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To See The Real New York You Need To Go Beyond Manhattan

Manhattan is great. But for travellers on a budget or looking for adventure, it is also expensive, crowded and bursting with tourist traps (hello, Times Square).

On the other hand, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and even Staten Island offer a completely different perspective on daily life in the city that never sleeps. From cheap eats to offbeat attractions, there’s so much more to explore in New York beyond Manhattan.

Brooklyn

 

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Brooklyn is definitely having a moment in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to discover. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a deservedly popular place for a stroll, especially in the evenings when you can see all the way from the Upper East Side to the Statue of Liberty.

Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum are also well worth a wander, especially on days when the Smorgasburg food market is happening (Sundays from April til October.) DeKalb Market Hall is another must-try for the full array of NYC’s cult-favourite foods.

In Greenpoint, you’ll find the most Brooklyn of all Brooklyn bars, like the Brooklyn Barge, The Capri Social Club and Ramona, as well as stellar vintage shopping at Beacon’s Closet. On the other side of the borough, Coney Island is a nostalgic wonderland featuring everything from the home of the city’s most iconic hotdog to authentic Russian restaurants by the beach.

The Bronx

 

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Just north of Manhattan but a world away, The Bronx is home to important city landmarks like the New York Botanical Garden, which showcases over a million living plants as well as art exhibitions and events, and Yankee Stadium.

At a party in the apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the West Bronx in 1973, a DJ calling himself Kool Herc changed the world: He used a two-record turntable to spin two copies of the same record, while his friend Coke La Rock Kool rapped over the break. Kool Herc’s block has been officially recognised as the birthplace of hip hop, and the apartment building can still be seen today.

With a long tradition of high-quality food that has reinvented itself over the last two decades, Arthur Avenue has laid claim to the title of the real Little Italy of NYC. The street is lined with restaurants, delicatessens and bakeries like Mario’s, which started as a hole in the wall pizzeria in 1919, and one of the area’s most popular but affordable restaurants, Zero Otto Nove.

Queens

 

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Queens is the biggest NYC borough by area and the most ethnically diverse urban zone in the world. And, with the rising popularity of Astoria, it is finally being recognised as the incredible destination that it is.

With stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, Socrates Sculpture Park was created in 1986 by American sculptor Mark di Suvero on the site of an abandoned landfill. The park houses rotating exhibitions of established and up-and-coming artists, and is the ideal spot to while away an afternoon with a book.

Foodies in the know head to the cheap, tiny White Bear restaurant right in the heart of Flushing’s Chinatown for dumplings that blow everything else in the city out of the water.  Order menu item #6 for their famous pork wantons fried in chilli oil. Music fans in the neighbourhood should also check out Louis Armstrong House in Corona, where the iconic jazz musician lived with his wife, Lucille Wilson, from 1943 to 1971.

Staten Island

 

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The number one attraction in Staten Island is, in fact, to get the ferry straight back to Manhattan. Admittedly, this is NYC’s most residential and sedate borough, but if you’re willing to stick around there are a couple of hidden gems. For a start, Staten Island’s East Shore is one of the city’s best kept summer secrets with golden sands and calm waters from New Dorp to Wolfe’s Pond Park.

At Enoteca Maria, the Nonnas of the World program invites grandmas from all over to cook traditional family dishes. Two nonnas work in the kitchen together each day, from countries as diverse as Syria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Liberia, and, of course, Italy. The restaurant is a short walk from the ferry terminal and is open Thursday to Sunday for lunch and dinner.

 

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Near the iconic Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that connects Staten Island to Brooklyn you’ll find the Alice Austen House museum. Born in 1866, Alice Austen was one of America’s earliest female photographers. She was also in a same-sex relationship for over 50 years and was the first woman on Staten Island to own a car. Safe to say, she lived a bloody interesting life, and you can learn all about Alice and her work in what was once her home.

While you’re here check out all the things first-timers to New York City need to do.

Check out Qantas flights to New York City.[/related_articles]

(Lead image: Brandon Jacoby / Unsplash)