It’s been just over one year since I took a bite of the Big Apple, and I’m still chewin’! I moved to NYC last January and exactly one year to the day, I started my blog sharing all things food, fun, fashion and fabulous in this City of Dreams! For 365 (give or take) days, I’ve been exploring the Big Apple searching high and low for the best, coolest, quirkiest, and most fun things to do in NYC. I’ve explored Manhattan from Uptown to Downtown and just about everywhere in between, crossed bridges and tunnels into Brooklyn, Queens, and even New Jersey, and, I’ve certainly been on multiple subways and trains to do some extra special exploring outside these boroughs’ borders. There really is nothing quite like New York City, in all its greatness, to help you go beyond your comfort zone, push the boundaries and discover things about yourself you never really knew! So in honor of the one year anniversary of Nikki Takes New York, here’s a little recap of some of the amazing adventures I’ve embarked on. Go ahead dive in to New York City, it’s been waiting for you!
You know this is first on my list since I am utterly obsessed with all things food. From fancy to not so frilly, and everything in between, food is what brings New Yorkers together (ok, and our hurried mentalities). After all, this is the culinary capitol of the world, I’d say. But all that aside, there is seriously no shortage of fabulous (and far out there) food options when it comes to grubbing in Gotham. Whether you’re into the perfect bowl of pasta, the most succulent steak or straight up crazy cuisine like the latest rainbow bagels or crazy milkshakes, you’re definitely in for a treat if food is what moves you. But if dessert is what delights you the most, let’s talk about some of the most recent radical joys I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in – the Macaronut (a hybrid of a macaron and a donut) from Francois Payard Bakery, the Everything Donut from Doughnut Project, and the Coconut Monkey Bread from Spot Dessert Bar. Dig in!
The Second Favorite Borough – Brooklyn
This borough just to the east of Manhattan, is chock full of cool. Whether you venture over on foot, subway, or ferry, getting to Brooklyn is easy and well worth the (short) commute. Brooklyn has such a diverse set of fun things to do, it’s hard to choose. Whether you want to spend the day in Williamsburg grubbing and gulping at some of the rad restaurants, get your brew on at the Brooklyn Brewery, or check out sweeping views of Manhattan while stuffing your face at Smorgasburg, there’s no shortage of cool. And that’s just part of it. You can also peep the dope street art at the Bushwick Collective in Bushwick, eat a world famous pizza at DiFarra’s in Midwood, or head to Coney Island for a little festival fun. Whatever your fancy, there’s something for you in Brooklyn!
Once upon a time, alcohol was prohibited but that didn’t stop some from imbibing illegally, it just wasn’t done in public. Instead, clandestine cocktail caves, called Speakeasies, were set up in underground or undisclosed locations, with passwords and bouncers blocking the door, peering at you through a tiny window in the door, to make sure you weren’t the authorities. Fast forward to modern day, and although it is no longer illegal to sip and stir, these secret spots still exist all over the city, maintaining that exclusive, undisclosed flair of the past. Some of my fan favorites include Pouring Ribbons, Manhattan Cricket Club, Mulberry Project, Raines Law Room, and Angel’s Share. For a full read up on my underground adventures, click here.
Much like speakeasies, rooftops are a New York City favorite (whether permitting of course). Many boast sweeping views of the best skyline in the world, and what better way to combine in than with a rooftop cocktail? Spanning the city, these high in the sky drinking havens dot the tops of NYC’s super skyscrapers. And while it still might officially be spring, summer’s sentiments are in full swing and we’re ready to get our drink on. There are plenty of old favorites like the Refinery Rooftop or Ink 48 in Midtown, the Jimmy at the James in Soho, or even the Wythe Hotel across the river in Brooklyn, but there are still plenty of untappted, unvisited spots I’m planning on checkin’ off my list in just a few weeks! See you for a sippin’ soiree!
It might be known as the “Concrete Jungle”, but there’s certainly no shortage of beautiful outdoor urban spaces in NYC! Of course, the mother of them all, Central Park, is a New York landmark and you certainly can’t miss a visit there. I mean, you could spend days in just this park, rowing on the boats in the lake, visiting the Alice in Wonderland bronze sculpture, or having a picnic in one of the many green spaces of the park, but there’s so many more luscious lawns to discover, it’s hard to just stick with CP! One of my personal favs includes the Highlighine, an elevated pedestrian walkway filled with beautiful blooms and funky features. You can also check out the City’s multiple pocket parks throughout its diverse neighborhoods, the waterway lawns on both the east and west sides of the City, or hop on over to Brooklyn for some stunning sites from areas like DUMBO (Down Underneath the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Whatever your preference, just kick back, relax, and soak it in!
There’s just some things in this city where you say to yourself, “Only in New York” would I be able to experience that, and I’ve come across quite a few. For starters, I was first introduced to Sleep No More before I ever moved here. This interactive, immersive theatre experiences allows you to follow actors throughout five floors of a warehouse turned “hotel” as they reenact a modern day version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Similar to this is Then She Fell in Brooklyn, the story of Lewis Carroll’s love affair with Alice and her whimsical journey through Wonderland. As if that wasn’t enough to wet the palate, there are places like The Box, a rather sensual and freaky kind of show; Queen of the Night, a provocative, sinful type of dinner party; Burlesque versions of Nutcracker and Snow White; as well as so many other pop up and one of a kind shows and experiences. Seriously, who could ever say they’re bored in this city?
Outside the City
If you’re cool with jumping on a train or a bus for a couple of hours to discover darling places unknown, then you’re in for a treat. You see, the great thing about living in NYC is just a few hours (or less sometimes) outside the city are some of the most stunning sites you’ve ever laid eyes on. Whether you love to hike, ski, sip wine, or simply just relax, there’s a destination for you, that makes you feel like you’re worlds away from the hectic hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. So far, I’ve gone hiking in Cold Spring, Apple Picking in the Hudson Valley, and site seeing in Woodstock (ok, maybe I was witch hunting). Either way, no matter what time of year, there’s something for everyone in these quaint towns just a stone’s throw away from the City. Up next on my list is a visit to the Finger Lake region and a dip in Lake George. Stay tuned!
If you’re exhausted already reading all these amazing things this beautiful “home” city of mine has to offer, we’ve only just begun. I can’t begin to tell you all the extra cool hunting I’ve been able to do, and have yet to discover. As my list continues to grow by the minute (thanks, Time Out), there are some cool things I’ve been able to check out like the New York City Marathon, the famed Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York Fashion Week (both Spring and Summer parties), the World Series at the Met’s Stadium, and so many other amazing experiences I’ve been blessed to check out. But because this is the “City that never sleeps”, you’re damn right I have a lot of homework to do. Some of the ones that are on the top of my list include being a spectator at the MET gala where celebrities flock from all over in the funkiest of fashions; the Tribeca Film Festival where film makers, directors, and actors alike put some of their greatest talents on display; the always fabulous Veuve Cliquot Polo Match in Liberty State Park; and Diner-en-blanc, the ultimate in secret soirées where thousands of your New York “friends” get together dressed all in white for an outdoor dinner party at an undisclosed location! Sign me up!
Broadway for Broke People
Ok, so you may not be a Broadway fan (I definitely am), but when in Rome (or at least NYC), you’ve got to check out at least one show in your life. Whether On-Broadway, or Off-Broadway, there are tons of shows to see throughout the City, whatever your preference. And though you think you might have to sell a kidney to pay for one of these tickets (thanks, Hamilton), I’ve got a secret for you… BroadwayforBrokePeople.com! You read it right. There’s a site that allows you to enter the lotteries of many of the new and notorious shows, and if you win, you pay a fraction of the cost (Don’t worry, there’s no charge for this secret!). So what are you waiting for, start plugging in your info! Oh, and if you happen to snag one of the highly coveted Hamilton tix, you better be brining me!
And finally, I’m highlighting the magnificent art institutions this mecca of museums has to offer. Whatever your interests are, there’s a museum for you. Personally, the Met (including its beautiful rooftop bar), the American Museum Natural of History (I’m a kid at heart), and the new Whitney (who doesn’t love some modern American art), are some of the top contenders on my list. But with world renowned galleries at places like the MOMA, the Guggenheim and heck, even the Museum of Sex (yes, there’s such a thing), there’s no shortage of information and visuals for you to capture in this cultural epicenter of the world! Time to get your artsy-fartsy on!
Stay tuned for another year of fabulous adventure, fun, new friends, fierce fashion and of course, great food.
The Cuban Carrie