New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There are so many opportunities for things to see and do in the city that never sleeps (or is that Seattle?). It can be challenging to know where to start, so I spent a couple of weeks in NYC curating this list of places to eat, museums to visit and shows to see.
Welcome to your (my) perfect day in New York City!
Remember to wake up late, you have a big night planned tonight, so give yourself a bit of a sleep-in, plus brunch in NYC doesn’t really start until lunchtime. Leave the house around 11am.
Option one is Pearls in Williamsburg, this Carribean cafe does a bottomless brunch with Mango Mimosas to die for. Couple some delicious drinks with a cute venue, fabulous tunes and fries I couldn’t stop eating and you’ve got the perfect start to your day!
A second option is brunch at Otis deep in Brooklyn. This was, without a doubt, the best food I had the entire time I was in NYC. Their menu is fantastic, their staff are friendly af, and it’s reasonably priced for what you get. This restaurant seems to be a hidden secret amongst Aussie ex-pats, so keep it quiet, and we can all get reservations when we’re there.
After brunch, you have a couple of options, you can stay in Brooklyn or head into Manhattan.
If this is your first trip to NYC and you want to do something cute that you’ve seen on TV shows forever then head into Manhattan for a walk through Central Park to The Met or The Guggenhiem on Fifth Avenue. Central Park is particularly lovely in Spring and Summer, but don’t feel like you can’t still visit in the colder months. The Met is a fantastic mix of old and new art, there is definitely something for everyone at this beautiful museum. Plus you can go full Gossip Girl on the steps #teamheadband. The Guggenheim is a tribute to the talent of Frank Lloyd Wright and will appease any architectural buffs in your party. Be sure to listen to the audio guide as you walk through to understand this unique space.
An option for those who have already seen the Museums and Galleries of Midtown and the Upper East Side is the 9/11 Memorial Museum. This museum is heartwrenching and vital, it has a fantastic audio guide, and it’s an integral piece of American history. People that I walked through with had strong emotional responses to the exhibits, so plan to have some time afterwards to decompress.
If you’d rather stay in Brooklyn then a trip to Brooklyn Flea and to Milk Bar will keep your wallet empty and your sugar levels up! Brooklyn Flea can be found on the 8th floor of a Williamsburg building. Mixing stalls selling curated vintage homewares and clothes, with modern jewellery and art. Milk Bar is a NYC favourite, we reocmmend trying their cereal milk soft serve. As a gluten free person I adored their marshmellow cookies, if you’re visiting please bring me back some!
For something a little lighter after your museum experience head on down to Pier 17 in lower Manhattan where in the winter months you can go ice skating on a rooftop underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. In the summertime, they do a concert series here, so keep your eye out for tickets.
If you plan on seeing a Broadway show in the evening, please consider this when making your dinner reservations. Either get in early with a 5:30pm booking or grab a bagel from a street vendor in the arvo and have a late dinner after the show.
Do you want a fancy cocktail but also a hamburger? Then have I got a secret bar for you! Located in the West Village, The Garret is accessible only through a staircase within a Five Guys. Unsurprisingly they will let you bring Five Guys upstairs to the bar. Do yourself a favour and get a Cheeseburger with the lot, a small fries (which is an Australian large), and head upstairs for a cocktail.
Dinner at Sauvage is an EXPERIENCE. A French restaurant in Brooklyn with a frankly Italian aesthetic the food here is gorgeous, the venue is stunning, and the wine list is *chefs kiss*. The staff here are friendly and knowledgeable so feel free to ask for advice on the dishes, but I recommend the Brussell sprouts and the steak. This place is bougie (think $$$), and it’s market prices for a few of their meals. But they also have a photo of a gentleman completely pantsless above their toilet, so you win some you lose some.
Do you want to be at a restaurant and have a higher chance of seeing Michelle and Barrack Obama than at most other restaurants? Then Emilio’s Ballato in Manhattan is for you. Wholesome Italian food, celebrity photos covering the walls, the Obama’s were there two weeks ago. The dream.
It would be remiss of me to write about NYC’s nighttime activities and not include seeing a Broadway show. There will always be blockbuster plays and musicals happening, but my recommendations are:
Hamilton Come on guys, it’s the most popular show on Broadway, you know I’m not throwing away my shot (at mentioning it in this article). Hamilton tickets are hard to come by and even harder to afford, but this musical is a masterpiece. Make sure you listen to the soundtrack beforehand. It’s a fastpaced show full of fastpaced rapping, and you won’t want to miss a thing.
A Soldiers Play For someone who wants a show that’s a little more serious, A Soldiers Play is a stirring, Pulitzer Prize-winning piece. A Soldiers Play explores racial relationships amongst African American soldiers on a 1944 Louisianna Army Base. This is the first time this show has come to Broadway, and the Roundabout Theatre have done it justice with a fantastic cast, including David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood. I was lucky enough to be invited to a dress rehearsal of this show, and it was the best thing I saw in NYC; I laughed, I cried, I was incredibly moved. A Soldiers Play has a limited run until 15 March 2020, so if you miss before to this Roundabout Theatre company are always producing essential and powerful pieces of theatre.
Beetlejuice Aussie’s love an underdog story, and Beetlejuice composer-lyricist Eddie Perfect is just that, booking the Beetlejuice gig after writing two songs for the producers from his home in Melbourne. Beetlejuice is fun, raucous, and an excellent idea for anyone looking for a lighthearted show, an introduction to musicals, or who want to take their family to see something they will all enjoy. We queued for hours and couldn’t get tickets, so make sure you buy well in advance before it closes in June!
Now, what about the rest of you, the ones who came to NYC to party and are just interested in places you can go dancing. Well, luckily for you, I have cool friends because I am not those vibes.
For those of you interested in getting sweaty and dancing to some drums for two solid hours in a safe space, then The Get Down is the place for you. This is the hottest dance floor I have ever been on, so wear whatever you’re comfiest in and be hydrated. The dance floor will be heaving, bodies will be everywhere, it is liberating and a beautiful, safe space to dance.
House of Yes in Brooklyn describes itself as weird, wild and wonderful. With events on every Wednesday through Saturday, it is the perfect opportunity to get dressed up and let your hair down (in the Summer costumes are available at the door). House of Yes have a wide variety of shows, in one week the theme can go from fetish to Beyonce so find an event that makes you happy and go for it! PSA. This is often the venue for The Get Down, but I’ve listed them separately in this blog because it isn’t always the case.
If you want something that’s a bit of a mix between being performed at, and being a part of the performance then Sleep No More is the place for you. Located at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, audience members don masks and walk room to room following characters in a film noir version of the Scottish play. This show is unlike anything else in NYC. It’s running through to May 2020 so snag a ticket while you can. Tickets on Tuesday are a bit cheaper so keep your eye out.
Once you’ve finished dancing, watching or immersing you can collapse into bed exhausted and get ready to do it all again tomorrow!