New York’s tattoo artists, like Matt Marcus of Three Kings and Carla of West 4, boast an impressive roster of clients and portfolios that have clients booking flights from around the world to get inked by some of the best. And whether you’re heading to New York for some fresh ink or if you already live there and are looking to mix up your routine, the City That Never Sleeps is also one in a constant state of evolution. Inspiring pieces of art can be found on every corner, in every plate of food and view from every rooftop. Come for the ink, or come for the art—whatever your reason, you’ll leave feeling fulfilled in every sense of the word. Here, the Inside Out guide to New York City.
Where to Get Tattooed in New York City
Nice Tattoo Parlor: This succulent-filled shop in Carroll Gardens is bright and airy, and their Instagram feed is always up-to-date with openings, flash sales, and new artists. Whether you’re looking for a bold piece, a single-needle design, or (yes) eyebrow
West 4 Tattoo: If you’re keyed into the celebrity tattoo scene, you already know about West 4. It’s where Justin Bieber got a teeny tattoo underneath his eye and Sofia Richie added her brother Miles’ initials inside her thumb. But don’t let their celebrity clientele intimidate you. The artists at West 4 are friendly, open to walk-ins, and can give you impromptu ink after dinner at the nearby Emily outpost. 163/184 West 4th Street, Manhattan
Three Kings: When you think of a tattoo shop, Three Kings is what comes to mind. There’s skulls and burly, bearded dudes, and a lengthy roster of artists. Originally, Three Kings was exclusive to North Brooklyn but they opened another location across the East River to serve clients on both islands. 181 Avenue B, Manhattan
Jing’s Tattoo Studio: Not far from your dumpling pitstop is Jing’s. Originally from China and after training for years in Korea, Jing opened in Queens, bringing her skills in fine-line and single-needle tattooing to a new country. While getting a walk-in appointment is unlikely—especially if you want to see Jing—it’s worth booking a trip around your appointment here if light and delicate tattoos are your end-game. 45-52 162nd Street, Queens
Where to Stay in New York City
The Marlton Hotel: One block from Washington Square Park, the Marlton Hotel has a classic New York vibe. The oak-paneled lobby of the pre-war building is outfitted with a coffee bar and leather armchairs, setting the perfect stage for people watching or getting lost in a book. The rooms are simply adorned, with white subway tiles in the refurbished bathrooms and crisp white paint covering the walls’ original molding. The hotel has its own acclaimed bar and restaurant but is located steps from our favorite food and tattoo shops in the city. 5 West 8th Street, Manhattan
The William Vale: For the perfect outer-borough experience, complete with views of Manhattan’s skyline, the William Vale is a diamond in what was once the rough of Brooklyn. The hotel’s bar and restaurant are directed by award-winning chef Andrew Carmelini and it’s rooftop pool is open to both guests and members looking to cool off from a day pounding concrete. 55 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn
Where to Get Inspired in New York City
Luhring Augustine Gallery: With outposts in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Luhring Augustine galleries offer a rotating selection of contemporary art without the steep entry free of the MOMA. Exhibitions run the gamut, displaying brightly colored pop art, black and white pencil drawings, and ink-blotted screen prints. Their exhibits are never boring or overdone. 531 West 24th Street, Manhattan; 25 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn
Bowery Mural Wall: On East Houston Street, near Bowery, Keith Haring painted his classic pop-art figures across nearly a block of wall that, over the next 25 years, became home to street artists who were commissioned to contribute to this rotating downtown mural. While Haring’s work was the most recognizable, other artists have been giving passersby plenty of reasons the pause on an otherwise chaotic block.
Things to Do in New York City
Bike along the Westside Highway: The best place to catch a sunset is the westside of lower Manhattan, where the bike paths widen and former piers are covered in grass and turf. In the warm weather, this is one of the most populated destinations in the city. But it’s also the perfect route for a beginner bike ride, where you can catch the last bit of sun hitting the skyscrapers that pepper the downtown sky. You can pick up a rental at any CitiBike kiosk or rent from Ride Brooklyn in Park Slope or Kickstand Bicycles in Midtown.
Check out live music in Red Hook: Once an area few others than dockworkers visited, Red Hook is now a week-long destination for ice cold, inexpensive drinks and some of the city’s best live music. The Jalopy Theater hosts Roots & Ruckus, a folksy open-mic night of sorts, among other live shows while, down the block, Sunny’s Bar has a bluegrass jam session on weekends. Bring an instrument and jump in on the tunes, or hum along from your seat. Jalopy Theater: 315 Columbia Street, Brooklyn; Sunny’s Bar: 253 Conover Street, Brooklyn
Where to Eat and Drink in New York City
Emily Pizza: What started as a small, Clinton Hill pizza shop soon became the (small) chain of Emily and Emmy-Squared. Their Neapolitan and square pizzas are topped with an array of fresh, interesting ingredients and will always please the crowd you bring. But their burger and the pretzel bun that hugs it are the real stand out. Make a reservation and wear forgiving pants. 35 Downing Street, West Village; 83 1st Avenue, East Village; 919 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill; 364 Grand Street; Williamsburg
Dumplings, everywhere: Whether you’re in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, these boroughs are home to their own, unique Chinatowns, each overflowing with excellent dumplings. In Manhattan, it’s the holes in the wall, like Super Taste, with limited seating and 10-for-$3 dumplings that serve up the best food. If you find yourself in Flushing, Queens, head to New World Mall’s food court—seriously. They have every kind of noodle and dumpling—authentic AF—and all conveniently located in the same place. Brooklyn’s Chinatown demands more planning and an early-to-mid morning tip to Pacificana, which is known for their seafood-stuffed-dumplings.
Related: More Inside Out City Guides