The Ultimate NYC Weekend Guide
Hey everyone, I hope you're having an awesome week so far! Today I am super, super excited to be collaborating with my friend and fellow blogger Alyssa Freitas on a post that we've been talking about doing 4ever. Presenting: The Ultimate NYC Weekend Guide!!
Here's how this works—over here on Keep Calm and Chiffon you'll find all of our favorite daytime activities. So keep reading here for all of the best brunch, coffee, museums, and more. Then, when you're ready to start planning an awesome night out in the best city in the world, head over to Alyssa's blog where we've rounded up the best nighttime spots for a weekend in New York.
We've both written for both parts, although if you know us you may be able to spot who wrote what (for example I sing the praises of Cha Cha Matcha and Alyssa will get you hyped for the New York Historical Society) but I had so much fun doing this collaboration with her. If you want to see our previous collaborations, click here and here. Now are you ready for all of the best that NYC has to offer? Let's get started.
Walk the HighLine
If you want to get outside and experience a change of pace from the streets of NYC, consider walking the Highline. Built on old elevated train tracks, this park has become a key destination in the Meatpacking neighborhood. Whether you bring a picnic with some friends, wander through the park when outdoor art pieces are on display, or simply watch the sun set over the Hudson, you’ll definitely have a great time.
Bike through Central Park
This is another great way to be active in the city without having to worry about getting run over by a car. Rent a Citibike ($12 for a day pass) or bring your own set of wheels and ride the loop on a beautiful day. We recommend starting at 110th street and stopping somewhere on the west side for some fuel before continuing on.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
If you want scenic skyline views while also enjoying learning a bit of architectural history in the city, then you will love walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Our recommendation: start in Manhattan and walk to Brooklyn (Shake Shack and great views await you on the other side) and if you can aim for an overcast day. There’s no shade on that bridge!
Washington Square Park
This park is the place to go if you want to witness the strangest sights. A man in costume on the Washington Square Arch, people fighting with nerf guns, a man surrounded by pigeons, and hilarious street shows are just some things you may see.
Take the Staten Island Ferry
One of the last free things in New York (and probably the world) the Staten Island Ferry is a great way to visit an outer borough that TBH you probably have never been to while also getting great views of Lower Manhattan. Take photos and don’t get the ferry sign in it so that people assume you are Very Important because you’re on a boat.
Explore Ellis Island
Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a thrill, but I’m most blown away by the relatively new Ellis Island Museum. With photos and documentation and videos, you can learn about the immigration process and personal stories. Also, the architecture is amazing and I’m obsessed with the ceiling.
See forever at One World Observatory
I’ve done Top of the Rock before and I haven’t done the Empire State Building observatory yet (because then you can’t see the Empire State Building, ya know?) but I really enjoyed the WTC Observatory. There’s a mini museum when you walk in so you can get a history of the building. The coolest part is that the walls of the elevator are actually screens and as you ascend the 102 floors, the screens show a digital representation of how the Manhattan skyline has changed since the 1700s.
Jack’s wife Freda
This Mediterranean take on brunch will be sure to put a smile on your face. Whether you go for the Madame Freda with duck prosciutto or the rosewater waffle, the brunch options at this place are delicious and off-beat. They don’t take reservations, so go as soon as it opens to avoid a wait!
Pardon my French
A bottomless lover’s dream. This place delivers on great brunch classics with an option to go bottomless. From their french toast to the divine mimosas, this East Village eatery is a great place to spend a few hours on a Sunday. Be mindful that they are cash only!
From avocado toast to matcha lattes, there are a host of healthy and yummy options at this Greenwich Village locale. Come in for a while and enjoy good food, good company and you guessed it, good banter.
This Upper West Side hot spot draws a large crowd for its weekend brunches. Jacob's Pickles is modeled on Southern comfort food and serves up a host of yummy options that will leave you feeling full.
This little cafe tucked away in SoHo has quickly become a favorite. My friends rave about the orange juice and the eggs benedict are a personal favorite. Make sure you remind them to give you a bread basket, because once you do the refills never stop.
If you’re looking for a sweet and scrumptious breakfast, come here for the waffles. This corner spot, with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows, is a gem in Astoria.
Coffee & Matcha
Cha Cha Matcha
The mecca of all things pink and green! This trendy café opened a while back in Nolita and has since opened a second location in Flatiron. They create specialty drinks and pastries all involving matcha in some way, shape or form. Go for the matcha, stay for the Insta pics. Our drink order suggestion: iced matcha latte or the matcha lemonade.
Joe’s is just so reliable. The quality of the coffee, the speediness of the WiFi and the bright spaces make this a great shop. Our drink order suggestion: the iced chai latte.
I love Cha Cha but I have to point out that Matchabar was here first guys! The quality of their matcha is divine and I will be very excited when their long-awaited Williamsburg location finally opens. Our drink order suggestion: matcha latte with almond milk.
Variety Coffee Roasters
They just raised their prices which breaks my heart a teeny bit, but I will never stop being a customer here. You can’t beat the service at Variety (even on a busy morning I’ve never spent more than 5 minutes in here) and these guys definitely know their coffee. Our drink order suggestion: the cold brew.
The Good Sort
Disclaimer: don’t feel bad if you get lost trying to find this place because I almost did, it’s in a very obscure part of Chinatown. This hole-in-the-wall shop is known for it’s Rainbow Iced Latte which is made with beetroot, turmeric, and blue algae which gives it its gorgeous colors. Our drink order suggestion: the thing we just said.
The perfect rainy day activity is going to The Uncommons. For a flat rate you can play any of their board games for as long as your heart desires!
museums and galleries
If you want to gallery hop, take a trip outside of Chelsea to the Bushwick galleries and get a little bit of everything. We recommend hopping off at the Montrose stop and going from there!
This gallery has multiple locations around the city, so you can stop in whichever best suits your plans for the day! It first appeared on our radar after their show at the Chelsea location from earlier this year “We need to talk…” about the current state of America.
Gagosian is one of the biggest galleries that showcases some of the most important names in the art world. They always have some great exhibitions so if you find yourself in Chelsea, be sure to pop in.
The Museum of Modern Art has a huge supply of contemporary works. If there’s a special exhibition on the sixth floor, start there and work your way down. Make sure to take a moment to stop in the sculpture garden, weather permitting.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
To live all of your Gossip Girl fantasies IRL (and you know, visit one of the greatest art museums in the entire world) be sure to put The Met on your list. Get there early to avoid the crowds. Our must-sees? The Temple of Dendur room and whatever’s showing at the Anna Wintour Costume Institute.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
Since it’s moved from the Upper East Side to the Meatpacking District, the Whitney has seen a lot of changes in the past few years. They exhibit some of the greatest names in American art, and their terraces offer great skyline views of the city.
Museum of the City of New York
This museum doesn’t draw the same crowds as the MoMA and the Whitney, but it’s definitely worth a stop by if you find yourself on the Upper East Side. From fashion to design, this museum has excellent curators who can make any subject matter look as interesting as it actually is.
New York Historical Society
With an upcoming exhibit on Harry Potter, to a deep dive into the Vietnam War, you can learn about how impactful events were experienced in New York. Pro tip: Admission at the New York Historical Center is pay as you wish on Fridays from 6-8pm, so this is a great time to go if you want to avoid the normal $21 fee.
New York Public Library
Besides being a beautiful place to see books and architecture, the NYPL also has free historical and artistic exhibits throughout the year that are perfect to quickly view.
While you can still dine in the tavern, the museum on the second floor is the big draw. This tavern is where George Washington gave his farewell address to his troops at the end of the Revolution, and with weekend tours you can learn even more about the founding of our country. There is a large collection of paintings, a tooth of George Washington, and both Leonardo DiCaprio and I have been featured on their Instagram.
Located on “Curry Hill,” this small spot is the perfect place to come for an Indian buffet to sample an array of dishes.
We both freely and frequently express our love of Shake Shack (though we haven’t gone together…) and taking one look at the menu, it isn’t hard to see why. With creamy shakes and the best burger sauce, you can’t go wrong.
You really haven’t lived until you’ve tried the soup dumplings from Shanghai Cafe, a place which you may overlook if you’re wandering Chinatown. This spot makes amazing food on the cheap—$10 will get you eight dumplings and an order of lo mein.
If you’re looking for a delicious sandwich in the Soho area, here’s your hidden gem. Bottega Falai is known for its fresh and delicious meats so you won’t want to miss this Italian eatery.
This is a great place to eat when you and a friend can’t agree on what you want because of all of the food options! Whether you go for a burger, a sandwich, a salad, or just gelato, Chelsea Market has something for everyone. This is also a great spot to “sightsee” when it’s raining.
And there you have it! What's your favorite way to spend a weekend in New York?
Remember, for all nighttime recommendations, be sure to check out Alyssa's blog!