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Bronx for non-tourists: Things to do on the northeast side

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?

When in the Bronx, what is there to do? You could try the usual touristy things, like visiting the Bronx Zoo, hitting the New York Botanical Gardens and having pastries at a bakery on the crowded Arthur Avenue. Or you can chill like Bronxites and do what they do when they have some down time.

Get to know Bronx culture: Here's what to see, eat and more in the not-so-boogie down.

Eat at a diner or drink bodega coffee

A true Bronx breakfast can either be one
Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass via Flickr

A true Bronx breakfast can either be one of two things -- eating at a diner or hitting up a bodega.

You won't find bodega coffee better than in the Bronx. It's fresh, strong, sometimes served with warm milk and is the best part of waking up in the Bronx.

There isn't much of a brunch culture here -- we do diners.

The only things you'll see guests ordering at a diner are either breakfast specials or burgers with milkshakes 24/7.

If you're in the mood for a unique twist on a classic, try the Cross Bronx Shake at the Crosstown Diner in Schuylerville -- it's a wonderful concoction of espresso, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Hang out at Pelham Bay Park

Take your bodega coffee and egg sandwich to
Photo Credit: H.L.I.T. via Flickr

Take your bodega coffee and egg sandwich to the biggest park in New York City -- Pelham Bay Park.

This park has it all -- hiking and bike trails, tennis courts, a running track, horseback riding, Orchard Beach, the Bartow-Pell Mansion and more. The North Bronx park borders Co-op City and Pelham Manor and, at nearly 3,000 acres, is three times the size of Central Park.

Check out the Latin and Italian food scenes

The Bronx's food scene is ruled by Latin
Photo Credit: Havana Cafe

The Bronx's food scene is ruled by Latin and Italian cuisines. You'll find the best Puerto Rican, Mexican and Cuban food in neighborhood hotspots like Havana Cafe in Schuylerville, Cabo in Throggs Neck and more. Munch on authentic Italian recipes here. Pine Restaurant, commonly known as Frankie and Johnny's, makes the creamiest fettuccine Alfredo while Morris Park has its own Pasty's Pizzeria.

Enjoy seafood by the City Island shore

End your search for the best seafood in
Photo Credit: Krista via Flickr

End your search for the best seafood in NYC -- it's here in City Island. From Portofino to Johnny's Reef Restaurant, these shrimp and lobsters don't disappoint.

Holiday house watching

Forget the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The Bronx
Photo Credit: CityLore via Youtube

Forget the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The Bronx does Christmas decor with more flavor. Those who love the holidays start adorning their homes in lavish ornaments. From Halloween to New Year's Day, most neighborhoods definitely have that unspoken battle of the holiday lights, and it's a Bronx tradition to drive around to see them.

The pink house on the corner of Pelham Parkway North and Westervelt Avenue in Pelham Gardens, known as "The Christmas House," tops all. Complete with thousands of lights, mannequins dressed to look like celebrities, a nativity scene and Santa with his reindeer, this house is the mecca of Christmas houses.

Barbecue, anywhere

As long as the temperature does not fall
Photo Credit: Jun Seita via Flickr

As long as the temperature does not fall below 50 degrees, it is still considered barbecuing season. Whether it be in a backyard, a park or in front of a building, you'll smell that charcoal burning.

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