City Guide: New York City
Compensation for this post was provided by Discover card via AOL Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Discover card or AOL.
As a New Yorker, I'm constantly asked for advice on what to see and do when visiting the city. And quite often that request is followed by the phrase 'that won't break the bank'. I get it. This town boasts an overwhelming number of things to see and do and notably some of those options are expensive. But if you know where to look, there are so many ways to enjoy this city on a budget.
First things first – who are you spending your time with while in New York? From a romantic date to a girl's night out – I've broken it down so that you can choose your own adventure.
Girls Night Out: Soho/Nolita/East Village
1. You're going to want to start this marathon evening with a dose of caffeine. Two Hands Cafe serves up specialty coffee and tea with an extra shot of cute decor.
2. After you've had your coffee head straight to Soho to pick up something new for the night. While it can get crowded at the bigger name chain stores on Broadway, stops at places like & Other Stories (the slightly higher end sister store to H&M you won't find elsewhere in the US) is worth braving the crowds. Venture down the cross streets to find independent boutiques like cool girl's go-to Frankie.
3. Have dessert before dinner (it's Girls Night Out.. you're allowed to indulge) at Little Cupcake Bake Shop in nearby Nolita. Afterwards take a group pic by the heart covered wall outside.
4. Build back up your appetite by walking to Rosie's in the East Village. A newcomer to the neighborhood it's already become a hotspot with outdoor seating, a young crowd, and most importantly – affordable, delicious Mexican food and on point margaritas.
5. End the night with epic skyline views of downtown Manhattan at rooftop bar Jimmy at the James Hotel.
Things to do Solo: Union Square/Flatiron/Gramercy
1. There's no greater place to wander alone than a bookstore and consistently named one of the best independent bookstores in the country, Strand in Union Square is just the place to do it. Boasting 18 miles of books, $1 selections outside and an always friendly staff – this is one of my favorite spots in the city.
2. With a new book in tow, head to Heyday – an ultra cool facial shop – in nearby Flatiron district to get fresh faced. At just $60 for a 30 minute treatment you and your wallet will leave feeling relaxed.
3. Just down the street you'll find Fishs Eddy – stop in to browse the one of a kind housewares shop that is my favorite pick for affordable dishes and quirky gifts that often reflect different neighborhoods of New York.
4. Refuel at Beecher's – a cheese shop (they make their own in huge machines you can watch behind the cafe glass!) and bar. Try a few samples of their signature blends and grab an iced drink to go.
5. Take a quick walk up to the Flower District at 28th street between 6th and 7th Ave. to see busy city streets transform into a botanical explosion. While some of the smaller outdoor vendors are cash only, the shops accept credit cards and I've found the staff infinitely more helpful. Treat yourself to a bright bouquet.
Date Ideas: West Village/Greenwich Village
1. Start the day at Hamilton's – an old fashioned soda shop tucked among the quiet streets of the West Village. There's nothing cuter than sharing a milkshake and fries and it will only set you back a few bucks.
2. From there, take a stroll to Washington Square Park. There's something quintessentially New York about staring at the arch, listening to live jazz or piano (there's always someone playing music for a captive crowd) and watching the city pass by.
3. Grab an early dinner at the Mermaid Oyster Bar – happy hour offers $1 oysters plus drink specials. Extra points for being on arguably one of the cutest streets in the city – colorful Macdougal.
4. Head to the Film Forum, an small movie house that shows independent films, documentaries and classics. It's slightly cheaper than the AMCs of the world plus the older crowd and cozy theaters feel way more romantic.
5. End the night at the Happiest Hour – a throwback cocktail bar inspired by the Beverly Hills Hotel that is equal parts Mad Men and modern New York. Cheers!