How To Make the Most Out Of Your Trip to New York City

Books to get you moving and exploring this exciting and quirky city
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How To Make the Most Out Of Your Trip to New York City

Books to get you moving and exploring New York City

Before moving to New York from tiny Barbados, I bought a few books that I thought would help me get into the grit and legend of this sprawling city. I wanted to live like a local, check out the traditional diners and best food spots, and take in the diversity that is New York City. Despite my research, nothing prepared me for the melting pot of New York City or the broader New York State environs. From the crowded beaches in the south, the boho spots in the East Village and Chelsea, to the tranquil hiking trails upstate, there is so much to explore and many interesting people to meet. 

In hindsight, the books I bought didn’t prepare me at all. Here, I share some books that I purchased since arriving in this remarkable and resilient city. These books have given me that “New Yorker” experience and allowed me to create my own favourite haunts. It also brought out the explorer in me, encouraged me to walk in their footsteps, and opened my eyes to some of my new favourite spots in the city. 

Explore! Explore! Explore!

I have found the best way to explore the city is on foot, and I have stumbled across some cool and exciting places. If exploration and getting off the beaten track is your thing, and you’re prepared to put in the leg work (literally!), check out these options for seeing the city on foot:

Walking Manhattan Sideways and its follow-up, The Art of Walking Manhattan Sideways, provide a template of how to explore the side streets and uncover some of the much-loved gems that Manhattan offers. Betsy Bober Polivy had the inspirational idea to walk the entire original Manhattan area, crisscrossing the grid from 1st Street to 155th Street. These books are the culmination of her journey and the conversations she had. She shared some of the most captivating places and people, from Beads of Paradise (great name) and Books of Wonder (children’s books, arts and events) on 17th to the icon that is Patsy’s Italian Restaurant on 56th and up to 155th and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. There really is something for everybody. You can buy the books on sideways.NYC, a site filled with tips and videos, and includes SideWalks, a series of experiences and side street adventures, including maps and special deals. These books really are my go-to when I’m feeling adventurous or want to treat visitors to some of the classics and quirks of the city

I also love New York in Stride: An Insiders Walking Guide by Jacob Lehman and Jessie Kanelos Weiner. Another little treasure trove of much-loved spots favoured by the folks that live in this great city. It’s ideal for short trips and much longer stays. I wish I’d had this book when I first arrived. The reader is treated to an insider’s view of the city and the excitement of the city. Eleven destination walks are a great introduction to the vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods. From historical sights, museums, and galleries to coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants, you will be in awe of what this unique city offers. It even flags up some of the most iconic TV and film locations for movie lovers. One of my favourite trips is a stroll along the East River path to Gracie Mansion, the city’s oldest residence and the official residence of the mayor since 1942. Close to Gracie Mansion are other architectural treats, such as the Church of St. Thomas Moore, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum nestled alongside numerous other museums and galleries. Then hop onto the ferry down to Wall Street to explore the more modern architecture, passing alongside Roosevelt Island and East Manhattan. The ferry is a great way to snap some remarkable photos of New York’s iconic buildings and take in the sights. 

If people are more your thing

Check out New Yorkers: A City and Its People in Our Time by Craig Taylor. The hustle and bustle of New York and the diversity and resilience of its residents burst out from its pages. Having moved to New York, Taylor spent many hours and years meeting with hundreds of people across the city, exploring their lives, and documenting their experiences. New Yorkers features 75 of the incredible people Taylor met who genuinely drive this great city and give it its vibrancy and resilience. From dancers to doctors, new immigrants and students, to a retired 911 dispatcher, a car thief, and even a balloon captain in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – these stories are rich and colourful and create the patchwork that is New York City. 

I hope that the next time you visit this incredible city, you come armed with a list of places to visit, that doesn’t only take in the iconic landmarks but opens your eyes to life in New York, in what is truly the city that never sleeps. 

Do you have a favourite spot or experience in New York? Let us know in the comments!  Nostalgic for a time gone by? Check out my review of M Train by Patti Smith, which had me gripped and introduced me to a whole range of people and places across the city. 

Jacqui Hodges

With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.

A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for  industry publications.

Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli


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