The locals' guide to...New York

It's bigger and brasher than the rest of the world's cities put together and has more sights than a telescope factory, so don't expect to see much of your New York hotel room. Here the locals tell you what's what.

Our top tip - see New York's famous skyline from a top of the Rockefeller Plaza.

For more ideas on what to do on your New York trip, check out our
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New York

How do I get away from large tour groups wearing matching caps?

Ok, so you're in New York, which probably doesn't happen that often so you'd better do a King Kong and go up the Empire State Building, as well as visiting the other big sights such as a Broadway show. After that, lose the gorilla outfit and slip away from the tourist hordes on their New York holidays by heading to the East Village, or Alphabet City as it is also known, where the Big Apple's bohemian side comes out. Many of the art world's movers and shakers inhabit this borough to the east of Greenwich Village. It's a hotbed of up-and-coming culture with a rich history of 50s and 60s innovation and rebellion.

Where do the locals party?

The decadent Webster Hall hosts an array of nonchalantly hip entertainment from amateur burlesque nights to intimate concerts with bands somewhere between unknown and world-renowned looking for a cosy night in with their fans. The Hall contains two splendid Art Deco style ballrooms which form dramatic backdrops to inventive club nights. For a less rough-and-ready night out pull a stool up at Counter. There's a kitchen garden on the rooftop where its vegetarian menu is sourced, along with cocktail ingredients. The menu boasts 'The Dirtiest Martini' - it's infused with basil, not mud.

Restaurants without an 'all-you-can-eat tourist buffet'?

You'll only have to eat once a day with American portions, so choose your food wisely. The German restaurant Hallo Berlin on 10th Avenue serves up Sauerkraut, Schnitzel and Strudel alongside brilliant Bratwurst. A big selection of German beers can be downed in the garden. But if you just have to have burger and fries, saddle up at a Silver Spurs diner for a cute cowboy slang menu detailing hunks of meat with names like Hula Bula and Ranchero that should weigh you down for the rest of your New York break.

The locals' absolutely secret number one tip : The New York subway system is downright confusing, and if there are more than two of you, it's just as cheap and a whole lot easier to hail a taxi. The drivers will give you some hot tips on where to hang out too.

A quick guide to where the locals hang out

New York

The pick-me-up: Although California is the best for Tex-Mex, Harry's Burritos on the corner of 71st Street and Columbus Avenue will pick you up, whack you down with a torpedo weight burrito and then send you on your satisfied way.

The breakfast: At Prune in the East Village the breakfasts will clog you up nicely with a choice of sausages and oysters. Yes, together.

The middle-of-the-night snack: Sunny and Annie's Deli is open all night long serving an intimidating number of sandwiches with just-right-for-the-drunk names and ingredients - the Pho Real has roast beef, avocado and Hoisin sauce.

The flicks: The Sunshine Theatre is celebrated for its real tasting, if not actually real, butter-flavoured popcorn topping.

The shop : Gallagher's at 126 East 12th Street is a basement packed full of vintage magazines from Vogue to Playboy and every celebrity and teen rag in between. You can easily lose an entire afternoon just browsing. Chat to Mr Gallagher himself - the shop acts as a source to top designers and he's got some stories to tell.

The coffee: Don your geeky specs and head to Think Coffee in Bleecker Street, which hosts special Nerd Nights for intense board gaming.

The cocktail: Milk And Honey on Manhattan's Lower East Side has a range of 'restorative' cocktails for those wearying of New York travel.

The gallery: The New Museum is bang up to date with its exhibitions from international artists. The building itself is something to see and was voted an architectural wonder in 2008 by Condé Nast Traveller.

Can I drink the water?

The eight essential questions you'll need answering

Which local animal is likely to hospitalise me?

The New York Wall Street tiger striding besuited on the sidewalks will mow you down if necessary.

Which native liquor will make me think I am attractive?

New Yorkers are an attractive lot, so it's going to take a good few Jack Daniels to get you even close.

How can I avoid a beating by the local hard nuts?

New York's streets can change from pleasantly posh to empty and threatening within just a block. Don't load yourself down with touristy junk and grab a cab outta there if things get hairy.

Will I get lost?

The city's grid system means it's quite impossible to do so, but learning the lingo makes New York travel easier - pick ups and drop offs work on a corner of so-and-so and so-and-so basis.

Will I find myself?

You might find someone else, with New York's fast and furious dating game that has no time for niceties.

Should I take an umbrella?

If you want to dash undercover with a newspaper over your head and feel like you're in a Woody Allen movie, then no.

What should I order in a restaurant to impress the locals?

New Yorkers have seen and eaten everything, but an openly-chomped McDonald's might garner some stern looks nowadays.

Can I drink the water?

Yes, and out of the tap it tastes like diluted coke due to all the fortifying fluorides.

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