New York City Travel Guide
Updated: May 13
Some people get inspired as they walk down the concrete labyrinth called Manhattan and watch the sunlight dance from skyscraper to skyscraper; others get anxious at the sight of rats in the subway and the strangely unique scent that can only be found in Washington Square Park. Whichever category you fall in, almost everyone would agree that New York City has no synonym; so if you haven't been, this is your sign to go, and if you have, this is your sign to go back.
I've been putting off writing this for a while because I felt like I'd always be missing something and couldn't possibly be doing this city justice. But everything has to start somewhere, so call this post a work in progress, if you will. With that said, here are some of my favorite things to do in New York City:
Maison Pickle—Their french toast is legendary, but I recently discovered their three-course lunch box that should not be missed! For $21, Maison Pickle offers a soup or salad, an entree (I got the patty melt) and an ice box cake.
Her Name is Han—Located in Koreatown, Her Name is Han is a hole-in-the-wall with, as you probably guessed, amazing Korean food. We loved their dumplings and KFC (Korean Fried Chicken); Plus, they gave us some mini sides to start (tofu, broccoli, potato, etc.).
Take 31—Literally right next door to Her Name is Han, I would say Take 31 is probably a lesser known Korean food staple, but just as (honestly, if not more) amazing. They give you scissors and everything to cut your vegetable pancakes!
Rosemary's—I recommend making a reservation at Rosemary's, especially if you want to enjoy their daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m. You must order one of the focaccia options and, of course, some pasta. It seems like they rotate their dishes throughout the seasons, but I thoroughly enjoyed the linguine with lemon, pickled chili and parmigiano.
Buvette—Located in Greenwich Village, Buvette is a precious (mostly outdoor) French Cafe with yummy brunch options! It's a perfect spot for people watching, and I loved their salmon fume.
Randolph Beer—Randolph's is located in DUMBO, but it's still in a convenient location! Plus, they have a bottomless brunch option on the weekends—for $45 you can get an entree + endless mimosas, bloody mary's, brunch punch and/or select beer! Last time I was there, they had an awesome banana grilled cheese, but all the food options seemed great.
BLT Steak—My mom & I were in desperate need of a snack, but weren't quite ready for dinner yet, and the popovers (bread) from BLT Steak were exactly what we needed. They're also know for their steaks, but we just sat at the bar for bread + a drink and were not disappointed!
Ess-a-Bagel + Hot Jumbo Bagel—You can't go wrong with a bagel most places in New York City, but if you're on the East side of Manhattan, you certainly won't be disappointed with Ess-a-Bagel or Hot Jumbo Bagel. Prepare for a line for Ess-a-Bagel!
Cacio e Pepe—The place is called Cacio e Pepe, so naturally, you have to order cacio e pepe. They spin the pasta in a wheel of pecorino cheese right in front of you, so you know it's good, but truthfully, my favorite dish was the impepata di cozze con crostone all’aglio (the mussel dish). We also got the porchetta con fichi, rucola e provolone, which was amazing!
SERRA by Birreria—Located on the rooftop of EATLY in the flatiron district, Serra by Birreria is the perfect spot to enjoy a bottle of wine and a nice cheese board. The roof is covered so whether it's cold or rainy, this is still a great spot to stop at!
Oscar Wilde Bar—Definitely one of the most extravagant bars you'll visit in New York City, Oscar Wilde is inspired by the famous writer himself and has some of the most fun decorations and drink options you'll find. The last time I went was during pride month (hence all the rainbow colors), but I loved the Ellis Lacey drink and the fried calamari.
Salon de Ning—Visibly close to Central Park, Salon de Ning can be found on the rooftop of The Peninsula Hotel and truly makes you feel like you're one with the city. They're open 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday to Saturday, and I recommend getting there on the earlier side if you don't have a reservation.
La Grande Boucherie—This place makes me feel like I'm in an elegant French train station, and I'm here for it. La Grand Boucherie is the perfect stop for a late-night glass of wine or fun French dinner and is located just a few blocks south of Central Park.
The Met Roof Garden Bar—My all-time favorite New York City experience, The Met Roof Garden Bar is a perfect way to end your afternoon visit to the museum. They share the same hours as the museum so make sure to get there with enough time to spend and note that they will close on a rainy day.
Fraunces Tavern—Located in the Financial District and open since 1762, Fraunces Tavern has a long history of making good drinks, food and live music. In you're in the area, you have to check out the space and all of the well-kept spaces like the whiskey room.
Bar Pisellino—Located in Greenwich Village, Bar Pisellino is both bar and coffee shop. I thoroughly enjoyed their Caffe Shakerato, but it's also an extremely popular spot to grab a drink after work and chat with friends outside.
Daintree—Located on the rooftop of Hotel Hendricks, Daintree has an epic viewing of the empire state building! They greeted us with complimentary champagne to celebrate Mother's Day weekend and a seaweed popcorn snack before we even ordered cocktails!
Remi Flower & Coffee—Located in the Midtown East part of Manhattan, Remi Flower & Coffee is a super fun stop for your afternoon pick-me-up. As you'd except, it's also a flower shop, but they serve a mean cup of coffee too (that's sure to be very aesthetically pleasing).
Blank Slate Coffee—Blank Slate has a couple of locations, though I visited the one in Midtown, and found the place to be quite quaint and perfect for a quick breakfast. I thoroughly enjoyed their matcha too!
Blue Bottle—This one is actually a chain found throughout parts of Southeast Asia and the Northeastern U.S., but man, do they make a mean cup of joe. There are a handful of Blue Bottle locations in New York City, and one of their more popular drinks is New Orleans style, which is definitely on the sweeter side but still super refreshing!
Maman Coffee—Maman also has a few locations in the city, but the one photographed above is located on Hudson St. and has plenty of seating with a beautiful green atmosphere! Their pastry selection is plentiful, but I definitely recommend the pistachio chocolate croissant and the Sophie quiche.
Butler Bakeshop—Located in Brooklyn, Butler makes some good coffee, but what really shined in my eyes was their croissant. Holy COW, I've never had such a flaky thing!
Tartinery—I only popped by the Tartinery location on Columbus Circle, but they made an excellent cold brew and chia bowl! Plus, the Columbus Circle location is inside a sort of mini mall and has a beautiful glass window view of the Circle and part of the park.
Things to do
Central Park—It's hard to visit New York City without even passing Central Park, and it's easy to say, you'll have a completely different experience every time you visit. The boathouse is one of my favorite places in the park, but I encourage you to "get lost."
Broadway Lottery—I recommend submitting the Broadway lottery for a few shows every single morning you're in town here. We won lottery tickets to Aladdin once and only paid ~$30 each for pretty amazing seats—definitely a once in a life-time opportunity!
9/11 Memorial & One World Trade Center—The new(er) memorial is absolutely beautiful, somber, breath-taking and really puts things back into perspective. I definitely recommend making a visit to the site of one of the biggest events that shaped not only New York City but the U.S. as we know it.
St. Patrick's Cathedral—Catholic or not, this building is beautiful, but if you're free on Sunday, there are several mass times, and I believe the choir comes to the 10:15 a.m. mass!
Washington Square Park—There's truly no place more eventful, and shall I say, chaotic, than Washington Square Park. Grab some cupcakes from Molly's Cupcakes nearby and enjoy the show!
The Met—There's never a dull moment at The Met, and you could get lost there every time you visit, but if you're not terribly into art, I still recommend heading to the garden rooftop of the museum (you'll need museum tickets to get there).
Staten Island Ferry—The Staten Island Ferry runs 24/7 seven days a week and is free to the public! It travels between the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island and the Whitehall Ferry Terminal (also known as South Ferry) in Manhattan. and is definitely one of the best ways to get a nice view of the Statue of Liberty.
Where to stay
Depending on what kind of stay you're looking for, I recommend starting with Tablet Hotels (more boutique stays) , Hotel Tonight (great hotels for stays about a month away or less) or Hopper (for stay a little bit further out).
The Maxwell—I found The Maxwell for a great deal via Hopper (for stay in Feb 2020) and loved both the location and the hotel. The rooms are smaller, but it's New York, and our stay came with a $50 credit for the very nice bar in the lobby!
Park Central Hotel—I found Park Central Hotel for another good deal on HotelTonight (for stay June 2021) and loved the location! As you'd guess, it's very close to Central Park, and has several coffee shops, restaurants and more nearby.
Hotel Hendricks—Located basically in the garment district, Hotel Hendricks is an edge-y, boutique hotel with a fun rooftop and a fabulous happy hour on the ground floor. I found a pretty good deal on hotels.com for Mother's Day weekend (May 2022), and we loved it!