Navigating New York City (NYC), one of the busiest cities in the world, is never an easy task, much less for a tourist from (literally) the other side of the country. This past summer my friend Michael and I were fortunate enough to spend a month cat-sitting in Brooklyn, and during our trip, I learned a few tricks to make life in the big city a little easier for a Californian. So if you’re a west coast-er who finds themselves a couple thousand miles away from home in the city that never sleeps, this is the guide for you!
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
If you’re anything like me, you might catch yourself missing some Southern California art museum hotspots like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and The Broad. Well, have no fear because New York’s MoMA has all your modern art needs covered. Boasting a whopping 150,000 individual pieces alongside 22,000 films and four million film stills, MoMA is often identified as one of the largest and most influential modern art museums in the world. Complete with renowned masterpieces such as Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Henri Matisse’s The Dance I alongside both groundbreaking and liberating exhibitions like Charles White: A Retrospective (Which will only be at MoMA until Jan. 2019!), MoMA will not disappoint.
This wouldn’t be a Californian’s list if it didn’t include the most important meal of the day: brunch. New York is bustling with some of the world’s best brunch spots. From Nostrand, my favorite Brooklyn-based Korean-American fusion spot to Atla, an all-day restaurant famous for guacamole goat cheese toast, it seems like a trendy brunch favorite is around every corner. But buckle up because you’re in for a ride with one of my favorites: Sweet Chick. With locations all over the city (Like seriously, there are two in Brooklyn, one in Queens and one in the Lower East Side), Sweet Chick is known for rustic Southern-inspired American cuisine. Complete with the best chicken and waffles in NY, Sweet Chick promises a cozy (and locally-sourced) dining experience that might just get you to cancel your return flight.
Okay fine, I’ll be honest here. Californians are definitely a little spoiled with our abundance of beaches, and pretty nice ones at that. And after a few weeks in the big city, the Californian in me wanted (dare I say needed?) a trip to the coast, and naturally, Coney Island was the first place to come to mind. Coney Island’s famous boardwalk theme park, Luna Park, manages to create the perfect juxtaposition between the elegance and wonderment of an old-timey world fair-style amusement park with the exuberance and innovation of contemporary design. Make sure to take a whirl on the Coney Island Cyclone—an official New York City Landmark—before grabbing a bite at Nathan’s Famous, home of America’s annual Independence Day competitive hot dog eating contest.
From the Chris Burden’s Insta-worthy Urban Light at LACMA to the potent Mural Mile on Van Nuys Boulevard, Southern California is known for its robust public art scene. Luckily, New York has no shortage of artwork available in the public domain for your viewing pleasure. Just one of thousands of installations adorning the city, Andrea Bowers’s Somos 11 Milliones/We Are 11 Million (a slogan written by activist group Movimiento Cosecha) provides not only aesthetic value, but also creates conversation and support for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Located on The High Line, a 1.45 mile long elevated park built on an abandoned rail trail, Somos 11 Milliones/We Are 11 Million was sure to fill the huge, gaping, public art shaped hole in my heart.
See a Broadway Show
Missing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood? Well, no worries because Los Angeles is not the only city known for show business. NYC boasts the world-renowned Broadway, the 41 professional theaters located in New York’s Theater District. Known as one of New York’s most popular tourist attractions, catching a Broadway show is a must-do for any first time visitor. Make sure to check the box office to see what’s showing during your trip, but my current recommendations are The Phantom of the Opera and Once on This Island.