NYC is often viewed as Instagram posts of the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and eating hot dogs. Staying on the beaten path will take you to tourist attractions, but getting to the real treasures of the city will involve a trip to unique spots.
It may be busy, but New York City in a day can be done!
When exploring the Big Apple, remember a few key things: There will be lots of walking, tons of people, things may be expensive depending on where you are, and the weather can change pretty quickly. Wear layers (unless it’s summer, in which case bring water and sunscreen), watch as you cross the street, budget, and learn how to use the subway. To prep for the trip, it is also important to either purchase a subway map, or be prepared to use the subway function on Google maps. You will also need to buy a subway pass, which can be done at any subway station.
Instead of hitting the breakfast rush on a weekday, brunch can be turned into an adventure if you do it right. Make a reservation for somewhere in Brooklyn, and walk there from city hall…at sunrise. Once you make it to Brooklyn you can either walk to brunch, or take the subway there. We love the mimosas and french toast at Meadowsweet. They have the most lovely decor, open light, and artsy presentations. The service is fabulous, and the acoustic music makes for the most refreshing place after the long trek across the bridge.
After you have gotten your fill of Brooklyn, take the subway over to the Nolita district for the best coffee you will ever have. Head inside Yours Truly Coffee for a macadamia milk Nutella latte. The shop boasts little street views of vine encrusted apartments, guitarists on front porches, and floral boxes. The service is friendly, coffee is served in ceramic mugs, and there are plenty of outlets to charge phones for the day.
Walk through cheese shops, taste samples of European chocolate, watch street opera singers perform, browse Italian piano shops, and try cannolis at the first pastry shop and espresso shop in America, Ferrara Bakery.
It’s owned by the original family who opened it, and offers the best strawberry tarts, Italian sodas, and iced lattes. After, walk over to Chinatown for the lantern shops, dumplings, exotic fruit stands, and Asian markets. Snag some authentic ramen to take home as well! Afterwards, head over to Soho to explore. Soho is crammed with art galleries hosting wine tastings, silent auctions, locally sourced boutiques, and jazz bars. It is our favorite part of the city. Grab lunch at Arturos Pizza, and enjoy a live jazz pianist, red walls covered in art, and the best basil pizza around. It is a historical landmark, and such a great spot to meet locals.
You can walk over to Washington Square Park afterwards for more live music, bubbles being blown, a beautiful fountain, stunning town homes, and of course, the arch. Explore Greenwich Village, check out more art galleries, walk through flower shops, and sample luxury perfumes in the french perfumeries. If you want to snag souvenirs on your trip, we love the gift shop in the Metropolitan Museum of Art back in Midtown. Bring home Monet prints, mini Egyptian sculptures, and sketch books. It’s the most unique way to take home a piece of the city, and is a great excuse to explore this renowned museum.
Wander over to Grand Central before dinner. Take in the beauty of the Constellation Ceiling, do some people watching, and join in on some break dancing in the station!
For the best Italian you will ever have, take the subway over to Supper in East Village. Take in the stunning venue and feast from the savory dishes on their seasonal menus. Start with their roasted garlic crostini and mixed salad, and sip on their amazing wine choices. There are so many tasty directions to go as far as dinner choices, but our two favorites are the ‘green kale gnocchi all’aglio d’orato’ or ‘spaghetti pomodoro e basilico’. Both are to die for, and so flavorful. It’s some of the best food in the city!
Another great choice is in Queens. The Bonnie is in Astoria, and offers friendly service, strung lights, and of course, marvelous food. The drinks are perfection, and tacos are killer! This place also is super popular among locals for brunch, thanks to their huge avocado toast portions, so that is always worth the stop if you are there another day. There are so many ways to go as far as dessert goes. Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity is serene, crazy milkshakes at Black Tap are as pretty as they are tasty, and the cookies at Levain Bakery are huge, delicious, and warm. There is no wrong choice here, and all make for scrumptious stops.
The best way to end a day in New York is a walk in Central Park at sunset. Watch the colors turn the trees into kaleidoscopes, couples shoot their wedding pictures, and enjoy the serenity of this oasis in the city.
While the New York may be known for its mainstream hold on Times Square and getting a picture in front of Tiffany’s, this city goes so much deeper than that. New York welcomes everyone home, and reminds all of us what it’s like to see something for the first time.