What to Do in NYC as a Tourist!

One of the questions I am asked most often is “I’m coming to NYC, what should I do?” The answer to that is so vast. This is New York City! What do you want to do? What do you want to eat? We have that!

Courtney Shannon Jacqueline Bevin Eyelash Tattoo Gang

I’ve been meaning to write-up a blog series for a long time about what I love to do in NYC on the tourist tip and I had the occasion to have the BEST Manhattan tourist day on Saturday when none other than Courtney Trouble (NSFW link) and Miss Mary Wanna were in town. We met up for brunch at Jacqueline’s house first (she served two kinds of pork because she knows how to treat this Femme right) and then piled in a cab to go to St. Mark’s Place, one of my favorite streets in the East Village. It’s got great shopping, coffee, and an adorable park. It’s close to Alphabet City where the musical Rent takes place.

So much of New York City is nostalgia–remember when St. Mark’s Place used to be where all the artists lived? Well, it did. I’ve read books about how cool the Lower East Side of NYC was in the 90s. But it’s still pretty cute and there are a few punk vestiges left over like Trash and Vaudeville and a ton of vintage shops. Plus it’s just a cool place to walk around to get the feeling you’re in NYC.

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One block north is my very favorite store in the city, Fabulous Fanny’s. If you wear glasses or sunglasses it is a must-visit in NYC. When we were planning our day I was like, “Yes to St. Mark’s because you need to go to Fabulous Fanny’s!” I took my mom and Grandmother here when they were visiting a month ago. Mom bought three pairs of amazing, unique glasses.

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Fabulous Fanny’s stocks lots of brand new vintage replicas and never worn actual vintage glasses. Even better, they rhinestone some of them. All of the glasses I’ve owned for the past eight years came from there and I get compliments all the time. It helps if you go in knowing what you’re looking for, they can lead you right to it in their drawers upon drawers of stock, or just play around with your friends and find the frames that work for you.

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They also have tons of vintage clothing and accessories!

They don’t fill prescriptions but they have cards for cheap places in Chinatown who will do it for fifty bucks. Not bad!

We got coffee at Mudspot, which is an indie place I love that has a walk-up counter for MUD coffee (or you can sit down for brunch). Their striking orange logo! I just discovered that they have ALMOND MILK available which is rare and rules. As someone who is highly sensitive to both soy and dairy I am stuck drinking black decaf coffee all the time unless a coffee place has almond or coconut milk.

The Femme crew headed over to Tompkin’s Square park to peep the little dog run! It’s so fun to watch other people’s dogs play. It’s also hilarious that all four of us have tiny dogs at home and we were out on the town… looking at tiny dogs.

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We had to drop Miss Mary Wanna off at the Mega Bus stop so she could head home to Philly. Taking the subway is always far cheaper in NYC, but if you’ve got three or four people splitting a cab that’s sometimes a recipe for quicker is better and not that expensive. It’s $2.50 a person each ride on the Subway if you don’t get an unlimited ticket. (I’m constantly doing the math on that, though I’m a monthly ticket rider person so I definitely will try to subway if I can. (When I sold my car I promised myself I would always have an unlimited metrocard so I could feel freedom to go anywhere.) Here’s the MTA breakdown on pay per ride metrocard vs. unlimited, for your trip planning purposes.

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We had the cab drop us at Columbus Circle because we wanted to show Courtney a bit of Central Park. Central Park is massive–there are a ton of entrances and it’s a very long walk if you want to try to see more than a little bit of it at a time. There are some amazing rock slabs near the Columbus Circle entrance. We stopped at the Whole Foods for snacks on our way in.

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Courtney did it up real NYC tourist style and got a pretzel from a street vendor. (Living in Philly ruined me for pretzels anywhere else, though.)

We filmed an episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket while sipping tea/coffee/soup and looking at the moon over Manhattan. Absolutely delightful! I generally steer clear of parks after dark unless I’m in a group for safety reasons, so it was nice to have company to get a little nature plus skyscraper action.

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The next stop we had was a rooftop bar, so we looked up a place online near where we were. It’s on the roof of a hotel, the Ava Lounge! The bar had pretty standard NYC prices on the cocktails and a decent tiny nosh menu. We were chilly up there but the view was fantastic.

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Here’s a secret, most fancy hotels in NYC have really amazing lobbies you can casually enter and look at!

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Little known fact about me is that I am obsessed with aquariums and will stop to gaze at a tank no matter where I find it.

It was almost Courtney’s birthday so we stopped for chocolate at one of my favorite cheesy date places in NYC. Seriously, I had a great date here once, you kind of can’t beat chocolate fondue for two. Max Brenner’s is right on Union Square, so we hit another great tourist spot without hardly trying. (Also, another park with a Whole Foods next to it.) It’s impossible to get a table on a weekend at Max Brenner’s, so we opted to get some DIY truffle boxes at their store and head to a street cart to get some snacks before the bar.

I love Max Brenner! Smells amazing & vats of chocolate!
Giant vats of chocolate!!

We then retreated back to Brooklyn to hang out at a sometimes queer bar One Last Shag that happened to have a new queer party called Be Cute. I like outdoor backyard parties (like Wham Bam) so this was fun. Lots of cuties, actually, but mostly we were focused on just being loud Femmes having a good time outdoors!

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We found none other than Nicolette Mason at One Last Shag!

Basically, this was the perfect NYC day! Someday soon I’ll come up with a list of other NYC spots I think people should know about!

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