Dodging taxis and wide-eyed tourists, I’m hungrily drawn to the sweet smell of roasting almonds from the street vendor on the corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street. These sugary bites complete my usual portable breakfast, as my coffee and I land on a shaded bench in Washington Square Park. I like to stop at the park in the mornings when the city starts to come alive.
A few early bird tourists, with cameras and guidebooks in hand, make their way by towards the iconic circular fountain at the center of this Greenwich Village park. A trim, well-dressed couple pauses directly in front of me as the woman readjusts her sandal heel. Reaching out to hold the man’s shoulder for balance, she says something in French and they both laugh. I don’t want to stare, but my ears remain tuned into the beautiful language for as long as possible until their voices trail off into the distance.
Over to my right, four gentlemen spill a box full of playing pieces out onto the chess board in front of them. I stick my neck out to catch a glimpse of who’s at the tables today to see if I can recognize any familiar faces. New York may be the largest city in the country, with a population that nearly doubles with commuters on a workday like today, but it can feel small if you stop and let it.
As I sip the last bit of coffee, an elderly man with shaggy snow-white hair, a plain black t-shirt, and baggy green corduroys sits down on the bench beside me. He pushes his smart-looking spectacles back up onto the arch of his nose and unfolds an easel. Then he pulls out his utensils and paint tubes from a canvas tote and lays them out on a tray beside him with meticulous precision.
I want to stay and see what he plans to create. I want to see how his personal perspective of the park comes to fruition and what the finished piece will look like. However, my 10-minute coffee stop is up, and I must continue the walk up 5th Avenue towards my office. As usual in this city, I’m intrigued by the constant buzz all around, but I’m also left wondering what happens to these fascinating people I observe in the park each morning. How does their day end?
For locals and visitors alike, New York is a source of endless inspiration. From eclectic hotels and world-class museums to an innovative culinary scene and vibrant green spaces, New York’s dynamism is driven by its diversity. Cultures collide in each of the five boroughs every second of the day, resulting in unbridled creativity and originality.
SoHo Grand Hotel
Surrounded by boutique shops and art galleries, the iconic SoHo Grand Hotel lies in the heart of New York City’s beloved SoHo neighborhood. Walking into the dimly lit entryway, an illuminated grand staircase beckons guests upstairs to the elegant second-floor lobby and bar space, away from the hustle and bustle of the street level.
The romantic, almost brooding ambiance continues through to the guest rooms, where dark wood furniture and deep rust-colored throw blankets are contrasted by crisp white bed linens. You don’t have to venture far from the SoHo Grand’s front door to come upon the boutique art galleries for which the neighborhood is so famous. Directly across the street lies the Paul Nicklen Gallery, where the renowned National Geographic photographer displays incredible photographs from his collection, including Penguins in Antarctica and Narwhals off the icy shore of Canada.View Hotel
While downtown Manhattan has ushered in some of the newest and coolest openings in terms of restaurants and shopping in recent years, the area really didn’t have a noteworthy, trend-setting hotel opening until The Beekman in 2016. To this day, the dark, design-forward space remains the ultimate place to see and been seen on the buzzing southern tip of Manhattan. From the moment you step inside, you feel like you’re a part of the scene.
Never without a crowd, the library-like lobby and lounge area is adorned with deep blue and forest green velvet sofas peppered atop Persian rugs. The undeniable pièce de la résistance of the restored historic building is the jaw-dropping, nine-story atrium space. Look up to see the intricate Victorian rod iron balconies climb one after another until they reach a pyramidal skylight at the top. Perhaps best of all, the hotel is home to two of the best restaurants in Lower Manhattan, Tom Coliccio’s Temple Court and Keith McNally’s Augustine.View Hotel
1 Hotel Central Park
Between local residents, business folks, and tourists, Midtown Manhattan is perhaps New York City’s most trafficked area. Fifth Avenue boasts all the famous stores and Sixth Avenue houses global business headquarters. On 58th street, in the heart of it all and one block down from Central Park, lies 1 Hotel Central Park.
Draped in foliage and lined with exposed wood paneling, the exterior of the hotel showcases a unique earthy look, which stands in sharp contrast to the concrete jungle surroundings. Nature flows from the outside in, with eclectic foliage sprinkled throughout the lobby and moss-covered walls lining the guest floors. Steps from Central Park, head out of the hotel for a stroll along the famed ‘Literary Walk’ promenade or head a few blocks south to the Museum of Modern Art.View Hotel
There’s no better city in the world for food-lovers than New York City. A melting pot of cultures, you can find literally anything you’re craving on a street somewhere nearby. With 72 Michelin star restaurants, including the world’s best restaurant, New York City has a plethora of phenomenal dining experiences. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit down for a fancy meal at an upscale establishment to enjoy a good bite to eat. Perhaps the best places to sample culinary genius are the neighborhood hole-in-the-walls or casual, street-food inspired eateries with lines out the door.
Located on a quiet tree-lined street in the West Village, this French gem feels like it was lifted right off the streets of Paris. Equal parts café, bar, and restaurant, Buvette is just about as cozy and bustling as an eatery can be. Grab a stool seat at the bar or try to snag a back patio table when the weather is nice and enjoy their iconic French cuisine served in small-plate style. Delectable favorites like Croque Madames, croissants, and steak tartare comprise the breakfast and lunch menus, while heartier dishes like Coq au Vin are available come dinnertime. This West Village brasserie will certainly leave you feeling satisfied, no matter which time of day you choose to visit.
Pok Pok NY
Serving chef-driven Thai street food, Pok Pok NY has been reason enough for foodies to flock New York City. The restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn serves addicting, flavorful dishes like Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (get them spicy!), Som Tam Issan (green papaya salad), and Da Chom’s Laap Meuang (spicy hand-minced pork with herbs). The food at Pok Pok NY is meant to be enjoyed family-style, so the goal is to order as much as possible and sample as much as you can. Sticky rice served in a bamboo basket accompanies most dishes and helps round out the delicious chaos of herbs and spices. Wash it all down with one of their famous Salted Plum Vodka Collins or two and you’ve got yourself one of the best meals the city has to offer.
Eleven Madison Park
New York City’s Eleven Madison Park continues to hold the number one spot on the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list, offering a dining experience that is in itself a work of art. From start to finish, the three-star Michelin establishment doesn’t miss a beat. As you walk in, a symphony of servers glide around the grand dining room in a well-choreographed dance. Throughout the seven to nine-course tasting menu, you interact with different restaurant staff, from sommeliers to various waiters, who eloquently detail each dish.
Chef Daniel Humm’s ever-changing contemporary America Cuisine is greatly influenced by classical French techniques and his Swiss roots. Though you’ll need to book a table well in advance, Eleven Madison Park is sure to be one of the most memorable meals of your life.
The Big Apple has an endless selection of bars to help you quench your thirst. From presidents to literary giants, the city’s various watering holes have hosted famous faces for decades. You’re just as likely to pony up to the bar next to a famous celebrity as you are an old high school ex you haven’t seen in years. Whether you’re looking for a quiet corner tavern to enjoy a beer, a trendy rooftop scene during rosé season, or a hidden password-protected speakeasy to sip an old-fashioned and impressive your friends, NYC has something for all occasions.
If you’re looking for a sign to indicate the entrance to Chumley’s, you’re looking for the wrong thing. There are no markings outside this famous speakeasy, and they like it that way. A green door on Bedford Street in the West Village is the only proof that something exists within. In its heyday, Chumley’s was a favorite of writers like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs and the walls inside are lined with even more famous literature faces to have graced the establishment. Whether or not you dine at the speakeasy, enjoy at least one drink cozied up to the ‘Old New York’ style bar and order a ‘Shotgun Wedding’ or a ‘Hand me Harvard’. The drink menu is artsy and inventive, much like the brilliant literary minds whom once sat in your very seat.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Inspired by the city itself, this Midtown Manhattan wine bar is the definition of sophistication. Walking in, you feel like you’ve entered an art dealer’s living room. Lush couches beckon you to unwind in the center of the square-shaped room, while sleek high-top tables line the walls. All around the room hang brightly-colored modern paintings artfully contrasted with stark black and white aerial photographs. However, the real show-stopper here is the impressive 200-plus bottle wine list curated by the renowned sommelier of the three Michelin star restaurant next door, Le Bernardin. Despite their renowned reputation in wine, the folks at Aldo Sohm pride themselves on the mantra: ‘there are no rules’. Here, you’re encouraged to have fun with your wine order, ask questions, and have a good time.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
While nearly all of the museums in Manhattan have an Uptown address, the Whitney Museum of American Art set out to be different when it moved down to the Meatpacking District in 2015. The change gave new life to the museum that first opened in 1914 when sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney opened the Whitney Studio in Greenwich Village as a place to showcase works from living American artists. Over the next 15 years, her collection grew so large that she offered to donate it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but her offer was declined. Luckily, for American art lovers, she decided to open her own museum and the rest is history.
In its new downtown location, the Whitney focuses on American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Each floor consists of impressive and intriguing prints, paintings, and visual art by some of the most famous artists in the U.S., like Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol.
The Museum of Natural History
When you ask New Yorkers and tourists alike what their favorite museum is in the city, you’re bound to hear The Museum of Natural History come up a lot. A playground of science and discoveries, you could spend hours trekking through different exhibitions and absorbing fascinating details about humans, animals, Earth and beyond. From the 122-foot long Titanosaur to the eye-opening planetarium shows, there’s something to captivate all ages and interests. Check the calendar for frequent “Night at the Museum” sleepover, allowing kids to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime overnight learning experience.
When you think of a destination teeming with outdoor space, you may not think of New York City. Sure, most streets are lined with skyscrapers instead of trees and the honking from cabs drown out any rogue bumblebee that might fly by. But what little green space the city does have tends to be special in its own way. Because New Yorkers live their lives in fewer square feet than most suburban garages, the city parks serve as living rooms of those who inhabit this chaotic island. From secret gardens to artsy, elevated pathways, NYC has more outdoor offerings than you might imagine.
In the middle of the metropolitan maze of concrete sidewalks, steel skyscrapers, taxis, Ubers, and subways sits one of New York City’s greatest works of art – Central Park. The green space covers over 843 acres of land, larger than some small countries around the world, like the Vatican or Monaco.
From large lawns ideal for concerts to small corners where rollerbladers dance to boom box music 24 hours of the day, there’s something fascinating happening at every turn. In one day, you can visit the zoo, captain your own rowboat, venture on a horse-drawn carriage ride, buy street art, and enjoy a leisurely picnic. One of the most pleasant strolls in the park, aptly dubbed Literary Walk, lies in the southeast corner. A gorgeous canopy of American Elms looms over the picturesque promenade lined by statues of literary greats like Robert Burns, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott.
Embraced by both tourists and locals alike, the Highline is one of the most creative additions to the New York in recent years. The old, elevated train track dates back to 1934 and once transferred goods like butter and milk to and from factories. After decades out of commission, it was renovated into a beautiful city park in 2009. The trail weaves through Manhattan’s west side from 34th Street down to 14th Street. Raised above the traffic and chaos below, the Highline offers a peaceful stroll along a beautifully landscaped promenade. Along the way, you’ll come upon sculptures, pop-up stores, food stalls, and maybe even some graffiti art by the famously elusive Banksy.