According to Timehop, one year ago I was preparing to move to New York to start yet another round of internships. At the time I was excited, but pretty apprehensive. Everything seemed so temporary: I was living in a privately-owned dorm with mostly college kids, my internships ended in December, and I had four months to find a “real job” or move back home. In hindsight, I was putting way too much pressure on myself (as I am wont to do).
I guess it worked out, though. Here I am, a year later with a full-time job in the entertainment industry, a big-girl apartment, and some semblance of a life and routine.
Now that I’m not constantly freaking out about my future (the operative word here being “constantly”), I’ve had some more time to explore the city. Here are five of the best spots I’ve found over the past year.
1. Perk Kafe
There are tons of cute, bespoke coffee joints in New York, but most of them aren’t in Midtown. Luckily, Perk Kafe fills that void in Murray Hill in a decidedly unpretentious way. They offer awesome coffee in a very aesthetically-pleasing (albeit small) environment. And they don’t balk when I order decaf! It’s a nice alternative to grabbing Starbucks for the 10th time in one week.
2. The Bell House
Confession: I don’t love going to Brooklyn. It’s a long train ride, I don’t know the neighborhood that well, and I never feel cool enough to be there. However, I will gladly endure the G train for a show at The Bell House in Gowanus. Their calendar is filled to the brim with comedy shows, live podcasts, concerts, dance parties, and more. Once a warehouse, the space has an old-timey feel to it, and almost reminds me of the rec hall at my summer camp (in the best possible way). A few months ago, my friends and I attended Shipwreck, a night of erotic fan fiction from some of today’s best writers. That night’s theme was Moby Dick, and featured Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Nightvale as the designated reader. Although I’m not super-familiar with the book, I still laughed my ass off.
3. Strand Bookstore
Yeah, yeah, everyone loves the Strand Bookstore, with its miles of books and fun tote bags. There’s lots of hype around this Union Square institution, but for good reason. If you have a favorite literary niche, they have the books you want to read. I usually find myself in their (extensive) drama section, checking out new plays and the classics I haven’t gotten around to reading quite yet. You can also trade in your books, CDs, and DVDs for cash or store credit. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.
4. Sheep Meadow, Central Park
If the last place on my list didn’t make me sound basic, this one totally will. The Sheep Meadow may be one of the most visited spots in Central Park, but it’s so vast that I’ve never had trouble finding a spot in which to read and soak up some Vitamin D. The open space also allows you to see how nature meets metropolis as the trees give way to fancy apartment buildings for gazillionaires. It’s a great spot to vedge out on a Sunday. Just remember to bring your own water.
5. Fat Cat
I fell in love with Fat Cat after stopping by for a round of pool on my friend’s birthday. Located in the heart of the West Village, Fat Cat is a jazz bar/gaming center with a little something for everyone. Grab a soju cocktail, listen to some great tunes, and challenge your friends to a game of pool, ping pong, or even checkers. That night I remembered that I’m pretty terrible at pool, so next time I think I’ll opt for Scrabble. The prices are reasonable and the vibe is awesome, so I’ll definitely be back.
Fellow New Yorkers, tell me some of the best spots you’ve found in your adventures around town. My goal for year 2 is to explore as much as possible, and I’m always looking for new recommendations. Cheers to another year of fun!