With multiple flights to New York every day and many airlines covering the destination you can get some great deals on travel there this summer and, as destinations go, it has something for just about everyone. Serious sightseeing, musical theatre, shopping, sports games, nightlife, great food and nice people. But New York also has a less touristy and far more interesting side to it as well. I have been lucky enough to travel to New York City on numerous occasions for both work and play, staying in a variety of places, from friends’ sofas on Long Island to five-star hotels overlooking Central Park, boutique hotels in Manhattan to room rentals in Harlem. During this time I have spent some time doing the tourist trail, seeing the sights, shopping on Fifth Avenue, watching shows on Broadway, doing laps of Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage and generally getting my fill of the Midtown Manhattan ‘must sees’ and ‘do’s’. I am definitely not knocking it and strongly recommend that you take in all that Midtown Manhattan has to offer, but when it comes to the Big Apple this highly touristy section of town only tells a tiny chapter in the book and wonderfully, Manhattan is small and laid out on an easily navigated grid system that was developed in 1811. So ditch the army of yellow cabs that prowl the streets and walk from uptown to downtown and from the Hudson River to the East River, walk slowly, look up and take note of where the locals are eating and drinking. Join in, New Yorkers have been stigmatised as being rude and unhelpful, this could not be further from the truth, sit up at a bar in the Lower East Side and strike up a conversation with your neighbour and the chances are you will have an entertaining and varied discussion, go to one of the many restaurants with bars that overlook working kitchens and no doubt the person on the bar stool next to you will comment on how the pasta is being prepared. Walk from block to block and be greeted by glimpses and views of famous monuments that are not in the guide books, or ride an elevator up to a rooftop bar for a cocktail and a view of the Empire State Building. Stumble upon one New York’s myriad of small and beautiful parks that appear between blocks like moss between paving stones, or a set of steps leading up to The High Line, New York’s coolest elevated park built in the tracks of an old high line railway. And if leaving it to chance seems too haphazard check out the following places for great eats and drinks, or for wonderful walks: Eats:The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English – buried in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, do not be put off by the soullessness and the starched white table clothes of upstairs, the basement food hall is perfect for groups and singles alike, great food, superb services and not too pricey. Eataly – another open-market type affair where you can do your grocery shopping as well as have lunch or dinner, the Italian food is superb and watching the chefs cook in front of you is like watching a well-oiled machine. Drinks:LoLita – this is a very cool venue in the Lower East Side, a district of Manhattan populated by the young and cool of the city, not dissimilar in some ways to Clapham or Wimbledon. The bar has a daily happy hour from 5pm to 8pm with $3 draught beer and $5 Margaritas. Lillie’s Victorian Establishment – uber-cool joint on 17th Street, high-ceilinged Victorian architecture, great music, incredibly helpful staff and very good selection of mixers including a broad sweep of Scottish Malts. Sights:The High Line – not new, but if you have been before go again as they are constantly opening up new sections; it is now possible to walk from 13th Street up to 30th and the next phase up to 34th Street is being planned. The Berlin Wall – several sections of the wall are in New York, but the one most easily seen is on 53rd Street and Madison Avenue. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a stark reminder of the past and the art work adorning it is quite evocative.