WHAT TO SEE, EAT & AVOID
This was my third time visiting “the city” (aka Manhattan) and although I’m surely not an expert at this point, I definitely have a feel for what I like and what I like to avoid in NYC. So, let’s break it down, shall we?
FIRST THINGS FIRST, WHAT TO AVOID:
Unless you like tchotchke shops filled with kitschy t-shirts and fake designer bags, chain restaurants, huge crowds and over-priced tours, and people yelling at you to buy things, I recommend generally avoiding Times Square and the typical tourist hot spots if you can. Now, that being said, if it’s your first time in NYC I do think it’s worthwhile to stroll through the area, take note of the crazy billboards and lights, take a picture with the Naked Cowboy, and then get the eff out. Visiting Los Angeles to only see Hollywood Boulevard and thinking you have an accurate representation of LA is similar to spending the majority of your New York trip in Times Square: just don’t do it.
NEIGHBORHOODS I LOVE:
So glad you asked 😉 My faaaaavorite neighborhoods to eat, drink, people watch, and shop in are West Village, Greenwich Village, SoHo, and the Upper East Side. All have so much character with beautiful architecture, lush parks (at least in the spring), sidewalk cafes, and tree-lined streets.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
If there’s one thing to plan on doing in New York, it’s eating. And drinking. Craving sushi and sake? Italian and red wine? A Korean gastropub and prosecco? Tapas and rose? $25 dirty martinis? Seriously, the city has it all. Here are just a few of my favorite spots:
- Bar Pitti, Greenwich Village To say I’m obsessed with this place would be an understatement. It has an authentic Italian vibe and actual Italian staff (that are super nice and helpful when trying to decipher an all Italian menu), homemade pasta that is to.die.for, and flowing bottles of wine. Oh, and a super cute outdoor patio that draws stylish locals and celebs alike.
- The Butcher’s Daughter, West Village If there’s a more Instagrammable spot, I don’t know about it. Complete with hanging baskets of lemons, serious plant porn in every corner, whitewashed brick walls, a patio overflowing with fresh flowers, and farmhouse style decor, this brunch spot is perfection. It doesn’t hurt that the “vegetable slaughterhouse” (as it’s called) also has delicious avocado toast and a full coffee and juice bar. Local to LA? Try out the newest location in Venice Beach (it’s on my to-do list!).
still dreaming about the avocado toast, almond milk lattes, and fresh green juice at the Butcher’s Daughter in West Village. look how cute the straws are!!
- The Spotted Pig, West Village A celeb favorite, this super quirky hole-in-the-wall bar is such a fun place to have drinks at. My girlfriend and I actually spent the greater part of the day sharing pitchers of beer here after visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum (more on that below). I haven’t tried the food, but it’s known for fresh ingredients with British and Italian influence.
- The Mark Hotel, Upper East Side If you want to stalk celebs and gawk at the uber rich, go to the Mark, trust me. Just the lobby blew me away: black and white striped flooring, modern chandeliers, spiral staircases, and gold encrusted everything. But the Mark bar is the real showstopper complete with faux cowhide couches, bright red carpet, and mirrored ceilings (I realize this sounds gaudy, but it’s somehow actually really lavish and chic?). The grapefruit mimosas don’t hurt either 😉
have i mentioned how much i adore black and white floors?
- The Baccarat Hotel, Times Square Okay, forget what I said about Times Square and go here. The bar is insane. Black and white checkered flooring, dripping crystal chandeliers, regal chairs, and Justin Bieber. No, actually we did meet Justin Bieber here (if elevators could talk 😉 ), but that’s besides the point. This luxurious Parisian-inspired hotel is what dreams are made of. Did I have the best martini of my life here? Yes. Did I also have the most expensive martini of my life here? Yes.
- Jack’s Wife Freda, SoHo Just the walk here was fun. So many chic brick and mortar shops, cool and edgy art, and super stylish people out and about around here (I’ve never seen so many studded boots and leather jackets at 9am before). This place is a blogger’s paradise. The menu itself is actually pretty fresh and healthy, but also really tasty and unique, with a Mediterranean flare. Highly recommend!
WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO SEE
- Charging Bull and Fearless Girl, Financial District While the infamous Charging Bull is a permanent fixture on Wall Street, the Fearless Girl is a recent art installation with a rumored end in early 2018. Both are iconic in their own ways, and both draw throngs of people waiting to snap pics with the statues. I especially loved seeing the Fearless Girl statue this time around, considering our political climate and all.
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Lower Manhattan I’ve visited the site when it was in full construction mode and twice now to the official memorial and museum. All three times have been incredibly emotional and educational. The museum is so well-done; you’re sure to walk away with a mixture of emotions (from anger, to grief, to pride) and a strong sense of patriotism. I can’t recommend this experience enough.
- Shopping in SoHo Truth be told, pretty much every neighborhood in New York offers some kind of shopping experience. However, the plentiful boutiques and huge well-known brands in SoHo make this my favorite place for some retail therapy. And maybe the most important part of this entire blog post: THERE IS NO STATE TAX ON CLOTHING AND SHOE PURCHASES UNDER $110. Yes, you read that right. This is a totally legit excuse to make a trip to the city every season, right?
- Boating in Central Park Central Park is humongous and filled with things to do. Whether its sunbathing on the rolling green hills, riding in a horse-drawn carriage, playing on a jungle gym, feeding ducks in one of the many lakes, buying a soft pretzel from a cart, or my personal favorite, drinking champagne at the Boathouse and then paddle boating around the lake in search of turtles and exhibitionists (no joke, Central Park has a weird attraction for exhibitionists to go and uh, show off their goods there?), there’s something for everyone. Bonus: it’s just to the west of the Upper East Side where strolling about Madison, Park, and 5th Avenues is a must.
- Coffee in Bryant Park Way smaller than Central Park, but cute and quaint in it’s own right, Bryant Park is a great place to grab coffee at the park restaurant, enjoy a little nature, and people watch at.
- See a Broadway Show I’ve seen the Phantom of the Opera and the Lion King on Broadway and both were incredible. To me, it’s such an authentic New York experience and gets you into the spirit of the arts and theater district. Don’t want to spend a million dollars on tickets? No worries – there’s always a wide range of shows with some starting at just $50/ticket.
- Top of the Rock Okay, I realize this goes against what I said regarding what to avoid, but hear me out. The Rockefeller Center is pretty iconic with tons of American history and pretty amazing Art Deco architecture. “The Top” also happens to boast one of the most spectacular views in the city. NYC is huge – and viewing it from the top allows you to understand the layout and take in aerial views from Midtown to Downtown and even Central Park miniaturized. Tip: Skip the Empire State Building (not worth it and the Top has much better views), plan your trip to the top at sunset, and drink some champagne when you get there. Cheers!
Been to New York? What are your itinerary musts? I’d love to hear!
Also, stay tuned for a complete breakdown of all of the outfits I wore in NYC 🙂