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New York City Travel Guide: Where to Stay, What to Eat, and More

Even the city that never sleeps had to slow down over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the arrival of the vaccines and 80% of adults in Manhattan having at least one shot, New York City is back to its energetic, frenetic self. New Yorkers are ready to experience the city they love again, and tourists are eager to discover it for themselves. So with restaurants, hotels, and other businesses able to reopen at 100% capacity, it’s prime time to plan an NYC trip or staycation.

It’s not completely business as usual, though. Social distancing is still recommended, and with the rise of the Delta variant, masks are back (although it being NYC, you can likely find some very fashionable options). Come September 13, restaurants and indoor businesses also will require proof of vaccination to be allowed entry. Provided you are vaccinated and can continue wearing a mask to protect yourself and others from Delta, you can still enjoy NYC in a healthy and safe way. Here’s how to spend your time off if you’re craving a change of scenery, or just want to shake up your everyday work-from-home routine.

Read more: Best Places to Visit

Where to Stay

With hundreds of hotels across five boroughs, there’s no shortage of places to book for a night (or two, or three). As you mull over the plethora of options, keep in mind location, price, and whether COVID-19 protocols are in place on-site. Deal-seekers should note that tons of properties are enticing visitors with promotions such as free extra nights, spa treatments, and heavily discounted rates to fill rooms, so choose wisely.

Baccarat Hotel New York

You may already be familiar with the name Baccarat. This French company makes some of the finest, most coveted fine crystal in the world, so of course, the Baccarat Hotel takes after its namesake in being a glittering, shining, opulent jewel. Featuring modernized French decor and aesthetics, the 114-room hotel positively drips in crystal finery, from its prism-glass facade to the 17 bespoke chandeliers to crystal furnishings throughout the hotel. Here you can stay in the lap of French luxury, partaking of fine dining at the Grand Salon (a glittering space helmed by wine director Matthieu Yamoum) or bar, treating yourself at the decadent spa, taking a dip in the marble swimming pool, and more. The hotel is located in midtown right across from the Museum of Modern Art, so everything from art to dining to entertainment is right outside. 

Price: From $826/night

The Rockaway Hotel

Newly opened and located right by the beach, The Rockaway Hotel is a solid choice if you’re seeking an escape that’s still accessible by subway or bus (i.e., far but not too far). Throughout the month of April, the hotel teamed up with East Hampton-based design company Destination Haus to launch a decorated bungalow replete with exclusive private dining, beachy décor, and a romantic, intimate picnic setup.

Price: From $282/night

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

With a rooftop pool and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, the eco-conscious, nature-inspired urban oasis in Dumbo is the epitome of luxury, with an edge. Indulge in a moment of zen as you drink a handcrafted cocktail, or amble along the waterfront by Jane’s Carousel. The vibe is decidedly chill, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Price: From $437/night

The Langham New York

The stately Langham New York hotel is a staple of midtown, conveniently located on 5th Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, right around the corner from the Empire State Building. So if you want to walk out of your hotel in the morning and instantly be at the center of the action, with access to the theater district, dining, museums, and more this is the spot. The Langham boasts of 234 chic, modern rooms and suites, most of which come with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that have enviable views of the NYC skyline. The Michelin-starred Ai Fiori restaurant is located on-site, with a menu stemming from French and Italian culinary influences, as well as an excellent cocktail bar. Other amenities include a fitness center, events and meeting spaces, and luxurious packages like breakfast in bed.

Price: From $725/night

Where to Eat

Best for Breakfast: The Smile

Kick off your morning at The Smile on Bond Street, where chef Melia Marden prepares healthy and not-at-all showy breakfast fare (think: Almond butter toast, scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos). Either get the goods to go or grab a seat in the modest outdoor dining area.

Menu at The Smile

Best for Lunch: Pastis

For lunch, Pastis offers incomparable people-watching and one of the most COVID-friendly setups in the city, not to mention a great salade niçoise that pairs well with a glass of sauvignon blanc — remember, you’re on vacation!

Lunch Menu at Pastis

Best for Variety: Chelsea Market

If you’d prefer a quick takeout option as opposed to a leisurely meal, Chelsea Market has just about everything you could imagine, from tacos to falafels, baos, and kimbap, and it’s all pretty darn delicious.

Chelsea Market Website

Best for Cocktails: Dante

Continue savoring the flavors of the city with an aperitivo at Dante nearby in the West Village. The legendary cafe is known for its cocktails, and we suggest its signature drink, the Garibaldi, made with Campari and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Menu at Dante

Best for Dinner: Anton’s

Come dinnertime, head over to Anton’s, situated on a charming street corner, for comforting dishes like bucatini pasta and bourbon pecan pie by candlelight.

Menu at Anton’s

Best for Tacos: Tacombi

A restaurant with multiple locations throughout NYC, Tacombi is a perfect destination for Mexican tacos and beers, plus vegetarian options. This Mexico City-style restaurant also is perfect for groups so long as you reserve ahead of time.

Menu at Tacombi

Best for Middle Eastern Cuisine: Qanoon Restaurant

Does Palestinian cheesecake or knafeh sound good to you? Of course it does. Your taste buds will go on a Palestine-inspired journey with traditional dishes such as Kofta (meatballs baked with cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, and tahini sauce).

Menu at Qanoon

Best for Entertainment: City Winery

Close out your evening by visiting City Winery’s new location at Pier 57 — the outdoor deck perched over the Hudson River is the ideal venue for a socially distanced glass of locally produced wine. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music, too.

Upcoming Events at City Winery

Best for Takeout: Saigon Social

Looking for comfort food? Saigon Social is a Vietnamese restaurant with the best combo of wings and garlic noodles around. If you’re in the Lower East Side and want to pick up takeout, this is the best place to grab some delicious comfort food.

Menu at Saigon Social

What to Do

From biking across bridges to traversing parks, or museum hopping, options abound. The Whitney’s latest exhibition, Madeline Hollander: Flatwing, features video installations by the artist and choreographer that will surely hold your attention. Make sure to check out the roof for a drink before you leave, or stop by Untitled to order an oat-milk cappuccino. Bonus: Next month, the museum is developing a public art project with David Hammons in Hudson River Park, so you can soak up some culture away from the crowds on your way out. And if you prefer waterborne outings, we highly recommend one of Classic Harbor Line‘s sunset cruises to soak up the sights and history of the city.

Public Records, the music venue-slash-restaurant-slash-social space is worth the trek to Gowanus, if only for its vegan ramen nights in the outdoor garden against the backdrop of music spun by rotating DJs.

And if you can make the trip to Queens, Skyline Drive-In NYC, an outdoor theater on the East River, boasts a stunning view and roster of crowd-pleasing films, including Get Out, Clueless, and Sex and the City, to name just a few.

How to Save Money on Your Trip to New York

Experiences

You won’t run out of interesting things to pick up the pace when you’re visiting New York. From museum-hopping to simply taking in the landscape of the stunning parks in the city, there are many ways you can enjoy New York without leaving a huge dent in your pocket. It all boils down to putting together the things you want to see or visit in New York. You might be surprised that most of the items on your itinerary are affordable or even free of charge. Aside from what we already mentioned in this article, you can refer to Kayak to find more exciting adventures and places to visit in New York.

Hotels

When planning your dream New York vacation, one of the first things you have to settle is the accommodations. Luckily, New York has a plethora of hotels that will suit almost anybody’s fine taste. To make the most out of your stay, you need to carefully consider your budget and itinerary. You can book one night in a luxurious hotel, as long as it doesn’t compromise everything else. You also have to make sure your chosen location strictly follows COVID-19 protocols. Take a good look at discounts, deals, and the best places to stay in New York through our picks above. If you find these hotels not up to par with your itinerary, you can also check out Kayak for the best accommodations in The Big Apple.

Vehicle Rentals

In the bustling city of New York, you can hail a cab to lead you from one destination to another. Although if you want to save costs during your trip, riding cabs won’t cut it. While this city filled with beautiful sights and sounds is rather walkable and has a subway, you might want to consider renting a vehicle. Not only will it save you transportation costs, but it’s also safe, convenient, and comfortable. It’s like having your own chauffeur. Through cars" data-title="Kayak.com" data-cta="Kayak.com" >Kayak.com, you can find great deals on sweet car rentals that will definitely ease your worries.

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