Olivia Mackinnon

New York is one of those incredible places that just has an exciting, unparalleled energy.

It’s one of my favourite places in the world – and up until a month ago, I’d only ever spent five days of my life there.

I just felt this sort of connection, it felt to me like it was on a spiritual level. New York just connected with me like someone who meets a person and just knows they’re going to spend the rest of their life with that person.

So, if you want to experience New York like a New Yorker, you need to channel a little of that passion and dig a little deeper.

It’s incredibly easy to just tick off the tourist hot spots and be done with it – but to experience the kind of New York that I’m talking about – you have to really want it.

Rule #1: Travel like a New Yorker

Forget Uber or cabs, the streets are far too busy for that. All you need to do is buy a Metro card from a ticket agent – or newsagent in Australian speak. The card is only $30 and will get you anywhere you want to go on the subway for an entire week. It’s unlimited – and your key to the city. The important thing to also consider is whether you’re going ‘uptown’ or ‘downtown’ – as most subway stations only go one way, but don’t fret, the alternate direction can most often be found just across the street.

Rule #2: Discover your own recommendations

When my partner and I visited New York recently, we were inundated with recommendations from friends and family who have visited ‘The Big Apple’ before. While some of the advice is well worth considering (hello, Jack’s Wife Freda in SOHO, with your amazing duck bacon!) it’s also great to explore and discover your own places that you can recommend to others. That’s exactly how we discovered the Immigrant, right next to our sweet, exposed brick studio apartment in the East Village. It was a wine bar that was lively every single time we walked by, so one night, we decided to pop in. We discovered the wine (and the baklava) were an incredible way to finish a perfect New York night.

Photo of a New York breakfast


We also discovered the Chobani Store in SOHO, for all the yoghurt lovers out there you are in for the best brekkie of your life. No lie.

Photo of Chobani 'Yoghurt' breakfast


One friend was incredibly insistent that we visit Katz Deli, what with all the history from When Harry Met Sally and everything. We gave it a go, but we didn’t like it. In fact, we sat down, tried to pick something we might like from the menu, realised that there were separate lines for drinks, fries, burgers and sandwiches, but couldn’t split up as we needed someone to mind the table from the bustling crowds so we left. It was a strange place, and just goes to show that just because someone else recommends something, doesn’t mean it’s going to be for you. Trust your gut.

Rule #3: Find an alternative to the traditional

One of the places absolutely everyone told us we had to check out, albeit only for the photos you can take with the view, was the ‘top of the Rock’ – also known as, the top of the Rockefeller Centre. It was amazing, the views were marvelous, but it cost us $30 each to get up there. I couldn’t help but feel as though I had to take 187 photos just to justify the cost – and it didn’t even include a professional photo – that cost extra. It wasn’t until I arrived home that I heard about the ‘Rainbow Room’, a lounge just a few floors down and it’s free to enter, with no painful security checks and lines. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be doing that next visit.

Photo of Olivia at Top of the Rock, New York


When it came to sport, we wanted to experience something we’d never see in our hometown of Sydney, so when we heard that there was an ice hockey game between the  New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden, we felt as though we were ticking off two absolute ‘must dos’ in one hit. The arena, which has been home to countless historic concerts and sporting events was kind of overwhelming but I’m happy to say the NHL (National Hockey League) have two brand new fans for life. Go Rangers!

Photo of a ice hockey game at Madison Square Garden


Rule #4: Follow the cops

New York cops, who dine together frequently because they’re on duty together, make it their business to know things like where to get the best slice of pizza. This was precious information we also wanted to be privy to, so when we spied New York police officers in East Village Slice, we scurried in and ordered up BIG. Needless to say, it was probably the best slice of pizza I’ve ever eaten.

Photo of New York pizza


Tips for experiencing New York like a New Yorker:

  • Do your research. There are a lot of famous spots from your favourite movies and TV shows, do your research before you leave.
  • If you want to get into a show like ‘The Book Of Mormon’ or the interactive experience ‘See No More’ book well in advance. If you leave it until you arrive you’ll be disappointed.
  • Grab yourself a metro card. It will get you anywhere and costs only $30 for unlimited rides the whole week.
  • Taxi/Uber drivers really are the best people to get recommendations from.

Olivia Mackinnon is Senior Digital Content Producer for Sydney’s KIIS 1065 Kyle & Jackie O Show, when she’s not travelling the world she’s busy finding the best new and fun places to eat, drink and play in Sydney.

Instagram: @oliviakmackinnon Twitter: @OliviaMackinnon

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.