I remember the first time I came to New York: I was with my parents, I was 13, all I wanted from the experience was a “Little Brown Bag” to show off at school. All the cool girls – the ones who had been on holiday to New York – had one. When I got there, I went straight to Bloomingdale’s to pick one up (I don’t think I bought anything else), I went up the Empire State Building, I went on the Staten Island Ferry. For six days I remained wide-eyed, feeling like I was on the set of 40% of all the films I’d ever seen as I shuffled around tourist sights with my parents. Then I came home. Unfortunately my Little Brown Bag didn’t transform me, but on some level, the rest of the experience did.
How to do NY as an adult, though? It can be daunting to visit as a tourist if you don’t have any friends in the city and find that a copy of Lonely Planet has done little to narrow your options elsewhere in the past. Last time someone checked (in 2009) there were 8,000 restaurants and (in 2016) at least 270 hotels in The Big Apple. So how are you meant to know which to go to? Where are you meant to shop now that a Little Brown Bag isn’t going to make your friends jealous anymore? And finally, now that you’re of legal drinking age (that’s 21 in the US), where do you go for a Cosmopolitan? That’s still what people drink in New York, right?
Ahead is an up-to-date guide for what to do when you’ve ticked off the obvious tourist fare and the pricey experiential stuff – a grown up’s guide to New York City.