For many tourists, it’s easy to think of a New York where everything is like Times Square.  Yet real New Yorkers know that isn’t true at all!  There are plenty of ways for people visiting to appreciate New York like a true New Yorker.  If you want to choose some good neighborhoods, I would suggest Chinatown, the East Village, the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side and Park Slope.  Here are some of the things you’ll need to check out:


Take in and embrace the chaos and sensory overload that is Manhattan’s Chinatown.  It might be easy to get lost among the winding streets, but there’s plenty to do, and it thankfully isn’t too big.  You’ll absolutely have to visit Joe’s Shanghai on Pell Street to get soup dumplings and a side of peanut noodles, and if you can find it, grab a drink at Apotheke, a speakeasy on Doyers Street that used to be an opium den.

East Village NYC

In many ways, St. Mark’s Place, the street that makes up the heart of the East Village, is New York’s “alternative” Times Square.  It offers plenty of exciting things to do for a fraction of the price, none of the massive crowds and no annoying people dressed in costumes trying to take your money.  Old-school residents might lament the loss of the neighborhood’s “edge”, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had.  Visit Barcade, a bar featuring 80s arcade games, grab a snack at Papaya King, then drop into one of the great bars on St. Marks and neighboring streets.  Some recommendations include Jimmy’s No 43, McSorley’s and Veselka.  If you’re in the neighborhood on the weekend in the early afternoon, I would also suggest visiting Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen, home to some of the most authentic Ukrainian food in the city.

Upper West Side

This doesn’t have the restaurant/bar scene in Brooklyn or downtown, but you’ll have easy access to both Central park and Riverside Park.  The weather is perfect in May, so spend plenty of time outdoors.  You’ll have access to Zabar’s and Citarella, which offer great prepared foods for a quick meal.  Some other must-sees include the Soldier & Sailor’s Monument, the Museum of Natural History and the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.

Upper East Side

Here you’ll find a better selection of restaurants and bars.  Transportation isn’t as good out here.  Some places of interest include Jones Wood Foundry, Caledonia Scottish Pub, Heidelberg, Schaller & Weber, the Met, the Guggenheim, the Carl Shurz Park and the Promenade.

Park SlopeProbably the biggest draw here is the “park” after which this neighborhood is named.  It’s also a good launching point to explore the rest of Brooklyn.  Indie coffee shops like Gorilla and Grumpy, the Prospect Park Zoo and the various restaurants on fifth avenue (Pork Slope is one standout) give this place plenty of variety.