PREVIOUSLY on my NYC life guide:
This is the penultimate chapter of my ultimate NYC life guide, and it’s going to be about Shopping, Museums and Photography Courses.
I just want to repeat that this is not much a tourist guide, but rather a list of suggestions for people who are spending a considerate amount of time in the City, possibly on a budget. You won’t find information about the usual landmarks, as there are lots of it everywhere on the web. I’m sharing some tips for everyday life, in order to get to know and enjoy New York City as a real New Yorker!
New York City is the shopping-mecca. You’ll find all the most famous international brands on 5th Avenue (Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada, Gucci, etc) and in the Broadway area in Soho (Desigual, Paul Frank, Hollister, Urban Outfitters, gorgeous art and design galleries, etc) and this is no news. But if you want to buy some presents to bring back home, or just need some clothing without taking out a mortgage, here is some advice!
Discounted branded handbags and clothes: Filene’s Basement in Union Square – for instance, I bought some Tommy Hilfiger handbags for me, my mom and a friend of mine for as little as $20/$40. They sell also other brands such as Armani, Gucci, Missoni, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein etc. Another store I recommend is Syms, in the Financal District. Not crowded, smaller, kind staff – I got a gorgeous Furla leather wallet for as little as $40.
Department stores: Screw Macy’s, it’s way too big and dispersive. Century 21 is pretty much the same, but I save it for the shoes department – please note that shoes are organized by size and not by model: this looked silly to me at first, but turned out to be the best way to see what they have for you with a single glance.
Photography and electronics: Adorama in Chelsea (great offers such as refurbished cameras + kind staff. I got my Nikon SLR camera here!), J&R in the Financial District (they have pretty much EVERYTHING), B&H in Hell’s Kitchen (not really nice staff but you have to check out this place! Their “hanging conveyors” system to send items to cashiers + green dressed staff make you feel like you just stepped into Santa Claus’ gift factory!).
Bookstores: There are thousands of bookstores in New York City but don’t miss Strand with its “18 miles of books”, as stated on their website. They have a huge section for second-hand books. I found old Alaska travel guides and photobooks for as little as $1/$2!
Unique shops: I really believe these shops make New York City’s beauty. I’m not much into shopping but I’m a sucker for odd and unique items. If you are one too, don’t miss Evolution on Spring Street, where you can find the oddest items ever – do you fancy skeletons or meteorite chips, fossile eggs or scorpion lollipops? If you travel with children it’s going to be funny! A jewelry shop I liked a lot is Tendenza on Spring Street: they engrave custom words on super simple golden creations. I got a small pendant with a custom hebrew writing… Just me and Zichrini, the shop’s owner, know its meaning.
There are so many amazing museums in NYC. If you want to visit some of them, I strongly recommend to check out their websites first to find out what the current exhibitions are. Here are some tips about my favourite museums:
MoMA: It doesn’t really need a presentation. You’re going to see some of those super famous pieces of art you’ve just seen on books before. On Fridays admissions are free from 4 pm to 8 pm. No excuses. Go.
MET: Huge. Don’t wonder inside the museum without a map, and don’t demand to see it all at once. You’re going to get bored in no time. Temporary exhibitions are usually GREAT, so I suggest seeing them and then just go straight to one or two sections of the permanent collection you previously chose. For instance I visited the temporary exhibitions, then just saw the Ancient Egypt area (couldn’t miss it!). Then go to the rooftop for a drink and enjoy the beautiful view over Central Park and Manhattan skyline in the distance.
Guggenheim: Even if you don’t feel like visiting another museum, just remember that the admission to the lobby is free. It’s worth a visit even just to take a look at the building from the inside.
NEW Museum: Super interesting as it’s totally dedicated to young artists. I’ve seen some of the most interesting installations there. I remember an empty room with a soldier in it. He was an Iraq veteran and he was there to answer people’s questions. He was the installation.
Museum of Sex: Quite expensive (about $18) but so interesting. Sometimes disgusting and/or shocking (never thought some kinds of sexual practices could actually exist!). For sure HARD.
- Photography Courses
If you are on a budget but want to attend a good photography course in the City, I totally recommend PhotoManhattan. It’s cheap, staff is friendly and classes are held by professionals. You’ll get assignments every week and you’re going to learn A LOT. They also offer private courses. At the end of each course there’s a public exhibition, so you can feel the thrill of displaying your work and see what people say about it. Scary!
I attended a 3 months course at PhotoManhattan and would have taken another course if I didn’t have to leave New York City.
Ok, that’s all for today! Hope you enjoyed the third chapter, and don’t miss the next one!
NEXT on my ultimate guide to New York City life: sightseeing, VIP watching, sunbathing and more!
Part 2: NYC: Breakfast, Brunch, Drinks