As some of you my have seen on my Instagram, we were recently fortunate enough to spend five days in New York City. We had a blast and decided to put together our own guide of what we did (and loved) in the Big Apple.
Where we stayed:
We stayed in Soho at the Nomo Soho. Out of all the times we have been to New York City, this was our first time staying in an area with a real neighborhood feel. We ended up loving the area, with all the beautiful architectural details and proximity to shops, restaurants and other great neighborhoods like Greenwich Village. Though some of the complaints online said that the rooms were really small, we found them to have plenty of space with lots of built in storage options for luggage, clothes, etc.
Perhaps the best feature of our room was the floor-to-ceiling glass windows from wall to wall with views of the Freedom Tower to the left and the Empire State Building to the right.
It’s not every day that you have a shower with this view!
What we did:
Top of the Rock: We started our visit here, which is a great way to get a feel for the city. Seeing the city from above also provides a sense of spatial reasoning that is hard to gain between all the skyscrapers on the ground.
Hop-on Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour: As cheesy and touristy as this is, we were with friends who had never been to NYC, and this was the perfect way to get a bit of information and to hop around to some of the main downtown sights. We used the subway for most of the trip, but these bus tours allow you to take in the city while getting from place to place.
Anastasia: Disclaimer: I am a sucker for almost all Broadway. This one certainly did not disappoint despite rude reviews. The performers were incredible, and there is nothing quite like the energy of walking out of a broadway to the lights and crowds of Times Square.
Grand Central Station: Though I have been to New York City several times, I have never made it here. The architecture is breathtaking. We were particularly taken by the details and ornate quality of all the lighting . After booking our tickets to see the Top of the Rock, we were hungry and had a little bit of time to grab a bite to eat. We knew we wanted to hit a Shake Shack on our trip and saw that there was one nearby in Grand Central Station. Though the food court was absolutely packed (lunch hour on a weekday), it was a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
New York Public Library: WOW! We always love popping into this beautiful space. The craftsmanship of the entire building is unparalleled and really makes you appreciate the time and energy it took to design and build. Plus, you can’t go wrong when they have an entire reading room full of only maps!
Brooklyn Bridge: Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge has become sort of a tradition for us when we visit the Big Apple. It is a great way to take in sweeping views of Manhattan while also getting to exercise and people watch. We usually walk across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn in the morning to spend a full day in Brooklyn beginning with coffee and pastries in Park Slope. At the end of the day, after a long day of walking, we took the subway back to Manhattan.
Parks: I am a firm believer that visiting parks remains one of the best ways to really get to know a place. Some of our favorites were Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, and of course Central Park. Amber and I got engaged in Central Park 4 years ago, and it was a lot of fun and a bit surreal to return to that spot. A great way to experience a park is to grab coffee and a pastry for breakfast and walk to the nearest park to enjoy your breakfast while watching the city wake up.
Highline: What an amazing project. Such a relaxing walk with several shady spots to grab a bench and enjoy the view.
Neighborhood Walks: There is no better way to experience a place than to get out and walk around. You get an idea of the culture, the sights, the people, the smells, and all the sounds. Some of my favorite neighborhood walks in the city include: Upper West Side, Brooklyn Heights, Soho, and Greenwich Village.
Where we ate:
Jack’s Wife Freda: This place was absolutely worth all the hype. The restaurant serves delicious American-Mediterranean dishes in a space with only a handful of tables, making for an intimate dinner out. A sucker for anything sweet, my favorites were the homemade cantaloupe juice and the spiced cheesecake. We loved Jack’s Wife Freda so much, we ate here twice!
Frankies 570 Spuntino: This Italian restaurant did not disappoint. The decor was beautiful, the food was delicious (the gnocchi was amazing), and the service was excellent! A great night out if you want a special dinner that is not too stuffy.
Lupe’s East LA Kitchen: Lupe’s feels like your typical hole-in-wall establishment, but the Mexican food they serve certainly doesn’t feel ordinary. The idea behind the restaurant was to bring the quality of Mexican food found in California to New York. I have not personally had Mexican food in California, but if it is as good as Lupe’s, sign me up for a trip out west. They also serve five to six flavors of delicious, homemade agua frescas, just like we make using this recipe.
Han Dynasty: A wonderful, casual Asian restaurant that is the perfect excuse for an evening stroll through the brownstone laden streets of the Upper West Side. The food is served family style which allows you to try a lot of different things.
Big Gay Ice Cream: The line was out the door and down the street when we got here. We debated whether it was worth the wait, but were so pleased that we waited. I got a vanilla cone covered in dolce de leche, dipped in chocolate, and sprinkled with sea salt. If that doesn’t float your boat, they have all kinds of specialty sundaes (Amber got the strawberry shortcake sundae).
Famous Ben’s Pizza: This was a last minute choice as we were right down the street. The pizza was phenomenal. I loved that you could buy it by the slice and try a few different kinds.
Juliette: This was the perfect stop in Williamsburg after a long day of walking. The space was bright, inviting, and the food was great.
Shake Shack: Fast, easy, and delicious. This should be a staple in every visit to New York City.
Burger Heaven: Recommended by a few locals. It was a great, easy place off of Fifth Avenue to drop in for lunch.
Where we drank (coffee):
Blue Bottle Coffee: There is one right across from Bryant Park, a great place to enjoy your morning coffee before making a stop in the New York Public Library.
Konditori: A Swedish coffee shop with big cookies and muffins. The one in Brooklyn has a quaint outdoor area with picnic tables.
La Colombe: This was right around the corner from our hotel. Also a relatively short walk from Washington Square Park, one of my favorite parks in the city right in the heart of the NYU campus.
Happy Bones: Great coffee and also great donuts. Can’t go wrong with coffee AND donuts!
Where we shopped:
Global Table: One thing about me: I love ceramics and this store is one of my favorite ceramic stores in NYC, selling ceramics from around the globe. The country of origin can be found on the bottom of each piece.
Cole Haan: Amber and I have both been wanting a new pair of tennis shoes for a while and decided to pull the tigger while in New York City.
Canvas Home: Great table linens, glassware, and general decor items for your home.
Fellow Barber: Men’s apothecary items. As a traditional barber shop, they offer shaves. I hate shaving, and the thought of paying someone to shave for me was seriously tempting. Maybe next time.
Outdoor Voices: Well-made, durable outdoor apparel.
Primary Essentials: An excellently curated gift shop in Brooklyn with apothecary, home decor, and other miscellaneous items.
CW Pencil Enterprise: A store full of pencils from all over the world. Enough said.
On public transportation:
Amber and I love public transportation. It is a wonderful way to immerse yourself into the local culture and really get to do some great people-watching. We were there for five days and used the subway constantly, making the seven day unlimited pass the perfect option for us. We found an amazing app called City Mapper that we really can’t say enough great things about. In addition to giving you the fastest route combining walking, subway, and car, it also gives instructions on which subway line to take, how many stops to ride, which exit to take when you reach your final stop, and walking directions to get to your destination after hopping off the subway! It was truly amazing, and I found it to be extremely user-friendly. Not to mention, the app may be used for cities all over the world.
Just writing about all we did makes me want a nap! New York City has always been one of my favorite cities in the world! I hope that this guide with our New York experiences can make your next time in the Big Apple a little more special! For a look at all some of my favorite New York City images, check out the NYC album in my portfolio.