NYC Insider Guide About Me

NYC Insider Guide About Melissa 

Hi! I’m Melissa, a fourth generation New Yorker, who has been lucky enough to live in New York for over 30 years. I love just about everything in New York City, the very reason I started this web site, and I look forward to sharing it all with you.

I am privileged to experience slices of New York no tourist could see without some guidance. Some are not available to the public, or just won’t be during your visit, but many are, and are all over this site. When I travel, I’m often surprised at some people’s opinions of New York City. Dirty city, rude people? I just cannot figure out what city they were in – because it certainly wasn’t mine!

About NYC Insider Guide

About The NYC Insider Guide

NYC Skyline View with Water Taxi

The idea for the NYC Insider Guide came to me when I tried to help an international friend plan her New York City vacation. With all the online information about NYC, little of it was targeted to visitors wanting to live like a “real New Yorker,” a more sophisticated traveler or someone who had already been here and seen most of the typical tourist attractions.

While some New York City Tourism Guides had great reference material, none of them could address what’s going in New York City now, today, this minute!

My Family History

My Grandfather, Uncle and Father were all taxi drivers. Family folklore states my grandfather was the fourth licensed taxi driver in New York City, and bought his medallion for $5 in 1937 (today they sell for $600,000 and up). As a ‘cabbie’ for over 40 years, he put three daughters through college, and his driving stories are just incredible!

Here’s a photo of my Mom and cousin on my Uncle’s Checker Cab, circa 1950

NYC Checker Cab Circa 1950

My father is a passionate photographer and his NYC photos (and many others) are all over this site.

He is the crazy man on the side of the Queensborough Bridge, next to 75 mph traffic, with a tripod, waiting for just the right light to take a picture of our famous New York City Skyline.

Through family and friends, my life has been filled with stories of old NYC, “back in the day,” while experiencing modern New York City, which changes daily, but manages to retain so much of it’s historical culture and charm.

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About Me

Fortunately, I only have to head to my 20th floor roof deck to see amazing 360 degree views of Manhattan, including the Empire State, Chrysler, Met Life and Con Edison buildings and One World Trade Center. I go up every morning with my coffee, most evenings with a glass of wine, and on a nice day, you may actually catch me doing yoga on my roof – talk about a surreal experience. My roof deck is my own little slice of heaven in the heart of NYC.

New York City Sunset View from Roof Deck

What often happens is I live my life, and then it appears on TV or in the Movies.

My real life stories have been (unintentional) premises for Seinfeld, Friends, Sex and the City and so many more. The streets of our city are filmed every day – we serve Jury Duty at the Law & Order courthouse. 

I’ve had the privilege of attending several MLB World Series games, Tennis U.S. Opens, Golf U.S. Opens, Stanley Cup games and NBA Finals (SuperBowl is still on the list). Our venues host more than sports, as we also have countless concerts of the world’s greatest talents.

My high school was filled with some amazing people, many of whom have become Hollywood legends and Broadway Stars. Meeting famous actors, politicians and sports stars, or being invited to exclusive events and seeing history being made are wonderful.

But, it’s the “every day” happenings in NYC that are my favorites – and they are just like yours are at home, only our backdrop is different.

Please relax and enjoy the information on my site. I hope it helps you plan your New York City Vacation, so you not only go home as a NYC Insider, but plan to visit us again soon.

If you like this site, please feel free to check out some of my others: and

NYC Personal Stories and Favorite Memories

NYC Hidden Secrets are most often found when you least expect them. Some of my personal stories are now my favorite memories and they happened at the most simple and unexpected times and places.

So what does the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” have to do with my business job? Or how did I meet the cast of Friends during a long day of community service planting trees?

NYC Insider Tip – Check the Monthly Picks

See more NYC hidden secrets by month and plan for the time you are here. It’s not really that these things are hidden, as a matter of fact, they are all very public. They just are not in your tourist guides or in your hotel lobby. Plus, the selection is huge. Everyone has their favorite things to do, so if you’ve liked this site so far, then let me show you the top things to do every month.

I can’t tell you how many times I associate with things I see on television or in the movies, because I actually lived them.

As you read through my stories, realize I’m not telling them to brag or show off. My point is that so much of New York City is hidden – and that often the simple, lesser known places and people are the most interesting!


NYC Original Soup Man aka Seinfeld's 'Soup Nazi'
Original Soup Man

Early in my career, in 1994, I was an assistant at a large consulting firm. On my second day, my boss sat me down and told me I was about to go through the BIG test. Boy, was I nervous.

She handed me a list of soups and explained how I was going to the Soup Man. She handed me all kinds of small bills and change, told me to order the soups in the exact order of the list, hand the man the bills, request bread and fruit, and then immediately step to the left after I placed my order. “Do not ask for change and do not check the order, just say thank you and walk away. He may or may not give you the bread and fruit.”

This was my BIG test – ordering soup?

I’m happy to report I successfully ordered 7 soups, received change, got bread and fruit with every order – and even got a smile from the Soup Man! I had passed my test!

The following year, the Soup Man showed up on Seinfeld as “The Soup Nazi“…how’s that for reality TV?

Sex and the City

I don’t even know where to start with this one – this IS my life (for better or worse). The men, shoes, careers, dating games. Even the simple things, like when they are talking about guys while eating their Tasti-D-Lite. Carrie’s small apartment, the clubs and restaurants they frequent, the secret lists to get in, the Hamptons, dating “twentysomethings,” watching your friends turn into soccer moms, when the girls rent a car and no one knows how or wants to drive it, Samantha realizing she’s dating the same guy – again! Yeah, this one is just a little too close to home…


There was the time I ran into Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer twice in one day – once walking on the Upper West Side, covered in dirt after a community service project, and then, that night, in the middle of telling my friend that very story at a bar downtown, they walked right into the bar! I’ve done the Wedding Dress sale at Kleinfeld’s with my girlfriends. The outside of their apartment, on Grove and Bedford, was right across the street from a friend of mine (I used to joke he was “ugly, naked guy”). Friends was a great show no matter where you live, but there are certainly parts of it that make it more real to us New Yorkers.

Just Another Day at the Office

I worked in the Empire State Building, on the 71st floor, the last floor below the colored lights. I spent several July 4th holidays watching the fireworks over the East River sitting on a ledge, with my legs dangling out the window!

Talk about a breathtaking view! Working late into the night isn’t so bad when this is what’s outside your window…

Empire State Building Night View
Photo by H. C. Steensen – ESB East View

Blackout Wednesday/Thanksgiving Eve

In the mid-90s, I was at Bar Chichetti (now closed) with a girlfriend who was dating the manager. I was only there because I had to switch my flight that night – and I was really upset about it. The chef was a friend of Matt Dillion’s and so he and Cameron Diaz (his girlfriend at the time) were there, and then the band, REM, arrived. Well, the manager shut down the restaurant, REM jumped up on the tables and starting playing and Ms. Diaz poured the champagne all night. Talk about right place, right time!

High School Musicals

Rent on Broadway NYC

In 1994, I was invited to see two high school friends perform in the opening of an off-Broadway show at the New York Theatre Workshop. My friends and I didn’t have any expectations of the musical – we were really going to support our friends.

Turns out, the show was amazing and went on to become a huge, worldwide success. Maybe you’ve heard of it – the Pulitzer Prize and TONY award winning rock-opera RENT!

Hopefully these stories are able to convey that so much of New York City is magical and spontaneous. You just never know what can happen and when – and that often the simple, lesser known places and things are the most interesting!

NYC Insider Guide - The Basics

NYC Insider Guide Info

NYC Travel Vacation Advice

New York Travel Planning

Looking for personalized New York Travel Planning? Want a "Plan My Vacation for Me" Service? How about your own personal NYC Concierge, NYC Insider Guide, to help with exactly what you want to know? I can offer customized planning for the best events, show tickets, hotels, shopping, restaurants and more.

NYC Insider Guide Feedback

Please let me know what you think of the NYC Insider Guide. What else would like to see? What was favorite tip? How does it compare to other sites? I love any and all feedback, so thank you for taking the time in advance.

Sep 13, 2011 – fantastic way to prepare my next holidays
by: Carmen, Granada, Spain

Hi Melissa,first of all congratulations and thanks to give me a fantastic way to prepare my next holidays.I’m writing to you from a little village in Spain, I’ve just discovered your blog because I’ll be in New York in December to visit my son (he is doing his internship there). We’ve planned to rent an apartment in the East Village (Sanctuary Guests Suites). I hope I have chosen the right choice. Thanks again for being so generous to share all you know about New York City.

Sep 07, 2011 – superb site
by: Ellen Bradshaw, NYC

Wonderful informative fun site!

Covers so much of NYC, what a wonderful service for visitors and city-dwellers alike!!
Many many thanks!

Sep 02, 2011 – Superb
by: Maisy C.

What a fantastic website, really looking forward to my trip to NYC and this is a great place to find all the info I need. Great job! the only thing i can think of that would add to the site is a weather guide- thanks so much.

by: Anonymous

Free promotion for your event in the best city in the world, NEW YORK CITY; your event advertised too hundreds of thousands of people. Everybody loves the Big Apple and need a reliable source/guide for what’s happening and NYC Insider Guide is it.

– Silent Voices United, Inc.

Great Organization of NYC
by: Wellesley

I just love the way you organize the content!

Great information and great layout, luv it!

Keep up the great work, Melissa

Great Advice – Take Taxis and the Subway
by: Al, Upstate NY

I’m glad I found your website, I love it!! Your website by far is the best website I’ve come across for people living outside the city. You’re best advice to me was to take Taxi’s and Subways. I thought driving would be cheaper but I see your point. Thanks, Kind Regards, Al

Great for both visitors and lifelong New Yorkers!
by: Grace C.

I can understand a visiting tourist’s confusion when they enter this city. As a born-and-raised New Yorker, I can also understand how a lifelong resident can be swept away with all the hustle and bustle of city life. This city is alive and breathing, thus ever evolving.

Melissa has done a great job of putting everything together into one comprehensive site that addresses each facet of New York – so one can easily find what they are looking for. Kudos!

My Favorite!
by: Anonymous

NYC Insider Guide is a fabulous site – so much great information. I love the shopping and sample sale tips!

Wonderful personable site
by: Mary

I love that your site is written by you and not by a large company. I appreciate your insider tips and personal experiences in the city. It’s awesome how you love your town and share it with the rest of the world. Keep up the nice work.

Mary, Front Porch Ideas and More

The NYC Insider guide is awesome!
by: Dave

This is one of the most informative guides I have seen. It has everything you need and more. Keep up the great work.

Great Resource for Native NY-ers
by: Tanya

Your site is amazing and really comprehensive! A great resource both for native New Yorkers and visitors. Keep up the fantastic work! Tanya, NYC

one of the most comprehensive and informative tourism sites i have seen in a long time
by: joseph p.martino

the nyc insider guide is more comprehensive and informative than most country, state and provincial tourism/travel guides.

the content and graphics are spectacular.

much success,

joseph p.martino poet, writer, motivator. world traveler over 45 countries.

former resident of nyc of 70 years

Feb 16, 2011

We are impressed with the NYC Insider Guide
by: Lindsay

We’re impressed with the extensive and diverse site attractions NYC Insider Guide offers and covers. You have been so helpful and thrilled you enjoyed your time at the Merchant’s House Museum.

Lindsay, Merchant’s House Museum

Jan 25, 2011

love this guide!
by: Stephanie C

Fantastic resource. Great details!

Jan 18, 2011

What a great a resource!
by: Sandy

I am very excited about being introduced to this great guide! I live on Long Island and love going into Manhattan. I like knowing about the new places to go… I am just sorry I didn’t know about this sooner. I used to by Zagat guides each year but this is so much easier to use and it includes other venues…My hats off to Melissa on this innovative and useful tool!!

Jan 13, 2011

Love it!!
by: Jason M.

Wow, what a helpful site!

It is making our trip planning, hotel planning, discount ticket buying, etc a BREEZE!


Jan 11, 2011

love NYC InsiderGuide
by: beth

The Insider Guide was a great reference point when planning my trip to NYC. It is nice to read about places from a real person and not Fodor’s. While I didn’t take advantage of all of the opportunities that the site introduces to it’s readers, on my next trip, I will certainly look into the half price Broadway tickets and hotels from this site.

Nov 30, 2010

Great NYC Site to Commmunicate to Readers
by: Sena

Great site! Very informative about everything NYC! Love the option to submit our own articles and communicate with all NYC readers. The NYC Insider Guide team is very informative, speedy, and easy to work with!

Sep 17, 2010

I miss New York City already
by: Daniel, Australia

I recently visited NYC and have since returned to Australia. Your newsletter was a great way to get local and insider knowledge and helped a great deal in discovering the best places to see and things to do. I actually had to unsubscribe because seeing the newsletter reminded me how much I miss the place.

Sep 14, 2010

Congrats From an Old High School Friend…
by: Fran

Hey Missy: I was in O’Hare on a stopover today, and started conversion with a baby boomer couple from Winnipeg. They were traveling to NYC, and had a Google map printed out with handwritten references for events that they “got from this great website!”. You guessed it – from the NYC Insider Guide! Of course I told them I knew you and they thought that was pretty cool too…keep up the great work!

-Fran, Connecticut

Sep 14, 2010

NYC Insider Guide is now my Home Page!
by: Michelle

We are in Venice at the moment, because my husband is performing La Traviata at La Fenice Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera for 4 months this winter. We often have to move around Italy, Europe, Canada and USA for working and that’s why we are trying to learn NYC fast, so we can live there and enjoy it.

What do I think of Well, I’ve chosen it as my home page and you cannot even imagine how precious it is in order to help me in this wonderful jungle named NYC. I’m learning by heart your NYC MAP that I find simply fantastic because of its colors and the things you can learn by clicking the mouse on each neighborhood. So congratulations, we can feel the passion and the excitement behind your job…

-Michelle, Italy

Sep 14, 2010

Fantastic Guide
by: Peter

You know Melissa, I think your guide is really and truly fantastic!! I know anyone looking for information about New York would love your guide, I spent a lot of time on it myself and am quite amazed and wowed. It is clean, organized and so so easy to navigate…a job very well done!!

-Peter, Brockville, Ontario, CA

Sep 14, 2010

Glad I found the NYC Insider Guide.
by: Mandie

I think the NYC Insider Guide is a wonderful source of information. Are you the only person creating content for the site? I know that it’s hard work to maintain a personal blog, so I can only imagine that something like the NYC Insider Guide would take a lot of time and effort to keep up to date. I’m just very happy that I found it!

– Mandie

Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Aug 22, 2010

Love NY and your site!
by: Gale

I just wanted to let you know how much I love your site.

Unfortunately I only get to go to NY about once a year, but when I do, your site is invaluable. I used to have to go to several places to get all the info I needed but now I get it all from just your site. I’ve even got my friends and co-workers saying it’s their favorite NY web site.

We use the NYC Insider Guide any time we have to decide on where to eat, what’s the best time to visit a particular museum, what events are taking place while we’re there, and all the details you provide like cost, maps, and reviews.

I just got back from NY last week and I used your mini-guide. I just stuck in in my purse and had access to everything I needed. I especially loved the easy to follow maps and we used your restaurant by neighborhood section to help us find great meals.

I love that every time I come back to your site you’ve got fresh new information.


Aug 19, 2010

From Oregon to NYC – I Love Facebook’s Open Graph
by: Danika Dahl

I’m a huge fan of Facebook. I live it, I breathe it, I study it…for business.

When I saw a friend in Oregon made a post on his Facebook wall that he was headed to New York City, I knew I had to connect him to the NYC Insider Guide..

Even though he was a somewhat seasoned traveler in New York, I thought he might find all your well-organized and great information handy at some point in his trip.

What didn’t dawn on me at the time I was sharing your site, is that he would come back from his trip and provide an incredibly noteworthy content 2.0 page of the “Top 10 Things He Loves About New York City.

It was like a boomerang effect — in a good way! My only intent was to provide him with one of the best NYC sites, and in turn, he came back with one of the best “Top 10” lists I’ve ever read. Perhaps, it’s because his profession is a writer 😉


Aug 09, 2010

Great info on NYC – keeps us coming back!
by: Arlene

I think the NYC Insider Guide is awesome, great information given we used a lot of your suggestions on the past trip in April it was very helpful in getting us around and seeing and doing some of the things we never would’ve known to do not being from there. So any information for us tourists ~:) is great. I look forward to getting the new info each month, that way I can highlight the things that we should be seeing and doing when we come back to your great city.

-Arlene, CA

Aug 04, 2010

Great Compilation of all that is happening in the Big Apple!
by: Pat

I live on the West Coast and was visiting a niece and wanted to get some good inside info on fun things to do while I was in NYC. Your e-zine is a wonderful compilation of all that is happening in the Big Apple and was great in helping to plan my vacation.

Thank you for all the insightful info!! I think you are doing a great job!

Jun 29, 2010

Excited to find the NYC Insider Guide!
by: Miss Ella

I really enjoy the New York City Events section with the cool stuff that’s usually spread by word of mouth. It’s a great way to find out what the locals are doing for fun and makes for some great off-the-beaten-path entertainment adventures! Plus on the website, the photos are fun, and there’s a map to help get where you’re go’n explore’n!

The NYC Insider Guide is great.

Miss Ella, Producer, THE KONG SHOW: Comedy Variety Show

Jun 22, 2010

A genuine and insightful insider guide to NYC
by: Chris

The NYCInsiderGuide is a great site for those new to the city. I found the site when I arrived here from Sydney back in January and have been using it regularly ever since. It’s certainly a go-to website on a Friday when you’re checking out the cool things to do in Manhattan for the weekend. With guides, maps, accommodation etc – it really has everything you need in just one single place.

May 19, 2010

9 days in NYC was nowhere near enough
by: Kylie, Australia

I utilized your web site for my recent holiday to New York. It was wonderful, thank you! I’m desperate to get back to new York as 9 days was nowhere near enough. Thanks again!!!

May 10, 2010

Great! Get this Guide!
by: Jessica

My friend and I just got back from our first trip to NYC. Your guide was GREAT!! We used it everyday. I particularly loved how there were suggestions for each area/neighbrohood! That was very useful!

Mar 01, 2010

Great website,
by: Yioula from OZ

So much good information, you have been so very helpful! We are visiting your beautiful city for the first time and I try to get as much info as possible.


Oct 05, 2009

Very useful already
by: Antoinette from Netherlands

Very useful already and we’re not leaving until 11/29.

Thanks to the information on your site I’ve been able to buy tickets for A Steady Rain as a surprise for my husbands’ 50 anniversary !!

Will be checking NYC Insider Scoop very often in the next weeks 🙂 !

Oct 03, 2009

Amazing Site
by: Eline from Belgium

Searching the web for some help for our 3-day trip to New York I found your amazing site and got totally interested in it!!! What a great site with the most useful information I could find!!!

Oct 03, 2009

November Trip
by: Sakis from Greece

Thank you for all the incredible information you have gathered here. It looks like you have saved us hundreds of hours of researching and walking aimlessly 🙂 I hope one day you will come to Thessaloniki and we can reciprocate by taking you around our city.

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  1. Hands down…the most ridiculous “how I have used your website” ever!

    I don’t know who Melissa is…but I want to thank her and whomever else for the excellent way that your site is formatted and EASY to navigate.

    I probably shouldn’t say anything ’cause I know this’ll souond REALLY strange…what I’m about to write, and, besides–it’s not like you need yet ANOTHER PERSON telling you folx what an awesome job you folx do with this site–but here goes:

    I visited your site because (and you’re NOT going to believe this…) but because I just recently purchased the latest Spider-Man videogame and needed help NAVIGATING MANHATTAN ISLAND, since the entire game takes place there and is, I must say, replicated with an amazing likeness and fathfulness to, at least, all the major landmarks.

    I just thought you might like to here the SCOPE of people that you reach with your website. Weird, huh? I live in Hawaii and grew up in New Jersey; having fond memories of busing into NYC with my mother maybe a couple times a year growing up as a boy…so I miss the city (sometimes–after all, I live in PARADISE now), and so I purchased the videogame as a nostalgic trip for me to take–since I can’t afford an ACTUAL TRIP, Melissa.

    Thank you, guys…and Aloha to the Big Apple!

  2. Thanks for the info on fourth of July – Unfortunately the Dumont Hotel is no longer – it has been converted to condos – It was a top recommendation for hotels to view the fireworks.

  3. Used NYC Insider Guide for Myself and My Guests. Dear Melissa – I think your site is very awesome and helpful for tourists and newcomers. I gave this site to my friends from California last week.

    I found your site in google and it is an amazingly complete guide. Even though I live here, I did not have a chance to show my friends around, but fortunately, your site is very helpful for them. They even got a deal for Broadway show from your site, they said.
    In addition to that, I have been living in NYC for 6 years but from your site, i get more info where to go for Halloween. Thanks a lot and please keep up with your great works, so much helpful info that people get from your sites.

  4. Your Site is Amazing! Even as a native Manhattanite, it’s not always easy to find that “Special” thing to do on a particular day.  Whether it be a friend’s birthday or just a sunny day off- I am always seeking something a little different.  I keep a stack of clippings from NY Mag, but it always seems easier to go on NYC Insider’s Guide to locate that special little excursion for the day!  Great job!

  5. No Words to Describe the NYC Insider Guide! As regards to your guide … my very sincere opinion: there are not enough words to describe it.
    I’ve been surfing a lot in the web in preparation for this trip. Once in the NYC Insider Guide, I realized there was no need to visit any other site.  

    When reading every page, link, comment and any single corner of the site, I had the feeling that someone was reading my mind. Everything needed is there.
    My congratulations and thank you for sharing all this. The way the site was thought out let us have the ideal trip and save so much time.

  6. Thank You NYC Insider Guide!
    by: Trey

    Thank you very much Melissa! I was recently in NY, and planned my whole trip from your site. Great collection of information. Hard to find so much in one place. Plus, NYC Insider Guide is not biased, and so having all the available options in spot was great. Thanks!

  7. Thank You from Hungary! Love this site! We spent only 2 and half day in NYC but it was sooooooo good! And I found all the useful information here. So thanks! 🙂

  8. Helps Tourists and Locals Alike. I think the NYC Insider Guide is such a great platform to know cool and fun things that are happening in the city all while you save. I also think it helps tourists and locals alike to be in on great treats throughout the year. Thank you for taking time out to make the folks of NYC happy! You rock!

  9. Awesome Non Hyped Info About How to Enjoy NYC. I absolutely love your website because I’ve been to NYC before and know enough about it to recongnize a website which is giving non hyped information about how to enjoy it. So when our family starts thinking of going to NYC to visit, I check your website to find out what’s happening there. I think people are better off going to websites whose web master is passionate about their city, knows all the secrets about navigating the town and who scouts out the best deals. I can’t imagine going back to other sites. There are so many sites and they are all disjointed and take entirely too much time to put an itinerary together..

  10. Love Using Your Site When I Have Visitors in Town! I have always enjoyed using your site before I moved to New York and still love using it for when I have family and friends in town. Always a great help when in need of something exciting to do!

  11. So much great information. Thank You. I found everything I needed, from maps to itineraries, to information on sights and shops. A fantastic resource for visitors to NY – thank you!


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