A friend of mine was visiting New York this month and asked me to make a list for her of things she must do. And my mind went wild because New York is my great love and I miss it so! As I clicked "send" on my carefully curated list, I thought, "She can't be the only one to use this guide!" Alas, here it is for you too!
If you know the city, this may give you new ideas for things to try (for there's always something new to try) or if you're planning your first trip there, this will serve as a non-touristy peek into the real life of a New Yorker. I mean, you can come up with the touristy stuff on your own.
1. One of my very favorite types of cuisine in the city is Venezuelan food. Arepas are delicious and inexpensive, and both of these places are super cool. I especially like Caracas in the East Village but if you're on the West Side El Cocotero in Chelsea is a great spot too.
2. Have drinks at The Dove Parlour. This place is chic but not upscale, so you don't have to wait in line or wear anything particular. Walk through Washington Square on your way there. Order the Fig & Pepper cocktail and prepare to be amazed.
3. Have drinks, drinks and snacks, or a slightly nicer dinner in Soho at Lure Fishbar, where they have great sushi but even just the cocktails are delish and the space is SO COOL. Think modern urban-chic meets rich classic nautical, and it's a downstairs spot so you can people-watch Soho's best shoes walking by. Another option is to hit up Lure for drinks and then go to the sweet little Fanellis Cafe next door for a Croque Monsoir or a little pizza.
4. Check out the winter drinks and cool atmosphere at Hudson Lodge (where I had my book party!) in the Hudson Hotel. It's an outside patio lounge but is heated and there's a DJ. The decor is lodge-esque (fur blankets and the like). There's even fake snow. Fun!
5. ABC Kitchen is my favorite restaurant in the city for a swanky dinner. The space is absolutely gorgeous! White marble mixed with pale rustic woods, you'll want to move in. Try the, oh who am I kidding, everything Michelin star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten makes is amazing. The wine list is, too.
6. My favorite place to shop for clothes that look chic but are affordable is ZARA. They're everywhere. If you're a fan of Atlantic-Pacific, or if you're style is chic or even super classic, you'll absolutely find something you love here.
7. Walk the High Line. Go West on 14th toward 10th. Just before 10th you'll see the stairway going up. Walk uptown (with the river on your left) to the end and then turn around and come back. The landscaping on the High Line is pretty and the city sights are incredible. Take your camera. Throughout part of the year there will be food vendors up there too.
8. Walk through the Chelsea Market on 9th between 15th and 16th. You can eat here, snack here, or browse here. I suggest picking up a little lunch or a smoothie at One Lucky Duck and taking your treats up to the High Line with you. On the way, pop into lululemon Meatpacking (14th and 9th) and say hello to my fit and fun friends there. It's the prettiest lululemon store anywhere, and the girls are super helpful.
9. Walk through Eataly in the Flat Iron district and make sure to look up at the Flat Iron building right by it. It's my fave building in the city. Eataly is neat - a very European market. Have a glass of wine in the restaurant on the main floor or go up to La Birreria to eat. (Rooftop space!)
10. Take a class at Soulcycle. You might think you're going to die but it will give your body a break from all the walking... Right?! While you're there, buy me a tank top. Just kidding. No, but really. I especially like Madison's classes at the Union Square studio.
11. For a sugar rush, get macaroons at Cafe Macaron. I take every visitor I have there! Buy a box and see if you can make them last your whole trip. Or the afternoon. Haha, like that'll happen.
12. Colt's and my #1 favorite place is Rye in Williamsburg. We had most of our date nights there. If you're staying in Manhattan it's not too hard to get to. It's either a cab right over the Williamsburg Bridge or take the L train to Brooklyn and get off the first Brooklyn stop, Bedford. (If you do that, I'll write out very specific instructions below.)
Here's an idea: Take the L train to the Bedford stop in the afternoon and walk down Bedford to check out the shops. They're all along Bedford and the side streets like N. 5th and N. 3rd. At Baggu on N. 3rd you can get cute little city bags (get one for you and some as gifts!) and try chocolate samples at Mast Brothers. Then head to Rye between 5-7 when they have happy hour. $5 cheeseburgers, $5 Brussels sprouts, $5 fries, and $5 Old Fashionds. Feast!
13. Also in Williamsburg is Brooklyn Winery! Sip wine in this cozy space and share a cheese plate, or save room for dinner and walk just a few blocks over to Antica Pesa. The story behind this place's origins is awesome, the servers are extraordinarily knowledgable, and this was Colt's favorite meal we had the whole time we lived in New York. An A+ dining experience!
14. The rooftop bar at the new, trendy (duh, it's Williamsburg) Wythe Hotel is a must do, mostly because the view of Manhattan is to die for! If you're looking for a fresh take on visiting New York, stay here rather than in Manhattan and enjoy Williamsburg! There's so much more even to do here, like the Brooklyn Flea (in Williamsburg on Sundays, seasonally), the Farmer's Market at McCarren Park on Saturdays. If you need more Williamsburg recommendations - just ask me!
Directions to Williamsburg by Train
L to Bedford for shopping and Happy Hour at Rye: Take the L train to Brooklyn from anywhere on 14th in Manhattan (8th, 6th, Union Square, 3rd, or 1st). The next stop after what I've listed there is BEDFORD AVE. Get off here. When you step off the train, turn LEFT out of the train doors. Go out the gate/turnstyles and go LEFT. Go up the steps. You will be at the corner of Bedford and N. 7th, and should be at the corner where there's a little organic food/grocery market. Walk down Bedford by turning left from 7th on the sidewalk (don't cross the street) and walk past the organic grocer's door. You're headed to Rye or to toward some of the shopping streets like N. 3rd. To continue to Rye, keep walking down Bedford to South 1st (not N. 1st - you will pass N. 1st) then turn left. Walk a couple blocks to Roebling. Rye is on S. 1st just past Roebling, on the left side.
L train to Brooklyn Winery and Antica Pesa: Copy the above until you get off the train at Bedford. Turn Right out of the train doors. Turn right after the turnstile and go up the stairs. Walk straight. The stairs put you in the correct path. Somewhere in front of the restaurant you'll be next to (Station) is a cement sidewalk square with me and Colt's initials in it. :) HEHE! Now turn around and walk the opposite direction, turning RIGHT on Bedford at the corner from N. 7th. Walk one block to N. 8th and turn right on N. 8th. Brooklyn Winery will be on your left within a block or two. Antica Pesa and the Wythe Hotel are both nearby.