What to see and do in New York City!

By Ann Fulton & Emily Russo, MS, RD, CDN

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and the yummiest spots to eat? 
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It’s a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 


Note: We will update this post with new finds over time, so check back before future visits to the Big Apple!


Table of Contents:
• Favorite Restaurants (organized by category: pizza, bagels, delis & diners, special dinners out, coffee, easy lunches & dinners, markets, and ice cream)
• Things to do (famous buildings, museums, kids activities, etc.)
• Relaxation
• Travel within the City
• Where to stay


New York is probably best known for Times Square and Broadway, so it makes sense that tourists head there when they come to town. Directly in the middle of Manhattan, it has all the shows, hotel chains, and classic American chain restaurants – not to mention the bright lights and, of course, the M&M store!

But when there’s more time to explore and check out all the city truly has to offer – what are some great places to explore?

Emily worked in New York for 17 years, living in various neighborhoods – the Upper West and East Sides, Midtown, Murray Hill, Union Square, East Village – and enjoyed tasting food and checking out fun things all over the city.

Ann’s family loves to visit, and her son, John, now lives in the West Village and works in SoHo. It’s always good to have a Gen Z on board to provide excellent recommendations!

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

Since this is a food-centric website, we will start with our restaurant recommendations. But there’s oh so much more to explore, and that follows…

Favorite Restaurants (Organized by Category)

Emily’s opinion is that it’s all about the neighborhood. There’s good food all over town, so once you know where you are staying or where you want to visit, check out the neighborhood and what it has to offer. Here are some standouts that Ann and Emily can vouch for:


Pizza is just better in New York (sorry to anyone we’ve offended with this comment), and so honestly it’s hard to go wrong when picking up a slice. But if you’re looking for a special pizza experience, here are a few to spots to keep an eye on.

Joe’s – This is the big New York slice of your dreams. The one you picture in your mind. Fold it in half and enjoy. Don’t add more than one topping (if you must) because it will get too heavy. 

Emmy Squared – This is not the typical New York pizza. It’s actually Detroit-style, thicker and square in shape. But the flavors on these pizzas are outrageous. There are a few locations around the city, and their sister concept, Emily West Village, is a higher-end version of this now nationwide sensation and includes other innovative culinary creations.

Artichoke Basille’s – It started as a pizza window on 14th street, where Emily and her friends would congregate after a late night out. It’s now an actual restaurant with many locations across the country. Known for its artichoke slice – which is basically the most amazing spinach & artichoke dip on a slice of pizza –  but Emily also vouches for their traditional Margherita. 

Keste – For a more Neapolitan-style – as in DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) from Naples! – Keste is the best there is. Tons of different flavor profiles and options as well as an extensive gluten-free menu! Locations around the city.

And to reiterate, any slice joint in New York is bound to be above average. When in doubt, go for it!


There’s a debate as to why New York bagels reign superior – is it the city water? The specialty cream cheese? The bagel making machinery? We’re not entirely sure, but we know these bagel places are simply the best!
Ess-a-Bagel – Big and chewy with all the best cream cheese and toppings, nothing says New York bagel more than Ess-a. With locations in midtown and 19th & 1st, there are lines out the door on weekends but it will be worth the wait.

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

A bag of everything bagels!

Tompkins Square Bagels – This is where the NYU kids grab a bagel sandwich and then head into Tompkins Square Park across the street for a picnic. An East Village staple (now with a new location on Union Square), the bagels are great but what sets them apart are the fun cream cheese flavors, wild bagel sandwich combinations, and trendy weekly specials.

Absolute Bagels – Emily walked 10 blocks in one of the biggest snow storms to get this bagel. It’s got a small footprint on the upper end of the Upper West Side on Broadway, but the bagels are outstanding. You will wait in line with the Columbia students, and be prepared to order something simple (like an everything bagel not toasted with scallion cream cheese) because that’s what they do best. P.S. There’s no link included because they don’t even have a website!

Modern Bread & Bagel – Gluten-free? Until a visit last summer, we had never eaten a gluten-free bagel that truly stacked up to the real deal. Ann was with her son, and after taking their first bites, they both thought they made a mistake. Clearly, these were “regular” bagels. Ann inquired, and it was verified that the restaurant is, in fact, dedicated gluten-free. Just like the classic version, these bagels are hand rolled, kettle boiled, and freshly baked…and loved by gluten eaters and non-eaters alike. A must stop for anyone gluten-free (or not) and visiting NYC, but if you need a fix sooner, nationwide shipping is available.

Delis & Diners

The Lower East Side is known for old school staple spots. That’s why the delis and diners listed below have thrived in this area for years:

Katz’s – Known for the famous scene in When Harry Met Sally (“I’ll have what she’s having”), you may be wondering, “Is it actually that good?” If you like pastrami, then yes. Located on Houston Street in the Lower East Side, this establishment knows what it’s doing when it comes to deli meats and Jewish specialties. Emily suggests the Pastrami on rye with mustard or a Reuben sandwich. 

Russ & Daughters – It’s just down the street from Katz’s but has a bit of a different vibe. Emily would go there more for the smoked fish, noshes, matzo ball soup, and rugelach. This will not disappoint.

Clinton St. Baking Company – This was always a destination for Emily’s family because the kids loved the pancakes and there’s also a full menu of interesting and delicious savory items. Also located on Houston Street, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the others.

Veselka – Technically listed as a diner, but we’d say it’s more upscale than that. Located in the heart of the East Village, Veselka serves up Ukrainian foods, like all different kinds of pierogis (think specialty Thanksgiving favors too) kielbasa, and borscht. 

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

Emily received the Veselka cookbook on her birthday!

Special Dinners Out

Not every meal has to be fancy to be delicious, but when want a nice night out, these special occasion restaurants are just what you’re looking for!


Mémé Mediterranean — Sara Jessica Parker says its one of her personal favorites, and Ann’s family agrees. The dishes are creative yet approachable and the menu offers something for everyone. Starters include vegetarian, seafood, and meat tapas, as well as several salads. Entrees range from steak frites and shawarma to ravioli and salmon. With locations in the West Village and Hell’s Kitchen and prices that are reasonable by NYC standards, this is one to add to your list.

259 East Broadway
This Basque-inspired restaurant on the Lower East Side is on the pricier side, but the food is consistently good. There’s also a great cocktail menu, and the vibe is perfect for an extended evening hang.

Anton’s – Located in the heart of the West Village, this spot is cozy and lively with a seasonal menu of unbelievably tasty food and perfect cocktails. Great for a date night or a nice dinner out with older kids. Open all year round, but especially perfect as a late fall/winter destination.

Cosme – Like many awesome restaurants in New York, Cosme is situated in the Gramercy/Flatiron neighborhood. It serves high end Mexican food and sources local and seasonal ingredients from nearby Hudson Valley.

Gupshup – Right off the quaint Irving Place, Gupshup is a mix of Bombay and New York City, serving Indian food in a cool space with funky cocktails. Emily likes eating at the bar and highly recommends trying one of their signature cocktails. 

ABC – Don’t be intimidated by the Jean-Georges name, because the ABC restaurant groups offer something for everyone. Located in the first floor of ABC Carpet (a quintessential New York home goods and carpet store in Gramercy), he has three restaurant concepts: ABC Kitchen, which is high end American; ABCv, which is plant-focused and has many vegan as well as gluten-free options; and ABC Cocina, which is more international. Are are small plate spots, so great for tasting and sharing!

Upland – For those who know the Philly food scene, this is Stephen Starr’s place in New York. Think upscale Californian in a gorgeous space in Gramercy. Emily recommends the duck wings and a pizza for appetizers.

Hillstone – This is a chain restaurant group, but don’t knock it. The food and drinks are always on point, and service is warm. Emily waited tables there when she was younger, and she reports that the kitchen and service areas were always impeccably clean, and the staff must abide by very strict standards. Best menu items are the French Dip, grilled artichokes, and loaded baked potato – but everything is delish!

Rezdora – Italian food doesn’t get much better than the yummy creations at Rezdora in Gramercy. The pasta tasting is worth the price tag for a celebratory meal, but make sure to get a reservation well in advance.

Rosella – This little East Village gem holds a special place in Emily’s heart, as it opened during the dark days of COVID in her neighborhood and it was one of her first dinners out again. She ate on Avenue A, when most dining was happening outside, but the inside decor and sushi bar is really special. It was then featured in Bon Appetit for their sustainable sushi (yes, from Long Island!) and homemade soy sauce. Worth a visit if you appreciate good sushi.

ci siamo – You can’t have a special restaurant list in New York City and omit Danny Meyer and head  chef Hillary Sterling. The location is a bit unusual, on West 33rd street, but if near Madison Square Garden or Penn Station (or don’t mind a detour), it’s perfect. Upscale Italian food and A+ service in a quintessential New York-feeling space, this is a great special occasion destination.

Misi – Serving fresh pasta that is so simple yet so divine, it will be one of the most memorable meals you will ever have. Share everything to try as much as possible, you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. There’s also a new pasta outpost which also looks amazing.

Union Square Cafe – Even though it moved locations from west of Union Square to just north of it, the food and the vibe are quite similar. The food is fantastic (it’s a New York staple for sure), but regulars also like to hang out at the bar for great cocktail or glass of wine and some bar nuts. (Do not skip the bar nuts, which can be ordered at your table too. They are so good – Ann wants to figure out how to make them at home!) Ann also vouches for their gluten-free bread. A waiter recently told her that regulars often order in instead of the standard wheat bread. You can even take some home, as the loaves are available for purchase.


We all picture ourselves visiting New York, walking down the street in a cute outfit (paired with comfy walking shoes, of course!) and coffee in hand. But there’s more than just Starbucks. Here are a few of our favorite neighborhood spots to get your fix.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters – There are locations nationwide, but their corner location a block north of Washington Square Park is a great pit stop during your Village travels. Be on the lookout for celebrities, sitting inside, outside, or on the way to the park!

MUD – Head to the coffee bar for drinks to go, or sit in the back garden or street benches for a latte to stay. A great spot to meet friends for brunch, lunch, or a quick bite, it’s casual East Village neighborhood vibe always draws a unique crowd.

Blue Bottle – If you’re a serious coffee person, look for that hat little Tiffany blue bottle icon around the city. It’s like a coffee experience serving up memorable moments, so be prepared to wait a few minutes for that pour over. Check out one of their mouth-watering pastries while you bide your time!

The Elk
128 Charles Street
A cute spot in the West Village, slightly off the beaten path. It’s half-coffee shop, half tiny general store, and it’s a great place to grab coffee or a sandwich to go. There’s no inside seating, but the sidewalk tables are buzzing on weekend mornings.

Easy Lunches & Dinners

When you want great New York food but don’t want to spend a fortune, check out some of these great go-to spots.

Naya – There used to be a single location a block away from Grand Central Station that had lines around the corner every weekday during lunch, when offices were still packed with hungry employees. They now have spots all over the city (and even in the new King of Prussia food court!). Emily refers to it as the Middle Eastern Chipotle – basically make your own bowls or wraps but with shawarma or kabobs and hummus instead of carnitas and guac!

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

A Naya bowl with falafel, rice, pickled turnips, jalepeno, humus, eggplant, and cucumbers with orange spicy sauce!

Han Bat – If you want the best bibimbap, this is the place. Located on West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) in Koreatown, this has been a Fulton family destination for nearly two decades, and they always order the same thing. For those who haven’t tried, bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish consisting of rice topped with sautéed vegetables, chili paste, and beef or other meat, often topped with an egg. Here, the dish is served in a steaming hot cast iron bowl, and by the time you get to the bottom layer of rice, it’s so crusty and delicious, you have to chip at it with your chopstick (or fork if you prefer). It’s truly a treat, and the prices are extremely reasonable. Before your entree, you’ll also receive complementary banchan, which are Korean small plates that function as side dishes or appetizers. They are never exactly the same, but always fun to try.

Daily Provisions – With locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, it’s like a coffee/lunch/dinner spot that New Yorkers rely on for last minute, upscale takeout roast chickens and pastries. A bit more expensive than a coffee shop, but very high quality. It’s a Union Square Cafe outpost, so if you don’t want to shell out for the full experience, this gives you a taste of their food and hospitality. 

Westville – Though the first location was in “West Village” locations are now all over the city. A great spot for lunch or dinner because it meets everyone’s needs from burgers, to salads, to bowls and everything in between. Known for its long list of vegetable side dishes that many people will just order together as their main entree.

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat?

A night out with John at Westville for two of their hearty bowl creations…and a shared side of Brussels sprouts!

Tartinery – A café-bar known for its open-faced sandwiches called tartines, this casual spot also dishes up beautiful salads, grain bowls, pastries, coffee drinks, fresh juices, and smoothies. It’s a great spot to go, from breakfast to dinner, and the prices are reasonable. We’ve enjoyed several meals in their Greenwich Village location (where there’s indoor dining and a handful of bistro tables outside), but Tartinery has five other locations across Manhattan.

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat?

Grain bowls from Tartinery!

Hanoi House – One of Emily’s favorite restaurants in the entire city (of course located in the East Village), it’s Vietnamese food done so perfectly. Sit at the bar and watch them make the best Pho you will ever have – and add on the crispy spring rolls as an appetizer!

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

At Hanoi House: Soft pork belly and tofu summer rolls with a peanut dipping sauce and light-as-air shrimp chips, pictured behind. Pho and crispy rolls, not pictured but should be ordered!

Superiority Burger (no website) – It used to be a tiny underground take out spot across from Hanoi House, serving up vegetarian and vegan burgers and side dishes. It has now taken over the old Odessa spot on Avenue A and has become a bit of a celebrity hot spot. Though the burgers are now more expensive than they were, for non-meat eaters, this is a hot new spot to try.

The Smith – This is the kind of restaurant that Emily recommends to families or those looking for more traditional American fare. It has a fun vibe but is super family friendly, and the food is solid without being stuffy. Different locations around the city make The Smith an easy one to put on the list.

Pete’s Tavern – Est. 1864 pretty much sums it up. It’s a neighborhood favorite on one of the most iconic streets – Irving Place – and a great place for a burger, a beer, and people watching. 

Springbone Kitchen
90 West 3rd Street
I’m pretty sure their original “thing” was bone broth (which they still serve), but it’s the bowls at Springbone that do it for me. They have a variety of truly delicious, nutritious options perfect for a weeknight dinner on the go, and the prices are reasonable.

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

166 DeKalb Avenue
This charming corner spot in Fort Greene, Brooklyn is perfect for weekend brunch. The food is great, and the people watching (think lots of cool, chic creative types) is fun too.


Some old school markets have been around since the 1800’s, while some newbies have become a convenient go-to for many New Yorkers. Check these out! 

Vineiero’s – An old school east Village Italian pastry shop open since 1894, it’s known for their Italian cookie selection. Grab a white box, fill it up with whatever looks good, and enjoy the goodies as you travel around the city. Next door is Russo’s (no relation to Emily), a tiny, old school cheese and pasta shop with cured meats, olives, bread, and ready-to-heat meals like lasagna and meatballs.

Union Square Farmer’s Market – Open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, this is where a lot of top restaurants in the city get their ingredients. (See if you can spot the stands from Lancaster County!) They also have beautiful flowers and plants, and a little coffee stand. Fun to walk and explore, and there’s a playground for kids right inside the park, which offers a little and big kids area! 

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

Fresh produce in Union Square!

Citarella – Those who need to buy groceries in New York City know it’s not an easy feat to buy, carry home, and store all the food. Citarella is like the perfect city market – the packages are typically smaller and there are lots of pre-made meals and soups that New Yorkers tend to rely on. Since it’s so convenient and thoughtfully prepared, get ready to spend more for it. Locations all over the city.

Baczynsky’s (East Village Meat Market) – This has all the Ukrainian goodies including kielbasa, borscht, and pierogies. They sell to Veselka (the diner noted above) which is across the street, and their breads are delicious too!

Ice Cream

Walking down the street with a cone is standard fare for kids and adults alike on the city streets. Here’s where to go for yours!

464 6th Avenue
This new gelateria has the best gelato we’ve had so far in the city, and we’ve tried a number of places. The space is fun and brightly colored, and there are a number of tables outside if you want to linger.

Van Leeuwen – A New Yorker favorite, they have a big list of fun flavors and sundaes, including a wide range of vegan flavors. Locations throughout the city.

Cafe Panna – Located just south of Gramercy Park on Irving Place, this is a beautiful spot to grab a cone and/or coffee drink and take a walk. Owned by Danny Meyer’s daughter, you can expect excellence (though sometimes a long line!). Only open Wednesday through Sunday in the afternoons. 

Big Gay Ice Cream – This place is the definition of fun, offering soft serve and featuring a menu of silly ice cream names like “American Globs” and “Salty Pimp.” Cones are infused with caramel sauce that ribbons through every bite, and each concoction is more luxurious and indulgent than the next! Locations all over the city.

Things to Do

Besides dinner and a show, what else is going on in New York City? Here are some ideas that may interest you!

Famous Buildings

1 Vanderbilt (SUMMIT) – Open since 2020, this is a fun experience for kids and adults alike. Take an elevator ride to the top and enjoy the 93rd floor views along with the experience of a fully mirrored room, balloon room, and plenty of photo shoot opportunities. Not for the faint of heart (specifically those who don’t like heights), but it’s right next to Grand Central Station and a great activity option for midtown.

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 

Looking down through he glass exhibit on the top floor at 1 Vanderbilt!

1 World Trade – This is the highest point with the highest views in the city. Clearly an emotional place to visit, it’s certainly possible to spend the whole day there. Bundle tickets with the 9/11 museum, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, or other downtown attractions for a discounted ticket price.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine – A beautiful cathedral near the north end of Central Park and technically in Morningside Heights, plan to visit during the holidays or their various choral performances for the most worthwhile and engaging visit.

Hudson River Park – Extending for miles along the west side of Manhattan, and referred to by most as the West Side Highway, this is one of the best places to walk or run in the city. You get great views of the river, the city, and the Statue of Liberty, and there are countless landscaped piers and the High Line (and even a manmade island, Little Island) to explore.

The best places to visit and the yummiest spots to eat in NYC are all in this helpful guide!

The view of New Jersey from the West Side, overlooking the Hudson River.

Brooklyn Bridge – For those who like to be active, a walk or bike ride (City Bikes are readily available) across the bridge is the perfect plan. It was built in 1883 and connects lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights. It’s common to hit up Chinatown before crossing, and ice cream afterwards! Don’t hesitate to take the quick ferry ride back for more great views! 

It's a quick train ride away for those who live nearby, and also a destination for everyone worldwide. But with so much going on in the big city, where are the best places to visit and (most importantly) the yummiest spots to eat? 


There are so many, and all are great, but here are a few of our favorites. Consider getting membership for discounts – and quicker admission – on museums city wide!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue
A classic, yes, but you can’t go wrong with the Met. It’s huge (you’d be hard-pressed to do the whole thing in one trip) and everything is top-notch. I especially love the period rooms, in which entire rooms from centuries-old castles and chateaux have been painstakingly reassembled exactly as they were in their original locations and opened to museum guests. Before or after the museum, make time for a stroll through Central Park, which is right next door.

The Whitney – Located in the Meatpacking District, this is a smaller museum, making it easy to navigate, yet is has arguably the finest holdings of twentieth-century American art in the world. Positioned at the southern entrance to the High Line, you can begin or end with a walk along the 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, which was built on a historic freight rail line. The museum is also an easy walk to Chelsea Market, a modern food and retail hall, which is located in an historic old warehouse. While there, look out for Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, as the upper floors are home to the Food Network offices and studios. 

American Museum of Natural History – Always worth a visit, especially with kids, the museum has rolling exhibits, but the dinosaurs and American taxonomy animals will always be there. Also, consider tacking on Museum of the City of New York about 20 blocks north along Central Park.

New York Transit Museum – Emily thinks this one leans a bit more towards kids, but for train enthusiasts, this is a great spot to check out in Downtown Brooklyn. They have old trains from over the past 100 years that you can walk through on your visit.

The Bronx Zoo – This is a really special place. Easy to navigate with animals for everyone (you can hear the lions roaring and the seals barking all across the park!), the zoo also has seasonal exhibits like ice sculpting, holiday light shows, s’mores making, and dinosaur trails. Take the 6 train from Manhattan and walk over. Save your appetite, and then walk to Arthur Avenue, arguably the best street of old school Italian food in all of the city. 

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens –  Much more than plants and flowers, they have an ongoing list of events and activities for kids and adults alike. Take in a picnic for the most beautiful lunch setting New York can offer. Fordham University happens to be right across the street, so you may also enjoy a walk around campus to take in the beautiful Gothic architecture. 


When traveling with kids, it’s nice to have some options of activities. Here are some go-to ideas for kids young and old!

an.me – Emily’s favorite children’s boutique in New York, it also happens to be on 9th street in the East Village amongst the most fun (and stylish) adult vintage clothing stores in the city. Great for baby or kids gifts and clothes, they will also ship it right from the store to wherever you want it to go. 

Note: Given the 8.875% NY sales tax, paying the fee to ship home (if it’s out of state) at the time of purchase can translate to savings. 

Playgrounds – In New York, it’s all about the playgrounds! Some cool ones to check out include Pier 51 on West Side highway, Battery Park, Imagination Playground in South Street Seaport, the “big slide,” and Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park off East 67th street (and right near the Central Park zoo!). Emily tells her friends to just take the kids to Central Park to climb on all the big rocks or take a ball to the “big lawn” to run around. Ann’s sons also loved doing this when they were younger. 

Indoor Play Spaces – These are a big deal in the city, and they are all chock full of classes and activities. For the 4-years-old and under crowd, check out Union Square Play (Greenwich Village and Upper East Side), as well as NY Kids Club (locations all over the city), and Kidville Upper West Side. For the older kids, Chelsea Piers has every sport (including golf, ice skating, and gymnastics!) that you could imagine.

Color Factory – This is an interactive way to experience color and art in a really imaginative way! 

Museum of Ice Cream – Yes you can eat ice cream and jump into a pool of sprinkles – and much more in this incredibly fun and delicious space for all!

When Emily had rainy days with the kids in New York, they loved to explore the subway systems. Check out a map and plan an inter-borough route with transfers and see where those trains take you! Great for kids who geek out on all things trains! 

The Ferries – It’s actually shocking what you can see and do using the NYC ferry system. Kids love to take the short ferry rides to all boroughs (including Staten Island), but also consider Governor’s Island off of Lower Manhattan, which has rental bikes, hidden playgrounds, extraordinary views, and a rolling list of activities. Right near the ferry stop is a great place to grab a taco before or after your adventure. And if you’re feeling like you need a break, the QC NY Spa isn’t too shabby! 

The Rockaways – Take the ferry, or the train, to the outer edge of Queens. It’s a beach town within the parameters of New York City, complete with a beautiful new boardwalk. Ride bikes and grab a bite at Tacoway Beach.


New York is known for its independent bookstores, and following are a few we return to again and again.

Three Lives & Company
154 West 10th Street
This corner bookstore in the West Village looks like it was plucked directly from a movie set. It’s on the smaller side, but they have a great selection of new fiction and nonfiction, and it really couldn’t be a cuter place to browse.

McNally Jackson
134 Prince Street
This place is larger than Three Lives and has a more extensive selection. Another great independent bookstore.

The Strand
828 Broadway
This is the great-granddaddy of independent bookstores. Founded in 1927, the mammoth store claims to have 18 miles of books (2.5 million new and used copies) across its three levels. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the Union Square area.


After all the walking and site-seeing, some relaxing down time might be just what is needed,  right? 

All Seasons Body Work in Greenwich Village This may seem like a random suggestion, but after walking miles and miles, a visit for a foot massage may be a favorite stop! There are many spots like this in NY, and since people walk a lot in the city, they are busy. No appointment is needed here, however, and if there is a wait, it is typically brief. You get to sit in a big, comfy chair and literally put your feet up while having all the knots worked out. A 45-minute foot massage costs $30, making it one of the best NY bargains! 

Great Jones Spa – Located on one of the hippest streets in New York, it’s not much of a store front, but when you go downstairs you can chill in the pool or sauna rooms and get great massages and facials. 

Aire – These “ancient” baths in SOHO are actually quite luxurious. Spend the day hopping into the cold then hot tubs. This destination is meant more for couples, and you won’t believe you are in the middle of New York City!


It’s incredibly easy and efficient to get around New York city by public transit. Commuters go in and out of Penn Station and Grand Central with such regularity, that these depots have even become a destination for reasons beyond the commute over the years.

For those who want to take the subway, you should definitely try it because it’s so much faster and cheaper than an Uber or taxi. Google maps offers a public transit option along with the walking and driving options. I didn’t realize this until John told me that it gives you precise subway directions. So helpful!

Grand Central Station –  Wayyy more than just a train station, check out the famous old Oyster Bar, lower food court, or a drink at the famous Campbell Bar (old apartment and office to John Campbell). Also worth checking out the Whispering Gallery (whisper on one side and your pal can hear you on the other!) and over the holidays the holiday market is a great place to pick up gifts and holiday knick knacks. 

Where to Stay

There are so many hotels in NYC, and the “perfect” hotel will vary from person to person. Following are some ideas depending on what you’re looking for with a few helpful things to consider:

Hilton or Marriott – With many locations around the city, including the outer boroughs, these hotels can be a great choice for those who are Hilton or Marriott members and use points. The Hilton is where Ann and Jack usually land, and they’ve stayed at various locations, from midtown and Tribeca to Brooklyn. The rooms are spacious by NY standards, and the midtown locations are also convenient for those planning to see a Broadway show and don’t want to venture too far. Emily’s favorite Hilton is the Conrad located in Battery Park, which is the most southern neighborhood in the city near the Oculus and the ferry system on the East River.

The Standard – There’s a location right on the High Line and one in the East Village. The rooms aren’t astronomically priced like many New York hotels, and they offer a glimpse into two unique neighborhoods. The public spaces tend to be trendy, youthful, and fun, and the rooms themselves are minimal. Don’t be too shocked, but the bathrooms are all glass!

Freehand Hotel – This is another unique hotel in a unique location in Flatiron. The rooms are minimalist but clean, and the restaurants and rooftop bars are very cool. Also reasonably priced.

Soho Grand – This hotel is conveniently located near the Holland Tunnel. So for those driving in, it’s an easy spot and does have valet parking. For those who like shopping, it’s in the heart of Soho (“south of Houston Street”) which is like the shopping mecca. A reliable place that Emily’s family often stays.

Added note on parking: If driving into the City, ask about the parking situation before you book your hotel. Many offer valet parking, but some don’t. For example, the Tribeca Hilton, where Ann and Jack often stay, discontinued this service during the pandemic and never reinstated it. There is a parking garage two blocks away, but this could be an inconvenience from some. 

The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel (Hyatt) – Also in lower Manhattan, this place is cool, with a feel that is a bit more grown up than trendy. There are great restaurants and bars are on the first floor, and the hotel has an old world elegance with rooms spiraling above and ornate detailing and artwork lining every banister and wall. Again, rooms are minimalist but clean and sleek, and the prices aren’t sky high.

Where do you like to go when you are in New York City? Comment below, we love hearing our readers’ suggestions!

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  1. Gina Russo

    Wow, this is a very comprehensive list! I have one restaurant suggestion to add – L’Avenue, which is on the 9th floor at Saks Fifth Ave. Food is great, nice view of Rock Center and also convenient for Broadway theaters. Make sure to order S’Mores dessert…

  2. Christine L Kmieczak

    Oh what a fantastic recap and list of recommendations! I’m bookmarking this one. Thanks for sharing Ann and Emily (and John too!!)! With my organizational style and limited use of social media, I really appreciate having all these ideas in one place. Your love for food is contagious and your sharing disposition are a winning combination.

    1. Ann

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Christine. We’re delighted this feels like a resource to save and refer back to, and we will add to it as we discover new things to see and do!