TRVLR101: Hidden Gems of NYC

I am lucky enough to live in the shadow of one of the greatest cities in the world. New York. It’s a place on many people’s travel bucket lists for its famous landmarks, huge skyscrapers, and unique culture. But there is a lot to New York.

You could travel to the Big Apple multiple times and never see every square inch of it. Spanning 5 boroughs, all of which are very different from one another, it is a vast city. BUT NO FEAR! NYC is very doable. I know you’re already going to have the biggies on your list (the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge,) but I want to break down for you my favorites of NYC…places you probably don’t have on your list, and ones that are easy to fit into to your weekend getaway!


The Flatiron District

I am sure you have some incredible neighborhoods and skyscrapers on your list of places to see, but you probably don’t have the Flatiron District on it. Sure, you probably have heard of the Flatiron Building, but it might be one of those buildings you choose not to see for time’s sake. Please, don’t miss out (there is a sick view of the Empire State from here).

You will find the Flatiron District where Broadway meets 5th Avenue, right around 23rd Street. This area boasts some of midtown’s gems, without the pomp and circumstance that generally comes with the area. The Flatiron Building is the visual highlight of the neighborhood, and an exceptional piece of New York architecture. Built in the 1900s, it has been a showpiece of NYC landmarks and featured in countless books, publications, and movies (remember, it was the Daily Bugle!). But there is so much more than that.

Madison Square Park is the heart of this neighborhood; amidst the bustle of the city this park is quaint and generally pretty quiet with plenty of benches, walking paths, a dog park, and great art installations. It is also home to the OG Shake Shack, which has a line all day, everyday, but is totally worth waiting on for a Purple Cow and a Double Shackburger. Another great place across the street is Eataly, an Italian lovers dream. There are 7 different restaurants, all with a different specialty, and loads of fresh pastas, veggies, and meats to buy and make your own creations. You can really fuel up before continuing your day in this prime spot.

The Flatiron District is small, but it’s worth making your way down there, even for a little while. From the great views to the great food, it’s an easy place to enjoy. And, its proximity to both midtown and downtown makes it an easy place to pass as you journey through the city!


The High Line

There are tons of unique spots across the city, but none reigns more supreme than The High Line. If you’ve never heard of it, I beg you to take a walk down to the west side and check it out.

The High Line towers 30 feet in the air and runs through the heart of the West Side, along 10th Avenue from Gansevoort Street up to its end around 34th Street and 11th Avenue. This city park is situated along the old West Side Freight Line, weaving in and around the actual tracks used up until the 1980s, and featuring lots of greenery, sitting areas, and cool views! The main digs of this park fall within the Meatpacking District, which, yes, actually used to be what it sounds. The neighborhood is home to some of the most prestigious hotels, museums, and fashion design studios in the city, but it hasn’t been until the last several years or so where it has been put back on the proverbial map.

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The High Line at 15th Avenue. Photo courtesy of Claudia Heidelberger

Up on the High Line you will find some great food vendors to feast your eyes on, but down below you’ll have your pick of some great restaurants. My personal favorite is at the center of the Meatpacking District and has some downright delicious margaritas; Dos Caminos has a prime location where you can see everything that is going on in the neighborhood. It boasts an incredible outdoor seating area that you will wait forever for, but it’s totally worth it on a nice night. After you’ve had too many margaritas a fantastic meal, go to Chelsea Market and be prepared to drop the rest of your money! There are so many great shops, restaurants, and food vendors to choose from, pretty much putting you on sensory overload. It’s just one of many great finds in the neighborhood.

I barely scratched the surface on this hot spot, but it’s well worth the visit west. Whether your into just a walk up high, or looking for good food and high-style buys (whoaaa, look what I did there!), the Meatpacking District is your place, and The High Line is the sweetest spot of it all.


Grand Army Plaza & Prospect Park

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Grand Army Plaza, looking southeast through the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Arch, directly towards Prospect Park

Oh, hey! Didn’t think I was going to take you to Brooklyn? Wrong! Grand Army Plaza & Prospect Park are two that are just too beautiful to pass up, but so many people don’t know they exist when coming to New York!

Take the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn (or tell your Uber driver to go that way) and drive along Flatbush Avenue until…BAM!, the massive Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Arch is in your face and defining the area with more grandeur than expected. This arch, plus many other arches in New York, were designed at the turn of the 20th century as celebratory pieces of architecture, inspired almost directly from the arches found throughout Europe. It provides the perfect entryway to the beautiful Prospect Park.

The park is massive and is a haven for many Brooklyn resident. It’s sprawling fields provide ample space for picnics, sports, and general hangs; the band shell, home to Celebrate Brooklyn!, is the perfect summer concert venue; the Prospect Park Zoo is perfect for the kiddies to get their fun on; Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket is the best at bringing local vendors of all sorts to the people for farm-fresh goodness. It’s got everything anyone could really want, and on a much smaller scale then it’s big brother, Central Park, and is flanked by one of Brooklyn’s greatest neighborhoods, Park Slope.

Park Slope, a beautiful neighborhood in Brooklyn, just oozes that brownstone living vibe. It’s tree-lined and open streets sound unheard of in NYC, but they exist and they are great. Park Slope has some awesome restaurants and bars as well! My suggestion for a good night: go to Soigne for a delicious dinner in a super intimate setting and then head to Blueprint for AMAZING cocktails in the coolest of atmospheres! You probably will end up just wanting to stay in Brooklyn…so don’t fight it :).

If you have the time to trek to the depths of Brooklyn, I suggest you do so. It has such a different feel from the bustle of Manhattan and with so much to offer. Whether you spend a few hours or the whole day exploring BK, be sure to swing by the park, look up and stare at that massive arch, and then settle into the neighborhood and explore.


Final thoughts…

While there are tons of places to go and see while you are in New York, there are plenty you may not even know to see, and I want you to be sure you’re well aware before making the trip. These are some of my personal favorite spots in New York and are ones that really give you a great blend of local culture and touristy flare!

Because I live in New York, there will be so many more posts about this fantastic city, so be on the lookout, andΒ follow (scroll back up and click on that link to the right! πŸ˜€ )Β so you never miss a post!

But I also want to know your favorite spots of the cities you love! Share your stories with me and your thoughts on this post! Have you been to these places before? What did you think?! I want to know!

xoxo Amanda

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