Things To Do In NYC: a Round-up of Two Vacations

Two vacations, one Big Apple.

Ahhh New York City, my favorite place in the entire world! I’ve been to NYC a handful of times and have already checked all of the classic touristy activities off of my bucket list. I’ve seen the Statue of Liberty, toured the Empire State Building, and paid my respects at Ground Zero. I’ve purchased a purse out of a sketchy warehouse building in China Town, and devoured meatballs in Little Italy. So, these past few visits, I decided I wanted to experience NYC like a local does (with only a dash of tourism, because, well how can you not?)  I recently vacationed with my boyfriend to the city for my birthday and it was amazing as always.  Despite the stomach bug and a delayed flight taking up some of our time, we made the best of it and had a blast. But, because we had to trim down our to-do list while we were up there, I decided to share the highlights from my last two trips to give you all a better idea of places to visit for the next time you go!

Where to Stay:

Airbnb

If you ask for my opinion, I will always choose staying at an Airbnb over a hotel. Your experience will be more authentic, and much more cost effective. I have stayed at two different Airbnb’s in NYC. One was located in the Upper West Side near Central Park and the other was in the heart of the East Village. The area that you stay in, though, is really up to your preference. The East Village was much closer to the bars and restaurants that we wanted to go to, but the Upper West Side had less traffic. When looking for a place to stay, pictures can be deceiving (as I found out on my second stay lol). Make sure to read as many reviews as you can! Sometimes the extra $50 per night will be worth it.

 

Chelsea Market

Located: Chelsea, 16th Street and 9th Ave

A place where delicious food meets unique finds.  I visited Chelsea Market for the first time last year and instantly became obsessed!  Without question, It’s now must visit place for me every time I’m there.  Besides being the perfect place to find great spices, cute little knick-knacks, and one-of-a-kind accessories, the food is endless and SO. GOOD. From Asian tacos to freshly sliced deli meat subs, this place has it all and more! Did I mention the gelato? Visit with an empty stomach because one meal will not be enough!

 

Speaking of Food…

There is no shortage of food to choose from in NYC.  In my opinion, the hardest part of my trip is always deciding where to eat! NY Style Pizza and a street vendor hot dog are always necessities when visiting, but how else do you decide where to go?! I’ve rounded up some of my favorite places that I went to in hopes of saving you from one major hangry crisis.

Sarabeths

Location: Multiple

The most adorable brunch place! I ate at Sarabeths with my two closest girlfriends, and for a second, forgot that I wasn’t Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. By the end of the meal, our table had seen a mix of every type of brunch food you could imagine. We had pancakes, eggs, a parfait, crossiants, coffee, OJ, fruit and more. You won’t go wrong with anything you order.

Clover Club

Location: Brooklyn, 210 Smith Street

Clover Club is another incredible brunch spot, located in Brooklyn. Sam and I met up with a friend who lives nearby, and she wanted to take us there because they have a bacon sampler.  Yep, you read that right… I said bacon sampler. I didn’t even know there were so many types, but apparently no matter how you cook bacon, it will taste incredible! For my meal, I ordered Buttermilk Pancakes and Squash Soup (I know, what a weird combo.) I liked them both, but I should have gotten the Huevos Rancheros (also pictured below). So if you go, don’t be like me, and just head straight for the carb coma.

At Wood

Location: Midtown East, 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue

Surprise! Another place that we had brunch. This definitely isn’t a place I would have found without the help of a local. Sam and I met up with some of the kids that he used to council at a camp every summer and had a great meal as they caught up on life. Atwood was right up my alley- trendy, affordable, and you guessed it- covered in wood. I highly encourage you to get their Mac n Cheese and avocado toast. The avocado spread was on the spicier side and had a nice kick to it that I didn’t know I wanted until I had a bite.

 

Blossom Ice Cream

Location: Brooklyn, 196 Court Street

Finally, I got to see what all of the Facebook fuss is about! Blossom is a Thai style ice cream shop where they pour the ingredients onto a cold surface and it starts to form in front of your eyes! Next, (here’s where I get technical), they take a scraper thing and roll the ingredients up into rolls of ice cream. If you’re still following what I’m saying, props to you…and if not, see the picture below.  However it’s created, it’s done deliciously!

 

Brindle Room

Location: East Village, 10th street and Avenue A

When someone asks you if you want to try the most incredible burger you’ll ever have, you don’t say no. Brindle Room was suggested to us because of just that, and while it may not have been THE best burger I’ve ever had, it was definitely in the top three. I had the Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger with Italian fries on the side, yum!

Katz’s Delicatessen

Location: East Village, Houston Street and Ludlow Street

A little food baby never killed nobody! Or at least that was our motto when we stopped by the famous Katz’s Deli. Not understanding how ordering worked, Sam asked for a half pastrami & half turkey sandwich, and ended up with TWO whole sandwiches, haha! On top of that, I ordered a tuna salad bagel, and we had some Matzah Ball Soup. Did we eat it all? Yes. Did we regret it? No.

After all, if you went to NYC with your Jewish boyfriend, and didn’t get an incredible bagel, did you really even go?

 

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Location: Midtown, 51st Street and Broadway

If you only go to one of the places I’ve suggested to eat, make it this one. You won’t just be getting a meal, but a really cool experience! At a first glance, you would think that this is just an ordinary diner with ordinary diner food, and you’re half right… except for the fact that the wait staff are all performers trying to make it to Broadway or working during their off season. The best part? They all take turns performing random songs as they hustle around the restaurant, and every single one of them has an incredible voice. It’s not something you will want to miss, especially if you appreciate the performing arts. However, my advice is to eat here during the off times, like a late lunch or an early dinner to avoid the crowd. There is usually a line to get in, but that’s how you know it’s worth a spot on your itinerary.

 

Bars:

On my last two trips I visited some pretty awesome bars. As a go-to wine gal, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and visit bars that were known for their unique drinks, and unique scenery. And most importantly, if I’m going to spend $15 on one drink, it better be worth it 😉

Employees Only

Location: West Village, W 10th Street and Hudson Street

Employees Only is a speakeasy style bar located in the heart of the West Village.  The plan was to stop by just to try some of their award winning cocktails, but the atmosphere was so welcoming that we ended up spending most of our night there.  I enjoyed a Ginger Smash… okay two Ginger Smash (10/10 would definitely recommend to a friend). Even if the cocktails don’t entice you, it’s enough to just go and see the bartenders show off their crazy skills. It was packed when we got there, so I suggest going early!

 

Le Bain

Location: Chelsea, 13th Street and Washington Street

Located just down the street from Chelsea Market is the coolest bar I have ever been to. Le Bain has multiple stories, but the best part, is by far the view from the top.  With all of Manhattan in sight, it literally took my breath away.  And the atmosphere was right up there with the scenery.  The roof is equipped with fake grass, fun chairs, and Instagram worthy drinks. This bar is definitely Sunday Funday approved, but don’t forget to charge your phone because you will want to take an obscene amount of pictures here.

Mr. Purple

Location: Lower East Side, Orchard Street and Stanton Street

Another bar with a view! They sure know how to do it right in NYC. Unfortunately, on both of my trips, the outside deck was closed, but it was still worth going. Mr. Purple is a trendy bar in the Lower East Side with a chill atmosphere and delicious drinks. What I love about this bar is that it never feels over packed. They do a great job of not letting too many people in at once, but with that being said, I suggest going early because you will wait in line. My drink of choice was the Rooftop Lemonade and the Bottled Moscow Mule, both light and refreshing. It’s my mission to check out the rooftop deck, so I’ll keep this one on my to-do list for next time too. 😉

 

Shopping

I came, I saw, I conquered…I left much poorer than I came. But as a professional online shopper (or so I think), I like to bring a little extra cash to blow on my favorite thing…. clothes! The shopping in the city is just way too good to pass up. On this past trip, I did most of my shopping in SOHO because Top Shop and Zara are basically across the street from one another, and my time was limited. I know what you’re thinking… shopping is always the same experience, and I thought so too, until I discovered Top Shop’s personal shopping service. Talk about feeling like a celebrity! I tried clothes on in a dressing room the size of my Air Bnb while Sam relaxed in a lounge just outside. Check it out the next time you are there, and ask for Shaquille, because he made the experience THAT much better.

Here are some of my favorite pieces that I saw in stores:

Museum of Sex

Location: Midtown, 27th Street and 5th Avenue

Not your typical trip to a museum…at all. If you’re looking for something different and don’t mind a little (okay, a lot) of naked people, then this is the place for you lol! All jokes aside, you’ll definitely learn something new and will probably want to un-see some of the exhibits (this is me warning you about the animal floor), BUT it was one of the highlights of my trip. Sam and I had a lot of fun, and did I mention that there is a bounce house?! If museums aren’t your thing, at least swing by and go into the gift shop—you definitely won’t be bored.

 

Wicked

Location: The Gershwin Theatre, 51st and Broadway

If you still haven’t seen Wicked, I have three words for you: go, go GO!!! I saw Wicked for the FIFTH time last spring and for the first time on Broadway, and it’s still holding the title of my favorite. Wicked tells the story of what happened before Dorothy came to OZ, before Glinda traveled in a bubble, and before the Wicked Witch of the West was, well… wicked. If there is ever a time to splurge on tickets to see a show, it is for this one. I promise you’ll leave with a smile on your face, and goosebumps on your arms. After all, the show does defy gravity. Find out more information here and check out the soundtrack here.

 

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn is always a stop that I’ve wanted to make on my trips to the city, but it wasn’t until my most recent trip with Sam that I was finally able to go. A co-worker and I were talking right before I left and he showed me his pictures from his last trip there. Mind you, he’s basically a professional photographer so his pictures were incredible, but he told me about Dumbo and the perfect spot for a photograph. I made it my mission to find the spot and explore Dumbo along the way! We stopped at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, where we experienced the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges up close while also taking a quick peek at Jane’s Carousel (adorably placed in between the two bridges). We walked a bit further to find THE SPOT at the corner of Washington Street and Water Street, featured on the cover of this post.

Central Park

I always feel like I’m in a movie when I visit Central Park. Maybe it’s because some of my favorite movies are filmed there, but there’s just something about that place that gives me the feels. I still remember my first experience seeing Central Park. I was nine years old on a trip with close family friends and we had dinner at Tavern on the Green, followed by a horse carriage ride around the park at night. It was beautiful then and it’s beautiful now. Take an afternoon while in the city and have a picnic. Get some food from Levain (located in the park), grab a blanket, pick a spot and just enjoy people watching. End your experience by walking around, browsing through the street art, and seeing some of the many statues and fountains scattered around.

 

Last but not least…

Times Square

I know I said this post wasn’t going to feature the typical tourist attractions, but I can never go to NYC without stopping by the brightest spot in town. If you’ve never been, this was probably on your list to begin with, but even if you have been, there is always something new to see when you are there. Take some pictures on the famous red steps and if you’re lucky, you might spot the Naked Cowboy (a bucketlist must-have picture). Lastly, travel back to your childhood and make a pit stop at the Toys R Us. Hellooooo! An indoor ferris wheel, what are you waiting for?!

 

To Do list for next trip:

-Artichoke

-Eataly

-Dough

-Smorgasbord

-Kinky Boots

-Anastasia

-Staten Island Fairy at Sunset

-Brooklyn Brewery

-McSorleys

-Mr. Purple (again)

 

What’s your favorite place to go in NYC? I’m always open to suggestions.

Let me know in the comments below!

 

XO,

Jess

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