I hope this information will be helpful for tourists and locals alike. Below is a list of some of my favorite things about New York City. Unless otherwise noted, each place is in Manhattan. Also, while I have been to most of these places, there are a few that I haven't been to, but have heard great things about from people I trust. I'll be adding to this list often, so keep coming back!
Central Park and here
miles of running, walking, and biking paths, ball fields, tennis courts, row boats, playgrounds, restaurants, and more.
Hudson River Park and Westside Highway
Running and biking, kayaking, tennis courts, playgrounds, restaurants, and more.
Running, biking, walking and more in Brooklyn.
New York Road Runners
Run a race in Central Park!
First 3 Sundays of August, car free streets for running, walking, biking, fitness classes, bike lessons, and more.
Brooklyn Bridge Bootcamp
I've only taken one class, but it was amazing and my friend Grace is a huge fan and devotee!
Yoga to the People
Donation based yoga classes at various locations throughout the city.
Yoga classes at locations throughout the city.
Two locations in Manhattan. Great deal for first time students at the studio - $10 for one week of unlimited yoga. Even if you're only in town for a short visit this is a great deal!
Free fitness classes and run groups from the four store locations.
Things to Do & See
These are ideas you might not find in most travel guides.
International Center of Photography
Located in midtown just north of Bryant Park, ICP "is dedicated to exploring the possibilities of the photographic medium through dynamic exhibitions of historical and contemporary work." The exhibits are fantastic, it doesn't take hours to enjoy like some of the large museums and Friday night's from 5-8pm are pay what you want!
A secret park in the Financial District with lush greenery, a turf grass field, plenty of places to sit and have lunch or read a book, and great views of the East River and Brooklyn. Apparently it's available for private events, but it's a great place to enjoy an afternoon as well!
A former, run down elevated train track that has been restored into a park.
Top of the Rock
Best way to see the city from above. Shorter lines than the Empire State Building, which you can see from the observation deck! Plus, you get to visit Rockefeller Center at the same time.
Check out City Hall then walk across the beautiful bridge and relax with ice cream in the Brooklyn Bridge Park or walk through Dumbo or Brooklyn Heights before heading back to Manhattan.
A former biscuit factory is home of the Food Network & Cooking Channel and lots of great restaurants and food purveyors.
Union Square Farmers Market
4 days a week, great fruits, veggies, baked goods, dairy, meat, fish, wine, and more from local vendors.
Fun finds and great food! Outdoors in the warmer months but moves indoors for the winter.
Hester Street Fair
A new smaller market with interesting finds and great, boutique food purveyors.
The Frick Collection
Located on 5th Avenue, the former home of Henry Clay Frick now houses his impressive art collection as well as a reference library. The house itself is a beautiful work of art. Admission is 'pay what you want' on Sunday from 11am - 1pm.
Hell's Kitchen Flea Market
The best flea market in the city runs every Saturday and Sunday. It's been a staple in NYC since 1976.
New Amsterdam Market
An essential stop every Sunday!
Some health focused, some not so much. It's all about balance! Just a very small list.
The Plaza Food Hall
Located in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, this is a great spot with lots of dining options. Either get a seat in the waiter service restaurant or pick up a sandwich or delicious treat in the food hall section. Whatever you choose, you'll leave happy!
While this is essentially the bar section of the famed Demonico's steakhouse in the Financial District, it has the best burger I've had in this city. Be prepared, it's huge so you can either share it with someone or take half home for the next day. Nice cozy atmosphere and great food but not as expensive or as dressy as the main restaurant. Tip: there is a separate entrance on Beaver St.
A thing of legends, fantastic service and delicious food.
Nelson Blue (currently closed due to Hurricane Sandy damage)
A bar & grill in the non-touristy part of South Street Seaport that features dishes from New Zealand along with great beers and wine. Went here for drinks one night and stayed for dinner. Great food and friendly bartenders! Definitely a comfortable place to hang out.
Tulu's Gluten Free Bakery
Delicious gluten free treats at a good price! The pumpkin bread is amazing!
Another gluten free bakery that also features vegan treats. The brownie bites are to incredibly rich and moist!
Great brunch and lots of options.
Neil's Coffee Shop
The standard NYC greasy diner. Great maple walnut pancakes!
Awesome veggie burger! Watch out for weekend brunch though, it gets packed.
UES burger institution
Great vegetarian cafe.
The upscale sister of Candle Cafe.
Great health conscious food, nice brunch with several locations!
Known for their enormous and delicious cookies, but the other offerings are fantastic too!
Amazing chocolate and one of the best chocolate chip cookies in the city! Several locations including the original in Brooklyn.
Great Israeli restaurant in Brooklyn. Brunch is delicious so the line can get long (no reservations and cash only).
Cute American restaurant, great food, long brunch lines, great all around place.
Great food and atmosphere.
Peanut Butter & Co.
What can I say? Super cute restaurant with great PB&J sandwiches!
Great hummus and wraps. Casual, table service restaurant with good lunch deals.
Cheap, but good, falafel sandwiches. Great stop in Greenwich Village and on St. Marks Place (perfect after a class at Yoga to the People)
Clinton Street Baking Co.
AMAZING brunch, super cute little space on the LES. Love the pancakes and biscuits!
Great pre fixe brunch in a trendy atmosphere.
Momofuku Milk Bar & Bakery
Delicious and inventive food from David Chang.
Buttercup Bake Shop
My favorite cupcake place in the city, great red velvet cupcakes and delicious banana pudding.
Harlem institution for it's Southern cooking. Where I fell in love with Red Velvet cake!
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
Great ice cream right on the Fulton Ferry Pier in Brooklyn.
A gem of a Morrocan spot on the LES. Great people watching, delicious brunch!
The Meatball Shop
Absolutely delicious! Cute but small space that gets packed quickly. An early dinner with a small group is ideal. And don't forget an ice cream cookie sandwich!
Located in Chelsea, down the street from Union Square, this new (April 2010) restaurant specializes in South American dishes. Pastry chef Pachet Ong provides great endings to every meal! Great retro atmosphere and there's talk of a back garden later in the year!