A Newcomer's Favorite Things to Do in NYC

 
 A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.

After five months of living in New York City, we’ve started to put a dent in our giant list of things to do and places to eat. So many of you have asked for recommendations and every time I sit down to write this post I think of more to add! I’m sure my list of favorites will grow and change - it almost feels wrong to go to the same spot twice when there’s so much around! - but here are the best things we’ve discovered so far, from restaurants to gardens.

A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.
A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.
A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.

Restaurants

brunch:

  • Epistrophy (NoLIta) is a great spot any time of day, but if I had to pick one thing to go for, it would be brunch.

  • While We Were Young (West Village) is a tiny, pretty spot that's empty when it opens and completely full 30 minutes later. 

  • Mother's Ruin (NoLIta) has an under-the-radar and very delicious brunch every day. 

  • Cafe Cluny (West Village) is always good, but particularly great for breakfast

  • Also great: West~Bourne (SoHo) and East Pole (Upper East Side). 

coffee:

  • Maman (SoHo, TriBeCa, Greenpoint) is my regular coffee spot with wonderful coffee, and cookies so good that even Oprah loves them. They also serve lunch daily and brunch on weekends!

  • Remi Flower & Coffee (Midtown East) is a pretty coffee stop if you’re in the neighborhood.

  • Bakeri (Williamsburg, Greenpoint) is everything you want in a bakery: glass cases piled high with everything sweet and savory, charming décor, good coffee, and a few cozy tables.

  • Bellocq Tea Atelier (Greenpoint) smells just as beautiful as it looks, which is saying quite a lot.

 A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.

drinks:

  • The negroni menu at Dante (Greenwich Village) is extensive, but the Bianco is my favorite.

  • Please Don’t Tell (East Village) is one of New York’s many hidden bars, and easily one of the best. Call to make a reservation well in advance, then feel very cool when you enter through the phone booth inside Crif Dogs.

  • Gallow Green (Chelsea) is always busy, but there’s good reason: it’s a rooftop that’s decked out with plants, lights, and the slightly eerie vintage aura of Sleep No More below - and the drinks are good.

  • Banzar Bar (Lower East Side) is hidden above Freeman’s Restaurant - you know, that Insta-famous light blue façade at the end of an alleyway? Make a reservation, check in at the restaurant’s front of house, and definitely order some small plates to go with your drinks - the cocktails here are strong, and the food is delicious.

dinner:

  •  Her Name is Han (NoMad) is in my top 3 dinners so far, and the best Korean food I’ve ever had. Everyone else seems to agree, so book a reservation a few weeks in advance.

  •  Don Angie (West Village) is an Art Deco-y Italian place that’s pretty much up everyone’s alley. The small-ish plates are begging to be shared family-style, so go with a small group if you can.

  • Uncle Boon's (NoLIta) doesn’t take reservations for their crazy-delicious Thai food, but you can put your name on the list and go for a drink at Epistrophy  or Rin Tin Tin while you wait. Or, get the takeout version from Uncle Boon’s Sister around the corner.

  • Pasquale Jones (NoLIta) is where to eat Italian in Little Italy. Their pizza and pasta are fantastic, along with a beautiful space and a bowl of colorful matchbooks at the front of house.

  • For an excuse to dress up - or just feel fancy - reserve a table at Le CouCou (SoHo) or La Mercerie (SoHo).

 A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.
 A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.

Where to Wander

  • On a weekend morning, grab a cup of coffee and walk through the quiet SoHo streets before the neighborhood wakes up. I promise the morning light on the famous cast-iron façades will be worth the early alarm.

  • Not many people make it up to Central Park’s Conservatory Garden (Upper East Side), so it’s rarely busy. There are three beautiful formal gardens here: French, Italian, and English. Wander through and choose your favorite, or just choose your favorite bench and settle in.

  • The jumbled streets of the West Village are perfect for getting lost on purpose and stumbling upon plenty of classic New York vignettes. If you don’t bring a camera here, you’ll regret it.

  • Every morning, dozens of shops in the flower district (NoMad) fill the sidewalks of 28th Street with fresh blooms and branches. Pick up a bouquet for your hotel room, buy armfuls of florals for a party, or just admire the scene.

 A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.
 A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.

Things to Do

  • The Skint is a blog that posts free and cheap things to do in New York every day - it's perfect for last-minute plans. 

  • For museums, The Frick (Upper East Side), Neue Galerie (UES), and Morgan Library (Midtown East) are all small, beautiful, and less busy than places like The Met. I’m so excited for the Whitney's (Chelsea) Andy Warhol exhibit next month! The Color Factory isn’t really a museum, but I can’t wait to visit in a couple weeks. Also of note: the free FIT museum & the new History of Magic

  • Central Park's Sheep Meadow is peacefully empty when it opens at 11am - the perfect time to have a little picnic and enjoy the park before it gets too crowded. I would bring a cookie from Levain Bakery or a pastry from Orwashers.

  • For views of the city, we love the Met's rooftop (UES), Cecconi's Restaurant  (DUMBO), The Ides Bar (Williamsburg), the tram out to Roosevelt IslandTop of the Rock (Midtown), and One World Trade Center (Financial District).

  • Brooklyn has yet to really charm me, but Nitehawk Cinema (Williamsburg) is a quasi-vintage movie theatre that serves cocktails and food - head here if you want to do something that feels New-York cool, but actually just watch a movie and eat tacos.

 A newcomer’s favorite things to do in New York City: where to eat, free things to do, where to wander in Central Park, restaurant and travel guide.

Who to Follow

There is no end to everything this city has to offer, and I’m always looking for new spots to try. For the prettiest shops & meals, follow these Instagram accounts: @ny_scene @heydavina @andreannu @prettycitiesnewyork @brunchboys

For restaurant advice, I use The Infatuation. They have replaced Zagat and in my experience they’ve never been wrong - without it I would have had no idea what to get at Uncle Boon's!

And of course, keep following along here and on Instagram. I’ll keep you updated on my new discoveries, and there are plenty of New York guides coming your way soon!

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