Country mouse or city mouse, New York City belongs on everyone's bucket list. No matter your interests or vibe, there's always something to see, taste and do in The City that Never Sleeps. Home to a world-class food scene, New York is one of the best food cities to visit in the U.S. It has an abundance of restaurants to delight the senses, from pint-sized pizza shops serving up dollar slices to high-end Michelin star restaurants serving lights-out meals.
Now, throw in an abundance of stellar hotels and amazing attractions, and you've got one fantastic holiday. There's no experience quite like standing in the hubbub of Times Square surrounded by people and a wall of towering, light-up billboards. The Rockefeller Center and Empire State Building also draw crowds. And don't forget all the shopping.
If you get your fill of Manhattan before your trip is over (impossible, we know), New York has boroughs and 'burbs aplenty. There's Jersey, Queens, and The Bronx. Plus the trendy Williamsburg neighbourhood in Brooklyn is definitely worth a visit.
For Torontonians, New York is a quick 1.5-hour flight, but if you're looking to save on airfare, load up the car and turn your vacay into a road trip. Just over 8 hours, the drive can be done in a day. Once you arrive, you'll want to park the car and not look at it again until you're heading home — the traffic in New York City is no joke. Jump in a yellow taxi, New York-style, and let the fun begin.
New York City: What to do
NYC Winter Outing
Returning for its third year, NYC Winter Outing combines NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week, NYC Must-See Week and, for the first time, NYC Hotel Week. During the months of January and February, the event sees hundreds of participating restaurants offering delicious deals on prix-fixe menus. If New York’s incredible eats aren’t enough to seal the deal, hotel stays are 22 per cent off. You’ll also find two-for-one tickets to Broadway shows, museums, attractions, tours and more. If there was ever a perfect time to visit The City That Never Sleeps, this is it.
See a show
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and when in New York City, see a show. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time visiting the city, seeing a show is always a must. A musical at a Broadway theatre is the obvious choice — these high-production, top-tier performances are considered some of the best theatre in the world. For something more relaxed and easier on the wallet, NYC is home to plenty of comedy acts. Places like LOL Comedy Lounge have nightly shows that will give you a few good laughs for as little as $20 a ticket.
It may be a bit cliché, but a stroll through Central Park is always a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of New York City. Billed as the most filmed location in the world and seeing a whopping 42 million visitors a year, it can get busy — head deeper into the park to avoid the crowds. The 843-acre park is home to ponds, waterfalls, bridges, a lake, a zoo, a carousel, a skating rink and even the remnants of a 19th century castle. Statues galore include Alice in Wonderland, Hans Christian Andersen, and Balto the hero dog. For some spontaneous entertainment, buskers and musicians also perform throughout the park.
New York City: Where to eat and drink
Fig & Olive
Fresh, seasonal ingredients and warm Mediterranean flavours are on full display at this restaurant with eight locations across the U.S. (two in New York). Intended to capture the essence of the French Riviera and inspired by the Mediterranean, where fig and olive trees grow, this restaurant exudes brightness and warmth. Olive oil is the star here, meaning you won’t find heavy sauces or creams — just light, fresh fare with an abundance of flavour, set in an equally airy and beautiful space. Start off with the mushroom and leek flatbread topped with crispy prosciutto before tucking into mains like sea scallops, espelette-crusted pork loin and juicy grass-fed hanger steak with crispy crushed potatoes. Signature cocktails and a lengthy wine list round out a stellar meal here.
342 E 6th St.
A quaint neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village, Kindred offers thoughtful dishes with bold flavours paired with natural wine and exceptional cocktails. Sip orange wine or a bubbly pét-nat by-the-glass while you bask in the trendy atmosphere, dimly lit and outfitted with white brick walls, rounded doorways and plenty of dark wood. Inspired by the Adriatic, the menu features dishes like hay smoked carrots and charcoal-grilled shrimp alongside handmade pasta.
119 W 56th St.
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Inside the ritzy Thompson Central Park Hotel, step behind a curtain to discover a hidden fast-food spot slinging the best burgers in Midtown. Full of grungy charm, Burger Joint’s walls are adorned with eclectic movie posters and graffiti scribbles. Menu items can be found on a cardboard sign written in marker, but there isn’t much to see: homestyle burgers with your choice of toppings and crispy fries done really well is what this place is all about.
The Mean Fiddler
266 W 47th St.
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Looking for a dance party that goes until 4 a.m. on a Monday night? This is the place. The Mean Fiddler slings drinks and DJ beats every night until NYC’s last call. The menu of classic pub bites is tasty enough, but the real draw is the raucous party atmosphere and friendly vibe. If you do eat here, go for the bottomless dinner — 90 minutes of bottomless drinks for just $25 with the purchase of an entrée. Buckle up; you’re in for a wild night.
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There's a reason this family-run restaurant has expanded to operate nine locations across New York City. Everything here is gluten-free and with a mantra rooted in eating good food, you can expect fresh fare made with local vegetables and antibiotic-free meat. The menus differ slightly between locales, but all of them have a breakfast/brunch menu stacked with hits like their famous pancakes, avocado toast (yes, gluten-free) and shakshuka. Lunch and dinner are all about the handhelds: burgers, fish tacos and a bomb fried chicken sandwich.
New York City: Where to stay
351 W 38th St.
Conveniently located close to Times Square, Broadway, the Empire State Building and other attractions, Arlo Midtown offers a chic and comfortable home-base for exploring the city. From the moment you walk into the bright, plant-filled space, you’ll be greeted by warm hospitality and the hotel’s swoon-worthy signature scent. Averaging around 175 square feet, the stylish rooms are on the smaller side, but you won’t miss the space when you’re cozied in after a long day (and night) of taking in the city. The hotel’s restaurant, Nearly Ninth doubles as a coffee bar where you can start the day and a lounge where you can cap off the night with Italian-American fare, handcrafted cocktails, local brews and wine. In warmer months, the Nearly Ninth rooftop patio is an urban oasis.