This post has been written by guest travel blogger, Isabel Clift for Hostel Bookers
See a new side to New York this summer – explore the boroughs outside Manhattan. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island have lots to offer, and those curious to get to know NYC away from the well-worn paths of Midtown will find much to enjoy.
It’s budget-friendly too, as prices are set for locals rather than hoiked up for tourists – book in to a cheap New York hotel and explore outside Manhattan and you’ve got some serious savings on your hands.
Brooklyn’s been gaining traction as a destination in its own right these days, having left its gritty roots and transformed into something of a hotbed for creative types. Choosing what to do can be the hard part here, from walks in Prospect Park to DUMBO art exhibitions. The Brooklyn Museum downtown is a good starting point: it’s the second-largest art museum in New York, and includes an extensive collection of Egyptian artefacts. For bawdier thrills, head to Coney Island to ride rickety ‘20s roller-coaters, eat hotdogs from legendary stall Nathan’s or take part in the annual Mermaid Parade (in late June).
Most NY visitors will enter the city through one of the two major airports in Queens (La Guardia and JFK), but this doesn’t have to be your only encounter with the borough. Astoria Park’s 330ft outdoor pool is free to swim in throughout summer, offering a space the size of two football pitches to get splashy in. Flushing Meadows, the city’s second-largest green space, was created as the site of New York’s two world fairs (in 1939/40 and again in 1964/65) and is also worth a stroll on a sunny day. It holds the Unisphere, a giant steel sculpture of the globe made for the second World Fair, which has featured in films Men in Black and Iron Man 2.
Sitting north of Manhattan, the Bronx has the most parkland in New York. A lovely example of this is Wave Hill, a grand estate now open to the public that has hosted many an illustrious figure, from Mark Twain to Theodore Roosevelt’s family. During the summer, enjoy art exhibitions indoors and its brace of beautiful gardens outside – pick your way through herb, alpine and flower gardens, wander through woodland or check out stunning views of Hudson River through the pergola on the main lawn. Want to up the tempo a bit? The Bronx is also the home of baseball team the New York Yankees’ Yankee Stadium, so score some tickets and spend a day enjoying hotdogs, beer and fast balls, courtside.
Sometimes called “the forgotten borough”, Staten Island doesn’t register very high on most NYC travellers’ radar. The most interaction visitors have with the island is through the hugely popular free Staten Island ferry, which gives great views of the lower Manhattan skyline, as well as of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as it trundles across New York Bay. Once you dock, don’t just hop on the next home, though – take time to explore. The small-but-lovely Staten Island Zoo is fantastic for families, and is home to Staten Island Chuck, who forecasts Groundhog Day for New Yorkers. For a historical fix, there’s also Historic Richmond Town, a museum complex and living period village with preserved buildings from the 17th to the early 20th century.