Talk to anyone who lives here or has visited and you will get a thousand different ideas on the best things to do.

For me, New York City is about walking. Walking, walking and more walking. Combined with the subway, which is inexpensive, safe and reasonably easy to navigate, walking can be the best way to see and experience what the city has to offer.

Of course, the great thing about walking, aside from exercise, is that it is free. You can choose to explore one neighbourhood - such as the Lower East Side - at your leisure, or trek from lower Manhattan all the way up to Central Park via Broadway and 5th Ave. The possibilities are endless, and there are many designated areas designed for walking, including the Highline running alongside 10th Ave to the Whitney Museum and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Combined with the subway, which is inexpensive, safe and reasonably easy to navigate, walking can be the best way to see and experience what the city has to offer.

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Stretching from Brooklyn Heights to DUMBO under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, with its landscaped paths and outdoor art, Brooklyn Bridge Park offers excellent views of lower Manhattan. Here, you can also find the entrance to the walkway over the Brooklyn Bridge - a romantic way of seeing the city as you cross over the river on this iconic bridge. Just keep the hell out of the way of the cyclists who guard their bike lanes with vigour!

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PARKS

It is fairly obvious why Central Park is so popular with locals and visitors alike. This huge expanse of park in the middle of Manhattan is full of places to explore and reflects New York's four distinct seasons: the spectacle of changing colours in the fall and a transformed winter wonderland in winter snow, while spring is a sea of green and the summer heat is perfect for people watching.

The park's proximity to several major museums makes it a great interim pit-stop or a picnic lunch spot.

With a lake and more expansive meadows, Brooklyn's Prospect Park offers a similar refuge.

Prospect Park sits between the brownstones of Park Slope, the Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Gardens and the blocks of gracious Victorian houses south of the park, all equally worthy of a visit in themselves.

Brooklyn is home to many other parks, both old and new. The 748-acre historic Green-Wood Cemetery, bordering the Sunset Park neighbourhood, features winding paths at the highest point in Brooklyn and is the resting place of Civil War generals and well-known figures, from artists to baseball legends. Sunset Park's Bush Terminal, converted into a public park in 2014, offers unique views of lower Manhattan and some breathing space from the Manhattan crowds.

RIVER CRUISES

Boat cruises abound on the Hudson, East River and New York Harbour.
If you head to the South Sea Port you can take a return trip on the Staten Island ferry -for free.

The Staten Island ferry offers spectacular views of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty and doesn't cost a dime. Pic Andrew B. White
The Staten Island ferry offers spectacular views of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty and doesn't cost a dime. Pic Andrew B. White

The ferry runs every 30 minutes (off peak hours) and the trip takes around 25 minutes each way.

Spectacular views can be had of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty, and it's hard to believe it doesn't cost a dime.

Adjacent to South Sea Port, in the summer you can catch a smaller ferry to Governor's Island for $2 return (free on weekends) and spend some time discovering historic sites and the newly developed Hills Park overlooking the Statue of Liberty.

Staying with island experiences, Roosevelt Island between the Upper East Side and Queens offers an interesting and quaint excursion to what was once a hospital and prison facility.

Roosevelt Island - between the Upper East Side and Queens - offers an interesting and quaint excursion to what was once a hospital and prison facility. Pic Andrew B. White.
Roosevelt Island - between the Upper East Side and Queens - offers an interesting and quaint excursion to what was once a hospital and prison facility. Pic Andrew B. White.

Use your subway

to ride the elevated tramway, which takes you over part of the East River to the island. You'll find the ruins of the old smallpox hospital and the newly developed Franklin D. Roosevelt

, with views of the United Nations building.

CONEY ISLAND

Brooklyn's Coney Island is a must-visit destination and its boardwalk stretching down to Brighton Beach provides a visual walking feast.

A cross between the UK's Brighton Beach (without all the stones) and California's Venice Beach, Coney Island offers amusement park rides, sun, sea and famous hotdogs in the summer.

A cross between the UK's Brighton Beach (without the stones) and California's Venice Beach, Coney Island offers amusement park rides, sun, sea and famous hot dogs in the summer. Pic Andrew B. White.
A cross between the UK's Brighton Beach (without the stones) and California's Venice Beach, Coney Island offers amusement park rides, sun, sea and famous hot dogs in the summer. Pic Andrew B. White.

Sideshows are not limited to the fun park, spilling out on to the boardwalk, where you'll be part of a stunning array of colourful characters.

Although Coney Island is no longer the way it was depicted in the 1979 movie The Warriors it has been spared from big development. It really is the quintessential historic American theme park.

While you're there, why not bring your togs and a towel and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean? It's just like sharing Takapuna Beach with 50,000 people on the hottest day of the year!

CHEAP EATS

New York has an enviable number of places to eat with every type of cuisine imaginable but can literally eat up your cash - more quickly than just about anything else.

If you're planning walking excursions it's a good idea to pack a lunch and take it with you.

Many delis and some bodegas (small corner stores) have food counters and will fix you a sandwich - the true way to experience a 'sub' or a 'hero'. Be sure to grab a cup of filter coffee 'to go' for a buck.

Can't live without your barista-made hit? There are many non-chain cafes where you can get a decent flat white. And grab cheap, fresh fruit at one of the many sidewalk stalls. If you prefer to eat something a little more exotic that won't break the bank, you'll find a myriad of tasty pre-packaged meals at stores such as Westside Market on 7th Ave (between 13th & 14th Streets).

As a bonus, New York City water is some of the best anywhere, so fill up a reusable bottle to take with you and refill at a public water fountain.

DIVE BARS

After all that walking, why not check out one of the many 'dive bars' in and around the city.

Contrary what to the name implies, dive bars are rarely unsafe dens of iniquity. Unlike Cheers, everybody may not know your name at first but are likely to by the time you leave.

The Bait and Tackle - in Red Hook, Brooklyn is a
The Bait and Tackle - in Red Hook, Brooklyn is a "dive bar" worth look. Pic Andrew B. White

Personally, I look at a dive bars as a cross between a wild west saloon, sports bar, hipster hangout, RSA and live music venue.

many dive bars have closed or relocated because of high rents and gentrifying neighbourhoods, but as an alternative to dropping a wad on a show at the Madison Square Garden and a restaurant dinner, a dive bar can't be beaten

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Generally catering to locals, dive bars offer reasonably-priced drinks, sometimes with food and great original live music (or both).

I've had a lot of fun playing gigs in many of Brooklyn's dive bars such as the Way Station (Prospect Heights), Hank's Saloon (Boerum Hill), Red Hook Bait & Tackle (Red Hook) and my local, Bar Chord (Ditmas Park).

Sadly, many dive bars have closed or relocated because of high rents and gentrifying neighbourhoods, but as an alternative to dropping a wad on a show at the Madison Square Garden and a restaurant dinner, a dive bar can't be beaten. Indeed, New York City is a big place and the sheer number of people gives the city its energy.

That said, there are plenty of places in the city where you can find an oasis - you might even wonder if you are actually in the city at all.

The best way to discover the city is to walk it, and remember, this is New York - things might sometimes look a little rough and ready on the outside but take a closer look and see what it offers up.

Designer, photographer and musician Andrew B. White is now based in Ditmas Park, New York