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Genuine Liquorette
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

The best things to do near the Chinese New Year Parade

Looking for something to do before or after the Chinese New Year Parade? Here's where you should go.

By Jennifer Picht and Time Out New York contributors
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If you’re planning to attend the Chinese New Year Parade, you might be looking for something to do before or after NYC’s most colorful procession. That’s why we’ve rounded up some awesome New York attractions located in surrounding neighborhoods such as Little Italy as well as some noteworthy spots in Chinatown for you to check out. After the festivities die down, check out one of the best karaoke bars in Chinatown, have dinner at one of the many Chinatown restaurants and discover great places to go shopping.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chinese New Year parade in NYC

Best things to do near the Chinese New Year Parade

1. Get your caffeine and sugar fix at Kam Hing Coffee Shop

Restaurants Coffee shops Little Italy

Crack cake. That’s what the renowned sponge cake should be called at this 30-year-old Chinatown coffee counter, so criminally good, you’ll think it’s laced with something illegal. It doesn’t look like much—a squishy, boat-shaped white-sugar cake, pulled from the oven, wrapped in paper and hidden in Tupperware behind the counter. But its unassuming appearance belies an angel-food-like interior, ethereally light and mildly sweet. Even better? The shop has launched a green-tea variety, smaller than the original but steeped with earthy tea flavor, mellowing out to a vanilla finish.

2. Get cultured at the Museum of Chinese in America

Museums History Little Italy

MOCA occupies an airy former machine shop designed by prominent Chinese-American architect Maya Lin. In an interior loosely inspired by a traditional Chinese house, with rooms radiating off a central courtyard and areas defined by screens, MOCA’s core exhibit traces the development of Chinese communities on these shores from the 17th century to the present through objects, images and video. Mixed-media displays cover the development of industries such as laundries and restaurants in New York, Chinese stereotypes in pop culture, and the suspicion and humiliation Chinese-Americans endured during World War II and the McCarthy era.

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Eldridge Street Synagogue
Photograph: Kate Milford

3. Explore the Museum at Eldridge Street

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Chinatown

With an impressive facade that combines Moorish, Gothic and Romanesque elements, the first grand synagogue on the Lower East Side is now surrounded by dumpling shops and Chinese herb stores, but rewind about a century and you’d find delis and mikvot (ritual bathhouses). For its first 50 years, the 1887 synagogue had a congregation of thousands and doubled as a mutual-aid society for new arrivals in need of financial assistance, health care and employment. But as Jews left the area and the congregation dwindled, the building fell into disrepair. A recently completed 20-year, $18.5 million face-lift has restored the splendor of the soaring main sanctuary, which features hand-stenciled walls and gorgeous stained-glass: an original rose window and a new design by artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans. Downstairs, touch-screen displays highlight the synagogue’s architecture, aspects of worship and local history.

Hong Kong Market
Courtesy CC/Flickr/Vauvau

4. Shop for some Asian cuisine at Hong Kong Supermarket

Shopping Grocery stores Little Italy

This Chinatown megastore is a must-visit for Asian cuisine fanatics: Its oversized aisles are filled to bursting with the staples of Chinese cooking, from fresh noodles to dumpling wrappers to fermented black beans and much, much more. High turnover means that fruits and vegetables are fresh, and a sushi stall near checkout stocks surprisingly tasty to-go boxes of fresh rolls.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Vauvau

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5. Dine on some Dim Sum at Oriental Garden

Restaurants Chinese Chinatown

The first thing you see at Oriental Garden are the crabs waving their claws in a front-window tank. That’s a good sign, for this Chinatown stalwart—done up in the requisite dining-hall décor and bright lighting—specializes in fresh, Cantonese-style seafood, embracing a lengthy menu of dishes like steamed whole fish, glazed prawns with broccoli and clams galore. The dim sum offerings are also copious. Prices are a tad higher than the neighborhood’s surrounding options—a bowl of shark’s fin soup is yours for $68. But such exorbitance is balanced by the $11.95 prix-fixe lunch, served weekdays.

Photograph: Raydene Salinas

6. Get your hands on Korean beauty loot at Tony Moly

Shopping Cosmetics Chinatown

It's easy to find Tony Moly's Will Wonka–esque makeup line in New York—you can get its fruit-shaped lip balms at Urban Outfitters and Sephora—but first-timers should flock to the Chinatown shop to test out the brand's full range of beauty loot in cute-as-hell packaging. Grab the best-sellers: Panda's Dream brightening cream to achieve that dewy look and Tony Moly mask sheets, which lock in moisture during your next Netflix binge.

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7. Shop for Asian tea remedies at Sun’s Organic Garden

Shopping Specialist food and drink Chinatown

Owner Lorna Lai knows her teas the way a sommelier knows terroir. Curious sippers peruse the well-stocked shelves of the Hong Kong native’s nook, which boasts more than a thousand jarred loose-leaf varieties from around the world, available by the ounce, Lai’s house-made herbal blends are standouts, in exotic flavors like holy basil and bilberry.

8. Grab a drink a Genuine Liquorette

Bars Cocktail bars Little Italy

Set below fast-casual Cali joint Genuine Superette, this kitsch-fueled, bodega-inspired bar from drinks wizard Eben Freeman (Costata) brings a cheeky revamp of straitlaced cocktailing with offerings built with oft-ignored spirits like Pinnacle and flavored Jim Beam. A stairwell lined with old newspapers and tobacco ads leads revelers to the 34-seat main room, illuminated by a neon sign and backlit displays of bottles, sold by the ounce through a self-serve program. At the bar, a drinks list centers on a selection of eye-catching Cha-Chunkers, which are bulldog-style cocktails with miniature liquor bottles inverted into canned sodas, like a mojito with a bottle of Cruzan white rum dunked into Sprite.

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9. Pick up a souvenir at Yunhong Chopsticks Shop

Shopping Gifts and stationery Chinatown

At the only U.S. locale of this Beijing company, the wallpaper on the immaculate shop’s back wall explains how the Chinese tradition of giving chopsticks spreads happiness. Gift-hunters can choose from more than 200 different styles, many of which are hand-painted and crafted from materials like mahogany, ebony and sterling silver. Pick up colorful plastic sets for everyday use, or pony up for special-occasion sticks, like the handmade, seashell-inlaid sets with 20 layers of lacquer. Once you’ve scored some of these stylish utensils, ordering takeout will feel like a lavish affair.

K-One Karaoke Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Vinci Z.

10. Have a diva moment at K-One Karaoke Bar

Things to do Lower East Side

In terms of visuals, this drinking and singing den is particularly stimulating with it’s funky, three-dimensional artwork and colorful L.E.D. lights. Like most karaoke lounges, there are three room sizes, where the smallest holds six people and the largest has enough space for 30 folks. FYI: Brave souls can sing for FREE on the floor lobby just as long as you buy drinks from the bar. There’s also an Asian cuisine menu with snacks including marinated duck wings and edamame. It’s also important to note that this spot is cash only, so make sure your squad hits the ATM before you’re all too drunk to remember your PIN numbers.

Looking for a dim sum restaurant?

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