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New York City: 6 Things Only Locals Know About Living in the Big Apple

We asked a NYC local to walk new residents through the most important things to know when living in the Big Apple.

By Mikey Rosenbaum on December 2, 2021

Let’s just put it out there and say: There’s a lot you’ll need to learn if you’re moving to New York City and haven’t spent much time there. We see a lot of friends arrive in the city and spend the first few months posting statuses about riding the subway — and the unique (shall we say) experiences they have while doing it. We’ve also heard about the Trader Joe experience in NYC — that is, it being so busy that you basically get in line when you walk in the store and pick up your items as you get closer to the checkout. 

But we wanted to know more. We wanted to know a few solid insider pointers about the Big Apple. So we turned to someone who’s lived there the past few years, and has some pretty stellar insight into making the best of your New York state of mind.

1. The Best Rooftop Bars Are in Brooklyn

Locals know you need to leave Manhattan to enjoy it sometimes. If you want to see New York City and all of its brilliant cityscape, go to Brooklyn and go up. The best viewing spots are there, and you might as well enjoy a drink atop a swanky rooftop bar or restaurant. For cocktails, check out Night of Joy. Or for beer, check out Berry Parkor. Both are in Williamsburg.

2. The Best Museums Are Free

Of course, you’re welcome to pay (and you should if you can, don’t be so stingy). BUT, locals know that many of the world class New York museums are free of charge on a pay-what-you-can basis. For the starving artist who needs some van Goghian inspiration from The Met, don’t let rent keep you from soaking up the city’s art. Even MoMA has Free Fridays (if you don’t mind the crowds), allowing the miser in all of us to enjoy a cheap date now and then.

3. Don’t Go to Times Square

Occasionally, if you’re entertaining out of town guests, you may find yourself stuck behind lines of tourists to see Les Mis again, but locals avoid Times Square at all costs. Sometimes you can go weeks without even having to transfer trains at the station there, if you’re lucky. If you need to find a spot to go out in Midtown, make your way closer to the Park or westward toward Hell’s Kitchen for more reasonably priced (and better) offerings all around.

4. Roosevelt Island

On the Upper East Side, there is a strange Disneyland-like tram taking locals up and away over the river to a secret, quiet island. This is Roosevelt Island. It’s a quick, easy escape from the hubbub of the city. Just use your metro rail card at no additional charge. For a quiet, laid back view of the city, check out the Southpoint Park or on the opposite end, the gothic North Point Lighthouse. Cheap dates for the win!

New York NY

5. Smorgasburg

When in Brooklyn, do as the hipsters do and check out the Smorgasburg in Williamsburg (every Saturday) and Prospect Park (every Sunday) for a combination flea/farmer’s market with local vendors galore. Gourmet and artisan foods from all over New York City come together at this local favorite. Anything from quail egg skewers to Shanghai-style crepes can be found. If your tummy is feeling adventurous, get your smorg on at the burg! (See what we did there?)

6. 30 Under 30

No, this isn’t about Forbes millionaires. The 30 Under 30 tickets were created by the critically acclaimed Manhattan Theatre Club to provide affordable theater prices for young people in New York. This is just one of many deals that Off-Broadway theater houses provide for locals and the artistically inclined with lighter wallets.

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