The Insomniac Guide to New York City
Pack your bags, EDC New Yorkers! We’re heading to the Big Apple. Everyone knows there’s no shortage of must-visit spots in New York. But if everything’s a must-see, then where do you go? Here’s where the Insomniac Guide to New York comes in. From a museum dedicated to sex, to a spot that sells cupcarons (a dessert that’s half cupcake, half macaroon), to a bar turned into a vintage arcade, use our guide to discover the best spots pre- and post-EDC New York—or anytime you find yourself looking for something to get up to.
We rounded up over 40 things for you to do and see in NYC. Get started on your adventure...
What’s Good: While often the brunt of numerous anti-hipster jokes (deservedly so), and at times insanely crowded, Williamsburg and the surrounding Greenpoint areas have a number of great spots to hit up. This is one of them. Use the water taxis that make several stops in the area; it is a great way to get around, especially when the weather is cooperating. Enjoy the waterfront—it affords a great view of the Manhattan skyline, and there are areas to picnic or just hang. This is a prime spot to catch the sunset with your bae.
Address: 90 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211 ♦ Phone: (718) 782-2731
What’s Good: A few blocks from the waterfront, this always-busy spot is a great place to stop for an excellent cocktail and some tremendous fish tacos. It has a great raw bar with lots of tequila and mezcal options, and it stays open late on the weekends. If you’re looking for a spot where you can have some proper fare and not destroy your credit card, go here.
Address: 168 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211 ♦ Phone: (718) 388-8833
What’s Good: A cinema that features a downstairs bar (It’s nice to enjoy a well-made drink while you watch a movie), solid indie programming, a decent burger, and some great snacks (truffle butter popcorn)! Have a cold craft beer, see an excellent film; Nitehawk is a civilized way to chill.
Address: 136 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211 ♦ Phone: (718) 384-3980
What’s Good: The Momofuku hype is out of control—food nerds photographing everything on their plates, the staff hysterically smug, and the music awful. Skip it and go to Minca, an OG spot that feels like Tokyo. Plus, the noodles are superior, and the vibe is chill. You’ve just been let in on an affordable and awesome secret. Maybe you tell your friends, maybe you don’t.
Address: 536 E 5th St., New York, NY 10009 ♦ Phone: (212) 505-8001
What’s Good: It’s the major dance music venue in NYC. Verboten and Good Room are both quality and nearby; but for us, the lineup, variety, and quality of sound makes Output the spot. There are several rooms: the main room, with multiple levels; the Panther room, which is a nice, mid-size room that can really go off; and the Stilton House, where you can get a decent grilled-cheese sandwich. Oh, and the rooftop, which has amazing views and a solid open-air bar. All of the areas have great Funktion One sound, and you can spend the night going from zone to zone, getting up to get down.
Address: 74 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11249
What’s Good: Located on a quiet street in a really beautiful, spacious loft, this shop seems like something you would find in Portland or Austin; but no, you’re in Greenpoint. Academy carries a wide range of music: dance, rock, film, Latin, some quality reissues and new dance 12s. The vibe of the space is such that you can take your time and go through their varied offering. Shout out to Ron Like Hell for keeping the dance selections tight.
Address: 85 Oak St., Brooklyn, NY 11222 ♦ Phone: (718) 218-8200
What’s Good: A large, multi-use space, Rough Trade features vinyl (think a wide range of reissues), a coffee bar, a substantial performance space, books, some clothing, and offices made from old trailer units. A fun place to hang and shop—not a heavy-duty record spot, but for the casual fan—it makes for a really enjoyable experience. You can hear live music, get an espresso, pick up an interesting book or magazine, or buy some headphones or a portable turntable.
Address: 64 N 9th St., Brooklyn, NY 11249 ♦ Phone: (718) 388-4111
What’s Good: Another major club space, with a striking main room and a great stage setup, Verboten also has a second, smaller room, which has music and food. The venue also features Willkommen, a deep house yoga program, during the week. Go on a weekend to get your techno on, and then check back in during the week to sort your Kundalini. Win and win.
Address: 54 N 11th St., Brooklyn NY 11211 ♦ Phone: (347) 223-4732
What’s Good: We’re going bowling! Wait, what?! We’ve been here numerous times and never once took advantage of the professional lanes they have, but this is also a proper live music venue (Jane’s Addiction, Femi Kuti and Kool Keith all upcoming). It has great craft beers and some truly amazing fried chicken, courtesy of the people at Blue Ribbon. Oh mama, that is major major addictive goodness right there.
Address: 61 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11249 ♦ Phone: (718) 963-3369
What’s Good: The second coming of what was a very popular, raucous skater/graf writer, general ne’er-do-well bar. This time it has tripled in size, has a great live room for bands—with a half pipe!—a fresh front room with a decent DJ booth, well-priced drinks, and interesting, rotating art exhibits in both rooms. TT is all growed up but still down and dirty; we love this spot.
Address: 66 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11222 ♦ Phone: (347) 763-1825
What’s Good: It used to be a pool supply outlet; now it is a place to go meet a significant other. Seriously, if you can’t score here, you may need some professional help. UP has a sizable front-room bar, with a DJ booth, a great outdoor enclosed area with the taco truck, and then a charming old theater-like, hi-ceilinged room for live bands and dancing. Something about the feng shui of this place, it feels like you are playing hooky when you are there. Come correct and mingle, baby!
Address: 484 Union Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211 ♦ Phone: (718) 609-0484
What’s Good: Built on an elevated section of the old West Side railroad track, the Highline is a spectacular, elevated park-meets-walkway. Designed and landscaped with great thoughtfulness by James Corner, it runs from the Whitney Museum on Gansevoort St. to the edge of the West Side Yard on 34th street. Great views, beautiful landscaping, unusual and varied sightlines, this is simply an uplifting and outright pleasant experience—a civic project they got right on every level!
Address: Gansevoort to 34th St., New York, NY 10011 ♦ Phone: (212) 500-6035
What’s Good: Newly opened and situated beautifully at the end of the highline, the design by Renzo Piano makes for the most dramatic of settings; the building’s considerable exterior space connects the eye to the elevated park, and columnless floors allow one to look right through to the Hudson river. Looking from various perspectives like a ship, an industrial factory and an odd fractal sculpture, this building—from the designer of the Pompidou Center in Paris—presents a new major presence on the city’s architectural landscape. User-friendly and eminently social, it is above all a great civic space. Enjoy.
Address: 99 Gansevoort St., New York, NY 10014 ♦ Phone: (212) 570-3600
What’s Good: Founded by a group of artists in 1976 as an exhibition space-slash-bookstore, Printed Matter was a fixture in SoHo for years before moving to the West Side. Focusing on independent artist books and one-off printed projects, the store celebrates the dissemination of art at its most affordable and least material level. Still a home to radical and conceptual projects, Printed Matter stands in stark contrast to the corporate gallery spaces that surround it.
Address: 195 10th Ave., New York, NY 10011 ♦ Phone: (212) 925-0325
What’s Good: Now that you’ve made it uptown, the Frick isn’t far from MoMA, so go see how the other half lived. Henry Frick was an industrialist robber baron that manufactured coke (the fuel), built railroads and ran things. In his life, he was described as “the most hated man in America.” When you enter the museum, remind yourself that this was his home—it’s mind-boggling. Its impressive collection of old master paintings and drawings includes one of the world’s sublime masterpieces, Giovanni Bellini’s Saint Francis in Ecstasy; it is a staggering achievement completed in 1480. It is ironic seeing this work—which celebrates humility, kindness, love of nature, and monastic austerity—housed in a temple of excess and power. Regardless, the work transcends the environment. Perfection.
Address: The Frick Collection, 1 E 70th St., New York, NY 10021 ♦ Phone: (212) 288-0700
Brooklyn Banks Skatepark
What’s Good: Located under the Manhattan Bridge (Manhattan side) are the Banks, a legendary skate spot; think Zoo York OG territory. It was shut down in 2004 but reopened as an official skatepark in 2014. I liked the older “found” site, but they have done a nice job with the park. On a recent visit there, the skill sets of the young skaters—both male and female—were off the chain.
Address: 355-365 Pearl St., New York, NY 10038
What’s Good: An old-school dive bar that had some legendary nights—not far from the Banks, btw—this was a great place to go listen to proper broken beat and 2-step back in the day. It was taken over by new management—the guy has his name on everything, so wack—but it is still a cool spot to eat a few oysters, shoot some pool, and have a few cheap cocktails. Get that uptown taste out of your mouth. Happy hour is noon–7:30 pm with $3 beer shot combos.
Address: 169 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002 ♦ Phone: (212) 641-0357
What’s Good: Another OG East Village spot, Takahachi has been here for over 20 years. It is not a state-of-the-art, high-end sushi place. What it is, though, is an extremely solid and alwayspacked spot that offers good sushi at a great price. Plus, the staff is great and the place offers à la carte and kushiyaki items as well. Unpretentious but cool, let sushi don “Jack” sort you out properly. Enjoy the thoughtful, low-playing mixes Yuji has on the system. Biru o kudasai!
Address: 85 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 ♦ Phone: (212) 505-6524
What’s Good: Another NYC OG location. Opened in 1927, the store’s legendary for its “18 miles of books”; at last count, they had close to 3 million of them. One of the few remaining bookstores where you can find almost anything—from a new release to a rare first-edition, an out-of-print graffiti book, or a manual for navigating the Arctic (for reals)—this store has it all. And again, the vibe here harkens back to a cooler, more literate city.
Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 ♦ Phone: (212) 473-1452
What’s Good: As old-school NYC as it gets—since 1930! This Spanish restaurant and bar, located on the ground floor of the Famed Chelsea Hotel, has been serving authentic Spanish cuisine and incredible atmosphere since long before Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen were residents. Sadly, the hotel has been taken over by a corporation; but Manny still runs the restaurant, and it still has flavor to spare. Go sit at the bar, have a cocktail and some almejas marinera, think of all the artists who have imbibed here, and imagine a very different bohemian NYC.
Address: 226 W 23rd St., New York, NY 10011 ♦ Phone: (212) 929-1855
What’s Good: Once Alfred Barr’s temple of taste-making and standard-setting for all things modern, MoMA, like all other museums, has had to struggle in an age of astronomical art prices and costs. They are catching critical heat (not the positive kind) for a poorly conceived Björk show. That said, this is still the best collection of modern art in the world. Period. The collection will blow your mind, and the architecture, film and photography programming is always solid—well worth the trek uptown. The Björk show runs until June 7, 2015.
Address: 11 W. 53rd St., New York, NY 10019 ♦ Phone: (212) 708-9400
What’s Good: Less pretentious, significantly smaller and generally more adventurous than their giant-size Chelsea counterparts, a walking tour of the LES galleries (aided by a few bar stops) is a great way to spend an afternoon. Start on Houston and Ave. B and hit Participant—one of our favorite spots—as well as Bureau, ABC No Rio, Invisible-Exports, Salon 94 and the Hole. In total, there are about 50 or so spaces between Houston and Canal streets. Orchard and Allen Street have numerous spots. There are some great maps online, and it is still the freshest part of the city to walk around in.
What’s Good: We’re somewhat prejudiced here, as our pal Dennis Kane is the former buyer at this shop. But hands-down, for disco and house music, this is the best store of its kind worldwide. The stock is constantly being updated, and the quality is always high. The store also stocks hip-hop, jazz, soul, funk, rock, soundtracks, and on and on… Go get your vinyl on.
Address: 439 E 6th St., New York, NY 10009 ♦ Phone: (212) 473-2870
What’s Good: Wise Men is a dive bar with a touch of class. The East Village hole-in-the-wall bears a neon sign and friendly bouncer who will let you inside through a pair of velvet curtains that give way to a dark, candle-lit establishment. What’s really cool about Wise Men is its commitment to being effortlessly cool. On any given night, you’ll see a group of kids having an ‘80s-themed birthday party, or meet your favorite Instagram celebrity posted up in one of its dark corners. The artsy décor is an eye-popping touch, and the music ranges anywhere from sing-along, throwback hip-hop to underground electronic.
Address: 355 Bowery, New York, NY 10003 ♦ Phone: (646) 590-4244
What’s Good: Walking into Trailer Park Lounge, you’ll feel as if you just stepped into the movie Joe Dirt—minus the chew spitting and staple wife-beater attire. Trailer Park Lounge spares no expense to make this one of the most well-curated and kitschy spots in the city. Its roadhouse vibe, drool-worthy burgers, and questionably strong margaritas make this one a must-see in NYC.
Address: 271 W 23rd St., New York, NY 10011 ♦ Phone: (212) 463-8000
What’s Good: We’ve all heard of the cronut and the cookie shot. These Frankstein baked goodies are the brainchild of zany chef Dominque Ansel, whose bakery outpost is a NYC legend. Worth putting a dent in your diet for, the Ansel bakery’s SoHo location makes it the perfect spot to do a little shopping and then feast on savory desserts so you don’t fit into those jeans you just dropped three stacks on. These cronuts are such a hot craze in the city that people line up down the block. But trust us, they’re well worth the wait. Ansel’s looking out for that figure of yours, too, as the bakery enforces a two-cronut-per-customer rule. If you’re already dreaming of cronuts, you can always preorder here.
Address: 189 Spring St., New York, NY 10012 ♦ Phone: (212) 219-2773
What’s Good: Who knew a mini cupcake was a one-way ticket to heaven? Baked by Melissa specializes in pint-size cupcakes that pack a knee-buckling burst of sugary goodness. Changing menu by season, Baked by Mellissa carries your average staple cupcakes, but also a wide range of custom creations like the Cupcaron (half cupcake, half macaroon). Since the cupcakes are so little and delectable, you can binge on seven different kinds and not feel guilty about it. Did we also mention they ship nationwide?
Address: multiple locations throughout the city ♦ Phone: (212) 842-0220
What’s Good: The embargo in Cuba might be over, but traveling to the island nation is still a tricky feat. If you’re not willing to pull an Elián González and float your way there, you’ll find a tasty bit of Cubano culture right in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Packed with a slamming menu and mouth-watering drinks, Cubana Socíal channels a pre-Castro 1940s Cuba with an authentic ambience straight out of Havana.
Address: 70 N 6th St., Brooklyn, NY 11249 ♦ Phone: (718) 782-3334
What’s Good: Out here in the streets of NY, we take our dumpling game seriously. If you really want to get down on that natives-only tip, head out to one of three Vanessa’s Dumplings locations throughout the city. Posted up in Chinatown, Greenwich Village and Williamsburg, Vanessa serves up a heaping pile of the most delicious dumplings around. Not only that, Vanessa cares for your wallet, giving you 50 dumplings for as cheap as $9. Get your chopsticks ready.
Address: multiple locations throughout the city ♦ Phone: (212) 625-8008
What’s Good: Half upscale art gallery, half venue, MoMA PS1 is the ultimate curator of culture. Located in Long Island City, Queens (one stop outside of Manhattan), MoMA PS1 is a nonprofit that routinely plays hosts to world-renowned artists and their exhibits. Once you’ve got your fill of highbrow musings, you can catch a show during their Warm Up series, a go-to party each summer that recruits everyone from Afrika Bambaataa to Skrillex to lay down some beats in the balmy heat. Check back here for their soon-to-be-announced lineup for summer 2015.
Address: 22–25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101 ♦ Phone: (718) 784-2084
What’s Good: A staple of New York for over 150 years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most well-known icons the island has to offer. As one of the pinnacle art institutions in the world, the Met boasts the biggest collection of art in the United States. Containing works from classic antiquities to contemporary pieces, the Met is an eyeful of some of the most inspiring works the world has ever seen, from Pablo Picasso to Jackson Pollock. Also, make sure to check out the jaw-dropping, full Egyptian temple held within the Met’s walls. If you’re heading uptown, you can check out the Met’s sister location, the Cloisters, which contains a stacked collection of medieval art and is located within the scenic Fort Tryon Park. If your bank account is hurting, a small donation will do just fine; the Met has a “pay as you wish” entrance fee policy.
Address: 1000 5th Ave., New York, NY 10028 ♦ Phone: (212) 535-7710
What’s Good: Want a trip straight out of The Magic School Bus? Make sure to hit up the (free) American Museum of Natural History. Get up-close with exotic—some now extinct—creatures, including full-on dinosaur skeletons and an imposing blue whale that hangs above the incredible Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. The Upper West Side attraction also boasts the incredible Hayden Planetarium that is currently directed by our favorite brainy astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. If the AMNH sounds up your alley, check out their rotating exhibits here.
Address: Central Park W at 79th St. New York, NY 10024 ♦ Phone: (212) 769-5100
What’s Good: One of New York’s most well known attractions, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the city’s focal points for both tourists and locals alike. While you may just be crossing boroughs by foot, the landmark provides one of those legendary New York moments that just can’t be bought. Whether you’re trying to take some killer selfies or just want to admire the skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge is a can’t-miss experience to soak up the ambiance of everything this city has to offer.
Address: Madison St. and Park Row, Manhattan, New York
What’s Good: Once you’ve taken the journey across the Brooklyn Bridge, take a load off in the accompanying Brooklyn Bridge Park. Resting in the harbor view of BK’s Dumbo neighborhood, the site is a nice place to kick off your shoes and gaze into the scenic Manhattan panorama just across the East River. There are also a number of piers to explore, like the playground on Pier 6 or the picturesque Greenway Terrace on Pier 3. If you’re trying to get your dance on, Brooklyn Bridge Park plays host to a number of events each week, including dance parties like the upcoming Electro Soul event presented by Celebrate Brooklyn! featuring Jamie Lidell.
Address: 334 Furman St. Brooklyn, NY 11201
What’s Good: Dark and cutting-edge, Bossa Nova Civic Club is Brooklyn’s ultimate trendsetter getaway. Located in the Bushwick neighborhood, Bossa Nova is that place you go when you want to see that one underground DJ before they’re cool. Playing host to local and imported talent alike, the club’s lineup may feature names you’ve never heard, but rest assured: This will be night to remember. Also notable, this is one of the less expensive spots in the city, with beers routinely running around $7 (yes, it’s still $7, but that is pretty cheap by city standards). If you’re really trying to get down with New Yorkers, Bossa Nova is the spot to play.
Address: 1271 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11221 ♦ Phone: (718) 443-1271
What’s Good: Operating as part of the one-of-a-kind find haven Brooklyn Flea, Smorgasburg is the ultimate foodie paradise. Opening every weekend in the summer from 11am–6pm in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, Smorgasburg offers more than 100 culinary curiosities. It might be the only place on the planet you can chow down on a Ramen Burger, while sipping on an obscure Brooklyn lager and cooling off with a maple syrup popsicle. Just a friendly suggestion: You might want to wear your elastic waistband pants if you’re planning on hitting up this market.
Address: Saturdays in Williamsburg at 90 Kent Ave. (at N. 7th St.) and Sundays in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Pier 5
What’s Good: Getting a bang for your buck is no easy feat in the Tri-State Area. If you're looking for a cheap meal that will leave you stuffed, head to Pio Pio. With many locations throughout the city, the small eatery specializes in Peruvian cuisine so good, you'll think you have just ridden a llama into Lima. Even better, the serving sizes are so large, you won't need to spend over $10 to get your fill. Make sure you get a taste of their infamous green sauce, allegedly made from the valley streams of Machu Picchu.
Address: multiple locations throughout the city ♦ Phone: (212) 481-0034
What’s Good: Looking for that authentic NYC underground party vibe? Look no further than 88 Palace. The go-to venue routinely plays host to the likes of trendsetting event company Mean Red, who will book any number of cutting-edge acts from Kaytranada to Omar S. What's really grungy and beautiful about 88 Palace is that by day, it's a dim sum restaurant inside an indoor Chinatown mall. At night, it transforms into the perfect makeshift venue for a seedy downtown experience packed with the coolest kids you know.
Address: 88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002 ♦ Phone: (212) 941-8886
What’s Good: Surprisingly, this is not a straight-up porn palace (sorry, kids). While things do tend to get quite, umm, kinky inside this Midtown East attraction, MoSex is more educational than NSFW. While you do get your fair share of libido triggers inside MoSex, it is truly a fascinating exploration of the history of human sexuality, sexual subcultures and erotica. While informative, this is still not a place for the kiddies; MoSex is an 18+ destination.
Address: 233 5th Ave., New York, NY 10016 ♦ Phone: (212) 689-6337
What’s Good: The best way to experience the city is on foot or by bike. Even if you didn't come strapped with your Huffy, you can rent bikes throughout the city, thanks to Citi Bike. Available by the hour or the day, the blue bikes can be found in numerous docking locations throughout lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. This isn't your leisurely bike ride, however. Keep your eyes peeled for traffic, pedestrians, animals, or any of the many things that could find its way into your path. Use your hand signals, and refrain from wheelies.
What’s Good: Whether you're a gamer or just down for some drinks, Barcade is your go-to spot. Packed with vintage arcade jump-offs from Pac-Man to Space Invaders, Barcade is a gamer’s paradise. It also attracts a number of beer connoisseurs with their rotating 25 beers on tap. Get your game on at multiple locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and definitely try out their slamming tater tots.
Address: 388 Union Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211 ♦ Phone: (718) 302-6464
Address: 163 Newark Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07302 ♦ Phone: (201) 332-4555
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