Visiting NYC? I’ve put together some of my favorite places, things, and activities in the city.
Ladurée in SoHo
398 W Broadway
A touch of French magic in the middle of SoHo. Like Ladurée on the Upper East Side, the macarons are simply some of the best the city has to offer, but unlike uptown, this location has a full service restaurant and café. Whether you’re indulging in brunch or refueling with afternoon tea after a day of shopping, you’ll want to stop in for something sweet! I recommend the raspberry tart and cappuccino (and you can’t go wrong with any of the macaron flavors).
The Meatball Shop
Comfort food done oh so right. Customize your meal with your choice of meat (and the veggie option is totally delicious too), preparation, sides, and desserts. The worst part is deciding what to order! The Brussels sprouts and snicker doodle cookie ice cream sandwiches shouldn’t be missed.
Alice’s Tea Cup
Stop in for a reasonably priced, whimsical (but not stuffy) afternoon tea. The menu is expansive, but for a little something, a pot of tea and two scones should do.
200 5th Avenue
The first bit of advice? Come hungry. Eataly takes up almost an entire city block right next door to the Flatiron building. Gourmet groceries, incredible cheeses/meats, and multiple restaurants to choose from. For a quick bite during the summer, opt for gelato (to be eaten across the street in Madison Square Park) and during the winter, warm up with a cappuccino to drink at one of the high top tables (great people watching). Birreria, located on the roof, has the best atmosphere and focuses on meats (although the kale salad and Brussels– minus bacon– will make vegetarians happy). La Pizza and La Pazza is my favorite… every option is divine. Put your name in and then shop around/explore while you wait. Bonus, the Nutella Bar just opened up!
The Plaza– Tea
768 5th Avenue
The Plaza is a great spot for afternoon tea. Choose between a few menus (including an Eloise one!) and enjoy the bustling and pretty atmosphere. Perfect for small groups and mom/daughter trips. Also notable, there are various restaurants in the basement collectively known as the Plaza Food Hall.
The best food. The best atmosphere. The Smith is great for big and small parties; brunch, lunch, or dinner– just be sure to make a reservation to cut down on wait time. Don’t forget to visit the unisex bathroom because that’s where they hide the best part… the retro photo booth. The macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts, and hot fudge sundae shouldn’t be missed.
Multiple Locations (for no/short wait, try 381 Park Ave S; for the best atmosphere/people watching, try 40 Central Park South)
Start with a mixed basket of breads and muffins for the table. The french toast is too good to pass up, but if you want something savory, the smoked salmon omelet is a great option. If you go to the Central Park South location in the spring or summer, you should definitely wait for a table outside– really, the people watching is the best!
Stick With Me Sweets
202A Mott St
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a fancy selection of unique chocolates and sweets. You can, literally, spend an afternoon sitting around eating bon bons! If you need some help selecting flavors, definitely try the S’mores and the Peanut Butter and Jelly, although you can’t go wrong with any of them!
Multiple Locations (UES is my personal favorite)
From the waiters’ striped shirts to the traditional French baked goods (made on site!), Maison Kayser should be added to ever NYC itinerary. Great for lunch or dinner, but best for breakfast or brunch. The tartines are all delicious (Nutella and fruit for a sweet tooth or smoked salmon for a more savory choice). Iced lattes in the summer and cappuccinos, well, they’re appropriate year round.
123 Second Ave
Heaven. On. Earth. All the French fries. All the dips. You can’t go wrong. Stop in for an afternoon pick-me-up (split a large!) or swing by for late night! Rosemary garlic was what I got and I still dream about it.
152 Prince Street
A yogurt lover’s heaven! Your favorite Chobani yogurt in unique and sinfully delicious bowls. Go for a classic fruit and granola bowl or go big or go home with a peanut butter and jelly bowl. An option for everyone in the family. It’s a great little pit stop while shopping on a hot day. There are a few seats inside, but you can also take the bowls and enjoy on the go.
10Below Ice Cream
10 Mott St
This is the coolest ice cream ever! For a flat fee, you pick out your flavor and get allllll the toppings you could ever want. Half the fun of this ice cream shop is how it’s made. They pour the cream onto below freezing metal plates where it turns into ice cream in a couple of minutes. Then they mix in some treats and scrape the cream into picture perfect rolls.
380 Lafayette Street
Everything about Lafayette is perfect. The ambiance, the food! The bakery is really adorable and you can pick up a few macarons or croissants to go if you’re in a rush. The lemon pancakes all but melt in your mouth. Don’t forget to add a glass of fresh juice– French rose is a great choice.
1538 Second Ave
THE BEST TACOS. The baja fish tacos are my favorite and the burritos are also quite perfect. Guacamole and chips to start shouldn’t even be a question. And if you’re 21 and older the margaritas are so, so good. (And come in mason jars… serious win.)
Multiple Locations (Madison Square Park is the most picturesque!)
Whether you’re a burger aficionado or not, a trip to Shake Shack is a NYC must. Especially during the summer, the Madison Square Park location is super adorable. Don’t be intimidated by the line, it’s worth it. But if you’d rather skip the line, try one of the other locations for quicker service. Keep it classic with a burger (the veggie burger is great too!), a side of fries, and the flavor-of-the-day custard.
9 Pell Street
Joe’s Shanghai is in the heart of Chinatown and it’s not to be missed! There’s almost always a wait, but it moves quickly so don’t be deterred. You have to get the soup dumplings (crab and pork is the best combo) and the General Tso’s chicken is a great addition to a meal. The experience is that much more fun with community style seating and a lively atmosphere.
The Little Cupcake Bakeshop
30 Prince Street
Everything. Is. Delicious. Get a slice of fresh cake, a red velvet cupcake, or (my favorite) a piece of Oreo cheesecake. Better yet, get all three. Nibble and split with friends. If you can grab a table, the bakery is the cutest little spot… but you can also take a pink to-go box and find a bench or park to enjoy!
Dominique Ansel’s Bakery
189 Spring St.
The home of the Cronut! Even if you don’t want to wait in line for a pastry, pop by during the afternoon for all kinds of incredible sweets and pastries. It’s a little cramped inside, but worth it! (Plus there’s an adorable garden in the back where you can sit, relax, and devour your goodies.
156 Ninth Avenue
A wonderful little restaurant. Fresh and healthy, but also filling. If you’re anything like me, you have to get the avocado toast. It’s basically a mile high and absolutely delicious. Gluten free and vegetarian options! Perfect for brunch on the weekends or lunch during the week.
548 Driggs Ave
Quite possibly the most adorable bakery and delicious too. I suggest an iced latte, two macarons, and a liege waffle. Should be enough sugar to get you through your entire day!
150 Wythe Ave
A delicate little spot with mismatched dishes, charming nooks and crannies, and wonderful food! The sandwiches are amazing and if it’s a nice day outside, you can sit in a little secret garden out back. Oh and the cakes? Oh the cakes. End your meal with something sweet or just stop by for a latte and split a slice (or two).
181 W 10th St
Just one of those nice restaurants. Nice food and a nice ambiance! Be sure to call ahead because sometimes it’s closed for private events. Just reading the menu will have your mouth watering. Great for dinner, even better for brunch!
18 Greenwich Ave
The sister restaurant of Bobo. Just as charming. The coolest part? There’s a rooftop farm where they source a lot of products for the meals. Sustainability and a great tasting meal? Yes, please. On a warm day, vie for a table outside. It’s a wonderful little spot to people watch!
29 E Second St
On a lively corner of the East Village, Rosie’s is one of the cutest Mexican restaurants I’ve visited in the city. The food is amazing– do NOT leave without having the platanos! The best part is that the plates are small and very sharable, so everyone at the table can get a sampling of the menu!
26 Bond St
All you need to know is that everything is good. Everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks. Everything. (It’s also the cutest little restaurant, tucked away so it feels like a hidden gem.)
267 Elizabeth St
It’s like dining on the streets of Mexico. But indoors. And in the middle of Nolita. Fresh pressed juices that will make your mouth water for literally days afterward and some of the best tacos in the city. I recommend the corn (omg, the corn), two tacos, and a juice!
The Butcher’s Daughter
19 Kenmare St.
Even the pickiest of eaters will find something here… and it’s vegetarian and dairy-free with gluten free options! Don’t let that scare you if you’re personally more of a meat eater. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is whether to go sweet or savory for brunch. (But don’t leave without trying the strawberry spritzer!)
Hands down the best macarons. Get the cute ones for Instagram and then get these to seriously enjoy. They’re all amazing, but I have a soft spot for the raspberry sweets!
DOUGHTNUTS: Doughtnut Plant, Dough Loco, Peter Pan Bakery, Dough
CUPCAKES: Georgetown Cupcake, Magnolia, Melissa’s Cupcakes, Crumbs, Butter Lane
MACARONS: Ladurée, Francois Payard, Financier Patisserie
Walk up and down Fifth Avenue between Union Square and Flatiron for some great big name stores. J. Crew, Anthropologie, Sephora, Kate Spade, Cole Haan, Sperry, Gap, Joe Fresh, Zara… etc. The Club Monaco store is an absolute #donotmiss– you’ll want to move right in with an attached book store, flower shop, and cafe. On Broadway and 19th St, you should also stop by Fishs Eddy for quirky dishware (it’s fun to just look at least!).
If you’re not afraid of crowds and tourists, definitely check out shopping in Soho. It’s fun to just bop around the streets and side streets. (And you can also get some sweet treats while you’re down there with food trucks, Ladurée, and cafes around every corner.) All of your favorites within a few blocks. Bloomingdale’s, J. Crew’s Men Shop, and Uniqlo shouldn’t be missed.
UPPER EAST SIDE
After a morning at the Met or a stroll through Central Park, hop on over to Madison Avenue for an inspiring day of shopping. Favorite store? KATE SPADE. Four stories of amazing. And right next door? Tory Burch. Lilly Pulitzer, J. Crew collection, crewcuts, Warby Parker (new! 82nd and Lex), Jonathan Adler, Barbour, and (of course) stores that are perfect for window shopping only. One thing to note, stores close early; best to shop before dinner reservations.
The Plaza– Eloise
768 5th Avenue
Hidden away in the basement of The Plaza is a little store dedicated to Eloise. A quick trip (after high tea, perhaps?) will fulfill all of your six-year-old fantasies of living in the hotel. Schedule this as a quick trip, it won’t take more than fifteen minutes to navigate your way downstairs and peek around.
Union Square Greenmarket
Right in Union Square, pick up the freshest of produce, flowers, and other goods. Definitely a perfect afternoon break of shopping (in Flatiron or Soho!) where you can pick up a snack like fresh fruit. Even if you’re not in the mood to eat, it’s fun to walk through. Days of operation vary!
75 Ninth Avenue
This kind of counts as a do/eat/shop. Chelsea Market is a giant hall filled with bakeries, restaurants, shops, and stalls. The perfect place for a rainy afternoon (but it might be crowded!). Pop in for a snack (like a People’s Pop popsicle) or a meal (Green Table is delish).
The High Line
An old railroad converted to an elevated park, The High Line is a wonderful excursion for the city. It can get crowded up there– especially on nice days– but it’s still a great break from the hustle and bustle of the city sidewalks. Great any time of the day, but if you can plan to be there at sunset, the views are out of this world!
Purchase tickets online and schedule a few hours to spend inside. It’s really powerful and moving… In a way, it’s like a time capsule and it takes you right back to the exact day. The information and stories– some I remember from the news when it happened and others brand new to me– are extensive. Film. Artifacts. Personal belongings. Photographs. Voice recordings. For more information, visit the Memorial and Museum website.
Open Table // Make reservations at restaurants so you don’t have to wait. It’s so simple and easy and will save you from being left outside waiting for hours. I recommend reservations for every meal, but especially brunch and dinners. If there’s a restaurant you don’t want to miss, definitely make a reservation.
Uber // Cabs are a dime a dozen in the city, except for when they’re not. Cabs change over at 4pm, so that’s a particularly difficult time to catch one and in super touristy areas like Times Square after a show. Uber is brilliant. Download the app (sign up and get $10 off your first ride!) and you can request a private car to come pick you up and take you on your way. A little expensive compared to yellow cabs, but if you’re in a pinch or want to arrive in style, it’s a must. (Nice to just have on your phone.) Warning: be careful of surge pricing! It will prompt you to agree so there won’t be any surprises, but rain or rush hour can cause prices to spike.
Hop Stop // This app is great for knowing where you’re going. If you want to navigate the city on a budget or like a local, definitely download so you have the subway map in your pocket. (Google Maps is great for directions too, but when you’re underground you might not have the cell service to connect.) Use Hop Stop to come up with the best travel plan and use it as a map too!
Hotel Tonight // If your hotel isn’t cutting it, use Hotel Tonight to search for hotels at a serious discount the day of.
Today Tix // Plans canceled? Use the app to find Broadway tickets at a discount on short notice.
WHAT TO WEAR:
Check. The. Weather. You really need to check the weather obsessively as you’re getting ready for the trip. Within a seven day span, you could have warm days, rainy days, and cold days– year round. You just never know. No matter what time of year you come, layers and comfortable shoes are always the best option. Nothing worse than having sore feet and blisters ruining a trip. Bring cute shoes for nighttimes, but ensure that you can walk at least twenty minutes in them!
Spring: You definitely need a coat or two. Depending on the weather you might want to opt for a wool coat (chillier days) or a light coat (cooler days). These rain boots are perfect for traveling and it’s not a bad idea to have an umbrella tucked away at all times.
Summer: It will likely be hot. Really, stifling hot– especially in July/August. Light dresses and comfortable sandals should get you through your day and then a cropped jacket or sweater for air-conditioned restaurants at night.
Fall: The trickiest of seasons to pack for. Could be freezing or warm, or anything in between. Layers, layers, and more layers. The perfect excuse to stock up on cozy knits.
Winter: It will be cold. Very cold. Bring scarves and hats and thick socks. Layer right on up. Don’t be afraid to be too warm as there’s no such thing while you’re touring the city.
Want to look like you live in the city? Booties, jeans, oversized knit sweater, wool coat… Plus a pop of color scarf!