The Best Weekend in NYC

I never lived in NYC, but I have visited the big Apple nearly every Christmastime since I was 10. This isn’t an insider guide to the best hidden gems or the coolest new bars, but rather, a roadmap for how to have the most perfect New York City weekend if the city is unfamiliar to you. An itinerary that will check off all of the ‘must dos’ of your trip so you can feel accomplished as you board your return flight at JFK, Laguardia or Newark.

|| F O O D ||

The Big Delicious Apple.

Let’s get right to it. There’s a lot of food to cover, and not enough hours (or stretch pants) to fit it all in. This is the arena where you have to do the most painstaking research, because time and calories are precious, don’t waste them on mediocracy or tourist traps. I surveyed everyone I have ever met who I trust with culinary advice to come up with this condensed list of must-eats. Use it as the foundation for tasting the best NYC has to offer.

Let’s start with reservations. Make one for:

Carbone – Michelin approved Italian spot that is exactly what you want. Incredible food, 5 star service, cozy dark beautifully appointed dining room. Before you even are given a menu, the waitstaff has presented you with a basket of three different made from heaven breads and a freshly cut piece of parmesan out of a wheel they carry to your table. Must Order: a full size spicy rigatoni for everyone and then a half order for everyone too. Along with the off menu meatballs.

Rubirosa – Best pizza I have ever had the pleasure of eating, but don’t overlook this cozy spot as just as pizza place – the pasta is equally incredible. Must order: the Tie Die pizza

Peter Luger Steakhouse – Defines the word traditional. This Brooklyn steakhouse has been dishing out steaks for decades. Expect bright lighting and a real lack of that hip NYC atmosphere, but according to everyone I know, this place is one of the best steakhouses in the world.

While in NYC, I also recommend grabbing Dim Sum in Chinatown (and if you don’t live in LA, looking into a sushi reservation). Another place that’s a must-try if you’re not from Los Angeles, is Catch if not just to soak up the boujee atmosphere.

The following are also on the MUST list, but they do not take reservations:

Uncle Boons – Michelin star Thai food in a funky hole in the wall spot. They don’t take reservations so go put your name in and wait out the two hours in the nearby Little Rascal with cocktails and light Mediterranean apps.

Mamas Too! – INSANELY delicious Pizza. If I never tried the pesto vodka sauce pizza concoction at Rubirosa, I would argue this is the best pizza in the world. Get a house slice and a Sicilian square slice, and die happy.

H&H Bagel- No frills NY water bagel shop with the freshest most gooey yet crunchy bagels you’ve ever had. Fresh cookie sheets of piping hot bagels come out of the kitchen like clockwork. If you’re a lox fan, don’t miss the nova sandwich here.

Sadelles – I still haven’t made it here, but it is consistently the most recommended bagel joint. Much more trendy than H&H bagel, which means better instagram content, but also longer lines.

Prince Street Pizza – You come here for one thing, and one thing only, the world’s most famous slice of Pepperoni pizza. Expect thick Sicilian style squares

Los Tacos No. 1 – Any excuse to explore Chelsea Market works for me, but Los Tacos #1 are definitely the most infamous stand inside.

Juniors Cheesecake – Sure, it’s about the most well-known tourist spot ever – but I have never found a better cheesecake. If you like ‘so thick you could choke eating it’ cheesecake, this is the place for you.


Here’s my (rather generic) list of ‘obligatory things to do in NYC’

  1. a few hours at the MET
  2. walk the Brooklyn Bridge (do it for the gram)
  3. See a play on Broadway (Hamilton! Hamilton!)
  4. Chelsea Market
  5. Sunset on a rooftop in MeatPacking
  6. Visit the library (yes THE library from Sex & the City)
  7. Stroll Central Park
  8. Champagne at the Park Plaza Hotel
  9. Shop (or window shop, haha) along 5th Ave
  10. Empire State Building Observation Deck
  11. Bar hop through the Lower East Side

The First Timer Tourist Crawl: After your bagel breakfast, uber (or take the Metro) to the Central Park zoo. Walk around the southern part of the park, making sure to get your photo on one of the infamous rocks with the skyscrapers looming behind you. End up at the Park Plaza Hotel for your first champagne cocktail of the day. Stroll down Fifth Avenue, admiring the window display and get bumped back and forth like a ping pong between tourists. Make your way all the way to Rockerfeller Center, then to Times Square. Stop for cheesecake at Juniors.

Another great ‘itinerary’ is to start off at Chelsea Market for lunch, a latte and some shopping then head to Meatpacking for a rooftop hopping. Check out Catch if you don’t live in LA, grab a glass of wine on the roof of the brand new Restoration Hardware, play ping pong in the Standards beer garden, or shoot oysters next door, the meatpacking possibilities are endless. I suggest heading to the top of the Standard or Gansevoort Hotel for the best sunset viewing.

*If you’re visiting Nov or Dec, it’s imperative you make a reservation at Rolfs to see the most jaw dropping display of Chrsitmas lights ever.

|| L O D G I N G ||

There are a zillion hotel options in NYC for every single type of traveler. I suggest taking a peek on Hotels Tonight or Amex travel to see if there are any exceptional deals for your travel dates. If you’re lucky, you can squeeze out free parking (which is a $100+ savings per day) by booking through Amex’s Travel concierge.

Okay, now I personally love the Meat Packing district and recommend booking the Soho House for your stay. The Standard also has a unique Beer Garden downstairs of the hotel and one of the best rooftops to catch sunset. My second favorite area is Greenwich, with Greenwich hotel being the clear frontrunner.

To get the full NYC tourist effect, of course, the Park Plaza will be your best bet. If it’s sold out, there are oodles of other high end hotels surrounding the Plaza that will definitely have no problem taking your money.

Looking up from the lounge @ The Beekman

If you rather stay in a quieter (at night) spot, I really love the architecture and ambiance of the Beekman Hotel in the Financial District. And lastly, if Brooklyn is more your speed, the One Hotel has a fun vibe.

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