If you're looking for affordable, cool, and unique spots in New York to blend in with the locals, street markets are what you're looking for.
Ok, you’ve probably visited the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Central Park, Times Square, the MoMa, the Rockefeller Center, and all those highly touristic spots New York has to offer, but probably the most enriching part of a trip is actually living the place instead of visiting it. By that I mean how people live their everyday lives there, what the city offers them. Though it’s true that to really get to experience this style of traveling you’ll need more than a couple days or a weekend, there are ways you can actually get a very first-hand experience. In my humble opinion, you can get to really know a place (not only the great Big Apple) by visiting its local markets. So, put down that “I <3 NY” shirt and mingle with the locals at their coolest street markets.
Probably one of the most popular markets in the area is the Chelsea Market, to the point that it's even considered to be a bit “touristy.” Located on 75 9th Avenue, this market is open year-round, offering all sorts of supplies and goodies at its 35 vendor shops. From delicious food and cooking supplies, to really cool fashion and design shops, this is definitely a great place to find whatever you’re looking for and more.
If you’re looking for a place to get affordable food (not that easy in New York), find cool stuff, and enjoy a great view, then you should consider visiting the Smorgasburg street market on Williamsburg. This set of stalls with an amazing variety and diversity of goods (mainly international, but also some local flavors) is located right at East River State Park on Kent Ave, giving you an amazing view of the river and Manhattan. Smorgasburg is open every Saturday and Sunday, so it’s great for a weekend getaway.
Queens Night Market
Frank Sinatra was right when he said New York was the city that doesn’t sleep, so if you’re looking for cool plans to experience the nightlife of the city, you can start at the Queens Night Market. Not only is Queens one of the most diverse and multicultural neighborhoods in the US, but it’s also home to some of its coolest spots. This huge market doesn’t only offer great and unique food, it also has performers entertaining attendees each Saturday from 6 pm till midnight.
If you’re a lover of Middle Eastern and Indian flavors, Kalustyan is the place to go. Tucked away inside a two-story building, this Manhattan venue offers the biggest variety of products from these spots of the world. From special hot sauces and spices, to all sorts of traditional foods, this is a haven for those looking for these unique flavors. The best part is that it’s open year-round, so you can visit whenever you’re in town.
Located in the Upper West Side, this is one of the coolest markets in the city mainly because with your purchase you’re helping thousands of children attend school. This market was first organized by a group of parents who wanted to raise money for charity, and the idea made the market the amazing place it still is to this day. It’s easy to find it since it’s right behind the iconic American Museum of Natural History and pretty close to Central Park, so you can mix sightseeing and your desire to experience the city like the locals.
I must admit that some of these markets appeal to this modern kind of hipster vibe that’s so fashionable nowadays, so for the last suggestion of the list we’re going to one market that will give you that nostalgic feeling of the days of yore. The Gansevoort Market, which opened in the nineteenth century, is one of the oldest in the city. With a very unique industrial architecture and antique design, this is definitely a place you don’t want to miss.
New York has so many interesting and unique spots that it would take years to discover them all, but unfortunately, not even the locals get the time to explore it all. A great start, as we saw, is actually looking at those places where local business is made mainly because it’s in these places where the most interesting cultural and social exchanges are made. Besides that, these are some of the most accessible spots in all the city, so, for me, they're a must-see.
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