A brown rowhouse street in Park Slope

Travel Guide: A New York Run Down

New York City

An Aerial view of the manhattan skyline during the day.
Source: History.com

The commodification of places and cities has existed for a long time – from romanticizing the cobblestone streets of Paris to the water canals of Vienna. With the rise of the internet, Los Angeles was rebirthed as the new ‘it’ place filled with beautiful beaches and parties to meet people. However, just like all trends, Los Angeles has become oversaturated. The city was filled with influencers and celebrities in their huge homes and lavish lifestyles until people began to crave something more. And like all trends, the new ‘it’ place, shifted back to New York City

Influencers and models began to move, showcasing the busy streets filled with rowhouses and walking downtown with their eccentric new fashions. However, this can get overwhelming in the big city. There is simply too much to do!  There’s Time Square to look at, the acres of Central Park, and the stoops and stones of every building! That is what this guide is for: in the small areas of New York, you can come for a quick respite, a bite to eat, and a breather from all the hustle and bustle of the first megacity of the world. I was able to explore some nooks and crannies of the city as my boyfriend took me around some places where locals would prioritize overcrowded tourist locations. 

While most people visit downtown Manhattan, this travel guide will encompass neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Chinatown, and some parts of Queens. This is not a tourist list, but more of a guide to help those find somewhere not busy and explore the corners of the city. With a complicated history such as New York being a center of trade, and people coming in and out of the country, there is simply so much to see! 

Park Slope

A brown rowhouse street in Park Slope
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

Park Slope is a neighborhood in northwestern Brooklyn where my boyfriend grew up. His apartment is located in a skinny building located on a street lined with stores with a beautiful rooftop that overlooks the Manhattan skyline. This small, residential area of New York is bustling with life and I fell in love. With the historic buildings, from the small shops that served coffee to antique dolls. There was simply so much to do despite it being just one of the many neighborhoods in New York. It has some of the best restaurants in New York that locals would travel here just to eat! So if you’re looking for a place to rest after a long day in Manhattan, this safe and growing neighborhood is perfect to replenish your energy. 

La Bagel Delight: A New York Treasure

Established in 1986, this small business has a few chains open in Brooklyn that is family-owned and operated. It’s a small, charming place that makes their bagels fresh every day. And everyone comes here – everyone. From people hustling really quickly before their day jobs, families going on a long stroll to pick up breakfast with their kids, and nearby hospital workers getting off their shift. Their bagels are the fluffiest and warmest so that they just melt in your mouth. I had an everything bagel while my boyfriend got one with the classic New York bacon-egg-and-cheese. Another thing that makes this bagel location unique compared to the other ones is the fact that they have a great selection of one-of-a-kind cream cheese spreads, such as olive pimento cream cheese, walnut raisin cream cheese, tofu scallion cream cheese, and more! I had a bagel every day during our stay and would definitely recommend this place. 

Pinos La Forchetta Pizzeria 

After a long day of walking in the humid heat – we needed a place to eat. We stumbled across Pinos La Forchetta Pizzeria and we weren’t expecting much, but I thought it was perfect! It’s not a fancy tasting menu with little dishes, nor is it the most unique pizza (according to my boyfriend), but for something local and special that you feel like you’re eating in New York like a New Yorkian, come here! It’s one of the mainstays of the community, with just something to offer to everyone. We ordered some slices of regular pizza and mozzarella marinara Sicilian Pizza slices. The regular slices were huge and comforting, just perfect comfort food. And the Sicilian Pizza, for those who haven’t had it, is a square pizza with a thick crust. It’s not like the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, rather it’s baked on a focaccia-like bread that feels like eating just very good bread. The top is baked with fresh marinara sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil on the top. I definitely recommend eating a Sicilian pizza for the crumb structure! Please come support a community restaurant! 

Smiling Pizza Restaurant

Another pizza restaurant, I know, but this one is my boyfriend’s favorite. He said he would eat this after school or after going out on a night out with his friends. It is another one of those decade-old pizza restaurants in Brooklyn that is dedicated to the community. Cheap, quick, and a perfect example of New York. It’s an old restaurant with nostalgic bright tiles, orange booths, and a television in the corner. While it also may not be the best pizza, it is a nostalgic restaurant that has been part of the community for a long time. One thing my boyfriend recommends is zeppoles, which are fried dough topped with powdered sugar. It’s like a mix of a beignet and a donut, but so much better. Try looking for these at any old pizzeria in New York – they barely serve them anymore. 

Postmark Cafe 

Rooted in 2004, this small cafe is trying its best to fit in with the historic Park Slope neighborhood. They have a little window where you can order, so you can sit in the outdoor cafe. People come in on their walk with their dogs or paint in the outdoor cafe. My boyfriend worked on some school work while I did some light reading. It was a great ambiance and a perfect place to calm down after a long day. Next door, they also support a free neighborhood food pantry for anyone to help with! You can donate while also getting a great drink for your day. 

L Train Vintage 

A bit further out, we went to L Train Vintage, and as a thrifting enthusiast, this was a wonderland. It has a great selection, divided into a men’s and women’s section. Clothing scales almost up to the ceilings, racks filled with everything, and an awesome shelf selection of pants. There were designer bags I spotted (Coach) and some awesome deals on shoes. While my boyfriend got some new khaki Converses for $30, I got some high-quality combat boots for $15. You even get an added bag that says L Train Vintage on it! 

Down to Earth Park Slope Farmers Market

Despite being the first and one of the largest megacities in the world, fresh produce is not a stranger in New York. Every Sunday, from 10 AM-3 PM, you can support local New York farmers by visiting this place at the edge of Park Slope. It’s filled with greens that are fresh, small bakeries, fresh seafood, everything. Right next to Grand Army Plaza, where you can see the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, the park is dedicated to Union soldiers. This is a great walk to see 1800s American architecture. Right after walking around the market and buying fresh food, you can take a walk around Grand Army Plaza. While there are a million other places to get fresh produce in New York (especially in Chinatown), this is a lovely destination for a morning stroll. 

Prospect Park 

While not technically part of Park Slope, Prospect Park is the park which Park Slope sloped off of (ha!). It’s a great park to get back into nature, it has fun bridges, signs of vegetation, and people making their way. It’s close to the Sunday Farmer’s Market, so check it out before heading to the farmers market on Sunday. It’s a less crowded version of Central Park (but without the beautiful waterways and zoos). 

Chinatown of New York

An aerial view of New york's Chinatown, where the buildings are stacked right next to each other.
Source: timeout.com

A historic neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, it is away from most tourist destinations. It means that it is busy and filled with locals who know this is one of the most exciting places in New York. It is one of the oldest Chinese ethnic neighborhoods in America, having one of the largest ethnic Chinese populations outside of Asia. Here you can find street vendors, restaurants on every corner, and beautiful lanterns alighting the streets. It truly feels like a busy street in Asia, with tight alleys and bright lights that transported me back to my mainland. It’s just a quick train ride from Park Slope, so you can easily come here for dinner, which is what we did! 

456 New Shanghai

I feel as if this place could receive a blogpost of its own. My boyfriend and I found this restaurant by accident while we were walking the streets of Chinatown, trying to find his favorite old bakery. We were lost in the streets, tired and famished, and happened to be right outside 456 New Shanghai when we decided to eat. I checked the menu, happy to find out that they had dim sum, which is something I’ve been craving for a few weeks now.

I wasn’t sure exactly how it would be, since I did not check any reviews, but it was absolutely perfect. They had the best xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings), which were juicy and sweet and just wonderful. I had to get another order one last time before we left. The dim sum is served in bamboo steam plates, providing another authentic experience. While we were eating, I checked the reviews on Yelp and was happy to find out that this is a town favorite. It is also opened late, making it perfect as a restaurant to go to after exploring upper Manhattan. These are the best dumplings I’ve ever had in my life and I’m so glad I was able to eat here. I would gladly fly to New York again just to eat here. 

Columbus Park 

Based in the center of Chinatown, this is where people live: locals playing chess, playing go, reading, and practicing TaiChi in the morning. In the afternoon, you see children playing in the nearby park and basketball hoops. Across the street are some very local vendors, where farmers go to appeal to the locals. Now, this is a real authentic experience, from New York farmers to the Chinese diaspora. They wait in the corners, waiting for fresh fruit and vegetables that are hard to get in other markets. While it may seem daunting, it is a close experience to an Asian market. 

M&W Bakery

Close to Columbus Park is the bakery my boyfriend and I were looking for. It is a small, hole-in-the-wall bakery that serves fresh traditional bread but also prepares specialty cakes for parties. It is a super affordable place where people are fighting for the last bun serving. My boyfriend’s favorite is their sponge cakes, which are fluffy and perfectly sweet. I loved the environment, with the smell of pastry staying in my clothes as we moved on.

Lower Manhattan: New York’s Cultural Treasure

An overview of washington square park and people bustling around.
Souce: Hotels.com

After eating dinner at Chinatown, we then took the train to Lower Manhattan, specifically to Washington Square Park which has a long history of being a cultural marker. It was a square for people to gather and spread ideas. Today, it is a home for TikTok interviews, students from the next-door New York University, and hopeful artists trying to win your hearts. It’s definitely a hot spot, but not one of the first places to visit, despite the long history of this area. 

Washington Square Park 

This is one of the best-known New York public parks, with the fountain center being a place for artists selling art, selling poetry, and music. We chatted with a kind old man who was selling records that he knew like the back of his hand. He had great recommendations on bands and music, and it’s just another great way to listen to the perspectives of passionate people. There are students reading in the park, and locals sitting on benches catching up with friends. It’s a busy place that feels like you’re always in the moment. 


We came here for drinks after a walk in the park, but they also have crepes in the daytime! It’s a great place with candlelit outdoor seating. The people who serve you are king and very cool! You can tell that these people truly exude the vibe of the place. It’s right next to Washington Square Park, but a fun place to find if you want something down-to-earth and eclectic. We ordered a cosmopolitan and was definitely strong enough for me, hah!

Conclusion to the Metopolis of New York

New York City at night with a lot of cars in the street.
Source: travelandleisure.com

While there are many guides about New York, from area to local guides, I hope this one was able to the convey a selection of places where you can go if you need something else aside from the touristy, busy Manhattan areas. The community is vibrant in New York and is something that is missing in most of America. 


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