New York: Things to do

New York Insider
Macy's Store, Herald Square (Photo: Richard Cummins / Lonely Planet Images)
"New York fashionistas who cannot afford to buy their designer duds at full price often rely on the elusive sample sale to stock their closets."
New York Insider

Midtown Manhattan may be tourist central, but hidden in between and sometimes within the classics are authentic New Yorker experiences just waiting to be discovered.

High-fashion food

You may think department stores are for shopping not chopping, but in Macy's Herald Square you can do both. For the past 26 years, De Gustibus Cooking School has called the eighth floor of this mammoth shopper's paradise home. Celebrity chefs and some of the great minds behind the hottest restaurants in the city come to De Gustibus to teach amateurs some of their tasty tricks.

Julia Child's former right-hand man Jacques Pepin, TV cooking queen Rachel Ray and chocolate king Jacques Torres have all taken turns as teachers for themed seminar-style courses. Classes cost US$95. Go to to see what's on the menu and reserve your spot.


Two blocks from both Macy's and the Empire State Building is a neighbourhood that often gets overlooked by New Yorkers and tourists alike. Koreatown sits between Broadway and 5th Avenue in the lower 30s streetsand a walk down its main artery of 32nd street transports you to Seoul for the evening.

Cook your own dinner on a Korean barbecue built into your table at Kum Gang San. Belt out your favourite songs in English or Korean at a "Norae Bang", aka karaoke bar and then get a late-night snack at Bon Chon, or Kyochon, which serve crispy chicken with a kick well into the AM.

Sample sales without the search

New York fashionistas who cannot afford to buy their designer duds at full price often rely on the elusive sample sale to stock their closets. These high-end sell-offs pop up all over the city, and organisers usually advertise them by handing out flyers. That means if you're not in the right place at the right time you may miss your chance at sample-sale bargains. That is unless you know about Clothingline.

Each week Clothingline hosts a new sale in their Garment District location just a few short blocks from Herald Square. Sales, which are listed on their website, usually feature multiple designers at 50 to 80 percent off their retail price. It's best to check out their stock in the morning or late afternoon as lunchtime and 5pm draw the biggest crowds.

Hit the Hudson

From May until October get a different view of the mighty Hudson River by slipping into a kayak for some free, physical fun. The Midtown location of the non-profit New York City Downtown Boathouse is at 56th Street, but there are also two others at 72nd and Houston Streets. Each one offers free 20 minute turns in a protected section of the river to those that can swim and are wearing the right kind of clothes — no high heals and designer jeans. The group also offers lessons and three hour trips.

Next: Picnic in the park

Got any more near the beaten track suggestions? Have your say using the comments form below:

User comments
I was in New York recently, and staying in SoHo. SoHo is a great place to explore. I came across Canal Street, it s full of stalls, quite like shopping in Bali. There are a few people that sell Rip Off Branded handbags, watches, perfumes, etc. Great for buying anything "I heart NY", "NYPD", and "FDNY". It is quite dirty compared to the rest of NY, and down one of the side streets you'll find a neat Nike store. There is a Subway and Mickey D's close by for a feed, or China Town is just around the corner.
Iam saving to make a trip to new York, it will be my last trip overseas as i am in my sixties. When i come id like to have anApple greeter gude, i beleive thes are people who show you around.
Visit a church in Harlem on a Sunday morning. We had to queue and wait to get into Abbyssinnia Baptist but it was worth it. Great musicians, singers, and powerful preaching. - another culture.