For the vast majority of the year, New Yorkers have a clear stance on alcohol.

We live decadent, functionally alcoholic lives in which Thursday is considered the weekend and we refuse to make apologies for our hedonistic ways.

But even we, after a long-enough bender, find ourselves thinking that yoga and a juice cleanse might secretly be preferable to this raging hangover.

Whether you’re teetotal all the time or just experimenting with a booze fast, you don’t have to be a hermit just because you’ve laid off the liquor. In fact, there are all kinds of awesome things to do in New York City that don’t involve waking up on the floor of an unidentifiable warehouse in Bushwick.

We’ve named a few of ours below, and we’d love to hear yours in the comments.

1. Walk The Brooklyn Bridge

14666341516_2ffa420971_zFlickr / Henning Grap
You keep telling friends how much you want to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, but have you ever actually done it? In either direction, the stroll is scenic and surprisingly calm (thanks to a dedicated pedestrian walkway above the roaring car traffic). You’re bound to run into plenty of tourists taking selfies, but resist the urge for sass and snark – once you see how gorgeous the view is, you’ll be tempted to sneak in a selfie or two of your own. Don’t forget to stop by the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Grimaldi’s.

Fun Fact: There’s a Cold War bomb shelter hidden in the Brooklyn Bridge.

2. Get A Sugar High At Dylan’s Candy Bar

6125495469_8787b6ed2d_zFlickr / Steven Depolo
You’ll be sober, but you won’t feel like you are. Step into Dylan’s Candy Bar and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a magical childhood wonderland filled with more sweets than your adult body could possibly handle. Dylan Lauren (daughter of Ralph) was inspired by Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory to create a store that merges fashion, art and pop candy culture. It stocks 7,000 candies from around the world, plus plenty of celebrity visitors, and zero creepy singing orange people.

3. Go On A Pizza Crawl

3848174825_20328e942b_zFlickr / Jason Eppink
New York City, without a doubt, serves up the greatest pizza in America (Chicago, who?). So why not celebrate your city’s illustrious culinary history with a pizza crawl? The list of possible stops goes on and on, meaning you’re limited only by your stomach’s capacity for storing carbs and melted cheese. In addition to Grimaldi’s, which you’ll be visiting when you walk the BK Bridge, consider dropping in on John’s, Roberta’s, Di Fara, Paulie Gee’s, Artichoke, and Motorino.

Note: Other classic NYC foods make equally good culinary crawls, but beware of sampling too many donuts in one morning.

4. See A Show

7645865996_f7e6d1d733_zFlickr / Broadway Tour
Bet you don’t do this one either, do you? Here you are, living in one of the greatest performance cities in the world, and you’ve convinced yourself you’d rather watch Friends on Netflix while eating yogurt raisins from the bodega next door. Yawn. Whatever kind of show you’re into, it’s guaranteed to be out there somewhere. Broadway, burlesque, bands, weird combinations of all three…we’ve got everything. And if you’re worried about the cost being prohibitively expensive, there’s often a way to score tix for cheap.

5. Check Out The Tourist Attractions You’ve Been Avoiding

8805313856_fdd8d45cb3_zFlickr / Claudia Dal Ceredo
Yeah, we know the crowds suck, but just think of how many people around the world dream of getting to see something you’re too lazy to visit in your own backyard. Kinda ridiculous when you look at it that way, isn’t it? At least once, pay your respects at the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Staten Island Ferry, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Grand Central, and all the other places usually avoided like the plague. If nothing else, you’ll get a good Facebook cover photo out of it and your out-of-town friends will be jealous.

Fun Fact: The top of the Empire State Building was originally meant to be a mooring station for airships.

6. Ice Skate

5204243256_7202255673_zFlickr / ramblingtraveler
Not only is ice skating a fun thing to do while sober, it’s a thing you only want to do while sober. Unless your idea of a good time involves a brutally bruised butt and the possible loss of fingers from errant blades, it’s best to skip the booze and remain upright on the ice. Bryant Park, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center have the classic rinks, but there are plenty of opportunities to practice your triple salchow outside of Manhattan’s hotspots.

Note: Enjoy the ice while it lasts, because before long it’ll be summer and you’ll be miserable in a thousand new ways.

7. Play The Giant Keyboard At FAO Schwarz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-JZ0wGEQfg

Anyone who’s seen Big knows this is a seminal New York City experience. Except all Tom Hanks could do was play ‘Chopsticks’ and ‘Heart And Soul,’ and what the freakishly talented employees at FAO Schwarz can do is straight up insane (although they occasionally venture into Super Mario theme song territory, which is also charming). You may not be able to pull off something as impressive as Bach, but at least you’re probably better than the 4-yr-olds tripping their way across the keys. Probably.

8. Visit A Museum

6345294859_20e7725ca6_zFlickr / Davide Costanzo
There are, like, tons of them here. Normally the only time you’ll even consider setting foot in one of NYC’s vaunted cultural institutions is when you’re hosting someone from out of town, and want to sound just the right amount of blasé and cool. “Oh, that 94-ft fiberglass whale? No biggie. I see it all the time. We follow each other on Instagram.” Get your head out of you-know-where and inject some much-needed culture in your life. Start with the big ones – like the Met, MoMA, and American Museum of Natural History – then work your way through the weirdos like the Morbid Anatomy Museum.

Fun Fact: There’s an underground bowling alley hidden beneath the Frick Collection.

9. Peruse The Produce At A Farmers’ Market

6330399312_47f3831db4_zFlickr / johnjoh
Laugh all you want at words like “organic” and “local” and “sustainable,” you’ll notice a delicious difference as soon as you stop whining and start snacking. NYC farmers’ markets provide an opportunity to buy fresh and affordable produce, support regional growers, and pretend you’re Anthony Bourdain on some kind of epic international adventure. Or, if you want to get really hardcore, you can skip the market and go straight to the farm. The city is home to several urban farms, like Brooklyn Grange.

10. Rave Your Way Into The Day With Daybreakers 

morning-gloryville-FBFacebook / Morning Gloryville
Sobriety is an essential part of the package at Daybreakers the sunrise dance party that invites you to “take back your morning.” Founded over fallafel in Williamsburg, by Radha Agrawal and Matthew Brimer was meant to be alcohol-free fun and a fresh take on your boring exercise routine. The event has now spread to 14 cities around the world, where it offers plenty of perks in addition to dancing. Enjoy fresh coffee, smoothies, and healthy bites after your workout, because you earned it.

Fun Fact: Daybreakers is just one of New York City’s many weird and wonderful ways to work out.

[Featured Image: Henning Grap]


  1. […] time to lay off the liquor for a bit. We’ve already shared 10 of our favorite sober things to do in NYC, but here’s another dozen to help you recover from your latest bout of […]

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