My New York City Guide

Brooklyn Bridge views

We just came back from the most wonderful trip to New York this spring and I can’t wait to share it all with you and relive it in the process. It still feels a little surreal and it might have been a little too close on the heels of our previous trip, but when opportunity presents itself you have to jump!

I approached this holiday a little differently to previous ones and decided to plan as little as possible. Obviously I didn’t want any regrets so I did do some research into what I’d like to see, but we took things as they came on most days. This means more wandering around aimlessly, shopping and stopping for coffee often.

Union Square market blossoms

Food

I made a tick list of all the things I’d love to try when on this trip and it included deliciousness like the famous cronut, bagels (we had multiple), pizza pies (basically just a whole pizza), hotdogs, donuts, Shake Shack burgers and Mexican among others. I managed to tick off most of the things, although hotdog stands ended up being few and far between so we went with fallafels from food trucks instead.

I had the best pizza in little Italy’s Puglia, although the entertainment did make it a little hard to have a decent conversation. Subsequently we also enjoyed some good pizza at Keste Pizza & Vino.

We arrived early-ish for a Domenique Ansel cronut expecting a crazy line, but we only queued for about three minutes and quickly figured out that they now rotate a single flavour each month. Both disappointing and easier to order. The strawberries and cream flavour was amazing but I’m glad we shared.

By this time in the trip we figured we’d have to start cheating if we wanted room to taste everything, so dougnuts for lunch it was. We ended up at Dough Dougnuts at the Flat Iron, which had a decent selection of flavours to choose from despite the original branch being in Williamsburg. We had the Mocha Crunch and Dulche de Leche, of which the latter was my favourite. This is also another treat worth sharing as the donuts are massive.

At Jack’s Wife Freda we tucked in to the famous rosewater waffle and whilst it was delicious, I think I might have appreciated something savoury more at that point of the trip.

 

We literally didn’t have a single disappointing meal, although the Mexican at Tacombi was way too spicy for me and made my eyes water. It is not for the faint hearted.

Our favourite though, much to my purse’s delight, was Shake Shack. The beef burgers weren’t anything special but do treat yourself to the crispy fried Chick’n Shack. The Shake Stack burger with a beef patty and deep fried mushroom is also worth a shout-out and we can’t fault their fries.

Coffee Spots

In sharp contrast to our previous trip to Europe, we didn’t have a single bad coffee on this entire trip. Starbucks was the most disappointing out of the whole lot and that is only because the rest was so great.

We made multiple stops at Eataly for late night coffee pick-me-ups (one of the few places open until 11 at night) and also tried a few other famous spots. Toby’s Estate, Birch Coffee and MUD (try the NY Breakfast special) all were delicious but the prettiest by far were¬† Old Rose, La Mercerie and Maman. We stopped into many more spots, but unfortunately I can’t remember all the names.

Shopping

Obviously New York is famous for shopping, but with the weak exchange rate luxury fashion isn’t really on my radar. I did find something I loved in Zara, but other pretty clothing stores like Sezane, Anthropologie and Everlane were more for browsing than shopping. But boy is it nice to nosy around and take in all the prettiness. Also don’t be afraid to stop in at one of the many markets as this is a great opportunity to support a local designer and pick up pretty jewellery at a steal.

Beauty shopping is where it is at though! I stopped in Sephora a few times but was disappointed to find the neither of the lighter IT Cosmetics CC creams were the perfect shade. On to where I did spend a tonne – Target, Deciem and Glossier. No stop in New York would be complete without a stop at the pink paradise. It is worth going early though (they open at midday) as they made us queue outside when we arrived a little later. I’ll share all my favourite purchases at a later stage though.

For home shopping West Elm, CB2 and Anthropologie (I could spend hours here) were favourites.

Sightseeing

I’m a massive sucker for ancient buildings, classical architecture and marble. I wasn’t expecting to like New York as much as I did. Whilst the architecture is mostly what you’d expect, brownstones with fire escapes and water tanks, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the city. Although it pretty much is a concrete jungle, the ample parks more than made up for it along with the beautifully curated sidewalks. It might just be because it was spring, but we found the prettiest flowers around each corner and often where you’d least expect it. Corner shops carried the prettiest tulips and peonies were everywhere.

New York Public Library

By the end of our trip the weather took a turn and the days became cooler and rainier, but that didn’t put us off visiting Brooklyn Heights and the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. Even the rain and wind couldn’t keep us away!

Of course you can’t visit the Big Apple and not stop by Central Park. In our case, we went twice when the weather allowed as it just had such a nice atmosphere. We also caught amazing views from the Jacqueline Kennedy Reservoir.

Bow Bridge, Central Park

Washington Square Park and Madison Square Park were also amazing spots, the latter obviously being our favourite pick with a Shake Shack and view of the Flatiron building.

Museum wise I chose to visit the Metropolitan and MoMA as I have an obsession with art. Both were equally amazing, with the Met offering visitors more than just art. The fifth floor of the MoMA was my personal favourite though as I literally sat in front of Monet’s lilies for several minutes trying to convince myself that it is real. I have it on good authority though that the Museum of Natural History is also worth a visit if you don’t fancy art.

Other favourite spots included the New York Public Library, which is just breathtakingly beautiful and Bryant Park at the back where we watched a free opera performance. I would also highly recommend you attend a Broadway show if so inclined. We managed to find cheaper tickets for the Phantom of the Opera and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Grand Central station

If given enough time, do read up a little on Grand Central before your visit. It is not only beautiful, it has a very fascinating history.

If you were looking for wonderful areas to just roam and explore I’d recommend TriBeCa (where Sezane is), SoHo and Chelsea. The Upper West Side was another favourite of ours with a lot of smaller bakeries and coffee shops.

Stay

We actually booked an AirBnB for the first half of our stay in Brooklyn and then splurged on a fancy hotel in Manhattan for the last few nights.

Our AirBnB was very spacious and offered great value for money, but in New York location is everything. Catching the metro into Manhattan was fairly easy and cost-effective as we just bought a seven day pass, but we did waste a lot of time on days where we wanted to head home before going out to dinner again in Manhattan. If you are considering a stay in Brooklyn, be sure to look at central Williamsburg if you plan on spending more time in Brooklyn itself.

In Manhattan we stayed at The Evelyn, which was in a great spot close to Fifth Avenue, the Flat Iron building and Madisson Square Park. In general it was just a great area to walk around in. I’m sure when the hotel’s renovations are finished it will become a favourite among many.

Ten full days in this magical city was only just enough to cover most of what I wanted to see and I could have happily spent even more time exploring! I’d love to hear about your favourite city spots.

 

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