“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.” – Nora Ephron
Best things to do in New York City to live a local
From criss-crossing the city from Manhattan to Brooklyn to Queens via the subway, to discovering world-famous art installations and stumbling upon incredible street art, to searching for the very best chocolate chip cookie (our vote is for Levain Bakery 🍪) — all this and far more is all in a day’s work when exploring one of the most incredible cities on earth: New York City. Over 8 million people call this place home and they — along with the many visitors — join in on the magic each and every day. It would be impossible to ever experience everything this city has to offer, but we’ve rounded up some of our best local tips from our New York Flytographers below! 🗽
Photo: Armando in New York City for Flytographer. Bonnie and their partner capture memories together in New York City on a couple photoshoot at Times Square.
Photo: Armando in New York City for Flytographer. Loveen and their family capture memories in New York City on a family photoshoot in front of the Brooklyn Bridge Skyline.
Photo: Lauren in New York City for Flytographer. Charrise and their partner capture memories in New York City with a couple photoshoot at Times Square.
What are the best places to eat in New York City?
- Ample Hills. “Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and reward yourself with some Ample Hills Ice Cream at Brooklyn Bridge Park after! Sunset is a great time to walk and catch the gorgeous scenery.” – Marilyn
- Bubby’s. “Bubby’s Restaurant is an absolute must-try if you’re a fan of brunch! Order the pancakes, which are second-to-none — they are the most fluffy and flavourful pancake you’ll experience.” – Marilyn
- Ginger and Lemongrass. This small eatery on the Lower East Side serves up delicious Vietnamese fusion cuisine. Photo-worthy drinks, large portion sizes and an intimate feel make for the perfect dinner experience.
- Ichiran. Completely customizable and mouthwatering ramen will warm your belly and your heart. It all starts with the perfected tonkotsu ramen as your base, and you can even sip on a matcha draft beer as you slurp. 😋
- Smorgasburg. The real draw of Prospect Park (at least on Sundays between April and October) is Smorgasburg. Billed as the largest weekly open-air food market in the country, you can tour the world’s best eats through 100+ vendor stalls. Skip the tried and true and take your mini-me on a carnival-like food adventure with items like spaghetti doughnuts, ice cream cones topped with roasted marshmallow, and KFC (Korean Fried Chicken).
Honorable mentions: Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery, Roberta’s Pizza, Covenhaven, Juliana’s, Takumen LIC, Hometown BBQ, Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery, Rainbow Room, Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings, Joe’s Pizza’s, Terrace Bagels
Photo: Johnny in New York City for Flytographer. Abigail and their partner celebrate their anniversary in New York City with a couple photoshoot at Greenwich Village.
Photo: Amanda in New York City for Flytographer. Alexis and their family capture memories in New York City with a family photoshoot.
Photo: Amanda in New York City for Flytographer. Katherine and her friends celebrate their girls trip to New York City with a friends photoshoot at Pietro Nolita & nearby streets.
What are the best places to go for drinks in New York City?
Beverages are certainly not lacking in the city! From early morning coffees in Midtown Manhattan, to mimosas in Lower Manhattan, to craft cocktails while enjoying the nightlife on the Lower East Side, stay hydrated on your trip (in whichever way you choose 😉🍸).
- “Bodegas! Far from artisanal coffee and at 25% of the price, but served with a local smile and honest connection.” – Armando You haven’t been to New York City if you haven’t stopped into one of the thousands of bodegas across the city. Each one plays a unique role in the lifeblood and diverse culture of the city. Often housed along city blocks, they’re a grocery, deli, café and specialty food store all in one!
- Boris and Horton. “For the dog lovers out there, visit Boris and Horton, a dog-friendly café in the East Village, for a quick midday coffee and enjoy all the dogs roaming free in the space. I always order a hot mint tea if it’s a cold day, and warm up with all the sweet dogs inside. After your drink, you can wander the East Village, visit the thrift shops and Tompkins Square Park.” – Marilyn
- Bluestone Lane. “Bluestone Lane is an Australian coffee shop with numerous locations around the city, but my favourite is the one located next to a cathedral on the Upper East Side. It has beautiful architecture, is a block from the Guggenheim Museum as well as Central Park, and their iced chai latte is my favourite in town. ” – Marilyn
- The Campbell Apartment. “Great spot to meet for a quiet cocktail or a special date. This bar is tucked away in the back of Grand Central Station and used to be the functional office of a businessman in the ’40s.” – Kemal Harris
- Brouwerij Lane. “This tiny craft beer bar sells growlers of local, limited-edition beer. Grab a glass to stay and check out their small, but private, back patio.” – Kemal Harris
Photo: Lauren in New York City for Flytographer. Louise and their partner celebrate their anniversary in New York City with a couple photoshoot in front of the Brooklyn Bridge Skyline.
Photo: Amanda in New York City for Flytographer. Stacy and their family capture memories in New York City with a family photoshoot at Bethesda Fountain & Bow Bridge.
Photo: Marilyn in New York City for Flytographer. Stephanie and their friends celebrate a bachelorette in New York City with friends photoshoot in front of the Brooklyn Bridge Skyline.
What are the best things to do in New York City?
“I always recommend saving some coin by utilizing the subways as much as you can, rather than taxis/cars. It not only helps your wallet, but gives you the quintessential New York experience all in itself!” – Marilyn
You can easily book some of the most iconic sights of NYC with the New York CityPASS, but don’t forget to hop off the beaten path to find hidden gems, too. The easiest way? Talk to locals, use public transportation, and let yourself get a little lost … you’ll never know what you’ll stumble upon! 🗺
- Cherry Lane Theatre. This theatre, established in 1924, is New York City’s oldest running Off-Broadway theatre. It was originally built as a farm silo that later stored tobacco and housed a box factory before becoming what it still is today, a showcase for emerging playwrights and their big ideas. Will you be the one to discover the next big hit, before it was cool? 😎
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck. “Visit the top of Rockefeller Center at sunset or nighttime — it’s known to be a bit less crowded late in the night. Most people opt to go atop the Empire State Building, but I always prefer going atop Rockefeller Center, because it gives you the BEST view of the Empire State.” – Marilyn
- Central Park. “Visit Central Park, any time of the day, and just wander as much or as little as you’d like. There is an endless amount of sites within the iconic park, but I’d say Bow Bridge is one of my top favourite spots.” – Marilyn Bring roller skates or rent a canoe on the water for an afternoon of fun!
- Film Forum. This unique spot is a not-for-profit movie house that runs classics alongside artsy new releases; it’s an institution. It is also where they host director and audience Q&As at the end of the film. They are known for presenting an international array of films that treat social, political, historical and cultural realities, and each film is handpicked for its diversity and impact, rather than simply opting for high-grossing Hollywood films. 🎥
- Tenement Museum “I recommend the museum to all my friends who are visiting NYC. It really gives you an authentic experience of what life was like for some of the first immigrant families living here. They also have a great gift shop where you can find the most unique souvenirs.” – Kemal Harris
Honourable Mentions: Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty (Liberty Island), Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET), American Museum of Natural History, see a Broadway Show, Rockefeller Center (ice skating rink during winter), Times Square, Coney Island amusement park, One World Observatory at the One World Trade Center, Grand Central Terminal, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Battery Park along the Hudson River, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Yankee Stadium, Duplex, Comedy Cellar, the Guggenheim, New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Village Vanguard
Alannah’s Travel Tip for New York City
“I’m a huge fan of the Highline, the Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District. A perfect day for me is to start at the Whitney Museum of American Art to see some exhibits. Then walk along the High Line; when you get to Chelsea Market, have lunch at one of the vendors. Then keep walking along the High Line until you hit the Vessel. Do the Vessel and end with shopping at Hudson Yards. You get to see so much of the city this way in one day. Plus you can squeeze in a monument, a museum, and shopping … what could be better!” – Alannah
Read more New York City Travel Tips from Flytographer customers.
Photo: Armando in New York City for Flytographer. Michelle and their partner celebrate their anniversary in New York City with a couple photoshoot at Bow Bridge.
Photo: Lauren in New York City for Flytographer. Caitlin captures memories on her solo adventure to New York City with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.
Photo: Armando in New York City for Flytographer. Patricia and their family capture memories in New York City with a family photoshoot in Central Park.
Photo: Amanda in New York City for Flytographer. Kirby and their partner celebrate their engagement in New York City with a surprise proposal photoshoot at Central Park.
Where do the locals go to shop in New York City?
World-class, high-end shopping downtown on 5th Avenue is a rite of passage for those who love to shop. 👜 While well-known stores are easily found across the city, we’ve compiled a few of our favourite spots for snagging one-of-a-kind buys.
- Thrift shopping in Greenpoint. Just across the East River from Manhattan, the artsy neighbourhood fo Greenpoint is known for a variety of thrift stores made for an afternoon of exploring. Yes, you’ll have to dig to find those hidden treasures, but when you find the perfect item for a deal, there’s no better feeling! Our favourites include Feng Sway, Fox & Fawn, and Beacon’s Closet.
- Artist & Fleas. This creative community of makers come together to sell, swap, shop and play at Artist & Fleas. Discover the latest trends in everything from fashion, art, design and more. With multiple locations, including the artsy Williamsburg and the trendy Chelsea Market, this is the spot to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
- Awoke Vintage. This beautiful consignment shop takes out the hard work of digging for those thrifted treasures, so you can enjoy a curated vintage shopping experience. After all, the best New York style is your own! ✨
- Strand Books. Spending a leisurely afternoon in Central Park with a book is one of our favourite activities, and if you’re in search for a new read? This bookstore is a landmark of literary New York, and it’s been in business for close to 100 years. With over 2.5 million books on its shelves, you’re sure to find a read that piques your interest. 📚
- Union Square Greenmarket. Enjoying a sunny afternoon in Union Square is enjoyable no matter the day, but on market day, the square truly comes alive. Shop everything from farm-fresh greens to flowers, wines, ciders, and you can even join in on cooking demonstrations by NYC’s hottest local chefs. 👩🍳
Photo: Flytographer in New York City for Flytographer. Courtney captures memories in New York City with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.
Photo: Amanda in New York City for Flytographer. Angela and their partner celebrate their anniversary in New York City with a couple photoshoot at the Lotte Palace & St. Patrick’s Cathedral steps.
Best places to take photos in New York City
“My favourite place to photograph is DUMBO. There is an essence on the streets of an old yet modern nostalgia about it. It’s visually rough but full of magic.” – Armando
“I love taking photos on the Brooklyn Bridge! It may be crowded almost 24/7, but the views of the city skyline are spectacular and it is so timeless. Shooting during sunrise or sunset on the bridge is pretty darn magical.” – Marilyn
- Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO
- Gapstow Bridge & Skyline
- The High Line
- Central Park
- Times Square
- Greenwich Village
View all 7 expertly-curated Flytographer routes through NYC.
Capturing memories in New York City
Whether you’re visiting the Big Apple for the first time or you’re a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker exploring your hometown, book a Flytographer shoot to capture special memories in this magical city! 📸