Jess’s Top 5 Favorite NYC Experiences!

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Despite all the adventures we’ve covered here on the blog, there’s a few favorite NYC experiences I always come back to (and hence always recommend people do when I’m asked the question “what’s the best thing to do in the city?”)  Whether you’re a tourist visiting NYC for the very first time or a local who has lived here your entire life, I’d still recommend these equally, 100%.

1. Take The Accomplice tour.

My husband and I jumped on this tour a few years back and seriously had the BEST. TIME. EVER.  We still talk about it to this day as one of our favorite New Yorky experiences together.

Basically, once you sign up for the tour/interactive show, you get a call the night before from a “gangsta”, telling you the secret location of where to meet in the city.  From there, you are running around the city (sometimes literally!), trying to find clues, and you interact with members of the tour who are amazingly talented actors and actresses…but sometimes you’re interacting with NYC residents who are totally NOT part of the tour–it’s pretty hysterical.  Included in your $80 ticket price, you’ll get 2 drinks and some light appetizers.  You can check out my full review from a few years ago here.

2. Attend a rooftop jazz brunch at Hotel Chantelle.

Hotel Chantelle isn’t really a hotel, btw.  It’s a Parisian style restaurant/bar located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with a killer 1920’s jazz band + brunch on the weekends.  Even though it takes place on the roof, there’s a retractable cover making it work year round!  The music is fantastic, the food flavorful, and the drinks cheap (they have a special where you can get specialty $0.92 cocktails!)  To give you an idea of how much I love the space, we had our post wedding brunch here, hosting all the out of town family members.  It was a huge hit, and my grandma still talks about how good the food was!

I wrote this spot up a few years back, you can check out the review here.

3. Watch a Frank Sinatra impersonator at The Carnegie Club.

The Carnegie Club has remained one of our favorite fancy date spots over the years–and I swear, each time it’s better and better.  I say “fancy” because it’s not exactly a budget find (I believe it’s $30 cover charge per person, and the food, drinks, and cigars are on the pricier side.)  But the atmosphere is sooooo classy and swanky–you’ll feel right at home wearing that fancy cocktail dress sitting at the back of your closet.  And listening to the impersonator croon?  You’d swear it was Frankie himself.  Make sure to make a rezzie, as it fills up quickly.

4. Get a cheap massage in Chinatown.

I think I’ll always associate cheap Chinatown massages as my iconic NYC experience, as it’s been one of the consistent #TreatYoSelf things I’ve done in the city since I moved here in 2005 (broke as a joke, btw!)  The massages are so strong, so good, and you can find them as cheap as $32 for an hour massage (although don’t go expecting anything fancy…most of the time you’ll be in a basement with red walls.)  I’m currently obsessed with Mess Look Spa (ask for Kim, holy moly she works wonders on my kinks), but there’s so many spots, I’m sure you can’t go wrong.

5. Chow down on a dollar slice.

NYC is quite the food mecca, but even with the new restaurants popping up all over the place, all the time, one food I always come back to is a dollar pizza slice.  Not only is it cheap, but there’s just something warm and comforting and so New York about standing at the counter, munching on my 2 slices and can of Cherry Coke ($2.75, all in!), that always makes me feel at home.

Again, tons of the spots all over the city, but I frequent the .99 cent spot on Broadway and 56th.  Here’s a map by the folks at Serious Eats of where to find the pizza spots–it’s a few years old, but looks pretty accurate.

Would love to know…what are your favorite NYC experiences of all time?  Share below!




  • Lauren says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I am New Jerseyan, but try to take advantage of everything New York has to offer. I think Shakespeare in the Park is one of my favorite New York experiences. It has long been a yearly tradition for me, and it is nice to have a reason to spend the day in Central Park.

    • Used York City says:

      Oh I love that you do this, Lauren! And agree, the city is so close to NJ, it’s great to be able to take advantage of all the funs tuff available!:-)

  • Peggy says:

    Love your ideas and tips about NYC, Jess! I signed up for Used York City emails last summer and then I spent the month of September (60th birthday) in a 2bdrm apartment (gift from my husband) on 56th&8th. I used some of your tips & loved every minute! I was there for 30 days and only 4 nights by myself! When friends & family found out about my birthday trip, it was a revolving door! What great times we had!!! My husband & I are coming back for New Years Eve this year and as soon as I can, I’m booking The Carnegie Club! It sounds fantastic and close to where we are staying! Thanks for all of your wonderful advice! This is one of my favorite emails that I receive!

    • Used York City says:

      Aww Peggy thank you so much for your kind comments, you have know idea how much you made my day!:-)

  • lisa thomson says:

    Nice list, Jess. I have only been to NYC once but one of my short stories takes place in NY so it’s great to hear your take on favorite places and things to do. Plus, I can dream of another visit. My memorable experience there was going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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    • Used York City says:

      The MET is a NYC jewel, for sure! When you get back to NYC one day, Lisa, I would love to meet up in person!:-)

  • Joanne Theodorou says:

    Central Park has been my balm, my calming center in this incredible urban environment known as NYC. Such a vast, huge expanse – you will never experience it all.
    But I suggest UPTOWN Central Park. We all tend to gather at the DOWNTOWN 59th Street South entrance and work our way up – but I suggest starting at the North entrance at 110th Street (the Fifth Avenue East side of the Park) and working your way down thru the nature reserve of the Harlem Meer and its lovely, interesting Informational Nature Center, then hit the highest Vantage point in the park (you can’t miss the flags on this highest point) continue onto the glorious formal Conservatory Gardens where wonders of nature and statuary will amaze you! A spot of such beauty in the middle of a concrete city – AMAZING! You will be at 104th-106st Street now but exit the Fifth Avenue Vanderbilt Gate entrance, and there awaits a lovely, historical, colonial building which is now the Museum of the City of New York.- an amazing Museum, chock full of interesting exhibits – as befits a great city!. There is a reasonable admission charge, but you can offset it in so many ways.

    • Used York City says:

      Love this tip! The upper part of Central Park is SO much less crowded than the south end, and with the Ramble up there it feels like you’re really outside of the city–a true nature walk!

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