I’m always in an empire state of mind when visiting the bustling city of New York. The fact that you can have brunch at a midcentury modern patio near the Freedom Tower then travel several blocks to a rustic, industrial coffee joint by the Flat Iron building is one of my favorite things about the city. Manhattan offers an overwhelmingly amount of things to do, you may end up pulling your hair out because you can’t decide. Rooftop lounges, unique shops in SoHo, hot eating spots in west village, flea markets at Chelsea pier, gorgeous walks along Highline track… I can go on. I haven’t even mentioned the tourist spots: Times Square, Broadway, Empire State Building, Central Park, yada yada..
Having family in New York is definitely a perk since I always have a reason to visit and a place to stay. However, this past trip visiting them has taken me to different places outside the exciting borough of Manhattan. These places may be my new favorite spots!:
- ) Upstate New York | Mt. Taurus, Cold Spring, NY
Hudson Highlands/ Bull Hill was a hilly and rocky hiking trail in beautiful upstate New York. The drive up was scenic and a nice change of pace from the urban jungle of the city. The hike immediately started with heightened elevation, going through shrubs, trees and practically climbing rocks. There were several spots where we had a beautiful view of the Hudson river, surrounded by other hill tops and greenery. Further along the trail, we spotted abandoned estates and an old worn down parking garage. I would say that the difficulty level of the hike was medium. Hard core hiking shoes weren’t critically necessary, but they would have been nice, especially walking through the uneven ground (I survived with my nikes). The canopy of trees gave us cool shade, which made the heat bearable. The dogs that came with us also had a blast splashing through the various streams and puddles. If you’re a lover of the outdoors or even a rookie hiker, I would highly suggest that spot for an adventure!
2.) Georgetown, Washington D.C
Okay, I know this is WAY outside Manhattan – it’s a completely different state, but if you have the time, I would highly suggest making a drive down to Washington, D.C. It’s only a 4 hours away (same time as driving to Las Vegas from LA!) and it’s well worth the trip. If you’re doing an East Coast adventure, might as well see other parts of it! Georgetown is one of my favorite areas in the city. Located right on the edge of the renowned university, the area gives off a very quaint, scholarly, yet hip vibe. There’s plenty of restaurants, parks, waterfront views, bars and shops to visit. Fun fact: it’s also a home to the Exorcist Steps – the very famous (and very steep!) stair case that was featured in the original Exorcist movie. (If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s where the main priest plunged to his death in the final scenes). Locals now use it for a rigorous workout. Not too far from the eerie stone steps of death is a sweet and famous cupcake bakery: Georgetown Cupcakes. Known for their unique and delicious flavors, they were featured on TLC and have successfully opened up a sister shop in Los Angeles.
And of course, you can’t visit D.C. without checking out the National Mall lined with historic monuments, Smithsonian museums, our nation’s capital and, of course, the famous stomping grounds of Olivia Pope! 😉
3.) Baltimore, Maryland | L.P. Steamers
Again, if you have the luxury of time, or if you planned on making trips between D.C. and NYC, you have to stop by L.P. Steamers in Baltimore, Maryland, the capital of crabs! It’s only about an hour out from D.C. with the best blue crabs in town. Just 15 min from this amazing hole-in-the-wall, is the inner harbor, which has a beautiful waterfront that houses the National Aquarium, famous seafood restaurants and more. At L.P. steamers, all my family needed was a bucket of blue crabs, fries and their pitcher of sweet lemonade. That pit stop was definitely worth it!
4.) Long Island, NY | Hamptons, Montauk, Greenpoint,
On Long Island, the further you drive away from Manhattan things start looking a little country. Driving out towards Montauk and towards the Hamptons gave us a scenic view of the fields and natural farms. My cousin took me to a nice, quaint, nautical town called Greenport. It was that kind of small village that had renovated houses as restaurants, pubs and eateries. Rustic metal, fainted wooden porches, make-shift shell wind chimes, sailor’s rope and repurposed fish nets created the coastal atmosphere which was completely different from the modern city of Manhattan.
After a tasty meal on a porch of one the house/ restaurants, my cousin and I set out for the Lavender by the Bay, a lavender field located in East Marion. Little did I know, there were different kinds of lavender flowers. Row upon row (that were infested with large bees), you could pick up the slight soothing scent as each strand blew in the light breeze. Pictures online seemed more saturated in color than in real life (of course), but regardless, it was a fun experience and a great photo op!
After buying a bundle of dried lavender (that are scattered in jars throughout my house now), we drove to meet up with family in Mattituck, where there were acres and acres of land home to renowned vineyards.
Lastly, we couldn’t leave the area without stopping by a hole-in-the-wall, best-in-town, ice cream parlor. Magic Fountain Ice Cream contains just what the name suggests: fountains of homemade magic to ever exist on a cone. Their flavors are unique and stand out with each topping. Just across from a 7/11, it looks like an ordinary ma & pa shop. But Thrifty’s beware if they ever should open in a location nearest them!
5.) Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This is a neighboring borough right outside of Manhattan that’s just a bridge away and by far my favorite spot in New York. Walking around Williamsburg is like walking around the art district in LA, with different restaurants, pubs, and hidden gems. One of my favorite hidden gems is Sunshine Laundromat & Cleaners. Deep within the cleaners in the back of the machines is a hidden door that leads to a barcade filled with pin ball machines. It’s a cool, unique place to just hang out with friends or while you wait for your load to dry!
There you have it, the east coast never fails to impress me. The visit was a fun filled trip with pleasant surprises and endless exploration. Comment below about your favorite places to visit in New York!