Lifestyle, Travel

Travel Guide: Best Places & Spaces to Visit in NYC

February 26, 2017
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Have you got a travel bug on your mind? So do I. Always! While I’m not yet an expert on the best beaches in Tahiti, or the the most scenic views of Iceland (although both are on my bucket list), I can share my expertise on my home, New York City. In the almost fourteen years that I’ve lived in this city, I’ve fallen in love with so many places which I’ll be sharing with you in my travel guide below.

How do you like to travel? Do you like to check out the touristy spots, that the city is best known for? If so, of course you’d hit up Times Square, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and Lady Liberty, and Fifth Avenue. While these are amazing sites, if you’ve not seen them, they are also quite touristy and incredibly crowded.

My favorite way to travel, is to scout out places that the locals from the city love the most. I think that it gives you a true and accurate sense of the city. You won’t find New Yorkers hanging out in Times Square, and we dodge the place when at all possible. My nightmare would be to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Way too many people…so let’s skip that all together.

There are so many other incredible places and spaces in NYC. Here’s a sneak peek into this great big city, that I call home. Hope you enjoy, and hop a flight to come visit soon! xx

My Favorite Places and Spaces of NYC

Brunch Spots

  • Westville – with healthy brunch/lunch options, as well as the traditional favorites, you’ll love the tasty plates at Westville. I have an extreme weakness for the sweet potato fries. There are several throughout the city, so check em’ out.
  • The Central Park Boathouse – a bit touristy, but there’s nothing like the Central Park Boathouse. All I can tell you, is that it feels like “classic New York”. With gorgeous, giant, open windows, and a pianist in the background, the restaurant overlooks the pond in Central Park, as you watch the row boats pass by. The food is great, cocktails are delish, and it makes for a perfect afternoon. In the winter, you can sit by the fire place and sip cider. It’s a crowd pleaser for everyone that’s visited us. They don’t take reservations, so prepare for an hour wait on the weekend. It’s worth it.
  • The Standard Grille – Located in the heart of the Meatpacking District at the Standard Hotel, this is one of my favorites for lunch or brunch during any season. Grant has a sweet tooth, and loves their custard doughnuts. They’ve got a beer garden in the spring and summer as well.
  • Tavern on the Green - Although this can be a touristy spot, it is pure perfection and an iconic New York landmark. It has the best patio in NYC, which has a gorgeous view of Central Park. Summer afternoons, or evenings spent sharing brunch and a glass of rosé with friends is where it’s at. We’ve fallen in love with the Beer Garden at the restaurant which opens in the summer. We go together and share a pretzel almost every weekend, and take a stroll through the park.
  • Fred’s – Upper West Side neighborhood gem, with traditional brunch faves. It’s quick, simple, and the food is delish. I love the cobb salad here, as well as the sweet potato fries.
  • Cafés

  • Joe Coffee – this is my new favorite coffee spot! I usually order a sugar free, vanilla coffee, and it’s my weekend treat. Their lattés are divine as well.
  • Breads Bakery – the smell of this bakery alone, will draw you in. It’s basically heaven. The baked breads, pastries, and croissants are yummy and we stop here for special treats.
  • Bouchon Bakery – Located at the shops at Columbus Circle, this simple, little, french inspired lunch spot, serves up soups, sandwiches and delectable little pastries. I’ll occasionally swing by for coffee while in Columbus Circle, on the weekends.
  • Treat House – While this isn’t a coffee stop, it sure is a one stop shop for treats! Rice crispy treats, that is! This spot has mini, specialized rice crispy treats that will make you drool. With a million different flavors, you’ll find it tough to choose. My favorite is the chocolate pretzel, and the chocolate peanut butter cup. These make great hostess gifts as well.
  • Ladurée on Madison or Soho – known for their colorful macarons, they’ve got a million delicious flavors, and you won’t want to miss this pastry shop. It’s just as lovely as it looks. The shop on Madison Avenue is just for pastries and coffee. The shop in Soho serves a full, brunch, lunch, and cocktails as well. They have a garden to sit outside during the summer.

Afternoon Activities

  • Central Park – For every season of the year, this is my favorite place in the city to be. In the fall, I love the colorful leaves, winter for the romantic, snowy scene, spring for the blooming cherry blossoms, and summer for picnics in sheep’s meadow.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art – this is my favorite museum in the city and it never gets old. There’s always a new exhibit to see, and the architecture of the museum alone is breathtaking. In the summer, head up to the rooftop, in the afternoon for a view that overlooks Central Park, and a glass of champagne.
  • Chelsea Market – this is such a fun spot to food shop, finding specialized treats, or even to sit and share lunch with a friend.
  • Eataly – I love this specialized Italian market, which is located in the Flatiron District. The’ve got delicious pastas, breads, and I love, love their cheeses. While I’m not much of a meat eater, they do have a great selection, not to mention their Nutella bar. There is a roof top restaurant and brewery, La Birreria, which which is great for the summer afternoons.
  • Madison Avenue – If you read my previous post, and watched our video, you’ll know that Madison Avenue is one of my favorite places in the city to frequent on Sunday afternoons. It’s a great walk, less crowded than Fifth Avenue, and has some of the most gorgeous boutiques in the city.
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park – You can’t leave New York, without taking a stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park! It’s one of my favorite places to be in the summer, with a gorgeous skyline view of the city and Brooklyn Bridge, it’s perfect to watch the sunset over the city. While you’re there, you can stop by Grimaldi’s pizza, or snatch some ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
  • Hudson River Park – this a great spot to lay in the grass, read a book, or take a walk along the water. It’s a perfect running path too.
  • 9/11 Memorial at World Trade Center – self explanatory, and a necessary stop while you’re in NYC. The fountains near the World Trade are a memorable, yet humbling sight.
  • Oculus – the new transportation hub at the World Trade Center is a magnificent structure! It’s worth seeing. Inside, it is filled with every store you could imagine, and is a fun, indoor shopping destination.
  • Brookfield Place – connected to Oculus is Brookfield Place, another gorgeous indoor shopping mall with high end stores, as well as fun little spots to eat. What I love most about Brookfield, is sitting outside by the water, watching the sailboats in the summer.
  • The Highline – created into park, and once used for a railway, this is a walkway that spans from Midtown Manhattan to the Meatpacking District is a sight to see. I find it to be very crowded and touristy at times, but the gardens in the summer are lovely and the city/water views are fab.
  • Dinner Spots

  • La Sirena – this is an Italian hotspot located in the Maritime Hotel. It has been awarded a Michilin Star, and is spearheaded by legendary chefs, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. The restaurant has a sophisticated vibe, a stellar tapas bar, and has become one of our favorites in the city for a night on the town.
  • Bodega Negra – I’ve only been once, but this trendy Mexican spot is great for guac and margaritas, located in the Dream Hotel in downtown Chelsea.
  • L’Artusi – This elegant, italian restaurant in the West Village is divine. The food and wine are delish. The atmosphere is cozy, yet romantic. It’s also got a great space for entertaining small parties, upstairs in their private wine room.
  • Beauty and Essex – just say girls’ night out! Although I don’t frequent the Lower East Side, this restaurant is fancy, trendy, and you’ll love the sharable plates. Added bonus, they hand out champers in the ladies’ room. Hello bubbles! Count me in.
  • Tao Downtown – this restaurant turns into a nightclub and it can get crazy. While I’m not into that scene, I do love the asian fusion cuisine! The food is oh-so-flavorful and never disappoints. It’s got a fun bar as well, if you make it there before the chaos. My favorite dish is the sea bass appetizer.
  • Catch – another asian fusion restaurant, and one we’ve frequented for several years. I love the sushi here, along with the scene. My favorite dishes are the MRC Roll, Crispy Spicy Shrimp, and the Parmasean Truffle Fries. They don’t disappoint.
  • Fiorello’s – my favorite spot, with a view of Lincoln Center. We hit up this italian gem every other week, sit at the bar and order antipasto from our favorite server, Cleber. He’ll be sure to talk to you into the best dishes, along with a glass of Limoncello before you leave.
  • AG Kitchen – Margaritas, guac, fish tacos, and hollywood fries, oh my! You guys, this is NOT healthy for the bod, but um, it’s healthy for my soul. Salads are also an option, but that can be a snooze. I really do love the food here.
  • Cafe Tallulah – this little french restaurant is complete with yummy wine, delicious french cuisine, and dollar oyster happy hour, during the week. They’ve also got live music downstairs, along with a great lounge on the weekends.
  • Playa Betty’s – Californian, beach style cuisine, located on the Upper West Side, with a variety of tacos and margaritas. Are you following my food trend here?
  • Lure Fish Bar – this swanky, seafood spot is a great place for fresh sushi located in the heart of Soho.
  • The NoMad – located in The NoMad Hotel, and lead by Chef Daniel Humm, this fancy find, has delectable dishes you won’t want to miss. They are known for their whole roasted chicken for two, with foie gras, black truffle & brioche, as well as their milk and honey dessert. We’ve dined here to celebrate our anniversary, and my favorite season to visit is fall. The vibe is cozy, and romantic.
  • Luke’s Lobster – Ok, I’ve only been once with friends. I’m not usually a lobster roll fan, but they’ve got my favorite in the city. This is an easy, casual spot to grab a roll to go, pack a picnic, and pop a squat in the park for a summer feast.

Cocktails & Scenic City Views

  • Jimmy at the James Hotel- the rooftop views in the summer are spectacular. They’ve got a pool, which I’ve never seen anyone swim in, but it’s a fun spot to hang with friends, watch the sunset and sip cocktails.
  • Baccarat Hotel & Residences – if you love crystal as much as I do, you’ll drool over this place. It’s complete with crystal chandeliers, and the decor will make you swoon. The champagne is served in fancy crystal glasses, but the drinks will definitely cost you a pretty penny, so bring your piggy bank!
  • Gallow Green – located in the McKittrick Hotel, this is a fun roof top destination in the summer, for food and drinks.
  • Top of the Standard – the most gorgeous lounge I’ve been to in the city, and I’ll never forget it. Super tricky to get in but it’s divine, and the city views are worth it.
  • STK Rooftop – located in the heart of the Meatpacking District, STK Rooftop has stunning city foods, fun sharable plates, endless champers, and unforgettable views over the water.
  • Press Lounge at Ink 48 – gorgeous rooftop views of the city, and the river. Overlooks Times Square and is an easy midtown spot for drinks.
  • The Ballroom at the Jane Hotel – the decor of the hotel itself is stunning. The Jane Hotel Ballroom is a fun, sceney spot for cocktails, so check out this gem.
  • Flatiron Room – whiskey lounge with live music, located in the Flatiron District
  • Upstairs the Kimberly Hotel – I love this place and we frequent this spot in the summer. They’ve got beautiful views, fun, sharable plates, and delicious drinks.

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