I love New York. No really, like I’m obsessed with it. A part of me has always been mad that I haven’t lived there, but I feel like sometime in the future New York and I will come together. For now, I’m just grateful that I live close enough to be a short ride away. I know New York City is extremely overwhelming for most people. There is so much to see, so much to do, way too many people and it doesn’t help that most of them are rude AF. But to me that is what makes it awesome.
Pretty much every time I visit New York, I have a list of things I want to do and see. But then I meet up with friends and we go to a great dinner somewhere unexpected, or a museum I didn’t know about, or stay out all night at a grungy dive bar under the Brooklyn Bridge and I’m too hungover to do much the next day. That’s just how New York is though, you never know what you’re going to come across. What follows are my favorite things to do and see when I’m in The City.
I’m #blessed enough to have a friend who lets me crash on her couch every time I get the itch that only NYC can scratch. (Shoutout to Greeney, love ya lots). It saves me a butt load of money in hotels, so I am not much help on where to stay. I feel like every hotel in New York is super expensive, so you might as well treat yourself. Even better, stay at an Instagram-worthy hotel like The Ludlow. I promise that all of the likes you will get on your pics will make you feel better about your wallet being significantly lighter.
How to Get There
Do not drive, I repeat, do not drive. Driving in New York is such a PITA. There is so much traffic, nowhere to park, and you have to dodge asshole cab drivers whose main thrill in life is talking on the phone while barely missing pedestrians. Bolt Bus is cheap and easy, so if you have access to one nearby take that. The train is also such a great option, but it is pricey compared to Bolt.
Obviously the subway is the easiest way to go from A to B. Get yourself a Metro Card and download a NYC transit app to prepare. My favorite is literally called Transit. It simplifies the subway by showing times and you can enter your destination and it will tell you the best line to take to get there.
Also, I am very big on #TeamLyft, but New York is not the place to use it. Taxis are everywhere, and yes you put your life at stake getting in one, but they are the cheapest and easiest way to get around. Last time I was in New York and called a Lyft, he circled the block five times before cancelling the ride and I got charged $5 for nothing. Take a taxi.
What to Do
I have been to New York City many times, but somehow my list of things I want to do and see only grows. I always come across a new restaurant I want to try, or new museum installation that is in town, or Broadway show I am dying to see. I have tried to condense my list, and the following are some of my faves that I have done and still dying to do:
I loveeeee Soho. Downtown New York in general is just really fun and makes you feel like you stepped on to a movie set. Soho in my opinion has the best shopping, restaurants and best bars. It also has cobble stone streets where you will also twist your ankle because you wore high shoes to look chic.
Jimmy at The James– For a night out in Soho, look no further than The James Hotel. The sick rooftop bar is sleek and elegant, and always has beautiful people lingering about sipping champagne. The view is great and in the summer there is a small pool, perfect to sit and day drink around. Sure, a drink is $17 but who cares when you’re living your best life.
Balthazar– Balthazar is a NYC staple. Every time I am here I am transported back to Paris, although the patrons are decidedly New York chic. The food and drink prices are cringeworthy, but everything that I have had there is worth it. I love French food in general so I am 100% willing to pay $16 for a delicious crock of french onion soup. The oysters are always so fresh, and nothing cures a hangover like a big ass Balthazar Burger.
APC– Shopping on Fifth Avenue is iconic, but Soho shopping surpasses the Upper East Side by far. Find all of the coolest shops in town along Mercer Street, specifically APC. Imagine if a French couple got married in New York and opened a boutique by selling their own incredibly fashionable clothes and you have APC.
Nomo Soho– For the best restaurant, and I’ve heard the best hotel although I have never stayed there, head to Nomo Soho. The food, while pricey, is phenomenal. They have a great wine and drink list too. I am sure you have seen Nomo on Instagram because everyone who is everyone eats there during Fashion Week. But do you blame them?
Moving out of my obsession with Soho and on to the rest of New York:
Financial District & Wall Street– I work in finance so Wall Street is endlessly fascinating to me. I am dying to visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to see the floor brokers haggle over stock prices, but seeing the outside suffices for now. The newest sight is The Fearless Girl, staring defiantly in the face of the Charging Bull which is a Wall Street landmark. If you are in New York, make sure this is a stop because there is no telling how long the Fearless Girl will be there.
Flatiron Building– I have never been inside (can you go inside?) and don’t know much about the Flatiron Building but it makes for a great selfie background. Also I stumbled upon an amazing farmer’s market in the square across the street when I was walking through the Flatiron District one day. Win, win.
Union Square– last time I walked through union square, there was simultaneously a protest and a movie being played on a giant screen TV at the same time. The people watching the movie were completely ignoring the protestors, and vice versa. Such is the beauty of New Yorker’s, and the wonder of Union Square. There are great restaurants and shopping around the square, and in the winter they have a Christmas Market! You never know what is happening there, so it’s a great spot to stop in if you have time.
Central Park– where to start with Central Park? I think you could spend a whole day there and still not see everything. You can see Shakespeare in the Park at Delacorte Theater, have a picnic in the Meadow, imagine life in the Strawberry Fields, and visit the Bow Bridge. You can go to the Central Park Zoo, throw a coin in the Bethesda Fountain, rent a row-boat, or if it’s winter go ice skating. Central Park is definitely a must-see when you are in New York.
Top of the Rock– Fun fact about me, I am very afraid of heights. This is a direct contradiction to my favorite thing to do in any city, which is getting up high so I can see the whole place from above. This brings us to the Top of the Rock. This is hands down my favorite site in NYC. There are spectacular panoramic views of the entire city including the length of Central Park to the Empire State building. I’m a sucker for a good view even though I hate heights, and more of a sucker for a good sunset. Before you go, buy your tickets online and you can hop right on the elevator without waiting in line.
Metropolitan Museum of Art– There are a million amazing museums in New York. For the sake of brevity because I could talk about every one I have been to (MoMa, Frick, Brooklyn Museum, etc.) I will just wax poetic about my favorite. If I ever lose all my riches and find become homeless I will bring my sleeping bag and shopping cart to the stairs of the Met, that is how obsessed I am with it. I am not exaggerating. Call it being hooked on Gossip Girl while I was growing up, endlessly jealous that Blair and Serena ate lunch there everyday. Maybe its my fascination with the First Monday in May and the Costume Institute Gala. But I think I really just love Museums, and the Met is the Godmother of them all.
If you’re going to have yourself a day and head to the Upper East Side, first gather your energy at my fave spot on the planet Ladureé. I have already gone into great detail about how much I love Ladureé here so I won’t bore you. Just go.
Here are some tips about The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
- Admission is “suggested” aka if you are a cheap SOB, you can get away with not paying the suggested $25. But be aware that your guilt at not doing so should ruin the rest of your day. So pay the $25.
- On Fridays and Saturdays it is open from 10am to 9pm so you can really get a full day of art lovin’ in.
- Definitely hit the Roof Garden Bar from April to October. Grab a drink and take a break from the exhibitions with an amazing view of Central Park.
Times Square– Every time I am in the city I try to walk as much as possible. So even though I hate the crowds and the tourists, I usually find myself in Times Square. Don’t eat here (there are a million better restaurants) but definitely stop in Times Square at least once to see how alive it is. Also, if you want to be above the crowds for a drink or dinner with an awesome view of the neon lights, head to Supernova at the Novotel Hotel. Get a table by the floor to ceiling windows and people watch without the hustle and bustle of Times Square.
Madison Square Garden– Midtown Manhattan is such a clusterf*ck, but it is worth it going to the famous MSG. I was lucky enough to have played there, and I think to any basketball player, it is hallowed ground. Madison Square Garden has a special place in my heart, and I tend to end up there at least once a trip. Go to see a concert, see a Knicks game, or even better go to a NY Liberty game (shoutout to my girls).
West Village– The West Village really reminds me of my time spent in Paris. Turn a corner and you could easily see yourself on a Rue in St. Germain, when in actuality you are in the heart of WV. I haven’t explored much here, but have been racking up my West Village research of what to do and see. To me, it just seems like the most charming tree-lined neighborhood, but also littered with celebrities. Who wouldn’t want to visit that?
As for the restaurants, I always see the bloggers I follow at Bar Pitti and The Spotted Pig during Fashion Week. Also as a woman alive in the 21st Century, I want to see Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment even though it is super trite. (I know you want to go too, it’s at 66 Perry Street.) Hudson Bar and Books has my name written all over it, because it has my two favorite things in the title. I will definitely spend as much time as possible wandering the West Village next time I am in town.
Ah, Brooklyn. I didn’t know much about Brooklyn except through what I saw on the show Girls. My friend who I freeload off of lives in Brooklyn though, and I have since come to appreciate how special it is. Sure, parts of Brooklyn are super hipster and annoying. If you really explore, there are parts that are reminiscent of old NYC.
If you only have the chance to do one thing when you’re in New York, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. I have always wanted to do it and finally had the time on my last visit. Here are some tips:
- Walk from the Brooklyn side of the bridge, the view is so much cooler looking at Manhattan.
- I know the morning is the least crowded time, but we walked the bridge at sunset and it was amazing.
- Stay to the left for the love of God! I made the mistake of putting a toe over the biker’s path and almost died. I’m exaggerating, but not by much. Bikers FLY up and down the bike path and scream at you as they pass to stay out of their way. Bikers in general are real assholes because they think they rule the roads, and the Brooklyn Bridge is no exception.
- Take your time crossing the bridge. The architecture is awe-inspiring. The views are amazing. Take pics of everything, take your time. Look around. It makes you appreciate everything about this wonderful city.
Like I said, I love New York, so I will be constantly updating this list as time goes on. Check back regularly for updates, and if you have New York favorites or if I mentioned some of yours, comment below!