I have always considered myself incredibly lucky to grow up in the suburbs of New York. I had the space and fresh air that every parent wants for their kids, but could still get a taste of everything Manhattan had to offer. It was an excellent set up. As I’ve grown older it has become typical that the majority of my time spent home from school is spent in the city, and, since I began exploring it by myself at 15, I’ve made the city my own.
Given New York’s size and reputation, it’s always an adventure finding new favorites.
Possibly first on the list is the neighborhood known as Kips Bay. While it is relatively small and often goes unnoticed due to its lack of a distinct personality, I’ve found the area teeming with life; there are tons of quirky restaurants and bars as well as an abundance of shopping opportunities. Top it off with a location along the east river and you’ve got a quaint (or as quaint as anything in Manhattan can be) neighborhood full of young professionals. A significant portion of my fondness for the area stems from its propensity to see new hole in the wall restaurants spring up every few months; a personal favorite is Hill & Bay. Read more about the neighborhood here.
While I have always worked in midtown, I’ve made a concerted effort over the past few years to head downtown and see what else the city has to offer. Of course, it has not let me down. For newcomers and others alike, Union Square is always fun; the area is filled with odds and ends in food, fashion, and entertainment- including one of my favorite venues, The Studio at Webster Hall. Similarly, Brooklyn Bridge Park has become a favorite hangout, though definitely not a place to head if you’re looking for quiet. Still, it’s a perfect stop after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and has a fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline.
Even more touristy is The High Line, located along the Hudson River, provides a spectacular outdoor space to walk, sit, eat, and more all year. Built on a disused elevated train track, the pathway has been remodeled into a beautiful park like space to be enjoyed by all. As someone who spends most of their time in midtown, I typically squeeze in a lot when I head downtown. Just today I wandered downtown with a friend for breakfast in Soho at The Butcher’s Daughter, walked west through Washington Square Park and over to the Gansevoort Market. We then made our way to The Whitney Museum of American Art (which has some incredible exhibits right now- more info here) and then topped off our day with a walk on the High Line and some Shake Shack. It might be a bit of a trip, but it’s definitely worth it.
New York has no shortage of restaurants to try and it’s hard to keep track of favorites because, naturally, the list changes often. One that has remained a solid contender is Sakagura, a Japanese restaurant located in the sub-sub basement of a midtown office building. It serves the best Japanese food I’ve found in New York and provides an authentic (or, authentic to someone who has never been to Japan) atmosphere. Learn more at their website.
Lastly, New York is well known for its retail options, namely in SoHo and on Fifth Avenue, but my favorite place to shop in the city is actually The Concourse at Rockefeller Center. Located below ground (my old office building was actually directly connected), the concourse holds a variety of clothing and food options, including, my personal favorite, a gigantic Anthropologie that can also be accessed above ground on 50th st. Learn more about The Concourse here.
I could write forever about New York, so for now I’ll pause there; even after about twenty years here much of it still amazes me.