Freshman TO-DOs: Important activities for every new New Yorker
To be honest, we're kind of jealous of the college freshmen who've just arrived in the city. The Big Apple is their playground and everything is new and exciting. While it's impossible to give a comprehensive list of what's worth doing here (we'd need to dedicate several full papers to that), below are some of the things we think you need to do right this very minute.
Shop at the Strand
The Strand Bookstore, located on 12th Street and Broadway, is a NYC institution that's also a must-visit for any bibliophile. Established in 1927, the flea-market-esque Strand has 18 miles of new, used and rare books. And if you're a little tight on cash, the Strand may buy your used -- good condition -- books.
Visit the Bronx Zoo (or the Central Park Zoo)
If you've got a whole day to spare, visit the gorillas, bears, giraffes and tons of others animals at the Bronx Zoo. There's even a new baby rhino and a baby snow leopard! But if you want to take a quicker trip and still see some wildlife, head to the Central Park Zoo, a smaller spot that still features seals, penguins, monkeys and more.
Ride the Cyclone in Coney Island
This 86-year-old wooden rollercoaster may seem rickety, but riding it is a thrill you have to try as a New Yorker. It's open on weekends through October.
See a show for less (TKTS)
If Broadway (or Off Broadway) shows are your thing, we suggest you check out TKTS for discounted tickets for shows on the day of the performance (up to 50 percent off!). There are booths at the South Street Seaport (you can buy evening show tickets day of, and matinee tickets the day before the performance), Downtown Brooklyn (where you can also get tickets to Brooklyn performing arts events and matinee tickets a day in advance) and one in Times Square (which also has full-priced tickets that can be bought in advance).
Wander around the Chelsea galleries
Of course, you'll want to hit up the museum institutions like MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney, but for a sense of what's happening in the art scene this very minute, Chelsea houses tons of galleries worth exploring. A number of galleries are concentrated between 20th and 27th Streets, west of 10th Avenue.
Eat at Joe's Shanghai
The food to try at all three branches of Joe's (Flushing, Queens, Midtown Manhattan and Chinatown) are the freshly made-to-order soup dumplings -- little pouches of dough filled with pork or crabmeat and broth. These and other dishes will blow your hometown mall Chinese food out of the water.
Hear a band at 285 Kent
You've probably heard about large concert venues like Irving Plaza and Webster Hall by now, but if you want to catch some up-and-coming musicians, we suggest you head to Williamsburg's 285 Kent, a multi-purpose creative space housed in a retired warehouse. Film screenings,art shows and parties also take place here.
Swap clothes and search through a sea of vintage
Try Beacon's Closet, a thrift-shop and hipster favorite, for cool, hip clothes at a decent price. You can buy clothes, sure, but also sell and trade vintage and modern clothing, shoes and accessories (assuming they're in good condition and in season) for cash or store credit. There are locations in Williamsburg, Park Slope and on West 13th Street. The flagship Williamsburg location will be moving to Greenpoint later this year.
Or, if you want to stand out from a sea of Zara and H&M clothes in your classes, you can also hit up the vintage and thrift stores in the East Village -- several are concentrated on 9th Street, around First and Second Avenues.
Walk the High Line (and get a picnic at Chelsea Market)
This public park, built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the street spans from Gansevoort to West 34th Street on the far west side of Manhattan. It's a zoo on weekends, so if you can try and make it during the week, it's worth a stroll. We recommend grabbing some picnic food at the nearby Chelsea Market, where there are countless options for delicious foods (it's like an upscale food court). Grab some grub and take a seat on one of the many benches and lounge chairs on the High Line.
Bike on Governors Island ... while you still can
Governor's Island -- accessible by Ferry from Brooklyn and Manhattan -- is a former military base that seems suspended in time. While there are tons of events during the summer, we suggest renting a bike (for one, two or up to four people), and going for a ride. But do it quickly because Governors Island closes for the season on Sept. 29.
Of course, if you can't get there before next summer, you can always join Citi Bike, the city's new bike-sharing program and go for a nice ride along the bike path that runs the length of the West Side Highway.
See a movie at the Angelika
There are multiplexes all over the five boroughs, but if your taste in film leans more toward the indie or foreign variety (it does, right?) check out the Angelika Film Center in SoHo. Other notable spots for cinephiles: BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn and Landmark Sunshine on the Lower East Side.
Almost as important as knowing what to do, here’s what you definitely shouldn’t do:
1. Stop walking in the middle of a busy sidewalk — for any reason.
2. Shop at any H&M when people get out of work.
3. Wear pajama pants, slippers and/or Crocs to class.
4. Go out in Times Square.
5. Use a subway bathroom.