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Women laughing together on urban rooftop

Source: Peathegee Inc / Getty

New York City is the capital of the world, so planning a visit can be daunting. In one neighborhood, you’ll encounter quaint cobblestone streets, and on another the pavement is so full of pedestrians you can hardly see the ground. There’s rich history, sights you’ll never see anywhere else, and above all, an unmatchable vibe. While many city vacations means slowing things down, a visit to New York City is all about picking up the pace. You’ll want to do so much—it’s the city that never sleeps—but we’re here to cater your visit so you’re not too overwhelmed. Pro tip: New York is going to cost more than your average city, so save up! And rather than rushing from location to location, choose a few places of interest, and explore the city at your leisure. We promise, you won’t regret it.

Here’s how we’ve broken it down for you:

WHERE TO STAY:

Hotels from Downtown to Uptown

WHAT TO DO:

Entertainment and Culture

Relax and Indulge

Shop

WHERE TO EAT:

Best Eats Under $10

Best Dinner and Brunch Spots

Drinks with the Girls

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Where To Stay

There’s a secret to finding good hotel room deals in a big city like New York: think small. Although some prominent chain properties occasionally offer steep discounts, even better bargains can be found at some of the city’s more intimate boutique hotels.

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Source: Cosmohotel.com / Cosmopolitan Hotel, TriBeCa

Located in the exciting and vibrant neighborhood of TriBeCa, the Cosmopolitan Hotel – TriBeCa offers exceptional service, upscale amenities and a prime location. Historic TriBeCa and neighboring Soho are at the epicenter of the New York City art, shopping and restaurant scene. Greenwich Village is within walking distance as well as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Wall Street and the Financial District. In addition to providing a firsthand experience of the unique downtown culture, the Cosmopolitan Hotel offers easy access to all New York City attractions with the Chambers Street Subway station conveniently located just steps from the hotel.

The rooms are small, but if you want more space, book one of their eleven 2-level mini-lofts with a lower-level sitting area and upper-level bedroom area ($129 per night). Other features include newly renovated rooms, all of which have color televisions and private bathrooms. Depending on the dates, rates for a single room start at $167 if you use your AAA card.

95 W. Broadway, at Chambers St.; 212-566-1900cosmohotel.com

Chelsea Inn

With its muraled art-deco bathrooms and flea market furniture, the Chelsea Inn has all the bohemian charm of a Montmartre flat. They offer a choice of private or shared singles and suites, ranging from $99 to $259. Check often for seasonal specials where you can snag one of their quaint singles for as little as $79.

46 W. 17th St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves.; 212-645-8989chelseainn.com

Colonial House Inn

Colonial House Inn

Source: Colonialhousing.com / Colonialhousing.com

You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but this charming Chelsea inn doubles as an art gallery. The lobby is home to The 24 Hours for Life Gallery, which has featured art by Keith Haring and proprietor Mel Cheren. Some rooms have mini-fridges and fireplaces, with all rooms boasting free satellite TV. There’s a roof deck and the first floor lounge has Internet access. Rates start at $85 and include a continental breakfast.

318 W. 22nd St., between Eighth and Ninth Aves.; 212-243-9669,colonialhouseinn.com

Bentley Hotel 

Bentley Hotel, NYC

Source: Bentley Hotel / Bentleyhotelnyc.com

We didn’t think it was possible, but you can find uber-chic rooms with stunning river views on the Upper East Side for less than $150. Seasonal rates vary, but for most of the year, a standard room overlooking the glittering Queensboro Bridge can be yours for the bargain price of $135. For $279 a night, book the 400-square foot One Bedroom Suite, which offers a king bed and an optional sofa bed with Italian linens. The East River or city can be viewed throughout the room. LCD TV, mini-bar, an in-room safe, designer toiletries, and leather furnishings will ensure your optimal comfort.  Oh, and be sure to save some time in your busy itinerary for a drink at the spectacular rooftop bar.

500 E. 62nd St., at York Ave.; 212-644-6000,nychotels.com

Harlem Flophouse

Harlem Flophouse

Source: Harlem Flophouse / Harlemflophouse.com

Clean, beautifully-restored and historically-engaging, playwright and artist René Calvo’s B&B celebrates its neighborhood’s Renaissance. The good-sized rooms bear names like The Corky Hale, The Chester Himes and The Cozy Cole, and décor such as an original pressed tin ceiling, beautiful claw-foot tub and large walnut dresser dotted with ancient cigarette holes. Singles go for $100 and doubles for $125, with discounts available for artistic types.

242 W. 123rd St., between Frederick Douglass Blvd. and Seventh Ave., 212-662-0678harlemflophouse.com

What To Do

  • Entertainment/Culture

Jennifer Hudson in The Color Purple

We’ve been waiting for years for the Oscar winner and American Idol alum to grace Broadway with her presence, and that time has finally come in the new musical revival based on Alice Walker’s momentous novel. Began December 10 at the Jacobs Theatre; open-ended run.

James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson in The Gin Game

Stage and screen legends James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson, who have starred together on stage (The Blacks), in film (The River Niger) and on TV (Heat Wave) are now tackling Broadway together. With three Tonys, five Emmys, an honorary Oscar and a Grammy between them, this winning pair can’t be missed. Through January 10, 2016, at the Golden Theatre.

Cabin in the Sky

Chuck Cooper, LaChanze, and Norm Lewis will star in the jazz-filled 1940 musical Cabin in the Sky, coming to Encores! from February 10-14.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York has plenty of phenomenal museums to see, but if you’re going to visit one, go to the Met. Occupying an 11.5 acre footprint, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which opened in 1880, is impressive in terms both of quality and scale. However, this iconic New York attraction is surprisingly easy to negotiate, particularly if you come early on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Hang out in an Egyptian temple, gawk at period costumes and take pictures on the gorgeous rooftop garden, showcasing views of Central Park and the city skyline.

SOB’s

SOB.’s, also known as Sounds of Brazil, is a live music venue in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo. It was opened by owner and director Larry Gold in June 1982. Gold opened the venue with the purpose of exposing the musical wealth and heritage of the Afro-Latino Diaspora to as many people as possible. True to its mission, it has become renowned as the premiere venue not only for World Music, but all genres, in New York City and the world over.

Today SOB’s draws both local and international crowds and continues to specialize in Latin music, Haitian, Brazilian, Caribbean, R&B, Hip-Hop and World music. It exists as a unique place to experience lively sounds from all types of cultures within the global diaspora, a fact reflective in its slogan: “Home of Universal Music.” Great music, delicious food, great drinks. Check the calendar to see who will be there when you visit NYC.

200 Varick St. sobs.com

Birdland

The flagship venue for Midtown’s jazz resurgence, Birdland takes its place among the neon lights of Times Square seriously. That means it’s a haven for great jazz musicians (Joe Lovano, Kurt Elling) as well as performers like John Pizzarelli and Aaron Neville. The club is also notable for its roster of bands in residence. Sundays belong to the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. Cover: $20–$35, plus $10 minimum for table seating; $20–$35 (includes one drink) for bar seating. Average main course: $17.

315 W 44th St, between Eight and Ninth Ave., birdlandjazz.com 

Blue Note

The Blue Note prides itself on being “the jazz capital of the world.” Bona-fide musical titans (Cecil Taylor, Charlie Haden) rub against hot young talents (the Bad Plus), while the close-set tables in the club get patrons rubbing up against each other. The Late Night Groove series and the Sunday brunches are the best bargain bets. Show prices vary. Average drink: $10.

131 W 3rd street, between Sixth Ave. and MacDougal St., bluenote.net/nyc

  • Relax/Indulge

ABC Kitchen

This organic, local concept from Jean-Georges is known for its seamless cuisine, and it’s prime locale in the ABC Carpet and Home space. The menu is constantly changing, the space is as amazingly curated as the home store, and the prices are high but well worth the splurge. http://www.abckitchennyc.com/

  • Shop

Bradelis 

Oh, the plight of us gals with a big bust (over a size D). If you’re lucky enough to find a store that carries your size and provides enough coverage, it’s pretty damn rare that the bra is even remotely cute. Here you can buy a bra that contours, smooths the back and sides and doesn’t look like something your grandma would wear. Locations in Nolita, Flatiron and downtown Flushing bradelisny.com

Barneys New York

The department store takes a decidedly unstuffy approach to high-end style that makes it a destination for both ladies who lunch and cool seekers — it also drew some serious crowds when Yeezy Season 1 dropped in the fall. Whether you go with the Madison Avenue location, the Upper West Side, or head over to the Brooklyn store, you’ll love it.

660 Madison Ave., barneys.com

Where To Eat

  • Best Eats Under $10 

The Lobster Place at Chelsea Market – In this food hall and shopping mall, you’ll find everything you could want, especially if you are a foodie. We’re going a bit out of the under $10 budget for this one, and trust us, it’s worth it. You can split a basket of shrimp and fries, or go for the lobster roll for under $20.

75 Ninth Ave., lobsterplace.com

Dominique Ansel Bakery – Over a year ago, pastry maven Dominique Ansel’s sweet, flaky croissant-doughnut (cronuts) hybrid garnered block-long lines, whipped up an international media hype-storm and spawned countless imitators. Today, tourists are still mobbing the place–the lines have subsided (somewhat)–but the confection has already sealed its place in New York history. You’ve got to try one…or two.

189 Spring St. at Sullivan St., dominiqueansel.com

  • Best Dinner and Brunch Spots 

Grand Central Oyster Bar

This epic seafood spot features iconic white-subway-tiled arches, but the scenery is just the beginning. It’s been a haven for mollusk worshippers and harried New York commuters for more than a century.

89 E. 42nd St. at Park Ave., oysterbarny.com

Peter Luger Steak House

You’ll never forget sitting down and cutting into your first steak at this century-old, cash-only Williamsburg, Brooklyn mainstay. It’s pricy, sure, but we guarantee there’s no better way to treat yourself than ordering that slab of perfectly-cooked dry-aged USDA prime beef.  Customers in the know order the porterhouse for two…and always with a side of bacon. $99 for two.

178 Broadway at Driggs Ave., Brooklyn, peterluger.com 

Penelope

Part bar, part café, part bakery, Penelope feels like a New England country kitchen. We’re warning you, between the cozy atmosphere and the bomb.com menu, something about the place will make you want to sit and linger for hours. Enjoy.

159 Lexington Ave., penelopenyc.com

Bagel & Schmear

New York City and bagels are long-time partners. So this no-frills joint with top-notch bagels and avocado cream cheese? Yum, we’re all in.

116 E. 28th St. at Park Ave., bagelsandschmear.com

Coppelia

This Cuban diner is open 24 hours, so you can pop in whenever your arroz con pollo craving hits, with or without a buddy.

207 W. 14th St. at Seventh Ave., coppelianyc.com

  • Drinks With The Girls 

Eataly

The Chew co-host Mario Batali’s Italian mecca in the Flatiron District attracts tons of European tourists, but locals in the know appreciate the food emporium for the amazing charcuterie selection and one of the best and biggest cheese counters in the city. Begin your evening in true Italian style with a glass of vino and cicchetti (“small bites”) at L’Inizio, Eataly’s bustling wine bar located just past the entrance on Fifth Avenue. First, browse the monthly menu, which offers seasonal small plates paired with their selection of the best New York and Italian wines. Then, glass of wine in hand, continue on to explore Eataly. Italy has never been so close. (Thursday – Saturday evenings)

200 Fifth Ave. at 24th St., eataly.com

  • One World Observatory

Standing inside the observatory of the city’s tallest building and looking out over the hectic, amazing and incomparable mecca that is NYC is a treat for both visitors and locals still in love with their hometown (and those who need a reminder). After marveling at the incredible view, head to the One Mix bar and celebrate the world’s greatest city by sipping a Manhattan among the clouds.

285 Fulton St. at Vesey St., oneworldobservatory.com

 

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