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Expat New York: Top 10 Things To Do For Expats Living in New York City

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Summary: Expats in New York City will learn a lot about the culture and people of New York if they get out and do some exploring. Here are 10 things to do that will help get you quickly settled.

Expat New York - Top 10 Things To Do For Expats Living in New York City

Expats in New York City that want to experience America have all kind of options that will truly make them feel like they've had a taste of American culture.

Here are some "must see" experiences with some "must have" meals. The list includes a few fun "touristy" experiences, plus other options in which you're just as likely to encounter native New Yorkers as you will other expats or travelers.

Any expat that completes this list of things to do in New York City will have a great chance to settle in to the city and have a fairly good understanding of what it means to be a New Yorker.

1.) The High Line

The High Line is an amazing architectural, artistic and environmental feat located on the lower West Side of Manhattan.

Several years ago, there were plans to tear down the West Side Line, an old elevated train line on the Lower West Side of Manhattan. The line originally had been created to eliminate the large number of accidents that occurred where streets and the rail line intersected. Part of it was demolished in the 1960s, and the remaining parts were no longer used by 1980.

A few residents of a neighborhood that contained some of the remnants lobbied to have further demolition plans reversed in favor of urban reclamation for the creation of an elevated greenway. The project commenced in 2006, and sections were opened in 2009 and 2011. Three more phases are under construction, with the first projected to open in 2014.

While there, check out some great food at Delaney Barbecue's Smokeline at West 15th Street.

2.) New York Jazz and Barbecue

If you are looking for more of a sit-down meal and want some entertainment to go along with it, Blue Smoke offers amazing Barbecue and Jazz. These two quintessentially American staples are blended together into one experience at one location in the Flatiron district of Manhattan (116 E. 27th Street between Park & Lexington Avenues). Think of it as a one-stop-shop for any expat that wants to further their understanding about America and the diversity of its culture and cuisine.

3.) Concerts in the Park

The New York Philharmonic concert series in Central Park during the summer is a long-standing tradition that always ends with fireworks. People head to the park, spread out blankets and enjoy a picnic and a glass of wine while listening to world class classical music. There are plenty of concerts in the park for other types of music, too.

4.) Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge spans over the East River and connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. Perhaps the greatest feature of the bridge is that pedestrians are free to walk across it. Couple that with the economic and cultural resurgence that started in the 1990s and it's a no brainer to get outside, walk a New York City landmark and enjoy the culture and arts of DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights. If you plan to take your time and enjoy the views, it will probably take 50 minutes to an hour each way. No bathrooms on the span! Brooklyn Bridge on Wikipedia and Brooklyn Bridge on NYC.gov.

5.) Comedy Clubs

Everybody knows about Broadway and going to "see a show," but if you really want to get an alternative taste of American culture you need to go somewhere else.

Expats that want a window into America can find a nice dose of it its humor, and there are plenty of opportunities to absorb it in the comedy clubs of New York City. If you go regularly to the comedy clubs in Manhattan, you are likely to see world-class comedians and actors pop in to perform and also catch young comics that one day are going to be the toast of Hollywood. And while you're at it, you'll also get a sense of what makes New Yorker's tick. Leave any delicate sensibilities at home!

Dangerfield's (212) 593-1650 (1118 1st Ave between 61st and 62nd Streets)
Caroline's (212) 757-4100 (1626 Broadway between 49th & 50th)
Gotham Comedy Club (212) 367-9000 (208 West 23rd St. between 7th and 8th Avenues)
The Comedy Cellar (212) 254-3480 (117 MacDougal Street Between West 3rd St. & Minetta Lane)
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (212) 366-9176 (307 W 26th St (between 8th & 9th Ave's) - Also on the Lower East Side

More options can be found on Yelp

6.) Go to the Met in the Evening

On a beautiful Friday or Saturday evening - the museum closes at 9p.m. on these nights - and go to the Roof Garden and Martini Bar on the 5th floor. Sometimes it's empty and sometimes there are a lot of people there, but each provides a unique experience. The views are quite simply among the best you'll find in Manhattan. The Martini Bar is only open from 5:30p.m. to 8:15p.m., so plan accordingly.

7.) Walk Central Park On The Weekends

When you are first settling into the park, nothing will help you appreciate the cultural melting pot you are now a part of more than a thorough exploration of Central Park. It's fun to go and see the various artists, street performers and all kinds of other activities going on every weekend. You can live in New York for years and still find new things to do in the park.

8.) Go To Prospect Park & Botanic Garden in Brooklyn

As an expat in New York, it's fun to explore areas outside of Manhattan and really get a taste of another borough. Located next to each other in Brooklyn, Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanic Garden offer a wide variety of things to do. Additionally, the Brooklyn Museum is a nice compliment to the park and garden.

9.) Go See A Television Comedy Show

Go and see Jimmy Fallon, Letterman, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show or some other TV show of your liking - whether it's recorded or live. New York is one of the two hotbeds for television in the U.S. - the other being Los Angeles - and you should go and see what it's all about. For better or worse, America loves its television and celebrity culture, so even if it's only once, go and get an inside look.

10.) Little Italy

New York has a proud Italian-American culture and history that has to be experienced to truly understand New York City. There's no better place to explore it than Little Italy, which is located in Lower Manhattan. There are a lot of restaurants in Little Italy, and the best advice we can give is to go there often and try them all!

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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First Published: May 08, 2014

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