Oh New York City, how I love you. I was born in New York, outside the city about 45 minutes. Both my parents are born and raised in New York and it is definitely a part of my identity. Although I may not have lived there long, I still consider myself a New Yorker. For many reasons.
One, I’ll never forget being made fun of as a kid living in Montreal for saying “watermelon” funny (I mean it’s WAR-ter-melon, right?) and I attribute my fast-paced, no-bullshit attitude to my New York roots that were instilled in me by my parents at a young age.
We visited often in the summers, and now go back every few years. I myself go back more for work and pleasure too. And more recently, did a full month in Brooklyn.
New York City is a massive yet also tiny island. It’s exhausting but also inspiring. It gets me excited and also has me feeling immense regret that I never lived there in my early 20s. So many emotions when I’m in the city.
But I can 100% attest that I feel MOST at home in this city than almost anywhere else in the world, even including Atlanta. The people, the vibe, the culture, I see myself more in New York and the people than I do anywhere else.
New York City Travel Guide
NYC is quite big so although this New York City travel guide is a great list of my personal favorite things, it may not make ANY sense to visit this one restaurant in the East Village. Or to trek up to the Upper West Side for a Levain cookie. But if you can, go, the cookie is insane.
These are my favorite places that I’ve been to after years of visiting the Big Apple. Here are my favorite things to see, eat and do when I visit New York City.
Getting To New York City
Flying To New York City
It seems as though each airport has its people. I personally usually fly into Laguardia (LGA). A complete shit storm of an airport, but closest to the city. There’s a bus you can take to get into the city that takes you to Port Authority for all of $16. But then consider where you’re staying from there.
Getting To The City From The Airport
I typically just take a taxi and it’s usually around $55. I’ve heard JFK is much more enjoyable in terms of the airport itself, but it’s not super close to Manhattan so your cab ride may be much longer and more expensive.
You can also get car service to take you to your destination and I really loved using Blacklane for this. Definitely a splurge, but I think if you can afford it, it’s 100% worth it. The cars are air-conditioned, clean and the service is fantastic. You can download the Blacklane app here and use code ANINDIGODAY15 to get 15% off your first three bookings.
I say, choose what’s more important. Flight times/budget and if you’re willing to spend more time in the car. And always consider where you’re staying in the city as it may play a role in which airport you should fly into.
How To Get Around New York City
The best way to get around New York City is by foot and by subway. I am ALL ABOUT that subway life. You can just use your Google Maps App and switch your directions to transit and it will show you which station to walk to, which line to take in which direction and so on. It’s insanely easy.
I highly recommend the subway since it’s faster, cheaper and honestly, super easy. It’s safe, just as always be aware of your surroundings and don’t be an idiot. Your typical big city advice, honestly. My general rule of thumb is to not take the subway after 10pm unless I’m with people.
There are also Ubers, Lyft, Revel and lots of taxis. Just hail a cab by holding up your hand, it’s truly that simple. Well if there’s a cab nearby that’s available. Always look for the light in the middle to be lit to know if it’s available! And don’t forget that cabs turn over at 4pm which makes it nearly impossible to get one at that time.
And if you’re heading to Brooklyn, you may want to check out the ferry. Download the app for the most accurate schedule and easily purchase and use your tickets with it. It was a great way to get around the city on a nice day!
My Favorite New York City Neighborhoods
New York City can be a little confusing since there are boroughs and neighborhoods. NYC Is made up of 5 boroughs. Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens. But within each borough are loads of great neighborhoods. Here are some of my favorites because they’re full of great restaurants, are charming and are where I’d like to live one day.
Lower East Side
This part of town is an eclectic area that I really adore. There is still a ton of Jewish heritage here as it is home to Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters. This is also home to the area, Alphabet City.
One of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. It’s so charming and full of residential streets. It’s also home to Chelsea Market, a must visit place for all the best food. Plus, it’s where you can pick up the High Line. An elevated walkway through the city. This is one of the best things to do in the spring time!
Below Chelsea, is Greenwich Village. Nearby are Meatpacking District and the West Village too. So many great little restaurants in this area and stunning homes. A few must-visit spots in this area is Washington Square Arch. Just grab some street food or a bagel nearby and head to the park to eat and do some people watching.
Greenwich Village is also home to the Friends apartment. You can find it on 90 Bedford Street.
Oh to dream to live here one day. The West Village is a personal favorite. So much great shopping and restaurants. Many beautiful brownstones and stunning stoops. This is also home to the Carrie Bradshaw apartment on 66 Perry Street.
Upper West Side
Head up here for a slightly more quiet Manhattan experience. Steps from Central Park, and lots of great restaurants and bakeries like the original Levain Bakery, Zabar’s and Magnolia Bakery to name a few. Head to the ballet at Lincoln Center, or stroll up and down Broadway for some shopping.
Upper East Side
A posh neighborhood is known for lots of gorgeous brownstones and luxury high rises. Head to Museum Mile with lots of places to explore from the Guggenheim to the MET. Grab an overpriced latte at Ralph’s and do a little shopping on 5th Avenue all right next to Central Park.
A must visit if you’re in NYC. SoHo is your shopping destination, great restaurants and iconic colorful cast iron facades. I find myself stopping every time I’m in this neighborhood to look up and snap photos of all the beautiful buildings. Plus, the cobblestone streets make it feel extra NYC.
If you love Italian food, check out Mamo across from the SoHo Grand Hotel. And if you need a night cap, grab a cocktail at the Grand Bar Salon in the SoHo Grand Hotel. It’s a hip spot where everyone is beautiful.
Right below SoHo is Tribeca which has historic industrial buildings, lots of cobblestone streets and just feels so hip and cool. Check out Bubby’s for brunch or lunch, and Max’s Restaurant for fantastic homemade Italian.
Where To Eat In New York City
Breakfast, Bagels & Brunch
Russ & Daughters
Citizens of Chelsea
Jacks Wife Freda
Thompkins Square Bagels
Le Pain Quotidien
Any bodega near you!
Quick & Casual
Citizens of Chelsea
Lunch & Dinner
The Spotted Pig
Coffee, Cocktails, Pizza & More!
Coffee Shops, Juices & Treats
Cha Cha Matcha
Van Leewans Ice Cream
Big Gay Ice Cream
Stumptown Coffe Roasters
Joe Coffee Company
Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon
Lounges & Bars
Air’s Champagne Parlor
2 Bro’s Pizza – $1 slice pizza, I swear it’s good!
My Favorite NYC Hotels
Sites To See And Things To Do In NYC
Top Of The Rock – Rockefeller Center observation deck. Amazing views of the city. I’d say give yourself at least an hour to do this
Central Park – Stay as short or as long as you like. You could easily spend half a day here!
Empire State Building – I have always been told to go to Top Of The Rock to see the Empire State Building, no need to visit it.
Flatiron Building – A popular photographic corner that’s also close to Eataly!
Rockefeller Center – While at Top Of The Rock, be sure to visit Rockefeller Center and go ice skating if it’s open!
St. Patricks Cathedral – Across from Rockefeller Center
The Met – Metropolitan Museum Of Art
9/11 Museum & Observation Deck – Get the tissues ready, this was the toughest museum I’ve been to next to the Holocaust Museum. It’s really the only museum as a millennial that we can walk through and remember it happening.
Grand Central Station – A bustling destination. Visit the oyster bar upstairs for a cocktail and oysters!
Times Square – An absolute zoo, but worth a quick visit if you’ve never been.
See A Broadway Show – The best way to spend an evening in NYC is to check out a Broadway show. Nothing is like a show in the city.
Statue Of Liberty – I’ve never personally done this, but why not? You can also do a boat tour around the island and see the State of Liberty that way.
Photos by Hannah Lozano
Brooklyn Travel Guide
Brooklyn is often overlooked and I am guilty of this for the longest time. But I have visited a few times to see my cousins who live in Carroll Gardens, and my friend Meghan who lives in Brooklyn Heights. It’s a great place to visit and has a completely different vibe than the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
After spending an entire month in Cobble Hill, a charming neighborhood just a couple of stops from Manhattan, I have fallen in love with this borough. Here are some of my favorite places I explored.
Where To Explore In Brooklyn
There are a lot of wonderful neighborhoods that you can explore in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is LARGE, so yes, there are tons of other neighborhoods. I barely scratched the surface! Below are a few favorites that you can totally spend a full day in that I really enjoyed.
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Carroll Gardens
I’m putting these all together as they are one after another in Brooklyn. Cobble Hill is super small, so you can walk right through it in a flash. These three neighborhoods are so charming. They’re lined with beautiful trees and brownstones and packed with things to explore.
So many great restaurants here and you can also explore the Brooklyn Promenade. Walk down Atlantic Ave to do some shopping. Don’t forget to walk up and down Court Street and Smith Street which are packed with restaurants and great shops. Visit Books Are Magic for a well curate beautiful local bookstore.
If you choose to stay in this area, check out 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. Steps from the Brooklyn Promenade and Dumbo.
For incredible views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge, check out DUMBO. right next to Brooklyn Heights, this small neighborhood sits on the water and has the most breathtaking views.
Check out Time Out Market for some great food options. And head to Pebble Beach to walk along the water. Grab an ice cream at Van Leeuwan’s, or pizza at Grimaldi’s. Do a little shopping from the Brooklyn Flea.
You can also head to the stairs in the underpass on Washington Street/Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Street to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a really pleasant walk to take and is a great way to spend an hour.
And don’t forget to take in the epic view at Washington and Water Street of the Manhattan Bridge. It’s stunning!
This hip neighborhood definitely feels more youthful and fun. And feels a bit more like the city than the above neighborhoods. Head to Williamsburg for more great restaurants and shopping.
Plus, visit Domino Park to take in the views of Manhattan. Pack a picnic, or just talk a walk with your morning coffee here. It’s simply a beautiful park.
If you choose to stay in Williamsburg, I love a Hotel Indigo. The Hotel Indigo Williamsburg – Brooklyn is simply stunning, modern and super chic. The rooms are airy and spacious for NYC. It was also super walkable to lots of things to do.
This laidback seaside neighborhood is full of cool artsy stores, breweries and even wineries. It’s got a quirky and artsy vibe to it and is a great way to spend an afternoon. Grab a sandwich at Defonte’s and a beer at Keg & Lantern.
A super charming wine bar with a solid menu. Enough to have a full meal. I loved the baked gnocchi and the ricotta toast. Also has a courtyard, reservations are recommended.
A wonderful bakery and cafe. Come here for a coffee or treat, or even breakfast for one of their egg sandwiches. I loved the chai latte and cardamom morning bun. One of the best pastries I’ve ever had.
A modern French restaurant in Carroll Gardens. Really loved the leek appetizer, it was a memorable dish that was so unique. Everything here was delicious. And be sure to finish with the yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
Cash only Italian bakery that is known for their lard bread. This is a loaf of bread baked with chunks of salami in it with black pepper and cheese. Just trust me, it’s one of the best things you’ll ever eat. Get one, and share it with whoever you’re with.
They also had the best rainbow cookie ever. A staple in New York that I grew up on. I tried MANY, and this was hands down the best one.
Frankies 457 Spuntino
Go for lunch, brunch or dinner. Everything here is fantastic but I will always remember the BLT sandwich.
A popular spot for brunch on the weekends in Carroll Gardens. Got the pickle appetizers, the egg scramble and the salad. Everything here is delicious, even the buttermilk pancakes.
Smith Street Bagels
Your typical bagel shop serving up great New York bagels with a variety of cream cheeses. They also have sandwiches, salads and some baked goods.
Cozy french bistro with a great menu. Got the mussels and fries. Quite possibly the best french fries I’ve ever had.
The Long Island Bar
Neighborhood watering hole with great cocktails. But they are known for their burger. Go for the double patty. It was a delicious burger and came with even better french fries.
Classic Jewish deli with lots of great smoked fish and lox options to choose from. Try a breakfast sandwich too. Everything here is insanely yummy.
A middle-eastern market that also serves up prepared foods. Grab lunch here or a few groceries.
Lassen & Hennigs
My favorite spot to grab a sandwich or snack to head to Brooklyn Promenade that was just steps away. The lemon ginger iced tea is fantastic and refreshing on a hot day. The breakfast sandwich on a kaiser roll is always a good choice. Cookies, cakes and pastries are all delicious.
Fun breakfast or brunch spot with a few locations. Variety of coffee drinks, cocktails and more. If you don’t like eggs, may want to skip this place!
An Australian cafe with fresh salads and sandwiches. I went with the egg sandwich and it was quite possibly one of the best I have ever had. Messy, but worth it!
Quaint Italian restaurant located in Williamsburg. We had the Ceasar salad, bolognese and the cacio e pepe. However, I was expecting typical spaghetti with the cacio e pepe, but it was a ravilio. So unique and different, and of course, delicious.
Located in The Hoxton Williamsburg, this Israeli restaurant is colorful, flavorful and fun. I loved the brick chicken and mushroom hummus.
Where To Stay In Brooklyn
Hotel Indigo Williamsburg – Brooklyn
Situated in the heart of Williamsburg, this hotel is just steps from trendy restaurants and shops. Plus, the subway is on the corner for easy access to Manhattan.
What To Pack For A Trip To New York City
Must Pack Items
There are a few things I always recommend having on hand when you’re visiting NYC. An external charger since you’ll be relying heavily on your phone for maps and subway info or ordering an Uber.
Plus, comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a ton of walking and the comfier the shoes the better. I’m almost always in a sneaker in NYC and I would not choose any other shoe for my day to day exploring. While my platform Converse are truly so comfortable, I try to wear a real walking sneaker whenever possible as well.
I also usually like to carry bags that can hold extra items like a cute backpack or a good crossbody bag. This makes it easier since you’ll spend most of your day away from the hotel exploring. You’ll want to pack essentials like a water bottle, external charger and so on. If there’s a chance of rain, be sure to pack an umbrella just in case.
Best Photo Spots in NYC
Photos in NYC make me SO insanely happy. They’re some of my most favorite content I’ve ever created for the blog. The city has so much character. And there are a million great places to shoot. Below are a few personal favorites.
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Minneta Street x Minnetta Lane (photo above was taken on that street)
- Flatiron Building (Broadway & 5th for that iconic shot!)
- Central Park Gapstow Bridge
- Plaza Hotel
- Washington Square Park
- Grand Central Station (inside or outside!)
- Tribeca (anywhere, but Vestry Street x Greenwich Street are in my opinion most iconic to the neighborhood vibe)
- Top Of The Rock – TIP, go up one story while your subject is on the viewing deck to get an epic shot!