Things to do

New York City Skyline

Your trip to Manhattan doesn’t have to break the bank. The city has a long-standing tradition of making world-class art and culture available to everyone. The innkeepers of The West Townhouse suggest taking advantage of this tradition by visiting some of New York’s most renowned museums, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, where you can gain access to the exhibits by paying a suggested donation of any amount at the door.

Despite having one of the largest public transportation systems in the world, New York is easily navigable by foot and bicycle. With miles of greenways and bike lanes, the city is a dream for cycling enthusiasts. The proprietors of Home NYC and The West Townhouse recommend renting a bike and taking a ride through Central Park or along the Hudson River in Riverside Park. For those with more time, the innkeepers at the Harlem Victorian Bed and Breakfast suggest touring the Mount Morris Park Historic District in Harlem and taking the quintessential walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States.

When exploring Manhattan, it’s not uncommon to spot a celebrity or two while you’re out and about. You can wait and see if somebody famous crosses your path or you can plan to go where the stars actually are by taking the recommendation of the Ivy Terrace innkeepers and getting tickets to a taping of television shows like The View, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and The Rachael Ray Show. Prefer musical theater? Head to the TKTS Booth in Times Square to buy discounted tickets to current Broadway and off-Broadway musicals.

Where to eat

Ramen Noodles in New York

With so many cultures represented in New York, it is possible to taste every conceivable cuisine while you’re in Manhattan. From Asian delicacies in Chinatown, to authentic pasta dishes in Little Italy, to sumptuous plates of soul food in Harlem, you’d be hard pressed to find a better offering of ethnic food anywhere else. Just be sure to grab at least one slice of legendary New York-style pizza while you’re in town.

The following restaurant has been recommended by multiple innkeepers:

Red Rooster: Named in honor of one of New York’s legendary speakeasies, this soul food restaurant in the heart of Harlem serves comfort food that celebrates the roots of American cuisine as well as the culinary traditions of the neighborhood. Grab a table outside and people-watch as you enjoy popular dishes such as the Fried Yardbird and Dirty Rice with Shrimp.

Other recommended restaurants:

The Cecil: The cuisine at this Harlem restaurant represents a fusion of cultures, tracing the global migration of African-descendent people through the influence of African spices, textures, and cooking techniques on American, Latin American, and Asian dishes. Try the Afro / American / Asian Oxtail Dumplings and the Cinnamon-Scented Fried Guinea Hen.

Vinateria: This sleek and sophisticated Harlem restaurant offers a menu inspired by seasonal ingredients (organic and locally sourced wherever possible) and influenced by the rich culinary traditions of Italy and Spain. Pair your meal with a selection from the wine list featuring small producers or from the drink menu featuring artisan cocktails.

-Recommended by The Harlem Flophouse

Sylvia’s Restaurant: Often referred as “Sylvia’s Soul Food”, this restaurant has been a fixture in the historic neighborhood of Harlem since 1962, attracting a wide range of patrons from the locals to visiting celebrities like Al Sharpton, Bill Clinton, and Nelson Mandela. Popular dishes include the Macaroni and Cheese, Collard Greens, and Banana Pudding.

-Recommended by Harlem Victorian Bed and Breakfast

Il Caffe Latte: This casual and affordable Harlem eatery is also the home of the Brick Wall Gallery, whose purpose is to promote and support the work of new and established neighborhood artists. In addition to great art, the cafe serves up strong coffee, three Italian-influenced meals a day, and a hearty brunch on weekends.

-Recommended by Home NYC

Gramercy Tavern: Opened in 1994 by legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer and considered one of the most beloved restaurants in the United States, the Gramercy Tavern offers seasonal Contemporary American cuisine and two distinct dining experiences: the Tavern and the Dining Room. The Tavern provides a casual, walk-in setting and serves an à la carte menu as well as a daily four-course tasting menu at dinner, while the Dining Room offers both fixed-price and tasting menus with an à la carte option at lunch.

Ippudo: With two locations in Manhattan (East Village and Midtown West), this Japanese restaurant embraces the inheritance of the old noodle shop culture of enjoying sake and fish before finishing off the meal with noodles. The restaurant reinterprets ramen in a modern way and creates unique appetizers that enhance the dining experience.

-Recommended by Ivy Terrace

Carmine’s: Ideal for groups, this Italian restaurant has two locations in Manhattan, one in Times Square, making it the perfect spot for dinner before a Broadway show, and one on the Upper West Side. Served family-style, the cuisine highlights the traditional dishes of Southern Italy. The platters of home-style antipasto, pasta, seafood and meat entrees, and homemade desserts are meant for sharing, so bring friends or come hungry.

Good Enough to Eat: Noted for its all-day, bountiful breakfasts, this Upper West Side restaurant has been serving up comfort food since 1981. When the restaurant expanded its menu to include lunch, it because one of the first establishments in New York City to create and celebrate traditional American cuisine such as Meatloaf and Turkey Dinners. No matter what you order, leave room for a slice of Peach Pie with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

-Recommended by The West Townhouse

 

Where to shop

Where to shop in New York

While developing your strategy for exploring what Manhattan has to offer, don’t forget to add some of the local shops and markets to your list. Given the city’s eclectic neighborhoods, you will undoubtedly stumble across stores to meet your every whim or need.
 

Hats by Bunn: In Harlem, there is a long-standing tradition of formal dress, and for many who live in the neighborhood, that includes the wearing of hats. At this hat factory and storefront, you can find classic men’s and women’s hats for all seasons suitable for everyday wear and special occasions.

-Recommended by The Harlem Flophouse

Wild Olive Market: This neighborhood market in East Harlem specializes in locally-grown produce and freshly prepared foods, including vegetarian dishes, for take-out.

-Recommended by Harlem Victorian Bed and Breakfast

Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market: Also referred to as the “African Market”, the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market is full of traditional African crafts and textiles. Highlights include the hair-braiding boutiques, large selection of carved wooden figurines, and handmade African-style clothes for men, women, and children. Giveaways are occasionally held on Saturdays.

-Recommended by Home NYC

Porto Rico Importing Co.: Coffee-lovers will definitely want to make a point of stopping at this beloved Greenwich Village coffee shop on Bleecker Street for their freshly roasted coffee beans, selection of international blends, and variety of loose teas. With more than 100 years of experience, the knowledgeable and friendly staff will help you choose the precise roast and brew to suit your tastes.

-Recommended by Ivy Terrace

GreenFlea: Do you love losing yourself on the weekends at your local flea market? Then make time to stop by the GreenFlea on Sundays, open rain or shine, to shop for vintage décor and art. You’ll also find gourmet food vendors as well as a farmers’ market section offering eggs, milk, fresh fish, locally grown produce, and locally made breads and cheeses.

Zabar's: Founded by Louis Zabar, this specialty food store on the Upper West Side features gourmet foods, as well as a wide variety of kosher food items. It is one of the best known commercial landmarks of the neighborhood and holds a high reputation for its selection of bagels, smoked fish, olives, and cheeses. Frequently referenced in popular culture, Zabar’s was mentioned in the film You’ve Got Mail and in television shows like Sex and the City, How I Met Your Mother, and Gossip Girl.

-Recommended by The West Townhouse

Where to go for nightlife

New York Nightlife

To fully understand the intricacies of any city, you need to balance your daytime activities with some nightlife. Our innkeepers have come up with a list of must-hit spots to visit once the sun has set.

The following venue has been suggested by multiple innkeepers:

American Legion Colonel Charles Young Post #398: On Sunday evenings, jazz enthusiasts pack the basement of the American Legion Post 398 in Harlem for the weekly jam sessions and the heaping platefuls of reasonably priced soul food specialties like fried chicken and cornbread. The décor is minimal but the atmosphere is warm and the music is passionate. Seating is very limited, so try and get there early to get a table.

Other venue suggestions:

Paris Blues: As one of the most authentic jazz dives in Manhattan, this bar is well-known to the long-time residents of Harlem. Inside, the atmosphere is comfortable and the space is simply designed with wood-paneled walls, a wood-grain bar top, and swivel stools at the bar. This is a great place to sip a Scotch, talk to the locals, and listen to some soulful jazz.

-Recommended by The Harlem Flophouse

Minton’s Playhouse: Founded in 1938 by tenor saxophonist Henry Minton, this jazz club and bar is located on the first floor of Harlem’s Cecil Hotel and is famous for its role in the development of modern jazz.

-Recommended by Home NYC

230 Fifth: With breathtaking views of the city skyline, this bar features the largest outdoor rooftop garden in New York as well as a fully enclosed penthouse lounge. Despite being outdoors, the bar is open year-round, with oversized umbrellas to provide shade on the sunniest of days and partial heating to provide warmth on the cooler days. Grab a cocktail or order a bite to eat from the full food menu.

Cafe Wah?: This favorite hot spot in the heart of Greenwich Village has been the starting point for the careers of many notable musicians and comedians, including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Cosby, and Richard Pryor. With their high-energy versions of popular songs, the Cafe Wah? House Band draws in crowds that line up around the block, earning them the reputation as “The Best Damn Band in New York City”.

-Recommended by Ivy Terrace

Beacon Theatre: This historic theater on the Upper West Side was originally designed by a Chicago architect as a movie palace for motion pictures and vaudeville shoes. Today, this 2,894-seat, three-tiered theater is one of the leading live music and entertainment venues in Manhattan. The theater was the site of the 2011 and 2012 Tony Awards, which were both broadcast live on CBS.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts: This 16.3-acre complex of buildings in Midtown Manhattan has 30 indoor and outdoor performance facilities, including Alice Tully Hall (home of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), Avery Fisher Hall (home of the New York Philharmonic), the Metropolitan Opera House (home of the Metropolitan Opera), and the David H. Koch Theater (home of the New York City Ballet).

-Recommended by The West Townhouse

Events

New York Times Square

While planning your trip to Manhattan, check the dates of the following popular events to make sure you don’t miss them while you’re in town.

The following events have been recommended by multiple innkeepers:

New Year’s Eve in Time Square: The New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square has become a global tradition as the entire world counts down to the start of a brand new year and waits to watch the Times Square Ball “drop” when the clock strikes midnight. Each year, an estimated one million people descend upon Times Square to bid farewell to the old and ring in the new.

New York City Marathon: Each year, on the first weekend in November, millions of people come together to cheer on more than 50,000 runners as they run the grueling New York City Marathon. Insiders say the best place to watch the race is along Park Drive between 90th and 86th Streets, just south of where the marathon enters Central Park.

Other recommended events:

Feast of San Gennaro: The Feast of San Gennaro is an 11-day event held in Manhattan’s Little Italy that features religious processions, colorful parades, free musical entertainment, a wide variety of Italian delicacies, and a world-famous cannoli-eating contest.

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show: With more than two miles of viewing space, spectators will have a front-row view to New York’s world-renowned 4th of July fireworks show. The event is free to the public to attend in person and is broadcast live on NBC along with performances by musical guests.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: This annual parade hosted on Thanksgiving Day features balloons shaped like well-known cartoon characters, floats, and live music and other performances, includes ones by select college and high school marching bands from around the country.

Shakespeare in the Park: Held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, this annual event includes two Shakespeare productions over the course of the summer. Attendance to these performances is free; however, attendees must wait in line for tickets on the day of the performance.

-Recommended by The West Townhouse

Where to go for day trips

The Cloisters

The Cloisters: Located in Fort Tyron Park in northern Manhattan, this branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is devoted to the art and architecture of Medieval Europe and was assembled from architectural elements that largely date from the 12th-15th centuries. The art collection housed at The Cloisters contains approximately 2,000 works of art.

-Recommended by The Harlem Flophouse

Coney Island: At one point, Coney Island was the largest amusement park in the United States. Today, three rides at the park are protected as designated as New York City landmarks and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. These rides are the Wonder Wheel, a 150-foot-tall, steel Ferris wheel with both stationary cars and rocking cars that slide along a track; The Cyclone, one of the country’s oldest wooden roller coasters still in operation; and the Parachute Jump. When not riding the rides, enjoy the stretch of beach that is free and open to the public.

-Recommended by Home NYC