Sometimes I wonder what urban safaris in other cities would feel like - walking out of the door, choosing a path you've never been down, and finding something amazing.
I've always wanted to try it while visiting New York City, and this time, I did just that. With 5 boroughs, your imagination can run wild. If you're up for an adventure in a city that is fairly close to home, take a few notes from my most recent trip.
p.s. If you try any of the below, some might just confuse you for a local.
If you're looking for more flavor than usual, try visiting one of the many public flea markets starting in the early spring.
- Hell's Kitchen Flea Market - As my bus entered the city, we passed a smiling, pitchfork wielding devil. It didn't take much for him to entice me. After dropping my bags off at the hotel, I walked back towards the market. Inside, I found unique handicrafts, vintage clothes and accessories, and tons of local hipsters looking for the next cool buy.
- Brooklyn Flea Market* - I visited the winter home of the Brooklyn Flea at One Hanson Place in Brooklyn. Check out this market simply for the atmosphere - an old bank with immense vaulted ceilings embraces a maze of vendors of all kinds. The prices may be a little higher than you're expecting for a flea market, but you'll waste no time with the jewelers. My spoon ring and steam punk cufflinks (a gift for a new friend) were well worth the Subway ride. Watching the Brooklyn bridge unfold from my subway car window was exciting. When the weather warms up, the markets move outdoors.
Neighborhoods? Try the LES
The next time you visit NYC, concentrate on one neighborhood to spend the day exploring. This time, I chose the Lower East Side - and I'm SO glad I did. From the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, cheap eats and local landmarks, the LES was a super cool place to be. Here are some spots I recommend checking out:
- Orchard Street Pedestrian Mall - a great street for perusing and finding something unique to commemorate your visit.
- 76 Orchard Street & the Tenement Museum - the LES has a vibrant history and truly reflects the diversity that is New York City. If you had relatives enter the United States through Ellis Island, chances are that they came through the LES. Full of tenement housing at the turn of the century, the LES was a microcosm of the world. Today, you can visit the Tenement Museum and learn more about early immigrants and their lives in NYC.
- Prosperity Dumpling in Chinatown. As I was standing in line waiting to pick up 5 dumplings for $1 (yes, $1), a couple approached me and asked, "Why are you standing in this long line? Is there something here we don't know about?" Yes there is . Wait patiently in line to find out.
- Next time. What's left on my LES bucket list? Katz's Deli and the Hester Street Fair.
What is your favorite neighborhood in NYC?
*Image of Hanson Place kindly borrowed from http://www.brooklynflea.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Hanson-Panorama.jpg