Visit USA - America's Best Travel Guide

New York City

Local Scoop: Ten Things locals like to do in NYC

If you’d like to skip the tourist traps and experience New York City as a local does, these tips will help. Here are the top 10 things residents of Gotham enjoy doing in their free time.

1. Take a date to dinner and a movie in the same venue: You can woof down and watch a movie, just like you do at home, only with better (and pricier) food. The Nitehawk Cinema offers cocktails, snacks and entrees – often inspired by the first-run movie being shown.

2. Listen to great music at venues off the beaten path: Radio City Music Hall is great if you enjoy huge crowds. Smaller venues like the Brooklyn Bowl, Saint Vitus, Brooklyn Rod & Gun and Le Bain feature up-and-coming artists along with surprise visits by well-known bands knocking the rust off before going on tour.

3. Catch a few comedy club sets: The Comedy Cellar or The Creek and the Cave are just a few of the great comedy clubs where big names unexpectedly turn up on stage. Sometimes mid-week shows are when the stars sneak in to try out new material. Comics with recent unexpected visits include Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari and Colin Quinn.

4. Chow down at Smorgasburg Market: This bazaar features foods from local producers who sell their goods from booths and vendor carts.

5. Learn how the locals have lived in NYC-themed museums: Many NYC residents get interested in how their predecessors in the Big Apple lived. Museums like the New York Historical Society, the New York Transit Museum and the City Reliquary will tell you.

6. Elevate to the Top of the Rock: Even New Yorkers like to get perspective now and again. The Empire State building observation deck is always crowded. The Top of the Rock usually isn’t, and that’s why the locals love this observation location.

7. Check out the local bar scene: Residents of the city stay out of bars filled with tourists. If you want to hob nob with the locals at their favorite drinkeries, try spots like The Bell House and the Branded Saloon.

8. Stroll Central Park: While most tourists are running themselves ragged, the locals are chilling in the park as they’ve done for more than 125 years. Walks are free, renting a bike or taking a boat ride will cost you. Brooklyn Bridge Park and Prospect Park are great alternatives.

9. Roam a street fair: Many people who live in NYC have learned to stop hating the street fairs that snarl traffic in their neighborhood and join the fun. You can too at fairs that happen throughout the summer and into the fall. Atlantic Antic in Brooklyn would be a great first choice.

10. Browse books and meet local authors: Bookstores like the Greenlight and the Housing Works Bookstore Café cater to local bibliophiles. Many authors who make their residence in NYC peruse books and give readings of their works.