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Melissa’s New York City: Where to Stay, Eat, Shop and More

I’ve lived in New York City my entire life—with the exception of college and a short stint in Paris—and it remains one of my favorite places in the world. The constant innovation layered over many years of tradition is what I love most about the city that never sleeps. I have memories of every stage of my life here, and I am always pleasantly surprised by the new restaurants, shops, exhibits and rituals that emerge. I also love that it is a true melting pot where people from all over the country and the globe come together and share experiences. To help you make the most out of your next visit to New York City, I’ve curated my travel tips and a mix of old classics and new arrivals that are worth seeking out.

Contact Indagare to learn more and book a trip to New York City. Our travel specialists can match you with the best hotels, arrange great meals and organize special excursions, from street art tours to cooking classes and boat trips.

On My Radar

NYC is always buzzing with openings, and it can be hard to sift through the noise to find the really worthwhile newcomers. Here is my list of just-opened and soon-to-debut spots.

Hot Tables: Opened last month, Legacy Records comes from the team behind two of my favorite downtown restaurants, Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones. I’ve heard the caramelle with ricotta, beets and poppy seeds is a must-order. I’m also eagerly anticipating the arrival of an outpost of one of my favorite L.A. restaurants, Gjelina, which is on track to open this summer in NoHo.

Related: Top Tables New York City

New Shop: The South Street Seaport, located near downtown’s Financial District, is blossoming with cool new shops, restaurants and more. Opening this summer is the first North American location of cutting-edge concept store 10 Corso Como, whose flagship is in Milan, where I am this week on our Insider Journey with Cabana magazine.

Hotels on the Horizon: I can’t wait to see the Aman hotel, which is scheduled to open in Midtown in 2020. The brand’s only other urban retreat is in Tokyo and is one of the most memorable city hotels I have ever stayed in. Over in Williamsburg, a new property from the hip Hoxton brand will open its doors this summer. The rooftop bar will surely be an alfresco oasis during the warm months.

Related: Top Tables Brooklyn

Art Exhibits: The show topping my list is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, which is also the theme for this year’s Met Gala. Opening on May 10, the exhibit will showcase papal fashions as well as designer pieces that were inspired by Catholicism. Already open is Unseen Oceans at the American Museum of Natural History. This remains my favorite museum for families even though, now that my kids are older, I don’t spend regular Saturdays there. This exhibit, running through January of next year, highlights diverse marine ecosystems and the current technology powering underwater exploration.

Broadway Shows: Spring is one of the most exciting times on Broadway, with many great shows opening prior to the Tony Awards in June. This season, I’ve heard raves for Angels in AmericaThree Tall Women and Mean Girls. For more tips, we asked our members who are involved in theater; see what they’re excited about this season: Tony Winners Tell Us What to See this Spring.

My New York City Classics

From an Upper East Side icon that generations of my family have frequented to my pre-show dinner pick in the Theater District, these are some tried-and-true NYC classics.

Favorite Hotels: If I want a staycation in my neighborhood, the Upper East Side, I love to hide out at the Mark or the Lowell—and my new favorite place for drinks and snacks is the Club Room bar at the Lowell. If I want to explore a different area of the city, I’ll pick a neighborhood downtown, like SoHo, where I adore the Crosby Street Hotel.

Family-Friendly Restaurants: Uptown, there’s no place better than J.G. Melon for an easy family meal. The establishment invokes a lot of nostalgia for me; I grew up nearby, and have always referred to it as Melon’s. Now, my kids go (mostly for late-night burgers!) and they call it J.G.’s. Downtown, Sadelle’s is a stylish Jewish café and bakery that’s perfect for a mid-shopping meal.

Date Night Spots: Le Bernardin is my go-to for a special night out; I love the food, atmosphere and that chef Eric Ripert is often there making the rounds and ensuring perfection. I’m also excited to revisit JoJo. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s first restaurant, it debuted on the Upper East Side in 1991 and has recently reopened after a renovation. If I am heading downtown, I’ll make a reservation at Raoul’s for a classic French meal or Maialino for Italian (the artichoke appetizer is a favorite).

Related: Upper East Side Dining

Quick Breaks: Picking up pastries or having a light lunch at Sant Ambroeus on Madison Avenue is a neighborhood ritual. For coffee, I love Bluestone Lane at the Church of the Heavenly Rest. The café space is stunning and it’s a great spot for a break during a walk in Central Park.

Pre-Show Dinners in the Theater District: The Art Deco–inspired Lambs Club is a great pre- or post-theater spot. If you are willing to walk a bit further, there is the Lobster Club, which has become a favorite for its Japanese-inspired brasserie cuisine and sleek, stylish space. I love the booths, the Picasso ceramics and the music.

Go-To Museums: I’ll never tire of exploring the Met. Another less obvious favorite is Morgan’s Library. The personal treasure trove of financier J. P. Morgan, the museum houses his collection of antique drawings, prints, artifacts, manuscripts and books.

Favorite Boutiques: I mostly shop in my neighborhood, and frequently visit Fivestory, for global fashions in a chic townhouse; Creel & Gow, for rare home décor items; F.D., my sister’s boutique, which has an exceptional array of jewelry and fine art; and Hayward House, a stunning shop for handbags and pop-up fashion shows.

Top Spa: TriBeCa’s Greenwich Hotel has a gorgeous subterranean spa with a pool, but for something closer to home, I like the spa at the Carlyle hotel.

Favorite Neighborhood for Wandering: Some of my favorite shops are in the West Village. It’s fun to go to this area without a plan, as every street is beautiful, and you’ll always stumble upon something new. Can’t-miss addresses include WANT Les Essentials, for stylish, monochromatic fashions, CAP Beauty, for natural skincare products, Aedes De Venustas, for perfume and candles, and Three Lives & Company, for books. My favorite restaurants for lunch include Buvette, a charming all-day French eatery, and Jeffrey’s Grocery, a lively American restaurant and oyster bar.

New York City Insider Secret

Many people rent bikes in Central Park but you can also rent rowboats. To support the Central Park Conservancy, my family has donated several benches in the park that now have plaques. They are in places that have special memories for me, and I stop by them frequently this time of year.

Must-Pack Item for New York City

New Yorkers do a ton of walking and exploring on foot is one of the best ways to feel like a local, so you must have great walking shoes. I love Rothy’s ballet flats, which are chic, comfortable and sustainable (they are made entirely from recycled water bottles).

Contact Indagare to learn more and book a trip to New York City. Our travel specialists can match you with the best hotels, arrange great meals and organize special excursions, from street art tours to cooking classes and boat trips.

– Melissa Biggs Bradley on April 10, 2018

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