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New York City Guide

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Check out our suggestions for the East Coast's hippest city and send us your own suggestions and comments below.

SEE: As a visitor, you could be forgiven for thinking that New York started at Battery Park and ended at 96th Street. But to get under the skin of the Big Apple, hit the subway and head for one of its less tourist-orientated neighborhoods. Across 110th Street, Harlem isn't nearly as dangerous as its reputation would have it. Visit the retro-cool Lenox Lounge -- an Art Deco bar and jazz venue that oozes black American history. Malcolm X, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis are among those who've trod the boards. Across the East River in Brooklyn, Williamsburg has become one of New York's most distinctive areas, with bohemian cafes, eclectic shopping and a vibrant band scene. Over in Queens, the district of Flushing is about as diverse as New York gets, with Korean, Greek, Irish, Brazilian, Chinese and Tamils among dozens of communities rubbing shoulders. Jazz aficionados should also pay a pilgrimage to Flushing Cemetery -- the final resting place of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. One of the oddest districts and most distant outposts of the city is Brighton Beach -- a post-Soviet enclave of Russian emigres where the vodka flows as if the USSR had won the Cold War.

BE SEEN: Keeping track of New York's every-changing social scene would keep a small army of trendspotters in fulltime employment. Between them, Time Out and the Village Voice just about manage it. Clubbers should also pick up the monthly freebie Flyer and Paper magazine for a list of all the latest nights, while gig-goers should check out ohmyrockness.comexternal link. Head to the East Village for scuzzy punk bars like the Holiday Cocktail Lounge -- once frequented by the Ramones and the Velvet Underground. For tomorrow's stars, try Arlene's Grocery which showcases a handful of new bands every night, with alumni including indie darlings The Strokes and The Bravery. The KGB Bar -- formerly the New York headquarters of the Communist Party USA and now decorated in Soviet kitsch -- does regular literary readings. The B Bar and Grill is where the beautiful people from the film and fashion worlds come to party. For celebrity-spotting, blag your way into Suede in Chelsea. It's co-owned by Timbaland -- Missy Elliot's favorite producer -- and Justin Timberlake, Leonardo di Caprio and Nelly are regulars. Disco divas shouldn't miss Deep on W 22nd Street for one of New York's best sound systems and superstar DJs to match. If the cocktail set is more your style, then dress the part and head for Bar 89 on Mercer Street -- the current flavor of the month. Otherwise New York's hotels employ some of the best mixologists in town. Try the Monkey Bar at the Hotel Elysee at E 54th Street, or leave the tourist hordes at ground level and head for the The View -- a spectacular revolving lounge at the top of the Marriott Marquis Hotel at Times Square.

SHOP: For cutting-edge fashion, the district known as NoLita (North of Little Italy) is currently one of the coolest areas of Manhattan. Also worth a look is the East Side area known as Alphabet City, especially the funky boutiques and jewellers along Avenue A. At the weekend the Chelsea flea market is renowned across the city for selling everything from the classy to the uber-kitsch. Most people visiting New York these days seem to be there to pick up an iPod, so you might as well get it straight from source at the minimalist Apple Store in SoHo. For something to put on it, Other Music on E 4th Street is a great place to hear the latest releases by New York bands, or to browse through an eclectic back catalogue of lounge, psychedelia and electronica. Book lovers could get lost for days in Strand Books on Broadway at 12th Street. With more than 18 miles of shelf space it's the biggest used bookstore in the world.

EAT: It is said you could eat at a different restaurant in New York every night for 50 years and never go hungry. To sample the city at its most varied, head for Ninth Avenue from W 38th to 40th streets, where you'll have at least 12 national cuisines to choose from within three blocks. For the traditional deli experience, the 2nd Avenue Deli is consistently rated as one of the best in town. For a neon-lit, Bladerunner-style version of the Orient, head to the always crowded streets of Chinatown where Hee Win Lai is cheap and tasty, packing in locals and tourists around communal tables. Further north in Little Italy, Lombardi's is the oldest pizzeria in town, although these days Una Pizza Napoletana is probably better. For the Sunday brunch experience, SoHo is hard to beat, in particular the old-established restaurants and bakeries around Sullivan Street. Seafood lovers should pay a visit to the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. Veselka is a great late night hangout in the East Village specializing in Ukrainian fare such as blintzes and pirogis. These days, Brooklyn rivals Manhattan for dining options. 360 on Van Brunt Street does great French home cooking, while Locanda on Gates Avenue does some of the best Italian food outside of Tuscany.

RELAX: Despite its self-styled reputation as the "city that never sleeps" New York has plenty of places to unwind when it all just gets too much. For sculpted tranquillity without the Manhattan crowds, head for Prospect Park -- Brooklyn's superior and less crowded version of Central Park. Washington Square Park is a great place to people watch -- it's one of New York's more egalitarian public spaces, with chess players, street performers and various dropouts and crazies all vying for attention. There are plenty of contenders for the best view of New York, but two worth checking out are from the Brooklyn Promenade at night and from the roof terrace of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's easy to forget New York is basically a collection of islands -- the Bronx is the only part of the city that is geographically connected to the U.S. mainland -- so take a boat trip around Manhattan from Pier 83. Finally, no trip to New York would be complete without a trip to see the New York Yankees -- the world's most famous baseball team. Yankee Stadium in the Bronx has been the team's home since 1923 -- the year the legendary Babe Ruth led the Yankees to the first of their 26 world championships. The Yankees are finally due to move into a new stadium in 2009, so catch a game from the bleachers while you still can. Otherwise take a stadium tour to learn more about a piece of American history.



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