AOK Guide to NYC

Friends asking for my NYC recommendations has become quite the regular occurrence. I have a draft  email saved that I reference each time, but I thought it would be even easier to put it in a blog post! If you're interested, I'd love to create guides to all of the cities I know and love like Oklahoma City, Seattle, Austin and beyond.

New York City has quickly become my favorite place to visit. I could go back time and time again and never get tired of it! You can read about my first two trips here and here. I'm excited to be heading back in a few weeks for a weekend layover before I cross the pond.

Please Note: Sorry these pictures are not the greatest quality! They were taken with my phone before I started seriously blogging!

Travel Tips

Take the subway! Buy a week long metro card and use the maps app on your phone (put it on public transport mode). It will tell you which station to go to, what train to get on and which exit to get off at. You will probably go the wrong way a time or two, but don't worry, it happens to the best of us. I always check the map inside the subway car to see what the next few stops are, just to be sure.

Wear comfy shoes! Don't try to be Carrie Bradshaw. You literally will walk a half marathon each day, so be sure your shoes are broken in, supportive, and blister-free.

Take a nap! All the walking and sightseeing is exhausting - NYC is not a relaxing vacation to say the least. I like to schedule a time to go back to my hotel and rest or nap for a few hours prior to getting ready for dinner.... I know that sounds dumb, but it is so refreshing and helpful!

Make reservations early! The first time I went to NYC, I waited entirely too long to log in to OpenTable to make dinner reservations and I ended up not being able to go to several places on my must-try list because they were booked up. NYC restaurants fill up fast, so plan your dinners and make reservations well in advance.

Favorite Eats

Doughnut Plant: The most delicious lattes and Creme Brûlée Doughseeds ... need I say more?

Catch: This is definitely the hip place to go - we saw NBA players there on our last visit! Their Scallop Gnocci is to.die.for. and the atmosphere is perfect for a date night on the town. They even have a gorgeous rooftop that overlooks the Meatpacking District.

Joe's on Carmine: If you're looking for original, NYC style pizza by the slice, this is it! The cheese is my favorite.

The Nomad: This hotel restaurant feels so upscale and classy! We always order the roasted chicken for two. It's pricey, but it's worth it, and is one of the best meals I've ever eaten in my life. Foie Gras, Black Truffle and Brioche....oh me, oh my.

X'ain Famous Foods: Disclaimer, this is C's recommendation, not mine! They serve authentic western Chinese cuisine. He recommends the hand made spicy cumin lamb noodles.

The Spotted Pig: One of NYC's most talked about brunch spots! It is seriously the cutest corner restaurant in my favorite neighborhood, Greenwich Village. The interior is quirky and fun. They don't take reservations, so if you don't want to wait, get there right when they open for brunch (there still will probably be a line, though, just throwin' that out there).

Esca: Mario Batali's Southern Italian restaurant - it's right by Broadway and perfect for dinner before a show! I introduced my in-laws to Esca and now they go back each time they're in New York.

La Birreria: My favorite place for Happy Hour! This rooftop bar sits above Eataly, which is worth a visit in and of itself. It's a great spot to grab an afternoon beer and get off your feet for a few minutes. They even serve their own micro-brewed beer on tap! My favorite part is that they host pop-up restaurants that have seasonal themes and decor like Christmas in the Alps or the Italian Seaside in the Summer!

Ladurée: The tastiest macarons in all the land! They taste best fresh, so it's a good excuse to eat the whole box on the spot. They are originally based in Paris, so they know how to do pastries right.

Doughnut Plant

Joe's On Carmine

The Spotted Pig


Favorite Sights & Activities

Top of the Rock: The view is amazing! One side overlooks Central Park and the other overlooks downtown. I hear it's a much better view (and faster wait time) than the Empire State Building. When I went, there was no wait to go to the tip-top!

Central Park: You can't go to NYC without stepping foot in Central Park! Whether you rent bikes, walk, run, or take a horse drawn carriage ride....just go! Be sure to meander through "The Mall," the widest pedestrian pathway in the park. You will recognize it from many-a-movie.

Broadway: I love getting dressed up and going to see a Broadway Show! I purchase tickets through TodayTix and highly recommend it. You purchase discounted seats in the section of your choice a week before the show. A concierge from the company will meet you in front of the box office before the show starts to give you the tickets - meaning no waiting in line!

The High Line: Such a neat place to walk off a few calories! It is an old railroad that has been converted to a walking train and garden. It is above the street level and winds its way through the buildings and provides tons of photo-ops!

• The Brooklyn Bridge: I recommend taking the subway to the Brooklyn side and walking back to Manhattan so you get to view the skyline on your walk! I originally thought I wanted to bike across, but there are so many people I think it would be distracting and too fast. Tip: there is a killer skyline photo-op from the Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Chelsea Market: A must for a foodie. There are lots of cute shops and restaurants to pop into.

• Greenwich Village/West Village: Seriously the most picturesque neighborhood to stroll through. The F.R.I.E.N.D.S. apartment is here, as is Carrie's place from Sex and the City. Many celebrities live in the area and are spotted frequently.

Top of the Rock

The Mall at Central Park

Top of the Rock overlooking Central Park

Central Park

Broadway Theatre

Brooklyn Bridge Park 

Greenwich Village / West Village

Where to Shop

Kate Spade: I love the location on Madison Avenue because it's four stories tall!

Tiffany & Co.: Because you need that Breakfast at Tiffany's picture! There are multiple floors of sparkly things to drool over. If you're lucky enough, you'll find something to take home!

• 5th Avenue: Nothing makes me feel more like Serena Van Der Woodsen than shopping on 5th Avenue.....except when I check the price tags and realize I'll never be as rich as S. Still, though, its fun to dream as you window shop! Louis, Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Barney's, Bloomie's.....ahh!

• SoHo: This area is known for it's fashion. There are a lot of cheap stores that sell F21 type clothes, as well as a lot of name brand stores. It's fun to stroll through because its more affordable than 5th Avenue, but still feels very "New York."

Century 21: This store is MASSIVE! It's like a department store on steroids. I found so many things here from brands I know and love like Lush or Steve Madden for crazy cheap prices.

• Time's Square: I personally don't love shopping in Times Square because its mostly stores like Forever 21 and H&M that we have in Oklahoma.... BUT, it's still worth checking out, just for the experience! All the stores are gigantic and overwhelming, it's a whole different world!

• Rockefeller Plaza: One day I'll see the Christmas Tree! Until then, I'll be shopping at Anthro and Free People.

Tiffany & Co.

5th Avenue


Where to Stay

• Financial District: This is my favorite area to stay in because it's not touristy, super convenient to multiple subway stations, and quiet at night. Since it is a business area, everyone heads out around 5 or 6, so you don't have to fight the crowd as much as in other areas. It is pretty centrally located in Manhattan, so it's just as easy to get uptown as it is to get downtown. Grab an AirBnB or a basic hotel!

The Fitzpatrick: This hotel is beautiful and convenient with a wonderful staff! I stayed here with my in-laws and fell in love with the views of Midtown, Manhattan. Highly recommend!

Views from The Fitzpatrick
Have you ever been to New York City? What are your favorite eats and activities? I'm always looking for new ones to try and would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions in the comments! It is my favorite city in the world -- that is until I visit Paris, probably! ;)

I'm excited to be road tripping it this weekend. It's only to my parent's lake house in Northwest Arkansas, but the way I see it, any trip is a good trip! Right? Right. Whatever your weekend plans entail, I wish you lots of fun and relaxation.

Happy Travels!

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