posted on June 15th, 2017


It goes without saying that New York is jam-packed with places to go, people to see, food to eat, and sights to behold. And thankfully, NYC’s MTA system is about as comprehensive as public transportation gets (we say thankfully because, to the dismay of thousands of New Yorkers, Turo isn’t allowed to operate in New York state). But navigating what’s really worth doing can be trickier than navigating the five boroughs, so we’ve curated a collection of beloved classics and lesser-known worthwhile spots, from where to find melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella to live jazz to book launches to prime sunset spots.

After a day pounding the pavement, there’s nothing quite like finding the perfect restaurant to slip into for dinner or a long, leisurely lunch. New York pizza stands are great, but we’re more partial to wood-fired Neapolitan style, like Roberta’s (261 Moore St) in Bushwick, Brooklyn and Co. (230 9th Ave) in Chelsea, where bread is center stage (read: incredible crust). The West Village’s Hudson Clearwater (447 Hudson St) looks like a closed storefront, but behind the unmarked green door around the corner is a charming little garden and candlelit restaurant serving up elevated American classics. Little Park (85 W Broadway), inside the Smyth Hotel in lower Manhattan, serves fresh and bright seasonal dishes, while Babbo (110 Waverly Pl) in Greenwich Village is a perfectly cozy Italian haunt by Mario Batali — indulge in the pasta tasting menu if you’re feeling wild. Just want a really good burger? Go all in on a quintessential Brooklyn experience at Diner (85 Broadway) in Williamsburg, where grass-fed burgers and piping hot fries are served in a twenties-era metal dining car.

With outposts all across the city, you can get that nostalgic drive-in movie feel without even needing a car with Rooftop Films. Film screenings range from blockbusters to acclaimed indie films and are shown everywhere from Coney Island way out in Brighton Beach (ride the rollercoasters first) to rooftops strung with fairy lights in Brooklyn. At $15 a pop, this is easily one of NYC’s more affordable activities. Check out the calendar to browse the upcoming shows.

The heart of art

We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but there are one or two museums worth checking out in New York. From mid-April to October, the Met (1000 5th Ave) on the Upper East Side opens its rooftop garden where you can sip wine from the bar with jaw-dropping skyline views. Browse The Frick Collection (1 E 70th St), also in the UES, and the massive Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy) in Prospect Park, where an amazing collection on Black Radical Women is on display through mid-September. And, whether you think you’re a fan of modern art or not, you don’t want to miss MoMA in midtown (11 W 53rd St), where the events and exhibitions are equal parts thought-provoking and just plain delightful. If you just want to say you saw a piece of art everyone knows, you can also check that off here with Starry Night.

If there’s a better way to spend an afternoon than making your own mozzarella, we don’t know what it is. Murray’s Cheese in the Village (254 Bleecker St) offers classes on everything from the aforementioned mozzarella madness to Japanese whiskey and cheese pairings. If you want a really local experience, check out one of their “Drink Local” events, featuring New York wines and cheeses. Though you’re sure to learn all kinds of esoteric and quirky cheese facts, the real lesson: everything is better when you add cheese.

It’s no secret that cocktails don’t come cheap here (let’s be real, neither does anything else), so you want to pick the right spot to kick back with your evening (or day, we’re not judging) libation. We suggest hitting up a jazz bar, where you’ll get entertainment along with your cover charge — Groove (125 Macdougal St A) in Greenwich Village is a classic. It’s worth stopping into Bar SixtyFive (30 Rockefeller Plaza) at the Rainbow Room for the views alone (best at sunset). Want something a little more relaxed? The Rusty Knot in the West Village (425 West St) is nautical-themed and has a free jukebox so you can play DJ. Shifting gears, Weather Up (159 Duane St) in Tribeca is a swanky cocktail lounge where you’ll feel instantly cooler just by walking in the door. For a little clandestine cocktail, check out speakeasies like PDT near Tompkins Square Park (113 St Marks Pl, go into Crif Dogs and enter through the phone booth) or The Back Room (102 Norfolk Street) in the Lower East Side.

When you’re ready to spend some time outside and you’ve already lounged about Central Park, grab a Citi bike and cycle along the West Side Highway to take in some skyline and Hudson River views. If you want to get out on the river itself, head to the Downtown Boathouse (Hudson River Greenway) for some (free!) kayaking. If you just want a leisurely stroll, the High Line is a railway-turned-park marked by lovely green plants and beautiful city and water views. Check out the events calendar for fun features from yoga to Latin dance parties.

A cultural institution, the 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Ave) plays host to all manner of movie screenings, book launches, and talks and conversations between fascinating figures like Alan Alda and Neil deGrasse Tyson and Nancy Pelosi and Joy-Ann Reid. Among the lust-worthy levels of books at The Strand near Union Square (828 Broadway), book launches and talks in the rare books rooms (an experience in itself) include upcoming guests like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Trevor Noah. Take the opportunity to get lost amid the famous 18 miles of books contained in this magical place.

Founded by greats including Amy Poehler and Adam McKay, the Upright Citizens Brigade (307 W. 26th St, Chelsea and 153 East 3rd St, East Village) is one of the city’s most treasured comedic outposts. Check out the unabashedly brash ASSSSCAT show (for free at 9:30 pm if you don’t mind staking out a spot in line early) for gut-busting laughs with cast regulars like Tami Sagher.

There are enticing shops to be discovered in every corner of this city. In the Meatpacking district, In Support Of (342 W 13th Street) carries high-quality, unique clothing designs with the mission of supporting charitable causes through its sales and collaborations. Head over to Greenwich Village to get the pulse of all that’s cool in Personnel of New York (9 Greenwich Ave), where classic basics and striking prints in interesting shapes hang side by side. Home and design store John Derian (6 E 2nd St) in the East Village stocks singular styles of everything from bright patterned textiles to signature decoupage wall hangings. For a sweet, sparkly souvenir, Catbird (219 Bedford Ave) in Brooklyn offers delicate jewelry, luxurious candles, and beauty products both elegant and quirky. For some luscious and extravagant homewares, check ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway) near Union Square, and duck into ABC Kitchen for a snack, courtesy of super chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Winding down with a summer sunset is an undeniable pleasure. One slam-dunk way to enjoy magic hour: on a sunset sail. Pack a picnic, then hop aboard a schooner to sip beer, wine, or champagne and watch the city shift from gleaming to sparkling against the night sky (plus, get close enough to feel like you can touch the Statue of Liberty). Another winning way to end the day is strolling the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun dips below the water. Iconic for good reason, the skylines will take your breath away.

Virginia is equally enamored with words and globetrotting. Whenever possible, she likes to combine the two through travel writing to help other wanderers discover and fall in love with the world.