NYC in a Nutshell | New York Travel Guide Book
‘Featuring local New York Singer and Artist, Cassandra Nunez ‘
The Yellow cabs and their endless honking, the city’s fast paced lifestyle, the subway’s rush hour congestion and the smell of street food vendors. Welcome to the city that never sleeps, hello New York!
This all may seem a little too much to take in at first, but give it a day or two and you’ll adapt just fine. After a couple of days in New York City, you will convert into a New Yorker. Before you know it, people will start asking you for directions since you’ll give off the impression of being a local.
New York may be one busy place, but once you stop, take a deep breath and really take the time to look at the city you notice the city has a different look to it than what the pictures, magazines or TV may present it to be. You may be asking yourself what the “different look” is that I’m referring to.
I would say we will have our own personal experience and outlook once we dare to take a step back and really take in the city’s bliss. If it’s your first time going to New York City or even if it’s the second, you will always find every block having its own personality, style, and edge. From the Lower East side of the city to the Upper Midtown, the energy changes rapidly. Watch out for the cabs they might take you for a ride if you are not watching your walking speed. Give it a day or two. The city will grow on you faster than you think.
Are you planning a trip to the B I G Apple? Let’s talk about things to do in New York.. Before we can talk about the city guide, let’s cover some important tips upon entering the city such as, Flights to NYC, Transportation, Accommodation, New York City Travel Tips, Food in New York, and New York Summary. Ready? Let’s get started!
Flights to NYC:
For flights within the USA, I recommend traveling during the months of March, early April, October, November, and during the winter months (except over the holidays).
* LaGuardia (LGA) is the closest to Midtown and Upper Manhattan, and thus preferred by some travelers. LaGuardia is predominantly a domestic airport, with some flights to/from Canada and limited long-distance flights. LaGuardia is a quicker 35-minute jaunt *
If you are traveling to New York City from outside of the USA, I recommend using one of my favorite travel apps, Momondo. Momondo is a free travel search site that helps you search for the best prices available which then directs you to other sites to complete the booking. I have booked my trips to India, Dubai, and Poland through this platform and it saved a lot of time in searching while saving a lot of money with the flights I booked. The most recommended airport for international flights is JFK. However, some international flights do fly in and out of La Guardia, go with the choice that best suits your travel plans!
Transportation in New York City:
With over twenty million residents in the New York metropolitan area, New York city is one the most populated cities in the United States. The city spreads across five main boroughs so it’s safe to say there are many ways to get around!
The infamous yellow cabs bring most of the color into the city and life to the streets of New York. I found the yellow cabs to be convenient in short distances in the city when searching for a on the spot, and there is not time to waste waiting for an UBER or Lyft to scoop you up. I suggest taking a yellow cab for the experience or if you’re in a rush and have no time to wait for an alternative ride.
Get a better feel as a local and choose the bus as a transportation method if desired. Buses in New York are generally classified as local or express. Express routes have reduced stops and focus on serving commuter routes from some of the busier areas of Manhattan to the outer boroughs.
You will only find the busses at a marked stop, which are normally located two to three blocks apart. Don’t know what stops the bus will take? No worries the bus stop will indicate which bus routes service the route.
What a better way to experience New York City and avoid the city traffic than by taking the New York Subway. You can experience the hustle & bustle of the concrete jungle city here. If you have not experienced the New York City subway before, I suggest taking a look at the directions, take a screenshot before entering the subway station, once you’re in there, you are fighting your way through the busy track lines and if it’s rush hour time, you’ll be fighting your way onto one of the trains. Fortunately, the trains have ac in them on a hot day if you go in the summertime.
* The New York City subway is one of the busiest, oldest & largest subway system in the world. With 472 subway stations, this is the most popular way to get around New York. It operates twenty-four hours a day across 36 lines, and serves four out of five of New York’s boroughs. *
The subway isn’t the only passenger railway line operating around New York. A majority of the commuter-focused lines designed to bring people into the city from the more distant boroughs are the rail lines.
Unless you are planning on visiting one of the more distant part of the city, or have booked a hotel along way from the main sights in New York, it’s unlikely you’re going to need to use one of these rail services.
**Travel Tip **
*You can buy a ticket for one-way journeys at the train station. There is also an e-ticketing app called e-Tix available for both for Android and IPhone devices, which lets you buy tickets on your phone for the Metro-North Railroad or Long Island Rail Road. Fares will vary depending on the route you take. *
The beauty of New York City can be seen through its many methods of transportation including a Ferry. With the large amount of water surrounding New York City, there are a variety of options for using boats to get around, including the NYC Ferry service and Staten Island Ferry.
*The NYC Ferry is a relatively recent addition to New York’s public transport system. Launched in 2017, this offers four lines, with two additional lines planned to open. There are 21 terminals and 23 boats in operation, connecting Manhattan with Brooklyn and Queens. *
Bicycle / Pedi cab:
Like many cities around the world, New York has a bike share program whereby you can get access to a large network of bikes located around the city, which you can drop off and pick off at various points.
*The Citi Bike program is open to both locals and visitors. As of now, it’s $12 for a day pass, and $24 for a 3-day pass. These passes can be bought through the Citi Bike Mobile App, or in person at a station kiosk. Annual memberships are also available, which are more suited to residents or those staying longer term in the city,, You can sign up for the annual memberships on the official website. *
Let’s talk about my favorite method of transportation, experiencing the city by foot! With a combination of walking and taking the subway, you will get the experience of what life as a New Yorker is really like. Grab a coffee and croissant, then off you go to explore the city’s wonders. Walking is the best way to get to see the city from a different angle and a local’s perspective. You’ll be surprised at the amount of places you’ll spot on your way that Yelp or Google might have missed! Get your trusted pair of sneakers and water bottle ready to explore the city’s hidden beauty.
There are so many places to choose from when it comes to finding the most suitable New York City Hotel, so where can the ideal place to stay be located for you? Before planning on booking a hotel or Airbnb, be sure to map out where most of your time will be spent. Have somewhat of an itinerary in place before you book your accommodation as it’ll be easier to choose from the various options New York City has to offer . When my friend and I chose our ideal hotel stay, we made sure that most of our places on our list were either a short cab ride away, short subway ride or within walking distance. We also wanted to be located where a good amount of food and bar options were located.
After booking our flights and confirming our meetings, we booked our accommodation according to our schedule. It truly helped us narrow down our options and found the perfect hotel in Midtown, Manhattan, The Bernic Hotel!
If you’re an Urban Explorer and love modern boutique style hotels with a view, The Bernic Hotel in New York City is one I highly recommend! I spent a long weekend there without ever feeling homesick. The staff makes you feel right at home and they are so attentive to you during your stay. Pop the champagne bottles and get ready with a glass of sparkles. Or throw on a robe and hotel slippers from The Bernic and relax. From the comfortable bed mattresses to the bathroom floor heaters, this hotel was definitely an experience. Talk about a great location, it is only moments from the Chrysler Building, The Theater District, Times Square and Madison Avenue!
Explore some of the hidden gems we got to encounter on our trip in NYC. We wine and dined, and were also apart of a very special Friday night live show from an up and coming NYC artist. I’ll share more about her in a bit, but first – food!
SOMM TIME WINE BAR, NYC:
This is literally a hidden gem in Midtown East NYC. Somm Time Wine is a place for the casual wine drinker as well as the serious aficionado. The menu can get a bit overwhelming and the options are many! No worries, the staff are not only there to accommodate your wine palate for the day, but also guide you to taste different wines according to your taste. You might even walk out with a new favorite wine to add on to your list. My friend and I went to
Somm Time Wine for a quick drink and ended up staying there for over two hours. The staff is lovely, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, and the music choice transports you over to a city in Western Europe. If you want to feed your brain here you can take some wine classes too. If you go, make sure to visit the Wine manager, Ciprian, tell him you found out about him through this post, he’ll be sure to hook it up for you 😉
During our stay at The Bernic, my friend and I were in the mood of some local night bar experience. To our surprise, we were staying right next to a popular local dive bar, Snafu. Typically, a dive bar concept is known to be a hole in the wall type of place where it can get a bit messy to say the least. However, we felt this one was very different than the dive bars we are used back home. During the weekdays, it gets very busy since it’s located in the mist of a business and financial district, so you can catch many wearing their business attire. On the other hand, during the weekends, this place can be more or less packed than the usual, since Friday & Saturday is more for the Lower East Side activities for the locals.
Momofuku Noodle Bar:
New York City Momofuku Noodle Bar was founded by American restaurateur and TV personality, David Chang. Here you can find Japanese ramen with a soupçon of French technique with Berkshire Pork Belly! We were lucky enough to have found a place to sit right away, that’s because it was during a weekday and after lunch hours and before evening time.
If Momofuku Noodle Bar is on your list make sure to not leave without trying the,
- Pork Buns (hoisin, scallion, cucumber)
- Pork Ramen (pork belly, scallion, egg yolk)
- Hand rolled steamed bread (bing bread with butter and roasted carrot spread)
- Shacksbury x Momofuku Cider (Vergennes, VT)
“Momofuku Noodle Bar does not take standard reservations.
Saritas Mac & Cheese Macaroni:
If you are heading towards the heart of Manhattan’s East Village and you are a fan of mac & cheese, discover a new twist of this popular American staple at Saritas Mac & Cheese Macaroni. S’MAC is known for it’s gourmet Mac & Cheese styles and it’s different flavors! If you are a fan of spicy dishes, I welcome you to try the Masala Flavor! Enjoy ☺
Want to experience an Oyster Shooter in a sophisticated yet fun environment? You have to check out this sustainable, eco-conscious restaurant and bar, Crave Bar. Their seafood is in season, organic when possible and importantly the ingredients are environmentally friendly. I am not much of an oyster eater, however, the Oyster Shooter experience was one that might of changed my perspective. I’ll definitely give it a second go next time I’m in New York City.
Fig & Olive:
Fancy some Mediterranean delicacies in the heart of Manhattan? Fig & Olive is the perfect place for a wine and dine type of evening. Dress up and enjoy an evening in the beautiful two-floor building with amazing food and wine selections. The one we dined in was located on Fifth Avenue. The second floor has a fancy dining layout while the first floor seems to be a bit more casual and has a bar type feel, which both are very welcoming. The food and menu is very tasty and all dishes seem to not be a bad choice, but PLEASE don’t leave without trying their Chef’s Selection dish, the Foi Gras– fig jam, orange zest, it was truly life changing!
Cha Cha Matcha:
Are you a matcha lover with the dream of ever experiencing matcha heaven?! Cha Cha Matcha is the place to check out. I was walking down Broadway Street and notice the pretty in pink building at the corner with big bold green letters. I knew I had to check it out. Sure enough, once I entered I knew I was in matcha paradise. Inspired by the Eastern tea practices, and armed with leaves straight from Uji, Japan, you will experience a flavor of authentic Japanese Ceremonial Matcha. You can find vegan pastry options here too! Don’t forget to try their infamous Cha Cha Matcha, or their Ginger Turmeric Matcha Latte.
Rockwood Music Hall:
You can’t say you’ve explored New York City hidden gems without exploring the beauty of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Lower East Side is where the gritty alleys and tenement-style buildings are mixed with upscale apartments that are surrounded by chic boutiques. Every corner or block you walk through you’ll find trendy café shops, appealing restaurants trendy bars and my all-time favorite trendy music venues. It was here where my friend and I spent a Friday night, enjoying the outgoing crowd, drinking a gin & tonic while listening to the beautiful live-music of Cassandra Nunez, a local singer & artist at the Rockwood Music Hall venue.
What better way to get to know a city than from the locals themselves, right? I had the honor to have a short interview with singer, songwriter and the artist herself, Cassandra Nunez. Get to know more about New York City from a local’s perspective in her own words sharing her top spots to eat, picture perfect locations, and tips. Also, she shares how Instagram has helped her with her own business. Get ready, set, let’s get started!
“Singing has always been a dream of mine so 4 years ago I decided to take it to the next level and move to the concrete jungle. It’s been a roller coaster that I can truly say it gets better each year.
From constantly meeting so many talented individuals to creating the music I dreamed of, New York has and still inspires me. I am a singer/ songwriter and because of that social media is the biggest driving force I’ve got. As an independent artist ,Instagram has been major key in everything, from marketing and promoting my music to connecting with people and actually working on with them on projects. Not only that, I get to connect first hand with my fans and get discovered by new fans.
Top 3 Coffee spots:
- Joe and the juice (they have tons of location throughout Manhattan, but the Soho location is my fave.)
- Blank Slate Tea (Cutest IG Worthy Tea’s)
- Mapi Espresso and Sandwich Shop (This is my favorite hole in the wall café con leche spot!)
Top 3 Picture spots:
- West Village/ Greenwich Village (every corner is picture worthy)
- Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Top 3 places to grab a drink:
Top 3 spots for Dinner:
- Supper NYC (in L.E.S) Best Italian. Once I ate here 3 times in one week!
- Palma – Italian (I’m a sucker for Italian, this is a different Italian region from Supper and this spot is a dream)
- Boqueria – Best Paella
Top 3 spots for Dessert:
New York City Tips from a local:
- Reservations for dinner are key! Call ahead a few hours or days if it’s a trendy spot.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help with directions or recommendations, people are more helpful than you would expect!
- There is tons of free memorable fun stuff to do in the city, make sure to look into before your trip!
Get to know the local behind these amazing recommendations, or if you’re in the city, make sure to check her out live in one of her shows, click here.
Can’t wait to share more travel stories, tips, and tricks with you! Thank you for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment if there are any questions you have about this recent blog post, or any travel ventures you and your loved ones plan to embark on. Stay tuned for next week’s feature of Travel With Curls and the locals around the world…
**Want to travel with me every week, get to know locals around the world, learn tips & tricks about traveling and have the chance to win some travel goodies? Don’t be shy, insert your name and email and I will persoanlly send you an invitation to join the Travel With Curls Group!**