What to do with friends/family when they visit New York

There are SO many ‘top 10 things to do in NY’ lists that you think it would be easy to show people around when they come to visit, but it can be really difficult to know where to begin. That, and they expect you to know all the ins, outs and secret places of one of the biggest cities in the world. Jeez Mum, I’ve only been here for 3 months, sorrrrryyyy I haven’t been exposed to some super craft fair location because 1) I have no money for these things and 2) I spend my evenings in the cheapest bar I can find. Okay?!

So I thought I would compile some of the things that have been tried and tested. The aim of the game is to show people things they may not have done in New York. If it’s someone who has never visited, you’re lucky because they’re usually happy with 5th Avenue and Times Square. It’s those seasoned travelers that can be a bit tricky.

This is not a revolutionary list, so it’s unlikely you’ll be surprised: I do not hold any city secrets up my sleeve.

Doing Activities

  • The High Line
    • This is a fairly new addition to the city, so not that many visitors have been before. And if they have, take them again. It’s a great way to see a different part of the city and explore West Village and Chelsea2015-08-21 14.17.07
  • Chelsea Market
    • Coupled with the above makes a great morning/afternoon
  • Brooklyn
    • I’d been to New York 4 times before coming here to live, and I’d never made it over to Brooklyn. Go to Williamsburg, have a wander, eat some things, buy something hipster. Suitable for friends and parents alike.
    • The Brooklyn brewery does free tours at the weekend. Go at 12pm.
    • This is also a great opportunity to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I recommend getting the metro over, and walking back but either way works.
  • Central Park
    • A classic movie scene activity. Renting a boat is about $15 per boat and is a lot of fun. Catch it at sunset in the summer and it’s magical. Also, someone bumped into Ed Sheeran in a boat, so you never know, that could happen too.
    • 2015-08-29 17.03.47
  • Woodbury Common
    • If they’re there for longer than 4 full days, and especially if you’re having to work, this can be a great option. A full day of shopping at arguably the best premium outlets the US has to offer (I’ve sampled outlets in FL, CA, NV and NY) can be a way to get shopping out of their system to concentrate on more important activities.
  • Staten Island Ferry
    • A free and easy way to see the Statue of Liberty and go on a boat – which is always fun, right?2015-08-21 11.46.36
  • A Sports Game
    • As above with Brooklyn, it’s unlikely that a holiday go-er has managed to make it to a sports game, so this makes it really fun. Depending on the season, what is on varies, but it’s likely you’ll be able to get tickets to one of the holy trinity: Baseball, Basketball, Football (NFL). Take them along to the Yankee Stadium (or Mets if you’re that way inclined) grab some hot dogs and beers, and revel in an all American experience. Even sport haters will love it, I promise.11986976_10156223188565105_3409579731026518588_n
  • A Broadway show
    • This is an oldie but a goodie. If you can nab some last minute cheap tickets to a show they’ve never seen, it’s always a nice evening activity.
  • MoMa
    • Go on free afternoon Fridays
  • Whitney Museum
    • My favourite museum in NYC
  • Hoboken
    •  The home of Carlos Bakery, Hoboken has a lot to offer. It’s also unlikely that your visitor has been there before. A wander through and a casual dinner or lunch2015-09-12 15.52.53
  • Soul Cycle Class
    • Okay okay bear with me here. I know you’re thinking “Jess, what a ridiculous suggestion that my best friend/mother/brother will want to do an exercise class whilst they are on holiday”. Granted, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but when I came to New York I was desperate to try Soul Cycle at least once. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s amazing. So just for the novelty, it can be really good fun. If you’re lucky, you might also spot some celebs sweating away in front of you.
  • Museum of Natural History
    • Perfect for a rainy day and night at the museum enthusiasts (do those exist? I’m not sure).
  • One World Trade Center
    • I’ve not done this yet, but I’ve been told it’s amazing and worth the entry price.
  • Seasonal activities 
    • E.g. ice skating in central park (winter), Rockefeller tree (winter), pumpkin picking (fall), Governor’s Island special events (summer)

Eating and Drinking Activities

There are thousands of great places to eat in New York. It’s likely that you’ll just walk into somewhere and get a great meal, so this is not a list of must-do’s, only suggestions.

  • Rooftop bars in the summer
    • In the summer you can’t walk two blocks without a sign for a rooftop bar. They are everywhere. If you’ve got guests, it’s an anytime of day activity.
    • 230 Fifth, Refinery, Le Bain, The Wythe (Brooklyn), Mr Purple, Pod 39, Berry Park and thousands more. 
  • Batellos 
    • If your guest wants to see Newport, this is a great spot. Amazing views and if you’re lucky a free drink from the bartender (I’ve yet to buy a drink there).11923224_10156187843990105_3757056063693693709_n
  • Rockefeller Bar
    • Yes this is a rooftop bar, but it deserves it’s own section. The best views of Manhattan (in Manhattan), great drinks. It’s expensive but you waived the observatory deck fee, so really it’s half priced and you get a drink. Win’s all round. (Caveat – only open weekday evenings).12187873_10156384665065105_2562412816679387691_n
  • Dead Rabbit
    • Voted the best bar in the world (several times over). It’s small and has a great atmosphere. Reasonably priced. Excellent drinks.
  • Bouley
    • Double Michelin starred, it’s very high end, and priced to match. The trick is to go for lunch and get the same prix-fix menu for a third of the price.
  • Morimoto
    • If you’re sick of all you can eat sushi (but I mean, who does get sick of AYCE?) this is a high end sushi place attached to Chelsea Market. The tuna tartar is like butter – or so I’ve been told. I’m trying it out in December.
  • Quality Meats
    • Modern and excellent steak restaurant. Fairly expensive but not horrendous. Good for a special meal with parents/bf/gf.
  • Sunday Brunch
    • A classic NYC sunday brunch is always a great activity. Find a bottomless one, have some bloody mary’s and get into the Manhattan spirit.
    • For something non-boozy you’ll want to head to one of the following: Bubby’s, Bluestone Collective, Two Hands, Jack’s Wife Freda, The Butcher’s Daughter
  • Smorgusburg
    • Perfect for foodies and hipsters alike.
  • Korea Town 
    • If you’re after succulent steamed buns and bottomless bowls of ramen, this is the place to be. A particular favourite is Gallery 32 on 32nd st which contains an abundance of places to eat including Korean BBQ and Mr Fish (probably the best sushi, like, ever).
  • Little Italy
    • Fill up on canolis and pizza.


I hope this gives a little inspiration!




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