Hello! Sorry I was absent for two weeks! I had some blog posts planned but lacked the inspiration to type them up. To add to the situation, I decided to take a spontaneous trip to New York City two weekends ago. I needed a break from Boston. However, what was supposed to be a quick 3-day trip turned into a 5-day one due to the massive snowstorm that hit Boston last week. All New York to Boston buses were canceled Tuesday (when I was scheduled to return home) and almost all sold out the next day. Thankfully I managed to catch an evening bus back home Wednesday night! What a crazy whirlwind trip!
Now that I'm back safely in Boston, I thought I might share what I did in New York with you all! Think of this as a mini city guide if you will. I go to the city at least once a year so this won't include the classic tourist hotspots. I think this might be my12th trip? It never gets boring and there are always new places to explore.
WHERE TO STAY
Whenever I plan a trip to New York I almost always hit up Airbnb. Sometimes in college I would crash at a friend's place but these days I prefer to have my own space (and bed). Hotels are way too expensive and New York hostels are dreadful. (Believe me, I tried staying a hostel in Williamsburg last year and it was the worst hostel experience of my life... I'll save that story for another time.) Getting an Airbnb is the most affordable and comfortable option!
This time around I found a charming, cozy Airbnb nestled between Gowanus and Park Slope in Brooklyn. A little heads up, most affordable Airbnbs are in Brooklyn. Personally, I'd recommend staying in Brooklyn anyway because there's a lot to do and see there. Less tourists too. It's well worth checking out! My Airbnb was amazing! The owner had an extremely friendly dog named Penny who was always happy to greet me whenever I came back. An Airbnb with a pet is the best! The apartment was perfectly located. There were plenty of incredible restaurants within walking distance. The subway was only a block away, too! Prospect Park was also nearby. I adored the area! Typically, I end up in Bed-Stuy or Williamsburg. They're OK but certainly not as charming or as scenic as Park Slope. I'm surprised I've never been to this side of Brooklyn before! I can't wait to go back to explore some more.
Neighborhood highlights: Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Museum, Ample Hills Creamery, Blue Bottle Coffee, Doughnut Plant, Lucali's
WHERE TO EAT
My IRL friends know how much I love food! I wouldn't call myself a foodie but I try to hit up the best restaurants and cafes wherever I travel. New York is food heaven! Every time I go, new trendy restaurants pop up out of nowhere. This trip I didn't go to as many cool spots as I usually do but I did find some gems. I won't share all the places I went - only my favorites!
My favorite thing to do in a new city is to visit as many coffee shops as possible. While I do love a good cup of coffee (an almond milk latte is my go-to), I'm more into finding interesting cafes. I love the coffee shop atmosphere! The four I went to on this trip were Blue Bottle Coffee in Park Slope, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters in the Village, Joe Coffee in Brooklyn Heights and La Colombe in Tribeca. All four are coffee chains with several locations around the city. It's unusual for me to pick chains but all four have fantastic coffee, decent cozy atmosphere and are a far cry from god-awful Starbucks.
I'm the worst when it comes to eating breakfast! More often than not, I'll skip it all together. Most days when traveling a coffee will do. Sometimes I'll throw in a croissant if my stomach is growling. This trip, I did the usual coffee and croissant breakfast most mornings. Nevertheless, I did find a few good breakfast spots in the city when I needed something more substantial.
Visiting the original Doughnut Plant in the Lower East Side was one of my first memories of New York. It was on my first trip to the city nearly ten years ago. They have some of the best doughnuts! When I found out there was one only 20 minutes away from my Airbnb in Brooklyn I obviously had to make a visit! Their doughnuts come in a wide range of creative flavors like crème brûlé, red velvet or matcha. They even have a giant rose-shaped and flavored one! Their Brooklyn location is right next to the subway so it made for the ideal grab and go meal.
Lunch is another meal I have a bad habit of skipping when I travel. I tend to forget to eat altogether, which means I wind up hangry and exhausted by late afternoon. Whenever that happens I almost always stop by a Sweetgreen, a popular lunch spot that serves the best salads with locations all around New York. By Chloe is another good option for a quick meal, especially if you're vegetarian or vegan. Their beet ketchup is to die for! For a more upscale option, I tried out the recently opened west~bourne in SoHo. I typically avoid trendy lunch spots in New York since they're often disappointing and overpriced but I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious my sandwich was!
I'm slowly realizing how I bad I was about eating proper meals on this trip... Once again, I didn't eat at many restaurants for dinner. Most nights I grabbed quick bites from the Whole Foods down the street or a local bodega. The only sit-down restaurants I ate at were this Uzbek place near my Airbnb, Nargis Bar and Grill for some insanely good kebabs and grilled veggies,and the famous Lucali pizzeria in Carroll Gardens. A tip: Since Lucali was recently featured on the Netflix food docuseries Ugly Delicious, getting a spot at the tiny restaurant can be extremely difficult. They only take reservations the day of at the restaurant. They start taking names at 5 pm - 45 minutes before they open. You should go slightly before 5 pm to make a reservation because the line already stretches down the block right at 5! Trust me the crazy good pizza is well worth the hassle and wait.
Confession: I have a bit of a sweet tooth! And by a bit I mean a lot. Doughnuts, chocolate, ice cream. It doesn't matter! This trip I went crazy for ice cream, which was an odd choice considering it's still winter. I hit up three ice cream shops. My absolute favorite was Ample Hills Creamery in Gowanus. They have a few locations around the city but their flagship was a block away from my Airbnb. Their spicy Mexican Chocolate was amazing! When I went shopping in SoHo I stopped by Milk & Cream, a cereal-themed ice cream shop in Chinatown, and Soft Swerve, soft serve with an Asian twist. Of the two Soft Swerve was the best! They had unique soft serve flavors like black sesame, matcha, and ube. The only non-ice cream dessert spot I went to was the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo to try the once massively popular Cronut. The Cronut flavor changes each month. This month's flavor was Blackberry. I'll be honest, I was let down by this bakery. Sure the Cronut was tasty but the cafe itself had zero charm! At least I didn't have to wait for hours in line.
WHAT TO DO
For me, a trip to New York is incomplete without visiting at least one museum. New York has numerous world-famous museums that should not be missed! This time I went to three. My first day I went to the Brooklyn Museum to see the David Bowie Is... exhibit. I highly recommend going if you're interested in his music! (Tip: You need to reserve tickets in advance!) On Saturday, I went uptown for my annual visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met as everyone calls it. I love getting lost in the immense and endless galleries! I could happily spend all day there. A new art museum I visited was The Frick Collection, which is on the same street as the Met but further down. The small but impressive art collection is housed in a grand turn of the century mansion that was once a wealthy person's home. I was enamored by the mansion's tranquil courtyard!
Am I the only one who enjoys strolling around parks when I travel to new cities? Central Park is the most famous park in New York and for good reason. No matter how out of the way it is from where I'm staying I always make a visit. My favorite spot in all of New York happens to be in Central Park. I like to sit on the rock overlooking a lake that's literally called The Lake. From there you're able to see a beautiful unobstructed view of the Midtown skyline. Since I stayed near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, I had to have a quick look around. I didn't get to explore as much as I wanted. I only spent a half an hour or so wandering around while sipping coffee. The freezing winter weather cut my visit short! I went on a Saturday morning, which coincided with the bustling farmer's market that takes place near the Grand Army Plaza on weekends. I wish I'd known earlier about it so I could have done a bit of grocery shopping!
WHERE TO SHOP
SoHo and Nolita are the places to shop. I know Fifth Ave is more famous but SoHo and Nolita have all the trendy spots. Besides, they're my favorite neighborhoods to get lost in! Both have beautiful cobblestone streets lined with charming old tenements. The large chain stores like Zara or H&M are all located on Broadway, the main street, but veer off that on one of the side streets and you'll find luxury designer stores mixed with trendy boutiques and art galleries.
My focus this trip was on beauty shopping. If you saw my haul on Instagram, you know that I went crazy for beauty products! My first stop was not in SoHo or Nolita but in the Village. I popped into C.O. Bigelow Apothecary, an old-school pharmacy loaded with hard to find beauty brands. The staff there is fabulous! Friendly, informative and helpful. I picked up a few things like the Ouai Dry Shampoo, the Avène Soothing Moisture Mask, and the COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid. They also gave me a bunch of free samples from Oribe and Dr. Hauschka! I walked downtown to Nolita to stop by Credo Beauty, a haven for anyone looking for the best all-natural beauty brands! There I splurged on the gorgeous Kypris Antioxidant Dew serum. Nearby there was also a tiny Space NK, a Diptyque boutique, a Le Labo fragrance store, and an Aesop. I stopped briefly at each to browse. Then I headed down to oo35mm in Chinatown. This teeny shop on Mott Street is easy to miss. It took me two tries to finally find the right door! The store is jam-packed full of Asian beauty products like Innisfree, DHC, Dolly Wink and COSRX. They even had some Western skincare like Avène, Bioderma, and The Ordinary. I grabbed a shopping basket and went a bit crazy! I picked up four The Ordinary products, the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Clay Mask, a mini DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, and the MSH Love Liner Liquid Eyeliner that I've been dying to repurchase. The final stop on my New York beauty tour was the much talked about Glossier Showroom. Like the brand, the Showroom is majorly hyped. Honestly, I wasn't impressed! It didn't help that when I got there the small room was packed. I won't dig into the experience too much. I just felt like it lacked charm.
If you're more interested in fashion, some stores to check out are Reformation if you love flowy summer dresses, What Goes Around Comes Around for vintage designer pieces, & Other Stories for the coolest clothes on the high-street, and The RealReal for secondhand designer clothes and bags.
There you have it! My not-so-brief city guide with some (hopefully) helpful suggestions on what to see and do in New York. There are a ton of other places I love like the High Line or the Brooklyn Bridge but didn't include because this blog post got a bit too lengthy. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comment section below!