Here is what I did in the Big Apple and my suggestions for you.
I don’t think I even need to explain this one. Go at night when it’s all lit up.
You can’t go to NYC without seeing a show on Broadway! I saw Mean Girls and loved it. It’s definitely a fun one. It’s similar to the movie but focuses more on social media. It’s funny and teaches a great lesson in the end. As far as the music and talent, I don’t think it was the absolute best but I still enjoyed it. Cameron Dallas, an Instagram model, played Aaron Samuels, and let me tell you, he should stick to modeling. However, he was only guest-starring for a few weeks. If you love Broadway shows and see a lot (unlike me) this might not be the show for you. For anyone who is a fan of the movie Mean Girls (I consider it a classic), this is a must-see.
If you are looking to get dinner beforehand, I recommend Tony’s Di Napoli. It’s classic Italian, and everything is served family style. If you’re with a big group it’s super cost effective because you can split several dishes. I recommend the penne broccoli garlic & olive oil. So simple but sooo delicious. There is one located in Times Square, not a far walk from all the theaters.
There are a ton of traditional karaoke places in NYC. By traditional, I mean you get a room with just you and your friends rather than singing in front of a bunch of random strangers. That’s also how they are in Japan which is where karaoke originated. We had the best time doing this. We originally rented the room for an hour but ended up staying for three.
I absolutely loved Chelsea Market. I honestly didn’t even know about it before going to New York. There are all kinds of restaurants inside including Thai, Mexican, Mediterranean, Cajun and so much more. I actually went twice while I was there because I enjoyed the atmosphere so much. There is a bookstore inside that I could have spent hours in (and I probably would have if I wasn’t with friends).
This is a walkway just above Chelsea Market. It gives you a nice view of the city. I didn’t spend much time up here and would like to go again when I go back. I have to mention it though because it is so popular.
There are so many parks in NYC but the only one I had ever heard of was Central Park. Bryant Park is much, much smaller. It’s only a couple of blocks, but I recommend checking it out. There are a lot of restaurants nearby as well as a little market with some fast-casual places. If you’re in NYC in the summer, you can enjoy eating outside. In the winter, there is ice-skating which I did not partake in but looked super fun.
My friends and I spent a night going out in the Lower East Side. These bars typically have a young, professional sort of crowd.
- Hair of the Dog: I don’t understand the hype around this place. It was like any typical college bar and it was so crowded I could barely move. This is one I would recommend skipping.
- Pizza Beach: This is a restaurant and bar. It’s a completely opposite vibe from Hair of the Dog and right across the street. Walking into this bar will make you feel like you’re on a beach in California. We were able to sit down and talk and just enjoy each other’s company. I had the most delicious drink too. It was vodka, tea, lemonade and mint or something like that. We didn’t eat but I bet everything would’ve been delicious. It had an 80’s vibe to it as they were playing 80s music along to Dirty Dancing in the background. Anyone (or place) that likes Dirty Dancing has my heart.
- Kind Regards: So many people recommended this bar and there was a line outside to get in the whole night. When we first walked in, I didn’t understand why. It’s super cute but just a regular bar. I was also confused because there weren’t that many people there. Where did all the people waiting in line go? We soon discovered there is a downstairs to this bar and downstairs is a full-on 70s style club. It felt like a totally different bar. We had a blast here.
As I’m sure you know, New York is full of great restaurants and amazing food. The next time I go, I honestly may just spend the whole time doing one big food tour. Here are some of my favorite restaurants from this trip:
- Bluestone Lane: My friend and I wanted to get brunch in Brooklyn and wandered in here. Best decision ever. The food was incredible. I wanted everything on the menu. On top of that, the service was great. They were so attentive and quick. I left here in such a good mood just because of how wonderful the whole experience was. I didn’t realize until now (as I’m writing this) that they have locations all over New York, DC, California and some other places.
- Joe’s Pizza: It’s the classic debate: New York or Chicago style pizza? I think I have to go with New York. It’s just so damn good. Joe’s is the perfect place to get a classic slice (or two) of New York-style pizza. This place is popular and that’s because it’s amazing. There was a line out the door but the employees have a system and it moves quickly, so don’t get discouraged and leave. It’s worth the wait, I promise.
- Baz Bagels: I’ve always heard about how amazing New York bagels are but I had never tried one. Now I can admit, they are definitely better. Baz is a cute, diner-style restaurant. I recommend going for brunch and getting an iced coffee.
- Junior’s: I’m not a big fan of cheesecake. It’s just never been my thing, however, I heard so many glowing reviews of Junior’s that I just had to give it a try. It was good. I split a slice of the chocolate mousse with a friend and even half was too much for me. It’s so rich, which is what I liked about it but also what made it hard to eat. The slices are huge. You can definitely split one three ways. I’m still not the biggest fan of cheesecake but if I’m going to eat it, I want it to be from Junior’s.
Sights and must-sees
- Brooklyn Bridge: I highly recommend taking a stroll along the Brooklyn Bridge. It has some of the best views of NYC. Start on the Brooklyn side so you’re walking toward the city. Make sure to get lots of photos to remember the view.
- Central Park: I never realized how big Central Park is. Movies and TV shows make it look small like you’ll just run into your friends there. You could literally spend an entire day just getting lost in central park, and I recommend doing just that.
- 9/11 Memorial: This isn’t something you have to visit for long but it’s something meaningful. I enjoyed just taking a moment to remember one of the most impactful moments in American history. If it’s windy don’t get too close. You’ll get splashed. I learned that the hard way.
- The Oculus: I actually didn’t know what this was until we walked in. It’s right by the World Trade Center and with the incredible architecture, I had to peek inside. I only spent a few minutes here, but apparently there is shopping, dining and much more.
- Friends Apartment Building: Located at 90 Bedford St., this is the location used for the exterior shot of the apartment building in Friends. It is not where Friends was actually filmed, though. If you’re a huge Friends fan, I would recommend checking this out. If I had just stumbled upon this building, I probably would’ve had no idea there was anything special about it. People do currently reside there, so if you decide to check it, be courteous.
- The Met: I got to live out my dream of being Blaire Waldorf (from Gossip Girl) by sitting on the steps of the Met. I didn’t actually go inside because I’m not that interested in art museums. Whether you’re a fan of art museums or not, I recommend stopping by and taking a classic picture on the steps.
The Paramount Hotel: This hotel was a great deal on Expedia but it had some mixed reviews, so I wasn’t sure about it at first. People said the rooms were small and not so clean. After staying there, I think the people leaving poor reviews were just nuts. I loved this hotel and would definitely stay there again. I thought the room was pretty spacious for New York and everything was very clean. The lobby was beautiful, and the location was perfect. It was practically in Times Square. When I was checking out, I met Ben Higgins, a former Bachelor (and my favorite Bachelor). I was fangirling for hours afterward. He was adorable, and he told me he was hosting GMA the next morning and The Paramount is where they were “putting him up.” If GMA puts their guests there, it’s obviously pretty nice.
Things to do next time:
New York is huge and there is just so much to do. There is no way you’ll have time for everything in just one trip. I hope I get back soon, and when I do, here is a list of some of the things I want to do.
- Statue of Liberty
- Empire State Building
- Katz Deli
- SNL, GMA or Jimmy Fallon
- China Town
- Beetlejuice on Broadway