Travel Light: 10 bites of the Big Apple
Whether it's recreating memorable movie scenes on top of the iconic Empire State Building or navigating your way through the fluorescent quagmire that is Times Square, it's difficult not to fall into at least a few of New York City's infamous tourist traps.
And why not? There's good reason they're popular. But to truly take a satisfying bite out of the Big Apple it pays to act like you live in the endlessly energising metropolis.
Here are 10 ways to help transform yourself from overwhelmed sightseer into native New Yorker:
1 Browse the Brooklyn Flea Market
Leave room in your luggage for some vintage wares and retro delights as you're sure to find some enviable treasures at this city staple. Founded in 2008, Brooklyn Flea howcases hundreds of vendors every weekend selling antique and repurposed furniture, vintage fashions, collectables and a tightly curated range of jewellery, art and crafts.
2 Get up close and personal with street art in Williamsburg
While in Brooklyn, check out the impressive graffiti and street art on a walking tour of Williamsburg. Then retire for refreshments in neighbouring Greenpoint, the area made famous by Lena Dunham's popular TV series Girls. Be sure to check out Five Leaves, the restaurant and bar the late actor Heath Ledger planned to open before his 2008 death, and hipster hang-out Freehold.
streetartwalk.com, fiveleavesny.com, freeholdbrooklyn.com
3 Work up a sweat in Central Park
Binging on burgers and fries? Burn them off by going for a jog around the 2.5km running track that loops the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Fans of Sex and the City will recognise this as the picturesque site of many a character's leisurely workout.
4 Stop and smell the coffee
Expat Aussies continue to win fans with their signature barista skills and fabulous flat whites. Bluestone Lane has several coffee shops around the city and Little Collins on Lexington Ave is also helping introduce Vegemite to American palates alongside its popular caffeine hits. Hollywood heartthrob Hugh Jackman has opened a charitable cafe, Laughing Man Coffee and Tea, in Tribeca. Profits help underprivileged communities in developing countries.
5 Spread the love of bagels
Of all its signature foodstuffs, from pretzels to pizza, bagels are arguably the most synonymous with New York. Delicious as a sandwich, with lox (brined salmon) or with a plain old shmear of cream cheese, some of the city's best can be found at the legendary Russ and Daughters on the Lower East Side.
6 Tickle your funny bone
Arrive early and join the queue outside the Upright Citizens Brigade, a 152-seat theatre that provides a performance home for hundreds of comedians and events for a bargain price of $10. Its Sunday night improv show ASSSSCAT 3000 often features huge guest stars, including founding member Amy Poehler, her SNL buddy Rachel Dratch and comedian Amy Schumer, plus cast members from shows such as Veep and 30 Rock.
7 Ride The Cyclone at Coney Island
You can easily find far bigger and faster thrills at other amusement parks but Luna Park's almost 90-year-old wooden roller coaster still packs a bone-rattling punch. Plus, the creaks and groans add an element of danger as you plummet down its 26m at 87km/h. Just be sure to get your hot dog after - not before - the thrill ride.
8 Spend a weekend in the Hamptons
New York's elite famously escape to the Hamptons to get their beachside fix in summer. Long Island's easternmost village Montauk has the same ocean views, sandy beaches and fresh-fish obsession as the rest of the Hamptons, with one difference - you don't need tonnes of cash to enjoy its spoils. The deck at the Surf Lodge is the perfect place to people-watch over refreshments.
9 People watch at Grand Central Terminal
A hive of constant activity, Grand Central plays host to 750,000 commuters and travellers who pass through its magnificent corridors every day. Even if you're not on your way out of town, it's worth grabbing a coffee or snack from the bustling dining concourse, finding a seat and watching the sea of people flow through.
10 High tea at the Plaza
The original Tea Room at the luxurious Plaza Hotel opened in 1907. Today, the revamped Palm Court still houses its famous palm trees and a French Renaissance-style interior that includes a magnificent stained-glass dome. But high tea at one of the world's most iconic hotels doesn't come cheap - $70 a person for The New Yorker Special, including sandwiches, scones and pastries. The hotel's timeless charm and elegance will help the eye-watering prices go down a little easier.