Things to do in New York City, by Travelzoo Deal Experts

27 Jul 2016

New York is a big, bold, full-throttle city with a dizzying number of things to see and do. Who better to guide you through this bewildering array of options than our very own team of New York-based Travelzoo deal experts? If these guys give it the thumbs up, you can rest assured it's worth adding to your itinerary...

The following deal experts from Travelzoo's New York office contributed to this post: Annie England (AE), Emily Wright (EW), Elisabeth Barker (EB), Linda Kong (LK) and Britni Jackson (BJ). 

Eating & drinking in New York

AE: "Don’t use TripAdvisor to find restaurants. In the unlikely event that you’re not using Travelzoo to find the best restaurant deals in New York, try The Infatuation. Anything with a score of eight or higher (from holes-in-the-wall to fine dining) will be awesome."

EW: "Have a pastrami sandwich at Fine & Schapiro. If you’re a soup fan, do a half sandwich and kreplach (beef dumplings) soup"

BJ: "My one tip is the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. An absolute must"

LK: "For brunch it has to be the Clinton Street Baking Co. Go on a weekday (weekend waits are up to two hours) and order the best pancakes you’ll ever have.


A photo posted by @clintonstbakingco on

I love a weekend food market too: the Smorgasburg Food Market takes place in Williamsburg on Saturdays and boasts up to 100 popular food vendors, often attracting a younger crowd in a very hip Brooklyn neighborhood.

Everyone who visits will eat at expensive Midtown restaurants, but make sure you explore NY’s many food halls and markets for popular eateries at a reasonable cost. My personal favourite includes Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place, right across the street from the Freedom Tower. Top floor is an upscale food court overlooking the Hudson River, and downstairs is a French marketplace.

And don’t forget to grab some pizza. It has to be Juliana’s for the authentic New York experience. (Pro tip: anyone who tells you Grimaldi’s is the way to go doesn’t know that the famous Grimaldi family sold the business and name long ago and has returned to open Juliana’s.)"

Isabel Mather (from Travelzoo’s Manchester office) just returned from a trip to New York. She agrees that you should avoid the overpriced tourist traps: "We really enjoyed the 24-hour diners - it felt like an authentic experience (more so than perhaps a Michelin-starred restaurant). Our favourite was the Morning Star Cafe. French toast, eggs Benedict, waffles, endless coffee. And a visit to famous deli Zabar's on the Upper West Side is a must!"

AK: "You have to have a bagel if you come to New York. Make your way to Ess-a-Bagel. They’re the best you’ll ever eat. It’s worth the wait, I promise."


A photo posted by Shelby Buchanan (@shelbyebuchanan) on

Free things to do in New York

LK: "Surprisingly, there are plenty of options here. My top recommendations would be the Met Museum where you pay what you wish (don’t miss the rooftop views); the American Museum of Natural History (again, pay what you wish); a stroll through Central Park; and a stroll along the Hudson River by the West Side Highway where you’ll likely find no other tourists."

EB: "One free thing to do is take the Staten Island Ferry instead of one of the official sightseeing boat tours. This is a great way to see lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and can be done year round since there is indoor seating with huge windows. I love to run ahead and get a good spot in the centre of the deck!"


A photo posted by Alan C. (@alans_y) on

If you do one thing in New York, make sure it’s…

LK: "WALK. Just walk everywhere (or take the subway if it’s incredibly far) and experience Manhattan. Whatever you do, please don’t take a cab."

EW: "Stroll through the Met Museum and finish with a drink at the Rooftop Bar. Don’t forget to bring a camera for the spectacular photo op."

IM: "My husband and I were most in awe of the new World Trade Center. The experience from start to finish is slick and impressive. Even the lift taking you to the 102nd floor is a learning experience when you hear about how Manhattan has developed over the years. And the 9/11 memorial is very moving."

EW: "If you’re here for more than a week, go to Governor’s Island and ride bikes (it’s like being transported back in time)."


A photo posted by Governors Island (@governorsisland) on

Tourist pitfalls & how to get around them

LK: "Everyone who visits will walk the Brooklyn Bridge for views of lower Manhattan. That’s great, but make sure you also stop by Brooklyn Bridge Park once you reach the other side for an iconic NYC view."

LK: "Times Square. I can understand that you have to go at least once for the photo op. Just disregard the dress-up characters or they’ll come after your money. And if you must eat in the area, check out City Kitchen – a small hidden food hall at The Row Hotel."

AK: "My favourite bar in the Times Square area is O’Lunney’s on 45th Street between 6th and Broadway. It’s got a great atmosphere, fantastic beer selection and you can actually hear your drinking companions."

LK: "Foodies will likely want to line up at the crack of dawn for a cronut at the now-famous Dominique Ansel Bakery, but if you plan weeks in advance, you can preorder them on a Monday, two weeks ahead of pick-up date, here."

AE: "Everyone who visits will go to the Empire State Building. Skip it and go to the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center instead – an experience that includes views of the Empire State Building."


A photo posted by Rockefeller Center (@rockcenternyc) on

5 Hotels We Love in New York

The Roosevelt Hotel New York
Near Grand Central Terminal; within walking distance of Times Square
Why we love it: It’s worth visiting just to see the ornate jazz-age lobby (as featured in movies such as “Wall Street”). Be sure to check out the rooftop lounge, Mad46, which serves cocktails and small bites under the city lights from May-October.
Click here for rates and availability (inc exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

Hotel Mela Times Square
In New York's Theater District, near Times Square & Rockefeller Center
Why we love it: This cosy boutique hotel is surrounded by Broadway theatres. The shops on Fifth Avenue are a 5-minute walk away. Bedrooms are small but chic, and there’s a Zagat-recommended French restaurant on site.
Click here for rates and availability (inc exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

San Carlos Hotel
Where: Quiet stretch of 50th St, Midtown East
Why we love it: Conveniently located a 10-minute walk from the Rockefeller Center, this place has a residential ambiance similar to an NYC apartment building. Rooms are huge by city standards. Continental breakfast and Wi-Fi are always included.
Click here
for rates and availability (inc exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel
Where: 5-minute walk from Wall Street & South Street Seaport
Why we love it: This chic downtown hotel, slightly outside the traditional tourism centre, can be blissfully quiet at the weekends. Swanky guest rooms have 12-foot ceilings and antique chandeliers. The wine lounge buzzes during its weeknight happy hour, from 4-7pm.
Click here for rates and availability (inc exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

The Paramount - A Times Square, New York Hotel
One block from Times Square
Why we love it: Once a haunt for artists like Andy Warhol, The Paramount is in the heart of the Theater District. The impressive 2-storey lobby is the eye-catching centrepiece, and there’s also a well-reviewed restaurant, Italian coffee shop and fitness centre on-site.
Click here for rates and availability (inc exclusive extras for Travelzoo members)

Related offers Related offers & more

Popular pages