5 Non-Touristy Things To Do New York City, When You Want To Visit Like A Local

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What makes New York City so fascinating is that there's always something exciting to explore. To someone on the outside looking in, New York is often defined by a handful of notable landmarks. A true New Yorker knows that the city’s essence is also defined by the vibrant energy that rushes through its streets every single day. You may think the city's heart lies in Central Park or Times Square, but rather, it lives in the many layers of history and culture that make this city incredibly unique. Delving into just one of these layers can feel like an entire journey, prompting even the most seasoned of New Yorkers to feel like a tourist in their own city. This is why I've created a list of non-touristy things to do in New York City during your next visit.

As a frequent traveler, I’m constantly craving adventure, even when I’m off the road. Thankfully, being native to a city that’s filled with hundreds of hidden gems, I’m able to make any weekend at home an adventure within itself. My most recent of these adventures have included scoping out hidden bars, planning spa days, and going on picnics. Here are a few things to do in NYC if you want to explore like a local.

1Drink Where James Dean Once Lived

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New York City's Iroquois Hotel was once home to James Dean. You'll immediately fall in love once you step into the hotel’s Gatsby-esque lobby. Meshing together classic old-time luxury with contemporary style, the Iroquois caters to those looking to experience the extravagance of the 1920s while maintaining a modern Manhattan presence.

The Lantern’s Keep, the hotel’s prohibition era cocktail lounge, will bring your experience full-circle. This lounge radiates a sexy downtown aura right in the center of midtown, offering patrons the luxurious convenience of a downtown vibe without the hassle of making the trip.

2Have A Picture-Perfect Picnic In Central Park

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There are no words to describe how adorable it is to have a fabulous picnic prepared for you to enjoy in the iconic Central Park. This is by far one of my favorite experiences to date because the spread is so Insta-worthy, the setup's extremely comfortable, and you don't have to worry about packing and unpacking. Simply order your picnic via Perfect Picnic NYC, and lounge away like a total queen.

3See The City From A Different Perspective

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Sure, it's great to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to see the views of the skyline, but there are also other ways to experience one of the greatest cities in the world. Take a helicopter flight over the city for a truly mind-blowing and toe-tingling tour. You will see everything, from all of the bridges and the Statue of Liberty, to Central Park and One World Trade Center.

4Stroll Through The West Village

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It's safe to say I'm obsessed with the beauty and serenity found in the West Village. While the townhouses cost a pretty penny, they're so quaint and idyllic, so your stroll will make for an afternoon well-spent.

First, grab a coffee at Toby's Estate Coffee, then head over to Magnolia Bakery for its banana pudding and a box of cupcakes. (Be prepared for a line; it's unbelievably good.) Then, sip your drinks, take a bite, and pretend that you are only blocks away from your charming townhouse. I do it all the time, and trust me; it's fabulous.

5Have A Spa Day At SoJo Spa Club

Jordyn Kraemer/The Blonde Vagabond

One of the best-kept secrets right outside the city is the gigantic Korean spa called the SoJo Spa Club. It's filled with pools, rock and Himalayan salt saunas, a bath house, fitness center, and a cafe. It is the perfect place to unwind and recharge while taking in the stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. The spa is located in Edgewater, New Jersey, and has a complimentary shuttle from NYC that picks people up every other hour.