What should I pack for a trip to New York City?

Deciding what to pack for New York City can be tough — it is the fashion capital of the world, after all. But don’t let that intimidate you. Well, not too much anyway. Instead, focus on being prepared for extreme weather (humid summers and freezing winters) and a lot of walking. Even though the subway is efficient and generally reliable, you will find yourself walking a lot because there is so much to see and do on every block.

As for fashion, you can bring a few stylish outfits — or shop for new ones — or you can always fall back on all black. In Manhattan, wearing all black is always in fashion.

  • On July 29, 2013
    Linnea Covington answered the question: Linnea Covington

    What are the best Italian restaurants in New York City?

    With so many great Italian restaurants in the city, choosing which one to go to can be a challenge. We have two Little Italys, one in Manhattan in the Lower East Side and on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, an Italian section in south Brooklyn, and hundreds of Italian eateries (some under the radar) scattered throughout all five boroughs. Of these, here is my top seven.

    1. Lincoln Ristorante: Though it's been open only a handful of years, this gorgeous, glass-sided restaurant nestled in Lincoln Center churns out some of the best Italian food in the city. Thanks to chef Jonathan Benno, you can get perfectly executed seasonal pasta dishes, their rotating regional specials, and pair it all with an exceptional 400-plus bottle wine list.

    2. L’Artusi: One of the stellar restaurants by Gabe Thompson, this bi-level West Village eatery serves small plates to go with their well-curated wine list.

    3. Babbo: Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich have been rocking this eatery for 15 years. Yet, despite the big names, the space is modest and nestled in a quaint carriage house.

    4. Del Posto: Another from the Batali-Bastianich team, with live piano music, marble and mahogany décor, and plush booths, this Chelsea spot maintains elegant class while churning up superb plates of pasta and other Italian specialties.

    5. Torrisi Italian Specialties: Head to NoLita for a taste of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s Italian-American fare. Here you can get a seven-course, $65 prix fixe, just make sure to stop at Parm, their sister café next for a slice of ice cream cake.

    6. Marea: Michael White knows his Italian, and at this Midtown spot, fine dining, fine house-made pastas, and fine wine go hand in hand.

    7. al di la Trattoria: In Brooklyn there are a lot of Italians, so it goes to reason one of the best Italian restaurants would be there. Here, owners Emiliano Coppa and chef Anna Klinger serve up Northern Italian fare to hungry visitors and Park Slope residents.
  • On July 26, 2013
    Linnea Covington answered the question: Linnea Covington

    What are the best food experiences in New York City?

    Honestly, New York City has so many great ways to enjoy food, you need to either live here or come back all the time to experience it. Let’s start with Manhattan, not only are some of the best restaurants in the world located there, but you can try so many interesting flavors and cuisines side by side. A great way to do this is by eating as much classic grub like pizza, subs, and dumplings as possible. Of course, the best way to find out where to go is by taking a food tour, and if you don’t want a self-guided one, try one of Levy’s Unique New York’s well-curated walks, like the sandwich tour of Hell’s Kitchen and their customable, guided food crawls.

    On a totally different spectrum, you should try and experience chef Daniel Humm’s five star-rated restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. Here they serve a New York-themed, multi-course meal of epic proportions. Prepare to spend at least four hours there and, though it is pricy, think of it as an investment because it’s a culinary adventure you won’t likely forget.

    To experience the best Italian food in a neighborhood that still channels old school New York, head to the Bronx and Arthur Avenue, an area with distinct shops to buy fresh mozzarella, house-cured salamis, fresh pasta, pastries, and hand-rolled cigars. You can take stuff to go, and/or dine out at one of the many eateries like Dominick's or Mario’s.

    In Brooklyn one of the best ways to eat is by hitting up the food-focused Smorgasburg that takes place in Williamsburg every Saturday until the end of November. Here you can sample foods from all over the borough, including chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, the Milk Truck's gourmet grilled cheese, and some of the best pickles ever done by McClure’s (try the spicy ones).

    Finally, for an ethnic spread hitting China, Mexico, Thailand, and India, Queens has all you need for a unique experience. You can go to Jackson Heights and sample samosas, and curries on one side, and then cross the street to get tacos and cold Coronas on the other. Head all the way up on the number seven train for amazing and cheap Chinese, from tongue tingling lamb over hand-pulled noodles to piping hot scallion pancakes paired with sizzling pork dumplings, there is no way you can leave this area hungry. The best part is, it’s like you are taking a vacation from the city, even if the city is your vacation. Then again, this sort of cultural crossover is what makes NYC not only an interesting place to visit, but also a tasty one
  • On July 25, 2013
    Michelle Doucette answered the question: Michelle Doucette

    What are the best places for dessert in New York City?

    New York City knows a thing or two about dessert. Where else can you find a store that sells nothing but rice pudding (Rice to Riches), a sweet shop with a namesake romcom (Serendipity 3) and a cupcake mecca where legions of TV fans queue around the block for a taste (Magnolia Bakery)? There’s no shortage of places to curb your sugar cravings in New York, but here are six of the best.

    Restaurants
    If it’s a restaurant experience you’re after, Mario Batali’s Babbo is a great place for a sweet bite late at night. Sit at the bar and order an imaginative Italian dessert — like saffron panna cotta — from the dolci e formaggi menu. Love your dish? Purchase the Babbo pastry cookbook, Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen, and try to create it at home. For classic American desserts, head to Tribeca and enter Bubby’s (which is also a top brunch spot). The popular restaurant started as a pie shop in 1990 and still makes some of the best pies around. As you walk in, check out the diner-style dessert display case and make a mental note of your favorite find.

    Ice Cream
    Ice cream is a summer staple in New York, and there are plenty of upscale ice cream trucks to prove it. But when it comes to ice cream shops, I particularly like Il Laboratorio Del Gelato on the Lower East Side. Flavors are on rotation — with 48 on the menu each day — so there’s always something new to taste. The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is another place that specializes in uniquely flavored cones; go for the taro or red bean ice cream.

    Baked Treats
    For a grab-and-go treat, the chocolate chip cookies at Jacque Torres’ five locations are hard to beat. You won't see chips in these warm cookies, but rather thick layers and ribbons of high-quality chocolate. Finally, for your best New York cupcake experience, my money is on Billy’s Bakery. There are three locations, including one at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Plaza Hotel, at which you generally won’t find the lines you’ll see at that other beloved cupcake bakery — but the cupcakes are amazing. Take a few mini cupcakes with you and you'll be set for sustenance while sightseeing.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Jessica Colley answered the question: Jessica Colley

    What are the best bakeries in New York City?

    You will walk so much during your trip, you can eat the city's most decadent baked goods guilt-free. Here are some of the best bakeries in New York.

    Francois Payard Bakery  This renowned pastry chef has three outposts of his addictive bakery (Upper West Side, Soho, and Battery Park City) where almond croissants and lemon tarts are devoured by locals.

    Pain D’Avignon  This artisanal bakery has a tiny outpost in the Essex Market, located on the Lower East Side. Gather picnic supplies or indulge in pastries; everything here is bakery perfection.

    Sullivan Street Bakery  One of the bakeries responsible for launching a revolution in New York bread baking, Sullivan Street Bakery is an ideal spot for breakfast, lunch, or a sweet snack. Try the bomboloni, an Italian donut filled with cream or seasonal jam.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Jessica Colley answered the question: Jessica Colley

    What are the best romantic restaurants in New York City?

    These romantic restaurants in New York City can add a spark to any relationship.

    Peasant  On a gorgeous block in Nolita, Peasant is a candlelit Italian restaurant with food so good you will want to reach across the table and share. Don’t miss the pastas, and be sure to try anything cooked over the fire.

    Babbo  This classic restaurant located near Washington Square Park has some of the best service in the city. Settle in for a leisurely night and try one of the renowned tasting menus (the pasta tasting menu is particularly decadent).

    Forgione  Located in Tribeca, Forgione is an intimate restaurant with exposed brick walls, candlelit tables, and a buzzing bar. You can grab a table for two for a full romantic meal or snag a seat at the bar for a romantic date of drinks and dessert.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Jessica Colley answered the question: Jessica Colley

    What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in New York City?

    Many restaurants in New York City are not kid friendly—the tables are too close together, the ambiance too refined and romantic. It pays to know where to bring the little ones. Here are five favorites.

    Otto This casual Mario Batali spot is big and bustling enough to be appropriate for kids, with quality food that will appeal to the adults. It is especially a good match early in the evening.

    Shake Shack  With locations throughout the city, Shake Shack is sure to keep the kids happy. Some locations (Battery Park City, Madison Square Park) also have outdoor space where the kids can run around.

    Arturo’s  A classic pizza joint on Houston Street, Arturo’s has three packed rooms that can accommodate families. Parents will love the live jazz and exquisite pizza. During the warm season, tables are available outdoors too.

    Joe’s Shanghai  Kids love Chinese food, and this bustling spot is a fun place for families. Big tables fill the space. Parents can tuck into some of the city’s best soup dumplings while kids can order their favorites.

    Brooklyn Diner  With two Manhattan locations, Brooklyn Diner is a great match for families whether it’s time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They offer a great execution of diner classics.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Jessica Colley answered the question: Jessica Colley

    What are the best souvenirs to buy in New York City?

    The best souvenirs are the ones you will pick up and enjoy time and time again. Skip all the stores filled with generic souvenirs and check out these local favorites instead.

    Kitchen Arts and Letters. For visitors interested in food, the best place for souvenirs is Kitchen Arts and Letters. This is much more than a cookbook store. Here you will find out of print cookbooks, contemporary food memoirs, and everything in between.

    Smorgasburg. If you would rather eat your food than read about it, head to Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn flea market. There are many things to eat as you browse, but for souvenirs your focus should remain on locally produced goodies like coffee from the Brooklyn Roasting Company or preserved lemon syrup from Morris Kitchen.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Linnea Covington answered the question: Linnea Covington

    What are the best seafood restaurants in New York City?

    A great thing about living on the water is you get some of the best seafood around, and one of the best places to go and indulge in oysters is at Mermaid Inn in the East Village. Here they have a great happy hour oyster deal from 5:30 to 7pm, and though their dinner menu is simple, it’s worth checking out. Try the roasted local skate or the fish tacos, and pair that with a glass of cool Red Tail Riesling, made right here in New York, and call it a night.

    For the best clam chowder in the city, head to Rebecca Charles’ Pearl Oyster Bar. Since 1997, this Greenwich Village staple has been churning out this dish, and other great ones including whole grilled fish, bouillabaisse, and a fine Caesar salad. If you are in SoHo, head to Aquagrill, a neighborhood institution since 1996 where you can get tasty plates seared diver scallops with Dungeness crab risotto, a delicious and spicy tuna tartare, and miso glazed Chilean sea bass.

    Another stalwart in the city seafood scene is Oceana in Midtown. At this posh joint, they have an excellent raw bar, and in the kitchen, chef Ben Pollinger cooks up a mean stuffed branzino, blackened mahi mahi, and gin-cured gravlax. Make sure you save room for dessert though, because here, pastry chef Joseph Gabriel has a way with sweets, especially when they’re in baked goods form.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Linnea Covington answered the question: Linnea Covington

    What are the best seafood restaurants in New York City?

    A great thing about living on the water is you get some of the best seafood around, and one of the best places to go and indulge in oysters is at Mermaid Inn in the East Village. Here they have a great happy hour oyster deal from 5:30 to 7pm, and though their dinner menu is simple, it’s worth checking out. Try the roasted local skate or the fish tacos, and pair that with a glass of cool Red Tail Riesling, made right here in New York, and call it a night.

    For the best clam chowder in the city, head to Rebecca Charles’ Pearl Oyster Bar. Since 1997, this Greenwich Village staple has been churning out this dish, and other great ones including whole grilled fish, bouillabaisse, and a fine Caesar salad. If you are in SoHo, head to Aquagrill, a neighborhood institution since 1996 where you can get tasty plates seared diver scallops with Dungeness crab risotto, a delicious and spicy tuna tartare, and miso glazed Chilean sea bass.

    Another stalwart in the city seafood scene is Oceana in Midtown. At this posh joint, they have an excellent raw bar, and in the kitchen, chef Ben Pollinger cooks up a mean stuffed branzino, blackened mahi mahi, and gin-cured gravlax. Make sure you save room for dessert though, because here, pastry chef Joseph Gabriel has a way with sweets, especially when they’re in baked goods form.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Linnea Covington answered the question: Linnea Covington

    What are the best seafood restaurants in New York City?

    A great thing about living on the water is you get some of the best seafood around, and one of the best places to go and indulge in oysters is at Mermaid Inn in the East Village. Here they have a great happy hour oyster deal from 5:30 to 7pm, and though their dinner menu is simple, it’s worth checking out. Try the roasted local skate or the fish tacos, and pair that with a glass of cool Red Tail Riesling, made right here in New York, and call it a night.

    For the best clam chowder in the city, head to Rebecca Charles’ Pearl Oyster Bar. Since 1997, this Greenwich Village staple has been churning out this dish, and other great ones including whole grilled fish, bouillabaisse, and a fine Caesar salad. If you are in SoHo, head to Aquagrill, a neighborhood institution since 1996 where you can get tasty plates seared diver scallops with Dungeness crab risotto, a delicious and spicy tuna tartare, and miso glazed Chilean sea bass.

    Another stalwart in the city seafood scene is Oceana in Midtown. At this posh joint, they have an excellent raw bar, and in the kitchen, chef Ben Pollinger cooks up a mean stuffed branzino, blackened mahi mahi, and gin-cured gravlax. Make sure you save room for dessert though, because here, pastry chef Joseph Gabriel has a way with sweets, especially when they’re in baked goods form.
  • On July 22, 2013
    Linnea Covington answered the question: Linnea Covington

    What are the most convenient beaches to New York City?

    Despite the havoc Hurricane Sandy caused, the New York Parks Department rallied and got most of the state’s beaches up and running, and, for the most part, they are all easy to get to. One of the most fun beaches to visit is Rockaway Beach, heck, the Ramones even wrote a song about it. While the boardwalk isn’t as glorious as it was before the storm, and they are working on it, you still get to enjoy the sun, sand, and Rockaway Taco, a cult stand located a couple blocks away that serves some of the tastiest tacos around.

    Another convenient beach to head is Jones Beach on Long Island. It’s about an hour train ride from the city, and a short bus ride, but well worth the jaunt. There they have 6.5 miles of nice sand, a great boardwalk, and plenty of things to do besides swim and sun. Long Beach is also a good bet, and even easier to get there than Jones, you just take the Long Island Rail Road.

    Now, if you really want a beach party experience, head to Montauk. It’s about two hours on the train, but once there, it’s like being in a different zone all together. On the weekends there are tons of things to do, from parties to beach bonfires to biking around the island.
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