Essential NYC

 

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As a born & raised New Yorker, I’ve wandered these city streets with love and passion. My family immigrated through Ellis Island many years ago and settled in Brooklyn. We call New York “the center of the world.” It is the metropolitan hub where people from all different cultures and walks of life meet to dream, create, and inspire. It is the land of hustle, thick skin, and determination. Explore around the city and you can hear the classic New York accent, enjoy a stroll around Central Park, grab a dollar slice, and feel the rattling of the subway. From historic landmarks to hidden gems, enjoy my quick hitting to-do list for your next New York City adventure!

 

SIGHTS

Central Park – check out the boathouse, walk the Mall, relax in Sheep Meadow, sit by the pond by 74th st.

 

The High Line – deserted above ground train tracks now converted into a beautiful public park/walkway. Take in the views, enjoy the food, and stretch your legs on this walk.

 

Chelsea Market – inside the building below the Highline. Tons of food options perfect for lunch or a snack, plus art markets.

 

West Village – my favorite neighborhood in NYC. So many beautiful colorful townhouses, tree-lined streets, cafes… Just go walk around and get lost here. Also go to Hamilton’s for delicious sweet Sherry in the summer.

 

Washington Square Park – Home to New York University. Street performers, live music, big fountain, famous European style archway. Fun to walk around and there are lots of healthy food joints near it.

 

DUMBO (district under the Manhattan bridge overpass) – area of Brooklyn with a lot of art galleries, artisan chocolate shops, photo ops, etc. Eat at River Cafe right on the water with stunning views (reservation needed). Take photos with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.

 

Rooftop bars – the best views! Heads up: drinks will be super expensive, because, well, New York. Here are my favorites I frequent:

  • The Skylark (dazzling views of Midtown)
  • Gallow Green (green rooftop of McKittrick Hotel)
  • Le Bain (Dress nicely, because it’s hard to get in.. There’s a floor for the indoor pool, a floor for the live DJ, and a floor for the rooftop views & fresh crepes. Also this is where Solange punched Jay Z in the elevator with Beyonce. ‘Nuff said)
  • Press Lounge (classy)
  • Jimmy at the James (rooftop pool)
  • Ides Bar at the Wythe Hotel (hip spot in Williamsburg)

 

Brooklyn Bridge – go on, walk across it! And go to Juliana’s Pizza on the Brooklyn side of the bridge.

 

World Trade Center Observatory – must purchase tickets online in advance. Takes you over a hundred floors up, can see all of Manhattan & Brooklyn and learn some history while you’re at it. Important tribute to the 9/11 attacks. Absolutely breathtaking.

 

Roosevelt Island – if you have time, go here! It’s NY’s best kept secret. Take a cable car high above ground and over to the island. It has an amazing ice cream shop, a park where there is outdoor yoga, incredible views of NYC skyline, and overall peace of mind outside the bustling city. Great for picnics/general exploration.

 

Staten Island ferry – ferry ride is free and has views good for photography on the water!

 

Times Square – Self explanatory.

 

The Met, MoMA, Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, Smithsonian, Neue Gallerie, Whitney, New Museum – I recommend all these museums! Diverse global art spanning eras and styles. Each museum has its own unique character.

 

The Strand bookstore – book shop with multiple floors, even has an old vintage book section, peaceful environment.

 

Shopping in Soho (Prince Street, Spring Street) – because NYC shopping is the best! SoHo has a great variety of high-end designer stores to drool over, and then also affordable shops to actually make purchases at.

 

Bryant Park – I go here a lot in summer when I have time to just read a book and relax. Good to see some green space in crazy midtown. They also have outdoor movies on the lawn some nights. Also it’s right next to the NY Public Library which is worth going into!

 

The Flatiron Building – another great photo op. There are usually local food markets set up in Madison Square Park which is right by it.

 

Union Square – upbeat area with good restaurants, street performers, and shops. Also a good starting point if you plan to head into Brooklyn later.

 

Battery Park City – this area is so underrated! My favorite restaurant, Miramar is right there on the water (Mediterranean food). Great parks, waterside views, etc.

 

Little Italy – Mulberry street! Cannolis! Pasta!

 

South Street Seaport – fun area with boutique shops and seafront restaurants.

 

Grand Central train station – walk around and feel like you’re in that scene from that movie.

 

Smorgasborg in Brooklyn / Brooklyn Flea – food market/ flea market. In separate areas but related to one another, walking around this area in Brooklyn is also really cool.

 

5th Ave – high end stores great for window shopping.

 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral – beautiful Cathedral uptown.

 

Lincoln Center – has great music/dance performances, but also just a cool area to hang around (upper west side, and Columbus circle).

 

Bleecker Street – my favorite street in NYC! So many cute cafes, cheery good vibes.

 

Williamsburg – yes it’s extremely hipster. Tons of thrift shops, bicycles, concerts. Feels very cheery and alive in the summer time. Everything there feels cute and mini compared to Manhattan! Walk around, do some shopping, check out the cool architecture and murals, check out outdoor flea markets, get a crepe or two, eat lunch at Roebling Tea Room.

 

Hidden bars – check out this list of hidden speakeasy bars.

 

Comedy Cellar – famous comedians, hysterical shows, cozy underground setting.

 

West 4 Street – I worked on this street one memorable summer. Tons of ethnic food, live jazz, fun bars, and an all around rowdy time.

 

Stone Street – iconic stone street (name says it all). Check out Crepes du Nord there for French sweets.

 

TriBeCa – where I want to get an apartment someday! Quiet, refined area of Manhattan. If you want some solitude, go to Poet’s House. It’s a library right on the water where I’ve spent many hours writing. They also have poet readings.

 

FOOD

I recommend all these restaurants: MyMoon, Acqua Santa, Two Door Tavern, Rabbit Hole, Surf Bar, Fedora, Extra Virgin, Benoit, Circo, Buddakan, Tommy Bahama, Two Hands, House of Small Wonder, Little Park, Souvlaki GR, Trinity Place, Ipanema, Juice Generation SoHo, Aperativo di Palma, Cafe Mogador, ABC Kitchen, the Butcher’s Daughter, Caravan of Dreams, Angelica Kitchen, Dirt Candy.

 

Chinatown – great for Asian cuisine and discounted knock-off designer bags.

 

Rosemary’s – my favorite lunch spot. Located in west village. Don’t forget to go upstairs and check out the rooftop garden!

 

Katz’s Deli – did someone say famous pastrami sandwiches?

 

Rice To riches – rice pudding shop (set up like an ice cream shop) on Spring Street.

 

The Golden Unicorn – yummy dim sum.

 

Haile – had my first Ethiopian cuisine here, and my life has changed since!

 

Panna II – Indian restaurant filled with hanging lights. It’s bring your own alcohol, so a fun place to crack a bottle of wine with friends.

 

Perogies from Veselka – nuff said.

 

Magnolia Bakery – multiple locations. Eat cupcakes to your heart’s desire.

 

Vanessa’s – super good dumplings for unbelievably cheap. My favorite location of theirs is in Williamsburg.

 

Pizza – you weren’t going to go to NYC without eating pizza, were you? Check out this guide to the best pizza in NYC.

 

ACTIVITIES

Go kayaking – really, it’s a thing! You can kayak along the Hudson on rented kayaks near TriBeCa area.

 

Shakespeare in the Park – exactly what it sounds like. Awesome if you don’t mind waiting in line for a while.

 

Output – ultimate summer dayparty spot in Brooklyn with DJ sets.

 

Zephyr Yacht – fun cruises around Manhattan/Brooklyn. See the skyline lit up at night while you’re literally on a yacht with a live DJ and drinking champagne. Check tickets in advance.
Concerts. Everywhere. – My favorite venues are Terminal 5, Central Park Summer Stage, Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg.

 

Walking tours & food tours – explore Manhattan by foot, eat through Brooklyn by mouth! Book a tour in advance for groups.