When I first moved to New York City at the beginning of this summer, I was both overwhelmed and overjoyed at the sheer amount of things there were to do, see, and eat in the city. My roommates and I spent a good chunk of our summer planning out every moment of our spare time to try to accomplish everything we wanted to do throughout the summer, and now I’m proud to say we’ve done a majority of those things! With only a week and a half left before our summer internships end and we go our separate ways, I’m reflecting on the best things I’ve done this summer and creating my top 10 must do NYC list here.
Here are my 10 favorite spots in no particular order:
If you know me, you know I absolutely love reading and love bookstores by extension. I’m particularly partial to this bookstore, as it’s in my neighborhood (the wonderful East Village!) and is filled with all kinds of books, plus fun reading and writing merchandise. I highly recommend making a quick stop to this store and exploring its multiple floors — you’ll definitely find something you want to pick up. New book not in your budget? Check out the used books for sale on shelves outside of the Strand — prices usually range from $1 to $5.
If you’re hungry after your bookstore explorations, head over to S’MAC to get some out-of-this-world mac & cheese. There’s a location a few streets over from the Strand in the East Village and another one across town in Murray Hill. I highly recommend the buffalo chicken mac & cheese.
3. The Brooklyn Bridge
Need to walk off your mac & cheese food coma? Take a stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge! The views of both Brooklyn and Manhattan are beautiful from the bridge’s POV, and you’ll travel to another borough of the city (because there’s more than just Manhattan!) for even more exploration.
If you decide to make the trek to Brooklyn during a Saturday or Sunday between April and November, you have to visit Brooklyn’s best giant food fair, Smorgasburg. A massive festival of delicious food vendors, Smorgasburg is definitely a food lover’s (a.k.a. my) dream. Look out for doughnuts from Dough, if you’re there. They are massive and delicious.
An NYC museum classic, the Met is the famed art museum that Gossip Girl lovers dream of. Feel free to take a photo on the front steps a la Blair Waldorf, but also make sure you venture inside. It’s a budget-friendly option for many students — the Met has suggested admissions prices but is “pay what you will,” meaning you can pay as little as $1 and be admitted. The museum is also massive (you could spend the whole day inside if you wanted) and has an array of artwork that is sure to please even the pickiest art lover.
6. NYC Parks
You cannot go wrong with a visit to a park in the city. Whether its the famed Central Park, Washington Square Park (my personal favorite), or Prospect Park in Brooklyn, there are tons of options if you feel the need to get fresh air and reconnect with nature. And if you’re a runner, the path around the Central Park Reservoir is the perfect place to go for a scenic jog!
This is one of those attractions I’d always heard about and seen photos of but had never had the chance to visit until this summer. Belvedere Castle is located in Central Park right next to the Delacorte Theater. It’s essentially a giant fake castle that was built with no specific purpose in the mid-1800s. Now the castle is both a scenic attraction and the spot where the National Weather Service takes measurements for NYC weather reports. Very random, but very cool. Plus it offers beautiful views of the surrounding park (check it out below).
8. FIKA Coffee
Need a coffee break? There are so many great coffee shops to choose from in NYC, but I’m especially partial to FIKA, a coffee shop that’s all about Swedish coffee culture. These minimalist shops are located all over Manhattan and have delicious coffee and pastries that remind me of my semester abroad in Scandinavia. I’ve also heard they have an awesome lunch menu, which I need to try!
In the interest of saving money this summer, I haven’t been shopping a lot, but a trip to Lord and Taylor doesn’t even require you to buy something to enjoy yourself. As the oldest luxury department store in the country, Lord and Taylor is such a fun spot to walk through with your friends. There’s floor after floor of beautiful clothing and shoes (!!) to explore, plus a Sarabeth’s restaurant and bakery to grab a snack. Or, if you’re fancy, go on a shopping spree! No one will blame you.
It’s only fitting to end with dessert, and Schmackary’s is hands-down the best dessert place I’ve found this summer (thanks to my roommate Nicole!) Schmackary’s is home to the most delicious (and unique) cookies I’ve ever had. I love their classic chocolate chip cookie, but they also have an awesome funfetti flavor and just released a cereal-inspired cookie called the Cereal Killer. There’s a shop on W 45th Street a few blocks over from Times Square and one in Brooklyn, and there should be a thousand more because they’re just that good.
I’m only in NYC for two more weeks, but do you have any recommendations for places to see or eat before I leave? Let me know!