The city has been (and will forever be) one of my favorite places in the world. For me, New York was one of the first places I traveled to and felt “small”. You know that feeling where you realize there is a lot more to the world than just you? Some days I think we all need that perspective check.
While I have been to The City a few times now, this trip was by far my favorite for many reasons. The biggest though was getting to spend time with two of my great friends (one from high school, one from college) who now call the concrete jungle home, which means I now have PLENTY of excuses to visit every year, right?!
First stop of the trip was to visit my friend Devan who now lives in Williamsburg (that’s a neighborhood in Brooklyn for you first timers to NYC!) before she caught a flight to Boston for the weekend. I think she will agree with me when I say our friendship has always revolved around food and photography for our entire lives (meaning I let Devan take the reins on planning this portion of my trip and have zero regrets about it). Before this, I had only spent a few hours in Brooklyn but now, I would say it’s a must do for any trip.
After catching up for a bit, we headed over to a late dinner at Roberta’s. Rumor has it that even Beyonce & Jay-Z eat here when they’re in the city. And well, if it’s good enough for ‘Yonce, it’s sure as heck good enough for me. Any of their pizza’s will melt in your mouth, but do not miss the Crispy Sunchoke (with fresh tumeric, pear, and yuzu) and Cheese Plate to start out. Prepare for a long wait, but walk around the corner for a drink at Pine Box Rock Shop in the meantime.
If you’re a whiskey kind of gal (or guy), or just want a post-dinner drink, be sure to stop by the charming Post Office bar. I promise that it is adorable and affordable! This is also a great stop on a nighttime walk to East River Park. This hidden gem overlooks all of Manhattan and is pure bliss. In my opinion, it is the most peaceful part of The City and will now forever be my favorite view of it.
For all you breakfast people, Egg is a non-negotiable. I still have no idea how they make their fried clumps of hashbrown goodness (I realize that sounds disgusting but it is AMAZING). Try to get there on the early side to avoid a wait on the weekend.
While I’ve hit all the spots of my day in Brooklyn, there are a few other places not to miss if you have time. On the roof of the Wythe Hotel lies the Ides Bar. I went here for the first time in 2014 and couldn’t get over the dreamy view on a sunny day (as you will see, I am a total sucker for rooftops and great views). If you’re a chocolate lover (or even if you’re not like me), pop into Mast Chocolate for a treat. My favorites are the Goat Chocolate and Coffee Chocolate, but I recommend you grabbing the variety pack to try them all!
Next, I hopped on the subway (why yes, this Texas girl LOVES public transportation) over to see my friend Rachel on the Upper East Side. This was my first time seeing Rachel since she moved in August, so I was excited for some quality time and to experience her new home with her!
I’ll spare you a play by play of all our meals and adventures in Manhattan this go-around, but I will let you know a few of places you can’t miss out on. As far as brunch goes, a classic go-to is Sarabeth’s in Tribeca. In my mind, it is the quintessential morning spot in The City, especially for first time visitors. If you’re looking to grab a quick bite, then head on over to Grey Dog for a quick and quality breakfast. All this to say, if you’re anything like me, brunch on vacation is a priority. I am not messing around when I say Boqueria is not for the inexperienced bruncher (LOL). For me, it was my favorite meal in NYC. The only way to do it is with a group where everyone participates in the famous Boozy Brunch Feast: $39 per person will get you a 3 course feast of tapas and bottomless mimosas or sangria perfectly portioned out by the restaurant. Lemme tell you – it is worth every penny!
While there are plenty of things to do in Manhattan (and you literally cannot do it all), I wanted to share my dos & donts to save y’all some time on your trip planning and help with your decision making.
The MoMA: It is always a tough decision between the Guggenheim and the Met, but the MoMA blew those out of the water when I visited. Check out some of my favorite pieces below.
Central Park: Stunning any time of year. I could walk around for hours (and do every time I’m there). For the first time this year, I got to experience the wonderland that is Central Park in the snow. Doesn’t this look like a dream?!
Top of the Rock: Better view, fewer crowds, and a shorter wait than the Empire State building (plus, it’s in 30 Rock).
Chelsea Market: I love a good market (hence, you will see every market in the world in all of my Europe posts), but this one is a fun place to grab a drink, snack, or do some shopping.
Monologue Rehearsal: While it pretty difficult to get into a talk show like The Tonight Shot with Jimmy Fallon or Late Night with Seth Meyers, a little known fact is that most of these hosts do a rehearsal in the afternoon before that you can grab tickets to the morning of at the studio.
Broadway: Even if you don’t love musicals, experiencing at least one show here is a must! Consider this your big splurge of the trip (unless you plan on buying something on Fifth Avenue).
The High Line: One of my favorite walks through the city, this is 1.5 miles elevated park on the West Side allows you to see the charming streets of New York and enjoy it’s stunning landscaping (yes, I’m a sucker for plants).
If you’re anything like me, sometimes you need a little afternoon pick me up, especially after spending most of the day walking around and exploring The City. While Ralph Lauren is famous for their Polo Lounge, most people don’t know about their hidden gem of a coffee shop, Ralph’s, located on the second floor.
Lastly, I will say that I consider myself to be a two-a-day meal eater on vacation (because brunch is life and typically turns into a big meal for me). So when you find yourself hungry enough again for dinner (who am I kidding – after you take a long nap because you’re exhausted from adventuring), don’t miss out on all the great Italian food The City has to offer (Toni’s Di Napoli or Piccolo Angolo to name a couple). However, if you’re down for a summertime adventure, go grab a bite on a boat at The Frying Pan. Lastly, if you’re looking for something on the healthy side, make sure to check out ABC Kitchen.
Now some of you may be ready for bed (I get it – so feel free to stop reading here if that’s the case), but if you’re looking to go out, it will be pretty hard to go wrong with any of the bars in West Village. On Friday, we met at Amity Hall for drinks and a quick bite to eat (yes, get the mac ‘n cheese with your cocktail) and then moved over to the Brooklyneer for the rest of the night.
If you’ve been, what are your favorite places in The City? For the first timers – I hope some of my suggestions help in planning your trip!