10 Best Places to Study and Read In NYC
Living in a city that never sleeps is exciting and fun, especially for newcomers and students.
From the Empire State Building and Central Park to the Statue of Liberty and Rockefeller Center, the Capital of the World has something for everybody. However, sometimes all that hustle and bustle can be too much, especially if you are in the middle of a semester. This is when you start missing peace and quiet and seek refuge in secluded parts of the city, trying to cram for the exams. As somebody who has spent a lot of time looking for the best places to study in NYC, I can tell you that the metropolis is filled with great locations ideal for reading, writing essays, and studying.
No matter if you are looking for a spot to escape the loud and crowded dorm or university campus, some of these best places to study in New York can be your refuge. All you have to do is pack up your books and laptop and enjoy the quiet while preparing to ace upcoming tests.
#1 The New York Public Library Is One of the Best Places to Study in Manhattan
When I started exploring the city and looking for study spaces in NYC, the first thing that popped into my mind was libraries. Because this is where you study, right? And yes, New York City has plenty of them in each borough, so no matter where you live, there will be a quiet library corner you can escape to.
For me, the best library to study in NYC is by far The New York Public Library. Keep in mind that this is the biggest library in the metropolis, and when I say big, I mean humongous. No matter how many people are there, there is always a free spot to sit, so you won’t have to get up early to snatch one. This is always a good thing because sometimes I just want to sleep in and then pull an all-nighter and study.
Furthermore, if you are into architecture, you’ll get to enjoy stunning woodwork, giant halls, open spaces, and sunlight. And since nobody is allowed to eat in the reading rooms, it is really quiet, making it one of the best study spots in NYC for people that are easily distracted. However, if you get hungry (because reading all those books can turn you into a cookie monster), there is a cafe on the first floor of the building so you can grab a bite when the studying famishes you.
You can get a free library card on their official website and enjoy all the perks of NYPL. As for me, what I love the most about it is the fact that it is open on Sundays.
#2 Black Cat Is the Answer for Those Looking for the Best Study Cafes in NYC
New York City is an inexhaustible source of coffee shops. No matter if you like coffee, tea, beer, or kombucha, there will probably be a spot that can cater to all of your needs. When I was looking for a spot where I can have a decent cup of coffee while going over my notes, I read through hundreds of reviews online (I was procrastinating) and finally decided to check out some places.
Enter Black Cat! Located in the Lower East Side, this really homey and neighborhood-driven spot is not only cozy but also has incredibly friendly staff. I was not the first to enjoy this cafe, as I found out later, it is a known spot for students.
Even though it might not be one of the quiet places to study in NYC, it surely is the coziest. I discovered that when you sink into sofas, you can spend the whole day reading and studying while sipping coffee or tea.
On top of being one of the really good study spaces in New York City, Black Cat is also really affordable. Here you can find a menu with an extensive food selection that won’t leave you broke. There is also free Wi-Fi and a printer, and the staff also offers tutoring services (or so have I heard)!
When you are done for the day and you want to relax, there is no need to head home just yet! Black Cat hosts open-mic and comedy evenings, academic lectures, and movie nights.
#3 Learn and Relax in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
A walk through the Metropolitan Museum of Art might inspire you to write a 10k essay on painting masterpieces. However, the largest museum in the US can also be a great place to study or read.
While doing research on the medieval, I figured out that spaces with permanent collections are less crowded, making them ideal for a quiet afternoon of reading. Grab a book and enjoy it while being surrounded by art from all across the world.
It can even serve as a great place to do your homework or get some work done since there is a cafeteria with great food and coffee where you can put down your laptop and type away. Since it is peaceful, the museum became my go-to place when I can’t concentrate.
Pro tip: Become a member and enjoy different benefits such as access behind the scenes and discounts in the cafe and a store. Also, if you have a car, you’ll get 10% off the parking price!
#4 Central Park Has Many Great Reading Spots
When you think about New York City, one of the first things that pop into your mind is probably Central Park. When I was getting ready to move here, I imagined spending days drinking coffee, attending poetry readings, and clubbing.
However, the real life of an exchange student is never that glamorous, so I spent the first few months walking around and exploring the cheap or free places around the city. That’s when I figured out that Central Park might be a well-known location, but it is so big that it is filled with hidden gems.
Some are pretty crowded and loud, but then others can be peaceful and great for studying. For example, the middle park section in between the Lake and Conservatory Water is never too loud. You can bring a blanket and put it on the grass, grab sunglasses and a book and enjoy your day. The pond has a calming effect (at least for me, it does), and I recommend you spend the day here when you start feeling restless in your dorm.
Study, read, write or just watch people… You can do it all here, and when you are hungry, there is a bakery/cafe called Le Pain Quotidien where you can grab a bite, cup of coffee and use the restroom. Also, if you sit near it, you can even use their free Wi-Fi.
The only downside to Central Park is that it can get pretty chilly during the winter, and you have to seek other places to study and read.
#5 American Museum of Natural History Is Ideal for People-Watching and Reading
Here me out – reading in the crowded museum might seem like a weird suggestion, right? However, when you spend too much time being stuck in your dorm and the only people you see are your roommate and occasional delivery person, spending time surrounded by chatting folks seems tempting.
When I was in the middle of my mid-term freakout, I needed to go out and see people that are not my roommate. And since I love ocean life, checking out the American Museum of Natural History seemed like a perfect way to relax and learn something that won’t be on the test. That’s how I discovered Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
And yeah, it took me a while to relax while sitting under a 94 feet long model of a blue whale, but when I did, it became one of my favorite places to read in NYC. If you are bothered by the chatter, just bring the headphones and play the sounds of the ocean. It will be easy to pretend that you are actually hanging out with a 21,000-pound fiberglass whale above you.
Pro tip: Bring your student ID, and the admission will be only $17.
#6 Discover Urban Garden inside Bank of America Tower
New York City never ceases to amaze me. You can walk into a building expecting to be some hot-shot, uptight Downtown headquarter, only to be amazed by its decoration and architecture. As one of the most eco-friendly and efficient buildings in the world, Bank of America Tower is one of the greatest and strangest study spaces in NYC.
When looking for good places to study in The Apple, you can’t go wrong with Bank of America because it is covered in floor-to-ceiling high-tech windows that maximize light. If you go on the 43rd floor, you’ll find an Urban Garden Room ideal for relaxing and reading. On top of that, there are green roofs where you can bask in the sun and enjoy the view of New York like you have never seen before.
Bank of America Tower won’t be crowded with other students, so you’ll be able to enjoy your space while reading or studying. And it is an ideal spot if you want to get away from other students and pretend you graduated and now are a big, hot-shot entrepreneur.
#7 Winter Garden in La Lanterna DI Vittorio Can Be Your Sweet Escape
Located in Greenwich Village, this fancy looking restaurant might seem pricey at first, at least it did to me when I was walking past it. However, I was looking for an escape from a chilly autumn afternoon once, and the sign “winter garden” in front of La Lanterna DI Vittorio caught my eye.
I was in a good mood, willing to treat myself to some fancy and expensive coffee when I walked in. What I discovered inside soon became one of my favorite “cold-day” spots in NYC. The garden tucked away in the back of the establishment was breathtaking.
The warm and cozy atmosphere you can only experience if physically being in this Italian restaurant. It is almost romantic looking with plenty of lanterns and a big, greenhouse-looking roof.
I spent hours here, just drinking earl gray supreme tea and working on my paper, as well as people watching. The space is not too crowded during the weekdays, but you can bump into a few students since NYU Law School is nearby. Also, if you are not too fond of cold New York winters like me, you can enjoy a fireplace in La Lanterna DI Vittorio.
This is one of the coolest places to read in New York because not only you’ll get to gaze into the sky (if you sit in the garden), but also you’ll get to enjoy real Italian gelato and many other homemade specialties.
Besides being one of the coziest study spaces in NYC, it can also be an excellent spot for date night. The romantic feel and live jazz performances make it first-date worthy. That’s why when you are done studying, just pack up your books, put a smile on and impress your date without leaving La Lanterna DI Vittorio.
#8 Enjoy Domino Park While Reading a Good Book
How would you feel about reading a good book while basking in the sun? Domino Park in Brooklyn is not only filled with lounge chairs, tables, and great benches. It also offers an amazing view of the East River and Williamsburg Bridge. It is one of the best places to read a book in NYC while also being outdoors.
As a student, you know how sitting in your room for a long period of time under a fluorescent light can make you look sick and tired. By chilling in Domino Park, you get to work on your grades and your tan all at the same time. Nobody will mix you up with a vampire if you spend a few hours outdoors enjoying the warm weather.
Keep in mind that Domino Park is open from 6 a.m. up to 1 a.m, so it is a great solution for early birds and night owls. On top of that, it is completely free! So, when you blow your monthly budget and don’t have the money to sit out the whole day in a coffee shop, grab a book and head to Domino Park. You won’t regret it!
#9 Study and Get Caffeinated in Brooklyn Public Library
To be completely honest, I started using Brooklyn Public Library because it was free! However, what started as a way to save up money became a love affair that still lasts. For starters, it is open seven days a week which is great when you are studying for finals.
It is not a hidden gem of the city because it is known as one of the best places to study in the Big Apple. This means there are plenty of other students around, so you won’t feel out of place. On top of that, you get free WI-Fi, and when you need a cup of joe, there is a cafe inside.
During the semester, the crowd can get pretty big, so the library might not be one of the quietest places to study in the city. On the bright side, there are private rooms you can book, and they are ideal for people that really need to focus.
The Brooklyn Public Library caters mostly to the needs of students. That’s why there are plenty of events that are relevant to students, such as skill development workshops. Furthermore, if you are an exchange student like me, and you are feeling nostalgic, you can attend programs in multiple languages. The Library even organizes family and cultural events as well as English conversation groups for those that need to practice the language.
#10 KGB Bar Is a Great Place to Step up Your Writing Game
Newcomers in NYC won’t stumble upon this gem by accident. To find the KGB Bar, you need to know exactly where to look. This Soviet-era-themed bar is located on the second floor of the building in the East Village, and it is a spot where both introverts and extroverts can thrive.
I found it by looking for reading events in NYC, and since then, there have only been a few I missed. Furthermore, the bar website has a detailed agenda where you can see all the upcoming events, so it is easy to plan your busy, study-packed day. Luckily the bar hosts more than a few, and they are all about stimulating and inspiring people to write. If you are looking for one of the best places to write in NYC and hear others read their work, KGB Bar is the solution!
Enjoy the work of famous authors while debating your own. You can even sit in the corner under propaganda posters and the watchful eye of bygone party leaders and enjoy the atmosphere and a good book.
That’s it for now. Good luck with your reading, studying, and writing. And just remember, you don’t have to spend all of your days in the dorm room. Pack up your stuff, and go out. There are a lot of places around NYC where you can study, just waiting to be discovered!