Planning your first trip to NYC can be overwhelming — there are so many places to see, restaurants to try and things to do. Here are my recommendations based on my first taste of The Big Apple.
1. Zone in on Your Favorites
It’s impossible to see everything in one trip, so start by zeroing in on your absolute must-dos. Are you going with your significant other, a bunch of girlfriends or the whole family? I absolutely had to see a Broadway show and my husband was dying to go to Yankee Stadium, so we planned our trip around both experiences.
Broadway Tip: Go to the TKTS booth to score discount tickets on the day that you want to see the show. You can save up to 50 percent.
2. Hang Out at a Rooftop Bar (or Three)
It’s not always evident when you’re walking the city streets that there are these incredible rooftop bars with stunning city views, just a few stories up. We researched these trendy locales extensively and I would recommend all three places that we tried:
Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel is a modern, upscale rooftop lounge with beautiful views of the city. Drinks are pretty pricey (around $18), but it’s worth the view. Order “The Chrysler,” a classic and unbelievably seductive champagne cocktail made with honey, Hennessy Black cognac and fresh lemon and lime. It’s located at 145 E 50th Street in Midtown.
230 Fifth is a large restaurant and bar with a tropical oasis vibe and imported Florida palm trees. This is a great spot to go for a weekend brunch with friends and bask in the summer sunshine. There’s a great photo opportunity if you want your picture taken with the Empire State Building in the background. It’s located at 230 Fifth Avenue in Midtown.
The Press Lounge at Ink48 is super swanky, so make sure you dress to impress. No flip-flops and t-shirts are allowed. You’ll enjoy magnificent views of the city and the Hudson River. It’s located at 653 11th Avenue between Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side.
3. Pick Restaurants Based on Recommendations
This is hugely important. Conduct a Facebook poll, ask your friends, or at the very least, talk to the concierge at your hotel. When you’re in town for just a few days you must eat well. It’s worth it. Here are a few places we picked based on friends’ recommendations and they were excellent:
- Eataly is a MUST. It’s a combination of Italian restaurants under one roof located at 200 5th Avenue.
- KOI is a delicious sushi restaurant located at the Bryant Park Hotel on 40th Street.
- I’m a Shake Shack fanatic. You might have to stand in line, but if you go to the one in Madison Square Park, you can enjoy gorgeous scenery while you wait.
- Doma Na Rohu is a cafe in the West Village with a Bohemian chic vibe and delicious bites.
- Korea Town is known for it’s incredible ethnic food. Try the restaurant at 37 W 32nd Street. Yum.
- Cross the bridge into Brooklyn and get a table at Marlow & Sons, located at 81 Broadway in Williamsburg. It’s simply divine – super fresh food and fabulous wine. While you’re in Brooklyn stop in at Junior’s Cheesecake – it’s an institution.
- Peanut Butter and Company is one of Jerry Seinfield’s favorite hotspots. His “Comedy Special” includes a sliced toasted bagel topped with peanut butter, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
4. Bike Around Town
Hopping on a bicycle is my favorite way to see a new city. Throughout Manhattan there are Citi Bike stations, which makes it really easy to get from neighborhood to neighborhood. I biked through Central Park, Greenwich Village, the Meat Packing District, Soho and along the Hudson River. Stop to go shopping, grab a cup of coffee or play in the fountain at NYU. Avoid biking on the sidewalks (police will fine you for it) and try to stay away from Midtown because it’s too crowded for riders.
5. Avoid the Tourist Traps
They’ll suck you in and spit you out after you’ve stood in long lines and emptied your wallet. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely suggest that you walk through Times Square, just don’t eat in this tourist-saturated place because there are so many amazing restaurants in NYC and, let’s be honest, none of them are in Times Square.
If you must go to a highly visited tourist location, try to get the hook up. I would never have gone up to the top of the Empire State Building, simply because I don’t like waiting in long lines, but my cousin works in the building and she scored VIP passes that shot us straight to the top. Don’t have a family member that can hook you up? No problem – fork out a few extra bucks and you can pay for VIP passes.
Want more travel tips from Miss A’s Jet Set Diva? Connect with Kara Franker on Twitter or leave a comment! What do you like to do when you visit NYC?