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