As a child, one of my favorite books was "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse", the tale of two mice who visit each other in their respective rural and urban homes, each deciding their own homes suit them best after harrowing visits to new environments.
While I'm deeply in love with my home in the country- with its flower beds, vegetable garden, apple orchard and mazes of wild black raspberries, essentially all I've ever wanted- a part of me longs for the hardly controlled chaos of NYC, a craving I satisfy ideally once in the spring, and once in the fall- the two best seasons there, imo- with a short trip to a place that makes me come alive.
It's a marvelous place of ingenuity and unlikely beauty, and if ever a city felt like home to this country mouse, NYC is it.
I love sharing my favorite places to eat/explore/shop in NYC when I know a friend is visiting. Here are some places I love, and always return to! The app "citymapper" is excellent for navigating the subway. Plan to walk a LOT. Swallow your vanity and bring your most comfortable walking shoes.
La Botaniste- good for when you're craving vegetables, multiple locations in Manhattan. I love the "tibetan mama" bowl
Springbone- bonebroth and protein rich bowls (when you search "healthy restaurants" in
NYC, vegan places and juice bars come up. If your version of healthy looks like bone broth and grassfed meat, Springbone is your place)
Bar Pisellino- beautiful cafe with excellent espresso, opens early
Cafe Sabarksy- lovely Austrian pastries, open for breakfast, lunch & dinner. There is an Austrian/German gallery here as well
Eataly- an Italian marketplace, including prepared foods, groceries, & multiple restaurants/cafes within one building
Le French Diner- very tiny, cozy French restaurant, perfect for solo dining. Sit at the bar and your food will be cooked right in front of you
Miss Lily's 7A Cafe- fun and lively, go with friends. I like their jerk chicken and oxtails
Dame- tiny English seafood spot, great fish and chips
12 Chairs Cafe- Israeli cafe, serves breakfast all-day
Corner Bar- truly beautiful, breakfast is excellent here. I love the soft boiled eggs with chive salt and brioche soldiers. The coffee service is wonderful. Just a real delight through and through, very beautiful
Balthazar- a classic for a reason, and another place I like to come to for breakfast
King- Sunday lunch is lovely, dinner too. A real treat
Cafe Mogador- two locations, always delicious, and always the first meal I have on arrival in the city. An odd note, but their orange juice is really good!
Bakeri- charming and nice for a simple breakfast or lunch. Sit in the back garden if the weather allows
Buvette- go for breakfast, arrive a few minutes before they open. I love the solo seats at the window, the best for people watching if you're alone
Via Carota- nice for a special lunch
Veselka- casual and comforting, any time of day. I love their latkes and cheese blintzes with raspberry sauce
Harts- so nice for dinner. Small menu, everything is delicious
Dominique Ansel- solid pastries, I love a cannele from this bakery
East Village Organic- a little grocery store with all organic produce and a good juice bar if that's your thing
Bar Pitti- good pasta, you order from the daily chalkboard specials. I love the pappardelle. The servers are not trying to help you through deciphering the menu in Italian, so study some Italian food words before you go and don't plan on being coddled lol. Cash only.
Estela- lovely for a special dinner, with seats at the bar if you're dining solo. The chocolate cake is so good.
Marlow and Sons- solid for breakfast/lunch & dinner. Cozy setting
L'Imprimerie- fabulous pastries and bread
Prune- a treat, if it ever re-opens
Scarr's Pizza- solid pizza, in a tiny spot, the line can be very long
Robertas- good pizza and salads, fun vibe
Gage & Tollner- old school steakhouse, great desserts
Maison Premiere- oysters and seafood (sit at the bar)
Superiority Burger- I'm not a vegetarian, but love this spot regardless. Delicious and unique takeout
Mel the Bakery- really nice baked goods, made with organic flour
Dimes Market- tiny food market packed with goodness
Paquita-the most charming tea house, with loose leaf tea and tiny treasures
Gardens & Museums:
Brooklyn Botanical Garden - one of my favorite places. Plan to spend a few hours strolling through
Museum of Natural History - always a treat, and always my favorite museum
The Highline - a beautiful elevated walkway that goes for about 1.5 miles, with a lot of wild and intentional landscaping
New York Public Library- a stunning building. I spend hours here. Some rooms require a library card to access, so if you have a friend who lives in nyc, borrow theirs!
Elizabeth Street Garden - a very small garden with beautiful old statues
Lodging: the app Hotel Tonight is a good option for last minute deals on sometimes great hotels- you'll find the best deal by booking the day of, which sounds risky, but I promise it's not. Just make sure the hotel you book is in an area you want to be in!
The Ace Hotel- I've only stayed at their manhattan location, but the BK spot looks beautiful
Sister City -used to be a hotel, is now run as an airbnb called "Untitled")
Hotel Indigo- nice location in the LES, can usually get good deals for it on Hotel Tonight
The Bowery Hotel -I don't have the budget for the Bowery, but this would be the place I'd splurge!
Boerum Hill Airbnb - nice neighborhood
10 ft. single by stella dallas - the *best* jam packed vintage clothing store, for men and women. Prepare to try a lot on, and definitely go next door where they have older vintage items and home goods.
Catbird - beautiful, delicate jewelry
9th street vintage - excellent curated collection of vintage clothing. Not the place to shop for bargains
Stock vintage- a treasure trove of mostly american made vintage clothes, plenty of denim. Good if you're looking for a special piece you'll keep forever (not cheap)
Seven Wonders Collective - multiple locations, always worth browsing through for vintage clothes
Awoke vintage - good denim selection, can shop online as well
Thrift lab - another curated vintage store
Anima Mundi - herbal potions
Paquita- a very charming tea shop, with loads of loose leaf tea to choose from, plus beautiful little gifts
Doen - I haven't been to this location as its new, but I'm assuming it's great
Devol Kitchen - a beautiful showroom to get kitchen inspiration. The basement has a cool assortment of English antiques that you can purchase
Muji- there are many Muji stores scattered across the city, always great for pens, stationary, homegoods etc. It feels like a spa
Downtown yarns - very beautiful selection of yarn, but I'll warn you, the people who work in the shop are downright rude
Salter House- beautiful little shop filled with unique gifts, women's clothes and nightgowns, and a little coffee/tea/cafe area
Whisk- fabulous kitchen supply store
Korin - excellent selection of Japanese knives
Front General Store - well curated vintage clothes and homegoods/gifts. Not cheap, but the quality is good. Fun to peruse
ABC carpet and home - beautiful store filled to the brim with homegoods, and some beautiful women's clothes as well
East Village books- excellent little used bookstore, nextdoor to Cafe Mogador
Housing Works Bookstore - bookstore/cafe with a good selection of books and a nice feel. Some bookstores have that good and cozy vibe, this is one of them
The Strand - famous for a reason. A massive book selection, over multiple floors. It can be a madhouse, but it's still a treat
Argosy Books - a treasure trove of out of print books and more
Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks- ohhhhh I just love this store. A tiny shop filled to the brim with cookbooks, many old and out of print copies
Rizolli bookstore- beautiful bookstore, with a fantastic selection of gardening books
Spoonbill and Sugartown Books - another bookstore with a nice feeling (this is important!). New and used books
Three Lives & Company Bookstore - another solid bookstore. In case this list needed another lol
Union Square Greenmarket - a very big market with many excellent growers and producers. Go early, as soon as they open to avoid the crush of shoppers