New York, the land of opportunities: when you arrive, you really feel like it’s the place where dreams can come true.

I wrote this post immediately after my come back from NYC and I made a list of the must do’s. See if you agree!

Go into an independent bookshop

If you look at an independent bookshop from the outside, it looks like you are on the set of a romantic film. But don’t stop there, go inside, trust me: it’s worth it!

There are so many bookshops, but spending some time in McNally Jackson, at 52, Prince st, Nolita, convinced me that I had to try and visit as many as possible. In the first months of 2018, McNally Jackson opened a new shop in Williamsburg: I’ll have to go and visit next time I’m in NYC !

The vibe that surrounds you inside the bookshop is one of positive energy, alternative culture and a will for doing, chatting and learning. The titles go from geography to history, from non-fiction to storytelling, and booklovers like myself have to be dragged away.

An excellent excuse to stay longer could be to taste a good scone from the bookshop’s bar. The tables are under a vault of volumes hung from the ceiling and have wallpaper made of old pages as a background… nice!

For more info, click here.

Wandering around the High Line

Which cities in the world should envy this park? Probably all! Built where the elevated freight rail High Line ran until 1980, this public park sums up lots of the Big Apple’s contrasts in a little less than 1.5 mile walk.

Where to start? You can choose between the contemporary Jacob Javits Center, going south, or from Gansevoort st, climbing the steps at Washington st. junction and heading north. From the Jacob Javits Center: walk the 11th st south and turn right in 34th st. Shortly after, on your left, you find a board that indicates the start of the High Line.

Unlike the southern pathway, this section around Rail Yards features a simple path through the existing self-seeded plantings, with a view on Hudson River and New Jersey, until 30th st. From there, the structure becomes more elegant, and the pathway passes among skyscrapers and redbrick houses of the Meatpacking District. The contrast between them is something surreal and entrancing.

Lots of people choose to walk this way through Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and the West Village, jogging in gym clothes, taking children out for a walk, taking photos or drinking a coffee-to-go. While I was there, a boy and a girl were sitting on a bench eating dehydrated seaweed under the sunshine.

The landscape upon West Side is amazing and reveals many hidden corners of the city. Keep an eye out for the Empire State Building’s observatory, and take a few moments to sit down on the steps that go down to a big window that looks onto the busy streets below.

Then, walk under the arches of Chelsea Market and relax on the wooden deckchairs, watching the boats sailing by.

The whole thing is enhanced by a series of art installations, e.g. The Swallower Swallowed by Jon Rafman. Captured by art and the self-seeded garden, you may forget you are 30 feet above the street

For more info, visit the site Friends of the High Line, a non-profit group that advocated for the High Line’s transformation into a public open space in 1999 and also today oversees the maintenance, operations and public programming.

Visit an old luna park

The journey to get there is quite long, from 40 minutes to one hour, but you won’t regret it! Get the orange or the yellow line to Brooklyn – Coney Island and get off at the final destination, Coney Island – Stillwell Av. For more info, I’m writing a new post about how to use the New York underground to its best, so stay tuned.

Once out, turn left on Stillwell Av. towards the south and the ocean. Just a few paces and, at the first crossroads, on the corner of Stillwell and Surf, you find Nathan’s Famous, the worldwide known hotdog restaurant where, on 4th July every year, the hot dog eating contest takes place. An enormous billboard celebrates the heroic deeds of the winners.

Going straight ahead towards the south, you come to the historic mysterious Luna Park, from which every other luna park in the world took its name.

A lot of films have been shot here and today a lot of families take their children out of Manhattan’s chaos, to have fun here during the summer.

The park looks on the large promenade, that runs beside the ocean shore. The pavement is made of wood, where the seagulls relax after their flights over the ocean and look for food. The calm waves of the ocean touch the big ivory shore.

It’s a perfect trip for children, who will also go crazy over the sea lions that live in the aquarium, as well as a can’t-miss destination for adults, who will feel like they are in the middle of a TV series from the last century. Here, everyone can lose himselves among the unconvincing grin of a clown and the breeze coming from the ocean.

For more info, click here.

Take pics of Central Park in autumn

Strawberry Field’s red, The Mall’s yellow, Bow Bridge’s reflections, The Ramble’s huge trees… so many great photos can be taken, so many that you might need an extra memory for your camera!

You can walk along the paths in the company of cute squirrels and have breakfast at the Boathouse, where it’s possible to rent a boat to have a trip on The Lake and meet the kind volunteers who take care of the 341 hectares of green and water in the middle of Uptown.

If you see a photo of New York taken by the sky, you’ll clearly notice this central oasis of peace in the middle of Manhattan’s excitement. And here it is: a place where you can have a quick run but also spend days, never re-walking the same paths. You can plan an itinerary to follow or just be driven by colours, glimpses and curiosity. One thing is certain: after the first time, you’ll look forward to going back!

Walk among food stands in a farmers market

I visited Chinatown market on Monday, Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday and the one near the Natural History Museum on Sunday, and they made me change my mind about the junk food stigma: eating healthy and organic food in New York is possible and easy! Many local farmers from the nearby countries pour into the crowded streets and squares to sell their products and, luckily, let you taste them.

Colours, voices and excitement that swarm these places will capture everyone. And if you’re looking for a particular type of vegetable or fruit… I’m pretty sure you’ll find it!

Have you ever been to one of these places? Is your top 5 of best experiences of NYC different from mine? Let’s talk about it in Comments!

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