Travel Guide: New York City, NY

Travel Guide: New York City, NY

I recently visited New York City after a 3-year break. I couldn’t believe it had been that long! NYC is and has always been one of my favorite destination cities. I’m sure any one that’s been, can attest to the vibrant energy and culture of this special place. It truly is the city that never sleeps…

This trip was most unique compared to my previous trips because I had already done a lot of the “touristy” things (Empire State Building, Central Park, 9/11 Memorial Site, Hudson River Cruise, etc.). I was able to explore the local and underground scene. It was also really nice not to have the pressure to try and squeeze so many things into one day. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even make it to Times Square!
I wanted to share some of the things I did that it made it so great whether you’re visiting soon or are already a local!
 
BODEGA NEGRA
A festive night lounge and restaurant serving Mexican street food and the most delicious Meszcal Margarita cocktails you’ve ever tried in your life! It’s on the ground level of the Dream Hotel. I came on a Monday night where they played the best dance music — a mixture of latin and hip-hop!  There’s no cover charge at the door for the lounge which is nice, but the place does get pretty packed so be prepared to stand/dance unless you make a reservation to eat.
*Highlight: At 12AM, they feature live performances (everything from circus acts to burlesque). If you love to dance, this is definitely a spot you can’t miss! Photo Courtesy of: NewYork.com
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 PUBLIC THEATRE
This is by far the best theatre experience I’ve had to date (and I’ve seen a lot of shows!). I was so happy at the end of this performance I wanted to cry from the sheer experience. I mean it helped that my husband bought me a phenomenal front row center ticket so I was practically sitting on the stage.
The Public Theatre is a unique experience because it showcases the work of many up-and-coming playwrights and performers. It feels like an incubator for plays before they make their Broadway debut. In fact, many performances have had their first run here!  Also, in the particular play, I saw “The Total Bent” (which I highly recommend), the actors were very interactive with the audience which makes for a very intimate setting. Each production runs for a limited amount of time so I recommend purchasing your ticket in advanced because they do sell out! If you get to the theatre early, check out The Library (restaurant upstairs inside of the venue).
*Side note: If you come here and are an American Express Cardholder, you can book amazing front row seats without having to be a member of the Public Theatre. All the seats are great, but I highly recommend getting a front row seat if you can and love theatre!
To check out more information about The Public Theatre, click here.
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 EATALY
The first thing I thought when I walked into ‘Eataly’ was…how have I not been here before?!  Eataly is an Italian marketplace located in Madison Square Park. Inside you will find a variety of food and beverage vendors, baked goods, retail items, sit-down restaurants and cooking classes. It’s a one-stop-shop for Italian food.  If you’re local, you might come here to shop for your wines, cheeses, fresh pasta and more. If you’re visiting, you definitely have to try one of the 9 restaurants. Naturally, I thought I was going to try the creamiest  and freshest pasta, but instead opted for something healthier — seafood!
 Tip: On your way out, make sure to grab a caramel maciatto espresso and gelato!
Plan your visit to Eataly here.
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 SMALLS JAZZ CLUB
This spot is a tiny hidden gem located in Greenwich Village. This club has so much grit and history, it’s a true jazz lover’s dream. It’s not fancy inside at all and has that neighborhood “everyone knows your name when you walk in the door” vibe. When the club originally opened in 1994, it was a $10 cover charge, stay as long as you’d like, and BYOB since the owner had no liquor license. His only concern was…the music. Since then, the club has undergone many changes, which you can read about here. The club only fits  50-60 people max inside and is now $20 cover to get in. You can expect a very intimate listening experience from some of New York’s best Jazz ensembles.
Find out who’s preforming tonight here.
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 THE CELLAR (HAPPY HOUR)
I found this wine and cheese room inside Beecher’s Handmade Cheese New York. The best part…I found it during happy hour (3-7PM daily)! The HH menu features $7 wine, cocktails and food. It’s a great ambience downstairs and gets pretty lively after work hours. Come here for a glass of wine if you’re visiting the Union Square area.
 BLOOMINGDALES 59TH STREET
I thought I had it good in SF until I walked in to the the holy grail of all Bloomingdales. Although I typically prefer to window shop the streets of Soho or Meatpacking district, I was completely floored when I stepped into this beautiful gigantic showroom. Yes, I’ve been to SAKS on 5th, Barney’s and Bergdorf Goodman department stores, but something about this Bloomingdales had my fashion heart swooning. It was so decadent inside, but still practical like I could possibly afford something small. Even if you’re not a shopper, it’s definitely worth walking through even if it’s just to use the bathroom in their lounge!
PS. My favorite floor was the Home Goods section. If you’re into that stuff, be sure to check it out!
Find out store hours here.
OTHER NOTABLE MENTIONS:
  • Chef’s Club by Food & Wine (in NoLita) – a gourmet curated culinary food and wine experience. This place is fancy yet unpretentious and serves the best dishes from chefs around the world.
  • Cabana Midtown – Fantastic Cuban restaurant (close to Bloomingdales on 59th street)! If they have salmon special with coconut rice (you have to ask for it) — GET IT!IMG_3755
  • The Lobby Lounge (inside Mandarin Oriental Hotel) – If you’re in Columbus Square, make a reservation and unwind at one the most elegant lounges in the area. Located on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, this sophistcated lounge has panoramic views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. Make sure to come during daytime hours to take it all in.

*Bonus Points: We exited the lobby with Kate Hudson! 

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*Drink pictured: “The Royal Tea” — a delicious blend of Meyer lemon juice, Ginger Oolong honey, beet juice, vodka and candied beets. Get the official recipe here!

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