It’s been a while since the last post in this series! Over the past few years, the bees have shared their favorite sights, sounds, and eats in the places they call home. If you’re looking to honeymoon in the States, check out all our past posts in our “Honeymoon in my Hometown” series!
New York City is an amazing city and I think it’s a great place for honeymooning, even for a quick pit-stop on your way to another destination! (That’s what we did!) Here are my personal tips and recommendations that I think have worked well for all the dozens of visitors I get every year.
- UWS = Upper West Side
- UES = Upper East Side
- LES or East Village = Lower East Side
- Alphabet City = lower VERY East Side
- Midtown = generally 40s to the 60s streets
- West Village = lower west side (but don’t ever call it that!)
Taking a cab:
*If you’re not exactly a “walker” or have never used public transportation, then I highly suggest taking cabs to get around because a lot of time is wasted on thinking about how to get places. This is assuming you’re in NYC for a short period of time and it’s a special occasion!
- If the cab’s middle numbers are turned ON means it’s available. If the side lights (which say “OFF DUTY”) are also on, then obviously it means OFF DUTY. They will not stop, so stop wondering why they are ignoring you. Sometimes they might stop and ask where you’re going, to see if you happen to be along the way home. If there is no light on, someone is in the cab.
- Tell them the cross streets that you’re going to. Street name first, then the Avenue. Don’t give addresses—cab drivers are not computers!
- Do not take the black “cabs.” We would be supporting their illegal services. Only in case of emergency should you take those! (And they’re a rip off!)
- Good luck finding a cab on New Year’s Eve or any holiday in the winter where people drink/party late at night!
- Note that traffic is fierce during rush hour during weekdays and other major holidays that involve parades or ceremonies.
Bronx bound = Uptown
Queens bound = East/Astoria
Brooklyn bound = Downtown
- Metro cards can be used for both bus AND subway.
- Subways are much slower on the weekends.
- Subways are constantly under construction so keep your eyes and ears opened for signs and announcements, especially on the weekends. When in doubt, ask someone.
Where to stay:
Assuming you’re on your honeymoon and want to stay in a somewhat convenient area, I highly suggest being near a subway – ANY subway. It’s not imperative to stay in Times Square, although it is convenient. The Uppers have Central Park and museums and downtown has all the bars, clubs and restaurants. There are generally no tricks or great deals for the city where everyone wants to live, dine, work and play. What you pay is what you get! If you know someone with hotel hookups, then I suggest you look them up because hotels run $200+ per night on average for a decent hotel. Besides the regular Travelzoo and TripAdvisor websites, a popular source is Airbnb. You can rent out an apartment and feel like a real New Yorker!
If you stay outside of Manhattan, you have much less of a chance of getting a cab. I’ve seen a lot of tourists get frustrated because they can’t get home via cab because no one wants to drive them there. Remember that Brooklyn is far. (Far for you non-NY people.) New Jersey probably won’t work for tourists looking to play in Manhattan either. To maximize your Manhattan experience, you should try staying IN Manhattan!
Where to eat:
Wow, do I dare? For a city that has new fantastic restaurants opening every minute, it’s very difficult to not make a list 100 pages long. Everyone has a different opinion, but these are my general “must eat” places:
CHEAP, DIRTY, GHETTO EATS:
- Katz Deli for pastrami sandwich on rye bread. You don’t like pastrami? YOU WILL HERE. This is also where they filmed that orgasm scene in When Harry met Sally. Cash only; don’t lose the little ticket they hand you when you come in. Also, if you schmooze and tip the guy cutting your beef, they’ll give you more!
- Shake Shack. It’s just the thing to get if you’re looking for a solid, juicy burger that is a NYC tradition. Their cafeteria style cheese fries and root beers are also my favorite! The most popular location is in Madison Square Park, but the long wait and unavailable seating is pretty annoying. (2+ hour waits.) I much prefer the bigger and more spacious UWS or UES locations. I’m not sure if it’s mental, but I swear the burgers taste better in those Upper locations! Their signature burger is the Shack Stack, which includes a deep fried portobello mushroom filled with gruyÃ¨re cheese”¦ yummmm”¦
- The chicken & rice halal cart on 53rd and 6th Avenue. (Southwest corner) It’s open almost all parts of the day, but is most typical for an after clubbing type of thing. Just remember some VERY important things! 1.) Go EASY on the hot sauce! So many people don’t listen to me and ruin their dish because they think they can handle it. Just 1 drop at a time! 2.) Make sure you go to the right place because there are a lot of wannabes. The true halal cart has people in yellow t-shirts and YELLOW BAGS. For people who like to mix it up, try their combo which has chicken and lamb. You will want as much white sauce as freaking possible.
- You MUST get a New York lox and cream cheese on an everything bagel. I actually do think it makes a difference which bagel place you go to, so just browse on Yelp for the most popular locations. The difference with NYC bagels and lox is that the bagels are super fluffy and their lox tastes incredibly fresh! It’s one of my favorite things to eat!
- Ippudo for pork buns and ramen. Delicious but insanely popular. They don’t take reservations unless you come in person on the day of. I suggest one of the people in your party does that because otherwise you’ll be waiting a good 2 hours.
- Jean Georges/Nougatine. If you want fancy, go Jean Georges. If you want Jean Georges but don’t want to be as fancy pants then go with Nougatine which is their casual dining experience. (They are just 2 rooms right next to each other.)
- Grimaldi’s for Brooklyn-style pizza. Pepperoni and mushroom”¦ don’t like pepperoni? YOU WILL HERE! Cash only, 2 locations.
- Doughnut Plant for specialty doughnuts. They have an amazing creme brulee doughnut that will rock your world!
- Momofuku anything. There’s a Momofuku Ssam, noodle bar, and milk bar. All are delicious! Their CEREAL MILK IS SO YUM.
Don’t hate me, but I think these are OVERRATED:
- Magnolia’s bakery for cupcakes. But if you happen to be there, you must get their banana pudding!
- Just ignore all Mexican and Korean food. Trust.
- Lombardi’s Pizza. Now that Grimaldi’s is in Manhattan, I’d much prefer that for the same style pizza!
- Grey’s Papaya. It’s in all these movies but I have no idea why there’s so much fuss over these salty dogs!
Where to shop:
Soho is great for shopping but during the nights and weekends it can be a nightmare! Imagine being elbow to elbow with tourists that are just as lost and confused as you! Feel free to get lost on the outskirts of Soho, which is where I prefer to browse. There are adorable boutiques and cafes to relax if you get tired. There are also random sample sales that happen throughout the year, if you’re lucky enough to spot one!
5th Avenue in midtown is very cool if you want to window shop and see fancy displays. The most expensive stores are all right next to each other: Tiffany’s, Bergdorf’s, Dior, Juicy, etc. *Note: A very popular store named Uniqlo just opened right on 5th Ave and is worth checking out! It’s basically like a Japanese style Gap.
Chinatown is great for cheap souvenirs, and t-shirts. You can haggle with them but beware of the hardcore, illegal purse sales people. Police are constantly on the look for them and there’s usually a showdown.
The Brooklyn Flea Market is amazing and totally worth the trip to Brooklyn! There are so many interesting booths, treats and unique “shops.” They even sell fine art, furniture, jewelry and start up bakeries!
Fairs. If you’re lucky and if it’s summertime, New York City has HUGE street fairs! They are almost like a huge carnival and it goes on for 20 blocks or so. You can buy sunglasses, scarves and bags for cheap. Keep checking the web for updated street fairs!
What to do:
Musicals! You cannot come to New York and not watch a Broadway show. My favorite musicals are Billy Elliot, In the Heights, The Book of Mormon, Spring Awakening, Les Miserables, West Side Story, Jersey Boys and of course WICKED! Not all of these are playing right now, but they will all come and go. Plays are also incredible and also come and go often.
Museums for Dummies:
The MET = suggested donation, you can give $1 if you really want. Big. Has everything.
MOMA = $25 and admissions is free on Fridays from 4-8PM. Modern art and beautiful space.
The Guggenheim = $18. Modern art, beautiful architecture from the inside and out.
The Natural History Museum = suggested donation but you need to pay additional for their shows, which are awesome. Dinosaurs live here.
Central Park! It’s enormous and FREE. Visit the beautiful reservoir, which is the huge body of water smack in the middle. When it’s warm, people often grab sandwiches and wine to picnic and relax. Ask people how to get to the “mall” to see scenes from many movies. My suggestion is to enter from 59th street and 5th Ave so that you can see the beautiful Plaza hotel, where Kevin McAllister from Home Alone 2 spent his lavish evenings.
Take a water taxi to see the Statue of Liberty and get a view of the city. I honestly don’t think you need to get INSIDE the Statue of Liberty, since the lines are long, but it’s nice to take a cheap water ride around Manhattan. This is especially nice and romantic during sunset!
The Highline in the Meat packing district is renovated and absolutely gorgeous. Great spot to chill and fun to walk in the cute, cobblestone streets! *This is probably where lots of people take their engagement photos!
Sit on the “red steps” in Times Square at night. For some reason, sitting on those steps and looking down at Times Square is magical. We used to grab an ice cream cone and just people watch on those steps. Epic!
Going across the Brooklyn Bridge is very nice but can get chilly in the fall and winter. It’s great to see parts of Wall Street and the Financial District on your way to the bridge. The best part about not being in Manhattan is being able to SEE Manhattan’s skyline from afar.
Just walk! My favorite thing about Manhattan is getting lost and walking around to discover the city. If you aren’t used to walking, wear comfortable shoes! Don’t get fooled by what you see on TV. The only people that can wear stiletto heels are the ones that can afford cab rides 24/7. The rest of us have to take the mountain of stairs to the subway.
Pros for visiting during the Summer:
- SO MUCH free stuff! There are free concerts and plays at Central Park. Plus since the sun is out longer, people are really into picnics and talking walks. Restaurants open their doors and you really get a sense of being in Europe. Since the fancy people all went to their Hamptons, the city tends to feel emptier at times. It’s also gets dark very late so the outdoor activities are available longer.
Cons for visiting during the Summer:
– So. Hot. And. Humid. This is when the city starts to smell really bad and you’re constantly sweating. The subways become an intense stinky sauna, so that’s really fun! I recommend taking buses in the summer to avoid going underground.
Pros for visiting during the Winter:
- The holidays are on crack in NYC. There are Christmas lights, carolers, Christmas plays and of course the awesome Radio City Music Hall has their Christmas Spectacular show! (Still one of the best shows I’ve seen!) The feeling you get by walking around the city is indescribable! Union Square and Bryant Park have these amazing Christmas fairs where you can buy unique treats and gifts.
Cons for visiting during the Winter:
- It can get pretty cold, especially during January – March. Also it’s the most expensive and most crowded times of the year! Be prepared for long lines and intense crowds, particularly around the Rockefeller Center tree.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NYC? Any tips/places to add?
See all the posts in the Honeymoon in My Hometown series here!