Can you do New York City in a weekend? If you must! I did it this past weekend when my friend and I wanted to limit how many vacation days we were taking. It was beautiful, exciting, sleep-depriving, and I would whole-heartedly do it again if I got the opportunity (like, next week?).
Here’s my guide on what to see and do when you only have a day or two.
Saturday in New York City
I took a redeye into the Big Apple and arrived at 9am. I wasn’t exactly spritely as a spring chicken, but I was so ready to take full advantage of the long weekend ahead. All I needed was a little brunch. Enter, Pardon My French.
Breakfast at Pardon My French
The inside was cute: the outside was cuter. After taking a peek out back, it was impossible to not ask for a table back there. The chairs are eclectically paired and it’s all strung lights and greenery and gorgeousness.
Coming from San Francisco, the prices really excited me. For $19.95, you order any brunch item + bottomless coffee and/or tea. For $29.95, you order any brunch item + bottomless mimosas and/or bloody mary. In San Fransisco, seeing a $20 eggs benedict on the menu is not uncommon (and that’s precisely why I don’t brunch). But I wanted to go all in for my NYC foodie weekend and so I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t exceed SF prices.
I ordered the Tunisian eggs but thanks to my large party I got to check out all the dishes on the menu: from the grilled steak and cheese sandwich to the croque madame. The only dish that didn’t pass before me was the kale salad and, well, I was okay with that for once.
Hot tip: BYOAM. Bring your own alternative milk. They have milk–not almond milk, not nonfat milk, not coconut milk just milk. Oui oui, don’t expect anything less than the real deal.
The Build-Your-Own NYC Walking Tour
Brunch provided all the energy needed for the long walking tour ahead. The beautiful thing about Manhattan is that you could wander for blocks and still be surrounded by beautiful brownstones, half a dozen restaurants per block, and sweet cafes.
My advice: choose a direction and set yourself on that course, but don’t worry if you deviate from your original plan.
We started walking through the East Village after brunch, took the subway to the Upper East Side, journeyed through Central Park, exited out on the Upper West Side, took the subway down to Chelsea, strolled through Greenwich Village, and ended near Washington Square Park. It was a lot of walking but there is no better way to learn and see a city than by foot.
Dinner at The Spotted Pig
Saoooo guuud. That’s exactly how I sounded with a mouthful of shoestring fries. If I have one piece of advice for New York City adventurists, it’s this: go. to. the spotted. pig. Order the hamburger and balance it with a light prosecco. Yes, I’m a sommelier, can’t you tell? Anything else off the menu will be delicious, but I thought the gnudi was an absolutely hit.
Sunday in New York City
Breakfast at Black Seed Bagels
Wait in line impatiently staring at all the menu options, watch them hand roll the bagel dough, smell the scents emerging from the wood-fired oven, and try not to freak. These bagels are too good to be true. Lightly browned, beautiful, and good enough to forgo the toaster.
I custom ordered a veggie sandwich while my friend went for the classic.
Brooklyn Bridge & Beyond
Cross the Brooklyn bridge by foot, bike, or (if you’re too tired like me) cab.
Once you’re well into Brooklyn, wander along the beautiful Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The views of Manhattan are breathtaking, plus the Pier 3 Greenway Terrance and Pier 2 roller rink are genius manmade creations.
Descend into Dumbo after seeing Truman Capote’s house. There’s rarely a dull moment in Dumbo so expect lots of tourists. No need to let it bother you though: just snap your pictures are continue on your way via cab to Williamsburg.
Weave in and out of Williamsburg’s tiny shops and street vendors. Stop to get a coffee in Devocion or a cheese platter at Bedford Cheese if you’re feeling snacky, then end your adventure with a loop around McCarren Park to see what the locals are up to before heading back to yours to get ready for the night.
Dinner at Top Thai Greenwich
Tiny and popular, so make a reservation. The pad thai is delicious and the red curry has the power to make me hungry even just thinking about it at 8am. The wait staff also strikes a good balance of being attentive without being overbearing—a hard-to-find happy medium.
Standup at Comedy Cellar
I love the 80’s vibe of this place and how every comedian has been on TV within the past six months. Comedy is a job and a muscle that needs to be flexed: this is the stage where comedians come to do that. Tickets are $24 plus there’s a two-drink minimum. Be ready to shell out $50–humor is a good investment.