As one of the most populated cities in the world, people are constantly moving to New York City, especially after graduating from college or temporarily for a summer internship. With all the hustle and bustle, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed and lost.
Not to worry, we have gathered the essential things that you must do upon your arrival in New York. You will be feeling (and acting) like a New Yorker in no time, trust me.
A personal message from Tay Swift:
1. Go and eat brunch immediately.
Chances are you’re going to be moving in on the weekend. Take a break (even if you haven’t started yet) and go to brunch. NYC is known for their brunch and it should be experienced immediately. There are so many places to enjoy this wonderful breakfast-lunch combo that you have to get started right away, or you will never get even halfway through this list.
2. Figure out the Subway.
It is not as hard as it seems. Luckily for newbies, if you mess up, you can ride the entire subway on one fare. It is important to figure out the subway right away because cabs and ubers can get very expensive. To learn NYC Subway etiquette, look no further than these infographics by Nathan Pyle.
#SpoonTip: New York Subway = a free concert. The people who play instruments and sing in the subway have to audition, so they are usually pretty good.
3. Realize that NYC is just a big grid.
There is really no reason to get lost in the city. All of the streets increase in number going north, and the avenues go up heading west with a few names in between. If you are driving, the even streets run east and the odd streets run west. Once you figure out this very simple system you can ditch the expensive subway and walk (if close by).
4. Shop at the fruit stands on the sidewalks.
These will be life savers. Groceries in NYC are notoriously expensive, but not at the fruit stands. It may seem out of place, but this fruit is fresh, cheap and delicious. Grab some on the way to class, work or really anywhere.
5. Do your own international food tour.
New York City is the home to so many cuisines. From Ukrainian food at Veselka to Jewish food at Katz’s Deli, you can find it all here. When you move to New York, it is important to expand your food horizons and try all of the various cuisines available. The best part is that you can find a lot of authentic food since NYC is the home to so many generations of immigrants. Here’s a list to get you started.
6. Enter the lottery for a Broadway show.
We all know how expensive Broadway shows are, especially Hamilton right now. One way to go inexpensively is through the lottery. Show up to the theater on a day where you have nothing else to do, and enter your name in. If you win, go to the show. If you don’t, go grab a slice of pizza and take a walk in the park.
7. Be in the audience for Late Night or SNL.
One thing that most New Yorkers never do is go see the shows that are filmed in the city. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Seth Meyers are recorded right in Rockefeller Center, and the tickets are free. Since most New Yorkers never get around to it, best to do it right when you move to the city before you forget.
8. Explore Central Park.
Central park is NYC’s backyard. From the carousel to baseball fields, ponds and Sheep’s Meadow there is always tons of greenery to explore. Take advantage and get to know the park soon after you move to New York. Have a picnic on the green, climb some rocks or stroll through with an ice cream from the many vendors. Central Park will be the place to go when you miss having a yard, and want to soak in the sun.
9. Read Spoon University.
Headquartered in the city, Spoon University is your resource for all things food (or at least it should be from now on). Check it out to find the most instal-worthy places, where to eat in Chinatown, where to eat for under $10 and so much more. Check back for updates frequently (and follow us on Facebook and Instagram). New articles are published every day.
10. Ride the Staten Island Ferry or East River Ferry.
The views from the city are amazing from both the Staten Island Ferry and East River Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is free, but the East River Ferry is a great way to get to Brooklyn – certainly more picturesque than the Subway. Both are great options to get on the water and enjoy a nice ride with amazing views.
11. Walk along the Brooklyn Bridge.
This is a quintessential New York City walk. The bridge is beautiful and offers great views of the city. Once you cross the bridge, have a nice lunch and picnic in the park. Eat as much as you want because you can walk it off on the way home.
12. Learn how to jaywalk.
Jaywalking is practically legal in NYC. It is essential if you want to fit in. You will be able to get where you are going so much faster as you don’t have to wait for lights. Soon you will be cutting across the streets in other cities and people will look at you like you’re crazy. You’re not – it’s called efficiency.
13. Take one day to do everything touristy.
For some who move to New York this might be you’re first time in the Big Apple. Even if it isn’t, some of the touristy things are actually pretty fun. Pick one day and cram in as much as you can. Go to Times Square, see the Statue of Liberty, and check out Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. We all have to be tourists at some point – even if we hate them every other day of the year.
14. Try all of the street food.
One of the best part about NYC is the street food. From the Halal Guys to dirty water dogs and roasted nuts, all are quintessential parts of NYC cuisine. Don’t let the fact that it comes from the street scare you away – it’s all a part of the charm.
15. Shop in the Village.
Whether its Greenwich, East or West, these villages in NYC have tons of boutiques to choose from. Check them out to find clothes and accessories you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Full of vintage and record stores, you can create your own NYC style in no time.
16. Relax on the High Line.
Another oasis from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan is the High Line on the West Side. Where an old train used to run, this park is full of green space and food vendors. Along the roughly 1.5 mile park is several works of art – from sculptures to paintings on the side of buildings. It is definitely a good place for newcomers to go who are missing greenery and need to destress.
17. Skate in Wollman’s Rink.
Located in Central Park is Wollman’s Rink. A small amusement park in the summer and ice skating rink in the winter, it offers fun all year round. Used more by adults in the winter, it makes for a great afternoon activity with friends. Grab some skates, hot cocoa and a warm coat and get ready to fall all over the place while six year old kids skate circles around you.
18. See a Upright Citizens Brigade show.
If you love comedy, make sure to check UCB out when you move to NYC. It has launched the careers of several NBC stars and Comedy Central writers (any big Abby and Ilana fans?). With locations in the East Village and Chelsea, come, have a drink and laugh all night to improv and sketch comedy.
19. Visit the lesser-known museums.
While every tourist has been to The MET, MOMA or the Museum of Natural History, those who move to NYC have the opportunity to explore its lesser known, but still impressive museums. The Cloisters, Whitney and Tenement Museums are just a few of the many to see.
20. Eat everything at Smorgasburg.
If you love food and it’s the summer time you better spend your Saturday or Sunday (maybe both) and Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. With over 75 vendors and views of the Manhattan skyline, there is no better place to eat on the weekends. You can go every week and not eat the same thing twice – up for the challenge?
21. Eat as many bagels and pizza as possible.
New York state is known for their outstanding pizza and bagels and NYC is no exception. When you first move to The City, I suggest finding your favorite $1 pizza place as well as your favorite bagels. Knowing where to go for these NYC essentials is key. To start your journey check out Ess-a-Bagel and 2 Bros. Pizza.
22. Eat at Eataly and Le District.
Eataly is not a NYC exclusive, but if you have never been to one before, it is a must. With a variety of Italian restaurants, bakery and retail spaces, you are transported to an Italy when you walk through the door. In similar fashion, Le District, is a french version of Eataly. With many French restaurants, markets and cafes you’ll feel like you are on the streets of Paris in no time.
23. Shop at the Union Square Markets.
The Union Square Market is open on Mondays year round. It is great for fresh produce, flowers and baked goods. Stock up your kitchen with some quality groceries. During the holiday season there is also a holiday market that has dozens of vendors. It is a great place to find a unique gift for your parents, friends or that special someone.