn! I lived there for a year, and loved boutique shopping! The subway to Atlantic Avenue Barclay Center will deposit you at the top of fifth avenue in Park Slope, a place so family oriented and low crime, it's logo is the stroller! From there, you'll want to dine Alchemy, and don't miss The Chocolate Roomfor anything! Their flourless cake is to die for! Also a good place to choose out some chocolates for souvineers, and then eat them yourself later on! There is a grocery store there- very convenient, and if you are in for a bit of walking and just gazing at the beautiful brownstones, head to Prospect Park and Brooklyn Museum. Breathtaking!!! Don't proceed past that, it gets seedy. Be sure to take numbers for car services, as there are but rare taxis found in BK, and you'll want a ride back to the terminal or 5th, where there is a nightlife!  I wouldn't stray off 5th and the terminal after dark. This is a monied area, but also predators after dark looking for the money.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Atlantic Avenue Barclay Center (attraction)
  2. Alchemy (restaurant)
  3. The Chocolate Room (attraction)
  4. Prospect Park (attraction)
  5. Brooklyn Museum (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Peter from New York City

Take in a play at the Cherry Lane Theatre

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cherry Lane Theatre (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Sofya from Brooklyn

Non touristy... Coney Island has fireworks every Friday at 9:30 and also on July 4th. Not as grand as the main fireworks display but fun and you're right in the middle of the action. There's a bar/restaurant called Place to Beach where you can hang/dance to a live DJ and watch said fireworks. Make a beach day of it and ride some go carts and the Cyclone.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Coney Island (attraction)
  2. Place to Beach (restaurant)

answered by
Jerome from Athens (Georgia)

Mamoun's Falafel

One of the fist pizza places- Lombardi's Pizza

Amazing soup dumplings-
Joe's Shanghai
9 Pell St
New York, NY 10013

This place is super delicious. Gotta try the deserts and the Espresso Shakerato- Ballarò

Real Deli- Katz's Delicatessen Get a hot dog and a pastrami sandwich on rye. be ready to share.

Great Bagels and Locks- Russ & Daughters

Great cuban. Get the grilled corn on the cobb- Cafe Habana

Oldest Irish Bar in the city- McSorley's Old Ale House

Bleecker street parallel to Houston goes through NYU.
There, Bleecker Street Bar is pretty good.


Best Jerky. Don’t be afraid of how it looks on the outside. They only sell Jerky! - Pings Dried Beef

Walk down the Washington Mews, a private gated street in New York City between Fifth Avenue and University Place just north of Washington Square Park

The museums are awesome. Be sure to show you student Id for discounts.

You want to hit central park and grand central station these are both cool.

It’s cool to take the ferry out to the statue of liberty too.

Chinatown New York

High Line Hotel

Chelsea Market

I never did this but it looks cool. The Roosevelt Island Bridge

Coney Island

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mamoun's Falafel (restaurant)
  2. Lombardi's Pizza (restaurant)
  3. Joe's Shanghai (restaurant)
  4. Ballarò (restaurant)
  5. Katz's Delicatessen (restaurant)
  6. Russ & Daughters (attraction)
  7. Cafe Habana (restaurant)
  8. McSorley's Old Ale House (restaurant)
  9. Bleecker Street Bar (restaurant)
  10. Balducci's (attraction)
  11. Pings Dried Beef (restaurant)
  12. Washington Mews (attraction)
  13. Washington Square Park (attraction)
  14. Chinatown New York (neighborhood)
  15. High Line Hotel (hotel)
  16. Chelsea Market (attraction)
  17. Roosevelt Island Bridge (attraction)
  18. Coney Island (attraction)

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