A great way to see the city, or at least the lower west side of it, is on the High Line. The High Line is new park on an old railroad track that happens to be three stories off of the ground.
Our first walk on the High Line took place withing a few hours of first arriving in Manhattan. The closest entrance was just two blocks from our apartment. Here are Whitney, Michael and Anna Drake in the elevator. (There are stairs every couple of blocks, but a convenient elevator at 23rd and 10th, as well as a few other places.)
The park is beautifully landscaped. It widens and narrows along the long-abandoned train tracks. While this may fall under the “Touristy Things” category, it’s also something the people who live here take advantage of too.
There is a book about the High Line and how it came to be. I’ll have to pick up a copy!