new york city travel guide

For the past four years I’ve been lucky enough to call New York City home. My New York journey began in the charming neighborhood of the West Village where I found my first apartment and was able to explore all of Manhattan’s westside from Chelsea to Soho, down to Tribeca and Battery Park City. Fast forward to today, I now reside on the east side where the neighborhoods of Flatiron, NoMad, Midtown, Murray Hill and the East Village are all steps from my door. Read below to discover all the gems I’ve uncovered over the years in the city that never sleeps.

I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps

and find I'm king of the hill, top of the heap

Getting Around

Uber

If you’re not about the subway, then I definitely suggest you download the Uber app! The prices are the same as yellow cabs and you can get one to pick you up wherever you are within minutes. It’s so convenient because you can save your payment info in the app. I take Uber evverrryyyywhere. Here’s a link to get your first ride free!

Bars & Cocktails

The Nomad Hotel

Flatiron District / NoMad

The Nomad Hotel Bar is hands down Nick and my favorite upscale bar in the city year-round. The drinks are expensive ($20 a cocktail) but completely worth it. The bartenders (who all wear suspenders & bowties) are extremely knowledgable and every drink is meticulously crafted. It’s definitely a place to go if you want to be impressed and feel super chic in a Great Gatsby-like cocktail establishment. Make sure you order Blackberry Bramble– it’s not on the menu, but is the best thing you will ever drink.

Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel

Gramercy Park

The Rose Bar is another one of my go-to fancy cocktail spots. The hotel itself is beautiful and has a roaring fireplace in the lobby perfect for warming up on a cold night. It is a bit of a celebrity/fashion crowd hotspot so there is a a door policy on busy nights and weekends. To avoid any snootiness or having to wait in line, I’d recommend going on a weeknight or in the evening before 10PM.

Dear Irving

Gramery Park

I just discovered this speakeasy-type bar in Gramercy (right down the street from The Rose Bar) and I’m obsessed. It’s tiny and a bit secretive, so you need to make a reservation in advance. The cocktails are amazing and the vibe is so cool– you literally will feel like you’ve stepped back in time! To order drinks you have to press a brass button on the wall next to your table to call a waitress. When I went we ordered a few small bites, which were also very yummy.

Tiny's

Tribeca

You have to stop in Tiny’s if you’re downtown in Tribeca. Located in a cute historic pink townhouse, Tiny’s has two different bar areas so you can go and post up for a drink or sit down for a meal (they serve brunch too!) The menu and decor is very rustic and all-American. It works as a date spot or a great place to go with your girlfriends!

One If By Land, Two If By Sea

West Village

While it may be known for it’s delicious dining and romantic ambiance, One If By Land, Two If By Sea has an equally impressive bar and drink menu. When we went for Nick’s birthday last year I had an incredible mezcal, pear and egg white cocktail that I’m still thinking about. There’s also a live classical pianist playing by the bar, so even if you aren’t going to eat it’s worth stopping in for a drink.

Patent Pending

Flatiron District / NoMad

If you’re looking for a really cool speakeasy experience this is a good place to check out. It’s a small cocktail bar located in the back of Patent Coffee that you have to enter through a hidden a door. All of the electric themed drinks are super tasty and inspired by Nikola Tesla’s inventions. They only take reservations for large parties so I recommend getting there early when they open at 5pm if you don’t want to wait for a table.

Sel Rrose

Lower East Side

You’ve probably seen Sel Rrose’s famous pink door all over Instagram. Inside you’ll find a rustic French-inspired restaurant and raw bar with equally cool cocktails. It’s a great place to go for a date or girl’s night!

The Happiest Hour

West Village

This is a really fun bar to come with a group. All the decor is tropical-inspired and the bartenders even wear Hawaiian print shorts. It’s definitely one of those hip West Village spots so be prepared for a possible wait at the door. The drinks are bites are good though so it’s worth it! If you’re looking for a more intimate lounge vibe, check out Slowly Shirley right downstairs in the same building.

Eataly Rooftop

Flatiron District

If you go to shop or dine at Eataly you have to check out the rooftop bar. The decor changes seasonally– during winter it’s an alpine ski lodge with Christmas tress, sheepskin rugs & throws. Then in the warmer months it’s like you’re summering in the Italian countryside. The vibe is really fun and upbeat so it’s a great place for groups. I’d personally recommend going for drinks and save your money for dinner somewhere else. The food is decent, but nothing to rave about especially when New York has so many other options.

UES

Upper East Side

Don’t let the ice cream shop entrance fool shoe. Behind the back wall is a very posh speakeasy with an eclectic cocktail menu. I got major Alison in Wonderland vibes! WARNING: there is a VERY strict dress code and you will be turned away if you are wearing any type of sneaker or casual clothing.

Genuine Liquorette

Little Italy

Right in the middle of Little Italy in a dark basement you’ll find this quirky deli-themed bar. They serve really unique cocktails in small soda cans with one shoot mini liquor bottles placed on top. It’s a really fun place to come with a group of friends. Endless photo opps and great music!

The Eddy

East Village

Nick and I wandered into The Eddy randomly one night looking for an after dinner cocktail and couldn’t have been more impressed. I can’t speak to the food because we didn’t dine, but the cocktails were so well done. We sat in the front bar area and loved the brick walls, rustic decor and warm lighting.

Restaurants

Mermaid Inn & Oyster Bar

West Village

This is my favorite seafood restaurant in Manhattan! They have a few locations but we always go to the one in the East Village. There is a daily happy hour with great appetizer and cocktail deals. The menu changes by season too. We love the lobster roll, calamari and of course: the oysters.

Boqueria

Multiple Locations

This is a really popular (and yummy!) casual spot for Spanish tapas and sangria. There are three locations in Soho, Flatiron and the Upper East Side. The interior is super cozy– just remember to make reservations because it gets packed!

Claudette

Greenwich Village

At Claudette you’ll feel like you’re dining in a French country cottage. This is a great spot for brunch or dinner with the girls, just steps away from Washington Square Park and all the best spots in Greenwich Village.

Prune

East Village

If you love bloody marys then you need to go to Prune for brunch. They have a menu of just bloodys! Sounds like heaven right? Make sure you get the Dutch pancake if you love sweet brunch food. The restaurant is super tiny with just a few tables so be prepared for a possible wait!

Gato

NoHo

Super chic Bobby Flay Mediterranean-style restaurant and my favorite spot for tapas. It’s a bit tough to get reservations if you don’t make them far in advance, but if you go early enough there’s a good chance you can get seating in the bar and lounge area where they also serve the full menu.

Jack’s Wife Freda

West Village or Nolita

I’m sure you’ve seen a photo from a meal at Jack’s Wife Freda on your Instagram feed.  The brunch menu has your standard fare but with a Middle Eastern/Greek twist. I highlllllyyyy suggest the duck bacon, orange blossom pancakes, French fries with green shakshuka sauce and the nana tea.

Rosemary’s

West Village

This is an other Instagram-worthy West Village restaurant. The décor is very and fare is very rustic Italian. If you’re going for brunch get the eggs benedict and for dinner you can’t go wrong with one of the pastas.

Aria

West Village

If you love wine, cheese and Italian food then Aria is a must! Nick and I have enjoyed many a candlelit date night here over a bottle of wine. The menu is comprised of yummy appetizer-sized dishes including oysters, pastas, burrata and bruscetta. It’s a very romantic restaurant however I’ve totally come here with a group of girlfriends. Just be prepared to possibly wait – they don’t take reservations.

Catch

Meatpacking District

Looking for a fun night out in the Meatpacking District? Catch has a restaurant that serves a mix of seafood and sushi and then on the top floor there’s a nightclub. What sets Catch apart from other similarsplaces? The food is actually really, really good. Warning: it is on the pricier side (it is Meatpacking after all) so be prepared to spend.

abc kitchen

Flatiron District

I’ve only been here for brunch but it’s one of the best I’ve ever had. The food is impeccable and the service on point, as expected from any Jean George-backed restaurant. Prices are expensive so it’s the type of place you come for a celebration or special occasion. Make sure you order the salted caramel popcorn ice-cream sundae! (Yes I got that at brunch)

Rosie's

East Village

This is the place to go for upscale Mexican in Manhattan. Nick and I recently discovered Rosie’s and it’s one of our new favorites. It’s on a really fun corner in the East Village and when the weather is nice all the walls retract so no matter where you sit you feel like you’re outdoors. Oh and the food and drinks are really, really good too.

The Smith

Multiple Locations

This is always one of my no-fail last minute spots. The food and service is always great and it’s pretty easy to get a reservation since the restaurants are so large. I love how they add seasonal specials to the menu every few months– there’s always something new to try along with the classic faves like the chicken pot pie and lobster roll.

Lil Frankies

East Village

One of the best casual Italian and wood-fired pizza restaurants in the city. Super casual and great for groups! Be aware it’s cash only.

The Spotted Pig

West Village

Omg the burger and shoestring fries… SO GOOD. Casual laid-back pub with amazing drinks!

The Smile

NoHo

Love the cozy rustic feel of this restaurant! Think exposed stone walls and wood-paneled ceilings. Equally good for brunch and dinner or a pitstop for coffee (or glass of wine.)

Freeman's

Lower East Side

Rustic hearty american fare with a colonial tavern feel. By far one of the coziest restaurants in the city! It’s a bit hidden away in a small alley so many sure you Google map it.

Ruby's

Murray Hill or NoHo

Super laid back dining with an Australian twist and equally good for brunch or dinner. The menu is very wallet-friendly (by New York standards) and the decor is super cute. I always order the spicy Italian sausage pasta with a side of sweet potato fries.

Fig & Olive

Multiple Locations

I love meeting Nick after work for dinner and drinks at the Midtown location. Chic vibe with yummy cocktails and fresh seafood. I always order the crudo!

Quality Eats NoMad

NoMad / Flatiron District

Amazing upscale American food and cocktails with a trendy retro vibe. It’s a great date place or restaurant to go with a group you want to impress. I can’t stop thinking about the fresh tuna crudo, burger and curly fries that I ordered the last time I was there. I also got this insane Mezcal cocktail served in a cup that looked like it was something out of The Lego Movie.

De Maria

Nolita

This is my favorite brunch and lunch spot in Nolita. The food is super fresh, colorful and always served creatively. You’ll want to take a picture as soon as your dishes arrived! I always get the pork cutlet sandwich– so so good. They are serve coffee in these really cool clay mugs.

il Mulino Downtown

Greenwich Village

This is my go-to upscale Italian restaurant. I’ve celebrated so many special occasions here with Nick and my family and have never been disappointed. Once we were even seated next to George Clooney! The service is just impeccable and the food is equally delicious.

nyc essentials

Head to the shop for more

things to do around manhattan

the highline

Chelsea

This is a west-side must do. The Highline is train-track turned elevated walking path running from Hell’s Kitchen down to the West Village. It’s completely free and there’s no shortage of photo worthy moments. Just be prepared for crowds as it is a tourist destination.

chelsea market

Chelsea

Located right on the border of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, the Chelsea Market is filled with artisan shops and upscale food stalls and restaurants. The Anthropologie store in it is one of the best locations in the city. It’s just a really funny place to walk around and browse.

Citi Bikes

Everywhere!

When I lived in the West Village I was constantly riding the Citi bikes. It’s a perfect way to get around the city without spending a ton of money. You can rent one for the day, week or even get a yearly membership. It’s also fun to just do as an outdoor activity.

washington square park

Greenwich Village

We used to always visit Washington Square Park when we lived downtown. The arch is the perfect spot to take photos and there are always live performers. It’s so pretty in the spring when the flowers are blooming and then in the summer it’s a great place to lay out on the grass.

central park

Uptown

This really doesn’t need an explanation. My favorite places in Central Park are the boat pond, lake and great lawn. It’s such a photogenic New York landmark. I suggest spending an afternoon people-watching over a picnic and bottle of champagne

museum of natural history

Upper West Side

My first month in the city was spent living in a subletted Upper West Side apartment right near the Museum of Natural History. It’s one of the cleanest, quietest and safest neighborhoods in the city. Everywhere you go you’ll see lots of little kids and people walking their dogs. It’s kind of amazing. There’s no shortage of delicious restaurants, shopping and then of course the museum.

Smorgasburg

Brooklyn

I don’t venture over to Brooklyn often, but Smorgasburg is totally worth the trek. It’s basically an outdoor food fair with tons of vendors and stalls. We did a food crawl one weekend and it was by fair one of my favorite days ever since moving to the city. I recommend Ramen Burger, Red Hook Lobster Pound, goataco and Dough.

shopping in soho

SoHo

If you can brave the crowds, I definitely recommend you check out Soho for some shopping. The Topshop on Broadway is amazing and Mercer, Wooster and Prince streets have no shortage of great stores and restaurants. I suggest blocking off an entire morning or afternoon to wander around!

Madison Square Park

Flatiron District

I love living just a few blocks away from Madison Square Park and the Flatiron District. The park is very well-maintained and a great place to take a stroll or relax on the grass or benches. There are always fun art installations and musical performances, but the highlight for me has to be the Shake Shake located in the middle of the park. I highly recommend grabbing a burger, fries and a shake and parking it on a bench for some quality people watching.

Flatiron Building

Flatiron District

Right next to Madison Squark Park you’ll find the famous Flatiron Building. You can’t visit New York and not get a picture with it in the background! Make sure you walk around and stop in Eataly for some yummy Italian food and gelato.

Top Of The Rock

Midtown

Top Of The Rock has one of the best views of New York where you can see the Empire State Building and the entire downtown skyline. It is a tourist activity, but I think it’s totally worth going once to get some cool photos!

Grand Central Station

Midtown

Even though it’s so busy I find Grand Central incredibly magical. It’s worth going just to get a picture from the second-level balcony, but if you have more time check out the Grand Central Market and other foodie spots and shops in the terminal.

See A Broadway Show

Times Square

There’s nothing like heading to New York’s iconic Times Square to see a show on Broadway. Some of the shows I’ve seen include The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Aladdin, Mama Mia, Annie, The Phantom of the Opera, 42nd Street, Beauty & The Beast, Les Miserables and Frozen. Every single one was amazing! You can’t go wrong!

Wander The Upper East Side

Upper East Side

There’s no neighborhood in New York quite like the Upper East Side and it’s one of my favorite places to frequent no matter the season. I personally like walking around 70th Street between Lexington Avenue & Fifth Avenue for townhouse photos, Madison Avenue between 60th Street & 86th Street to see more pretty homes and architecture, and nearby around the Ralph Lauren Store (such a pretty intersection near Central Park!)

Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Upper East Side

New York’s most iconic art museum. It’s so large you could visit multiple times and still find something new to see. If you’re on a budget this is a great spot to visit because the museum is completely free. There are suggested entry fees, however no one is required to pay. If anything make sure you go and get a Gossip Girl photo on the stairs outside!