I’ve been living in New York a little over a year now, and I finally feel confident enough to clue you in on my favorite places. They say you can live in this city your entire life, and never really see any of it. So while i’ll be new in town for awhile, I’ve definitely had enough experiences worth sharing at this point. Every weekend I have people asking me for brunch recommendations, so don’t worry, they are coming.
where to stay:
Where you decide to stay in New York will ultimately shape your weekend experience. A few months into living in NYC, my sister and my mom came to visit me. They stayed in the Hilton Times Square. My mom made several comments on how the city overwhelmed her. You’ve probably felt this way too, if you stayed in Times Square……so don’t. Seriously, don’t. The surrounding restaurants are expensive and underwhelming. You can’t breathe because the air smells like trash and you’re stuck between a million tourists. I promise you, this is not the New York people choose to live in. If you’re looking to stay somewhere like the Baccarat, just go straight there– you don’t need me. If you have a budget, but want to have a good time, continue reading.
For the budget travelers: If this were Europe, you’d be staying in a hostel. You prefer to spend less on accommodation, and more on brunch drinks. I feel you. But the word “budget” in New York gives people Law and Order: SVU thoughts. Pod Hotels are really cool budget hotels for young people. They have free tours of NYC for their guests as well, which is totally worth taking advantage of. The Pod on 39th street also has a dope rooftop bar, which I’ve hung out at. Full of young people and not bouji. The in-house restaurant? Salvation Taco.
For the low-key baller: Midtown, not Times Square, is the best place to stay if you plan on going all over the city. I recommend my guests (mom + dad) stay there. It’s really easy to get to Astoria, and uptown/downtown. Also, there are a lot of really nice hotels here. I’d recommend The Quin, the Westhouse, or One Hotel Central Park. All these hotels are trendy, luxurious & not absurdly expensive (most months.) Bryant park is also a beautiful and central area. Close to a lot of great bars & charming restaurants. The Refinery Hotel has an amazing rooftop, and it is instagramable from floor to ceiling.
If you hate Manhattan: I think you’ve been hanging out at the wrong places, but I respect that you hate crowds. Either way, you should definitely stay in Williamsburg. While the hotels in Brooklyn are no bargain compared to Manhattan (this shouldn’t surprise you), they have a really cool selection of Airbnbs. Book far enough in advance, and this is a great option. This is definitely the affordable option if you’re traveling with friends. Plus, you can easily spend a day excited by Williamsburg… especially if you’ve been to the city a million times.
WHERE TO brunch:
Most bitches love brunch, and I am no exception. There is just something about champagne that makes eggs taste better. The best thing about New York, which I think is underrated to outsiders– BOTTOMLESS. In Boston, I as deprived of happy hour. In New York, my social life wouldn’t exist without drink deals. This city ain’t cheap.
Best Budget Brunch: One of my favorite brunch places in the city also happens to be the best steal. At Carroll Place for $26, you get a large entree & bottomless brunch drinks for 2 hours. They keep the drinks full at all times. It’s literally someone’s job just to refill mimosas. You cannot leave this place sober. That said, the food is also amazing. The eggs in purgatory is legendary. The pancakes are fluffy and delicious. You will definitely not get an Instagram post with their lighting, but you won’t care. Essex Bar on the Lower East Side offers a $30 bottomless, which is equally delicious and also photogenic.
Potato Pancake, Smoked Salmon, Sour Cream, Poached Eggs & Salmon Roe @ Essex Bar
Worth the Hype: I tend to avoid restaurants that don’t take reservations. But i’ve heard a lot about Jack’s Wife Freda, and I wanted to try it out. I got the poached Eggs, Tomato and Holloumi & we shared the waffles– everything was delicious and beautiful. THIS is the place to go if you want to snap a picture. There is no bottomless, but you’ll also save a lot of money just by getting the cappuccino. I also really liked Agave, which has enough hype that you’ll want to make the reservation a few weeks in advance (they have bottomless.)
Brooklyn Brunch: My friend Nelle took Ben and I to Milk & Roses in Greenpoint, and it was my favorite brunch experience i’ve had in the city. You have to go on a nice day, because then you’ll get to have brunch in their garden. All their food is delicious and photogenic. The brunch drinks are served in mason jars– to amplify the Brooklyn experience. I also love Cafe Colette, which is also extremely photogenic.
to kill your time:
There are a million things to do in New York, and it can be hard to know where to start. There is no way to fit everything into a lifetime, much less a weekend. Don’t stress out about seeing & doing everything. It’s simply impossible. Just let the city entertain you.
Brooklyn Bridge: One of my top suggestions for people visiting NYC is to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. An easy day would be taking the train down to Soho, walking through the 911 memorial site, and down to the Brooklyn bridge. Your Fitbit will be proud, but it won’t prevent you from going out that night. The bridge has some of the best photo opportunities, and either side is worth visiting. Also, it’s completely free. Not every second spent in this city needs to be expensive.
Central Park: Obviously you’re going to go through Central Park. You’re in New York. While there lot of cool secret gardens scattered throughout the city (more on that later), Central Park has quite a few nooks that aren’t super crowded. One of our favorite days in the city so far has included a bottle of champagne, paper cups & some friends.
My friend Bailey last spring in Central Park
Museum It: Look, we all know museums can be boring. But in New York there are so many, one is bound to suite your interest. I love The Met, and I think there is something for everybody there. After all, if Blair hangs out there it’s got to be interesting. The Museum of Sex is also a good look for anyone who is stuck in New York on a rainy day, especially couples.
WHERE TO go out:
I could lie to you, but i’m not going to. I hate da club. I have a boyfriend, and I loathe high heels. I’m down for the dance floor, but i’d just rather not be standing around a bottle service table. Unless it’s your landmark birthday, in which case i’ll come with a smile on my face. I’m not your girl for club recommendations, but I do know the places I like to go out.
For Live Music: The night Ben and I discovered Skinny Dennis, our world changed. Up until that moment, we hadn’t found our place in New York. Nelle took us there, because she is a Foursquare wizard. They always have a really good live band. There are $5 Narragansett tall boys, and they have a lively crowed early in the evening. This is the perfect place to go out at 9pm. Go here to dance. Once it gets too crowded, around midnight, go across the street to the Levee. Cheap drinks, CHEESEBALLS FOR FREE, and a pretty attractive crowd. You’re guaranteed a fun night, especially if you like southern rock.
For Karaoke: If you want to do some karaoke, but you want to trick your bros into thinking you’re just going to a dive bar– go to Iggy’s. Located on the Upper East Side (and worth traveling to), Iggy’s is the funnest karaoke spot in the city. One time, I went here with Blakeley and she refused to get off the stage for over an hour. She’s a good singer, so most people were happy to have a supporting vocalist. Everyone is young, good-looking & drunk on Budlight. If you want to step your ass into the 1980’s and do the absolute most, go to Planet Rose. It gets sweaty and gross on busy nights, but this is a full weekday hangout. Awesome for friends who literally just want to get drunk and sing.
For da Club: Though it’s not really my scene, I know a lot of you will want to go to da club. I asked my friend Selin, who I believe to be an expert, on her favorite New York clubs. Her favorite is Paul’s Baby Grand (cocktail lounge), attached to the Roxy Hotel. She said the clientele is not snooty, but not club ratty either. The interior is super cool (see below,) the drinks are really strong, and the music is always great and not super commercial. She also likes The Box, which she noted has R rated shows and can be quite sexy. If you want to club with the theater crowd in Brooklyn, i’d checkout House of Yes.
Paul’s Baby Grand
Anything you’re looking for in particular? Comment below.