So your friends are visiting again.

Curating the perfect New York experience for a friend visiting from out of town can be anxiety-inducing. Like planning a fun date, you want to make sure it’s a unique, hyper New York and memorable experience.

Before we dive into things, the first thing you should do is have them find 3 things they absolutely want to do before coming here. The full responsibility should not rely on you, and chances are, you’ve already done enough by letting them crash on your couch and gracing them with your friendship and presence. Plus, nothing is worse than someone saying, “I don’t know, you’re the one who lives here”.

In response, send them to scour Instagram and not some TripAdvisor Top 10 List that will literally suck the life out of you.

OK! Now that they’ve done the legwork, you can base the rest of your itinerary around those things. It’ll give you a jumping off point to start from, but definitely at least guarantee that they won’t have a shitty time even if they don’t love that favorite divey bar of yours.

Explore by Foot

We’re fans of picking a theme and exploring that option around the whole city. It gives you an excuse to pick the places together and since it’s trying out and ranking a few different things, there’s no pressure on whether it will be good or bad. Is your friend a huge movie fan? What about checking out all the movie locations in NYC? Foodie? How about a dumpling, fried chicken, banh mi, or pizza tour?

Not to mention, they’ll get to see the whole city on foot, and perhaps quite a few different neighborhoods.

Incorporate those Views, Yo.

The NYC skyline is gorgeous and you want to give them a type of experience they couldn’t have anywhere else. But that doesn’t mean you have to hop onboard the struggle bus to wait 2 hours for $18 cocktails at Le Bain. A few of our favorite views and options are:

Picnic in DUMBO to Watch the Sunset

This is a gorgeous view of the city. Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine and some snacks to catch the sunset. It’s serene, blissful and right on the water. You can people watch and see tons of people taking wedding portraits. The neighborhood itself is gorgeous as well, so you can end it by going to the ONE Hotel rooftop or by careening off into the sunset on the Ferry for $2.75.

Mini Golfing & Drinks on a Boat

Start the night by playing mini golf at Pier 25. It’s not often that you can be on an old boat in NYC enjoying some oysters and rose on a boat. Word of warning – the lines get crazy on a gorgeous day, so see if you can get there earlier for a seat.

Bike on the West Side Highway

Citibiking is one of the best ways to explore the city and on a gorgeous day, you can take them from one end of the city to the other. Plus, since you’ll be on the bike path you won’t have to worry about any angry cabbies cursing you out. Probably.

Kayak on the Hudson

A totally unique experience is FREE Kayaking in the Hudson. There are multiple locations across the city including LIC, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

Party like a local

Yes, you could go clubbing, but ugh. It’s so much work. Getting dressed up, lines and being pushed and shoved by bouncers and 22-year-olds in Forever 21 dresses. Save your money and instead, throw a makeshift theme party for your friend at your apartment or a local bar for Happy Hour. Get everyone to dress in a theme, like 90’s outfits, or matching outfits like a white t-shirt and denim… you’ll surely be making new friends and they’ll feel what the local vibe feels like in NYC.

Good Mood Food

Fine dining but instead of fancy schmancy, we suggest trying some of the various cultures they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Maybe Ethiopian, Korean BBQ, Chinese Hot Pot or Banquet style dinner, Indian Chinese or Pakistani, Greek Seafood or Italian family style. In fact, check out our guide to group birthday dinners that might be fun for this!

Memorable Random Experience

Alright – now that your friend has sufficiently been WOW-ed by your itinerary – we recommend throwing in a hyper random experience that you know they’ll love. We can’t tell you what that is since it’s your friend, but we can throw in a few suggestions like a show to Comedy Cellar or UCB Improv, a boat cruise around New York City or concert at Brooklyn Mirage, Tiki Disco or Webster Hall.

By the end of this weekend, your friend will adore you, and as long as you map out one of each of the above categories, you’ll be sure to design the most memorable and enjoyable experience for the both of you!

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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There’s something about the notion of being “alone in a crowd” that rings particularly true for many people who wind up in this writhing metropolis. If you were a lonely man in New York in the first half of the 20th century, you could combat this urban loneliness by going to one of a number of “taxi-dance ballrooms.”

These dance halls were designed for “Unattached men who yearn for the voice and smell of the female species”

Clustered in and around Times Square, these dance halls were designed specifically for “unattached men who yearn for the voice and smell of the female species,” offering dances with girls for hire. In December 1938, a reporter with the New Yorker visited several taxi-dance ballrooms (so-called because of the girls, like taxis, getting paid by the minute). He first visited Honeymoon Lane on the 2nd floor of 711 7th Ave. He received one free dance ticket from the sidewalk barker outside, then ascended the stairs and was cleared by the bouncer.

Inside, he found “eighteen or twenty girls in evening gowns, lined up behind a low rail opposite the entrance,” who quickly cried out to him in desperation to be his dance partner. He chose one for his first dance, a lithe girl named Jean who spent much of the time moaning and begging him to buy more dance tickets.

She told him she usually worked from 9PM until 4AM, at which point she’d go out for breakfast before going to bed. She took home half of whatever money she collected in ticket sales, collecting $40-70 per week on average. It wasn’t easy work.

That particular night, the reporter counted 27 girls and just 9 men in the room. Girls like Jean could easily go home empty-handed on a luckless night. Dance halls like Honeymoon Lane were regularly accused of engaging in prostitution, and were raided by the police over vice complaints. Taxi-dance halls, once a seedy bastion against loneliness in the big city, were gone from the streetscape by the 1960s.

Keith Taillon

Keith Taillon is a freelance writer and historian living in Hell's Kitchen, New York. He recently received his Master of Urban Planning degree from Hunter College and was a guest lecturer on archival research at Parsons School of Design. His Instagram @KeithYorkCity seeks to bring lesser-known city history to light.

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Let’s face it single people of NYC, a lot of you are bad with dating.

It’s not that you’re completely bad at dating, per se. Everyone is bad at making complete strangers fall in love with them within a three-hour window. It’s that everyone is bad at planning dates. The line is hella fine between “fun and adventurous” and “holy hell I’m trapped with this person for how many more hours”?

We’re here to tell you that “grabbing a drink” is lame and devoid of effort! How will you stand out against the dozens of others who have taken or are taking your potential mate out for “drinks”? Sure, you are different and once they meet you they’ll realize that, but in order to win the game, you’ve got to wow them before the date. Get creative! Dating should be FUN! Both for them AND you!

Ultimately, if you find that they’re not down for a fun date, then that might be a red flag that they’re not a fun time. And no one wants to date a wet blanket.

Here are a few ideas that are sure to be a great night (and not be too hard on your wallet). PS – Many of them involve drinking, but these are still fun without. Take care of your liver, yo.

                                              

DINNER, GAMES & LIVE JAZZ IN THE WEST VILLAGE

Photo by Uncle Chop Chop
Eat

Asian Bites at the Restaurant Named after Australia’s Most Notorious Murderer “Uncle Chop Chop”

Yo. Murder?! What? I know, but first off, some people are totally into murder docs so there’s that. But also, Uncle Chop Chop is a new restaurant run by two Aussie brothers who wanted to recreate their favorite Asian Fusion foods from back home. The restaurant is super cute, and hidden on Cornelia Street so it will definitely impress your date that you know of such a dope, hidden spot. With dishes like “Dumplings with Rick and Morty Szechuan Sauce” and “Balinese Shredded Roast Duck” this is going to be perfect for conversation starting!

Drink

Lowkey Games & Jazz at Fat Cat

Oh Fat Cat. It’s the most random collection of people and activities in NYC. After dinner, come here for a few fun games! The subterranean bar offers games like ping pong, pool, shuffleboard, and Chess BUT also, live music every night! Just know there’s a $3 cash entry.

Photo via Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Eat

Late Night Sweets at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

After a long night of eating, drinking and playing,  top it off with some sweets at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, and just walking distance from the West 4th train station.

EAST VILLAGE DINNER AND A SHOW


Photo via Timeout by Paul Wagtuoicz
Eat

Transport Yourselves to Thailand at SomTum Der

Start with dinner at Michelin rated & affordable Thai restaurant Som Tum Der that offers regional Siam food. It’s totally different than traditional Thai restaurants in the city, so you’ll be sure to impress a date with the variety of food.

See

Then, Catch an Improv comedy show at UCB Theatre!!!

The Amy Poehler founded Upright Citizen’s Brigade is NYC’s answer to affordable, improv comedy. We’ll be totally real with you – improv can be a hit or miss, but catch a great team here and you’ll be left wondering how the hell anyone can be so funny. With cheap tickets (generally, less than $20 bucks a show) and cheap beer, this is a fun one to try with a date.

Drink

Make out session at Lovers of Today

Lovers Of Today is a hidden little speakeasy that is prime for making out.  It’s intimate, dark with dope cocktails and recessed seating. It’s the perfect place to make your move.

SECRET GARDEN GETAWAY IN DUMBO, BROOKLYN

Eat

Backyard Retreat at Gran Electrica

Maybe it’s the jaded New Yorker within me, but there’s almost no better thrill in my life than walking by an obscenely long line and knowing that A. There’s no way in HELL that I am waiting and B. There’s always, always a place that is less popular within walking vicinity that is 10x better than the touristy BS.

That my friends, is Gran Electrica. This Mexican restaurant is directly around the corner from Grimaldis and is a total hidden gem. The tacos are fire and there’s a gorgeous, extremely romantic backyard with lights hidden from the rest of DUMBO that feels like a total escape.

See

Sunset Picnic at The Vale at Pier 1 / Brooklyn Bridge Park

TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT. Walk all the way to the left on Pier 1! Pass the tourists, down, down, down all the way to the left. There are chairs and benches but when you get to the middle of the pavilion, there is a little grass section where you can throw down a blanket, have some wine and cheese and break out the bottle of Rose to see the sunset.

See

NYC WATER TAXI

The East River Water Taxi is one of the best ways to get around the city in the summertime. Instead of taking the train back to the city from DUMBO, settle for a romantic boat ride (for $2.75, holla).

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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What’s the first word you think of when I say opera?

If it’s not OLD, it’s probably EXPENSIVE.

If you stumbled upon my Instagram profile, you might think I’m a trust fund baby. Most of my posts are of chandeliers, ticket stubs, and various Opera programs. If I’m not at a bar, I’m at the opera.

You don’t need a #thicc wallet to get into the grand tier, I promise. There are affordable ways to reach America’s largest opera house. With close to 30 different operas put on each season, there’s always a chance to see something for cheap!

The Options

Fridays under 40

Cost point: Starting from $60

If you’re under the age of 40, the Met welcomes you. Every Friday performance comes with a deep discount for youthful opera fans. For sixty bucks, you can grab seats in Orchestra or Grand Tier. You can purchase tickets up to three months in advance! Occasionally,  a Friday will come with a pre-performance party. Tickets for those start at $80 dollars BUT come with complimentary drinks, and access to cheese!

Student Tickets

Cost point: $37.50

If you’re blessed enough to be a full-time student, discounted tickets are available up to a month in advance. With this special deal, you can bring yourself and three of your friends. Do keep in mind, your student ID from 2011 won’t work, they validate transcripts each semester!

Family Circle

Cost point: Starting from $30

Located at the top of the house, some opera fans say that these seats have the best sound. Great sound, but a terrible view, so make sure to bring your opera glasses.  If you don’t own any, you can rent some from the house for a deposit of twenty bucks. While this isn’t my favorite seat in the house, you’ll never run shy of friendly opera geeks willing to chat during intermission.

Rush Tickets

Cost point: $25

Perfect for last-minute planners, the Met Opera releases rush tickets for both their evening and matinee performances. Tickets go on sale for performances Monday through Friday at noon, matinees four hours before curtain, and Saturday evenings at 2 pm. For as little as twenty bucks you can nab orchestra seats, sometimes as close as Row B. That’s close enough to see an occasional spray of spit.

Standing tickets

Cost point: Starting from $20

If you don’t mind working out your quads for 2- 3 hours, standing room is usually available for every performance at the Met. You can purchase tickets the same day starting at 10 AM for either Orchestra or Family Circle. While again, the sound is better in Family Circle– the view from Orchestra will be a lot better.

Score Desk

Cost point: Starting from $8

Located within Family Circle is a well-kept secret, Score desks. They’re the cheapest way to get yourself in house. Leave your opera glasses at home, because these seats offer either an extremely limited view of the stage or none at all.

I wouldn’t suggest these seats for the first time or even new opera-goers. Score Desk is perfect for operas you know by heart, an opera you’ve seen already, or a production you hate but has great singers. The seats come with a desk and reading light which can be used to follow the score along — or write a lengthy journal entry. Whichever you prefer.

The Young Associates Program

Cost point: Starting from $600

When you start balling, becoming a friend of the Met may interest you. Riddled with a bunch of free events throughout the year, $600 bucks buys you lectures, preview parties, and your weight in free Prosecco. Certainly not the cheapest option, but if you’ve caught the opera bug, complimentary tickets and backstage tours could be cool.

Tessie Viola

Tessie Viola is a native New Yorker from Queens. When she's not writing for ciaooo!, she can be caught eating dirty water dogs near Lincoln Center.

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Welcome to City of Swipes.

The anonymous dating diary of a twenty-something female meeting New York City’s most eligible bachelors. I go on a date every Thursday in an attempt to find the ONE…who will know to get me a gin and soda.

Along the way, I’ll be served many G&Ts, checking out what this whole casual sex thing is about, and hopefully picking up new friends.

All men will be kept anonymous until otherwise stated (I’m no monster). —

Rescheduling, Accents, and American pride.

I would love to read your sean spicer fanfic. I believe it’s just what the world has been waiting for.

His name is N, he’s 27. I know nothing about him but the opening line just tickles me pink.

Let’s grab drinks & brainstorm

After a quick swipe through his pictures he’s definitely not ugly, so I give him my number.

He doesn’t text me until a week later…at 7:30 am on a Monday….

Hey! sorry it took so long to text. I’ve been so busy. it’s N — from OKC.

I feel like this should be a red flag, but I kind of like how he still texted. Besides, I always busy af anyway.

We make plans for that Thursday.
He cancels. 

We make plans for the following Thursday.
I cancel.

We make plans for the next Tuesday.
No one cancels. It’s a date!

It’s surprising we kept in touch this long with just texting our schedules.

I choose Zinc Bar — my favorite jazz cocktail joint, but then we switch to| Off the Wagon when he openly admits he’s broke. I appreciate the honesty and remind myself to stop being a bougie-ass bitch.

There are only two stools left bar-side when I arrive. I secure them and kill time by updating my planner. The girl next to me is studying with a pint in her hand. I silently take note of the brilliant idea.

About 5 minutes later, my phone vibrates.

Hey, I’m here.

I turn and am faced with, I assume — my date. He looks vaguely familiar and appears to have the same text thread open. He looks up from his phone and we make eye contact.

He has brown hair that flows like anime girl, big glasses that mirror mine and a huge raincoat that seems to dwarf his small frame.

“Hi?” 

I’ve only seen his profile once. Twice max. I’ve only made one rule for this adventure: No looking at profiles directly before dates. An attempt to avoid the overly scrutinizing culture of online dating.

“Hiya! How’s it goin’ yeh?”

Hold on.

“Gosh. The weather’s a bit bonkers, innit?”

I’m doing everything I can to keep my mouth closed. Does this dude have a British accent???

He’s talking again but I’m so freaked out by his accent, my brain  has literally stalled. I assumed he was some random dude from Brooklyn, not a beans & toast motherfucker.

He finishes settling in and asks what I’m drinking. It’s a beer kind of day, and I tell him as much. He pulls out a fiver, and I wonder if he’s legit poor, & not “millennial poor.”

We start the date by discussing our days. His is “quite shit” due to the fact that his research paper got rejected. He works in political data research. It’s actually interesting, and I care enough to hear the intricate details, before we head into our second round. 

For that, I suggest splitting a pitcher. We get a Bronx pitcher. He’s thrilled about the selection. — “… genuinely believe that Bronx Brewery has the best lager in the world.”

When our first pitcher goes, I’m pleased when he insists he gets the next.

Somewhere along the line, we begin comparing the UK and NYC. I miss London. I miss my late night food runs at Tesco runs. The £3 meal deals a delicious sandwich, snack, and drink. I miss grabbing a gin and soda in a can from their version of a bodega!

He’s from Manchester. It takes everything I have to not bring up Karl Pilkington, one of my favorite comedians from Manchester.

We discover we’re both “Mitchell & Webb” fans and he goes ballistic as I continue to list out all my favorite shows. It’s my love of the panel show, “Would I Lie to You Anyway” that throws him over the edge, but I have to berate him for not being a fan of “Spaced”. (One of the best shows ever created.)

We switch to politics (Isn’t that one of the things you’re not supposed to discuss?) post-bathroom break, with a serious discussion about race in America. He goes on a four-minute tirade on why “All Lives Matter” is trite and I play Devil’s advocate until my body can’t take it.

He goes on about how much he loves America. It’s kind of endearing, but I only have city pride. 

To have a white young immigrant seriously discuss his love of America in 2018 is astounding.

I’m having a good time, it’s so low key, it feels like friends hanging out. It doesn’t help that I’m in a terrible outfit (I thought he was going to cancel!) and my acne is flaring up. 

I decide to roll with the flow. More friends are great.

By the fourth pitcher, we’re on a synchronized pee schedule and take turns saving each other’s seats.

We exchange music taste and he’s appalled I haven’t heard of “Run the Jewels” or given “Tyler, ‘A true genius!’, The Creator” a listen.

He takes my phone and saves the albums on Spotify.

He begins rolling a cigarette mid-conversation and excuses himself for a smoke.

I forgot people still smoke, but I’m low-key impressed by the setup.

When he comes back, I suggest finishing our drinks, grabbing a slice and heading out.

Till the bottom of the pitcher; we have an in-depth conversation about the differences in immigration, past and present. I feel myself begin to slur and hope I don’t appear a mess.

As we leave the bar, he heads towards Joe’s pizza. 

I intensely shame him. My favorite dollar-slice is up the block.

He’s in love with the slice, and desperately searches all his pockets for a second dollar.

I’m feeling smug. It’s the best slice in all of Manhattan, I’m sure of it. I was once a well-traveled brokeass kid.

When I begin to say goodbye he teases me for heading off to another bar on a Tuesday.  

My friends are waiting for me at our weekly Happy hour. (A boozy burden I must bear.) 

We exchange an awkward but friendly hug, and head our separate ways.

Four steps later— he texts,

Hey, i had a really great time and didn’t expect to.

I’m a bit put off and then realize I feel the same exact way. 

I watch the secondary typing bubble re-then-disappear.

My friends are waiting for me in our regular booth and as I slip in, I decide to keep my date a secret. 

A gin & soda is already waiting for me.

So– it makes sense when 4 hours later I stupidly text back,

Yeah. Same man. Let me know when you’re free for another hangout/Date 

It seemed like a good idea when was 10 drinks deep, but in the morning…. I’m horrified. I delete his thread and pretend the whole encounter never happened

Until that afternoon when he texts…

sure! next week? fit you in before I head to LA?

Encounter rating: 7/10
Lessons learned:

  • Ameriboos are real.
  • Smoking still turns me on. 
  • Nervousness is an emotion I can rope in and curb.

App: OKCupid

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