Cup of Jo’s Guide to New York City

Yahoo! My sweets, I’m thrilled to be sharing a little guide to New York City this week. I’ll be sharing our favorite places to sleep, eat and play–as well as the best lobster roll ever, a (very) romantic date idea, the attractions that are worth battling the crowds and how to not look like a tourist (since my mom always asks!).

You could write a book on New York City (and people have:), so instead of featuring an overarching round-up, this guide will feature Alex and my regular hang-outs, personal favorites and New York discoveries. I’d LOVE to hear your recommendations in the comments, as well. The guide will be posted in separate parts all week, and I really hope you enjoy it. xoxo Update: Read the complete guide here.

(Photo by Shannen Norman for Cup of Jo; graphic design by HipHipGinGin for Cup of Jo)

  1. Mindy Day says...

    I need this! I am overwhelmed with neighborhoods and hotels and heeeelp!

  2. Christine says...

    An updated version of this would be amazing! I am heading to NYC for three nights in a month with my 10 year old daughter and having a refreshed, COJ-certified guide would be welcomed!

  3. Veronica says...

    I will be visiting NYC in december, I am looking for a guidebook anyrecomendation ?

  4. The New York city is a great driving destination for tourism – heritage, cultural and many other types of tourism.

  5. Debbie Kramer says...

    Wow! Thank you for this list! Been looking for something like this. I plan on taking the family on a vacation to New York for the fall because its so beautiful out there. A friend of mine recommended that I should check out The Tour:
    for a fun sightseeing adventure. Thoughts??

  6. Yes your are wright and thanks for post a good topic . your post is

    top most in related post of A CUP OF JO.

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  9. umm. leaving another one so i can check the “follow up” button in case you do!

  10. just re looking over your new york guide in preparation for our visit in a couple of weeks, but there is one thing specifically i don’t see: baby/kid friendly! of course some are applicable (like the parks and ways to spend an afternoon) but i would be thrilled to hear your little-one specific suggestions. ESPECIALLY where to eat. at home in san diego we know the best 3 restaurants where we can get great food and beer, and our VERY active 1 year old can be a little wild. i am SO nervous about eating out in new york! eep!

  11. Anonymous says...

    PLEASE wear a helmet. It’s irresponsible and stupid not to (and this is coming from someone who has had a spouse in a bike accident that could have been a lot worse had they not been wearing a helmet)

  12. How ecstatic I was to get on your blog after missing it for over a week and finding these fantastic posts about New York! It’s grand because I’ll be there for a whole week next month and want to know all that I need to know about this divine city. ♥


  13. Lauren D says...

    I LOVE the guide. I HATE the fact that I got back from NYC (my first time ever) on Sunday night. I even browsed your blog in the weeks before hand for clues on what to see! We did see MoMA (amazing), Highline Park, and considered one of those little underground massages. Oh, and we used Air bnb (also a first) and stayed in the perfect little studio apartment. I guess I’ll be back soon!

  14. woo hoooo! this is going to be so helpful when we visit family in december!

  15. Ooh how exciting – I’m planning my first ever trip there next year so this is perfect!

  16. I’m going to be lame, and off-subject, and all that… where did you get that cute dress!? (if you don’t mind sharing:) Thanks!

  17. why yes, i will be taking notes on this! yay!

  18. its dorky how excited i am about this, right?

  19. Huzzah! My fiance and i are planning on honeymooning in New York next year (we are from Australia) and on the hunt for things to do!

  20. Anonymous says...

    Am looking forward to your guide!

    Just one thing: that’s a super cute photo but where’s your super cute helmet? :)

  21. Laura says...

    Your timing is perfect, Joanna! I’m headed to your corner of New York in two weeks. It’s my first visit to the city. Can’t wait to find out what secrets you have to share.

  22. I adore this pic! And even though I’m totally afraid of bikes (I know, how lame), it totally makes me wantbto get on one.

  23. This guide could not have come at a better time, as we’ll be travelling to New York in just a couple of months!

    Can’t wait to have a read! :)

  24. Anonymous says...

    Do you ever wear bike helmets?

  25. For my best-of-the-best NYC list I’d include:

    Doughnut Plant in Chelsea
    The original Lombardi’s on Spring and Mott
    30 Rock Observation Deck (an AMAZING view of the city and you can see the Empire State Building and you pay less)

    It’s kind of offbeat and definitely not a fancy place, but Buddha Bodai has amazing vegetarian Chinese food, located at the 5 Mott.

  26. bated breath!

  27. This is perfect timing, because I’m living in NYC for a month and a half and I’m in week 5 of 6. This is my last weekend here, so I want to make it count! Looking forward to hearing about your favorite places so I can experience them, too. :)

  28. Kate says...

    Whoops, meant to post that on the “where would you want to raise your baby” question.
    But I’m also hugely looking forward to the NYC guide! My favorite places are Nice Matin, Joe the Art of Coffee and French Roast for late-night food

  29. Ah so excited to hear about your NYC spots, especially especially especially the lobster rolls. I L O V E lobster rolls (in case it wasn’t clear).

  30. Kate says...

    I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (I’m a freshman in college, so that wasn’t long ago!) and wouldn’t exchange that experience for anything. I learned to ride my bike in Riverside Park, and I remember it being a very calm experience. When I did encounter speedy bicyclists, I remember feeling excited that we were all being intense bikers together! Once a week after preschool I would walk with my best friend and our moms to the Natural History Museum, and on the weekends I would explore the Met, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim with my dad. When I couldn’t sleep when I was little, I would sneak out of bed and watch the traffic on the streets below and lights going on and off in the apartments across the street until I felt sleepy. I got to see concerts and plays and dance performances spontaneously on random weekends, which I loved. Later, it was great to be able to do homework at the Met, go to the Great Lawn or out to coffee with friends without having to drive anywhere, and generally enjoy a lot of independence. Needless to say, I’m a huge advocate for the city kid experience!

  31. I’m going to NY this October for the 3rd time and I am ready to do different things besides the tourist stuff. I can’t wait for your recommendations.

  32. Can’t wait! Thank you! Pinned your pic on Pinterest!

  33. Can’t wait to see what you have to post! I love making new discoveries every day..and in response to Samantha’s post..I saw that today at madison sq park too. I got a delicious panini! I’m going to have to go back to the macaroon stand :). Nice meeting you the other night Joanna! xo

  34. I am so absolutely excited for this! Can’t wait to hear your recommendations :))

  35. Really excited for this! :)

  36. I just came back from a girls trip to New York. What a great city. I’ll keep your tips in mind for when I go back.

  37. a NYC post series for the fall…I love it. Good luck!

    My favorite place is The High Line…great views and great atmosphere…so romantic.

    My favorite place to eat is Keste. It’s in West Village on Bleeker at Morton. Neopolitan style pizza. Totally worth the wait in line.

  38. Perfect! As I am leaving for NY on October 1st!!yeah!

  39. Love the picture! It should be on the cover of a travel magazine! I can’t wait to read the installments. Especially the tourist sites! I always wonder about the crowds and if it would be worth it!

  40. So happy you’re posting your guide this week! I’m visiting NY for the first time ever in two weeks. I’m overwhelmed by all the possibilities!

  41. Can’t wait! My brother just moved to the city…I’d love to share some of these tips with him.

  42. so I want to make sure this is clear.. I CAN NOT WAIT! I am so excited for this!! YAYAYA

  43. Ly says...

    This is exciting! I’ve always wanted to visit new york in a non-touristy kind of a way :)


  44. Your post could not come at a better time. I am coming to New York from Missouri at the end of October to discover it with my sister who is flying in from Europe. I am over the moon we get to do it together for a couple of days.
    I am in charge of finding places to eat and I really don’t want to look like a tourist. But I probably will because I might just be intimidated by the huge city.

  45. Ooh, can’t wait to see your recommendations!!

    One of my friends used to live on Stanton St. and when my husband and I would go to visit her, we’d get brunch at Tapeo 29. I haven’t been there in awhile, but they’d give you unlimited mimosas with brunch, and the food was SO good. :-)

  46. I’m SO glad you decided to do this! xoxo Can’t wait to see!

  47. I am very excited for your new series. I am a South African who now calls New York “home” so I can always use some tips.

  48. Quick first thoughts/suggestions I’ve given friends-


    Ice cream/desserts: Milk Bar. I mostly go for the Cereal Milk soft serve. I love all of their treats, but the cereal milk is out of this world.

    Lunch eats:
    Westville. Delicious veggie burger. I top it with goat cheese and any other condiment I think I can fit. yum yum.
    Korilla BBQ Truck for street food. I’ve only made it once, but it was very delicious. I had a platter and let them stack whatever they could fit. The lines are worth it.

    Pizza: Artichoke.

    Momofuku’s pork buns, anytime of the day. It is mouth heaven. I’m convinced I could eat 10 in a sitting. Luckily their price limits me to one (sometimes two!) They also have great ramen.

    Duane Park: Great fun date night spot. $60 for a three course meal and a very saucy burlesque show. Also a live jazz band. The food is good and the space is cute and intimate. Expect nudity and raunchy humor.

    The High Line. Such an impressive space, I would take any visitor there. Can be very relaxing if you find the right spot/seat.

    The Met. No explanation needed.

    The Comedy Cellar. Great for a late laugh. You can do standby, but I would recommend tickets for the earlier shows. Recently saw Aziz Ansari there and laughed my butt off.

  49. go girl! look at those mad photoshop skills!! ;)

  50. looking forward to hearing about your little spots in the big apple.

  51. Paule Anne says...

    I think Governor’s Island is one of the city’s best kept secrets. My friends and I rented bikes on Labor Day and rode around the island for a few hours. It’s not competitive like Central Park and you can’t help but feel like a child on a giant playground!

  52. How cute are you?! I love this photo cover Joanna!
    Can’t wait.

  53. Sooo looking forward to this as I will be visiting NYC for the first time early next year!

  54. Really looking forward to this! I love NYC!

  55. I LOVE this idea. Who doesn’t love New York? I just posted last week about how the movies, “When Harry met Sally,” and “You’ve got Mail” make me long to live in New York in the fall.

  56. Oh!!!! and Joe’s Coffee… the best iced latte and awesome baristas!

  57. My favorite eats…
    1. Pylos. I have to say this is my favorite go to Greek restaurant. My dad, who is Greek and picky about Greek food, LOVES this place!

    2. Arturo’s Pizza and John’s Pizza. Love them both for different reasons.

    3. Num Pang (on 12th street near University Place). Awesome quick sandwiches.

    4. Grey Dog Coffee… great brunch, lunch and dinner. Baby and kid friendly.

    5. Bonbonniere for a quick (not so healthy) egg sandwich.

    Favorite Places to Hang…
    1. The Hudson River… the park on the river…. running and biking!

    2. Washington Square Park for people watching and to go to the dog park.

    3. The Union Square Farmer’s Market…. to buy fresh produce!

    Can’t wait to see the places you go!

  58. i’ve been to NYC a couple times, but would LOVE to do another trip next year so i can’t wait to see what’s your on your list that i can put on mine! thanks jo!! xo.

  59. Reading your blog always makes me want to move to NYC already! You’re going to make me want to get on the first plane with those posts!

  60. M-H says...

    Thank you, Joanna, for taking the time to do this guide! I know it can be hard to pick our very favorites sometimes!

    And I can’t wait to see if your best lobster roll is the same I had the pleasure to enjoy when I visited the city last year…

    Will be coming back for a wedding on Halloween night, so that guide is very welcome!

    (By the way, as I’m trying to find what to wear for a fall wedding -I’ve never been to one-, I think it would make a great post, you have such great ideas for weddings!)

  61. great idea! i’m so excited for this.

  62. Yay im excited for this! There’s always something new to discover in the city i cant wait to hear your recs :)

  63. Perfect timing! Heading to New York in a few weeks! :)

  64. Thanks for sharing! I would love to go to NYC, unfortunately, my schedule and wallet won’t allow it these days!

    I just did a post on updos for fall, I’d love for you to stop by, follow, and let me know what you think!


  65. I’m coming to NYC for THE FIRST TIME EVER this Thursday! I’ve wanted to see your amazing city since I was a teenager (for almost 20 years!) and my dream is coming true (insert happy dance HERE)! I’m meeting a friend there and we’re going to cram in as much as humanly possible over a four-day period. I look forward to reading all your tips…:)

  66. yay! i cant wait for the guide… maybe its time I move there… :D

  67. Perfect timing I will be in NY next week!!

  68. SO EXCITED for this series!

  69. Can’t wait! And I love the photo: you look adorable :)

  70. This is perfect as I’m literally visiting NYC this weekend! (all the way from California). Thank you Thank you!


  71. Yes sooooo exited just went NYC and going back soon, I would love to hear of shopping tips and places for bargains.

  72. oh yay! can’t wait to see what new things you will help me discover in my own city :)

  73. i cannot WAIT! i’m headed to nyc october 6th-9th with my boyfriend and i am in search of ideas. i know you will have some great ones :)

    your blog ALWAYS brightens my day, allow me to try to return the favor:

  74. Great:))) i dream about visiting NYC

  75. woohoooo!!! I was so very much waiting for this! Gonna save every single post for when I finally go visit (and stay foreva) my all-time dream-city..
    thanks so much for sharing!
    ps: love the pic! :)

  76. Very much looking forward to your guide….the city overwhelms me as well, so this should help.

  77. I am SO looking forward to this NYC-guide! We are a family from Norway (with three children) who are visiting NY for the first time thic October. :-)

  78. Good job using your blogshop techniques, looks great!! It was really fun meeting you…can’t wait to see what kind of fun little NY spots you’ve found!

  79. Exciting! I wish I’d seen this before my last trip. :)

  80. Thank you and perfect timing! I’ve just booked a trip (this morning!) to visit my best friend in New York in November. The trip is a surprise for my husband. I’m anxious to hear about the romantic date idea!

  81. Yay! I’m so excited to hear all of your recommendations. We are expecting our first baby in December, but maybe next Spring we can visit and tackle some of your suggestions. I can’t wait! Xoxo

  82. Perfect Timing….I’m going to be in NYC the end of October!!!!

  83. Anonymous says...

    The best lobster roll ever in NYC? I think not ;)

    Looking forward to the first installment!

    A Mainer

  84. Aww, can’t wait to read your guide! :)

  85. Looking forward to it! I am in NYC often but it’s always nice to get another’s take on what to do!!

  86. I’m looking forward to it! I lived and worked in Bergen County for five years and spent a lot of my free time in Manhattan. It’s been seven years since I was there, though, so I don’t know how many of my favorite spots are still there (a quick Google Search tells me that The Half King is still up and running in Chelsea, though).

    Once Baguette is a little older, we’ll make a family trip of it–but she is not yet ready for airports and planes!

  87. surely one must visit maine for the best lobster roll ever – though lukes lobster IS acceptable ;)

  88. Yay!! Can’t wait to see this, Joanna!

  89. I’m so excited!!! Visiting NY is one the top of my to do list so all the advice and prep I can get would be amazing. BTW love the color combo of your shoes and dress =) Thanks for doing this guide!

    – Sarah

  90. This is so exciting! I emailed you about this only last week!

  91. So needed this when I visited New York City. Love checking out neighborhoods and restaurants.

  92. One of my absolute favorite restaurants is Penelope – can’t remember the other cross street, but it’s on Lex, I think downtown? Anyways, they have INCREDIBLE turkey pesto meatballs, and they serve them on a bed of arugula with this delicious dressing. The restaurant is so cozy, and then you must get cookies and milk for dessert. It’s a great time!

  93. Andrea S. says...

    I have been counting down for this! As a New Yorker, I’m always looking for a unique twist on this town! :)

  94. Anonymous says...

    That is such a cute “follow me” picture! Looking forward to the guide, Joanna.

  95. Niki F. says...

    Im planning to visit NYC in February, so can’t wait to read your guide:)Great!

  96. I have not been in New York for years. Entire East cost looks different now from an Idaho ranch. Will look forward to the images.

  97. How very fun of you Joanna. Can’t wait to see your discoveries! I just stumbled upon an open air food market with awesome food stands from Nunu Chocolates to Calexico to Milk Truck to Asia Dog in Madison Sq. park. Henry and I were just walking along and there it was! It made me nostalgic for Brooklyn Flea. We had our favorite, grilled cheese sandwiches. All of the Merimekko umbrella covered tables were taken so we took our sandwiches to the park and listened to some musicians serenade us as we ate on a bench.

  98. What a cute photo!

  99. great photo!:)

  100. Can’t wait! My Husband and I are planning to visit but I’m so overwhelmed by the city- this should be helpful to us!

  101. how exciting! I visit NYC every 6 months and I’m always looking for new places to see & enjoy!
    xoxox alison

  102. I’m looking for a great farmer’s market. Know any?

  103. Can’t wait!

  104. can’t wait for the first installment :)

  105. yay! so excited! my husband and i are visiting nyc in october for 4 days *without* our littles. ;)

  106. Aww..I cant wait and that photo of you is sooo sweet! Happy Monday:)

  107. Can’t wait to see YOUR side of NYC.

    (love the bike photo, too)