Hello and welcome back to my blog. The official New York City Guide is finally here, all curated by yours truly. It’s crazy that I get to be an NYC local and that I get to call it my home, finally. I hope you find it helpful, and as always, thank you for being here, reading my blog, and supporting every move I make in this crazy life journey.

If you see a (*) next to something, that means it’s my personal favorite. I’m new to NYC, so I will come back and update this blog post often as I get to discover new things.

The Ultimate New York City Guide

  1. Know Before You Go, Local Tips, & Seasonal Things You Shouldn’t Miss
  2. NYC Classics
  3. NYC Neighborhoods
  4. NYC Parks
  5. NYC Restaurants & Markets
  6. Night Life & Bars
  7. Coffee Shops
  8. Bakeries, Desserts, & Tea Drinks
  9. Clothing Stores 
  10. Furniture Shops 
  11. Specialty Stores
  12. Plant Shops, Bookstores, & Stationery Stores
  13. Museums
  14. Beaches in NYC
  15. Day Trip Ideas from NYC

1. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

CURRENTLY – SUMMER 2021:

Note that this section is updated seasonally. 

Summer and fall are definitely the best times to travel to New York. It’s hot, humid, and you’d be walking everywhere, so be prepared to get sweaty. So pack breezy outfits and comfy footwear! Ah, don’t forget to pack a small portable umbrella or just pick one at the convenience store if you need to. I’d say to always have a plan B before you head out just in case something is closed or if the weather does not go as planned.

Most shops, restaurants, and bars are open at normal capacity as of August 2021, but please keep in mind mask mandate is still a thing if you’re shopping/dining indoor at most places. Some bars will require proof of vaccination per party, so take a photo of your vaccination card. I still wear a mask everywhere and always be extra careful in crowded places.

NYC Restaurant Week is from July 19 – August 22. Sign up HERE to get notified and updates.

TAKING THE SUBWAY

There’s really no need to drive in Manhattan since parking is impossible to find and expensive. The subway system is open 24/7. It’s extensive, effective, and somewhat easy to navigate. So be prepared to walk a lot otherwise Uber is always an option. Biking around the city is also so much fun, and I’d highly recommend you to download the CityBike app.

METROCARD:

Each subway or bus ride costs $2.75, and a new Metrocard costs $1. A seven-day pass is available for $33, and a monthly/unlimited one is $129. If you pay for a Metrocard, it covers both trains and buses.

New York’s JFK will require you to purchase a separate Air Train pass which costs $7.75 each time when you enter and leave the airport. The machines are often out of service and will not take credit cards, so bring some cash just in case. I have had to put in $20 cash to exit the Airtrain from JFK once on top of my Unlimited Metrocard, super annoying. The machines only give out a maximum of $9 change.

 APPS TO DOWNLOAD:

  • Google Maps/Maps for navigation

  • Yelp – make sure to read reviews!

  • City Bike – preload your credit card if you’re planning to rent a bike

  • Open Table & Resy – restaurant reservation

  • Uber & Lyft – rideshare apps

DON’T MAKE YOURSELF LOOK LIKE A TOURIST EVEN IF YOU’RE A TOURIST

Here are some common courtesy (works anywhere not just in NYC) just in case no one has ever told you about when in public:

  • At the airports or train stations: Make sure to stay on the right side of the stairs or escalators and let other people pass you on the left.

  • Step to the side when looking at your map or taking pictures of the streets. Don’t block traffic, bike lanes, etc.

ALTERNATIVES FOR RAINY DAYS

  • Go to a movie

  • Check out a Broadway show

  • Go to a museum, library, bookstore, coffee shop or get Happy Hour at a restaurant indoor

The Lake, Central Park

2. NYC CLASSICS

NYC is made up of 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Most tourist attractions are in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx.

Must-do if you’re in NYC for the first time!

  • Take a stroll at Central Park (Northeastern part)

  • Top of the Rock – home to 3 of the best observation decks in the city, which offer unobstructed views of Central Park and the towering skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan. Observation decks are located on the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors of the building, which also happens to be the iconic 30 Rock.  

  • Grand Central Terminal

  • Walkthrough the High Line, check out Hudson Yard, and Little Island

  • Check out the Oculus and World Trade Center

  • Go on the top of the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, or One World Observatory

  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

  • Take photos in DUMBO, Brooklyn

  • Walk and shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

  • Go shopping in Soho (luxury fashion houses, indie boutiques)

  • Shop along Fifth Avenue

  • Stop by a Sample Sale (random pop-ups, or you could also sign up for 260 Sample Sale HERE)

  • Chinatown in Manhattan

  • There’s a bigger Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, so definitely plan a food trip there!

  • Little Italy & Chinatown

  • Go to a museum or do a museum crawl: MET, MoMA, Whitney, Brooklyn, Guggenheim Museum

  • Go to a bar or do a bar crawl

  • Track down sites from your favorite movies and TV shows: Sex and the City, Gossip Girls, etc.

  • Live music or sports

  • Asian food tour in Flushing, Queens – watch my Tik Tok HERE

NYC is a giant melting pot, so do not try to do everything or fit everything in one trip. Some of my most interesting and memorable travel experiences are those that I accidentally stumble upon, so just be open-minded.

Outfits shot in near Central Park east (left) and West Village (right)

3. NYC NEIGHBORHOODS

MANHATTAN

  • Chinatown

  • Financial District

  • Chelsea

  • Garment District

  • Murray Hill

  • Gramercy

  • Stuyvesant Town

  • Greenwich Village

  • Hell’s Kitchen

  • Times Square

  • Midtown East

  • East Village

  • SoHo

  • Little Italy

  • Lower East Side

  • Tribeca

  • Harlem

  • Morningside Heights

  • East Harlem

  • Upper West Side

  • Central Park

  • Upper East Side

  • Midtown West

BROOKLYN

Popular neighborhoods are listed only:

  • DUMBO

  • Downtown Brooklyn

  • Williamsburg

  • Greenpoint

  • Bushwick

  • Cobble Hill

  • Brooklyn Heights

  • Prospect Heights

  • Park Slope

QUEENS

Popular neighborhoods are listed only:

  • Long Island City (LIC)

  • Astoria

  • Flushing

  • Sunnyside

  • Forest Hills

Manhattan is split into:

  • “districts”- Flatiron District, The Meatpacking District, and The Garment District

  • “squares” – Times Square, Union Square, Lincoln Square, and Herald Square

  • “heights” – Washington Heights and Morningside Heights

Acronyms to know: 

  • SoHo (South of Houston Street)

  • NoHo (North of Houston Street)

  • Tribeca (The Triangle Below Canal Street)

  • NoLita (North of Litle Italy)

Panca – Peruvian restaurant in West Village

4. NYC RESTAURANTS & MARKETS

French: Buvette, Amelie Wine Bar, Le Bernardin, Minetta Tavern

Pizza: Emily, Roberta’s, Lil’Frankie’s, Prince St. Pizza (known for the pepperoni slices), Joe’s Pizza*, Altro Paradiso, Grimaldi’s Pizza, Lucali

Italian: al di la Trattoria, Forsythia, Pepe Rosso To Go, Bar Pitti, Via Carota, Al Di La

Vietnamese: Di An Di, 5ive Spice Tacos & Banh Mi, Saigon Social, Pho Grand, Madama Vo*, Van Da, Bolero, Lucy’s, Em Vietnamese Bistro, Nha Minh, High Lua Vietnamese Kitchen, Hanco’s, Hanoi House, Non La, Banh Mi Sai Gon

Fried chicken: Turntable Chicken Jazz*, Pelicana*, bb.q Chicken Ktown, Sticky’s Finger Joint, Jollibee, Bonchon, Chirping Chicken, K Top

Ramen: Ippudo NY*, Ichiran*, Lanzhou Ramen, Kyuramen

Japanese: Davelle, Rule of Thirds, Village Yokocho, Raku

Sushi: KazuNori: The Original Hand Roll Bar, Sushi on Jones, DOMODOMO New York, Nami Nori*, Shinn East, Sushi Nakazawa, Sushi Noz, Sushi Yasaka

Korean: Kochi, Mokyo*, Jeju Noodle Bar*, YUBU, Jua, Her Name Is Han, Take 31, Hangawi, Kochi, Jongro BBQ*, Jungsik, Hyun, The Woo

Chinese: Noodle Village, Wu’s Wonton King, Hwa Yuan Szechuan, Great NY Noodletown, Yin Ji Chang Fen, Shanghai YOU Garden* (Queens), Joe’s Steamed Rice Rolls*, Legend Chicken 

Shabu-shabu: Spring Shabu-Shabu

Hotpot: Haidilao* 

Thai: Klong, Soothr, Fish Cheeks, Tong, Pure Thai Cookhouse*, Thai Villa, OBAO, Top Thai, Klom Klorm, Up Thai, THEP Thai Restaurant

Southeast Asian: LoveMama*, Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, Pig and Khao

Malaysian: Nyonya

Tapas: Nai, Panca

Ukrainian: Veselka

New American: Electric Lemon (Equinox hotel restaurant in Hudson Yards), Contra, Estela, Gramercy Tavern, Electric Lemon, Sisters

American: Bubby’s, Peak, Maison Pickle, Freehold 

Moroccan: Cafe Mogador

Mexican: Downtown Bakery, Jajaja Plantas Mexicanas, Los Tacos No.1*

Peruvian: Panca (great view, food & service ok), Mission Ceviche, 

Seafood: Dante West Village, Le Bernardin

Nepalese: Cafe Himalaya

Mediterranean: Local 92, Jack’s Wife Freda

Gastropub: Barn Joo Nomad

Health Food Restaurants: Sweetgreen

Vegetarian/Vegan: Planta Queen, Superiority Burger, Double Zero (plant-based pizza), Seitan Rising Vegan Cafe (Bushwick), Public Records

BrunchSadelle’s, Anyway Cafe, Poppy’s, Daily Provisions, Maman*, La Cantine (Bushwick)

Bagels: Ess-a-Bagel*, Brooklyn Bagel*, Tompkins Square Bagels, The Bagel Nook, Bagel Hole*

MARKETS

Chelsea Market (must try: Los Tacos No.1, Ting’s, visit Neighborhood Goods & Artists & Fleas)

Time Out Market (DUMBO, must try: Jacob’s Pickle)

Grand Bazaar – flea market in Upper West Side, open Sunday only

Queens Night Market – every Saturday 6 pm to midnight (6/19-8/21 and 9/18-10/30)

Eataly (multiple locations)

Union Square Greenmarket – farmers’ market

Chelsea Flea – flea market

Artists & Flea – inside Chelsea Market

JAPANESE GROCERY STORES I LOVE:

  • Sakura-Ya – Queens

  • Katagiri Japanese Grocery

  • Dainobu

  • Sunrise Mart – multiple locations

  • Japan Village – Industry City, Brooklyn

  • TESO LIFE

  • Tominaga Shouten

  • Ten Ichi Mart & Deli – Williamsburg

  • Midoriya – Williamsburg

  • Hanamaru Japanese Mart

FLUSHING, QUEENS, ASIAN FOOD TOUR ft. must-stop places that I love:

  • Joe’s Steam Rice Rolls

  • Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (known for soup dumplings)

  • Legend Chicken (popcorn chicken, medium spicy)

  • Croffle House (croissant waffles!)

  • Kyu-kaku Japanese BBQ

  • Haidilao Hotpot (tomato and pepper broth are delicious!)

  • Xing Fu Tang (brown sugar boba, freshly made boba)

  • Tiger Sugar (brown sugar boba, freshly made boba)

  • Song Tea (great slushies & tea drinks)

  • Soy Bean Chan Flower Shop (tofu dessert)

  • Watch my Tik Tok HERE

Places I want to try next: Spring Shabu-Shabu, Shanghai You Garden, Playdate NYC, Moge Tee, Pho Metro, Dunhuang Lanzhou Beef noodle, Daesung Korean Noodle, Joju, White Bear

5. NIGHTLIFE/BARS

Bars, dancing places, & more. 

  • Angel’s Share** (exotic cocktails, speakeasy, inside Village Yokocho – great drinks!)

  • Joyface

  • Please Don’t Tell

  • 310 Bowery Bar* (sports bar)

  • The Little Shop

  • Spring Lounge

  • Katana Kitten* (Japanese small bites & cool vibe)

  • H0L0 (Bushwick)

  • Mood Ring

  • Bossa Nova Civic Club

  • The Brooklyn Mirage 

  • Elsewhere

  • Ponyboy

  • Kind regards

  • Butterfly Soho

  • Paul’s Casablanca

  • Union Pool

    % ARABICA, DUMBO, Brooklyn

6. COFFEE SHOPS

I love coffee, so lots more to be added!

  • Blue Bottle Coffee*

  • La Colombe*

  • Felix Roasting Co.*

  • Happy Bones

  • The Elk

  • Ground Support

  • Everyman Espresso

  • Prodigy Coffee

  • Coffee Project New York

  • Kona Coffee & Company

  • Starbucks Reserve

  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters

  • % Arabica New York Dumbo Roastery**

  • Devocion* 

  • Partners Coffee*

  • Lazy Suzy Cafe & Shop

  • Variety Coffee Roasters

  • Butler Bake Shop & Espresso Bar

  • Sey Coffee

  • Kobrick Coffee

  • Cafe Leon Dore*

  • Brooklyn Ball Factory

  • Hungry Ghost Coffee

  • Poetica Coffee

  • Oslo Coffee Roasters

  • Blank Street 

  • Dweebs

  • Homecoming

  • Citizens of Chelsea

  • Think Coffee

  • Seven Grams Caffe

  • Bird & Branch

7. BAKERIES, DESSERTS, & TEA DRINKS

BAKERIES & PASTRY SHOPS

  • Le Fournel

  • Bible & Sip

  • Dominique Ansel Bakery (cronuts)

  • Le Vain* (The Cookies)

  • Supermoon Bakehouse*

  • Doughnut Plant

  • The Doughnut Project

  • L’imprimerie* (Bushwick)

  • She Wolf Bakery

  • Oh K-Dog

  • Patisserie Fouet

SWEET SHOPS

  • Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

  • Taiyaki NYC

  • Ample Hills Creamery

  • Martha’s Country Bakery

  • Milk & Cream Cereal Bar

  • Fortunato Brothers

  • Ray’s Candy 

  • Ferrara Bakery & Cake

  • Malai Ice Cream

  • Surreal Creamery

  • Mochidoki (mochi ice cream)

  • Spot Dessert Bar

  • Grace Street Coffee & Desserts

  • Milk Bar

  • Max Brenner New York

  • ChikaLicious Dessert Bsr

  • Doc’s cake Shop

  • Baked By Melissa

  • Stick With Me (chocolate shop)

  • Eileen’s Special Cheesecake

TEA SHOPS

  • Tiger Sugar*

  • Alimama Tea*

  • ViVi Bubble Tea

  • Ho Ho Te

  • Gong Cha

  • I’Milky

  • Coco Fresh Milk Tea*

  • BIAO Sugar

  • MomenTea

  • Lazy Sundaes

  • Xing Fu Tang*

  • Grace Street Coffee & Desserts

  • FIFTYLAN*

  • Ten Ren’s Tea Time

  • M Tea

  • Moge Tee 86

  • Infinitea NY

  • Teazzi Tea Shop

  • Yaya Tea

shopping in Soho

8. CLOTHING STORES

This list includes new & popular, local boutiques, secondhand, vintage shops that I love to frequent.

SHOPS I FREQUENT

  • BODE

  • The RealReal

  • Nanushka Store & Cafe

  • Aritzia

  • Nordstrom

  • COS

  • 260 Sample Sale, Soho

  • Gucci

  • Prada

  • Acne Studios

  • Comme Des Garcons

  • UNIQLO

THRIFT SHOPS

  • Beacon’s Closet (multiple locations. I like the Greenpoint location.))

  • Buffalo Exchange (multiple locations)

  • L Train Vintage (multiple locations)

  • Urban Jungle* (more affordable)

  • Crossroads Trading

  • Awoke Vintage (multiple locations)

  • 10 ft Single by Stella Dallas* – definitely one of my most favorite shops, organized, huge selections

  • Chickee’s Vintage* (Williamsburg)

  • Gotham Thrift Shop

  • Designer Revival

  • Amarcord Vintage

  • Housing Works

  • The Thrifty Hog

  • Brooklyn Vintiques

  • Malin Landaeus

  • Seven Wonders Collective

  • Le Grand Strip Vintage Fashion

9. FURNITURE SHOPS

  • Big Reuse – Gowanus

  • Bedford Galleries – Williamsburg

  • Alberto & Sons

  • Out Of The Closet

  • Furnish Green

  • Dobbin St. Co-op – Greenpoint

  • Dream Fishing Tackle – Greenpoint, mid-century furniture, amazing vinyl selection & fishing bait

  • Remix Market – Long Island City (LIC)

FOR LOCALS: Garbage nights – strolls around streets of NY. Avoid upholstered furniture (bed bugs)

  • Faceboook Marketplace

  • @stoopingnyc & @curbalert – must be quick to pick things up since both pages have a lot of followers

10. SPECIALTY STORES

Erik Shoe Repair

Canal Plastics Center (plastic fabrication company)

Korin (restaurant supply store)

Nintendo NY (video game store)

Tesolife (Asian household goods store)

Foster Sundry (butcher shop)

BATHHOUSE (Williamsburg, spa)

11. PLANT SHOPS, BOOKSTORES, & STATIONERY STORES

PLANTS: 

  • Tula Plants & Design* (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)

  • Greenery Unlimited watch my Tik Tok HERE

  • The Sill

  • Dashing Plants*

  • Little Shop of Soil

  • Brooklyn Plantology by Lapide

  • horti PLAY

  • Indoor Outdoor Gardener

  • Noble Planta

BOOKS:

  • Strand Book Store*

  • Greenlight Bookstore

  • Molasses Books

  • Housing Works Bookstore

  • Rizzoli Bookstore

  • Bookoff

STATIONERY:

  • niconeco zakkaya – Japanese stationery

  • Global Table (pottery)

  • Yoseka Stationery (Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Taiwanese stationery) – watch my Tik Tok HERE

  • Kinokuniya New York – watch my Tik Tok at Kinokuniya Seattle HERE

views from The High Line (left) & Squibb Park Bridge, Brooklyn (right)

12. NYC PARKS & BRIDGES

  • Central Park***

  • Untermyer Park and Gardens** (Yonkers)

  • Chelsea Park

  • The High Line**

  • Herald Square

  • Washington Square Park*

  • The High Bridge

  • Fort Tryon Park

  • Gantry Plaza State Park

  • Elevated Acre

  • Fort Greene Park

  • Pier 35

  • Union Square Park*

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden – watch my Tik Tok HERE

  • Domino Park

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park*

  • Squibb Park*

  • Brooklyn Heights Promenade*

  • Stuyvesant Square Park

  • Tompkins Square Park*

  • Madison Square Park*

  • Hunter’s Point South Park

  • Bryant Park

  • Astoria Park

  • Rockefeller Park

  • City Hall Park

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park – watch my Tik Tok HERE

13. MUSEUMS

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)*

  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)*

  • The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum

  • The Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Brooklyn Museum

  • The Met Cloisters

  • The Frick Collection*

  • The Noguchi Museum* – read my blog post HERE

  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • American Museum of Natural History

  • The Sex Museum

  • The Morgan Library & Museum

Coney Island Beach

14. BEACHES IN NYC

  • Coney Island Beach (Mermaid Parade & must try Nathan’s Famous hot dog)

  • Long Branch beach

  • Fort Tilden Beach

  • Rockaway Beach & boardwalk

  • Jacob Riis Park Beach

  • Jones Beach

  • Cherry Grove Beach

  • 67 Steps Beach & Parking

  • Atlantic Avenue Beach

  • Lavallette Beach

  • Sea Girt Beach

  • Orchard Beach: The Bronx’s only public beach

  • Long Beach

  • Robert Moses State Park

  • Gunnison Beach

  • Midland Beach

  • Brighton Beach

  • Manhattan Beach

  • Bayshore waterfront Park

  • South Beach

  • Cooper’s Beach

  • Main Beach

15. DAY TRIP IDEAS IN NYC AND FROM NYC

  • Coney Island – watch my Tik Tok HERE

  • Upstate New York

  • Montauk

  • Catskill

BRB doing more research, so come back for more!

I hope my list of things to do in New York City doesn’t overwhelm you so much. It definitely feels like it to me, and I feel like it will take me years and years to explore it all. I have yet to visit many famous touristy places even after 2 visits and now living here. So if this is your first time in the city, just go do all of the touristy things and have fun being a tourist!

If you notice, I don’t tend to suggest places to stay in most of my travel guides. My recommendation is to just book whatever is within your budget. I’ve stayed at the Boro Hotel in Queens for the first time in NYC back in 2016, a hotel in Midtown, and one Financial District the second visit and third time before getting my Brooklyn apartment key. Just pick whatever is convenient and not too far of a walk from train stations, and I’d say a maximum of 10 minutes walk is good.

Hope this blog post is helpful, and leave me any questions and specific NYC guides that you’d like me to create next. Thanks for reading!

READ MY OTHER CITY GUIDES:

The Ultimate Seattle City Guide

Houston City Travel Guide – 10 Actually Cool Things to Do

Twin Cities Minnesota Guide

15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Oregon