Designer Aly Velji shares his favourite spots to eat and play in New York City.

Interior designer Alykhan Velji may be based in Calgary, but his annual pilgrimage to New York City is an essential part of his creative process. “I go to shop and eat great food, of course, but also just to get inspired,” says Velji. “It’s always changing and there’s something new happening constantly.” But even with an ever-evolving list of things to experience in the Big Apple, Velji always makes time for this essential to-do list.

There is always something going on at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The last time we went, we wound up at the Essence Magazine Block Party with a live DJ, enjoying the street style and soul food.

Tucked away on a side street in Hell’s Kitchen, Fine and Dandy Shop is filled with accessories for the dapper gentleman. You can get everything from suspenders to lapel pins to bow ties. My favourites have to be the pocket scarves made with vintage fabrics.

Designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the New Museum is just as gorgeous inside, presenting frequently changing contemporary art collections from around the world.

The Brooklyn Flea is a must. It’s a great way to spend the day, taking in the sights and sounds of Brooklyn and then heading to the market for some great shopping and delicious eats.

From its quirky interior design and friendly staff to the Thai pop pumping, Uncle Boons has everything I love. The place gets busy, so make a reservation, or enjoy a cocktail or two at one of the many bars nearby while you wait.

More from the “My Neighbourhood” series:

Seattle’s Capitol Hill

Jodhpur, India (“The Blue City”)

New Orleans