I’ll start this by saying there is no wrong way to explore New York City. I have been dreaming about visiting this city for years, and finally got the opportunity to spend a week there in October. It was everything I wanted and more.
Here are a few of my favorite things I did while in NYC! One thing to note is even though I was there for a week, I only just scratched the surface. These are just some recommendations from a beginner!
Don’t spend all your time in one neighborhood
One of the things that amazed me the most was how each neighborhood felt like its own little world. I was staying in Midtown (7th Ave & 55th St) which felt entirely different from Greenwich Village or Chelsea or Downtown or the Upper East Side. If you have time, I recommend spending a couple of hours in each (I didn’t end up having time to explore Brooklyn, Queens, or most of upper Manhattan) to really get the vibe of each place.
My favorite neighborhood was Greenwich Village. The buildings are more historic, made out of beautiful brick and there are plenty of adorable shops, restaurants and parks. It’s a gorgeous place for a casual afternoon.
A few recommendations in Greenwich Village
- Lupa Osteria Romana – Absolutely delicious Italian food and amazing service. Must have dish: Crispy Duck Agrodolce (170 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012)
- Tipsy Shanghai – Super affordable, authentic Chinese food. They have some of the best dumplings I’ve ever tasted! Must have dish: Pan Fried Pork Xiao Long Bao (228 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012)
- Purdy Girl (West Village Location) – Adorable boutique, reasonable prices and super cute clothes. I snagged a cardigan from there for only $32 thatI will definitely be wearing all of the fall season! (1362, 220 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012)
A few recommendations in Midtown
- Molykos – The BEST Greek food I’ve ever had. The homemade tzatziki is a must. Must have dish: Roasted Free Range Chicken (871 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019)
- Le Pain Quotidien – This is a bakery/café chain around the city that has delicious coffee and brunch (I recommend the ham breakfast croissant; 922 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019)
- Pick A Bagel – Deliciously fluffy New York style bagels. Nuff said. (891 8th Ave, New York, NY 10019)
- Tuscany Steakhouse – On the more expensive side, but absolutely delicious for a more decadent meal. Must have dish: Filet mignon with a side of sauteed mushrooms (117 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019)
Catch a performance
I was lucky enough to attend two tv shows (What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen & Wendy Williams Show), a broadway show (Lion King), and a ballet (American Ballet Theather). Whatever your preference is, definitely see some sort of performing art or entertainment – it’s one of the things NYC is famous for!
I had a ton of fun at Watch What Happens Live! and the Lion King on Broadway, but the ballet at Lincoln Center was absoluely goregous. Check out what’s happening when you are planning to go – Sundays are matinee pricing for Broadway!
Visit as many musuems as you can
The museums in NYC are world famous for a reason, they are incredible. I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the 9/11 Memorial and Musuem.
My personal favorite was the MoMA, as they had a whole room dedicated to Monet’s Waterlilies (my favorite paintings) and they had the original Van Gogh Starry Night. The Met was amazing for historic art – I loved the Oceania exhibit. The 9/11 Memorial was very powerful and well done, and the 9/11 Musuem was candidly very hard to visit emotionally, but I’m glad I did. It’s an important piece of NYC and American history that is important to remember and pay respects to.
Visit landmarks and tourist spots too
While it may be tempting to skip the Brooklyn Bridge or Empire State Building to avoid crowds of people, I still recommend you visit them (maybe just try to go during non-peak times). I adored the sights at both the Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building.
In lieu of visiting the Statue of Libery, I took a Circle Line Boat Tour around the island of Manhattan which gets pretty close to the statue. I definitely recommend this tour for people trying to avoid crowds but still sight see – you see all the bridges and the city skyline from every angle.
Be open minded to trying all types of cuisine
We didn’t make a single reservation during our time in the city – we just found places on our adventures that looked good. I had everything from Italian to Greek to Korean to French to classic Steakhouse food, and every single meal was phenominal. Just be willing to try new things and you’ll be suprised what you find!
A few of my favorite restaurants (other than the ones listed above)
- Friedman’s – AMAZING Fried Chicken & Cheddar Waffles at a café in Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011)
- Barn Joo 35 – Tasty Korean food and cute atmosphere in Koreatown (34 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001)
- La Bonne Soupe – Classic french crepés, french onion soup, creme brulee in Midtown (48 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019)
I hope you enjoyed my NYC travel guide! Let me know what your favorite places in New York are in the comments below.
All photos copyright Sonoma Girl on the Go / Jenna Fischer