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. The last several times I’ve visited NYC, I’ve done a recap of that specific trip, but haven’t yet written up a city guide with all of my recommendations. New York is a place where I am always adding to my ‘to do’ list for the next time I am there, so this post will absolutely be on ongoing one that I update along the way. Today, I’m finally sharing my NYC city guide or as I like to call it, the ultimate guide to New York.
NYC 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, and 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 and add to it. I’ve been doing that over the years and love crossing 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 and add them for the future!
It’s more of a question of why not visit? I just got back and if someone asked me to plan a trip again next month, I would. NYC is different each time of year and depending on where you stay and 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 and 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, and the history.
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 and 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.
The Royalton Park Avenue: I stayed here during my most recent trip to NYC and would absolutely recommend it. Several of you messaged me saying you booked a stay there after seeing it on my Instagram stories and I’ve heard nothing but great reviews from those who have already stayed. I actually stayed in an apartment I rented around the corner last year for NYFW, and the location cannot be better. You are centrally located and 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 a great size and 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 and had to get their help getting the zipper un done) and they were nothing but so accommodating! Everything you could need from coffee shops to juice bars to restaurants and 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 and it’s such a great place to hang out and enjoy the city from above. They also have an incredible pool! I highly recommend staying here for a great, central location and 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! I’m going to put them in alphabetical order to make it easy.
FAVORITES I’VE BEEN TO:
- 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.
- 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, and 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 and all of the food was delicious. They serve good, home style Italian classics and everything we had was delicious. I’d recommend the lasagne verde and the spaghetti al limon for sure.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nomo Soho: Such an adorable, chic spot located in the Nomo Soho Hotel! It’s a gorgeous restaurant, the vibe is always fun, and the food is great. Highly recommend any time, but I love it most for burnch.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 and food. Make reservations for dinner or go right when they open for brunch. There will be a wait and it’s absolutely worth it. The craft cocktails are amazing and every detail of this space is well thought out and well executed. I had so many people tell me this is their fav restaurant in all of NYC and I can totally see why. Definitely coming back here on the reg when visiting.
ON MY LIST FOR ANOTHER TIME:
- ABC Kitchen
- ABC V
- The Boat House in Central Park
- Cafe Cluny
- Charlie Bird
- Jacob’s Pickles
- La Esquina
- Le Bernardin
- Le Cou Cou
- Los Tacs No 1
- MáLà Project
- Prince Street Pizza
- Quality Eats
- Red Farm
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.
- Azul @ Hotel Hugo
- Bathtub Gin
- Bar Hugo
- Blind Barber
- The Bowery Hotel
- Cafe Select
- The Campbell Apartment
- The Empire Hotel
- Employees Only
- Hotel Chantell
- The Jane Hotel
- Jimmy @ The James
- Le Bain @ The Standard
- Loopy Doopy @ The Conrad
- Nomo Soho
- Rooftop Garden @ The MET
- Rooftop @ The Royalton Park Avenue
- Rose Bar
- The Standard Hotel
- Tavern on The Green
- Terrior Wine Bar on The High Line
- Trailer Park Lounge
- The Spotted Pig
WHAT TO DO
- 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 Mueseum
- 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 and 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 and 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 and 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 and Ubers. Trust me, it’s just easier and safer.
- Dress the part. For inspo on what to wear in NYC, see this post of my NYC outfit recap.