How to Experience New York Like a Local

the classic view of washington street in dumbo, brooklyn. photo by lucas compan

By Lucas compan

These days traveling like a tourist is out, and living like a local is in. Everyone wants to circumnavigate the sightseers and avoid the hordes that crowd the world’s most well-known spots.

But the truth is, we all want to see the same spots for a reason. because most are pretty incredible. Traveling like a tourist and living like a local can be harmonically living together. It is possible to pack your holiday full with once-in-a-lifetime, authentic, local experiences, while still ensuring you see those sights you’ve traveled so far to see. want to experience the greatest city on earth, new york, like a new yorker?

Look up to the top of the building and you will find out some awesome details, photo: lucas compan

You have a dream: to visit New York City. You want to plan your vacations in details, because you know  you'll have only seven days or so to enjoy New York to the fullest. That's the moment when you likely get lost trying to pick the best tours and sightseeing among so many attractions. the secret is to mix up the combination of the fresh eyes and excitement of a traveler and the insider knowledge of a local. it will make the perfect blend to explore new york city. you can find some valuable insights here.

the combination of the fresh eyes of a traveler and the insider knowledge and excitement of a local, makes the perfect blend to explore new york city. you can find it here. photo: lucas compan

The thing is: you want to experience New York as locals do because they know where to find the best spots in the city – both for themselves and for visitants. So how to choose the best things to do? Well, the answer lies on your personal taste and the things you usually enjoy the most – or new things you want to experience. to help you out with fulfilling the best experience in New York ever we are going to publish a series of lists, starting today.

[ 1 ] first things first

First-off: Let's have in mind that if you spent seven days in New York, you'd have around sixty hours available to enjoy tours and sightseeing in the city. Do the math: you have an average of 11/12 hours per day to take your tours and sightseeing. Also, deduct time spent with airport procedures, checking in hotels, unpacking your stuff, going to breakfasts, lunches, dinners, bars, then packing your stuff back, checking out and all. 

chinatown, for instance, is much much more than just canal street. explore local markets to eat authentic chinese food like new yorkers do. photo: lucas compan

All right, putting together transportation to and from each attraction, plus the time spent on each one to enjoy them (three to four hours each), you would have sixty hours left to enjoy those places you dream about. 

Sixty-Hour Tour and Sightseeing list for a 7-day trip

so check out our list of 20 attractions, places which both travelers and New Yorkers love – how to enjoy them to the fullest, how to save money, how to fit all these attractions into those sixty hours.

Also, you might want to enjoy some of the best adventures in town, exploring top secrets and making a professional film of these stories – which would make around extra four hours. So that's the spirit, giving image and voice to your travel stories. 

[ 2 ] arriving in new york new york

jfk airport terminal. photo: lucas compan

Save money and time with your transportation from JFK, Newark, or LaGuardia Airports to your hotel. Plan in advance when you are still at your hometown. Click here to see your options, from shuttles, to limos, to private limousines.

[ 3 ] FIFTY ATTRACTIONS saving money and time 

After settling in your hotel or airbnb room, get ready to explore the most exciting city in the world. For starters, you can get your New York City Explorer Pass until one day before you intend to use it.

You might also save money with subway rides. Then, get an Unlimited Ride 7-Day MetroCard for US$31, which gives you unlimited subway ride within seven days. Important tip: your unlimited Ride MetroCard cannot be used again at the same subway station or the same bus route for AT LEAST 18 minutes.

watch the videos below to learn more.

[ 4 ] museums

there are 138 museums in new york city (2017). which ones should you pick? well, These are personal recommendations. Meaning, based on personal taste, and also on my experience as a local and with travelers – what they love the most. I've been to at least sixty percent of all museums in New York (One-hundred and thirty-two museums). Unless you are a museum aficionado (which is awesome and we also have special museum tours for you), I would pick two or three museums to visit. Why? Well, museums tours take a lot of time. If you spend too long in four or five museums (four to five hours each one), you won't have enough time to enjoy other attractions. So my favorite museums are: 


the metropolitan museum of art

the metropolitan museum main entrance. Photo: lucas compan

The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online.

the metropolitan museum rooftop bar. photo: courtesy of the met

Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum's galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures. At The Met you can also enjoy one of the best rooftop bars in the city, surrounded by incredible views of Central Park. 

You can also download The Met app to get directions, transportation tips, and to see what's happening at The Met every day.



gugghenheim museum. photo: lucas compan

An internationally renowned art museum and one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum in New York is at once a vital cultural center, an educational institution, and the heart of an international network of museums.

guggenheim interior. photo: lucas compan

Visitors can experience special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, lectures by artists and critics, performances and film screenings, classes for teens and adults, and daily tours of the galleries led by museum educators. Founded on a collection of early modern masterpieces, the Guggenheim Museum today is an ever-evolving institution devoted to the art of the 20th century and beyond. Download the Guggenheim app here.


American Museum of Natural History

american museum of natural history. photo: curtesy of amnH

The American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the world with a mission commensurately monumental in scope. The entire museum spans 4 city blocks and consists of some 25 interconnected buildings.  Though today the phrase "natural history" is restricted to the study of animal life, the museum—founded in 1869 on the heels of discoveries by Darwin and other Victorians—uses it in its original sense:  that is, the study of all natural objects, animal, vegetable and mineral. Click here to access a list of apps they offer.



museum of modern art, new york city. photo: lucas compan

Founded in 1929, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a place that fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration. With extraordinary exhibitions and the world's finest collection of modern and contemporary art, MoMA is dedicated to the conversation between the past and the present, the established and the experimental. MoMA's mission is helping you understand and enjoy the art of our time.

museum of modern art, new york city. photo: courtesy of moma.

Are you a museum nerd? So if you'd like to explore MoMA upside down, here's your Nerd’s Guide to the 2,229 Paintings at MoMA. If you think these options are not good enough for you, that's fine. Click here to access a complete A-to-Z list of 132 museums in New York City.

[ 5 ] the new york public library

The New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room. photo: courtesy nypl

Even if you are not a big fan of reading and books, the NYPL is one of those places that will make you get lost in culture–to find yourself mesmerized surrounded by such beauty. Well, they have 92 different locations in New York. The most visited by tourists is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, located at Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. Click here to download the NYPL mobile app.

[ 6 ] downtown

Here are some tourist attractions in Downtown manhattan (14th Street/Union Square to Battery Park) that locals love, too.

Lower Manhattan, also known as Downtown Manhattan, is the southernmost part of Manhattan, the central borough for business, culture, and government in the City of New York, which itself originated at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1624.


one world observatory

the entrance of the one world observatory. photo: lucas compan

One word: unforgettable! Yes, it is an incredible experience. Even New Yorkers usually visit the 101st, and 102nd floors of the One World Trade Center more than one time. I've been there twice myself. It's an amazing journey.

one world trade center, A.k.a. freedom tower – and the statue of liberty. photo: flyblade

It’s really hard to describe the feeling when you enter. It was a real emotional, raw moment for me and many others. Being in this new building and being a part of this city’s newest chapter in history, it was hard to not to get emotional. As you enter (prior to taking the elevators up to the actual observatory), you will see and hear video clips/“voices” of people who helped build the new tower, and like them, it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride and hope in what this new tower represents.

Once you’ve made it all the way up and into the observatory, it’s hard not to reflect back on that fateful day. Especially since you can see the memorial fountains looking down. But that sad feeling will soon be replaced with pride and awe.
— — Jamie M., TWH customer and visitor to the OWO

sunset from the 102nd floor of the one wtc. photo: lucas compan

sunset from the 102nd floor of the one wtc. photo: lucas compan

At the site, you can also walk to see the 9/11 memorial (the former site of the Twin Towers), the new train station OCULUS, and even do some shop at the Century 21 (very good prices for premium brands).

9/11 national memorial and one wtc. photo: lucas compan

one wtc and hub transportation oculus. photo: lucas compan

one wtc and hub transportation oculus. photo: lucas compan

In the surrounding area, you can also take a walk on Wall Street, take pictures at the Wall Street Bull, and walk Battery Park. You can also book a guided walking tour to cover the whole area – known as the Financial District. There's also another very nice spot in that area: South Seaport Street. On a sunny day, you feel like you are at the beach right in the middle of Manhattan.

one wtc surrounded by blue sky, seen from fulton street by the fulton center. photo: lucas compan

reflections of freedom. photo: lucas compan


the brooklyn bridge + dumbo

the brooklyn bridge on september 11, 2016. Photo: lucas compan

sunrise from the brooklyn bridge. photo: lucas compan

You have to cross this bridge. You can do it from Manhattan towards Brooklyn – or vice-versa. If you don't want to go by yourself, you can also book a personalized 2-hour photo experience with a professional photographer and/or a 4-hour brooklyn experience with a professional filmmaker (and New Yorker). both are one-of-a-kind unforgettable experiences, and you keep your high-definition photos and hollywood-style film for the rest of your life.

the classic view from washington street, dumbo, brooklyn. photo: lucas compan

the view from brooklyn bridge park. photo: lucas compan

a view from manhattan bridge. photo: lucas compan

you have to visit DUMBO, a very nice neighborhood, with great awesome views of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane's Carousel, and williamsburg.

the brooklyn bridge. photo: daniel mirkov


statue of liberty and ellis island

statue of liberty witnessing a beautiful sunset. photo: daniel mirkov

Lady Liberty is also a classic. If you want to avoid lines and save money (it's for free), you can take the Staten Island Ferry. You are going to enjoy an incredible ferry trip, and see the Statue at a close distance. However, if this isn't enough for you, so take the Circle Line Statue of Liberty Ride, and also visit the incredible ellis island.

ellis island immigration museum. photo: courtesy of the museum

the meatpacking & the high line

the very beginning of the high line at the meatpacking district. photo: lucas compan

One visit to The High Line and you will fall in love with it. One of my top favorite spots in New York. Seriously. You have to visit The High Line. It's a place where both New Yorkers and tourists LOVE.

a bright sunny sunday in chelsea, seen from the high line. photo: lucas compan

Global art, cutting-edge creativity, high-end fashion, renowned chef's restaurants, and  a vivid vibe –both on and under The High Line.

the heart of chelsea from the high line. photo: lucas compan

Once there, take a tour of the streets in the Meatpacking District, a very cool trendy neighborhood in New York – where you can find both men's and women's high-end fashion, super cool bars, and trendy restaurants. Prices in that area are overrated, though, so be careful with your credit card.

You could also visit the new building of the Whitney Museum of American Art – art surrounded by views of the Hudson River.

The new building of The Whitney Museum of American Art, at The High Line. Photo: Ed Lederman

At the end of The High Line, you will be on 34th Street and 11th Avenue – which is Midtown Manhattan.

the very end of the high line. photo: lucas compan

From that point, it's a 20-minute walk to the Empire State Building, on 34th Street and 5th Avenue. before that, make a pit-stop at b&H – at the corner of 34th street and 9th avenue. You could also take the 7 train at the 34th Street-Hudson Yards subway station.

34th street - hudson yards subway station. photo: lucas compan

[ 7 ] midtown manhattan

sunrise from hoboken. photo: lucas compan

Geographically, the northern border of Midtown Manhattan is defined to be 59th Street in Manhattan, and although its southern border is less clear, it is variously taken to be 34th Street, 23 Street, or even 14th Street, Midtown spans the entire island of Manhattan along an east-west axis, being bounded by the East River on its east and the Hudson River to its west. 


empire state building

the empire state building from the top of the rock. photo: lucas compan

If you visit the Empire State Building, there's no need to go to the Top of the Rock – or vice-versa. Both observatories offer wonderful views, but you will have the same aerial views just from a different spot. Pick one. I would go with the classic.


chrysler building

chrysler building. photo: lucas compan

The Chrysler Building is a incredibly beautiful landmark, a masterpiece of architecture and design. In "The Secret Stories of an Icon" you can explore interesting facts and top secrets, so when you pay it a visit you will be able to better understand the dimension of the Chrysler Building in New York's life, and in the global scene.


times square

times square from above. photo: lucas compan

Walking a bit more toward Uptown (North) or taking any uptown-bound subway on 34th street, you will reach Times Square/42nd Street. It's always crowded with tourists and people. But you have to take a walk in there. Try NOT to buy or eat anything around that area, unless you are really need it, don't have the time to go someplace else, or if you are not willing to go to other areas.

times square, new york city. photo: lucas compan

Click here to access our list of top secrets in Times Square – including places to eat and drink that locals love to go in that area. It's a great spot for taking pictures or just have a seat at the TKTS steps, and observe everything around. To better experience the lights and everything, visit Times Square at night.


grand central terminal & grand central market

grand central terminal. photo: lucas compan

Incredibly beautiful train station. It's not just a terminal, it's an experience. You can also find The Grand Market, a mouth watering experience, and an Apple Store. Click here to plan a four-hour experience in grand central plus surrounding area and a professional hollywood-style film and/or a photo tour of your story interacting with this amazing train station.

grand central market. photo: lucas compan


central park

central park south and columbus circle at the time-warner center. photo: lucas compan

Well, Central Park is Central Park. I mean, you MUST NOT miss it for the world. The Park goes from 60th Street to 100th Street. The best attractions are in between 60th and 72nd Streets, though. Take a peek at "The Secrets in the Heart of New York," an incredible visual story. Unless you are really curious to walk the park until its end, you should save your time to other attractions. Once you hit 72nd Street, you will be in UPTOWN


fifth avenue and 57th street

the blue box cafe. photo: courtesy tiffany's

after a walk in central park, make a pitstop at the Blue Box Cafe at tiffany's – on fifth avenue and 57th street – to enjoy have the real breakfast at tiffany's In A Room Dripping In Tiffany Trademarked Unique Robin's Egg Blue.


[ 8 ] uptown

Uptown is basically a residential area. So just if you are curious about visiting these blocks, this is a list of things to do. From this list I would to with Park Avenue Armory (pretty good entertainment, very cool spot) and the American Museum of Natural History.

park avenue armory. photo: lucas compan

one of my favorite places in uptown is Park Avenue Armory – Part palace, part industrial shed, Park Avenue Armory fills a critical void in the cultural ecology of New York by enabling artists to create—and audiences to experience—unconventional work that cannot be mounted in traditional performance halls and museums. With its soaring 55,000-square-foot —reminiscent of 19th-century European train stations—and array of exuberant period rooms, the Armory offers a new platform for creativity across all art forms.


[ 9 ] insider tips from a new yorker

long island city waterfront

the empire state building, united nations building and chrysler building. a special sunset from long island city lucas compan

this is one of my favorite spots in town. If you are a photographer or love taking pictures or just want to explore a new experience, you should really go to Long Island City Piers. AWESOME views of Manhattan, stunning sunsets, a very nice park to take a walk, cool cozy bars and restaurants, and a nice atmosphere. Learn more in "The Best Spots To Photograph the City – from queens" 

hoboken waterfront

the sky after the storm. from hoboken. photo: lucas compan

From Long Island City, you have the chance to explore Manhattan views on the East River waterfront. From Hoboken, a small town in New Jersey, a 12-minute train ride from 34th Street, you can admire Manhattan on the Judson River waterfront. Learn more in "The Best Spots To Photograph the City – from new jersey" 

brooklyn heights promenade

sunset from brooklyn heights promenade. photo: lucas compan

Whether You Take A Stroll Or Park Yourself On A Bench Along Its 1/3 Mile-Long Esplanade, You'll Be Experiencing Cinematographic Views Of The Statue Of Liberty, Freedom Tower, Lower Manhattan's Skyline, And Brooklyn Bridge. explore more.



Well, I think you have enough info and attractions to fulfill seven days in New York. This is just the first list of a series. There will be others coming up soon.

Tip: Do not worry if you don't speak English or if you think your English is not good enough. Relax. In New York there are eight-hundred different spoken languages. Meaning, there will be always someone to understand you wherever you are.

Now, start planning your next adventure in New York. Pack your things and dreams, and have a nice trip. And remember: we are here always to help with making your travel experience full of dream stories. 


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