Things you’ve probably done (or dreamt about doing) in New York City: visited the Empire State Building, tried a white pizza at Lombardi’s, maneuvered through Chinatown’s endless souvenir shops. But whether you visited once or dozens of times, there’s absolutely no way you’ve conquered even half of what makes this city dazzle out-of-towners and residents alike. From late-night sake in Little Tokyo to flea market browsing in DUMBO, here are the 5 things you absolutely must do during your solo trip to NYC.
Go on a Coffee Crawl in the West Village
Did you know New York hosts a coffee festival each October? Don’t fret if you missed it—you can still sample some of the best specialty coffee the city has to offer by going on your own tour of coffee shops in West Village, NYC’s unofficial caffeine capital. Start off by visiting Birch Coffee (pictured above), a fresh, character-filled cafe that is known for its wide array of milks, including their popular vegan oat option. Then head to The Elk, which features a distinct minimalist Pacific Northwest vibe with plenty of plants and natural light. They are one of few coffee shops with a robust menu and a beautifully curated home goods section, so you’ll be able to while away a good hour or two before moving on to your next destination. Round out your coffee tour with a stop at Toby’s Estate Coffee, a well-known cafe with outdoor seating, free wifi, and iced mochas. Be sure a few pictures before leaving: the West Village location is known for its Instagrammability!
Explore Little Tokyo
While Little Tokyo has been historically overshadowed by the extensive offerings of Chinatown, it is rapidly becoming a culinary and touristic destination in its own right. Given its wide array of understated street food stalls, ramen shops, and sake bars, it is also the perfect place to spend a (significantly less crowded) evening. Start off with homemade soba at Soba-Ya (pictured above), which you can watch your noodles being made in real time by their expert chef inside a glass enclosure. Make sure you save room for dessert before heading over to Panya to sample some of the best green tea tiramisu in the city. Finish out your night at Decibel, a small but comfortable sake bar with an impressive selection of sakes and snack food alike.
Peruse a Sample Sale in Chelsea
A trip to New York really isn’t complete without working in something fashion-related, so why not visit the heart of it all in Chelsea, the up-and-coming little sister of SoHo? While high fashion storefronts abound, there are also a plethora of sample sales happening in a given week, many of which offer exceptional people watching even if you’re not looking to buy. A quick Google search can show you the many options available, but you can also check out SampleSally.com to find a comprehensive list (with reviews!) of NYC’s sample sale scene.
Scour a DUMBO Flea Market
Beyond the obvious appeal of getting a perfectly framed shot of the Manhattan Bridge, DUMBO provides the perfect industrial-chic setting for Brooklyn Flea, the borough’s biggest flea market, which is open seasonally from April to October (but you can visit their other location in SoHo year round!). After snagging a few shots on Washington Street, saunter down to the waterfront on Sunday to sample a massive variety of vintage clothing, antiques, collectibles, and food. Be sure to pick up some fresh flowers from one of the several local vendors too!
Make an Art Pilgrimage to the Upper East Side
While the Upper East Side is known for the art mecca that is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (pictured above), it also plays host to a bevy of other, smaller museums and galleries within its gorgeously decorated brownstones. Trot over and view the exterior of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) before ducking inside to explore an impressive collection that contains some of the most impressive pieces of contemporary and modern art in the city. You can also venture over to The Frick Collection to examine a remarkable assemblage of Old Masters, including iconic pieces by Vermeer and Fragonard, all housed inside of an impeccably preserved mansion. If you’re looking for an even more intimate option, check out the Neue Galerie, a scaled-down museum of Austrian and German art that notably hosts two portraits of Adele Bauer Bloch by Klimt.
Kira MacLean is the founder and editor-in-chief of Kiraamaa.com, a travel, fashion, and lifestyle website. She seeks to provide a commentary on culture and society that promotes individuality and advocates personal growth through travel, with Instagram serving as her primary social media platform. She has been immersed in the world of blogging and social media marketing for 4 years, and works as a software engineer and designer in Boston. Blog: http://kiraamaa.com/