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Hidden Gems of Manhattan: 8 Must-See Sights & Must-Eat Restaurants in New York City



As a city that never sleeps, New York City is a perfect destination for travelers who want to immerse themselves in urban life, shopping, sightseeing, diverse cultures, and cuisines. With towering skyscrapers, various cultures and lifestyles, and world-famous landmarks, NYC is the perfect city getaway. You can find some of the world's prominent museums, architectural gems, and incredible cuisine here. In this blog post, I will share my favorite go-to areas, must-see sights and things to do, and incredible places to eat.



1. Flat Iron Building - Eataly, Mamman, Ralphs Coffee


This triangular-shaped building is an iconic landmark in New York City. The entire building is currently under construction (state May 2023), which you can see in the background of the upper left picture. Located in the heart of Manhattan, the Flat Iron Building is essential to the city's architecture and design innovation. Strolling through bookstores in Manhattan, I was surprised to find many books about Flat Iron Building.



Eataly

Eatly is a famous food hall with all things Italian. The entire open area reminds us of a busy Italian marketplace where you find everything Italian your heart desires. There are not just spots for coffee, pastries, cakes, and takeaway foods but also cheese stands, freshly made pasta corners, and separate stalls that offer pizza and mortadella sandwiches. Additionally, you will find many authentic imported Italian products to purchase and bars to enjoy a refreshing Campari or Aperol spritz.



Mamman

An incredible breakfast place that I highly recommend! Mamman is a cafe and bakery selling favorite childhood foods from southern France and Northern USA. Their rhubarb and raspberry croissant is a beautiful piece of art that tastes like heaven. I also recommend the avocado toast and pistachio croissant.



Ralph's Coffee

Ralph Lauren created Ralph's Coffee to represent the timeless American spirit of their famous brand. Their first-ever coffee shop opened in 2014 on 5th Avenue in New York City. The delicious organic coffee and stylish green tile interior design make the coffee shop a trendy hangout spot you want to be visiting.





2. Brooklyn Bridge - Brooklyn & Bridge Access from Manhattan


As one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country, Brooklyn Bridge offers a picturesque view of the New York City skyline. A walk across the Bridge provides a unique perspective of the city and its skyscrapers.


Dumbo Brooklyn

With its brownstone warehouses, cobblestone alleys, and picturesque Manhattan skyline views, Dumbo has become an iconic neighborhood and must-see in Brooklyn. With time the old warehouses turned into beautiful boutiques, high-end restaurants, and trendy cafes, which makes Dumbo an excellent hang-out spot.



You have probably seen the iconic picture perspective in which a bridge pops up in-between two warehouse buildings (left picture above). This photo spot is one of the iconic picture settings, making Brooklyn popular among Instagrammers and tourists. But did you know that the bridge in the picture is actually Manhattan Bridge and not the famous Brooklyn Bridge? When walking straight towards Manhattan Bridge, taking a left, you will see Brooklyn Bridge appearing in the distance.


Photo spot: Washington Street


Brooklyn Bridge - Access from Manhattan

You can easily access Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Side. Take the subway to Brooklyn Bridge - City Hall Station. The bridge starts just outside the subway station. You will see many food stands and people selling souvenirs at the beginning of the bridge.




3. Soho District - Shopping, Art and Trendy Dining


In the heart of Lower Manhattan, SoHo (short for South of Houston Street) is known for its trendy boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and art galleries. Soho has always been one of New York City's most vibrant, lively, and colorful neighborhoods. The cobblestone streets, elegant cast-iron buildings, galleries, and shops make it the perfect destination for afternoon strolls or a shopping spree.


Recommendations

Piccola Cucina Estiatorio - authentic Italian restaurant

Brandy Melville Flagship - Cali based clothing for teens

Pietro Nolita - trendy Italian restaurant

L’Appartement Sézane - trendy Parisian clothing



4. Central Park - Plaza Hotel and Central Park


Central Park

Central Park is an oasis in the heart of NYC, a 778-acre park surrounded by greenery, gardens, lakes, and outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and picnics. Among the many attractions in the Park are the Central Park Zoo, the Great Lawn, and the Conservatory Garden. If you're visiting NYC in the summer, be sure to catch a performance at the Delacorte Theater, which puts on an annual production of Shakespeare in the Park.



Plaza Hotel

The famous Plaza Hotel is a luxury hotel located on the corner of 5th Avenue and Central Park South, well-known for being featured in many movies and TV shows. Even if you're not staying in the hotel, it's worth stopping by to stroll through the halls enjoying impressive artwork. Also, you can dine in The Palm Court, Plaza's iconic venue, for high-end breakfast, afternoon tea, or cocktails at night.




5. 5th Avenue - Shopping and Exploring


5th Avenue is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world, lined with high-end boutiques, department, and flagship stores such as Tiffany's, NIKE, and the Apple Store. It's a shopping mecca for those looking to indulge in luxury brands. But even if shopping is not your thing, there are plenty of attractions, such as the New York Public Library, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and Rockefeller Center.



ILILI - Lebanese Restaurant

One restaurant you can't miss out on your NYC visit is Ilili, a trendy Lebanese restaurant on 5th Avenue (not far from Flat Iron Building). The restaurant offers small bite-size plates that are perfect for sharing. My favorites were the hummus, Baba Ganoush, Falafel, and Fattoush, a Lebanese garden salad. My mom and I loved the food so much that we returned to the restaurant a few days later to eat the exact same dishes again.




6. Financial District - 9/11 Memorial & World Trade Center


The 9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center are a reminder of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives. The Memorial features two large reflecting pools that sit in the footprints of the towers, surrounded by a plaza and trees, as well as a museum that tells the story of the attacks and their aftermath.



7. Skyscraper Visit - SummitOne Vanderbilt


Summitone Vanderbilt Skyscraper Experience:

Summitone Vanderbilt is the tallest commercial skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, next to Grand Central Terminal. The entrance fee to the Summit is $45 per person and includes a two to three-hour visit, offering stunning city views from its observation decks on the 91st, 92nd, and 93rd floors.

Inside the skyscraper awaits an art installation by artist Kenzo Digital, creating an intriguing experience of reflection and transcendence through physics and time. 30,375 square feet of mirrors covering the 91st and 92nd floors create an incredible perception inside the skyscraper. The 93rd floor includes:

  • A small restaurant.

  • Bathrooms with a fantastic view.

  • An outside terrace offering not just stunning views but also a breath of fresh air.




8. Times Square - Broadway Shows and Nighttime Shopping


The "Crossroads of the World" is a bustling commercial and entertainment hub. You can immerse yourself in the bright neon lights, grab a bite at one of the many restaurants, or catch a Broadway show at one of the theaters. If you are into fashion, you will love nighttime shopping. At night DJs turn various stores into a fun "shopping night out" experience.



Summary


New York City is a treasure trove of iconic landmarks, incredible restaurants, and fun things to do, and this blog post only scratches the surface of what the city has to offer. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, there is always something new to discover in NYC. So next time you find yourself in the Big Apple, make sure to add these destinations to your itinerary and experience the best of what the city has to offer.



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