What are your tips for visiting Manhattan

15 insider tips for New York from a local

Insider tips from a friend who lives in New York

Are you looking for insider tips for New York? Tips for the city that never sleeps as the saying goes? Micha moved to New York 5 years ago and lived in New York City until 2 weeks ago. That's why he gave me insider tips that you won't find in the travel guide.

Red Hook, Brooklyn

Red hook is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is not that easy to get to by public transport. That's why it doesn't feel so much like New York. It's pretty convenient to get to thanks to UBER and Lyft.

In the former Red Hook harbor district you will find a few great restaurants, bars and also get a great view of the Upper Bay in Manhattan including a view of the Statue of Liberty!

Tip for restaurants:

  • Hometown BBQ: Best food in Brooklyn, the line at the entrance is often long, it's definitely worth it! More about this in Food guide for New York to eat out

Abandoned underground station under the town hall

Do you know the hidden New York subway station under City Hall? Hardly any tourist knows one of the most beautiful stations. Quite a few locals have never been here either.

The station was closed in late 1945, but is still accessible. Crazy, right? A lost place in the middle of Manhattan is hard to imagine. However, you will only come to the abandoned subway station as part of a tour.

You can only do the tour on the Book the New York Transit Museum website. The tour is only for members, but then free. You have to have one Get 1-year membership here. It is worth it ..

Note: You shouldn't stay seated. But some do. Take the green line 6 from Central Park Downtown. Sit at the end of the line (despite the announcement) and go uptown again. Then the subway practically turns and passes the station under the City Hall. However, you can only get a really quick look at it).

The tracks run under the town hall building and the adjacent park. It's easier to see in this sketch how the 6-way line makes its 180-degree turn while express trains can travel south through downtown and into Brooklyn.

Food Hall under the Plaza Hotel

Would you have thought that there is a large eating area in the basement of the Plaza Hotel? If it's cold outside and the weather is bad, your hunger will be satisfied here.

Even if I'm a huge fan of the Chelsea Market am Now and then a change is good.

Smorgasburg Food Market

Where are the foodies? Would you like a change from Chelsea Market or the other food spots? Then visit the Smorgasburg Food Market.

The market has become so popular that there is also a weekly offshoot in downtown Los Angeles. Would you have thought that Neither do I, but I tested it on my last visit to L.A.

My favorite were Thai poffertjes.

Speakeasy Bars

The speakeasy bars date from the prohibition era when alcohol was banned. These bars are pretty mysterious. One of them is the PDT. More follow without much explanation, because you have to find out for yourself.

Please Don’t Tell (PDT)

So-called secret bars are a real insider for city trips. The “Please don't tell” bar is a real insider tip (okay, not anymore).

Enter the Crift Dogs hot dog shop and find the phone booth inside. Go into the phone booth, pick up the receiver and talk to the landlady. A bar employee will open the secret door in the phone booth for you.

He asks for your phone number. As soon as a seat is free, you will receive a message on your mobile phone and you must have entered the bar within 10 minutes. Otherwise it's the next person's turn. At the weekend you may have to wait several hours. Here, too, it is worth waiting.

Click here for the website

More mysterious bars:

  • Pharmacy
  • The backroom
  • Milk & Honey
  • The Garret

Photography in New York: skyline views

The famous viewpoints in Manhattan Every tourist knows Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, One World Observatory and Edge Observation Platform at Hudson Yards.

But what about the other side of Manhattan?

Here I advise you the following places on the East River:

  • FDR Four Freedoms Park, southern tip of Roosevelt Island
  • Gantry Plaza State Park, Long Island City
  • Northside Piers, North Williamsburg, Brooklyyn

At Brookyln Bridge Park

At the Pier 1 in Brooklyn can you the Lower Manhatten Skyline stare at for hours. The most beautiful location around the Financial District to photograph with its numerous architectural masterpieces.

in the High Line Park and the new one The Edg viewing platforme you get the newest and probably coolest view of New York on a glass shelf. Unfortunately, due to Corona, I could not come up yet.

The Vessel but is also worth a visit:

Cross Brookyln Bridge by bike

Okay, not an insider tip, but I lived in Brooklyn for a long time. For me, there was nothing better than riding my bike over the Brooklyn Bridge. Since I was on the road at times when there were no tourist crowds, it was always a dream.

Come here early in the morning or late in the evening. Then it is most beautiful.

Typical food in New York

Maybe it's because my wife is from southern America. I prefer to eat “New Food” or tacos Taquitoria (Address: 168 Ludlow St, New York). The portions are large and the food tastes delicious.

But as another typical food in New York I would recommend:

  • Shake Shack for burgers (alternatively: Spotted Pig, Dure Smaak or Bareburger)
  • Ess-A-Bagel - the institution in general for a bagel for breakfast (or a French breakfast at Maison Kaiser - okay, maybe not the revelation for you, as it is also available in Germany)
  • Pizza at Roberta's Pizza, Two Boots Pizza or 99 Cent Pizza (it's everywhere, it's cheap but not a revelation)
  • Eat at food trucks such as Halal Guys, Big Gay Ice Cream, Wafels & Dinges or the typical hot dog cart.
  • And a pastrami sandwich of course!

There are so many other great food tips. I always check the Yelp app on my cell phone to see which tips other locals are recommending. We all use Yelp, rather less Google or TripAdvisor.

Flea markets for bargains

For bargains, you absolutely have to Brooklyn Flea Flea Market visit. The flea market takes place regularly in Brooklyn (exact dates and locations can be found here: brooklynflea.com

More tips for great flea markets in New York

Brooklyn Brewery

For many, the Brooklyn Brewery is probably no longer an insider tip. A long queue often forms here shortly after opening. The beer is becoming more and more popular and is (according to Katrin) now also available in Germany in selected places.

Katrin also revealed that im New York Pass a guided tour in the Brooklyn Brewery is included for free. So buy the pass, it will really save you a lot of money if you want to visit the sights in New York. My family always buys this pass when they visit me. There are too cool tours included in the NY Pass.

Relaxing in Brooklyn Bridge Park

New York has a lot more green spaces than you might think. I prefer to relax inBrooklyn Bridge Park (see tips for Brooklyn). It's not far from my apartment and right on the water.

Other great parks to relax in are the Bryant Park with the great Le Carrousel with 14 traditional circus animals on the carousel in the French style. There are also chess boards in case you want to compete with locals.

You can also find chess boards in Washington Square Park. This is the place that was once a swamp, then a public place of execution, burial place for victims of yellow fever and a military parade ground. Today, Park is the unofficial campus garden for NYU students.

Nightlife and bars in New York: Lower East Side and East Village

For going out, I prefer the districts Lower East Side and East Village. There are many good bars and clubs here.

New York from the water

Change your perspective at least once and get on a boat. I have these three tips for the most beautiful views from the water:

  1. Circle Line Tour: The tour takes you all around Manhattan. There are also shorter tours that don't go all the way around Manhattan. You have to do the circumnavigation once.
  2. East River Ferry: Enjoy the sight of Manhattan from the water taxi. Departure is at 34th Middle Street in Midtown with several stops in Queens and Brooklyn before the taxi arrives at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. For $ 4 per person, this is ideal because you also drive through all three bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridge).
  3. Staten Island Ferry. The classic among the tips for tourists. Because the free ferry goes close to the Statue of Liberty to Staten Island. Insider tip: outward journey during the day, return journey after sunset.

For the cherry blossom in Central Park

Did you know that there are around 500 Japanese Yoshino cherry trees in Central Park? You can find most of them at the. 90th Street on the Bridle Path. If you are in New York in April, this is your first place to visit.

Rooftop bars - my recommendations

There are tons of rooftop bars in New York and Brooklyn. Everyone will recommend a different one to you. The views are actually grandiose and varied everywhere.

Note: alcohol will no longer be served after 4 a.m. You must also be over 21 years of age to drink alcohol and enter a bar. Always have ID with you.

If you want to get a seat, you have to come very early (before 10:30 p.m.) or after 2:30 a.m.

Special places in New York

Filming locations in New York

New York is quite a popular filming location for movies and TV series. The number of shooting days per year is between 30,000 and 40,000 per year. The probability of running into a film crew is therefore not that small.

Look out for film crews and “no parking” signs. These often even state the project for which a street or even an entire block of houses was closed.

This is what happened on my very first visit to New York over 15 years ago. So you can see the locations of your favorite series, for example with one of the numerous tours. Or you can read Andrea von Filmtourismus, which films were shot here (to the article).

Examples of film tours to locations in New York:

Free New York City Tours

Why should you squeeze yourself into the hop-on hop-off bus with many tourists when it is free and individually possible? The Big Apple Greeter Service consists of volunteers who show you their own New York.

The best thing to do is to reserve a place on their website bigapplegreeter.org

New York To Go

You can find out more about the Big Apple Greeters in this new New York Guide. I got this for the upcoming New York trip and I am sure that I will do at least one tour with the Big Apple Greeters. The editors have taken a tour with one of the guides in every neighborhood in New York and are reporting on it! Very well done, I read it with great curiosity and interest.

Order New York Guide To Go from Amazon

Incidentally, that's only available in New York

Alec Baldwin and Catharina Zeta-Jones happened to be on the street within a few minutes. Or to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z eating pizza more often. They probably had the same favorites as my wife and I (no, they are kept secret).

A tip at the end: Don't forget to pack good running shoes (sneakers) and a large and empty suitcase. You can buy everything else here in New York.

Free attractions

How to Explore New York for Free “On a budget”, as the saying goes.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

The MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) is a must for all art lovers. Here you will find the most important works of modern art, including works by Picasso, Andy Warhol, van Gogh, but also the most important computer games can be found in the design department.

Entry usually costs 25 $. If that's too much for you, there are two solutions: Either you put it on yourselfNew York Pass to, then admission is free. Or you visit MoMA on a Friday. Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., admission to the museum is free!

More information about MoMA on the official website.

9/11 Memorial Museum

The Memorial Museum only opened in 2014. The entrance to the memorial is between the two huge fountains where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. Artifacts from the 9/11 attack are on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Admission is free on Tuesdays from 4 p.m.

But:First come first serve. The tickets are limited.

More information on the official website.

Free concerts in New York

Free concerts are held in New York every summer. In Central Park as well as in Bryant Park you can listen to different artists for free.

You can find all dates on the following websites: cityparksfoundation.org and bryantpark.org

Further tips depending on the season

Sightseeing in summer



Sightseeing tips for the winter

  • MoMA - Museum of Modern Art
  • One World Observatory
  • Outlet shopping at Woodbury Outlets
  • 3-hour New York dinner cruise


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