Winter in New York City is truly as magical as it sounds. The snow coating the concrete in white while lights glimmer off of the icicles. The city is decorated with so much detail and glitter, it totally feels like you’re living in a snow globe, but the details can be overwhelming and make it feel like a toddler is shaking the snow globe and your world is in a flurry. Fear not! I have complied a list of my recommendations and warnings for your Big Apple adventure! I recently moved from NYC and after 2.5 years and 2 very cold (to a Louisiana girl) winters, I am reminiscing on the only true White Christmases I’ve ever had. I hope you have an amazing trip!
FIRST. BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER. There is something you need to know and accept. It’s a bitter pill to swallow… you won’t get everything done that you want to. Just go ahead and split your trip into two trips now because this city has SO much to do and see that you will start making a new list when you haven’t even finished half of this list. I know, it’s not fair, but it’ll just give you an excuse to go back!
My favorite area to eat, drink and explore is Nolita, but if it’s your first time in NYC, I would get some touristy things under your belt & then going there to explore!
LGA in NYC….
- LaGuardia is not the best airport, but it’s often the most convenient as it’s closest to the city. I can’t tell you how many times I flew in and out of that congested, unpredictable tiny airport. It’s probably a necessary evil when it comes to your trip, so we’ll roll with it. When you land and get your bags, there will likely be guys walking around saying, “taxi? taxi? do you need a taxi?” Say no and move along. They will likely charge you higher and are not trustworthy at all. I recommend going to the taxi line every time or if the Uber situation has been fixed since I last flew in, you can give that a go. I just went to the taxi line every time because there are clear signs to it and you get to where you are going eventually.
Let’s talk Taxis and Transportation….
- iTransNYC is a great app for navigating and learning the subway lines. The MAPs app on an iPhone also will include the Transit systems if you add it when you get to the city! It popped up automatically on my phone when it noticed my location though I’m sure there are ways to turn it on if yours doesn’t do it automatically.
- So, there is a week long $30 subway pass that I usually recommend, whether you’re staying 3 days or 10. It’s worth it for all of the running around you’ll be doing.
- Using the WAZE App while in a cab will help navigate the best route that the driver should take. They usually use it in their cabs so I would just look for it on their decks or keep it open on your phone, just in case they notice you’re a tourist and try to give you the run around :)
- So, when you get into a cab, they will expect cross streets, NOT an address. So, when you pull up the address on your maps, look at the closest cross streets and tell them those! Then when you get to the cross streets, walk to the actual address.
- Taking advantage of tourists is an easy way for Taxis to make a ton of $ so it’s unnecessary for them to get over tipped unless they take you from the Upper West Side to The Brooklyn Bridge or something. I stick with the 20% usually.
- Tackle the city by area. See where your stops are on the map and do Uptown, Midtown and Downtown all separately so you can tackle more without going back and forth on 40 minute commutes!
What to wear??
- Black. If you want to look like a local, you’ll wear a lot of black.
- Boots with grip on the bottom.
- Comfortable Flats, no heels.
- Pretty much everything that’s in the photo below ;)
Seeing is believing…
Rockefeller Center for the beautiful tree and ice skating!
- Radio City Music Hall is right by Rockefeller center as well
- Bow Bridge in Central Park
- Top of the Rock for a gorgeous view of Central Park and midtown
- Ok my friend Lisa had this great tip for Top of the Rock: the bar at the top of 30 Rock, Sixty-Five, is a great alternative to Top of the Rock because no lines and while the drinks are expensive, no admission fee! Gorgeous place to drink! (Open M-F til 5PM-midnight I think!?) So if you are all adults on your trip, enjoy! Dress code is business casual.
- Flatiron Building/5th Ave Shopping
- Union Square Holiday Market
Rolf’s is decorated with so much Christmas cheer you’ll be transported to the North Pole!
- Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar, or almost any rooftop bar is a fun way to feel like a Gossip Girl and soak in the sights of the city!
- The Gansevoort Hotel is a great spot for drinks as well!
- You’ve gotta go to a speakeasy! Please Don’t Tell, Bathtub Gin and Dear Irving are some good ones.
- The Library in the Nomad Hotel will make you feel like you’re Belle in Beauty in the Beast for a drink and light snack
We can’t forget coffee!
Cha Cha Matcha
- Ralph’s (as in Ralph Lauren)
- Stump town Coffee
You’ll need stretchy pants for this category…
- It’s impossible for me to cover ALL of the amazing places to eat in NYC, but here are some of my personal faves…
- The Smith for Brunch
- Joe’s for quick, cheap NYC pizza (it’s cash only!)
- Posto’s for more amazing NYC pizza and my fave kale salad ever!!!
- Pietro Nolita is all pink and super cute! I love this italian spot!
- BlackTap is a great spot for burgers and my personal fave, the greek salad. Also, the most amazing milkshakes that are huge and super photogenic
- The Butcher’s Daughter is an amazing vegetarian spot that is so so worth it!
- Shake Shack is a must and is better than IN n OUT!!! Get outta here West Coast.
- Spice for Thai food
- Sweet chick chicken & waffles
- Del frisco’s for a nice steak & more high end dinner
- My friend Lisa mentioned this as well...The burger joint location hidden inside Le Parker Meridien hotel in midtown! Basically a burger speakeasy! Justin can attest to the awesomeness of this spot!
Sweets & Treats!
- City Bakery for their famous Hot Chocolate
- Levain Bakery - The chocolate chip walnut cookie, you’re welcome
- Magnolia Bakery - The banana pudding or lemon bar!
- Dominique Ansel’s Cookie shots are adorable and delicious!
- The Doughnuttery in Chelsea Market
Do it for the gram! Or just, for fun… whichever.
- Well, try to anyway.
- The Magician at the Nomad Hotel is INCREDIBLE. I can’t recommend this enough. Tickets are tricky so be sure to plan way ahead of time for these!
- The Whitney Museum is my favorite museum because it’s the most interactive in my opinion!
- The 9/11 Memorial Museum is incredibly sobering and I believe it’s a must when you’re in NYC.
- Right next door is the One World Trade that has a 360 enclosed view of Manhattan. I personally like the Top of The Rock better, but Justin is a big fan of OWT. While you’re over there, you may as well pop in the Oculus and see the cool modern architecture in this shopping center
- Grand Central Station is most likely on one of your routes, so swing in and people watch for a bit when you’re done obsessing over the beautiful ceiling.
- Walk through Chelsea Market and grab some baby donuts from the Doughnuttery!
Is it worth it?
- To pay for a ride around the statue of liberty? Eh. Not in my opinion. you can see her from afar when you’re on the Brooklyn Bride or in the One World Trade. A good tip for seeing the Statue of Liberty - take the Staten Island Ferry which is free! It doesn't get too close but it's a great way to get a boat ride for $0!
- The cookie dough place, Do… Not at all. It’s cute and instagrammable, but not as tasty as the break and bake dough at the grocery store.
- Cony Island. nope. Not in the winter at least.
Here is a fun Buzzfeed article on the most instagrammable foods in NYC: