If there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that whatever needs to be said about New York City has been said – and said well – before.
In the centuries since Manhattan was founded, some of the greatest poets, journalists, songwriters, and novelists have all spun the tale of the city that never sleeps. So, we won’t try to wax poetic and say it better, but what we can plainly point out is that as visitors to New York, we’re wow-ed every single time. It’s as an American a mecca as they come, and the thing we really love most is that each experience in the city can be wholly made your own.
You are in a place six million other people frequent, but you get to have your very own version of NYC. You’ll settle on your favorite borough, find a go-to bodega for hot coffee, and fall in love with a family-owned diner you can hole up in at 2 am. You can claim your favorite restaurant experience at a place with no sign outside and you’ll sneak into a bar crafted in a tiny slice of an old Manhattan basement with 7-foot tall ceilings. Those other NYC travelers might never happen across your most cherished spots even once.
And because you can never hope to see it all, we love hearing, and giving, a good recommendation for the Big Apple. Cheers to the food, sights, and scenery that have most shaped our love of the city. We hope you’ll plan a visit soon, too.
Jack’s Wife Freda, SoHo: Jack’s Wife Freda is a beloved bistro for good reason: They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week and whip up familiar twists on everyday food. The husband-and-wife owners’ family histories have made this an inviting, homey hangout. Brunch is one of the bests we’ve had, and the Madame Freda, a pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel, gruyere and a sunny side-up egg, is incredible.
Ellary’s Greens, West Village: The last time we were here, we ducked in from a rainy, windy, cold spring night. Ellary’s made for the perfect haven before a night out – quick service, a healthy hot meal, and a space that is the definition of cozy. It’s a warm-toned little hotspot cafe with a rustic-chic interior that serves up everything from fresh juices to cocktails, chickpea burgers to bacon mac & cheese. We recommend the salmon, and as many fresh vegetable sides as you can eat.
Bar Pitti, Midtown: Pitti is a local hotspot with some of the best people-watching and Tuscan Italian you can find. The handmade pasta will blow you away, and the antipasti offerings are a perfect pairing with your favorite glass of vino.
The Empire Hotel, Upper West Side: This brick cocktail bar has both a lunch taproom and a cozy parlor with small plates and vintage cocktails. It’s perfectly New York feeling, with some of the best cocktails we’ve had anywhere.
Death & Co., East Village: A small, subtle wooden sign with the bar’s name hangs on the front of the East Village speakeasy. If you weren’t looking for the place, you’d just walk right by. A doorman stands at the entrance of Death & Co., flashlight in hand. Announce the size of your party and then follow him through the raspy, heavy wooden door and into the darkness. The small prohibition style bar is lit only by candles. It’s so dim that it’s difficult to read the menu but then your eyes adjust revealing an undeniable ambience perfect for savoring world-class cocktails. I ordered the Hustle & Cuss, a Buffalo Trace bourbon, cacao, cinnamon, maple, lemon, grapefruit, and bitters concoction that was executed masterfully – its taste, texture, and presentation were dead on.
The MET, Upper East Side: The MET is quintessential NYC. The largest art museum in the United States, and one of the most visited in the world, this spring and summer the MET will host several exciting exhibitions, including Chinese art from the Qin and Han dynasties, and photographer Irving Penn’s Centennial show. Be warned: There’s no way to see it all in a day, let alone in a few hours.
NY Public Library, 5th Avenue: The New York Public Library holds nearly 53 million items, making it the second largest public library in the US, and fourth largest in the world. It’s equally stunning and a bit nostalgic every single time. Pop in to browse, study, or simply get a bit of refuge and quiet.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Lower Manhattan: This is one of those you have to see. We have a hard time rendering it into words, but the experience of standing on the ground was incredibly moving, and the recently completed tribute is large, elaborate, detailed, and simply beautiful.
Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Brooklyn: This one is a true gem – the super eclectic market has a little bit of everything. It’s a bustling flea-market combined with live bands, food stands, drinks, art, karaoke, Ping-Pong… you get the idea.
Central Park: When you find a slice of green space in the city that you love, you hold on to it.. It’s a beautiful landscape with several different collections and display.
The High Line, The West Side: The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City park that was built in Manhattan on an elevated section of what used to be the New York Central Railroad. By converting the High Line from an out-of-use railroad trestle to a public landscape, the project has brought beautiful greenery to what was one of the most industrial areas.
Sunset Park, Brooklyn: This is a true hidden treasure. While most flock to Central Park (an undeniably great part of the city), Sunset Park is equally great. It’s a bit more tucked away, but offers stunning sunset views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, and Staten Island from the vista. The park also has a recreation center and playground.
Coney Island: Experience sensory overload at the southernmost point of Brooklyn, New York’s Coney Island. The New York Aquarium should be your first stop. Here ocean lover’s can get their mind blown by the kaleidoscopic offerings: colorful tropical fish swim in giant schools, excited sea lions bark, and toothy sharks cruise. After the aquarium, walk the beach or boardwalk and see the historic shoreline. Then, grab a delicious world famous Nathan’s hot dog (or four) and hit the amusement parks, that is, if you can stomach the craziness of rides like Thunderbolt, Zenobio, The Tickler, Power Surge, and Sling Shot.