31 Best Things To Do In Nyc On Your First Visit – Two Wandering Soles

$5.75 for a double new york

Onew york ther great ice cream shops in NYC:

Tipsy Scoop: Boozy ice cream? Yes, please! Tipsy Scoops claims to be the perfect blend of artisanal ice cream and a hand-crafted cocktail. Choose from classic flavors like Chocolate Stout & Pretzel and Strawberry White Sangria Sorbet.

OddFellows: Come here for super unique ice cream sandwiches and really good coffee. Their flavors rotate often, but you’ll find options like Caramel Cashew, Buttermilk Honey Blueberry and Ricotta Plum & Thyme.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream: Known for its unlikely flavor combinations like salt & pepper pine nut and cardamom lemon jam. They were new york best known for their coconut ash, which new york featured activated charcoal. This black ice cream was all over Instagram until the Department of Health recently banned all foods with activated charcoal in the city. But even though the days of this ultra-popular ice cream is gone, there are plenty of other unique flavors to choose from.

Mikey Likes It: Small shop with creative flavors named after references to pop culture, like Ice Ice Baby (triple vanilla) and Pink Floyd (strawberry cheesecake).

Grom: This Italian gelato shop was my obsession when I studied abroad in Florence. When I found out they have a shop in New York I was devastated we missed it.

Soft Swerve: Calling all soft serve lovers! This small shop serves colorful ice cream and has fun topping choices like toasted coconut, sprinkles or Fruity Pebbles. These cones are an Instagram favorite!

Still not satisfied? Check out this huge list of ice cream shops in NYC.

24. New York Pizza

There aren’t many foods more “typical New York” than pizza. And when it comes to pizza in New York City, you will have an overwhelming amount of options. Personal preference, budget and location will play a huge role in which ‘za you like best.

Cheap Slice: Joe’s Pizza is a NYC favorite that’s open late, though we will admit that we didn’t love it. Might have just been the time of day or the slices we chose, so we’d certainly try it again. Most people rave about this place though.

Uniquely NYC: Artichoke Basille’s Pizza serves huge slices of bready crust, topped with spinach and artichoke dip. Split a slice with your travel partner!

Local Brooklyn Favorite: Roberta’s serves up Neapolitan style pies that are worth seeking out.

Insider Tip: Try the Bee Sting, which is not on the menu but can be still be ordered by savvy visitors or locals who know this secret. This pizza is topped with spicy honey and sopressata (a dry Italian salami).

Best Pizzeria: In 2015, TripAdvisor named Juliana’s Pizza the “Best Pizzeria” in the United States. See for yourself by making a stop here after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Good to Know: True New Yorkers eat a slice of pizza with their hands – no forks and knives, folks! (Just read up on the scandal known as “Forkgate” where NYC mayor, Bill de Blasio, ate his pie with utensils. The shame!) Take the slice in your hand, fold it in half lengthwise and take a bite!

25. Bagels

Oh, the ubiquitous bagel! You will have no problem finding great bagels here, but if you want to try the best, check out this list of favorite bagel shops.

Here are a handful of great bagel shops in NYC:

Russ & Daughters: In business since 1914, this is a longtime NYC favorite. The original shop is in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and still has the retro charm of an old-school deli. There are no chairs inside. Instead, grab a number and while you’re waiting for your turn, peruse the menu and look at the unique offerings in the glass cases, like smoked whitefish, pickled herring and salmon roe. If you eat fish, try the traditional bagel and lox sandwich, starting at $11 (increasing in price depending on the type of fish you order).

Insider Tip: If you prefer a sit-down meal, Russ & Daughters also has a cafe not far from the original shop. You can sit down and order at the cafe, but you cannot get takeaway.

Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company: A local favorite for excellent (and big!) bagels and great coffee. There are 4 locations within the city.

Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish: This little cafe was right outside our subway stop on the way to the World Trade Center Memorial, and was a perfect stop for a quick breakky. Our everything bagel with lox, capers, onions and shmear new york (don’t you just love that word?!) was mighty good.

Ess-a-Bagels: A favorite among locals, Essa is a popular place to try some of the best bagels New York has to offer.

Insider Tip: At the 3rd new york Ave location, go into the door right of the main entrance (where there will likely be a long line). Once you’re inside, head to the back where you can order just bagels, spread and coffee.

Can’t pick one? Our recommendation is to star several of them on your Google Maps. Then, when you’re looking for breakfast you can easily spot the closest bagel shop to your current location! You won’t need to venture far.

Fun Bagel Trivia: New York has a reputation for fantastic bagels and pizza. Some people have said the tap water in New York City is the “secret” to the city’s perfect bagels and pizza dough. Some restaurants as far away as California and Florida actually order NYC tap water to be shipped to them to get that perfect dough. Who knows if the water is actually the trick, but hey, I’m not gonna argue. I’ll just taste as many bagels and pizza as I can!

Nightlife in NYC

The city that never sleeps will keep you going all night with so many after dark activities. Make sure you plan your nights out ahead of time, because many places need reservations. 

26. Happy Hour at an Oyster Bar

Take Happy Hour to the next level by heading to an oyster bar. You’ll find deals on drinks and oysters for $1 each. It’s a perfect way to rest your legs and get a little pick-me-up before the evening.

This article has rounded up some of the best oyster bars in the city and breaks them down by neighborhood. 

Cost: Depending on the location, drinks start around $7 and oysters are typically $1 each.

27. Comedy Show

Many of the country’s top comedians have put in their time at comedy clubs in NYC. One of the most famous, Comedy Cellar, is known to have surprise appearances from people like Dave Chappelle, Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler and Jerry Seinfeld. And we met a few people who just happened to be there on the right night, so it is more common than you might think!

Book your tickets in advance because they do sell out.

Cost: From $8 to $24 depending on the show and time.

28. Go to a Broadway Show

One of the major Bucket List experiences in New York City is to see a Broadway Show. If you have a show in mind, be sure to make reservations in advance.

If you’re on a budget, don’t write off Broadway shows. You can actually find tickets for cheap on TodayTix or by following these tips.

Cost: Tickets typically range from $35 to $55 when you get them discounted, but can be upwards of $100 if you pay full price.

29. Shakespeare in the Park

If you’re visiting New York City in the summertime, catching a performance of Shakespeare in the Park is a great way to spend an evening. This is a much-loved NYC tradition that has been taking place each summer since 1962.

Seeing a show is one of the best free things you can do in New York City. But just because tickets don’t cost anything doesn’t mean it is poor quality. In fact, stars like Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Philip Seymour Hoffman,  and Denzel Washington were part of past casts.

The performances happen nightly at the Delacorte Theater, located in Central Park. And they run from the end of May to the middle of August. 

This article walks you through how to snag free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park.

Cost: FREE

30. The Frying Pan

When we told our New Yorker friends we were visiting the city, at least 3 of them recommended we visit this seasonally-open restaurant/bar. And we take recommendations seriously, so we made sure to check out The Frying Pan.

This dock has several bars that serve a small selection of beers and other drinks as well as a small food menu with items like hand-cut fries and lobster rolls (so good!). With live music, a great view of the city and a young and lively crowd, the atmosphere alone is reason enough to visit.

Just beware that it gets crowded (and loud!) in the evening hours when people get off work and want to grab a drink with friends. If you want a more relaxed atmosphere, plan to arrive before 5 p.m.  

Tip: If you like seafood and can spare $24, get the lobster roll! You won’t regret it. We split it between the 2 of us (as we had eaten a slice of pizza on the walk there!) and it was a good amount of food.

31. Speakeasy 

There is no shortage of bars in the Big Apple. But instead of going to a typical pub you could find in any big city, try something a little different…

There are a handful of speakeasies around the city, but Please Don’t Tell, or PDT for short, is one of the best. 

It is easy to miss, and that’s kind of the point. You will enter through a phone booth in Crif Dogs, a super delicious hot dog shop that makes a good snack to pair with a cocktail. (We’ve heard the bacon-wrapped dog is unbelievable!).

You can tell the bartender what flavors and alcohol types you like, and they can craft a cocktail just for you. Sip on your drink and enjoy the intimate speakeasy atmosphere.

It’s best to make reservation before showing up.

Cost: Cocktails cost around $16

Alternative: Another fun cocktail bar to try is Apotheke Bar Speakeasy which is set up like an apothecary shop and crafted drinks range between $18 – 22.

Where to Stay in NYC

This is a difficult question to answer and really depends on your budget, personal taste and where you plan to spend most time. Each borough, or neighborhood, has pros and cons. Want more info? This guide describes the best neighborhoods in NYC and explains what type of traveler they are most suited for.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but we’re explaining the vibe of 3 different neighborhoods we think make a great base for your first trip to New York City.

Hotel Highlight: Kimpton Muse Hotel NYC

As we mentioned earlier, we disliked Times Square, however, we stayed just a few blocks away and found this location to be ultra convenient for visiting all the top sights.

This sleek and comfortable hotel is everything you need for a great stay in NYC. From a fitness center to free bike rentals to free wine happy hour, there are lots of perks! Check out what we thought of staying at the Kimpton Muse Hotel. 

If you are going to stay near Times Square, this is a fantastic choice. Check availability on Booking.com.

*We were guests of Kimpton Muse NYC. As always, all opinions are our own.

Budget Friendly Hotels

If you’re looking for a clean room with a funky design, check out new york Pod Hotels and their 4 locations around the city. The rooms are basic but modern and functional, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option if you’re on a tight budget. 

Pod Times Square on West 42nd Street

Pod51 Midtown East on East 51st Street

Pod39 Murray Hill on East 39th Street

Pod Brooklyn on Metropolitan Ave

You might also like…

New York City on a Budget: 17 Money-Saving Tips

Kimpton Muse Hotel: Amazing Stay in New York City

Las Vegas on a Budget: 17 Cheap Things to Do

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Leave Your Thoughts in the Comments Below!

What are your favorite things to do in NYC? Are we missing anything? What questions do you have about planning a trip to New York City?

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