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Experiencing NYC Like a True New Yorker

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

Sure, you want to see all the tourist destinations. But where do you find the true New York that all the locals love?

by Megan Mowery

As a born-and-bred Midwesterner with very little experience in the ~big city,~ I had little idea what I actually wanted to do for fun when I got here. Sure, I knew the big things: spotting the Empire State Building, walking through Grand Central Station, checking out the Statue of Liberty. So, on my very first weekend in New York, I set out to do just those things. I racked up the miles on my shoes, determined to hit every landmark in one fell swoop just in case I didn’t have time to do them later on. Lol.

What I didn’t realize is that New York is a big city, yes. But it’s accessible in the ways that count. I laugh at myself rushing to see the Empire State Building now—I walk past it just about every day from different angles and sides. My subway stop for work just happens to be Grand Central Station, and my office window looks out at the Chrysler Building, my personal favorite.

You’d think the magic of it starts to wear off after a while, but it really doesn’t. That’s what makes this city so great. Just don’t get caught up gawking at any given time—that’s the sure sign of a tourist. New Yorkers are very private about any emotion that’s not anger or annoyance, but you can bet there’s some very well-hidden appreciation for the beautiful architecture around us at any given time

Once I got here and got acclimated, I wanted to take in the city like a local. And eventually I started to fool people into thinking I actually was one.

I stereotypically walked the Brooklyn Bridge, but spent some time in Dumbo browsing the flea markets after. One night my roommates and I got tickets to see the city at night from the Top of the Rock, but not until after we’d seen some off-beat shows at the Comedy Cellar, Village Vanguard and our nearby art movie theater. Weekends are best spent lounging in Central Park or Washington Square Park, and nights out should end at the Crocodile Lounge (seriously—check out the Crocodile Lounge, and thank me later). You can’t beat a hot summer day at Rockaway Beach, a rainy afternoon at the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue (get that library card!), an introspective Summer Friday at the Met, or the Whitney, or the MoMA, or any number of the museums where an NYU Student ID gets you in for free. Grab a slice of cheesecake at Junior’s, eat New York pizza the way it’s intended (greasy, cheesy, flat, folded in half) at Joe’s, indulge in a French toast bagel at Tompkin’s Square Bagels.

There’s no shortage of things to do during your summer in the city. Just get out and explore.

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