If you’re anything like me, discovering how the locals live is the best part of travelling. Going off the beaten path, becoming immersed in the regional way of life and getting to know the local hang outs is an exhilarating feeling. Finding that tucked away funky bar to dance all night or meeting locals at their favourite neighbourhood deli for a 4 inch thick pastrami and coleslaw on rye makes for a memorable holiday not soon forgotten; one that’s more than just a collection of photo bombed tourist pics never to be shared – well except on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, right?
So really, what better place to live like a local than the big apple! Here are just some of New York’s finest local hang outs.
One of the most popular bike paths and walking trails in the U.S.A. is the Hudson River Greenway. This 28 mile trail extends almost the full length of the island of Manhattan along its western shore with the Hudson River. Offering easy access points to anywhere in the city, New Yorker’s use this path extensively for fun in the sun or a cool way to commute. You’ll find the health conscious locals taking a stroll or biking and jogging along this path all day long. If you want to get around like a New Yorker then rent a bike or strap on the roller blades with short shorts and hit the trail with your mates for a great way to see the city!
Like any student or young professional, fun is had by hanging with mates in a corner café, shooting the breeze while sipping a decaf soy mochaccino - hold the sprinkles please. It’s no different on the trendy Upper West Side of New York near Columbia University where President Obama himself lived and studied. Head to Columbus Avenue in the West 85th Street area where hip cafes and trendy restaurants offer the best coffee and great casual menus. The Upper West Side is where many locals live and there is a dense University population so you’ll be sure to find everything from little bakeries serving delicious treats to quaint shops. The historic row houses situated along quiet tree lined side streets offer a great glimpse into that New York way of life.
Picnics, Footy and Snoozes
Smack in the middle of Manhattan is the famed Central Park. While you’re sure to find tourists here, this is really the top leisure spot for city residents. No, you won’t find the coffee shop ‘Central Perk’ from Friends here, but New Yorkers could probably go on for days about all the great activities to enjoy. Locals love to chill and hang in this historic 340 hectare park and they take full advantage of its stunning grounds all year round. Enjoy a picnic overlooking the most incredible skyline in the world or join a local game of footy or baseball! Skip the horse drawn carriages and join the locals for a lazy stroll, bike ride or a disco nap under the oak trees.
Just a couple blocks from the Hudson River Greenway bike path you’ll find ‘The High Line’. Located in lower Manhattan’s West Chelsea area, this previously rundown elevated rail line was turned into a trendy roof top like park and walkway that stretches for 20 blocks above street level. Ready for another caffeine fix? Chill with the locals enjoying a coffee or al fresco meal while hanging with family and friends. The historic railroad tracks have been cleverly incorporated into the stylish landscaped gardens and offbeat sculptures add to the hip atmosphere.
New York is a huge, international city with loads to offer. All one really has to do is walk its vibrant neighbourhoods and the city will open up to you. New Yorkers are friendly but direct and have an often undeserved reputation for being harsh. One thing is for sure, they love talking about their city. With that, you’ll never be lost.
If you need help planning your flights or looking for the best places to stay, one of your local travel agents like Student Flights can take care of this for you, live like a local, stay in a hostel or book one of the quirky and unique hotels New York has to offer!
Author: Todd Sturm+ is an American who has travelled his home country extensively and New York City has always been one of his favourite getaways. From Broadway shows to Central Park bike rides, the Big Apple never disappoints.