Moving to a new city is tough. Moving to a new city with 8.4 million people, over 400 subway stations, and five distinct boroughs can be even tougher. If you are coming to New York City campus this fall, it can be hard to even know where to begin. Read on to impress your new friends with your savvy subway skills and best foodie recommendations. You’ll be calling yourself a New Yorker in no time.

Where to Shop Local & Independent

NYC is home to shops and goods that can’t be found nearly anywhere else. Supporting locally-owned businesses is the best way to keep our city vibrant and unique. Keep reading for tips on speciality shop recommendations!

Strand Bookstore

Arguably one of the most famous bookstores on the planet, The Strand Bookstore is a stone’s throw from the NYU’s Washington Square campus. The Strand is the perfect place to spend an hour or two between classes. It is locally-owned and always has (free!) events going on each night. 

If you are based in Tandon, check out Books Are Magic or Word for a similar experience in Brooklyn. They often have guest authors come and give small talks that are great ways to keep up with NYC literary circles.

Forbidden Planet post displaying new Baby Yoda merch

For your inner nerd, check out Forbidden Planet (right next door to the Strand). They have board games, DVD collections, figurines — you name it. They also stay up-to-date with Internet trends to fulfill all your Baby Yoda needs.


Rough Trade post

If you are looking to expand your vinyl collection, look no further than Rough Trade records in Brooklyn. Although Rough Trade is technically London-based, their largest store is in Williamsburg, adjacent to the East River. They have a vinyl collection for music purists, as well as books, CDs, and a coffeeshop inside. They also often host exclusive meet and greets with artists, so keep an eye out!

Best Coffee

It’s no secret that living in NYC will keep you busy. Sometimes, you might just need an extra boost — which is where these coffeeshops come in handy. 

Irving Coffee

For a variety of coffee and food options, check out Irving Farm Coffee, right south of Washington Square Park. It is also an ideal study space for group projects or to catch up with friends, with plenty of seating and light.

Madman Espresso

If you are looking for a quick espresso to-go, stop by Madman Espresso on University Place for a pick-me-up. And while you’re there, please, for your own sake, get a chocolate croissant. 

Urban Vintage

Brooklynites: be sure to visit Urban Vintage for a “boutique cafe experience.” Complete with food, jewelry, accessories, and home goods, this is the perfect spot to escape the hectic pace of the city. 

Free Things to Do

NYC has a reputation for being pricey (rightfully so). That being said, there are always free things to do if you know where to look!

Brooklyn Museum

During the first Saturday of every month, Brooklyn Museum hosts free programs and offers free admission to their exhibits. These programs can range from music, lectures, performances, a book club discussion and more. You never know what you’re going to get! 


Washington Mews

If you are interested in languages, your favorite events are just around the corner from our Washington Square campus. The row of houses right along Washington Square North is home to some of NYU’s International houses, lovingly referred to as the Washington Mews. These International Houses often have free lectures and events for you to practice your conversational skills, regardless if you major in the language or not. The street is also a perfect place for a photo op, but you can at least feel cultured before snapping your next Insta pic.

Shakespeare in the Park

One long standing NYC tradition are the Free Shakespeare in the Park shows in Central Park. While you have to make sure you get in line in time to secure the free tickets, the Public Theater puts on free shows throughout the summer. The shows are a perfect excuse to venture uptown to Central Park and explore before or after the show. 

How to Get Around

Last but not least, you’ll need navigation tips to really impress your new friends. While walking is the preferred method of getting around locally in NYC, there are many options for getting to your destination with ease.

If you are traveling local around either our Washington Square or Brooklyn campus, NYU has you covered. The free NYU shuttles have eight routes you can choose from to get you where you need to be. There is even a Safe Ride option, so NYU Public Safety has you covered no matter where you need to be. 

The subway is arguably the most efficient method of transportation in the city. It may be tempting to splurge immediately for that monthly unlimited pass, but be careful. If you know you will be using the subway more than 2-3 swipes per day, then it might be worth it. Otherwise, paying as you go is the most cost-efficient. And with the new OMNY program, it is easier than ever to just make fare payments as you ride.  You’re on your own for getting that corner seat, though.

David Querusio is an Assistant Director with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at NYU. He especially loves sharing stories of how NYU students think outside of the box to define their own academic paths. When he’s not on the road meeting with students or in grad class at NYU Steinhardt, he can be found searching the city for the best cup of coffee.