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Lion Guides: Escaping Morningside Heights

Morningside Heights is pretty good for a college town, but the best part about our neighborhood is that there’s a conveniently-located subway leading to other vastly more interesting parts of New York.

In honor of our beloved 1 train, and in an effort to help new students get away from campus while they can, The Lion staff presents the best things to do in NYC that aren’t within five minutes of Carman.

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge

Take the subway out to Brooklyn at night and walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge, lights on and everything. Grab a slice at Grimaldi’s while you’re at it — it’s some of the best pizza in the city. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, grab a Citi Bike on either side of the bridge and do some late-night riding.

Take the Staten Island ferry WITHOUT a tour group

Oh my god do not go with a tour group. Don’t be those people. When you get there, don’t leave immediately—take the bus (Yes, there is public transport in SI) and try some of the excellent Italian food that is cheaper than what you’ll get in Manhattan or Brooklyn. And while it’s still warm outside, check out Ralph’s Italian Ices. Yes we know that there are multiple locations in the area, but this is the original one! And if you’re already having pizza nearby, well…

Best part? The ferry is free. No joke.

See a movie at the IFC

Preferably a midnight one or when there’s a guest speaker. Get one of the ridiculous food or drink items they sell (overpriced ice pops, coffee, apparently some of the highest-rated popcorn in New York, etc.), and/or get Artichoke pizza on MacDougal street. Grab some tickets here.

Get a piercing on St. Marks

Yelp it for ratings first. Seriously. Yelp it. Some of those places are scary. Apologies if you’re 17.

Go to Shake Shack

Yeah, it’s not just in New York anymore, but it started here and you owe it to yourself to grab a burger and milkshake at its original location in Madison Square Park. Be a pro and go for the Shack-cago Dog instead of a Shack burger. The Shack was originally a hot dog cart, after all. (But the shakes are definitely gold.)

Hit up Columbus Circle

Bring a camera out to Columbus Circle and wander the park. You’re sure to find unforgettable street performances just around the corner, and Bouchon Bakery has to-die-for macarons when you need a snack.

Go to museums

There are like a bazillion great museums in New York, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t visit at least one of them by the end of NSOP (plus they’re a great place to chill with your new pals). The Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe American Museum of Natural History, and MoMA are all “free” (suggested donations) for Columbia students, and other (slightly) less famous choices — like the Museum of the Moving Image and the Frick Collection — are cheap for those with a college ID.

Go to Smorgasburg

Every Saturday and Sunday through the last week of November, Smorgasburg offers New Yorkers a chance to try some of the coolest and strangest food ever conceived. How does a Ramen Burger sound? (Spoiler: it’s good). How about a tuna taco, or Filipino-style spring rolls? There’s also just normal good food available from small time vendors that you wouldn’t get to try anywhere else. For locations and times, check out the Smorgasburg website.

Visit the Reservoir after dark

Bring a friend and don’t go too late, we don’t want you getting mugged (although the park is actually extremely safe), but the nighttime view of the city from the Central Park Reservoir is amazing. Go to the 96th street entrance and walk straight until you’re on the running path. Get right up against the small fence that prevents you from falling in the water for the best vantage point.

Walk the High Line

The High Line is located on West 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues, and is one of the nicest public spaces in the entire city. Open daily from 7 am to 11 pm, the High Line is a one-mile elevated train track that has been converted into a beautiful park. There’s great (but expensive) coffee and bars located along the way, as well as Chelsea Market nearby, so feel free to just chill on the many benches and enjoy a view of the Hudson River.

The Greenway

If you like bike riding or long walks on the water, the Greenway is one of NYC’s most under-utilized attractions. The giant path is eventually meant to circumnavigate the fringes of the Island, but for now, start at 59th street, walk west until you hit the river, and then walk south. You’ll run across some of the best views in the city, Hudson River Park, and eventually the Freedom Tower if you keep on going. Almost the entire Greenway is next to the longest bike path in the city, so snag a Citi Bike and make a day of it. Speaking of which…

Go ride Citi Bikes all day

It’s still warm out, and a 24 hour Citi Bike pass is about ten bucks. Get your friends together, go to Columbus Circle, and rent some bikes. Then spend the whole day riding around downtown New York, stopping to explore cool shops and otherwise having a good time. Once it gets cold this gets roughly 1 billion percent less fun.

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