A Guide to New York Beyond Manhattan

New York: the big apple, the city that never sleeps, so good they named it twice… For a city of such fame, a lot of NYC does seem to go unexplored. Sure, the Rockefeller Centre, Lady Liberty, Central Park and Times Square are musts for every keen visitor, but what about the buzzing colours of Brooklyn Flea Market? The incredible diorama of the city skyline in the Queens Museum? Or the 650 species that call Bronx Zoo home? Luckily, we’re here with a collection of action-packed itineraries within each of the city’s four ‘other boroughs’, which will help you discover a New York beyond Manhattan!

24 hours in Queens

A tempting mish-mash of cultural influences from Europe and Asia, Queens is both a treat for the eyes and the stomach. With such a patchwork of diverse neighbourhoods to cover, a day here is action-packed, but sure to leave you dazzled, gluttonous, and thoroughly entertained.

Itinerary 1

A great starting point on your whirlwind tour of Queens is Mets-Willets Metro Station, easily accessed from the subways of Manhattan, and dropping you directly at the hub of sporting buzz that is Flushing. Aim to get here for around 10am, and set off on the 10-minute walk to the Queens Museum.

Often underrated and always under-explored, Queens Museum holds countless treasures that will add cultural insight and intrigue to your NYC experience. The greatest highlight by far is the 9,335-square-foot panorama of the city, with no building left unrepresented.

After a few hours marvelling that the museum’s collections, walk for 15 minutes to the nearby Flushing Meadows area. This sprawling sporting mecca features the Citi Field Stadium, as well as the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, venue for the US Open and well worth a peek. A brisk 20-minute stroll along College Point Boulevard will bring you to Presso – an Aladdin’s cave of tempting treats, freshly produced snacks and rich roastery that will satisfy any lunch craving in minutes.

Another 20-minute walk down Main Street, and you’ll find yourself at the tranquil sanctuary within Queens’ signature brand of hustle and bustle – its Botanical Gardens. Meandering through the gardens’ lush lawns and fragrant flower beds can easily eat up a few hours. It’s one of the borough’s best loved attractions, and a favourite with both travellers and locals alike.

Dinner comes in the form of Czech-inspired grills and hearty platefuls at the lively Bohemian Beer Garden. This wildly popular venue is a short taxi ride from the gardens in Astoria, but is well worth the journey – savour sumptuous meats and spiced goulash whilst clanking your steins of pils in the venue’s sun-drenched veranda. This is the best way to soak in Queens’ European flavour and unique humour, whilst rounding off the day in style.

And if you have a bit more time….

Itinerary 2

Start the day by hopping on the metro to Astoria, and alight at 103 St Corona Plaza Station at around 10am. A quick walk along 37th Avenue will bring you to the famous Louis Armstrong’s House Museum. The home of the legendary soul singer for the last 28 years of his life, this historical monument offers a glimpse into the life of one of the USA’s most beloved musicians.

For a lunch to remember, take the short walk to the 111 St bus station, and then take the number seven to 74 St Avenue. Just around the corner you’ll find The Arepa Lady. After starting life as a food cart famed for its heavenly fried cornmeal cakes, this bustling, greasy diner is now a permanent fixture of Queens’ gastro-scene and home to the city’s best arepas.

Once you’re stuffed full of delicious Colombian delicacies, walk to 21 St Queensbridge/41st Avenue, and take bus F to Roosevelt Avenue in Long Island City. A three-minute walk away, you’ll find Socrates Sculpture Park, one of the most exciting artistic features of the neighbourhood and home to a plethora of avant garde, life-size exhibitions. Continue in the artistic vein with a wander around the Museum of Modern Art PS1, which can be reached with a swift hailing of a yellow cab. This branch of the city’s famed MoMA is home to some of the more daring, vibrant and abstract collections, well worth a stroll through for even the most occasional of art lovers.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, satisfy it US style at the M Wells Steakhouse, which is just a seven-minute walk from the museum. A classy but fun establishment, M Wells unsurprisingly specialises in steak, but also serves up myriad of sugary desserts and regular gastronomic events. If the night is young, round off your day by catching bus N from Queensboro Plaza to Dutch Cocktails Bar, a trendy nightspot that does a mean line in mixology.

24 Hours in Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Arguably the most famous of New York’s boroughs, Brooklyn has never lost its edge, despite the recent booming popularity of previously run-down areas like Williamsburg and Park Slope. In all honesty, whether it’s hearty soul food, high-brow culture or the hustle and bustle of one of the city’s biggest flea markets, Brooklyn will have you charmed in no time.

Itinerary 1

Of course, the best way to enter Brooklyn is across its world-famous bridge, which affords incredible views of Manhattan to boot. Aim to have crossed by about 9am, and start the day in the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park. Just a 10-minute stroll along the river you’ll find a vivid tangle of stalls and aromas better known as Brooklyn Flea.

It would be easy to spend all day getting lost among this warren of sellers flogging anything from cultural delicacies to vintage clothing, but when you manage to prise yourself away, head back past the bridge to Brooklyn Heights Promenade. A short walkway along the river, this is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of the Heights neighbourhood. Once you reach High Street, take the A bus to Hoyt-Schermerhorn. A four-minute walk from here is Mile End Delicatessen, renowned for its meat-stacked bagels and doorstop sandwiches.

From here, walk along Livingston Street to DeKalb Avenue, and take the Q bus to Parkside Avenue. Just along from here you’ll find Prospect Park – a leafy haven and the jewel in the crown of Brooklyn’s sought-after Park Slope neighbourhood. Wandering through the park will bring you into the neighbourhood itself, which is well worth exploring for its Hollywood sheen, tree-lined avenues and quirky shops.

At 7th Avenue/6th Street, hop on the B69 bus to 7th Avenue/18th Street and walk to Green Wood Cemetery. As morbid as it may seem, this cemetery is actually the final resting place of many of the city’s notable inhabitants, from government officials to musicians and sportsmen, and is full of ornate architecture. From here, hail a cab and get yourself over to Vinegar Hill House for a well-deserved meal. Influenced by the city’s Italian population, this elegant restaurant serves up fresh, locally-sourced soul food that is so good, you’re sure to overorder and still want dessert.

If the fancy takes you, just a ten-minute cab ride from the restaurant is The Binc, one of Brooklyn’s premier late-night cocktail lounges (the seasonal specials are a must-try).

And if you have a bit more time…

Itinerary 2

Start your day by catching the metro to Jefferson Street Station at around 10am. This is the location of an urban art project known as the Bushwick Street Collective, and is one of New York’s best graffiti and street art displays.

Bushwick Street is positioned at the edge of Williamsburg, one of Brooklyn’s most vibrant, edgy neighbourhoods and a draw for fashionistas, visionaries and general creative types. Head east through Williamsburg at a leisurely pace, and you should arrive, just in time for lunch, at Williamsburg Pizza, an authentically Italian joint that serves piping hot slices with a variety of tempting toppings.

From here, walk for around 10 minutes along 3rd Street to The City Reliquary Museum. A quirky, ramshackle collection of workaday, but extraordinary New York artefacts, this museum somehow manages to tell a more vivid story of the city than most, and is curated by local volunteers. Just a 15-minute walk from here, and you’ll find yourself at Brooklyn Brewery, a microbrewery that churns out some of the borough’s best craft beer, and offers regular tours and tastings to whet your whistle.

Evening entertainment can be found at Dram, a cocktail bar with a mouth-watering menu of hearty bar snacks, just a short cab ride away.

24 Hours in Staten Island

Staten Island map

Although many associate it only with a commuter passage, Staten Island has bags of culture, history and excitement to add to any NY itinerary. From naval museums to national monuments, some of the best Latin cuisine in the city and miles of lush, sprawling parks, this little island certainly packs a punch.

Itinerary 1

Start the day by taking the Staten Island Ferry so that you dock in St George for about 9:30am. The ferry journey itself is a prime photo opportunity, what with Lady Liberty waving you by and the iconic city skyline in view. Once you’ve docked, walk for around eight minutes along Richmond Terrace to Postcards, the island’s sculptural 9/11 memorial.

From here, just a five-minute walk along Hamilton Avenue brings you to the Staten Island Museum, a treasure trove of time capsules and historic exhibitions that tell tales of New York City through the ages. Around the corner from the museum is Beso, a hugely popular tapas restaurant that serves up tasty small plates and sumptuous paellas that’ll set you up for the afternoon.

Once you’re ready to hit the road again, make your way to the Bay St/Nick Laporte bus stop and catch the S51 to FR Capodanno Bl/Cromwell Avenue. Here, you are ideally positioned for a leisurely afternoon stroll along Franklin D Roosevelt Boardwalk, which runs alongside the bay and affords stunning views across the water. If you head towards Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, you’ll soon be in the vicinity of Fort Wadsworth. This haunting historical landmark is a former US military installation, and serves as a monument to a multitude of conflicts and battles.

For dinner, hop in a cab for about five minutes to Bin 5. A Michelin-starred restaurant specialising in unique flavour combinations and craft cocktails, this is a great end to any day on Staten Island.

And if you have a bit more time….

Itinerary 2

Hop onboard the Staten Island Ferry to begin your day, arriving at St George at around 9:30am. From here, take the S44 bus to Lafayette Av/Fillmore St, and walk to Snug Harbour Cultural Centre. This former home of retired sailors is now a buzzing cultural arts hub, with many exhibitions and features to explore from contemporary art to live performance and a blooming crop of botanical gardens.

Only a short walk through the gardens is the Noble Maritime Collections Museum, which offers a fascinating peek into the naval history of both New York and Staten Island. Be sure to check out the Robbins Reef Lighthouse in particular. After a short walk along Richmond Terrace, you’ll find yourself at Blue, a cosy little spot at the water’s edge – a beautiful venue for a lazy late lunch of fresh seafood specialities.

After lunch, stroll back through Cottage Row and spend a while wandering through the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden. A magnificent mishmash of koi ponds, rockeries, pavilions and bamboo forests, this is a peaceful sanctuary in which to while away a few hours.

From here, head back through the gardens to the Richmond Ter/Snug Harbor Rd bus stop and take the S40 to Richmond Ter/Wall St, where you’ll find Ruddy and Dean’s steakhouse – a dinner spot to fill up in before heading to the nearby St George Theatre to catch a show.

If the theatre isn’t really your thing, catch the S40 bus from the Chinese Scholar Garden to Richmond Ter/Stuyvesant Pl, and walk to the Staten Island Yankees Stadium to cheer them on, hotdog in hand.

24 Hours in The Bronx

The Bronx map

Recognised worldwide as the birthplace of hip hop, The Bronx has cultivated a unique brand of gritty, urban culture unlike anywhere else in the city. As well as this distinguishable, edgy charm, the borough is also home to New York’s best zoo and the Yankees’ home stadium – what’s not to love?

Itinerary 1

Start your time in The Bronx by catching the metro to the New York Botanical Gardens for around 10am. Arguably the best and most stunningly maintained of the city’s gardens, a leisurely wander through them will ease you into the day. From here, walk through the equally charming Bronx Park to The Bronx Zoo.

Home to more than 650 species, this is New York’s most diverse zoo and overflowing with unique exhibits and creative events to entertain visitors of all ages – if you visit between May and October, be sure to ride the Wild Asia monorail for a bird’s-eye view.

A short walk from the zoo along East 183rd Street is Dominick’s – a traditional, family-run Italian eatery serving up hearty portions of pasta, pizza and other favourites. Treat yourself to lunch here, and walk it off towards the E Fordham Rd/Hoffman St bus stop. Jump on the B12 to W Fordham Rd/Sedgwick Av, and you’ll be directly opposite the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.

An outdoor sculpture gallery featuring busts of many notable American individuals of the last few centuries, the hall of fame offers an insight into the country’s past and social history. After this, hail a cab and set off for the Bronx Alehouse, a casual bar and grill serving up some of the borough’s best craft beers and good, honest pub grub.

And if you have a bit more time….

Itinerary 2

Arrive at Pelham Bay metro station for 10am. From the Bruckner Bl/Wilkinson Av stop, catch the B29 to City Island Av/Fordham Street, where you will alight at City Island. One of The Bronx’s smallest neighbourhoods, City Island is a popular draw for tourists on account of its New England-esque charm and quaint, fishing village aesthetic.

Hop back on the B29 bus from Co-op City Plaza to Charles Crimi Bl/Subway Overpass. Here you’ll find Pelham Bay Park, a sprawling expanse of verdant lawns and sparkling lakes in which you can easily while away an hour or so. From here, work your way east across the borough by grabbing a taxi to Ceetay restaurant in the Mott Haven neighbourhood. As The Bronx is heavily influenced by Asian culture, Chinese and Japanese eateries are sprinkled throughout – this is one of the borough’s best, with fresh sushi and steaming, fragrant soups.

From here, walk for around 10 minutes to 138 St Grand Concourse Station and catch the number four metro line to 161 St, adjacent to the Yankee Stadium. Tours are available, but visitors are also able to explore the main stadium alone, depending on time scales. To round off the day, retrace your route back to Grand Concourse Station and walk for 10 minutes to Mott Haven Bar, for upscale grills and expertly mixed cocktails.
 

A Guide to New York Beyond Manhattan - Thumbnail Keen to explore the other boroughs? Download the route maps using the links below and book your stay now
Queens
Brooklyn
Staten Island
The Bronx
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About Laura
Laura

Laura always feels oddly at home on airplanes and dreams of one day travelling to outer space. For now she's got her feet firmly on the ground and spends her time editing onsite content and blogs for dealchecker.

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