Insider's Guide to New York, USA
It’s not difficult to find places to go in New York; The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, Central Park, Rockerfeller Centre, Times Square. But when you’ve ticked all the tourist attractions off your New York list, take guidance from our New York insider to see the city like a local.
ABOUT OUR NEW YORK INSIDER:
Name: Ana Ortiz
Place of birth: New York (Manhattan to be exact!)
Occupation: I work with hotels, so I take travel and hospitality to heart.
Hobbies and interests: I love to travel, to cook (well, eat), as well as to dance to bad music! My favorite meal of the day is brunch, and I strongly believe that every meal should end on a sweet note. I love socializing and learning about new cultures, preferably over a nice meal.
How long have you lived in New York? I'm a born and bred New Yorker who lived there for almost 30 years, before moving over to Dubai. Of course, I still visit my beloved home-town often.
A BIT ABOUT NEW YORK:
How do you best navigate your city?
Walking- it’s the best and most efficient way to see the city. However, if you’re in a rush or just feeling lazy, we also have one of the best public transportation systems. The subway is fastest (though I recommend you avoid the most popular lines - 4, 5 and 6 - during rush hour) and taxis are great as long as it’s not rush hour, or raining… The bus is slower, but tends to be my preferred method of public transport because you get to see city life as you travel to your destination. Just don’t forget to reload your Metrocard.
What do you think New York does better than other cities?
We do energy! NYC is known as 'the city that never sleeps' for good reason – you can always find something to do, eat or see at all hours, day or night.
Where is your favourite view of the city?
Standing on Gapstow Bridge in Central Park, from here you get to see incredible cityscape views, from within the park.
Where is your favourite respite from hectic city life?
Deep in the heart of Central Park, from where you can see the city but it feels far away. The High Line Park is another great spot with views of the Hudson River and plenty of cozy nooks to chill out and read. A bit further north is The Cloisters, a beautiful park with a Medieval style museum that is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or, as all New-Yorkers know it, simply 'The Met'). If all of that is not enough then hop on any train from Grand Central Station towards Hudson Valley and you'll find some much quieter spots en route, within the hour.
What is your favourite building in New York?
The Chrysler Building, and luckily for me, you can see it from the window in my parent's apartment.
Where do you consider to be New York's most underrated location that more people should visit?
Roosevelt Island, a literal island in New York's East River. Not many visitors really know about it but it has parks, some interesting buildings and art galleries to visit.
What is your favourite place for a workout?
NY has some of the craziest exercise offerings around, from lightsaber fighting (yes, really) to trapeze classes. My personal favorite is spinning at Revolve Fitness; they have special theme rides and spin “battles” (think Beyonce vs Whitney!)
Where would you stay if you were visiting, and why?
Every neighborhood offers something different. For Classic NY (and if money is no object) The St. Regis or The Peninsula. For a more boutique feel, The Nomad, The Ludlow or Ace Hotel. And if you’re looking for budget, Pod 51 or Yotel are fun options.
Do you have any etiquette tips for visitors?
New Yorkers walk FAST – don’t walk slowly on a sidewalk when it’s busy, especially while looking up!
TELL US ABOUT THE FOOD SCENE:
Are there any local dishes that should be sampled?
Pizza & Bagels. I don't think I need to say much more on those.
Which restaurant has the best dish?
Oh, so many. Smith & Wollensky’s Grill (a more casual branch located just around the corner from the main restaurant) serves amazing steaks, has a local (US) wine selection and does the best carrot cake! Scarpetta in the Meatpacking District for tomato spaghetti, Balthazar for fries, Strip House for chocolate cake.
Where serves the best value for money dining options?
The famous $1 Pizza – can you get better value than a dollar for a slice?! You'll find dollar-pizza places all over the city.
Where is the best place to splurge on a delicious meal?
Eleven Madison Park. I can personally testify that it is worth every cent for the 4 plus hour and 12 course dinner. The reservation list can be long, so I recommend you book well in advance.
NOW, ONTO THE NIGHTLIFE:
Where might we find New York's best cocktail?
The Fraise Sauvage at Employees Only or a Dirty Martini at any speakeasy.
Which bar is the best value for money?
Any happy hour. But also McSorley's Ale house – $2.50 for a beer; it's their own brand and your only options are light or dark.
And the best splurge?
The Campbell Apartment at Grand Central Station.
And finally, where is the best place to carry the night on, post-midnight?
Piano’s in the Lower East Side, l’Express for Steak Frites available 24 hours a day, or any traditional Diner for disco fries! (or anything you want really).
FOR CULTURE VULTURES:
Who is your favourite local artist?
None in particular, but you can always find up and coming artists showcasing their work across the city.
Where is your favourite local gallery?
Too many to name, but there is a row of galleries on 23rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue. And as a bonus, most artist studios are around here and sometimes have open houses!
And your favourite international gallery?
Most in NYC have a wide range of International art.
Can you sum up why you love living in this city?
I often say about New York that you either love it or hate it. And if you hate it, it’s just because you haven’t found your place yet! New York really does have something for everyone, if you like fine art and elegant food or cheap-eats and garage bands - or even a mix of both - it is a city that can offer it in abundance, if you’re willing to look for it. New Yorkers move fast and talk even faster, but we love our city and love showing it off to the world. It’s a place that is always changing and evolving, embracing new cultures and newcomers, and no matter where I live, I am a “New Yorker” at heart and it’s the place I will always call home.
- Anna know's New York inside out. Share her insight using the social channels at the bottom of this article.