Otaku NYC is mostly shops and restaurants that people visiting New York might want to check out. New York is just so big that it is easy to miss out on all the Otaku opportunities. As someone who has lived in the state of New York all my life it is easy to forget who overwhelming NYC can be. The purpose of this guide is to give people traveling to New York little tips that natives probably know but are less than common knowledge to people who don’t visit the city on a regular basis.
One of the most intimidating parts to roaming around Manhattan for the first time is the subway system. The maps can be quite mystifying and arcane for anyone who is not familiar with how to read them. Hopstop is a handy website that gives you the fastest route via public transportation in New York. It shows you which trains to take, all the stops in between, and updates to changes due to scheduled work and unexpected delays. It is an invaluable tool, that even someone like me who knows the subway system like the back of my hand, uses all the time. They also have apps for a wide variety of portable devices so you can find your way around the city no matter where you are.
Now that you have your Hopstop app ready to go you can check it out with a large hotspots with free WiFi in the city. Inside (or just outside for that matter) of an Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, Cosi Sandwich anywhere in the city you can get free WiFi. It is almost impossible to walk 5 blocks in any directions without walking near one of those chains and the McDonalds are almost always open 24-7. A more complete list is free of WiFi locations is here. I will warn you not to connect to anything that calls itself “Free Public WiFi”. It is a bizarre mostly harmless virus network that you should just avoid to be safe.
If you are looking for a WiFi hotspot another great location is public spaces and parks. Most parks and public spaces have free WiFi. Plus they are great places to meet or eat when the place you got a meal from is way too crowded to sit down. In the downtown area there are several public spots with WiFi and free seating as part of the Downtown Alliance (as opposed the Back-alley Alliance). There are also some great indoor public spaces at the Citigroup Center at Lexington and 53rd and at Bryant Park at 42nd and 6th Avenue. You can also peruse this list of public spaces in New York. If you want to relax outdoors you can visit any number of parks in Manhattan as well. There is Washington Square Park, the Hudson River Park, Central Park, Union Square, and High Line Park for starters. You can also find all the NYC parks with this handy little guide.
After a trip to the park you might want to participate in some rampant capitalist consumerism. There are a good deal of traditional comics stores that have anime, manga, Japanese toys, and even Gundam model kits along side American comics. Forbidden Planet by Union Square probably has the most diverse selection of Japanese merchandise in addition to manga and anime but Jim Hanley’s Universe, Manhattan Comics, and the three Midtown Comics stores have a good selection as well. Plus, you can catch up on some comics that are not manga at the same time.
This is hardly everything there is to know about NYC. If you are a veteran of the 5 boroughs or a traveler that still has some questions feel free to drop us a line as we could always add your suggestions to Otaku NYC: General Info Part 2.
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