7 Ways to See NYC Like a Local

Want to know 7 ways to see NYC like a local? Well, if you know me, you know one of my favorite cities on earth is NYC. Normally, I try to make my way up there at least once a year but this year, I’ve been lucky enough to go twice. There’s an energy about the city that always leaves me feeling revitalized and refreshed. I could absolutely see myself living there one day, which is probably why I’m so passionate about this post. Every time I go, I get asked how to get around on the subway and general directional questions. It always makes me giggle because I know I don’t actually live there but I’ve grown to know the city quite well.

I’d still say there are bits of the city I need to explore further, but I’ve covered a lot of ground and typically tend to blend in nicely. So, I thought, if you’re looking to visit NYC and want to take a less “touristy” route – then I’m your girl! I got you covered.

So, without further ado, here are my 7 ways to see NYC like a local, enjoy!

Take the Subway

You want to be a true New Yorker? Then you’re going to have to enter the underground. The best way to get around NYC and see more of it than on foot, is by taking the subway.

You can find more information on the MTA website. The cost of one subway ride is $2.75, so I highly recommend (if you’re just visiting) getting an unlimited metro card (7 days, I believe) so that you don’t have to top up at all. It’s the best value and only $30.

Do Brunch & Cafe Hop

Citizens of Chelsea

One of the things you’ll notice a lot of NYC locals do is brunch. Everyone loves a good brunch spot and time with friends. So, on your next visit to NYC, be sure and head to a local brunch spot.

Not sure where to go? Here’s a few of my favorites:

Go to Dumbo or Williamsburg for the day via the ferry

Ferry in NYC

If you’re looking to escape the hustle & bustle of the city, and haven’t experienced Brooklyn, I highly recommend hopping on the ferry and heading across the river. The ferry ride only cost $2.75 one way and the views along the way are amazing.

You can stop at Brooklyn / Dumbo or North / South Williamsburg – depending on where you’re wanting to go! This last trip, we went to North Williamsburg, via the East River route. There is so much to do over in Brooklyn and escaping for the city a bit is a nice way to spend a day or afternoon.

Dumbo, Brooklyn

A few things you could do:

  • Smorgasburg (highly recommend)
  • Prospect Park
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Brewery hop
  • and much more!

Find things to do in Brooklyn, on any given day, here.

Eat where the locals eat

One of the best ways to experience NYC like a local is to eat like one. This means, avoiding time square like the plague. Why? Because the prices are astronomical and there is MUCH better food in other parts of the city.

A few of my favorite spots include:

  • Prince Street Pizza (a staple!)
  • Chelsea market (so many options)
  • The brunch options I listed above
  • Sweet Green (a personal favorite)
  • $1 pizza from a hole in the wall – trust me, it’s good
  • Sunday in Brooklyn
  • and much more!

Stroll through the different villages

One of the things I always saw locals do the most was strolling through the different villages. If you’re an Instagram buff, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the villages have the most instagrammable spots. I always make sure to take a stroll through them while I’m there.

A few you can start with:

  • East Village
  • West Village
  • Chelsea

Go kayaking for free

Something new I did this last trip was go kayaking at Pier 26. It was FREE and so much fun! It seemed like quite a few locals came to use it as their exercise which was cool. Also, once you paddle out and look back, the views of the financial district are amazing.

Find out more info here.

Enjoy drinks outside

During applicable weather, I highly recommend grabbing a drink and sitting outside. There are SO many rooftops, water spots, local cafes, and more that you can stop at and enjoy the weather.

The images below are from the Frying Pan, I believe. We enjoyed drinks on their rooftop with views of both New Jersey AND New York. It was a little chilly but SO worth it.

For more outdoor bars, look here!

That’s it! Those are my 7 ways to see NYC like a local. I’m sure there’s so many more ways that you could, but for me, this is what’s worked. I avoid tourist traps, eat at local spots and wonder around/take walks like a local. I love taking in the sights and just enjoying the city – but from a local point of view.

Travel on,


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