Things for Brits to do in New York

Being an Englishman in New York, every time a British friend is hitting up NYC, I get asked for recommendations. I got tired of sharing this one at a time, and I realized more people could benefit — so here it is:

Transport

  • If you come in to JFK, cheapest option (and fastest in rush hour) is getting the subway. Take the Airtrain to Jamaica station, then take the E.
  • Weekly Subway Metrocards (~$30) are great if you’ll be using it more than 10 times. Select ‘Add Time’ instead of ‘Add Value’ when buying.
  • Use Uber Pool or Lyft Line instead of yellow cabs. If you have access to an American phone, use this code to get $50 of credit from Lyft.
  • However yellow cabs are pretty cheap in manhattan (tough to get one to take you out to Brooklyn). Much cheaper than other cities.
  • Bring sturdy walking shoes — there’s an awesome amount of stuff to see here and by walking, you’re seeing a lot more of the city.
  • It takes approximately 1 minute to walk a block (north-south) and 3 minutes to walk an avenue (east-west). The avenues increase from right to left, blocks increase from south to north, so it’s relatively easy to figure out how to navigate anywhere if you know the cross st.

Tourist Attractions

  • 9/11 memorial is incredibly tastefully done. Emotional. Check out the actual museum part if you have time.
  • Do the Staten Island Ferry. Sails right past the Statue of Liberty + awesome views of the skyline on the way back + it’s FREE! Don’t stop off in Staten Island though there’s really nothing to see there.
  • Go see Charging Bull in the financial district. Take a picture grabbing the bull by its balls (for good luck).
  • Near Charging Bull and Wall St you’ll see Trinity Church — used to be the tallest building in Manhattan.
  • Check out Wall St. The placards with historical information are usually pretty interesting to read.
  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Just do it, it’s awesome. Take a camera + selfie stick.
  • Go see the Grand Central Terminal. Take another selfie.
  • Check out Times Sq for as long as you can bear it. Note: the superheroes and cartoon characters don’t pose for pictures for free.
  • Use the Today Tix app for Broadway show tickets.
  • The Flat Iron building is pretty cool. Plenty of nice places around there to hang out.
  • Make sure you do the Top of the Rock, not the Empire State building (much better view)
  • Walk the Highline. One of my favorite things to do in NYC.
  • Coney Island is fun. Go eat a hot dog, hang out on the beach and play around on the rides. You can take the Q train the whole way.
  • Not really a museum guy, but I enjoyed the Natural History Museum. Pro tip: the entry fee is only suggested, you can pay what you want.
  • Of course do Central Park, particularly the Bethesda fountain. More spots linked to below.

Local Attractions

  • Have a picnic in Bryant Park. Welcome retreat from the craziness of Times Sq.
  • Visit the Cop Cot in Central Park. Amazingly tranquil spot right near the entrance of the park — pagoda on a hill. This is where I got married :-)
  • Check out the Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Cool views.
  • Go see the Conservatory Garden — really nice part of the Park further up, where people tend to get married.
  • Take the cable car to Roosevelt island. You can actually just use your metro card for this. The cable car featured in the Spiderman movie.
  • On Roosevelt make sure you walk south to see the old Smallpox hospital and the amazing view from four freedoms park
  • Go play Chess against the hustlers in Washington Sq park. Also near NYU so lots of bars / restaurants nearby.
  • The Comedy Cellar is the best place to go for laughs. There are lots of other comedy shows but they vary drastically in quality.
  • Brooklyn Brewery is a really fun tour to do. You get to try beer as you go around and the tour guides are funny.
  • Brighton beach is a little less touristy than Coney Island, not too far away. Heavily Russian area — all Russian food and accents.
  • Rockaway Beach is my favorite in NYC to go to. Very chilled out vibe and not as touristy as coney island or brighton beach.
  • Pier A Park in New Jersey is a great place for a picknick — excellent views of the NY skyline.
  • Bronx Zoo is a big open air zoo — very unique. Free on Wednesdays.
  • Go see an NYC FC game if there’s one on. Tickets are cheap, it’s in Yankee stadium and there are usually good players on the pitch (David Villa)
  • If you’re going to a baseball game (but not really into baseball), I recommend the Mets as they’re usually a bit cheaper.
  • Breakneck Ridge — great place to go hiking.
  • Bear Mountain — another great place to go hiking. There’s also a lodge and a swimming pool here.
  • If you have some time I’d recommend an overnight in the town of Hudson upstate on the Hudson river. You can visit Olana and go on nice walks.
  • Inwood Hill Park — really cool wooded park area. Looks just like the whole island would have looked before it was settled.
  • You can walk all the way from the top of Manhattan (Inwood) to the bottom (battery park) via the Hudson River Greenway without crossing roads.
  • Columbia University is really cool to walk around. It was their ‘Kings College’ before the revolution so it pre-dates the USA.
  • Greenacre park — just a peaceful little urban park near a waterfall. Go here to eat your bagels after a visit to ess-a-bagel.

Restaurants

Note: you should always make a reservation if possible. You can always cancel but some places book up really quick so plan 24 hours ahead.

  • Check out Shake Shack in Madison Square Park (near the Flat Iron building). It’s actually in the park — very cool (and tasty).
  • Five Guys — burgers and fries. Plenty of these everywhere.
  • Calle Ocho — amazing latin brunch place with unlimited sangria!
  • Hotel Chantelle — Classy French food on a rooftop with a live Jazz band and 99 cent cocktails
  • Cuba — incredible cuban food. Great for brunch or dinner.
  • Bubbys — great american brunch spot near the end of the highline.
  • The Smith — very strong brunch or dinner place. Lots of space so easy to get in without a reservation.
  • Crif dogs — hot dogs!
  • Tacoway — awesome tacos near the rockaway beach.
  • Dinosaur BBQ — amazing barbeque food.
  • Brother Jimmys — there are a couple of these around. All you can eat ribs and beer on Sundays for $25!
  • Red Rooster — popular cool restaurant up in harlem.
  • Blockheads — few of these around. Dirty cheap margaritas and mexican food.
  • Wo Hop — hole in the wall amazing chinese food.
  • Benito One — great Italian food in the heart of Little Italy on Mulberry st (closed to traffic)
  • Hometown Hotpot & BBQ — all you can eat hot pot that cooks itself on your own personal table hob!
  • Tacombi — cool mexican street food. Like wahaca.
  • Magnolia Bakery — amazing cupcakes!
  • Eileen’s — amazing cheesecake!
  • The Famous Cozy Soup & Burger — great place to go for an American Diner experience.
  • Grimaldi’s — Under Brooklyn Bridge. Frank Sinatra’s favorite pizza place. Used to have the pizza flown out to Vegas.
  • Tataki — nice and cheap japanese food. Great lunch bento box deal with big portions.
  • Saluggis — great hole in the wall italian pasta / pizza place in tribeca.
  • Balthazar — french brunch and dinner. Very classy and quaint.
  • Stone St — cool little st in the financial district that’s closed to traffic. Loads of restaurants along here to sit outside.
  • Ess-a-Bagel — amazing bagels.
  • The Pennsy — five different restaurants in one, with large dining area. Upmarket food court.
  • Katz Deli — the deli from When Harry Met Sally i.e. “I’m having what she’s having”. Expensive and touristy but worth it.
  • Club A Steakhouse — amazing steak. Not too expensive but enormous portions.
  • Smith & Wollensky’s — old school steakhouse.
  • Brick Lane Curry House — british style curry takeaway (if you’re missing it)
  • Tea & Sympathy — british tea shop & food (if you’re missing it)
  • A Salt & Battery — british fish & chips (if you’re missing it)
  • Shanghai Cafe Deluxe — amazing chinese food. Try the soup dumplings.
  • BXL Zoute — cool belgian place. Good for dinner or drinks.

Drinking

  • The Subway inn (near the cable car to roosevelt island) is a cheap little dive bar, quite fun.
  • Baker St Pub — opens up early for the football games on the weekend, lots of british ppl.
  • Cafe Reggio is the home of the original Cappuccino and is a really nice little place. Near NYU.
  • La Colombe Torrefaction — swanky coffee place. Like Monmouth.
  • Culture 36 — cool coffee place with tasty cookies in a good location.
  • Pod 39 — really distinctive rooftop bar.
  • 230 Fifth — much larger rooftop bar with cool views of the empire state building.
  • Gansevoort rooftop — cool rooftop bar in a swanky hotel.
  • Raines law room — cool prohibition style bar.
  • Bathtub Gin — classy prohibition style bar with an actual bathtub in the middle of the room.
  • Beauty and Essex — another prohibition bar. A bit more of a modern ‘club’ feel.
  • McSorely’s — old school ale house. Only two types of beer (light and dark). Brewed in house.
  • Barcade — bar + arcade. Need I say more?
  • Top hops — a beer / ale shop where you can actually choose a beer out the fridge and sit and drink the beer in the shop.
  • House of Brews — 1000 beers on tap. A bit touristy.
  • Slainte — Typical New York Irish bar on Houston st
  • Tom & Jerry’s — British bar on Houston st
  • 1849 — loud student bar with a gold rush theme.
  • Tribeca tavern — hole in the wall dive bar.
  • The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog — small pub in financial district
  • 169 Bar — quirky bar with bizarre decorations and a leopard print pool table.

Enjoy your trip to New York! Tweet at me if you have any questions. 
>> @2michaeltaylor.