Even though these times may seem crazy and inhibiting, the average New Yorker has a plethora of entertaining options to choose from in this glorious city. From restaurants and photoshoots, to rooftops and hidden sightseeing locations, NYC is never boring; as long as you've completed your mandatory two weeks quarantine, staying safe and having fun in the best city in the world is right at your fingertips.
1. Actually quarantine
So NYC has a rule that you must quarantine for fourteen days, especially if you’re from a restricted area. Even if you’re not from one of these states/locations (which the curious traveler can research on the CDC website), we at The City Pulse highly encourage you to take a survey or better yet, get tested. If you happen to fall in one of these categories, New York City is the perfect place to do it.
Living with friends? Drink wine and watch Euphoria together until it makes you all sort of want to try Molly (but please don’t).
Sharing your space with a boo? Get contact-free delivery from Fresh Direct to your lobby for your delicious date-night dinner.
In a studio? People-watch from the fire escape on your six-floor walkup.
Grind for work - take a bubble bath, get a Disney+ account, play cards with your roommates; the options are endless.
Do it for your safety and that of others around you.
2. Outside restaurants
If you do choose to venture outside of your NYC abode, you’ll undoubtedly be greeted by the sight of dozens of tents protecting its customers enjoying their cacio e pepe or truffle mac and cheese below. As The City Pulse’s connoisseur of all things fun and delectable in New York City, claiming that I venture out to eat “a lot” would be an understatement. Some of my favorite picks for good eats during quarantine are Cacio e Vino (the pasta is authentic and the wine is to die for), DOMODOMO (duh), and The Time Out Market (it literally has three bars; what more can you ask for?). If you’re looking to regain some sense of normalcy and party hard with your ten closest friends, Cantina Rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen would be my selection; with its umbrella coated roof and “birthday special” - don’t ask - Cantina is the perfect place to get wasted and cringe at the framed picture the personal photographer attempts to sell you before you take the elevator back down to reality. Another insanely cool experience is renting your own lawn… you heard me - your own personal cabana-esque lawn at The Greens on top of Pier 17. You can watch movies on their humungous screen and order from a food and drink menu, all while gazing at the spectacle that is the Brooklyn Bridge. Although indoor dining is not yet available in the Big Apple, there are still a multitude of outdoor restaurant experiences in the city that both the seasoned New Yorker and the cautious traveler should surely take advantage of this summer. Here are some fun links for more:
3. Rooftop Bars
Now, let’s get to the fun stuff. Rooftop bars are the City’s love language; because who wants to be trapped on the ground in a heat vacuum made of tall buildings and too-close quarters in the middle of summer? Rooftop bars are where the air is fresh, the views are Oz-like, and the drinks never stop re-filling… and you also don’t have to feel guilty about drinking before five o’clock. If you live in the Flatiron District, 230 Fifth is the perfect option for a tropical feel and the best frozen margs in the area. The staff at Arlo Rooftop (A.R.T. SoHo) are just darling, with cocktails and a cozy atmosphere to boot. And for all our Brooklyn-dwelling readers, be sure to order the fresh cocktails and delectable lobster rolls at Williamsburg’s Summerly Rooftop. Each table is seated six feet apart, and it’s a perfect way to actually view the sunset without the obstructing skyscrapers. Those interested, beware; rooftop bars are popular attractions for the bored New Yorker, so a reservation is surely in order and even required at some locations.
4. SoHo Photoshoot
The girls and I recently embarked on a long stroll through the SoHo, the illustrious shopping capital of Manhattan. Complete with designer stores lined with white pillars and quaint, coffee shops tempting your wallet for $9 per small cappuccino, South of Houston is the perfect location for anyone looking to add a little flair to their social media. For the summer, I suggest either a pastel pantsuit or a flouncy sundress to match the buildings’ neutral aesthetic. NOMO SOHO’s patio is now open; this restaurant is a chandelier’s paradise on the inside and a fairy light oasis on the outside. Located on West Broadway, Ladurée is one of Blair Waldorf’s desired spots to grab a macaron, gossip with Serena, and of course, take some snapshots. Although the Museum of Ice Cream celebrated its opening pre-COVID, the all-pink front is the picture-perfect place to pose. And - what most first-timers don’t know - the area of Nolita is a lesser known, yet renowned Instagramable / Snapchat worthy location. Whether modeling by the human-sized mascaras in Glossier or styling in the all-pink Pietro Nolita, a photoshoot with your roommates or people your direct circle of friends (six feet apart, of course) is a seamless way to pass the time during a pandemic - and with luck, you may spot a celebrity behind their mask. I saw Hunter Schafer this weekend and might I just say... highlight of my life.
This one may sound boring, but guys. Take my advice, and frequent one of the Big Apple’s many parks for a glimpse of nature in a humming metropolis. Most parks in New York City are completely open and ready for walkers… or NYU students hustling to get to class after quarantining for two weeks in the residence halls. Washington Square Park - with its iconic arch and glorious fountain - is a fan favorite, filled with dog walkers, college attendees, and street performers / artists. Central Park is an obvious choice; have a picnic or visit the zoo with the kids in the summer, and in the winter, go skating in Bryant Park with your boo. If you feel so inclined to stay at the Gramercy Hotel or are a resident in the area, you may be eligible to receive the keys to the private (and rightly so) Gramercy Park. Its elegant benches themselves are enough reason to visit, but if you’re looking for some peace and quiet or even for the perfect spot to put a ring on your hunny, this oasis is the place to go. Lastly, completely hidden from the commonplace eye, Green Acre Park is a secret park on 51st St that boasts an adorable breakfast place and an array of cascading fountains. It may seem like there’s no serenity for nature lovers in New York City, but trust me. These are worth it.
6. Sunrise yoga
All the gyms are closed. It sucks. But if you’re an exercise junkie like I am, investing in some sunrise yoga (whether in-person or online) is SO worth it. Grab your mat, fill your bottled water, and sign up for some classes before they’re too crowded! Fit Tours are now open in Central Park for $39; because the price certainly makes this a once-in-a-blue-moon endeavor, I would suggest signing up for this special treat one time a month or less. When you want to treat your wallet, however, visit a park with a friend and engage that core with some Downward Dogs or Dhanurasanas. And of course, if you’re stuck at home, my personal favorite YouTubers are Adriene, Emkfit, MadFit, and SarahBeth. The recommended average amount of exercise per day is thirty minutes, so if you hate running or gyms (which I completely understand, honey), sunrise yoga is a fun and COVID-friendly alternative.
7. Buy cute masks
Even though this tip may seem trivial in comparison to the safety of the general public, staying safe is exactly what I’m encouraging you to do… but who says you can’t be safe in style? Here’s my step-by-step guide that will hopefully lead you to matching your necessary mask with your outfit:
1.) Are you leaving your apartment/townhouse at literally any point? If yes, proceed to next step.
2.) Have you researched why masks are effective in preventing coronavirus? If no, do it now - it’s always good to be informed. If you already have, proceed to next step.
3.) Have you ensured that your mask covers your face from the bridge of your nose to your chin? If yes, proceed to next step.
Now here’s the fun part. If you’re unable to unearth any fashion-worthy face coverings at your local drugstore (in other words, if the plain, black cloth or bright, blue surgical ones aren’t your style), there are a ton of online resources that can ensure you look fabulous and feel safe. Etsy, for example, has the most darling masks, whether you’re seeking neutrals or bright patterns. Amazon literally has almost 70,000 results for “cute masks,” and my personal favorite brands are Caraa, Rag & Bone, and Christopher Kane (the More Joy face mask is so charming). Although the purpose of your mask is not to be “fashionable,” we all could use a little elation in these trying times; treat yourself and go buy a cute face mask to strut around NYC with the utmost of style.
8. Get your nails done
If you’re anything like me, one of the hardest parts of staying at home during the early pandemic was the inability to get my nails done. I understand that that might make me sound shallow, but if you also had acrylics since you were literally in high school, believe me - living without them makes every day tasks ten times more difficult. Now that most nail salons in New York City are open, however, pampering your neglected nail beds is certainly called for. Looking to gain a Vogue-like luxury experience? Warren Tricomi Flatiron is your answer. Desiring insane patterns to impress your Instagram followers? Try out Tomoko Nail NYC. Want a student discount? Il Girasole Nail Spa in SoHo is waiting. All nail salons are required to have a barrier between technician and customer in place, and the wait is sure to be a little less longer due to New York City’s outflux of students and transplants in March. So, if you’re still here (like I am), take my advice and quarantine with a fresh set.
9. Start a podcast or TikTok
Stick with me here, millennials. A podcast and TikTok connoisseur myself (make sure to listen to Crying in Public on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and follow my TikTok @sarhodgson), I believe there is no better time than quarantine to start a new business venture. Podcasts are making an insane comeback, and every single person has something to say. Whether you dig sports, makeup, your school, the beach, musical theatre, or even New York City like the girls and I do in our podcast, all you have to do is sit in your living room and speak into a microphone (Yetis are definitely the best quality, in my opinion). And due to TikTok’s fame-friendly algorithm, no matter your follower amount or viewership stats, your one video is sure to reach at least a small pool of audience. And you can grow from there! I started the app with around only twenty followers just for one of my clips to blow up soon after, and now I reach millions of viewers. If you make genuinely good content, people are sure to see and love you. After all, what New Yorker doesn’t want to be just a little bit famous?
My only advice: Avoid. Being. Cliché. Why take an exhausting boat ride past the Statue of Liberty when you can easily spot it from the less crowded High Line in Chelsea for free? Skip Times Square, and venture around the much more interesting SoHo/Nolita. And if you want to go to the top of the Empire State Building once, be my guest; however, I think visiting a hidden speakeasy like the one in UES Ice Cream shop is much more interesting - or at least a better set-up for a great story. There are some popular attractions that I don’t think you should avoid, such as the roof of the Whitney, Hudson Yards / the Vessel, or walking the Brooklyn Bridge. But if you’re looking to gain the experience of a real New Yorker during COVID, I would suggest something more lowkey and just as (if not more) fabulous, such as watching the glorious colors from Sunset Park in Brooklyn, visiting the Rockefeller Gardens, licking your chops at the Museum of Ice Cream in SoHo, or grabbing drinks at any Standard Hotel location - trust me, they’re all marvelous. Just please, don’t go on a bus tour. I'm here to help you so you don't have to do that. Cheers!