TravelSkip The Empire State Building: How To Spend A...

Skip The Empire State Building: How To Spend A Day In NYC Like A Local


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Which scenario sounds better?

Paying $40 and waiting in an hour-long line to get to the top of the Empire State Building, or sinking your teeth into Cornflake crusted chicken & waffles while dancing to old school Jackson 5 hits?

Both are real life situations of what could happen to you on a day while visiting NYC. The Big Apple can be a blissful cultural experience, or one giant tourist trap depending on where you get your information.

If you’re the type of traveler that prefers a more “locals-only” experience to wearing one of those foam Statue of Liberty hats, then we recommend spending a day in one of NYC’s most up-and-coming boroughs, Queens.

We teamed up with uberPOOL to show you where to eat, drink and take in the culture of NYC in Queens. Not only is uberPOOL a more affordable option than taking a taxi around because you split the cost with other riders, ride sharing reduces pollution – which is a major concern in cities like NYC. It’s truly one of the best ways to get around a new area. When you’re only making a short visit to the city, you don’t want to waste your precious time getting lost on the subway and missing all the sites you could see when traveling above ground in a car. So little time, so much to take in.

Where To Brunch: Queens Comfort

If you’re looking for one of the best brunch experiences in all of NYC, head to Queens Comfort. The disco ball, friendly service, BYOB policy (bring champagne, they supply OJ), cult classic movies projected on the wall and food-baby-inducing menu items make this place a true local gem. Think deep fried french toast balls, Cap’n Crunch crusted chicken sandwiches, avocado and bacon eggs Benedict and breakfast burritos complete with Sriracha aioli. Is your mouth watering yet? On weekends they bring in local DJs to spin vinyl while you chow down. Come hungry.

Locals-only tip: They don’t take reservations, and weekend brunch gets crowded so get there before they open and snag a spot in line. If you do end up having to wait a bit, the maitre d’ Avatar (yes, that’s his name) will surely keep you entertained, and they just might bring out a piping hot plate of “disco tots” to share if you’re lucky.


Where To Caf-Up: Gossip Coffee

The midcentury modern décor and outdoor seating make for the perfect spot to rest your feet and get your caffeine fix. If you’re feeling like something sweet, sink your teeth into one of their sugary baked creations – Prosciutto Guinness donut anyone?

Locals-only tip: The donuts are seriously rich, so we recommend sharing with a friend and keeping your coffee order non-sugared to cut the sweetness.


Where To Spend Time: Museum Of The Moving Image

Located next to the famous Kaufman Studios (where they film Orange is the New Black, btw) the Museum Of The Moving Image is quite possibly one of the coolest, most under-the-radar museums in all of NYC. You can’t miss the bright white and neon pink mirrored exterior. Classic movie buff or not, the museum gives you a truly entertaining and in-depth look at the history of film – much of which occurred in Astoria, Queens, said to be the “Hollywood” before Hollywood, CA.

Locals-only tip: The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so plan accordingly, and allow yourself at least a full two hours to soak it all in.


Where To Lunch: Taverna Kyclades

Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens, is best known for two things: its Greek culture, and its food. So when in Astoria, eat Greek food, right? Enter Taverna Kyclades, where celebs like George Clooney and Bill Murray get their feta fix. Kyclades is best known for their seafood – get the seafood pasta. But you also can’t go wrong with the classics like their giant, fresh Greek salad or Saganaki. We recommend getting a carafe of wine to share, sitting outside, people watching and striking up conversation with the friendly staff.

Locals-only tip: This place also gets busy around lunch and dinner – our best hack is to get there for a late lunch, around 3 pm or 4 to beat the crowd.


Where To Drink: Mar’s

Step inside Mar’s and you’ll be transported to another time and place where the likes of the Rat Pack used to hang out. This tucked away cocktail bar and restaurant serves up the classics like a dirty martini or Tom Collins, but we recommend letting Dan the charismatic bartender whip you up one of their signature cocktails that are almost too beautiful to drink.

Locals-only tip: Hit the weekday happy hour from 5-7 for specials on wine as well as oyster’s. Oh, and the drinks are strong.


Where To Catch The Best Views: Gantry Park Plaza

Hop in an uberPOOL and head to Gantry Park Plaza for sunset. This park in Long Island City boasts some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline, yet is somehow never crowded. With benches and picnic tables to boot, we recommend grabbing a warm cup of coffee or bottle of wine beforehand to sip as the sun dips behind the buildings.

Locals-only tip: Get there at least a half hour before the sun sets – that “golden hour” time is the most beautiful. And bundle up. It’s right on the water so it gets pretty chilly this time of year (the wine should help with that too).

uberPOOL safety tips:

If you’re hesitant about using an uberPOOL ride of the first time, especially in a big city like NYC, rest assured that there are features in the app to insure your safety including:

  • The driver’s name and ETA provided on the app, including satellite map to watch as they come to you
  • Plate number and car make of your driver are also provided
  • Contact info to your driver is provided as well in case of any confusion
  • We recommend when you think your uberPOOL has arrived to walk up and ask them who they’re picking up, rather than asking them their name first.


Thanks Uber for allowing us to share some of our favorite spots!


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