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NEW YORK CITY

City Guide

We called New York City home for over four years and it will always hold a special place in our heart.  It is where we got engaged (Central Park), where we started our lives as a married couple, where we welcomed our first son, Knox, where my husband earned his MBA, where I started this blog, and where we learned that friends can become family and kindness isn’t only found in Texas.

New York is more than just a city. New York is a way of life.  New York is that feeling that washes over us every time we are flying over Manhattan and look down and see the skyline of downtown.  New York is your friend at the Bodega below your apartment who remembers your coffee order before you even get there to order it.  New York is attempting to keep up with every delicious restaurant opening and to wanting to explore every street in every neighborhood, but always wanting more.

This is our New York, we hope you love it as much as we do.


Brunch


Dinner

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Freeman’s

One of the coziest restaurants in the city, especially during the fall and winter months, Freemans is tucked away at the end of an alley (Freeman Alley) in the Lower East Side. Inspired by old colonial taverns, Freemans is housed in a historic building and decorated with taxidermy and antique finds. It’s the perfect setting for date night spot or for a group dinner. Be sure to check out the upstairs lounge where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail before or after your meal.

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NOM WAH TEA PARLOR

New York’s Chinatown is a must-visit, especially for eating delicious dim sum. We are fans of Nom Wah Tea Parlor, an adorable dim sum restaurant on Doyers Street, a narrow 200 foot long street with a sharp turn that used to be known as “murder alley”. Now a completely safe area, this street and Nom Wah Tea Parlor feel like a little quiet secret in the middle of bustling Chinatown. In addition to delicious Chinese bites, this place is totally Instagram-worthy.


Casual Dining

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Eataly

Eataly is a must when visiting New York City. Right off of Madison Square Park, Eataly is a massive Italian market created by chef and restaurateur Mario Batali. There are multiple Italian restaurant concepts inside, as well as Italian treats, produce, kitchenware, and much more. Swing by for a coffee and gelato, or stay for dinner. You can also venture to the rooftop beer garden La Birreria for a pint, tasty bites, and fantastic views of Manhattan.


COFFEE & SWEETS

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BIG GAY ICE CREAM

Big Gay Ice Cream is the most fun dessert shop we’ve ever been to. From glittering unicorn decorations, to the occasional costumes worn by staff members, BGIC is a treat through and through. Our top picks are the Salty Pimp cone (dulce de leche, soft serve, chocolate shell), Bea Arthur cone (dulce de leche, soft serve, and Nilla Wafers), and Mermaid sundae (a delicious key lime concoction). You really can’t go wrong; the soft serve here is out of control good!


Drinks


MUSEUMS

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THE MET

A trip to New York City is not complete without visiting The Metropolitan Museum. You could spend hours wandering the enormous museum full of historical artifacts, classical art, contemporary art, and more. Don’t try to see it all on your first visit; you will be overwhelmed! Instead, wander through the areas that interest you most and then make your way upstairs to the rooftop bar which overlooks Central Park and upper Manhattan. Pro tip: The Met’s fee is suggested, so don’t feel like you have to pay the full amount every time you visit!

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WHITNEY

The new Whitney museum is truly a work of art in itself. Situated near the West Side Highway, the Whitney reopened downtown in May 2015 after relocating from the Upper East Side. The 200,000 square-foot building was designed by architect Renzo Piano (who also designed The Menil in Houston) and is eight stories tall with multiple outdoor observation decks overlooking the city. The museum focuses on 20th and 21st century American art, and showcases younger and less well-known artists in its Annual and Biennial exhibitions. Definitely worth visiting for the spectacular views and impressive art collection.

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MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

New York’s Museum of Modern Art, located in Midtown, is one of the largest and most influential museums of the modern art in the world. MoMA features works by renowned artists including Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, Jasper Johns, Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol, and many others. We always enjoy wandering through the vast rooms and admiring the exhibitions; the gift shop is worth popping into as well!

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GUGGENHEIM

Housed in a cylindrical building designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, The Guggenheim is known for its display of art along a continuous spiral pathway up to the building’s ceiling. You’re probably familiar with it from photos! Located on 5th Ave and East 89th on the Upper East Side, The Guggenheim specializes in Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art. The architecture and winding display of paintings makes this a very unique museum experience — be sure to check it out if you find yourself uptown!


SIGHT SEEING

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CENTRAL PARK

When in New York, you of course must see Central Park! We try to make at least a quick stop every time we visit, and even though we have been countless times, we have probably only covered half of this enormous green space. Central Park is especially beautiful in the fall when all of the leaves are orange, and in the winter when it’s covered with snow. In the spring and summer we love meeting friends for picnics at Sheep’s Meadow which is a large open field with incredible views of the city. There are so many sites to see in the park including Bethesda Fountain, Belvedere Castle, Central Park Zoo, the Conservatory Garden, and many others. To see as much as possible, rent bikes and explore until you find the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, or make a stop at The Boathouse for an iconic New York experience.

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TIME SQUARE/THEATRE DISTRICT

To be honest, we have a love/hate relationship with Times Square. It’s one of those places that you have to see at least once, but it’s super crowded and full of tourist traps so we don’t suggest staying in this area. We do highly recommend seeing a Broadway show and taking a quick stroll through the lights and mayhem of Times Square. If you do go see a show, there are a handful of delicious restaurants in the area to check out before or after, including Danji, Orso, Chez Napoleon, and Esca.

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HIDDEN SUBWAY STATION BENEATH CITY HALL

New York is full of history and little hidden secrets, including the abandoned City Hall subway stop that closed in 1945. It’s located underneath the beautiful Municipal Building downtown, and is technically the last stop on the downtown 6 train line. There are private tours to see the intricate vaulted ceilings and brass chandeliers of this stop, or you can be sneaky and stay on the downtown 6 train after the last stop which is “Brooklyn Bridge / City Hall.” To go back uptown, the 6 train has to loop around through the abandoned subway station, so you can take a peek (discreetly!) from the subway car.

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9/11 MEMORIAL

The 9/11 Memorial is an incredibly moving tribute that was created as a public park. There are two reflecting pools with cascading waterfalls set where the Twin Towers once stood, and the names of the victims are inscribed on bronze panels edging the Memorial pools. The breathtaking memorial is surrounded by beautiful oak trees and the new One World Trade Center building towers overhead. Be sure to stop by for a moment of reflection, and visit the impactful museum if you have time.


SHOP

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JOHN DERIAN

Tucked away on a quiet street in East Village are three beautiful stores owned by designer John Derian. He is known for his eclectic decoupage creations which are handmade at his studio in New York City. One of his shops showcases his decoupage plates and objects along with beautiful ornaments and lots of amazing gift-y things, and the other two shops carry his furniture and home decor. We could browse these stores for hours, especially when holiday shopping!

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MANSUR GAVRIEL

If you have noticed the sleek leather bucket bags worn by fashionistas everywhere, you might be familiar with the brand Mansur Gavriel. Specializing in minimal shoes and bags that come in a variety of beautiful colors, shapes, and sizes, Mansur Gavriel has taken the fashion world by storm. Their bags are a splurge, but they are more accessible than many other high-end handbags on the market. Their store in Soho is gorgeous and worth popping into even if you’re not looking to buy one. The pink walls and shelves, as well as the elaborate floral displays (you can even create a bouquet of your own!) create an Instagram-worthy ambience.

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BERGDORF GOODMAN

Bergdorf Goodman is an iconic luxury store on Fifth Avenue in Midtown. Located right next to The Plaza Hotel, Bergdorf’s is steps away from one of the most beautiful corners of Central Park. This stretch of Fifth Ave is especially magical during the holiday season when all of the shops are decorated with giant red bows and lights. Bergdorf’s is actually famous for its stunning window displays year round. Take a look around at the gorgeous merchandise even if you’re not planning to splurge on something!


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STAY

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THE LUDLOW

The Ludlow is one of our favorite hotels in the city. Named for its Ludlow Street address, this Lower East Side hotel is walking distance from many cool bars, restaurants, and music venues. Be sure to visit Dirty French, the chic bistro restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel. The hotel offers a variety of reasonably priced rooms, but the studio size is ideal for solo travelers. We love the large, trendy lobby downstairs with a fireplace and complimentary coffee in the morning -- perfect for setting up shop on work trips!

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THE STANDARD

There are two Standard hotels in Manhattan, and we are fans of both for different reasons. The Standard, High Line in the Meatpacking District is home to a lively ground floor biergarten, rooftop club Le Bain, and the exclusive Art Deco lounge Top of the Standard. The Standard East Village has a cozy, residential feel with a whimsical side garden, bustling late-night cafe, and a restaurant called Narcissa run by a Michelin-starred chef.