This Local’s Official Guide to NYC

I have lived in Manhattan for 12 years now. I have called Greenwich Village home, and come to love and appreciate everything New York City has to offer! From the super touristy spots – like Times Square, the Rockefeller Ice Rink, and The 9/11 Memorial; to off-the-beaten path secret places that not even locals know…in honor of my move out of the city, I’ve decided to share EVERYTHING, and “bequeath,” if you will, the inside scoop on my New York.

I’ve broken it down into sections:

Where to Eat; Things to Do; Nightlife. And finally — What to MISS.


This could be an entire blog post of its own, but I will TRY and stick to FIVE locals-only restaurants that I personally love.

And yes, I can’t believe I’m sharing these, but hey – I’m on my way out of the city, so I won’t have to fight you for reservations 😉

1. Bobo 181 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, Bobo is the perfect spot to go with your mom, your girlfriends, on a friend date. It is absolutely adorable, and you feel like you’re eating in your French grandmother’s cottage in the French countryside. And the food is phenomenal, and won’t break the bank (for NY prices).

2. Felice on Hudson 615 Hudson Street – New York, NY 10014

I’ve gotta say, I just discovered this quaint Italian eatery last weekend, and I am so sad because it was so good! I wish I would have known about it sooner! Get the ricotta with their homemade bread and their burger. I know…a burger at an Italian place…crazy, but it is so good! This is the perfect date spot!

3. Cluny Cafe 284 W 12th St, New York, NY 10014

A West Village staple, Cafe Cluny is the perfect after-church brunch spot with decadent morning staples in the most charming of spots. You can walk down the street to Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake afterwards, and then stroll through the winding cobblestone streets in Manhattan’s most iconic neighborhood.

4. ABC Kitchen 35 EAST 18TH STREET NEW YORK, NY 10003

Located right off of Union Square, and inside one of the coolest, most ornate home furnishing stores in the city, ABC Kitchen is the perfect date spot. Strong, creative cocktails, and delicious food by Jean-Georges. Steven and I had one of our first dates here.

5. SERRA 200 5th Ave (Eataly Rooftop)

This gorgeous rooftop gastropub is every girl’s dream restaurant, with flowers hanging from the ceiling, delicious food, and the most amazing cocktails. Not only will you get phenomenal Instagram photos, but also a delicious meal. Go with the girls, or take your mom.

6. Extra Virgin 259 W. 4th Street

Another West Village Staple (are you noticing a theme here?) Extra Virgin is where I take all my visitors, becuase not onlyis the food delicious, but it’s in an incredible location in the heart of the adorable cobblestone streets that the West Village is famous for. You get a great meal, that again, won’t break the bank — for NY prices. Also – sit outside on their patio in the summer!

7. St. Tropez Wine Bar 304 W 4th Street

This is another ADORABLE, cozy little french restaurant in the West Village with exposed brick and delicious food. The atmosphere is unlike anything else, with the on-the-floor, open kitchen, and season dishes that make your eyes roll back. A perfect date spot.

OK – I could have gone on and on with amazing restaurants!


Take a Walk on the Hudson River and end up at Grand Banks Restaurant.

The Hudson River park is so beautiful, and Grand Banks is a little boat that has abar and delicious food! Definitely a great date activity or an afternoon agenda for a sunny day!

Tenement Museum. This cool “experiential” museum takes you to different preserved apartment buildings from history. My mom and I toured an apartment of an Irish immigrant family from the 1920’s, and it was just fascinating to see how they lived with so many kids crammed into a tiny tenement, and to hear about how the St. Patrick’s Day parade was such a big deal back then for Irish families!

Window Shop in Soho

Listen: there is positively ZERO part of me that is going to spend an ungodly amount of money on luxury brands, but doesn’t mean I don’t like pretending I’m going to! Window shopping, and going into the gorgeous boutiques in soho is so fun. Spend the afternoon bopping in and out of designer stores, grab coffee at one of the myriad of cute coffee shops, and if you want to splurge, stop at Balthazaar for a light lunch and a glass of wine!

Union Square Christmas Market
This one is for November and December only, but there is nothing like walking through the little artisan stalls at the Christmas market. I do all my Christmas shopping there – they have everything from handmade jewelry, to one of a kind clothing, Christmas ornaments and gifts, and amazing food. Get the hot chocolate and one of the Belgian waffles!

The Edge at Hudson Yards
The Edge is one of the highest outdoor observation decks, at 101 floors high. It is an amazing view of all the NYC landmarks, and it is even more gorgeous at night. But here’s a tip: a ticket up is around $65 the last I checked…which is pretty steep. BUT, you can get a drink or a bite to eat at the restaurant that is right inside on the 101st floor, with just the same spectacular views! Peak is the restuaruant (very expensive); or Peakaboo is the bar/lounge that opens at 10:30 at night for drinks and light bites. The website says there’s a $75 per person minimum spend, but we went, and they didn’t hold us to that. The three of us got out of there for $90 with three drinks and a dessert. Which…was cheaper than 3 tickets to The Edge…just sayin!

Oh my gosh, how have I not shared about this one until just now?! Rockwood is another one of those places that I take people when they come to visit because it is SO NEW YORK! It’s a very small (bar sized) music venue where there’s a different singer/song-writer every hour on the hour. And it’s free! You never know what kind of music you’ll get, but it is always incredible, cream-of-the-crop musicians. Everything from folk, to upright bass, to jazz, to country, to rock. I love it!

MARIE’S CRISIS 59 Grove Street

This one is a niche — deep cut for my musical theater buffs out there! This cash only bar is in the basement of the West Village. Picture this: there’s an upright piano in the center of the room, and everyone — probably 200 people — are huddled around it, and the pianst is taking requests for Broadway show tunes. And EVERYBODY SINGS. So you’ve got all these people belting out Wicked and Disney show tunes drinking cheap drinks out of plastic cups. IT IS A SCENE FOR SURE!

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

I love St. Patrick’s Cathedral so much. Definitely go to check out the renovations. The entire place is pristine, as it was when it was first built. They have Mass pretty much every hour on the hour, and there’s a little gift shop across the street. Something fun to do afterwards is to visit the Cartier Mansion on 5th Ave, which is just a block away, and go up to the fourth floor and have some tea (on the house) and smell their amazing perfumes and colognes. (PS they give you chocolate with the tea or coffee).


The East Village and the West Village are where you want to be after dark. The bars are so eclectic and literally line the street. So do a bar crawl, have a drink at a couple different ones and get to know the flavor of the neighborhood! Some of my favorites: Anfora, Bar Pisellino, Jack and Charlie’s, Frying Pan (This is a boat on the Hudson River)..


If you’re going to Times Square, please watch your purse and pockets. Do not take photos with the Elmos and other costumed characters — those are traps for pickpockets. Don’t take a bus tour, and please don’t eat at the Olive Garden there.

BROADWAY: Definitely try to see a musical or a play on Broadway or off-broadway. The TKTS booth is a great way to get day-of tickets, and the app “TODAY TIX” also has great last minute deals!

Milos at Hudson Yards — gotta say, this was one of those “white table cloth” inside Hudson Yards that, frankly, was terrible. We were rushed. The food was ridiculously overpriced. And you just walk away feeling like you got taken advantage of.

OPEN TABLE – this is a great app to find last minute reservations around you! But don’t be discouraged if there’s no reservations. Nearly every restaurant holds a few tables for walk-ins, so always pick up the phone and call the restaurant to see what the actual situation is for immediate seating.

Don’t Be Afraid to WALK!
Yes, Uber’s are convenient, and there’s something iconic about a yellow NYC cab (despite the smell), but walking is really the best way to see the city! This allows you to bop into little shops and cafes, and you really get a flavor of each of the distinct neighborhoods. The city is on a grid system, making navigating super simple. I would say that anything within a 10 block radius (or 2 Avenue radius) is totally walkable. Otherwise, I would say walk a ways, and then call a cab!

And on that note: wear walking shoes. I know, the urge to be fashion forward when walking the streets of New York is strong, but nothing ruins a trip to the Big Apple faster than a blister on your heel! So swap the heels for comfortable walking shoes!

Taking the Ferry to New Jersey and back is a great way to see the city from the water without having to break the bank for a specific “boat tour” ticket! You can hop on at several stops along the west side.

Also: MISS “The Little Island.” It’s a lot to do about nothing. If you’re already taking a walk on the Hudson River, sure – stop by. But definitely don’t make a day of it. If you want something “outdoorsy” I would suggest renting a citybike and biking through Central Park.

So there you have it – my official guide to NYC.

I love this city so much, and I’m sad to leave, but at least now I know that I’m passing on all of my beloved spots to people who deserve it! 🙂


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36 responses to “This Local’s Official Guide to NYC”

    • Thank you so much Veronica! hahah yes! well hey, there’s nothing better that Christmas time in NYC, so perhaps you’ll just have to plan a trip! hahahahahah you’re right – i look forward to bringing our kids there one day and showing them mom and dad’s old “stomping ground” haha Hugs and love xox

    • thank you so much Amy! i’m glad you enjoyed it! i had so much fun making it! Hugs and love xox

  1. Thanks for sharing… I have been to New York twice, but it was some time ago, and I don’t know any of these places. I’ll keep this list in mind if I ever make it back.

    • thank you so much Greg! i had a blast making this list. yes! i hope you do. though new york isn’t the same as it was, it still is a wonderful place to visit! Hugs and love xox

  2. This is a wonderful list of beautiful venues, Caralyn! They look like fancy places here in Vegas. You are moving on to the next exciting chapter of your life, I am happy for you! ❤️

  3. What a great insider’s view of New York City. I am sure your new chapter of life will have many wonderful places, people and things to do in it. Enjoy your remaining time in NYC! xoxo

    • Thank you so much!!! yes! I am sad to say goodbye to this city i have loved for so long, but this new chapter is going to bring so much joy and excitement too. i can’t wait! Hugs and love xox

    • oh good!!! i’m so glad you enjoyed it! i may have to do another one in February when I’m in Cincinnati and really missing the city hahaha. I appreciate it! always feel free to shoot me an email if you have any other nyc suggestions – i love to share! (and this post could have been tons longer too! hahah had to rein it in!) Hugs and love xox

    • Hi Amy!!! oh good!! i’m so glad! it was fun to relive some of my favorite memories. and i swear, this post could have been 20 pages long, but i had to restrain myself from going on and on!! hahaha
      and you can of course, always email me if you have any specific questions! 🙂 hope your week is off to a great start! Hugs and love xox

  4. What?!?! You’re leaving?!?! 😵 the city won’t be the same. Although I live in Washington Heights, the opposite end of Manhattan, I loved knowing that you were just downtown.
    Well, you’ll bless another home with your faith, love, and talent. Let the Lord guide Steven’s heart and yours. He will lead you to where He Himself awaits with great purpose. ❤

    • Hi LIsa Beth!!!!! oh my gosh yes, we areeeeee! aw, that is so sweet of you to say, yes we’re sad to say that our New York chapter is coming to an end. Steven, however, will have to come back once a month for work, AND his family is here, so i’ll be back A LOT, which is good!! aw, thank you for such beautiful words, my heart is truly touched. God bless you my friend!! Hugs and love xox

    • yay!!! oh good! thanks Mackenzie! NYC is always a fabulous trip, no matter what time of year!!!! Hugs and love xox

    • thank you so much!! oh good! i hope you have a wonderful visit to nyc in the future! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  5. Caralyn, This ought to be a travel book! What wonderful recommendations and lovely pictures! Thanks for sharing your uniquely curated New York and blessings on your move.

    • Thank you so much Jane!! I had so much fun creating this list and reliving all the fun memories I’ve had at these places around the city! NYC sure isn’t what it used to be, but boy — it was a really wonderful place to call home these last 10 years. Can’t wait for this new chapter back in ohio! thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

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