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When you think of traveling to New York City, you probably think of the usual touristy suspects: Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central Station, and the Empire State Building among others. Believe me, these are definitely visit-worthy, but they do not encompass what NYC really has to offer.
There is so much to do and see within each of the 5 boroughs that it’s nearly impossible to do everything you’d like to in one visit. I lived in NYC for 2 years after college (and currently live about an hour away), so I still go back to visit friends and my husband’s family frequently. Here’s a list of some off-the-radar places to visit while you’re there.
The Groove NYC
This is my favorite live music spot. They play R&B, Funk, and Soul music 7 days a week. Located in Greenwich Village, it’s a perfect location for venue hopping. In the village, there’s an eclectic mix of live music venues, bars, and restaurants all next door to each other. The crowd here is always diverse with NYC locals, visitors from other American cities, and international travelers. The bands keep the audience grooving – often until 2 A.M. on weekends. It’s a small place that gets filled fast with booth, shared table, and bar seating. My favorite bands to see are Li’Nard’s Many Moods and Black Soul Experience.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
While I was living in the city, Brooklyn Bridge Park was under construction so I never really got to enjoy it. However, I was able to visit this cool park last summer when my husband and I hosted a guest on Airbnb who was visiting from Germany. We live in Connecticut now but wanted to show her the big city, so we headed down for the day. The park was finally open and for the most part complete. There are awesome views of both the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. The park hosts events year-round, and there is even free kayaking in the river during the summer months.
Battery Park City
I love walking through Battery Park City. Located on the southwestern tip of lower Manhattan, the park offers excellent green space and wonderful river views of New Jersey. You can even sneak a peak at the Statue of Liberty. Take a moment to watch the boats on the water, the bustle of the financial center, and eat at a few good food trucks.
Queens Center Mall
If you want a shopping mall experience while in New York City, skip the Manhattan Mall in midtown and jump on the train to Queens. Queens Center Mall is your standard shopping mall, yet it is still lively and busy like the city. There is a good collection of stores for shoppers of all kinds and a great food selection at the food court.
Downtown Brooklyn is fun for just about everything: shopping, eating, hanging out, theatre and people watching. There are tons of local spots to explore, including your big chain locations if you’re not feeling adventurous. Checking out Junior’s for their famous cheesecake is a must. A short ride from downtown is “Brooklyn Flea” – a huge outdoor, summertime flea market with about 150 vendors selling a wide variety of finds and food. If you are visiting during the summer, I highly recommend carving out some time to visit the Flea!
New York City is an amazing place. There is always something to do, something to see and something to eat – whether you have plans or not. I hope this list helps you enjoy a side of the city that the locals usually enjoy.