14 of The Best Non Touristy Things to Do in NYC
So, you’ve got a weekend in New York. You could hit up the usual, touristy spots: Times Square, Central Park, a Statue of Liberty ferry tour, etc. But what do people who aren’t tourists do during an average weekend in NYC? What New York attractions do actual New Yorkers see during a normal day?
We asked some of our Best of Groupon businesses about the best non touristy things to do in NYC to experience the city like a local, and their answers helped us create this weekend itinerary.
Get Your Greek On at E Taverna
26-19 23rd Ave. | Astoria
If you’re flying into La Guardia, chances are your ride into Manhattan will take you past this old-school Greek place, and it would be a shame not to stop. It’s interior is filled with bucolic charm: below the exposed-beam ceiling, old photographs share the wall space with barrels and other rustic reminders of the Greek countryside. The food matches the traditional vibe—fresh Greek salads, oregano-covered grilled octopus, and whole branzino (sea bass) are customer favorites.
Play, Watch, and Learn at 92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Ave. | Upper East Side
Whatever you feel like doing, it’s a good bet this massive community center offers something for it. Sign up for a fitness class, listen to a lecture, take in a classical-music concert, or check out the exhibitions in the center’s art gallery.
Pamper Yourself at Fifth Avenue Thai Spa
5 E 57th St. | Midtown East
You’ve eaten, you’ve exercised, you’ve soaked up some culture. Now it’s time to relax like a New Yorker. After you’ve sipped on a cup of soothing ginger tea in Fifth Avenue Thai Spa’s waiting room, go for their Signature massage, which combines Swedish strokes with the therapeutic pressure of traditional Thai-massage and soothing oils.
Shuck Your Heart Out at Eats
1055 Lexington Ave. | Upper East Side
The burgers, pastas, and hearty entrées—such as seared sea bass on a bed of zucchini spaghetti or classic NY strip steak with red-wine shallot butter—at Eats are all good, tempting choices, but locals know it’s the oysters that set this cozy corner spot apart from other restaurants in NYC. Try them fried and sandwiched, raw on the half shell, or in sixes with bloody mary shooters on the side. For drinks, go for one of Eats' 12 signature martinis or a craft beer from Brooklyn Brewery.
Pro Tip: How can a tourist dress to look like a local New Yorker? "Utilitarian", says Marion Maur, general manager at Pappardella. "Jeans, t-shirt, miliary jacket. Always Black!"
Find Your Chill in Chelsea at Yogamaya
135 W 20th St | Chelsea
Yogamaya’s studios are filled with soft colors, lush plants, and decor inspired by Indian temples to give it the relaxing vibe its patrons love. Its team of knowledgeable instructors leads drop-in yoga classes that’ll help you sweat out the pastries from earlier in the morning and get you primed for the rest of the day.
Re-Fuel with French Treats at Mille-Feuille Bakery
552 Laguardia Pl | Greenwich Village
A small bakery down the street from Washington Square Park, Mille-feuille specializes in French pastries. The macarons are really popular, and they offer classes on how to make them, too. If you want to truly eat like a local here, follow the advice of the Mille-feuille staff and grab an almond croissant.
Relax Like Sinatra at Russian and Turkish Baths
268 East 10th St. | East Village
This sauna has been open for more than 125 years, and its steam rooms have hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra and John Belushi. Today, it sees an eclectic mix of millennials and retirees sharing a steam and a friendly conversation. While a little unorthodox and under the radar, it’s one of the most fun things to do in NYC.
Travel Back in Time at DeStefano’s Steakhouse
89 Conselyea St. | Williamsburg
Despite being situated in the middle of ultra-hip Williamsburg, DeStefano’s conjures up images of old New York with a dimly lit, wood-paneled interior that feels lifted from the 1950s. The food’s obviously great, too, with giant porterhouses and ribeyes sharing plates with veggies and garlic mashed potatoes that have become borderline legendary with the regulars.
Grab Wine To-Go at New York Vintners
21 Warren St | Tribeca
Grab a bottle for drinks at home. Or, if you’re lucky enough to snag a spot before it sells out, sign up for one of the shop’s wine classes, which cover topics from “Wine 101” to “Perfect Pizza Pairings”.
Breakfast in Brooklyn at Buttermilk Bakeshop
260 5th Ave. | South Slope
Even if you aren’t starting your day in Brooklyn, Buttermilk Bakeshop is worth the trek. The bakery consistently makes best-of lists, including Brooklyn Magazine’s list of the Best Breakfast Pastries and The Daily Meal’s ranking of the 101 Best Cupcakes in America. Grab a cookie or a whoopie pie—the latter is also on a local best-of list—to snack on later.
Get a Cut and Soak Up Culture at Midoma
545 8th Ave | Midtown
Part of acting like a real New Yorker is looking the part. After a consultation, one of Midoma’s stylists—each of whom has years of salon experience under their belt—will expertly trim, style, clean, and condition your ‘do. When you’re done, browse the salon’s in-house art gallery, which features rotating exhibits of still lifes, paintings, photography, and more.
Find Healthy Snacks at Westerly Market
911 8th Ave. | Theater District
This small corner store packs its aisles with health bars, fresh produce, a salad bar, a BYO trail-mix station, and other natural foods you can feel good about snacking on. Locals dig it for its juice and smoothie bar, but it’s also an ideal spot to stock up on traveling snacks for your trip home.
Escape to an Island Lunch at Lolo’s Seafood Shack
303 West 116th St. | Harlem
At this casual Harlem joint, Atlantic-coast staples like soft-shell-crab sandwiches share the menu with Caribbean-island fare, such as jerk ribs, conch fritters, and plantain chips. Grab a seat at one of the picnic tables that line the aquamarine porch out back.
Dine Old-School at Pappardella
316 Columbus Ave | Upper West Side
NYC is filled with great old-school Italian restaurants, and Pappardella can be counted among the best of them. If you’re stuck between a couple dishes, go with the pappardelle buttera: a bed of wide noodles with sausage, sage, and peas tossed in a creamy vodka sauce.