There’s a reason why they call it “the greatest city in the world.” There is no limit of things to do or see in New York, which was one of my favorite things about living there. In my 5 months of time that I called myself a New Yorker, I explored and visited everything I could and had some of the best experiences of my life. If you’re headed to New York for a week, month, a year or even just a weekend, here are some of my favorite things to do and see!
Where to Eat
I’m going to apologize in advance for this being one of the longest sections… there is SO much good food in New York.
Ilili – Probably my favorite meal I’ve had in New York. Amazing Mediterranean/Lebanese tapas. Get the brussel sprouts and the beef fried kibbeh.
Beauty & Essex – It’s a speakeasy, and they give you free champagne in the bathroom. Go for brunch, get the pancakes and the grilled cheese/tomato soup things.
Tao – This place can get kind of touristy, but it’s a fun place to go and it is always crowded.
Vandal – This restaurant is inspired by street food and street art, and everything I ate here was amazing. I loved the Bao Buns.
Pietro Nolita – A pink as f* restaurant with amazing cocktails and pasta. It’s tiny, they don’t take reservations and only take cash or AMEX so plan ahead. No shortage of Instagram-able moments here.
Catch NYC – Super fun seafood restaurant in the middle of the Meatpacking district. Great food, and there’s a rooftop bar if you just want to go for drinks.
Cacio e Pepe – Pasta made in a cheese wheel. Enough said.
Totto Ramen – My favorite ramen I ate in the city. Cash only, no takeout and no delivery which is kind of a bummer but the food is delicious.
Fig and Olive – Get the truffle pasta, thank me later.
Junior’s – Go to the original one in Brooklyn, it’s less touristy. Get the cheesecake, they’re famous for it.
Gran Electrica – Cute restaurant in Dumbo with great street tacos. I might be in love with the wallpaper.
Balthazar – Very touristy spot, but great food nonetheless. Go for lunch instead of dinner.
Piccola Cucina – Amazing pasta in Soho.
Deux Amis – The most authentic and best French food. The Coq au Vin was to die for.
Quality Meats – I’m not a big meat eater, and I loved this place. That being said, I got the lobster but everything I tried was great.
Jing Fong Restaurant – If you’re looking for a truly authentic Chinatown experience, this is the place to go.
Gramercy Tavern – I only went here for a drink, but this place is so cute and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the food.
Boqueria – Nutella churros. That’s all I have to say about that.
The Smith – The best mac n cheese I have ever experienced in my life.
NoMo Kitchen – This restaurant has a beautiful view at sunset. Bonus points if you can tell me what the scent in the hotel lobby is.
Don Antonio – I actually heard about this place from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and decided to stop by for a post-theatre meal. It was amazing.
Pizza Beach – This place will transport you to a beachside pizza shack, but in the middle of Manhattan. Oh, and you’ll get some amazing pizza.
Juice Generation – Don’t ask me how many PB Acai bowls I ate in 5 months from here.
Sweetgreen – I was a self-proclaimed salad hater until I ate here.
Chop’t – The Kebab Cobb salad is my all-time favorite salad ever.
Shake Shack in Madison Square Park – Burgers with a beautiful view? Yes, please.
By Chloe – It’s vegan food, but don’t let that keep you away. It’s amazing, and you won’t even miss the meat or cheese.
The Bagel Store – The rainbow bagels you’ve seen everywhere. They taste more like donuts to me TBH, but they’re fun.
Ess a Bagel – AMAZING bagels. It’s a mom and pop type place that I lived way too close to for my own health. There’s almost always a line out the door, so plan ahead.
Joe’s Pizza – Some of the best cheap pizza in the city. Don’t go to New York without making a stop here.
Cheese Grille – A restaurant devoted to grilled cheese. I think you get my point here.
Liquiteria – My other favorite smoothie/acai bowl place.
Good for drinks
While We Were Young – The cutest little spot in West Village, with the best cocktail I’ve ever had.
Mr. Purple – Amazing views of the city from the Lower East Side, great drinks, plus, they gave us free cheese puffs the first time we were there.
Westlight – An amazing view of the city from Williamsburg.
Sweet & Vicious – Really fun bar in Nolita.
Bar SixtyFive – Don’t pay to go to Top of the Rock, make a reservation here and go for drinks. You’ll pay less for the same amazing view, and get a drink out of it.
Ghost Donkey – We went here for the popsicle prosecco drinks, but the nachos looked bomb too.
Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar – Gossip Girl fan? Me too. This place is a must-see if you are.
Baked by Melissa – Tiny [expensive] delicious cupcakes.
Carlo’s Bakery – Yes, the one from the TV show. They have great cannolis.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory – Amazing (egg free!!!!) ice cream with a beautiful view of the city.
Holey Cream – Ice cream sandwich made with a donut. You’ll gain 5 pounds but it’s worth it.
Do – Yes, this is the cookie dough place you’ve seen on Facebook. IMO, it’s not worth waiting more than 30 minutes for. Go on a weekday for a shorter wait time.
Big Gay Ice Cream – The ice cream is as fun as the name suggests.
Magnolia Bakery – Get the banana pudding, it is divine.
Laduree – This place is definitely touristy, but they have the best macarons.
What to See/Do
Broadway – Hands down my favorite thing to do in the city. If you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on tickets, go to the TKTS booth in Times Square. Not all shows will be available here but you can get a really good deal.
Top of the Rock – If you want a great view of the Empire State Building, this is where to go.
One World Observatory – Be sure to go on a clear day, and this view is breathtaking.
Paintbox Nails – If you want a really fun manicure, this is the place to go! I got the gel design and it lasted for more than 3 weeks.
Chelsea Market – A fun, indoor market with great food and some shopping.
The High Line – The High Line is an abandoned train track turned into a park and runs along the west side of the island. I love walking the High Line and then stopping at Chelsea Market for lunch.
Central Park – You will get lost in here, and it will be worth it. One of my favorite days spent in NYC was walking through the park after a blizzard came through and playing in the snow.
MoMA – I’m a huge fan of modern art, so this museum is always one of my favorites.
The Met – To truly conquer this museum, you need to devote an entire day to it. There is so much to see!
The Whitney – Several floors of this museum were closed when I visited, but it is definitely the “trendy” art museum to visit right now.
9/11 Memorial and Museum – While very somber, this is definitely a must-see on a trip to the city.
DUMBO – My favorite quaint little area of Brooklyn! You can find great views of the city, the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge here. Not to mention there is a cute carousel on the shoreline!
Brooklyn Bridge – I took almost every person that visited me to walk the Brooklyn bridge because it is so fun. I loved walking across from Manhattan and then exploring Dumbo, but you also get beautiful views if you walk from Brooklyn over to Manhattan.
Shopping – Let’s be honest, what’s a trip to New York without shopping? Soho and Fifth Ave are great spots, but they can get really crowded. There’s no shortage of it in New York, with great shopping areas in Soho, Fifth Ave, Flatiron District, West Village and the Upper East Side just to name a few. Soho can get pretty crowded but it was always my go-to spot for shopping! Also be sure to check for any sample sales going on when you’re visiting to score a great deal!
PHEW. This may have been the longest post I’ve ever written! Obviously, there are TONS of great things to see and do in New York and there is no way I could have included them all. If you’re visiting there soon, please send the city my love.