I’ve been to NYC a number of times and always leave wanting more. I love getting to know this city more each time I visit and can never imagine a time I don’t want to go back. It is hands down one of my favorite cities, ever. New York is a place where I am always adding to my ‘to do’ list for the next time I am there, so this New York City guide post will absolutely be on ongoing one that I update along the way. Today, I’m finally sharing my New York City guide or as I like to call it, the ultimate guide to New York.
NEW YORK CITY GUIDE
Before going to NYC I have searched it all: Best places to eat in NYC, Best place to stay in New York, blogger’s guide to NYC, the best NYC travel guide, & more. I am continuously interested in what other people love about this city, so as with all cities, I keep a running list in the notes section of my phone & add to it as I hear new recs. I’ve been doing that over the years & love checking off new places when I go. Because of this, be sure to let me know any of your favorite places so I can look more into them & add them to my New York City guide for the future!
It’s more of a question of why not visit? I just got back & I’ll be there again in a little over a month & am so excited for yet another trip. NYC is different each time of year & depending on where you stay & what you’re doing, you can experience the city in so many different ways. Any time you go, it’s amazing. Plan your trip accordingly with the weather & what is seasonally going on, which I’ll talk more about below. My favorite reasons to visit NYC? The energy, the endless source of inspiration, the ‘do you’ attitude, the humbling feeling of being so small, the food, the culture, the entertainment, & the history. Keep reading through my New York City guide for ideas on what to do once you get there. No matter your reason, even if you don’t have one, just GO! The city is always waiting.
WHERE TO STAY
I recommend planning where you’ll be staying based on what you are doing. One of the best parts of visiting is walking around & feeling local, so I like to choose where to stay based on the location first. Next up, I choose for the overall vibe. I am big on aesthetics when I am traveling, so I like somewhere that inspires me or has a particular vibe. Where to stay is a big topic in my New York City guide because convenience is key!
The Nomo Soho: I adore this hotel. Truth be told, I had always wanted to stay here because I had seen it time & time again. I’ve heard SO many people who say this is their favorite hotel in the city. I love the Soho location & it’s beautiful. I absolutely loved staying here! You can walk anywhere in Soho & easily get to so many other neighborhoods nearby. The ivy filled walkway makes me smile every time I walk through it. There are so many great touches like fresh fruit infused water downstairs, staff who goes above & beyond with your bags, & an awesome gym on site.
I also love the restaurant downstairs, Nomo Kitchen which is on my list of places to eat below. If you want a chic, beautifully located hotel, this is IT. The rooms are cozy, but chic & beautifully decorated. I’m looking into staying here when I return for NYFW this year if I don’t rent out an apartment with a larger group of girlfriends.
The Royalton Park Avenue: I stayed here during a girl’s trip to NYC with my college roommates & would absolutely recommend it. Several of you messaged me saying you booked a stay there after seeing it on my Instagram stories & I’ve heard nothing but great reviews from those who have already stayed. I actually stayed in an apartment I rented around the corner one year for NYFW, & the location cannot be better. You are centrally located & there is so much to do just in walking distance.
I absolutely loved the overall vibe of The Royalton Park Avenue, too. The rooms are HUGE & we even had an amazing wrap around terrace. The staff was so helpful, too. I had a few requests when there (I actually got stuck in a dress before my friends got in town & had to get their help getting the zipper undone) & they were nothing but so accommodating! Everything you could need from coffee shops to juice bars to restaurants & shopping is around the corner. They also have some great restaurants/bars on site. We got drinks on the rooftop terrace of our hotel one afternoon & it’s such a great place to hang out to enjoy the city from above. They also have an incredible pool! I highly recommend staying here for a great, central location & cannot wait to stay here again, soon.
WHERE TO EAT
I always say too many restaurants and never enough time. I swear I end up eating four times a day sometimes while traveling just to try and fit in more things I want to eat. I love eating my way through NYC. Whatever you want, they have it. I’m breaking down restaurants below based on those I’ve been to before and then those I have on my list for future trips. I’ll forever be adding to this list on my New York City guide! I’m going to put them in alphabetical order to make it easy.
FAVORITES I’VE BEEN TO:
My New York City guide may be one of the most stocked lists in all of my travel guides because I’ve been here SO many times & it’s one of my favorite cities to keep going back to & to eat my way through. If I didn’t like something & don’t recommend it, it’s not on the list:
- Air’s Champagne Parlor: This is a great spot for light bites that pair perfectly with champagne. It’s very intimate & quaint, but so charming. We went here for snacks & drinks (champagne of course) before a late dinner one night. Such a cute concept!
- Au Cheval: The Chicago favorite made it’s debut in NYC. This upscale diner vibe is very passionate about eggs, but has a little of everything on the menu from bolognese to ice cream floats.
- Babbo: This is a NYC Italian institution. It’s in a cozy two story building in Greenwich Village and has amazing food and service. The wine list is so extensive I actually got overwhelmed looking at it, but they were so helpful in recommending the perfect bottle(s). I went here with a few girl friends and we all got several pasta dishes to share. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on the menu!
- Beauty & Essex: One of my favorite dinner spots, ever. I loved it so much in NYC that I went to the newest location last time I was in Vegas. It’s like a speakeasy vibe where the front is an actual shoppable pawn shop and then you go back (or up) to an amazing restaurant. The grilled cheese and tomato soup shots are my favorite! It has a fun, lively vibe and is a perfect dinner spot before a night out.
- Blue Ribbon Sushi: There are a few locations in NYC, but I’d recommend the Soho location. It’s some of the best sushi you can snag in the city in my opinion. I love it so much I even ate here when visiting Miami. I love all their unique rolls and its always a fun vibe!
- The Butcher’s Daughter: A freakin’ adorable, healthy spot (with several locations) that ensures all of it’s food comes from local and organic farms. Everything I’ve ever had here is great and it’s always worth the wait. One of my go to spots for brunch or lunch!
- Cafeteria: I first heard of this restaurant on SATC and have eaten here a few times when in NYC. This restaurant did a chic take on a diner and I personally love it most late night. I think my girlfriend and I set the record for the most mac and cheese ever ordered here late one night after lots of dancing.
- Carbone: The legendary Italian restaurant is worth every effort to get a reservation. You have to email right at 9:00 AM EST exactly 30 days before your requested reservation & even then, you may not get lucky or may get a very early/late time slot. Go any time you can get in because it’s AMAZING. The service is unparalleled & the food… I have no words. YOU MUST get the vodka pasta. I can’t wait to go here again. This is one of my favorite restaurants in all of the U.S. & definitely my favorite Italian.
- Catch NYC: The food is amazing, the restaurant is gorgeous, and the scene is great. Highly recommend lunch or dinner here on their rooftop if weather is permitting. It’s a perfect spot for a long, fun meal in the Meatpacking district.
- Cecconi’s Dumbo: A perfect Italian spot when you’re on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. It has views of the water, which makes it such a beautiful, cozy space for lunch or dinner.
- Chinese Tuxedo: This beautiful two-story restaurant is in an old opera house in Chinatown and is so darn good. lt’s lighter Chinese food served family style and its so darn good. We tried so many different things and I loved every bite of it.
- Eataly: If you’ve never been, you must go at least once. I went here all the time when we spent a summer in Sao Paulo and forever dream about it. There are so many different restaurant and food options inside this giant space (NYC currently has two locations) and I’ve never had a bad experience. I love all things Italy and this place is all the best served up in one. It’s a pretty chill vibe and is endless food and wine entertainment.
- Frank Restaurant: This adorable, quaint spot located on Second Avenue is perfect for a cozy, Italian dinner. I heard it was one of Chrissy Teigen’s favorites, & I really trust her opinion when it comes to food, so I went and am so glad I did. They had fun, lively music playing & all of the food was delicious. They serve good, home style Italian classics & everything we had was delicious. I’d recommend the lasagne verde & the spaghetti al limon for sure.
- Frenchette: A contemporary French restaurant with classic dishes & updated new dishes each day. It’s adorable & so good. I got the seasonal burrata for brunch one day & it was oh so good.
- Gitano: The cult favorite from Tulum opened up in NYC to bring craft cocktails & delicious, fresh Mexican food to Soho in the city. SUCH a fun vibe & good food.
- Gramercy Tavern: There is a reason this has been one of the top rated restaurants in NYC for years. Go for lunch or dinner, but just go. The menu is classic American and you can’t go wrong with anything on it. It’s such a great spot to people watch and has such a good vibe.
- Golden Hour: An adorable seasonal patio near The High Line that is perfect during the warmer months. I had a lobster roll and fries with rosé and it made for the perfect afternoon spot. I love it because you can sit and hang as long as you want!
- Jack’s Wife Freda: One of my favorite go-any-time restaurants. I love their menu and their vibe. There is usually a wait and it’s worth it every time.
- JG Melon: If Gigi Hadid says a burger is the best in NYC then it must be, right? Even if you don’t like burgers, it’s a great, chill spot for a good meal.
- Joe’s Pizza: This is one of my first stops every time I go to NYC. I eat at least a slice from here during each visit without fail. It’s my favorite slice in the city and I love it any time of day! It’s amazing late night after a night out or great for a quick lunch while being out and about. I love you forever, Joe’s.
- Joe’s Shanghai: A classic Chinese restaurant. There are two locations and either is great. Get the soup dumplings! You will not regret it. This is perfect comfort food on a cold day in NYC. We went here on Christmas Eve one year and it was such a fun, lively vibe and amazing food.
- La Esquina: This looks like a very chill taco shop on the outside, but it’s a speakeasy Mexican restaurant with an amazing vibe & delicious food. This restaurant was recommended to me so many times before I finally went & I can see why. It’s so different, fun, & good!
- Le Mercerie: An adorable French spot located in Roman & Williams Guild in Soho. Such a beautiful atmosphere & a great place for coffee, a cocktail, or a meal.
- Levain Bakery: THE best chocolate chip cookies, ever. Go wait in line and get extras to bring home with you. I always bring some back with me and if I’m feeling really nice, I share with family and friends. You can order these and ship them to yourselves, but of course, they are best when they are fresh right out of the oven. I’m drooling just thinking about them.
- The Meatball Shop: Because sometimes you just need your meatball sandwich fix. There are several locations and they are all cozy and delicious. There are so many options for how to get your meatballs here and every one I’ve tried is great. This is one of those restaurants you try once and forever crave.
- The Mercer Kitchen: One of Jean-Georges’ restaurants that I will forever love. This Soho gem is located in The Mercer Hotel and has a fun, sceney vibe. They serve creative, upscale American cuisine. Their mac and cheese and black squid ink pasta are my go to orders.
- Mr. Chow: For when you want Chinese food, but you also want a chic dinner location. Seriously love the vibe here & the food + service is amazing. They put their own spin on classic Chinese favorites, but you’re surrounded by beautiful fresh flowers & waiters in tuxedo jackets. Go to the Tribeca location!
- Nomo Kitchen: Such an adorable, chic spot located in the Nomo Soho Hotel! It’s a gorgeous restaurant, the vibe is always fun, & the food is great. Highly recommend any time, but I love it most for brunch. Their salmon burger is so delicious!
- Park Avenue: This beautiful restaurant named for the street it’s located on changes its menu and decor with each season. You’ll find it as Park Avenue Summer, Autumn, Winter, or Spring. It’s such a cool concept and I loved our experience here. Order the broccoli with spicy Cheetos on top.. it’s so unique and good.
- Pearl Oyster Bar: A no-reservation restaurant that is known for an amazing lobster roll. Perfect when you need your seafood fix!
- Polo Bar: It really doesn’t get more classic and chic. A perfect spot for a good, cozy lunch or dinner. Make reservations and go enjoy the endless people watching and amazing food.
- Rubirosa: A neighborhood Italian spot in Nolita that serves up classic Italian dishes and delicious pizza. It’s a really popular restaurant with a laid back, comfortable vibe.
- Russ & Daughters: You must go here to get your New York bagel fix. This is arguably the best you can find in the city. I highly recommend getting a bagel sandwich with salmon on it and their goat cream cheese. It’s such a cute, classic NYC spot. There will be a wait, so go prepared to take a number and hang out until you’re called.
- Santina: This Coastal Italian restaurant has such a fun vibe & really good food. This restaurant is right under the High Line, so it’s in a great location. It’s done by the same group who owns Carbone, so you know the food is authentic & the service is great!
- Sarabeth’s: A classic spot that I like best for breakfast or brunch. They have several locations, all of which are cute, charming restaurants. I always heard it referenced in television shows and movies and finally tried the Park Avenue location during fashion week with some girlfriends. I loved the classic brunch options and the people watching here.
- Scarpetta: A go to Italian spot in the city. I love the speakeasy style bar downstairs here, too. The service at this beautiful restaurant is amazing & it has such a good, lively vibe. I love their tomato basil pasta!
- Sel Rose: An adorable spot (with the cutest pink door) for craft cocktails & good food. They have a full raw bar & a lot of other great French inspired food.
- Shake Shack: They have locations all over now (including right here in Dallas), but there’s just something about Shake Shack in NYC. You can’t go wrong with going here and then walking around Madison Square Park.
- Standard Grill Café: this is such a good brunch spot. Sit outside if the weather allows! They have so many good brunch classics. Skip out on the Kale Ceasar or get the dressing on the side– its drowning in dressing. I love the vibe here & the food!
- The Spotted Pig: A no-reservation cozy restaurant located in West Village the serves Italian meets British favorites. It’s a great spot for dinner or to grab a drink. The grilled cheese is insanely delicious!
- Tavern on the Green: This iconic Central Park restaurant always has a lively vibe, good drinks, and amazing food. You have to go here at least once!
- While We Were Young: A tiny restaurant packed full of insanely chic decor & food. Make reservations for dinner or go right when they open for brunch. There will likely be a wait & it’s absolutely worth it. The craft cocktails are amazing & every detail of this space is well thought out & well executed. I had so many people tell me this is their fav restaurant in all of NYC & I can totally see why. I’ve been multiple times & can’t wait to keep going back!
ON MY LIST FOR ANOTHER TIME:
Because I will forever be adding to my New York City guide, I keep a running list of where I want to eat next time. As I cross these off my list, I move them up to the previous section with more info for you all! Please keep your recs coming, as I know new restaurants constantly pop up in NYC.
- The 18th Room
- ABC Kitchen
- ABC V
- Bar Hugo
- Bar Pisellino
- Beatrice Inn
- The Boat House in Central Park
- Cafe Clover
- Cafe Cluny
- Charlie Bird
- Dirty French
- Don Angie
- Hoxton Williamsburg
- Jacob’s Pickles
- Le Bernardin
- Le Cou Cou
- Los Tacs No 1
- MáLà Project
- Minetta Tavern
- Niche Niche
- Old Rose
- Prince Street Pizza
- Quality Eats
- Red Farm
- Simon & The Whale
- Via Corota
WHERE TO DRINK
I love finding little random places to stumble into in NYC. Some of my favorite spots are places I may not have even written down the name of! I do have some go to favs for you all to seek out and enjoy rounded up below (in alphabetical order) though because no New York City guide is complete without a good list of bars.
- Azul @ Hotel Hugo
- Bathtub Gin
- Bar Hugo
- The Beakman Hotel
- Blind Barber
- The Bowery Hotel
- Cafe Select
- The Campbell Apartment
- The Empire Hotel
- Employees Only
- The Fleur Room
- Grand Banks
- Hotel Chantell
- The Jane Hotel
- Jimmy @ The James
- The Last Light
- Le Bain @ The Standard
- Loopy Doopy @ The Conrad
- Nomo Soho
- The Rocky
- Rooftop Garden @ The MET
- Rooftop @ The Royalton Park Avenue
- Rose Bar
- Soho Grand
- The Standard Hotel
- Tavern on The Green
- Terrior Wine Bar on The High Line
- Trailer Park Lounge
- The Spotted Pig
WHAT TO DO
One of the many reasons I love this city is because of the endless things to do. Outside of the forever new restaurants & bars, there are tons of activities, sites, & other fun things to do. I’m rounding up some things I’ve done & love to do when in the city in my ‘what to do’ section of my New York City guide below.
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Catbird NYC- my favorite dainty jewelry shop
- Central Park
- Fifth Avenue
- The High Line
- The MET
- NYC Ballet
- Rockefeller Center at Christmas
- Staten Island Ferry
- Top of The Rock
- Washington Square Park
- What Goes Around Comes Around- for the best vintage designer finds
- The Whitney
- World Trade Center Museum
What New York City guide would be complete without some travel tips? I don’t have a ton, as I think tons of things are self explanatory about this city, but did want to include a few!
- Embrace the city life. Take the subway, walk, hail a cab. Drop in a random bar or cafe. My favorite part of NYC is just walking around & taking it all in. Getting lost down a new street or finding a new favorite place– it’s all a part of the experience!
- Use Google maps. The subway can be confusing, but if you put it in your Google maps & get step by step directions using the train, it will show you just where to walk to the subway, where to get on and off, etc. It makes it so easy.
- Wear comfortable shoes when out & about. You end up walking a lot, so if you aren’t taking cabs or ubers, wear sensible shoes. The city is hard on your feet!
- When you’re going out at night, splurge on cabs & Ubers. Trust me, it’s just easier & safer.
- Dress the part. For inspo on what to wear in NYC, see this post of my NYC outfit recap.