Messy Nessy, aka Vanessa Grall, who runs the website Messy Nessy Chic, has fans all around the world. She came of note with impossibly stylish and curated content first about Paris, and then the rest of the globe. For her guide Don’t Be a Tourist in New York, a follow up to the book of the same theme in Paris, she worked in partnership with Atlas Obscura alums like Luke J. Spencer and Scott Walker. The result is a gorgeous and comprehensive guide to New York, with a cover in a bright yellow taxi color, organized by themes like “Big City Dreamer,” and “New York Like it is in the Movies,” and “New York Time Traveler.” The guide has all the things Messy Nessy is known for — hidden gems, underground spots and vintage style — but also food and drink recommendations both historic and trendy. The voice is clearly aimed at visitors to New York, so they can avoid being those intolerable tourists, but is written with the knowledge of locals that have been on the secret beat for years.
Some great spots that appear in Don’t Be a Tourist in New York have some of been our favorite experiences we’ve offered in our membership club, Untapped Cities Insiders, like The Living Museum in Queens, Little Red Lighthouse, Grand Prospect Hall, House of the Redeemer, and more. Other spots are places that somehow manage to keep their authenticity despite decades passing by like City Island, Caffe Reggio, the Golden Mall (which just closed) and McSorley’s Old Ale House. Some places are just great secret spots like the Earth Room (a Soho loft filled with dirt), North Brother Island, and the Treasures in the Trash Museum, a career-long collection of discarded items curated by a New York City sanitation worker.
You’ll even find Untapped Cities in a cameo in a few places, with recommended tours to attend in various locations. Some of the fun places we didn’t know about include The House of Collection (a private loft of knick knack collected over decades), Tiny Dollhouse (New York City’s only shop dedicated to dollhouses and miniatures), and Leeds Radio, the last remnant of Brooklyn’s Radio Row. This is all to say, Don’t Be a Tourist in New York is extensive and chock full of discoveries.
Nessy tells us that she made a distinct effort not to read too much of what’s out there when putting together this book, so it would have a unique perspective. The result is distinctly Messy Nessy but with all the beloved places New York insiders know and love.
Photo courtesy Messy Nessy Chic
Photo courtesy Messy Nessy Chic
Nessy also tells us, “With the Don’t be a Tourist books, it’s not necessarily about finding the most secret thing all the time, but more about accompanying the reader in discovering the city with some real imagination, helping them realise that every time they step out into the city, it can be some kind of an adventure – even if you’re just off to get breakfast. Because why not be inspired by these cities on a daily basis? There are stories hiding all around us, and the DBTNY book seeks to gather them all into a curious, and in my opinion, long overdue collection. Our readers are also the main characters in the books, and it’s up to them which character they want to play on any given day. With the NY book I worked with a team of 3 other writers, and they all have very different personal style and interests so I think we found a really interesting balance in the stories we chose to tell.”
Finally, there are even some explorations beyond New York City, including the East End of Long Island and Hudson Valley, to round out the true New Yorker experience.
Don’t Be a Tourist in New York officially releases on August 13th, but you can pre-order on Amazon now!