N ew York has exactly five seconds to indulge your Eat Pray Love fantasies. You done? Cool, now careen through a beautifully unpredictable city that invites you to find someone who’s wrong for you in just the right way. Pretty much anything goes in this town stocked with top dogs who long ago decided that if you don’t fit inside the box, you might as well climb on top of it and have a good look around. If you’re here, the eyes are on you, too, so own it. Be brash, be loud, be flirty, be musical, be alert. Try on a taboo or two. As part of the street parade, you gotta bring the you-est you you’ve got. Go big or go home. Or go even bigger and move here. Nothing but basic sanity is stopping you.

New Yorkers, Perpetually Surrounded by Problems and Obstacles, Will Help You Solve Yours

N ew Yorkers are professional restaurant-goers. But ask a local where to eat, they’ll reply “Uhhh... ” in robot mode. Ask them where they eat, and you’re golden. Pastrami and pizza are absolute, non-negotiable must-trys, and the world’s most gleeful melting pot attracts an avalanche of incredible international recipes you’d be remiss not to sample. Restaurants without some element of greatness -- price balanced with ambiance, location, innovation, personality, cool staff, speed, quality -- quickly get swallowed by exorbitant rent. The survivors are doing something right.
Since nobody is shackled to a car, patrons and bartenders know that “one for the road” is merely an expression. So drink up. Often, the finest bars aren’t the most expensive; the cheaper the drinks, the more likely people are there to talk to other people. Check out, for instance, 169 Bar, a New Orleans-inspired joint with a groovy funk-soul-jazz soundtrack, raw oysters, and the ultimate happy hour: beer/shot combos for $3 till 7:30. The Dublin House -- the last of the Upper West Side’s archetypal, neighborly Irish pubs -- has opened its doors at 8am since before Prohibition. Clockwork is a reinvented, narrow punk rock bar where DJs spin classic 45s -- don’t ask anyone to play the Ramones. The classic Hell’s Kitchen holdout Rudy’s Bar & Grill is your evolved speakeasy with cheap pitchers and free hot dogs. And those are just off the top of our head. Every New Yorker has their favorite go-tos; all you gotta do is ask.
Prince Street Pizza | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
by Thrillist Editors

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E very minute of every day is a hustle for most New Yorkers. In the ’80s and ’90s, rents were cheap, jobs were plentiful, and anyone from the American middle class could arrive in Manhattan with a suitcase and a few hundred bucks, and make a go of it. Now, you need money, connections, and/or an elite degree to land a decently paying job and the absurd long hours that come with it.
This explains why we’re stressed out. We’re rushing, we’re tired, we’re anxious. We’re impatient with tourists who don’t know the rules or keep up with the pace. But don’t operate under the assumption that all New Yorkers are assholes. Here, it’s typically a courtesy to ignore someone -- especially on the subway -- so they can catch a break from the stimulus. Look closely and you’ll begin to notice simple acts of kindness hiding in plain sight: strangers offering each other tips and directions, or helping moms to carry strollers up subway stairs. New Yorkers all share a sense of the same mission; this city’s version of sink or swim is a group effort.
We’re not assholes, but we’re certainly not modest. Unlike other parts of America, where getting someone to open up is like sanding paint off a car, an encounter with a New Yorker often means getting their life story in the time it takes to finish a drink, or three. Acting, finance, design, media -- everyone who signs on here is on a serious mission to be the best at something, usually something cool. Most New Yorkers blew off being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. It’s worth asking them why. You can turn any moment into an adventure just by striking up conversation. And if that doesn’t work, walk another block.
Times Square | KAMIRA/Shutterstock
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I n the most pedestrian-friendly city in the world, you’ll need utilitarian shoes, for you and your date. Visitors commonly walk 5 miles a day here, easy. Abandon “north” and “south” in favor of “uptown” and “downtown.” Then, embrace the grid system.
Taxis are reasonably priced but considered a borderline luxury-spend (late nights excepted) when a subway station is handy. When you get in a cab, have both an address and cross-streets at the ready. Outside Manhattan, look for green cars instead of that iconic yellow, or use Uber and Lyft -- prices tend to be similar across most distances. During Uber surge pricing, opt for the cab. During the workday rush hour, opt to walk or take a train or, hell, a pogo stick. Any mode but cars, which are the last things to move through congested intersections.
The first thing to know about the subway is that it’s HUGE: 472 stops, or the number that LA, Chicago, DC, the Bay Area, Miami, Philly, and Boston have combined. On the ubiquitous transit map, black dots represent “local” stops and the white circles are “express” stops, an important distinction in the likely event you’re riding a line with multiple trains on it. Subway station booth workers have free subway maps. Grab a few, as they double as great souvenirs for the knuckleheads back home. Every subway car also has a map, and a person sitting next to you who’s used to giving directions. Your friend and savior will be the unlimited MetroCard, just $32 for a seven-day supply of train and bus rides. Buy it, and you can make as many transit mistakes as you like, knowing your costs are fixed. Get excited! You’re going to see real, live New York rats in those tunnels, guaranteed.

You’ve got time, in a single day, to take on the Big Four. Stroll through Central Park, see a play (check day-of deals via TKTS), belly-flop into Times Square, and survey the city from 1,000 feet up (Top of the Rock for the best 360-degree view). But pace yourself -- New York laughs at itineraries and picks its teeth with your checklists. You will be late. You will get tired. The trick is to set a few goals and embrace the time in between.
Then, zig-zag a little. Instead of (or, OK, in addition to) walking the Brooklyn Bridge, try the Williamsburg Bridge, then bang a left to storm Williamsburg the old-fashioned way. Or pick an east-west Manhattan street and walk it from the East River to the Hudson River, sampling whatever piques your fancy along the way. Grand Street is a great choice, as (from east to west) it segues through a Jewish quarter, Chinatown, Little Italy, and trendy SoHo. Your ticket to ride, anywhere you go: “Excuse me, I’m not from this neighborhood. What’s your favorite thing to do around here?”
The High Line | GAGLIARDIIMAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK
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S o before you arrive in the City That Never Sleeps, you’ll need to arrange a place to, er, sleep. Warn your friends who live in New York or the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) of your arrival, and ask for suggestions on where to stay. Usually they’ll know a guy, or know a guy who knows a guy. If you crash with friends, it’s not weird to kick in a little cash or buy ‘em a round of drinks. For maximum harmony, keep your footprint in the apartment tidy and tiny, and respect your host’s work routine, as it has been carefully honed to be as aerodynamic as possible.
Option the second: Airbnb. The city’s limited, overcrowded hostels charge per head, so if you’re not solo, they will cost more than Airbnb. When paying for a hotel or a room, favor great location over low cost. Unless you meet your ultimate pheromonal match, your hotel is merely where you’ll pass out, not spend real time.

Your hotel is where you'll pass out

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