Thirty Things to Do in New York City Before You Turn 30


New York is the best and worst place to be young — you’re perpetually broke, sleep-deprived, and starving, yet you’ll never have more fun in your life. The city is a fickle mistress, though, and soon your favorite places will be overrun with early-twentysomething amateurs (ugh, you were never like those embarrassing n00bs) and emptying your Netflix queue will be the new “staying out till dawn.” Here’s a list of the things you should tackle before both your body — and your favorite bars — shut down completely.

30. Subsist entirely on street food
Stuff yourself with dollar slices, Mamoun’s, and Shake Shack before your digestive system abruptly decides it’s no longer accepting entire food groups. You can #eatclean when you’re old.

29. Have a one-night stand with someone in costume (or while in costume)
The rest of the country can have Halloween. Thanks to infinite costumes-suggested events (like nightlife legend Suzanne Bartsch’s KUNST), New Yorkers can turn a low-key Tuesday into a very glittery Wednesday walk of shame. If this happens during SantaCon, tell no one.

28. While visiting home, become a New York City exceptionalist
Begin every sentence with “You know what the best part about New York is? X. Do you guys have X here yet?” This works best when “X” is something fairly standard, like taxis. Or Ikea.

27. Vomit into your purse — or anywhere in public
You are not getting kicked out of this taxi. Not again. Just take some deep nose-breaths and…oh. If you’re on your way to work, maybe people will just think you have the flu. Sequined minidresses are absolutely office attire.

26. Accidentally engage a celebrity in conversation
No, that’s not the girl who lived across the hall sophomore year at Bennington. It’s Julia Stiles, and she’s not going to be pleased when you realize this four minutes in and ask her to do the butt move from Save the Last Dance.

25. Drink the original-recipe Four Loko that you’ve had in your fridge since 2010
Chug that can of rancid Jolly Rancher–flavored blackout juice and make sure someone films the resulting solo dance party/trip to the ER so you can chuckle about it when you’re 30. It’s probably aged beautifully behind that decrepit jar of Vegenaise and 300 soy sauce packets.

24. Come to the cruel realization that none of those life milestones are happening until you’re at least 40
Remember when you thought you’d have a quaint West Village apartment with a fireplace and a sick high-profile job by now? That was adorable. Roommates, ramen, and side gigs are your normal, now. If you want privacy, move back to the ‘burbs.

23. Party with (or bang) a celebrity
This is a lot easier than you’d think. Twitter-stalk some luminaries and sweet-talk your way into their secret show/fashion week event/private reading. Instagram your new best friend with caution as this is the surest way to immediately be booted from your new crew.

22. Date someone you met in real life
It turns out that people actually used to do this.

21. Experiment with drugs
Try a bunch of drugs before Lipitor replaces molly in your days-of-the-week pill organizer. When you’re 29, you’re the life of the party; when you’re 30, it’s a problem.

20. Explore the boroughs you don’t live in, because you ain’t going to afterwards
Start with Staten Island, we dare you.

19. Get a regrettable tattoo or three (and maybe some good ones)
The best time to make decisions about altering your body forever is after a bottomless brunch and, luckily for you, tattoo shops have become as ubiquitous as Duane Reade. Bonus points for bestie tattoos with people you won’t be speaking to by 30. Your matching infinity symbol ankle tattoos are going to get soooo many likes on Insta so it’s totes worth it.

18. Be a DJ, stylist, stand-up comic, or nightlife photographer
This will probably last around three weeks, but when you’re old (30), you can casually drop it into conversation as though you were basically Steve Aoki but gave it up because you were “over the scene.”

17. Buy a kiddie pool and Instagram the shit out of it
The best beaches can feel impossibly far when you’re staring down the barrel of a mid-July hangover. With a six-pack and a dollar store inflatable, you’re pretty much set for the summer. By 30, at least one person you know will have given up and moved to a house in the suburbs with a real pool.

16. Go to a bottomless brunch
Assuming you’re well past your Sex and the City cosplay period, you probably have a go-to brunch spot that gives you endless prosecco-and-juice cocktails and doesn’t require taking out a loan. Lap up those watery mimosas while your supple little liver still accepts 48 consecutive hours of booze as a lifestyle choice compatible with work on Monday.

15. Buy something ridiculously expensive
Blow your first real paycheck on a pair of limited-edition sneakers or a ridiculous bag. Feel like a goddamn boss for the 24 hours it will take for a stylish co-worker to call your purchase “cute” in a tone that implies it is hopelessly passé. Give item to your cousin in Iowa who won’t get it.

14. Mourn the loss of all of your favorite bars
Between skyrocketing rents and fickle clientele, you’ve probably got three years, tops, to enjoy your favorite establishments. Start collecting bar ephemera now for max credibility when you start griping about how all the best old haunts have gone under (RIP Motor City) or moved to deep Queens.

13. Sneak onto a rooftop
Hotel rooftops are for tourists, and sanctioned rooftop parties to which you’re actually invited are lame. Fireworks, secret concerts, and sex are all infinitely better when no one wants you there.

12. Go to Down the Hatch. Throw up
Sure, you’ve got your degree, but are you ever really done with college? This West Village basement sports bar/wing joint/nightly sausage fest is like walking into literally any college bar in literally any college town in America — right down to the Nickelback soundtrack and puddles of Coors Light–spiked vomit on the street outside. It’s possible that there are occasionally people over 30 taking part in this testosterone-laced debauchery, but they should be advised to leave this one for the kids.

11. Spend an evening concert-hopping
Spend at least four hours bouncing from Mercury Lounge to Piano’s to Arlene’s Grocery to Baby’s All Right to Shea Stadium on any given weekend night. You won’t have the stamina (or the patience for the J/M/L) to complete such a mission in the near future, so give it a go while you can still function on minimal sleep. And bring earplugs.

10. Become a regular
Choose your bar, coffee shop, restaurant, or pizza joint of choice — and then give it to someone else. Favorite spots are best shared between friends, especially when your buddy’s go-to dive just shuttered.

9. Get naked in public
When New Yorkers go nude, it’s usually for the betterment of society or ART (and not the shameless six-pack showboating you’d see in, say, Miami). The Naked Bike Ride, Naked Yoga, the No-Pants Subway Ride, and the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society are just a few of the ways to free your fun parts.

8. Get naked and be beaten with sticks
Atone for your debauchery at the Russian & Turkish Baths, a no-frills East Village staple since 1892. If you’re feeling adventurous or actually know someone with a car, there’s also the terrifying 100,000-square-foot Spa Castle in Queens.

7. Wear. A. Condom.

6. Get tested anyway
Because you still never know.

5. Audition

4. Go to every single art opening
The booze is free and sometimes there’s even food. Go home with the artist and let him take “gritty” nudes. Find out later that he’s a part-time gallery assistant.

3. Become part of a scene and then become over it.
This one will most likely be done more than once.

2. Consider moving someplace else
Let’s be honest with ourselves: We shouldn’t have come here. And those of us who were born here, we should’ve left years ago. There’s not enough storage, the grocery aisles are too narrow, and the rent’s too damn high. Not to mention it’s near impossible to own a car, airfare is expensive as hell, and Amtrak costs way more than you think it does, so good luck escaping for a day trip. Also, there’s always someone who could do your job better than you. Wait — why are we here, again?

1. Decide to stay
Because obviously.

Honorable Mentions:
• Furnish an entire apartment with items you found in the street on trash day. We recommend the Northside blocks of Williamsburg. Luxury apartments with high turnover = pay day.

• Order takeout during the surreal 2 a.m.–5 a.m. block. Your options are not as limited as you might think.

• Be the guy who busts open the subway station’s emergency exit when the turnstiles get backed up. That guy is fearless. That guy owns this city.

Compiled by Pinky Guest with these contributors: Heather Baysa, Jack Buehrer, Jon Campbell, Jesus Diaz, Zachary Feldman, Hilary Hughes, Mike Laws, Nick Lucchesi, Irene Nwoye, Alan Scherstuhl, Katie Toth, and Stephanie Zacharek.

See also: 50 Things You Do When You’re New to New York</>