Top 5 Things to Do in New York City

A true New Yorker at heart, Maddy Douglass of Ginger & The Fizz shares her top 5 favorite things to do in New York City. 

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 Maddy enjoying a coffee in the city that never sleeps.

I know, I know – not another list, right? But this one is a legitimate, friend-curated, New Yorker-approved list of things to do and eat if you have a quick two or three days in the Big Apple coming up! You probably already know by now that you can’t see everything in New York on a shorter (or even sometimes lengthier) excursion, so you’ve got to prioritize – and, if we’re being honest, the Statue of Liberty probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Make the most of the exhibits and restaurants that are around now and you won’t regret a single subway swipe (or cab ride) across the island.

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 A close-up of the Guggenheim Museum’s iconic building.

1. The Guggenheim Museum

If the Met is the prom queen, the Guggenheim is her slightly hipster younger sister. Wander in and out of the galleries on each floor (when I was there I saw Indian tapestries and Kandinskys in addition to the main exhibit: On Kawara – Silence ) while making your way up the spiraling center concourse to the very top. This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building is a must see for the architecture alone, although they always have great exhibits going on too. After you’ve had your fill, head down the street to the Neue Galerie’s Café Sabarsky for a sumptuous hot chocolate (or an iced coffee depending on the time of year), or go to Luke’s nearby for a hunger-quelling lobster roll.

And if you still want to see what The Metropolitan Museum of Art has to offer, it’s right down the street as well!

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 Bagels and lox at Russ & Daughters, the perfect breakfast.

2. Russ & Daughters Café

Russ and Daughters has long been known as the go to place for fresh bagels, lox, and any other “appetizing” needs you might have (appetizing: most commonly known as “the food one eats with bagels,” like smoked and cured salmon, salads, etc.)

Luckily for, well, everyone on the planet, they’ve recently opened a café a few short blocks from their original location that serves up an incredible variety of traditional Jewish dishes – some of my favorites where the chopped liver and the latkes – all for the small proverbial price of a sometimes lengthy line. If you go around 10am, there should be no problem getting in under twenty minutes.

If you’re still interested in exploring the East Village after your brunch, try grabbing a cup of broth at Brodo on 12th and meandering through the little side streets.

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Reynard will redefine how you do brunch.

3. Reynard restaurant in the Wythe Hotel (also: Mast Brothers Chocolate)

If you’re looking for a lunch or dinner that is a bit more upscale, Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg can’t be beat. Their brunch menu (which included French toast with duck confit on my visit) is pleasantly original, and their dinner hour can be easily followed up by a trip to the rooftop bar to see the Manhattan skyline across the water. Built in what was originally an old warehouse, the dining areas perfectly demonstrate this blend of refined style and traditional architecture, making a meal here an event for the eyes as well as the, well, stomach.

If you go midday, be sure to check out the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory a few short blocks away. You can walk in to their show room to get a small peak of their factory process and buy some brightly colored bars for the trip home, or you can buy tickets in advance (they sell out at least a week ahead) to their actual factory tour.

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 The chocolate display at Mast Brothers Chocolate: heaven!

4. Golden Unicorn/Chinatown dumplings

Ready to go back to Manhattan? Head to Chinatown to get Shanghai dumplings (also known as soup dumplings, those delectable little bits that have savory broth inside the dumpling and deliver it straight to your senses with every bite) at Golden Unicorn, one of the best known dim sum places in the city.

If you don’t have time for a full sit down meal, head to Chinatown and wander down Canal street for a gander at the sights and sounds of authentic Asian fare. Pick up a few (or a whole bag of) steamed dumplings in any one of the shops and take them back to your hotel or hostel or friend’s apartment for a comforting, easy dinner. My favorites are the steamed pork buns, pan fried chicken buns, and sesame balls with marzipan inside for dessert!

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 A classy cocktail at Refinery Rooftop bar.

5. Refinery Rooftop for drinks in Midtown

If you’re looking for somewhere nice but comfortable for evening or after dinner drinks, there’s no better place than Refinery Rooftop bar atop the Refinery Hotel in Midtown. The covered rooftop ensures that the panoramic views of the city (including an up close and personal look at the Empire State Building) are available to you year-round, and the rustic décor and exposed brick ensures that you feel cozy and comfortable regardless of how snow-covered the patio is just outside the bar. Oversized outdoor light bulbs are strung up across the ceiling, adding a romantic and celestial feel to bar’s atmosphere – and their drinks are just the icing on the cake. I personally loved the hot Chef’s cider (similar to a hot toddy), while my drink dates both enjoyed stronger martini cocktails.

If you’re looking to stay in Manhattan, check out Refinery Hotel just below – that’s one way to ensure you’ll make it to the rooftop bar during your visit!

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 The view from the top of Refinery Hotel is surreal.

Regardless of where you go or stay, New York City always casts a spell over its visitors, ensuring that you never feel like you’ve gotten your fill of this city. Hopefully these places will offer enough of a taste that you’ll want to keep going back!

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Maddy navigating the streets like a pro.

With these tried-and-true suggestions from Maddy, we can’t wait for our next trip to New York City! All the iconic art, amazing food, and beautiful views are calling. 

#WanderOn

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Fly Away Home: Travel Essentials

Travel essentials where chic & cozy meet and fall in love.

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Being on a plane for hours doesn’t have to be a drag. It can be a chance to truly escape, to be contained in a pod of comfy bliss and catch up on little activities, surrounded by hip gadgets & creature comforts. Check out a few of our our tried-and-true travel essentials, and get addicted to flying Wanderable-style.

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1. Cover Up: With a blanket-sized scarf that’ll morph into an international symbol of sophistication when you step off the plane. Check out the wanderlust-inspired prints by Theodora & Callum. The best part: they show you a bunch of different ways to wear.  

2. Speed Up: If you travel quite a bit, it might be worth it to jump on the CLEAR train, a membership that gives you expedited security for one year.

3. Drink Up: Made from teakwood, this bottle by S’well will stop you from buying $6 water bottles all over Europe. But don’t bring it full on the plane, obviously.

[Read more…]

Honeymoon Registry Etiquette

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While Honeymoon Registries are quickly growing in popularity, we often get questions on how to best create a registry that will make giving gifts memorable for both guests and couples. Here are our tips:

Know your guests:  Some guests may not be comfortable purchasing non-traditional gifts like helicopter tours and wine tastings. We suggest including some traditional items on your Wanderable registry or, if you really need to play it safe, you could always consider having a second traditional registry.

Take some time to plan:  Sure you could have guests give into a general honeymoon fund, but it is way more exciting to give and be given cooking classes, a picnic near the Eiffel Tower or a romantic cruise on the Seine. People love hearing about travel plans and will be excited to hear about where you are going, especially if they’ve been there before.

Personalize your registry:  Let your voice shine through, include photos, stories or even jokes. All of this will bring the experiences your guests are giving to life.  Check out some of our sample registries to get inspired.

Include a variety of items on your registry:  By providing lots of different types of gifts, at many different price points, you’ll give your guests lots of options.

Featured Hawaiian Island:

Second stop: Kauai

A sneak peek into what the Wanderable experts think are the top 5 experiences not to miss while honeymooning in Kauai!

Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island and is commonly known as the “Garden Isle.” The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain, it’s known for its tropical rainforests, forking rivers, and cascading waterfalls. It’s definitely an island well suited for couples that love outdoor excursions and adventure.

Kauai


Visit the Beach:
  Once you have checked in and gotten situated in your hotel room, visit one of the nearby beaches. Kick off your flip-flops and enjoy the view! Two of our favorite beaches are the sacred and picturesque Maha’ulepu Beach, which is known for it’s stunning views both in the water and out, and Kalapaki Beach, which is frequented by local surfers and is known as a great place to swim. There are many other beaches to explore, each with their own unique features and a wide-range of activities including snorkeling, swimming, lounging, and luaus; there is something for every couple. Make the memory even more special by packing a romantic picnic to enjoy while you’re there.

BeachKayaking:  One of Kauai’s greatest and most unique draws is that it’s home to the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, which makes kayaking an extremely popular activity. There are many rivers to paddle down, but we recommend the Wailua River for its diverse and breathtaking views. In a single trip, you can see Opaekaa Falls, the famous Sleeping Giant in the Nounou Mountains, and the romantic Fern Grotto… just to name a few. If you are lucky, they might even be playing traditional Hawaiian music in the Grotto.

Wailua River

 Waimea Canyon:  Spend at least a full day exploring Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park. Waimea Canyon will intoxicate the senses; known as the Grand Canyon of the pacific, this stretch of valley is a smaller and much greener version of the landlocked state park. With breathtaking views and incredible trails, this adventure definitely ranks high on our list. The canyon is protected by the Koke’e State Park, which encompasses 4,345 acres of land and has 45 miles of trails that run through the canyon and the nearby Alakai Swamp. It’s definitely a great stop for adventurists. Frommer’s has a wonderful guide with info about the area and how to best plan your day there.

Waimea Canyon

Helicopter Tour:  No trip to Kauai would be complete without a helicopter tour! There are so many gorgeous sites to see and many are only accessible by air. Ninety percent of Kauai’s beautiful waterfalls cannot be seen any other way. Highlights of the most common helicopter tours include Nawlliwili Harbor, the Menehune Fish Pond, Jurassic Park Falls, the Hanapepe Valley, Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, the Hanalei Valley, Mt. Waialeale, and Wailua Falls. It is an experience you will never forget.

Helicopter Tour

Zip-lining:  There’s nothing quite like gliding above a jungle-canopy 50-80 feet above the ground. For a rush of adrenaline and some more unforgettable views, go on a zip-lining excursion. Zip-lining tours are both informative and fun. Your guides will teach you about the history of the area and the diverse ecosystems that make this island such a unique place.

Zip-lining

Don’t forget:  Sunscreen! And sports sandals like Keens or Chacos, they might not be cute, but they’re great for any adventure sport you might choose to do.

When to go:  Frommer’s has a great guide to find the cheapest times to travel to Kauai. Weather doesn’t change too much, so it’s not as important of a variable.

Where to eat:  Enjoy a hearty breakfast and some of the best coffee in the area at Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Company.

For lunch, check out the Shrimp Station, if you are in the mood for seafood. Word has it that they serve “The Best Coconut Shrimp on the Planet.”

Finish a perfect day with dinner at Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill.

Common souvenirs: Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, coffee, jewelry, and clothing.

Have you been to Kauai? What are your tips for other Wanderers?

The first Hawaiian Island we featured was Maui… find that post here.

Featured Hawaiian Island: Maui

The feedback from our couples here at Wanderable, as well as other sources, show that Hawaii is the number one choice for a honeymoon destination. We’re not surprised, given all the beauty the islands possess.  Each island certainly has its own unique staples that it is known for.

Here is the first featured island and the top five things not to miss while you’re there:

First Stop: Maui, otherwise known as the Valley Isle

Taking the Road to Hana:  Spend an entire day taking one of the most famous and picturesque drives that exists, the road to Hana. A scenic drive might be an understatement to describe this stretch of highway. From seascapes, to botanical gardens, to waterfall pools and everything in between, it is an essential experience in capturing the beauty that Maui encompasses. If you decide to do the drive it in one day get an early start, as the road can be busy during certain hours. Leave at sunrise and take your sweet time, returning after sunset.  If you have multiple days it is certainly worth it to stay overnight at one of the hotels or cottages in the area. There is plenty to see and do. If you do have the time, don’t miss Kaihalulu (Red Sand Beach) and/or eat at Mama’s Fish House.

Hawaii

Haleakala Volcano Sunrise:  Known as one of the most memorable experiences to have in Maui, watch the sun rise or even set from the Haleakala Volcano. This volcano sits almost 10,000 feet above sea level and the views are breathtaking! Adding this to your agenda will certainly take a little extra planning but it is definitely worth the effort. In order to catch the sunrise it will be a very early morning start; you can look up info as to when the sun will be rising and plan accordingly. Try to arrive at the Haleakala Visitor Center no later than a half hour before the sun rises or even earlier for a good spot. Dress warm and bring layers, to ensure for comfort. It’s also wise to bring snacks or a bite to eat with you. Make the mood extra romantic with a breakfast picnic and mimosas. Stay a while after the sun rises because the view isn’t over yet; watch the colors fill up the sky and linger a bit. See GoHawaii’s full write-up for more detailed information.

Haleakala Volcano

IAO Needle:  Want to do some exploring of your own? Some of the best hikes in the area can be found in the IAO valley, which is considered sacred land. Here you can see the iconic 1,200-foot Iao Needle. A beautiful outcropping that overlooks Iao stream and is an ideal attraction for easy hiking and sightseeing. There are plenty of trails to choose from, all in varying degrees of difficulty.  We’ve found Hawaii State Parks to be a great resource.

IAO Needle

Helicopter Tour:  There is no better way to take in the vast beauty that Maui contains, than from the sky. Treat yourselves to a helicopter tour and see landscapes that you would otherwise never get to experience. Because Maui is full of rugged, uninhabited stretches of terrain there is much that would be inaccessible were it not for these tours. One area, for example, is the north coast of Molokai which features the tallest sea cliffs in the world. It will be an experience that you will surely never forget. TripAdvisor has great reviews for AirMaui.

Maui

Wailea Beach:  No trip to Maui would be complete without at least one day at the beach. There are many to choose from but one that comes very highly recommended is Wailea Beach, which is great for swimming and playing in the water/sand. The waves and the water here are pretty predictable, unlike many other beaches in Maui. The water is crystal clear and the views from the beach are gorgeous. A great place to relax and let all of your cares just melt away.

Wailea Beach

Don’t forget:  Sunscreen!! Sports sandals like Keens or Chacos, they might not be so cute, but they’re great for any adventure sports you might choose to do.

When to go:  Frommer’s has a great guide to find the cheapest times to travel to Maui. Weather doesn’t change too much so is not as important of a variable.

Where to stay on a budget:

AirBnB has some great budget accommodations.

A Private Studio in Sunny Kihei

A Kozy Kihei Studio (If you don’t mind outdated Hawaiian prints): 

Or Maui with a view on a budget:

Where to stay when you can splurge:
Four Seasons Maui: http://www.fourseasons.com/maui/

Fairmont Hotel : http://www.fairmont.com/kea-lani-maui/

Westin Hotel: http://www.westinkaanapali.com/

Where to eat:
Always listed as a go-to place along the Road to Hana, Mama’s Fish House. For wonderful seafood and great views, eat here.

Flatbread Company – For great pizza and beer make sure to check out the Flatbread Company.

For a fancier dinner that’s  actually worth the price, go to Lahaina Grill.

Common souvenirs: Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, coffee, jewelry, and clothing.

Have you been to Maui? What are your tips for other Wanderers?