If you only have 72 hours in NYC, here is how I think you should spend it:
Where to Stay – James Hotel
Located in SOHO, the James offers a fun and modern boutique hotel experience. The location is perfect – just a stones throw from all of the best SOHO eateries & shopping destinations.
Do: check out the hotel’s rooftop bar! It can get very lively & the views of the city are top notch.
First Dinner – Balthazar
If you’re into eating (which I hope you are, otherwise we don’t have much in common) then you must check out Eater. Their NYC Essential 38 list is how we discovered all of our favorite New York dining experiences.
For our first meal we decided to drop our bags and walk straight over to Balthazar. Balthazar is proclaimed as “the best every day restaurant in New York City. Period.” Apparently in New York City escargot translates as “every day eats”. Snails not your thing? No problem! There’s plenty of other options including their sinful steak frites. On the subject of snails, I think slugs deserve a shout-out for doing everything snails do without a helmet.
Day One- Viva La Brooklyn!
Do: rent a city bike.
There’s so much to see and do in New York so don’t get stuck in one neighborhood – especially when there are city bikes located all over town. Biking lets you cover more ground while touring the city in a fun and active way.
I’ll admit I was a little hesitant at first… I always pictured my first Brooklyn Bridge experience on foot. In the past couple of months I was involved in a car wreck and a boating accident (the latter left me with a broken collarbone). Let’s just say my anxiety was at an all time high as I anticipated a biking accident completing the trifecta.
Do: make sure your bike has a working bell – you will use it a lot. The bridge gets severely congested, and the narrow lanes and distracted tourists can prove difficult for the inexperienced biker.
Luckily I survived – and not only that but I fell head over bicycle (figuratively speaking) for Brooklyn! Brooklyn has an awesome vibe; it’s brimming with hipsters, undoubtedly gentrified, but still hanging on to it’s roots (and Biggie).
Where to eat: St. Anslem – this restaurant already had a crowd of 30+ people standing outside by the time we arrived (about a quarter before opening). Worry & impatience ensued as the hostess escorted one party at a time to their table from outside the restaurant. Pick us! We’re next!! We watched as an Italian man meeting his daughter’s boyfriend for the first time let his eagerness get the best of him. I think he said something like, “if you don’t seat us now, the mob is going to know about it” (although I can’t be too sure). Overall the meal was well worth the initial sweat.
Highlight: they serve you an entire chicken – head & all – braised in a sweet tea marinade that will leave your tastebuds buzzing.
Day Two – Brunching & Must. Stop. Shopping. in SOHO
Brunch: Jack’s Wife Freda – check them out on Instagram and tell me you aren’t dying for an introduction to Jack, or Freda, or whoever is behind those perfectly poached eggs and fluffy Belgian waffles!
Do: get there early. We waited almost an hour and the place is muy pequeno. That’s Spanish for: you won’t need a sweater because they pack em’ like sardines inside.
Shopping: You could literally spend an entire month shopping in SOHO but I suggest you head straight over to Saturdays Surf NYC, where the clothing is awesome but more importantly the entire staff is Australian.
Night Out: Times Square Followed by Ghostly Spirits
Do: Go to Times Square. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t been before.
Don’t: spend all night there. You’ve got places to go! Get a move on!
Where to drink: Death & Co., I’ve been to a few “speakeasies” but this one takes the cake when it comes to, well, being really damn cool. Not pictured here: the ornate doorknob which I half expected to morph into the ghost of Jacob Marley. Death & Co. is so cool in fact, that they have a coffee table book (found at Barnes & Noble) filled with recipes, stories, bar slang (Fact: Mr. Potato head is how bartenders refer to the process of swapping out elements of a classic cocktail to create something new). Bottom Line: this is a don’t miss experience.
Where to eat: Estela. This restaurant is in the top 5 most amazing meals of my life. Everything on the menu was unique and unforgettable.
Must order: the steak tartare, ricotta dumplings in a mushroom broth, burrata, EVERYTHING – just order everything.
Do: make a reservation or arrive right at opening.
We arrived right when Estela opened and were able to get three spots at the bar. Within twenty minutes every table was completely filled. Even Laura Prepon from That 70’s Show had to wait for a table (celeb sighting – check!).
Day Three – Top of the Rock but Where is Baldwin & Fey?
Don’t: wait hours to go to the top of the Empire State Building. Go to the top of the Rockefeller Center instead.
If you only have a short time in New York City don’t spend it waiting hours in line for the Empire State Building. Especially when there’s the Top of the Rock which, in my opinion, offers way better views. It also offers the chance to get the Empire State Building in your pictures!
Do: purchase your tickets online and go first thing in the morning! It’s so much easier to snap great photos when you don’t have to wait your turn.
One of my favorite moments during our trip was walking through the city on Monday morning and watching all of the New Yorkers leading their busy lives, rushing off to work.
Do: rent city bikes to ride through Central Park (pictured above is the famous Central Park Loeb Boathouse).
Do: make your way to the Upper East Side!
You might feel a little Kristen Wig “help me I’m poor“ walking around the Upper East Side. Suddenly hot dog vendors and the distinct aroma of the subway station are replaced by dog walkers, nannies, door men and private school girls (did they just laugh at me?!); but it’s really amusing to get a glimpse into the world of the 1%.
Do: enter one of the super fancy designer stores.
Night Out: Grand Central Station & Acoustics Far Superior to Your Shower
Where to Go: Grand Central Station (No one ever said this was a local’s guide to a weekend in New York!)
Do: go at night. It is magical!
I had heard about this place in Grand Central Station called “Whispering Galleries” – a room with four pillars where people stand on opposite corners and whisper sweet nothings… those whispers then travel until reaching the ear of the person across the room from you, sounding clear as day, as if that person had whispered directly into your ear.
We stumbled around until we found the spot and gave it a try. Sure enough – it worked! Ecstatic (and maybe a little buzzed) our whispers started to morph into songs and suddenly we realized the potential of our voices in that beautiful acoustic place! My boyfriend’s sister and I were belting Adele’s “Hello” followed by an embarrassing rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”. All I can say is that, New Yorkers must be incredibly used to this sort of thing – extravagant displays of exhibitionism – because literally no one batted an eye (although, I’m sure a few people plugged their ears).
Where to Drink: Goldbar – No misnomer here. Goldbar is dripping in gold. Gold chandeliers, a gold ceiling and gold skulls – which cover the walls inside! It’s amazing.
New York has so many incredible places to explore that no list, and no weekend, could ever do it the justice it deserves. That’s why we’re already planning the next NYC visit!