TRAVEL // new york, new york
It's no secret that I LOVE New York City. I've probably bored my friends for years with my constant whining about how I just need to live there. ASAP.
I don't know what it is, but this city melts my heart when I see it in movies. When I travel there, I just never want to leave. My obsession with NY started when I was a young, impressionable 7 year old because I fell for all the movies in the 1980's where the power suits and corner offices were a bucket list item of mine. Working Girl, Baby Boom, When Harry Met Sally, Wall Street, and Annie Hall. I was obsessed with these movies (ok, I still am). My father would go to NYC on business trips in the 80's, stay at the Plaza Hotel, get shuttled to and from meetings in a limo, schmooze over oysters at the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar, but always found time to get my brother and I gifts at FAO Schwartz (RIP sweet toy store).
This city is my home.
But it's not.
Because as you all know, my life took a bit of a detour and I ended up in what is probably the most opposite city of NY. Grande Prairie, AB. But I guess love will do that to you and likely take you anywhere. I am the proof in that pudding.
So, it was only fitting to do my first feature city and travel guide on one of my favourite cities in North America (Ok, The Novices Guide to Santa Barbara was my first that I published last year). When I was knee deep working with Smart Cookies, we traveled to NYC often doing media training, meeting with partners and appearing in news outlets like The Today Show, The NY Times, NY Daily News and ABC News. I have also been lucky to meet some amazing people in NY and some of them have become my constant go-to source for what's new. From places to eat, exhibits worth seeing, shops worth spending your money at, coffee shops worthy of the best lattes, hotels with the coziest beds, I wanted to share some of the best.
So, here it goes! My list below is a combination of places I've been to that are definitely worth checking out, and others are from some of my friends who can vouch for them and also, have been lucky enough to live there. Heaven's know there is MUCH more to cover, but this will give you a start.
WHERE TO STAY
Public (Lower Manhattan/LES) - New hotel by Ian Schrager with an “affordable luxury” concept. Best rooftop in town right now and the design is like no other. One look at their exteriors and you'll want to live there!
60 Thompson (SoHo District) - Newly renovated and great value for your money.
11 Howard (SoHo District. PLUS, they've collaborated with cool brands to make your stay even better)
The Standard Hotel (East Village and Meatpacking District) - a trendy hotel to say the least, but its famous for well, being famous. Plus, the High Line goes right through it and they have the infamous Boom Boom Room bar at the top.
The Crosby Street Hotel (SoHo) - gorgeous boutique hotel that is not only modern and chic with some amazing art pieces, but it is centrally located and close to one of my fave restaurants, Balthazar (see below).
The NoMad Hotel (Flatiron District) - I've stayed here and I loved it. It's a smaller, boutique hotel with quant, eclectically decorated rooms. And the food is amazing! So much so, they have a cookbook out which is worth flipping through.
The Beekman Hotel (World Trade Area) - This is a new hotel and residence combo which is just where old world glamour (dating back to 1761) meets modern luxury. They have done an amazing job at maintaining the history of this building. And if you're like me and you watch Million Dollar Listing NYC, you would have seen it on the show!
AKA Residences (Central Park & Times Square) - This is a great apartment style hotel with amenities you'd find in a hotel (cleaning, conceirge). Perfectly suited for families traveling with kids who want a kitchen, in-room laundry facilities but with a hip, well-designed style. The Smart Cookies stayed here when we were in town for more than a week to save on eating out.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK
Babbo - All I ever need is some really fresh pasta, a glass of wine and good company. Babbo is apparently the "it" Italian restaurant to try these days. My mouth is watering just looking at their menu...from mozzarella di bufala to gnocchi al telepfono and pappardelle bolognese I will most definitely be making a pit stop here.
Market Table (West Village) - New American with a seasonal flair, I have also been to this place and love it. Their sister restaurant is also amazing..... which is...
... The Little Owl (West Village) - A tiny, charming restaurant in the West Village with delicious food at reasonable price points. I have personally been here 3 times and LOVE IT!
Blue Hill Farm (Greenwich Village) - For those of you who have NOT seen Chef's Table on Netflix, you are missing out. Blue Hill Farms was in season 1 and to hear their story of how all the food they serve ONLY comes from local farms (including their own, Blue Hill Farm). A MUST stop.
Cafe Habana (Lower Manhattan/LES) - Repeat after me: "Grilled corn Mexican Style". This hole in the wall is one of the best and if you go, you must try their corn. You won't regret it. Oh and they also have a take out menu now.
Carbone (West Village) - Apparently this is extremely hard to get a table which would be why I've never been but have heard amazing things (including my friend) about the pasta! You too can make some at home because here is the recipe for their famous rigatoni with spicy tomato vodka sauce.
Totto Ramen (Hells Kitchen) - Calling all ramen aficionados, this is a place you won't want to miss. Several different kinds of ramen with a whole bunch of toppings to customize if you will.
Sel Rrose (LES) - If you like oysters and cocktails, you will want to try out this new oyster bar. And if you need a hit of caffeine after, don't worry, they also have a cute cafe attached to it, through a secret door.
Balthazar (LES/Nolita) - One of my faves. Its owned by the Keith McNally Group (whcih also owns another one of my faves Pastis). Some of the best traditional french cuisine in the city.
Eleven Madison Park (Flatiron District) - Not cheap but really good. I love me a Danny Meyer restaurant concept and this is one of his most coveted. Remember that fight Big and Carrie got into when Big announced he was engaged to the "Ugly Stick Figure with No Soul" in Sex and the City? Yeah, that restaurant was Eleven Madison Park. (currently closed for renovations until October 2017).
Per Se (UWS) - If only I had a stack of cash or a black AMEX. Not for those wanting to save on a meal, but definitely for those who want to indulge in a coursed-out dining experience like no other. The plating is Instagram worthy big time.
Shake Shack (Madison Square Park + 20 other locations in NY) - This is not only a 'go here if you're a first-timer to NYC' but it's also another Danny Meyer concept (one of his first actually). Concession-style food - burgers, crinkle fries, shakes and so much more. Its a must and dare I say, could be better than In 'n Out???!
Malaparte NYC (West Village) - This is the place to go for some more authentic Italian food. Can you tell I love Italian? I do and so do my friends who recommended this place. You had me at Di Barbabietola.
Blue Ribbon (Greenwich Village) - This place has some of the best sushi and you must try the steam lobster with miso butter. Also get the lobster roll in the egg wrap.
Clinton Street Bakery (East Village) - Beware, there is often a HUGE line up here, but if you're ok doing so, it will be worth it. The pancakes are tres tres famous.
Bemelman's Bar in the Carlyle Hotel (UES) - Named in honor of Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books, Bemelmans Bar is a timeless location that continues to attract socialites, politicians, movie stars and moguls with its extensive drink menu and nightly live entertainment. If you want classic NYC, this is the place to hit up. Plus, Woody Allen and his jazz band play here from Sept - Dec (Mondays only), so if you're a fan, get tickets well in advance and start saving your pennies.
WHERE TO GO
Whitney Museum of American Art (Meatpacking District) - My friend who is a former New Yorker loved this place. "The art alone is worth the visit, but the view of both the Hudson River on one side and the Meatpacking District on the other is stunning" she said. SOLD
Brooklyn Botanic Garden - With more than 200 cherry trees, a rose garden, and a Japanese hill-and-pond garden, this seasonal gem of a spot will surprise you. Admission is free on Saturday mornings and Tuesdays. SEASONAL, check times.
The High Line - I try and walk this every time I'm in NYC. Its really an architectural gem but you can also see a lot of NYC while enjoying the outside. The reconstruction of the High Line was a collaborative effort by those business owners who operate in the area, turning a once-dilapidated elevated railway into one of NYC's most beautiful, and visited hot spots for tourists.
MoMA - One of my FAVE art galleries, you can spot everything from Monet to Warhol to Pollack here. Not to mention new exhibitions that come and go.
Top of the Rock - Forget the Empire State Building, but 30 Rockefeller Plaza offers up the best view of Manhattan because you can SEE the Empire State Building from the top. Everywhere from the Bronx to Brooklyn to Wall Street, this offers the most stunning panoramic views.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Yes, ok I am a bit of a museum hoar but where else can you see some of the worlds most amazing art (and fashion)?! Plus, you can have lunch on the roof at the Cantor Roof Garden Bar or the Petrie Court Cafe.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge - Not only is this bridge one of NY's most historic and most beautiful but on a crisp, fall, sunny day this is well worth the walk. Plus, it will take you to one of NY's hottest Burroughs, Brooklyn where more food, and sights await.
Chef Restaurant Supplies (LES) - I had to add this in simply because I'm a foodie and I LOVE having a kitchen supplied with all the basic chef products, supplies and utensils. I took my mom here when we went to NYC in 2012 after seeing it featured on Anthony Bourdain's The Layover in NYC. If you're a home chef or love to cook, this place is a must!