The lifestyle in New York City is vibrant, exciting and ever-changing. There is a plethora of restaurants, nightlife hotspots, shopping destinations and events to enjoy, not to mention an abundance of theatre, arts and culture venues, health and beauty centres, and sports facilities.
The melting pot of New York City has immense variety and people of all persuasions are sure to find something to suit their tastes in this dynamic city.
Shopping in New York City
With a vast and varied calibre of shopping options, new arrivals in New York will have a hard time holding onto their purse strings. From never-ending shopping streets to packed flea markets, it's easy to while away the hours browsing.
The infamous Fifth Avenue is a must, even if only for window shopping, as is trendy Madison Avenue, lined with designer shops including the likes of Chanel and Prada. The cobblestone streets of SoHo also host many chic outlets. On the other hand, Chinatown and the Lower East Side have bargains aplenty for the price-conscious shopper.
Nightlife in New York City
As newcomers may imagine, nightlife in New York is as eclectic as the city itself. Whether in the mood for a chic jazz lounge, world-renowned DJs spinning mixes or a wild nightclub, New York really does have something to meet every reveller's expectations. This is, after all, the city that never sleeps. Each of the New York boroughs has a unique nightlife scene, so don't be afraid to explore new places.
Arts and culture in New York City
For arts and culture buffs, it doesn't get any better than New York. The city boasts internationally acclaimed art exhibitions and new productions pop up weekly in the Big Apple.
Galleries and museums in New York range from massive to tiny, and attract millions to the city each year. Along Fifth Avenue, the city's famous Museum Mile plays host to popular museums such the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, as well as the lesser-known El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York. New York's best art galleries are in Chelsea, but those looking to view something edgier should head to Queens.
Newcomers in New York City should be sure to catch a play or musical on Broadway during their time in the city. Wicked, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the wicked witch, has become a modern classic, won multiple Tony awards and has been running continuously since its debut in 2003.
Those hoping to spot a celebrity may also have some luck in the New York theatre scene – many famous musicians and actors have graced the Broadway stages. Some of Broadway's more recent famous residents include Hugh Jackman, Josh Groban and Jessica Chastain.
Eating out in New York City
While roadside vendors selling everything from hot dogs to bagels are a common sight in New York, there are also many excellent restaurants for newcomers to try. All kinds of cuisine can be found in New York, so new arrivals fond of dining out can have whatever their hearts (or stomachs) desire.
For the best variety head to Queens. Chinatown is good for all types of Asian fare; the East Village has Ukrainian, Indian and Japanese eateries; and a fantastic selection of African and soul food restaurants are based in Harlem. There are steakhouses, as well as Italian restaurants and pizzerias sprinkled throughout the city.
Sports and outdoor activities in New York City
With so much going on in terms of shopping, eating out, entertainment and nightlife, many new arrivals can't help but wonder when they will ever get time to keep fit in New York. New Yorkers are fairly image-conscious and new arrivals will soon get used to the sight of runners in Central Park, cyclists biking to work and people somehow finding the time to fit in the odd gym session or yoga class.
Those who prefer spectating rather than partaking will be pleased to learn that New York has a long sporting history. Baseball is the city's most closely followed sport and newcomers should be sure to head to a game to see the New York Yankees or the New York Mets take to the field. American football is also a popular sport and the city is home to both the New York Giants and the New York Jets.
See and do in New York City
New arrivals will find themselves with an extensive and ever-expanding list of things to see and do in New York – sightseeing in the city could take up nearly all of a person's free time on its own. Below is our selection of recommended sights to see in New York City.
Statue of Liberty
With a history dating back to the 1800s, the Statue of Liberty has become a universal symbol of freedom and democracy, and is a must-see for newcomers to New York.
Empire State Building
Built in just 410 days, the famous Empire State Building is one of New York’s tallest structures, standing at 1,250 feet (381m) tall. The building's observation decks offer splendid views of the city.
Largely thanks to film and television, Central Park has become internationally known and holds the distinction of being one of the most-filmed locations worldwide. Nevertheless, it remains a wonderful natural haven to escape to, with more than 800 acres of beautiful gardens and lakes to enjoy on a day off.
Known by many illustrious nicknames such as 'the Centre of the Universe' and 'the Crossroads of the World', this famous intersection at the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street is a feast of sound and colour, with flashing advertisements and gigantic billboards all around.
Taking a trip down the Great White Way is a must for new arrivals in New York. This theatre district is home to the world's best plays and musicals, offering up something for everyone, ranging from time-tested classics such as The Lion King to widely hailed contemporary shows like Hamilton. A hub of creativity, there's always plenty to choose from on Broadway, with new plays and musicals constantly popping up.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
Constructed where the Twin Towers once stood, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a sobering reminder of the terror attacks that destroyed the towers in 2001 and resulted in the deaths of close to 3,000 people. Outside the museum is the Memorial Plaza, where visitors can walk among the oak trees and sunken fountains in remembrance of those lost.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
With one of the largest art collections in the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (known simply as 'the Met') is an appealing stop for any newbie in New York. The museum houses more than two million artworks from all over the globe. The collection includes not just the paintings and sculptures one would expect at an art museum, but also ancient weapons and armour, antique musical instruments and authentic historical clothing and accessories.
What's on in New York City
A city full of things to keep all types of people busy, New York's buzzing energy can be felt as much during the day as it can at night. In summer, in particular, the energy is almost palpable, seemingly bouncing off the gleaming buildings and steaming-hot asphalt.
Picking just a few events is a difficult task, but here is a list of the best tried and tested annual events in New York City.
New York Restaurant Week (February and July)
Some of the city’s most famous and exclusive restaurants participate in New York’s biannual Restaurant Week. Participating eateries offer prix fixe meals, giving attendees a chance to sample some of the best kitchens in the city at bargain prices.
St Patrick’s Day Parade (March)
There's always been a strong Irish heritage in the New York area and St Patrick’s Day is the event of the year to witness it in all its intoxicating glory. On the day itself, there is a parade, complete with costumes and marching bands, that slowly snakes up to 5th Avenue.
NYC Pride March (June)
NYC Pride is a huge event in the city and usually lasts an entire week with a fair few smaller events all leading to the main parade on the Saturday of the festival. As the home of the first Pride March held in 1970, the event is of particular significance to NYC.
Feast of San Gennaro (September)
San Gennaro is a week-long festival that takes place in Little Italy every year. A highlight of the feast is the parade, where a statue of San Gennaro (the Patron Saint of Naples) is carried through the cobbled streets, followed by a large procession. The atmosphere is electric with music, vendors selling street food, and huge crowds slowly meandering through it all. Adventurous newcomers might enjoy trying their hand at the festival's famous cannoli-eating contest.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (November)
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a world-famous event with a procession of floats and entertainers celebrating this special occasion. Even the preparations can be captivating to watch. On the night before the parade, the famous huge balloons depicting animals or cartoon characters are inflated on the Upper West Side – a great spectacle to see after a dinner out with friends.
►For sightseeing ideas with children, read Kids and family in New York City
"My ideal day involves grabbing a coffee at my corner bodega, taking my dog for a long walk through Central Park, meeting up with a friend for lunch at a neighbourhood Greek restaurant, shopping at a mix of one-off boutiques and chain retailers, taking a fun Zumba or Soul Cycle class, happy hour drinks outdoors overlooking the Hudson River, and taking a cab home to my deliciously centrally located apartment." Read more of American repatriate Jessica's interview.
"I really enjoy that you can do anything at any time you want; learning a new language, dancing Salsa, hitting up a party – it’s a madhouse sometimes! Getting to know people at a bar and going out by yourself. Sharing accommodation with singers and actors, who are trying to make it. Strolling down the streets of the West Village and taking in the gorgeous buildings." German expat Laura shares her thoughts on expat life in NYC.
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