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If you consider yourself a transplanted New Yorker, there are some staples that will always be on your to-do list when you visit the city. Of course, the city is known for having new and exciting things popping up all the time. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit twice, and here are a few of the Big Apple’s Best (with a few Brooklyn finds for good measure!). 

Written by: Elena Murzello

Best Brunch Chain: Isla & Co

Isla & Co. is Parched Hospitality Group’s popular Aussie all-day cafe and restaurant with locations in Midtown at Hotel Hendricks and in Williamsburg adjacent to the William Vale.  Executive Chef Matt Foley’s brunch menu, which is served daily until 3pm, includes favorites like Brioche French Toast, Isla Benedict, Smashed Avocado Toast and Mushroom Toast. There are new additions to the menu like Kangaroo Tucker, traditional Australian rubbed kangaroo skewered over herbed tahini, marinated cucumbers and pickled onions.  I highly recommend the Kangaroo Tucker! Brunch pairs perfectly with an Aperol Spritz, Bloody Mary or Espresso Martini. 

Best Famed Irish Pub: The Dead Rabbit 

Best Famed Irish Pub: The Dead Rabbit 

The Dead Rabbit, the world’s most awarded pub can be found at 30 Water Street in a the five-story, 19th-century townhouse.  The pub is named after The Dead Rabbit gang who fought to defend their territory in mid 1800’s lower Manhattan. In 2013, The Dead Rabbit opened and has survived a hurricane, a fire, an expansion and a pandemic. Setting new sites on a US expansion, The Dead Rabbit is opening in Austin and DC in the coming year. 

I visited the pub on a snowy day and took refuge in the Taproom for some of the pub’s favorites. The hearty Lamb Stew and the pub’s famed Irish Coffee made from Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, Calendar Coffee, Demerara, Freshly Whipped Cream, Nutmeg hit the spot.

Best Rooftop Bar: Moxy Chelsea’s Fleur Room

Best Rooftop Bar: Moxy Chelsea’s Fleur Room

A nod to the Flower District, you will find the Moxy Chelsea’s Fleur Room at 35 stories high. The new concept by Tao Group Hospitality and Angelo Bianchi, interiors that reference the Flower Market (a chandelier that resembles oversize water droplets; dazzling floral-patterned seating; and a copper-clad bar).

A list of creative cocktails is accompanied by a simple, elegant menu of elevated bar snacks—warm olives with Marcona almonds, king crab club sandwich, truffle grilled cheese toast. The lounge area comes complete with a DJ booth and a massive vintage disco ball—a one-of-a-kind artifact salvaged from the 1980s L.A. nightclub Vertigo. The glass-enclosed rooftop lounge has expansive 360-degree views that stretch from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building. Like magic (and at the touch of a button), a retractable window wall transforms the lounge into an alfresco sky veranda.

Best Cityscape View: Edge NYC  

Best Cityscape View: Edge NYC  

 Looking for that breathtaking 360-degree view of the iconic NYC skyline? Look no further than the Edge. It’s the largest and highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere at 1,131 feet. Situated on the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards, (NYC’s newest neighborhood accessible by the Number 7 train) you can lean out over the city on angled glass walls and take some fantastic footage for your next reel (I did!). 

Tickets cost $40 (£33) per adult, $38 (£31) per senior (age 62 and above) and $35 (£29) per child (age 6-12 years), an additional $10 is added to the ticket price for sunset visits. Ticket prices include access to The Glass Floor, Angled Glass Walls, The Skyline Steps, The Eastern Point, and a free digital photo souvenir. Visitors also have the option to purchase a personalized photo book and a glass of champagne upon arrival.

Best New Museum: The Museum of Broadway 

Best New Museum: The Museum of Broadway 

Opened in Fall 2022 in Times Square, is The Museum of Broadway. The museum is founded by entrepreneur and 2-time Tony Award-winning producer, Julie Boardman, and founder of award-winning experiential agency Rubik Marketing, Diane Nicoletti.

Both immersive and interactive, the museum features work of dozens of designers, artists, and theater historians which take on a journey along the timeline of Broadway. The Museum highlights more than 500 individual productions from the 1700s-present. There is a three-floor display of costumes, props, rare photos/videos, interactive sets and plenty of instagrammable moments to share. 

Best New Museum: The Museum of Broadway 

Best Day Spa: Naturopathica 

This day spa has two locations in the city which includes Chelsea and TriBeca, with two other locations in East Hampton and Palm Beach. I visited the Chelsea location for the signature ‘Chill Massage.’ After a red-eye, this  is the perfect way to recover and buy some time if you are waiting to check into your hotel room. Besides the typical Facial and Massage offerings, the spa also offers body treatments and Holistic Healing Therapies as well. You can even become a Naturopathica Spa member to give you exclusive pricing on both treatments and products, and priority access to spa events and experts.

Best Day Spa: Naturopathica 

Best Boutique Hotel: The High Line Hotel

From a 17th century apple orchard to an 18th century cloistered seminary, The High Line Hotel has transformed into Chelsea Square’s architectural masterpiece. The preserved gothic molding and fireplaces are only highlighted by the hand-selected, one-of-a-kind pieces (like vintage typewriters) sourced from antique fairs and vintage markets alike. These fine details can be experienced in the 60 oversized, light-filled rooms. 

This location is the ideal spot to explore Chelsea. Guests are welcome to borrow complimentary Shinola bicycles and a helmet for a ride to Hudson River Park or for use in the local area. Before you leave, say hello to Daisy, the 1957 London double-decker bus that is parked in the front garden. Or grab a coffee to go at Intelligentsia. When you return, switch your coffee for a cocktail at the Lobby Bar.

Best Hotel Chain: The Moxy

Best Hotel Chain: The Moxy

Wherever you stay in the city, the Moxy properties have you covered. Each with their own distinct flair. There are a total of six in the surrounding boroughs, which includes Moxy Times Square, Chelsea, East Village, Downtown and the latest additions – Lower East Side and Williamsburg.  

I had the pleasure of staying at the 303-room Moxy Lower East Side hotel in early Spring and was able to experience the convenience of their central location first hand. In between Soho and the Lower East Side (and in between Subway stops), I was able to traverse the city with minimal hiccups. This was my favorite part of the Moxy LES, besides the complimentary coffee at The Fix, the lobby cafe. What a great way to start the morning!

In addition to The Fix, there are four other drinking and dining establishments created in collaboration with Tao Group Hospitality. Feast at the modern Japanese Izakaya restaurant ‘Sake No Hana’. Listen to some live tunes at the piano lounge, ‘Silver Lining’.  Dance the night away at the subterranean nightclub, ‘Loosie’s’ or take in the breathtaking NY skyline at the indoor/outdoor rooftop bar, ‘The Highlight Room. ‘ 

The Moxy Williamsburg i

The Moxy Williamsburg is a 216-room boutique hotel overlooking the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. The bright, airy rooms emphasize natural materials and space-saving design solutions, a large backyard garden provides a spot to unwind alfresco, and flexible co-working and meeting studios serve the needs of Brooklyn’s creative class. Food and beverage options include Mesiba, a festive, Tel Aviv–inspired restaurant serving Levantine cuisine; Bar Bedford, a destination cocktail bar and all-day café; Jolene Sound Room, an energetic lounge with a custom sound system; and finally LilliStar, an indoor/outdoor rooftop bar.

Best in Brooklyn (Eats): Gair

Dumbo’s premier destination for elevated, distinctive cocktails, Gair serves locally-sourced, seasonally-inspired dishes in an unmatched environment. Located on Washington Street, guests can snap their iconic Manhattan Bridge photo before heading to Gair for delicious cocktails and appetizing share plates. My drink pick is the Mezcal based cocktail, Under the Influencer and you will want to order the Fried Chicken Sandwich. Conceptualized and owned by architectural designer and Dumbo local Kevin Cimini, Gair was developed to create an elegant yet approachable destination that serves as an oasis for its community, and an authentic New York experience for visitors.

Best in Brooklyn (Shop): Rue Saint Paul

Best in Brooklyn (Shop): Rue Saint Paul

Rue Saint Paul is Brooklyn’s sustainable closet, offering new, rental, and pre-owned sustainable fashion. The first in Brooklyn. Kelly Wang, founder of Rue Saint Paul, is committed to helping reduce the fashion industry’s environmental footprint, promote ethical manufacturing, and drive responsible and circular consumption. Kelly’s hope is that one day sustainable fashion will just be fashion.

Best in Brooklyn (Shop): Rue Saint Paul

Best in Brooklyn (Stay): Penny Williamsburg

In 2022, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood welcomed Penny. The newest addition to the Sydell portfolio – creators of NoMad, Freehand, and LINE brands – Penny is the portfolio’s younger artist sibling with colorful interiors and a distinctive art collection by local neurodivergent artists. Penny is small in size, at 118 rooms but big at heart.

Best in Brooklyn (Stay): Penny Williamsburg

The namesake is Sydell CEO and Founder, Andrew Zobler’s small chihuahua with a big personality. The rooms at Penny Williamsburg offer homey comfort with hardwood floors, kitchenettes, pour-over coffee systems with complimentary coffee, unlimited free filtered water (my necessity!) The hotel shares a building with beloved NY institution Bard College classrooms and dorms.

New York City, a vibrant metropolis bursting with energy, lights up as the sun sets, revealing a nightlife scene as diverse and dynamic as its population. From iconic landmarks lit under the night sky to hidden gems tucked away in the city’s nooks, there’s an adventure waiting around every corner.

Whether you’re a night owl seeking the ultimate party or someone looking to enjoy the city’s culture after dark, NYC has something for everyone. Here are the best tips for making the most of your nights in the city that never sleeps:

1. Join A Guided Night Tour

Explore New York at night with a guided tour to discover the city’s history, architecture, and secrets under the moonlight. Whether it’s ghost stories in Greenwich Village or a photography walk to capture the city’s glow, these tours offer a secure and insightful way to see NYC from a fresh perspective. Check online for the latest tour offerings and themes, as these can vary seasonally and cater to a wide range of interests.

2. Catch A Live Show Or Performance

NYC’s live entertainment scene is ever-evolving, featuring everything from live music and Broadway shows to comedy. For jazz enthusiasts, Greenwich Village remains a historic hotspot, offering a range of performances.

Meanwhile, Broadway continually updates its roster of spectacular theatrical performances. For comedy, Chelsea’s clubs are known for surprise appearances by well-known comedians. Keep an eye on current listings to catch the latest and greatest shows.

3. Discover The Diverse Bar Scene

From cozy speakeasies to breathtaking rooftop bars, New York’s bar scene offers a multitude of experiences. Begin your evening in the Lower East Side with innovative cocktails in a laid-back setting, then head to a rooftop venue in Midtown for stunning city views.

These recommendations aim to suit various moods and preferences, but remember, the city’s nightlife landscape is dynamic. Always look up the latest hotspots to ensure a memorable night out.

4. Indulge In Late-Night Eats

NYC’s culinary scene thrives around the clock, offering everything from 24-hour diners with classic American fare to food trucks serving gourmet bites. Whether craving a quick snack or a hearty meal, you’re covered. Here’s how to navigate your options:

  • Food Trucks: For diverse and affordable eats, seek out food trucks scattered across the city. They’re perfect for grabbing a bite on the go, offering everything from tacos to crepes.
  • 24-Hour Diners: Embrace the quintessential NYC experience with diners that welcome guests day and night. They’re ideal for enjoying a range of comfort foods in a cozy setting.
  • Ethnic Eateries and Bakeries: Explore the city’s multicultural districts for authentic culinary delights and freshly baked goods, even late into the night.

Before deciding where to eat, consider checking online reviews to discover popular spots and ensure a satisfying late-night dining experience.

5. Experience The Club Scene

For those looking to dance the night away, NYC’s club scene spans from world-renowned venues to the more intimate underground spaces. Brooklyn is notable for its warehouse parties offering a mix of music genres, while the Meatpacking District is famed for its exclusive clubs. As the club scene is particularly subject to change, with new venues opening and others closing, staying updated through social media or nightlife guides is key to finding the perfect spot for your night out.

6. Take A Moonlit Walk In The Park

For a quieter evening, consider a moonlit walk in one of NYC’s beautiful parks. This offers a tranquil retreat from the energetic nightlife and presents an opportunity to see the city from a different angle. In Central Park, for example, the reflection of moonlight on Bethesda Terrace’s fountain adds a magical touch to the surroundings, making it an ideal spot for a peaceful stroll or a romantic moment.

Similarly, walking along the paths of Prospect Park in Brooklyn under the glow of the moon can reveal the softer, more serene side of the city, inviting you to slow down and enjoy the natural beauty amidst the urban landscape. These moonlit walks provide a perfect balance to the bustling city life, offering moments of reflection and relaxation.

New York City
Barman pouring fresh alcoholic drink into the glasses with ice cubes on the bar counter

7. Explore Night Markets And Street Fairs

Summer nights in NYC come alive with night markets and street fairs, offering a unique way to shop, eat, and enjoy entertainment under the stars. Check out the Queens Night Market for a taste of international cuisines, or stroll through a Brooklyn street fair to find local crafts and live music. These events provide a lively, communal atmosphere that captures the spirit of the city.

Conclusion

New York City’s nightlife is a kaleidoscope of experiences, from the electric energy of its clubs to the tranquil beauty of its parks at night. By following these tips, you’ll immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture and create unforgettable memories. With an adventurous spirit, the city that never sleeps will unveil its wonders to you, night after extraordinary night.

New York City (NYC), often referred to as the “Big Apple,” is a vibrant metropolis that captivates millions of visitors each year with its iconic skyline, diverse culture, street food, amazing entertainment experiences, and more.

As a first-time visitor to NYC, you definitely want to navigate the bustling streets smoothly and maximize your stay and adventure. Well, we are here to ensure you make the most of your first visit to New York City! We have compiled some of the essential tips to guide you through the city that never sleeps.

Plan Ahead, But Be Flexible

New York City is vast and offers a multitude of attractions, so it’s crucial to plan your itinerary in advance. The best place to start is to identify the must-see landmarks such as Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building, museums, and neighborhoods you want to explore.

Remember to prioritize based on your interests, whether it’s art, history, architecture, or food. It is important that you organize your itinerary by neighborhoods to make the most of your time and reduce travel between distant locations. However, be prepared to adapt your plans as the city’s dynamic atmosphere might lead you to unexpected discoveries.

Embrace spontaneity and allow yourself to wander through the city’s streets and even explore some of the hidden gems along the way. You can even try exploring less touristy neighborhoods for a more authentic experience.

Utilize Public Transportation

The NYC subway system is one of the most efficient ways to get around the city. The city’s public transportation system provides a convenient and efficient way to navigate the five boroughs.

Consider investing in a MetroCard and familiarize yourself with the subway map to navigate the extensive network easily.

You will be amazed by how the public transport will take you to popular destinations at a fraction of the cost of taxis or rideshares and help you save time as they are often quicker.

It is important that you avoid the notorious New York City traffic and experience the daily commute of locals while taking in the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

Explore Iconic Neighborhoods

New York City is a melting pot of cultures with virtually every neighborhood offering its own distinct character. Well, you can spend time wandering through the historic streets of Greenwich Village, the trendy boutiques of SoHo, and the diverse culinary scene of Chinatown.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the artsy atmosphere of Williamsburg in Brooklyn for a different perspective of the city.

Tip: You can venture beyond Manhattan to experience the authentic local flavor and discover the diverse communities that make up this global city.

Take in the Breathtaking View of New York

New York City’s skyline is a world-renowned breathtaking view and there’s no better way to appreciate it than from elevated vantage points. Well, one of the best New York things to do is to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view from the Statue of Liberty, where you will get to see New York Harbor, the Manhattan skyline, Ellis Island, and beyond.

You can also experience the nice panoramic views of the city by exploring rooftop bars or taking a scenic ferry ride. You can also get a glimpse of the city’s skyline at sunset from the Top of the Rock or the One World Observatory, at the World Trade Center, or the Empire State Building.

These vantage points offer unparalleled panoramas that will undoubtedly leave you in awe of the city’s natural beauty and architectural wonders.

Sample the Culinary Delights

New York City is also a food lover’s paradise, boasting a culinary scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. From iconic street food vendors to Michelin-starred restaurants, the city offers a gastronomic adventure like no other.

You can try a classic New York slice of pizza, indulge in diverse street food, and savor gourmet meals in trendy neighborhoods. You might also want to explore the vibrant food markets, such as Chelsea Market and Smorgasburg, for a taste of local flavors.

Again, don’t be afraid to venture beyond Times Square for authentic dining experiences.

Be Weather-Prepared

As you plan your first-time visit, keep in mind that New York experiences all four seasons. In other words, you should pack accordingly. Check the weather forecast before your trip and dress in layers, especially during the unpredictable transitions between seasons. Comfortable shoes are a must, as exploring the city often involves a lot of walking.

Well, don’t forget to capture your moments. Whether it’s the iconic skyline, the vibrant street art, or the candid moments in Central Park, document your experiences through photographs. These memories will serve as a lasting reminder of your unforgettable first visit to the city that never sleeps.

Wrapping up

In a nutshell, New York City is one destination in the US that offers a rich tapestry of experiences for every traveler. Your first visit to New York City is a chance for you to be part of the energy, diversity, and excitement that define this iconic destination. Again, there is a lot for you to do in New York City. So, plan well and early, find the experiences that suit your taste, and be ready to make your first an unforgettable experience.