new york city travel guide
Ah, The City That Never Sleeps. Home to Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte; amazing, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and a nightlife that doesn't quit. nyc is the perfect place for a hip girlfriend getaway.
Why We Love New York:
We love a good excuse to dress up and go out on the town; NYC is full of reasons to get dolled up. Pack those sparkly accessories! There is always something going on, whether it's 4PM or 4AM!
When To Visit:
Airfare tends to be more affordable in the spring and fall. We went in mid-November when the city was preparing for the holidays; twinkle lights and window displays make for some dreamy walks! A bonus of visiting in the fall: the leaves are changing! Glorious reds and oranges will accompany you while you visit Central Park. You'll feel like you got dropped right into a scene from When Harry Met Sally (by the way, Nora Ephron, we love you.)
We hate to say it, but this one is more on the spendy end of the spectrum. Of course there are plenty of ways to do it cheaply. We saved a TON of money by renting an apartment rather than getting a hotel - and it had the added bonus of a kitchen, so we could cook a lot and save even more. However, this does take a little of the fun out of exploring the vast gastronomic playground that is New York. Our advice is to picnic when you can (Trader Joe’s is a lifesaver) and splurge on a few fancy cocktails and cool experiences.
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- Tia Pol in Chelsea: There are two words you need to know in order to guarantee success at this tiny, Spanish-inspired gem of a restaurant: patatas bravas. Say it with me now! One bite of patatas bravas, basically fancy potatoes with aioli, are enough to make you say "ole!" Seriously ladies, please do not pass up the chance to eat these amazing tapas over a glass of wine.
- Tartinery in Nolita: The design of this place made us do a double-take as we walked by for the first time on a mission for some mid-afternoon snacks. Rocking an industrial-chic -and somehow still an entirely comfortable and welcoming vibe, this turned out to be the perfect spot for a light meal. We shared a few tartines and enjoyed fresh juices. Don't forget to excuse yourself to freshen up in the chalkboard-painted restrooms. And by "freshen up" we mean go take a sketch break. Because you are a grown-up, darn it!
- Gafe Gitane in Nolita (one of many locations): This place. THIS PLACE. Go here for breakfast or brunch. Prepare to be blown away by our favorite small plate: the avocado toast with lemon and olive oil. We feel pretty strongly that this is a good place to nurse your hangover. There there. Just eat some toast. You'll be okay.
- Cafe Habana in Nolita: We stood in line at their NoLita location for soooo long, but everyone agreed that their famous Mexican Style Corn was off the charts. Definitely a great little place to go for dinner. No need to dress up; come as you are and be ready to walk away with a satisfied belly.
- Grimaldi’s near the Brooklyn Bridge: This is one of those things that we would recommend you do if it's one of your first trips to the Big Apple. Will you stand in a line outside for almost an hour to get a table? Probably. Will you also experience amazing pizza at a beloved New York establishment? Most definitely. A great choice for after you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
- We're happy to report that now you CAN get good Mexican food in NYC. If you find the line at Grimaldi's too long, head next door to Gran Electrica. A little birdie told us that the margaritas are alone worth the trip, and the outdoor patio would be a great spot to hang on a warm summer evening.
- Zoe in the Lower East Side: If you're looking for a spot to eat a fancy-ish dinner before going out on the town, Zoe has what you need. It's small but not too small; a good place to have a conversation with your gals. The gnocchi was delightful.
- Shake Shack in the Theatre District, with various other locations: They had us at their flashy neon signage. This place has an upbeat environment, clean design, and a kick-ass burger menu. Yes, you can order beer. AND curly fries. The clientele were an eclectic mixture of high school students on dates, pre-clubbers, and late-night theatre crowd. Great for a late-night, casual meal.
- Joseph Leonard: One night during our last visit, we found ourselves with some extra time on our hands after dinner, so we played a game. "Should we walk down this street or THIS street?" We decided to go into any bar that called our name, and Joseph Leonard's adorable storefront sucked us in. This place is on the tiny side, with only a small bar and a handful of tables.
- The Raines Law Room: Head here to relax in a totally chill, speakeasy type lounge. It’s located below street level, and we have to admit we were a little intimidated by the lack of sign and bouncer who seemed like he wanted a password. Once seated inside though in our comfy chairs with some tasty cocktails in hand, we were feeling right at home.
- Buddakan: We came here mainly to check out the spectacular interior design and briefly pretend to be fancy New Yorkers. It didn’t disappoint, with soaring ceilings, monumental stone walls and intricate chandeliers. The downside is, you will only be able to afford one drink. Unless you are a Kardashian.
- Blind Tiger: This pub has a solid beer selection, and is great for scoping out college-age fellas. They were too young for us, but you youngin's in your twenties might enjoy yourselves more than we did.
- Ports: We were pleasantly surprised to find this cute little cafe within convenient walking distance of our Chelsea pad. They feature a rotating selection of beans and a new brew every day.
- Ninth Street Espresso: Classic NYC coffee joint. We stopped by here during our stroll through the Chelsea Market and it was delicious.
- Cafe Dada, offers Blue Bottle Coffee (Park Slope): We stumbled upon this place after during a marathon walk through Park Slope window-shopping while in sore need of a pick-me-up. We were happy to find some Blue Bottle coffee inside.
- Stumptown (Ace Hotel): It’s always nice to see a little part of the Northwest in NYC. Stumptown is legit, don’t pass it up.
- Airbnb: Want to feel more like a local in NYC? Renting an apartment is a great alternative to expensive hotel rooms. Set up your laptop by a window and pretend you're Carrie Bradshaw. P.S. Check ou the Airbnb for some really helpful neighborhood guides. We recommend looking for a place in the hip Chelsea neighborhood.
- ACE Hotel: You can't get any more hipster than this, folks. We love the eclectic interior design of the lobby (It's hard to miss the huge "Excelsior" sign above the front desk) and the rooms themselves are clean, uber hip, and minimalist. Hipster-chic, we would say.
- Laughing Lotus Yoga Center: This studio is very welcoming and friendly, and we were surprised by the affordability. A week long pass with mat rental included was purchased for what we would expect for a single drop-in. The classes are varied in style, emphasize spirituality while remaining moderately challenging.
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, either on your way to or from Brooklyn.
- Do a twitter search for “Ryan Gosling NYC” to see how close you are to him right now. This is a fun game to play to help you kill time while waiting for your table at Cafe Habana, for example.
- Have a picnic! Head to your closest Trader Joe's for cheese and snacks. Pack some napkins and drinks, and head to Central Park. Stop at a Nuts4Nuts stand on the way into the park -believe us, they're worth the $5. Claim a spot on the big rocks near the picturesque Central Park Boathouse, and voila! Hip picnics are for winners!
- Go dancing at The Ballroom at the Jane Hotel.
- A Broadway Show! Stand in line first thing in the morning to get rush tickets to a Broadway show, and then get all fancied up that evening to attend aforementioned Broadway show. Check out each show's website for details. We saw Once the Musical, which was amazing. Totally worth standing in line at 8AM for $35 tickets!
- The Highline: start by wandering through the Chelsea Market, grabbing coffee at Ninth Street Espresso and make your way above ground and along this beautiful modern urban park.
- Check out Brooklyn for a day. Stop at East River State Park for a killer view of the Manhattan Skyline.