There are so many thoughts that come to mind when you think of the ultimate New York City bucket list. The Empire State Building, New York Harbor, Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Washington Square Park, and Times Square, just to name a few. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, none of these are on my NYC bucket list for 2022 and 2023. Yup, you heard that right, not a single one of the most popular tourist attractions even made my top 10 things I want to see while I’m in New York City.
When I look at the beautiful New York City skyline, my idea of places I want to go to is slightly different.
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Here is my exciting bucket list of places I want to visit while in New York this year.
Food and Restaurants — Bucket List For New York City
Let’s start with one of my favorite topics . . FOOD!
Fair warning: a large portion of my list is made up of food-related adventures, and I am not one bit sorry about that. So let’s jump into the must-see food spots I want to visit.
So let’s jump into the must-see food spots I want to visit.
This restaurant is located in the middle of the national historic landmark, New York City Central Park — It has an iconic view of the park and is filled with a rich history. The Tavern on the Green was built in the 1800s and was originally a sheepfold for the 800 sheep that used to roam Central Park’s Sheep Meadow.
If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s me being a total sucker for vintage, antiques, and history.
I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell is a sheepfold?!?” After some googling, I found out that a sheepfold is a shelter or a pen for sheep — CRAZY, I know. Learning something new every day.
Here’s the cool thing: It became a restaurant in 1934 and features local and artisanal food. There are also vegetarian and vegan options on their menu. So, definitely a wide variety of food options for different dietary needs.
Ever wanted to dine in a shelter for sheep? Then I may just have added this gem to your bucket list.
In between trips? Make sure to check out my favorite travel books that will ignore your wanderlust!
Next on my bucket list is Palma Restaurant. Palma offers Italian classics, and its atmosphere is described as being warm and inviting. It is also known for its garden aesthetic, which can be seen throughout the restaurant, celebrating both love and the beauty of life.
Here’s why your NYC bucket list shouldn’t miss out on this restaurant:
This restaurant pays homage to its Italian culture by ensuring that they use fresh produce daily.
ALL their produce comes from local open-air farmer’s markets and organic biodynamic farms, according to their website. They also make sure to follow authentic and traditional practices and recipes.
Get yourself a piece of authentic Italian food.
Can’t get enough of Italian food? Head over to my NYC must-do article and check out little Italy – peek the picture above with the desserts from it!
Another historic food location with over 100 years of history is Russ and Daughters:
Some fun historical facts about this location are that it’s the first business in the United States to have “& Daughters” in its name. Original owner Joel Russ changed the name after making his 3 daughters full partners in his business. This was a controversial move for the time because many people believed that women should not work outside of the home, let alone run a business. Despite this, Russ and Daughters has stood the rest of time and the business has continued to this day through 4 generations of family ownership – this gives the mom & pop shop a completely new feel to it!
Up for something sweet? Check out my favorite dessert places in NYC! They’re to die for. .
Or maybe you’re more the coffee person? Any of these 5 upper east side coffee shops HAVE to be on your list.
Looking for the best things to do in NYC with kids? Check out this guide here!
Here’s why you shouldn’t miss out on visiting Russ & Daughters:
Russ and Daughters are known for their bagels, lox, and salmon and are a torchbearer of Jewish food in America. They also have multiple locations, but the location on East Houston Street is the original that opened in 1914.
Here are their other locations – check which one is closer to you if you can’t make it to the primary one:
- The Cafe
- 127 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
- 141 Flushing Ave Building 77, Brooklyn, NY 11205
If you consider yourself a foodie then Chelsea Market is absolutely one of the best things to do in New York. Chelsea Market is located in the Meatpacking District, in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan.
This iconic location features a food hall and has a collection of diverse merchants, all with their distinctive foods and ingredients for sale. It’s a marketplace where you can get the highest quality of ingredients, from fresh cuts of meat to artisanal cheeses or even fresh produce. The ingredients are top tier and Chelsea Market has become one of the greatest indoor food and retail marketplaces in not just New York, but the world.
If you are looking for a hidden restaurant gem in New York that is amazingly delicious and beautiful, then Brooklyn Farm is that hidden gem! They serve Asian-American comfort food featuring farm-fresh Thai cooking made from quality ingredients that are locally sourced.
Have you been looking for an instagrammable restaurant in Brooklyn, NYC? Look no further!
The food here is amazing, and an interesting section of their menu is that they have an all-day breakfast section. This is definitely a plus for anybody that is not a morning person. Not only that, but they also feature vegan-friendly options, which are great for anyone with specific dietary needs. Not only is the food amazing here, but the customer service is A++, making this a must-go-to spot in New York.
Unforgettable Deserts in New York City
Food is a fun topic, but the party of the food world would have to be desserts. Here are the top bucket list items when it comes to desserts and baked goods.
Small secret: I’m obsessed with chocolate. You will never see me say no to it. Oops.
ZuckerBakers Bake Shop is a small, family-owned and operated bakery that is a full-service Kosher Pareve bakery.
No idea what Kosher means? No worries, I gotchu.
Kosher means that all food here is prepared without meat, milk, or anything derived from it. Along with being meat and dairy-free, their baked goods are also peanut-free, lactose-free, and tree-nut free, making this bakery a haven for those with allergies.
Enjoy your desert worry free in this New York City Bakery!
If you’re looking for a pie place to visit when you are in New York City, then Petee’s Pie Company seems like the go-to spot!
Petee’s Pie Company, owner and founder Petra “Petee” Paredez started this company because she found an opportunity to use her lifelong skills of being raised in the pie business. Growing up, not only did she bake pies with her family, but her parents owned Mom’s Apple Pie Company. “Petee” would spend countless hours and all-nighters learning all she could from her parents. Her father taught her the production side of the business, while her mother taught her marketing.
All this knowledge would later accumulate into the perfect opportunity for her to open her own pie company after moving to NYC – down to try something new? Don’t miss out on this.
With such a rich history, this pie company sells both classic and modern pies along with other baked goods and coffee.
They make everything with local ingredients and use seasonal local produce, so you know that everything is fresh. The crust is also made with organic flour and grass-fed butter from New York State. Not only is everything made of top-tier quality, but they also have gluten-free and vegan options, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re craving more Italian food, check out my complete guide on New York City where I talk about little Italy, peek the picture above with the deserts – something you can’t miss.
Another must-visit location is Maman. This cafe opened in 2014 and, in such a short time, has expanded to multiple locations across New York. Maman means “mother” in French and that is the feeling that the food evokes – magnifique.
They offer delicious baked goods, coffee, and fresh breakfast and lunch options, such as salads, quiches, sandwiches, sweets, and pastries.
Fun Fact: is that in 2017, Maman’s famous nutty chocolate chip cookie was included in Oprah’s favorite things list and is on my Must Try list.
Want to explore more cafes in New York City, then you need to read my article on the Top 5 Coffee Shops in the Upper East Side.
Who screams for ice cream? I do, especially if it’s from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. A fun little fact about this ice cream shop is that it was converted from a 1922 fireboat house.
Obviously, this location is known for its ice cream, and for good reason. They make their ice cream and hot fudge fresh every day and use no preservatives. They have a total of 8 flavors, classic vanilla, vanilla chocolate chunk, strawberry, butter pecan, chocolate, chocolate chocolate chunk, peaches & cream, and coffee.
Some may see the limited number of flavors as a downside, but what it TRULY means is that they can focus their attention and dedicate the time necessary to make sure that every batch of ice cream is made with the quality it deserves.
The end results are pretty amazing! So if you’ve got a sweet tooth, make sure you check out the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
There are hundreds of different kinds of restaurants and deserts that could be on your New York City bucket list, however, if you’re in a time and money crunch, pick the ones you want to absolutely do. Similarly, if you’re struggling to plan your activities while working as a freelancer, check out my article on how to many your time doing both.
Bars – Nightlife in New York City
Shifting over to the bar scene, let’s talk about a couple of the most amazing-looking bars that New York City has to offer.
Radegast Hall and Biergarten is a beer hall that offers brews, Schnitzel, and a wine list.
Fun fact, I grew up in Germany – naturally, I HAD to try this place. Want some authentic German Schnitzel or delicious beer? Don’t miss out on this place.
There is a variety to choose from. Another important thing to note is that not only are drinks offered here, but there is also live music every day, a full dinner menu, and an open grill where the grill master can serve you your favorite type of sausage.
Radegast Hall and Biergarten have a warm and welcoming vibe that I’m excited to experience – a must for any New York City Bucket List.
The next bar that seems exciting and fun to visit is Tiny’s and the Bar Upstairs. It is located in a historic pink townhouse with 3 floors that were built in 1810. What is interesting about this location is that much of the original materials have been restored and overlaid with American finish details. A true piece of history! On the first floor, there is a modern American restaurant. The bar is located on the second floor, and lastly, the third floor is used as an event space.
Tiny’s and the Bar Upstairs definitely feel like the neighborhood it spot. At the very least, it’s the most recognizable spot due to its pink exterior. It evokes a very welcoming, cozy atmosphere where anyone can just come, eat, drink, and socialize.
Not to mention they also have a $2 Oyster Happy Hour at the “bar upstairs” Monday thru Wednesday from 9 PM to closing. Who can beat that!
Can’t wait to go? Make sure to reserve your place! Tripadvisor makes it easy.
This speakeasy craft cocktail bar is an amazing find that you WON’T be disappointed in. At La Boudoir, they definitely go the extra mile with their drink menu where they make thoughtful, beautiful, and creative cocktails. Not only are their drinks amazing, but they also feature burlesque shows in the evening on Friday and Saturday. Drinks and a show, what is not to love!
This new speakeasy should absolutely be on your New York City bucket list – it’s a one of a kind experience!
If this wasn’t enough to get you to stop by, then maybe La Baudoir’s decor will. This speakeasy’s decor and aesthetic are inspired by Marie Antoinette’s private chambers. If you ever wanted to see how Marie Antoinette lived, this is the place to visit.
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Entertainment – Where to go in New York City
A favorite among New Yorkers would have to be Westsider Rare and Used Books. Once inside, you are greeted with books galore, ranging from both fiction to nonfiction, and everything in between. This location also has a great selection of books its size, especially when you compare it to the New York Public Library. They also sell books here at incredible prices because it is a used book store.
This is the quaint used book store of your dreams.
The shelves are stacked to the brim with books and you can rest assured that any time you go, there are always new hidden treasures to discover. Westsider Rare and Used Books is otherworldly and filled with the warmth and comfort that all used book stores should strive to be.
One of the best features of this book store that just adds to its charm would have to be Pig the Cat. This cat can be found wandering or lounging around throughout the bookstore. So if you’re in New York, this is unquestionably a small gem worth visiting – a must on any Ultimate New York City bucket list!
Last on the list, but definitely not least, is The Box. This exclusive club features nightly shows. Their unique program combines music, burlesque, theater, and erotica.
This club is great for night owls because their shows start at 1 AM, but they advise that you get there before midnight. This is a rarity, as many bars and clubs are starting to close soon after – but not here.
Reservations are highly encouraged. Oh, and did I mention the dress code is GLAMOROUS, with black-tie optional. Who doesn’t love a fun dress code and a must-see show!
This is the place to go if you want to go all out and enjoy a different type of evening — let yourself be taken back in time when dressing up elegantly and being glam was the norm.
If you need things to do in New York City, why not go on a days of old deep dive. A great place to go and visit would be the Smallpox Memorial Hospital, a truly historical site. This landmark is filled with so much history that there is always something new to learn.
The smallpox Memorial Hospital was built and opened in 1854 and since its creation has gone through multiple changes and has been used for a variety of different things. Originally, the island that it was built on was named Blackwell Island, and this structure’s main purpose was to care for smallpox victims.
In the 1850s, a large portion of the population of New Yorkers was not vaccinated for smallpox. Therefore, since the number of New Yorkers that were contracting the disease was also high – hence, why did they build this facility. By 1875, when the cases of smallpox decreased, the hospital was renamed the Riverside Hospital so that it could serve a broader range of illnesses.
In 1886, the hospital closed down and was then converted into a training center and school for nurses. Blackwell Island around this time was also renamed Welfare Island. Eventually, in 1956, the building was abandoned, and the island was once again renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt Island.
In the 1960s, the smallpox hospital began to deteriorate and decay. Due to its historical significance, the city decided to reinforce the structure so that it was stable. By 1976, the building became a designated landmark and open to the public to visit and explore. So if you’re looking for a place to visit where you can take a walk down history lane, this is the spot for you!
It’s free to visit and you get to ride the Tram if you’re coming from Manhattan, if you’re down to walk, otherwise, you’d have to take the train.
If you find yourself in Central Park, which Hey, it is New York City, so chances are pretty high, then I highly recommend checking out Bethesda Terrace. This iconic feature of Central Park is located in the heart of the park at the north end of the long tree-lined promenade.
This well-known feature of Central Park is a large plaza that consists of 2 levels with an arcade and fountain. One of the best parts about this spot is that there is a man who plays beautiful live music there almost daily. You’ll believe you’ve been transported to New York City Music Hall with how lovely he sounds. His beautiful music makes this the perfect spot to just relax, do some people-watching, and overall, just admire the beautiful scenery.
Best part? It’s so beautiful that your pictures will look like you went to a castle.
Not sure what to do there besides taking breathtaking pictures? Check out Travel Advisors list and offers!
Make sure to add this to your New York City bucket list, so when you’re strolling through Central Park you will remember to go visit. When you go visit, I’d recommend to go more in the evening around 5-7 to catch the musician. It’s as if you’re thrown back in time and it stood still for a moment.
Have you ever seen Central Park covered in colorful autumn foliage? I highly suggest you do! Here are the best things to do in NYC in fall if you want to explore a different side of the city.
The High Line is definitely a must see in New York City. This location is a public park that is one continuous 1.45-mile-long greenway. It is built on a historic freight rail line that is elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side.
The High Line is an interesting historical fact because it was once destined to be demolished, but luckily the local community rallied together and repurposed the freight rail line. Thus, they created the park we see today that is home to 500+ species of plants and trees.
Due to its abundance of nature, The High Line is a great experience for nature lovers, art, and design. A good thing to keep in mind if you’re going to go visit is that, depending on when you go, you may need to make a reservation for access to the park. The good news is that reservations are only currently required for weekends, and holidays are free to make. Overall, this place is fantastic and a must-see for an awesome New York City bucket list.
Another great spot to check out in New York City is the Morgan Library and Museum. The museum is located in the heart of NYC and once belonged to a man named Pierpont Morgan. The museum was Morgan’s private collection, and after he passed, his son decided that the vast amount of knowledge contained within his father’s library was too important and needed to be available to the New York public.
Morgan’s son, therefore, transformed the library into a public institution, making it available to both scholars and the general public. Over the years, the museum has both expanded physically and in its contents and exhibits. So if you want to use some brainpower and expand your knowledge, this is the place for you.
If you love to shop and support a great cause all while having a unique experience? If so, then the Grand Bazaar NYC is the place to be. Formally known as the Green Flea Market, this diverse weekly market donates 100% of its profits to 4 public schools, funding enrichment programs, and classroom essentials for over 2,000 children.
The Grand Bazaar not only donates its profits but also solves a much-needed problem of affordable retail space for local artisans and vendors. This not only helps the vendors but the children as well – It is a Win-Win for everyone.
The Grand Bazaar is open year-round and is during peak season and has over 200 vendors. Talk about options! So if you are in the mood for some shopping and want to support local artists who in turn are supporting the local community school children, stop by the Grand Bazaar.
If you want to visit one of the most legendary spots on my New York Bucket List then you have to go to Coney Island. Coney Island alone could be its own Brooklyn Bucket list with the amount of stuff there is to see and do. This iconic and famous neighborhood is a legendary amusement/entertainment district. It is also the home to where many movies were shot and filmed, such as:
- The Lords of Flatbush (1974)
- The Wiz (1978)
- The Warriors (1979)
- Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
- Beaches (1988)
- Requiem for a Dream (2000)
- Two Weeks Notice (2002)
- Uptown Girls (2003)
- Men in Black 3 (2012)
- Brooklyn (2015)
One of the most popular and fun places to visit would be Luna Park. This is an amusement park that was originally built in 1903 but was destroyed in a fire in the 1940s. It later was rebuilt and has all you can expect from an amusement park, such as rides and games.
Speaking of rides, if you love to go on rides then The Cyclone at Coney Island is not only a roller coaster but an official New York City Landmark. Or if you want to visit the oldest ride at coney island then the iconic Wonder Wheel is a must.
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These are just some of the many places you can visit while at Coney Island. If you go, you are for sure going to need a whole day to explore all that it has to offer, but one thing is for sure is that you will never be bored at Coney Island.
The majority of this list has been food-centric, but hey girls gotta eat! So whether you’re interested in food, desserts, bars, or just a unique entertainment experience, there is something for everyone on this New York City bucket list.
New York City has so much to offer besides the regular tourist attractions that everyone goes to. This list was meant to show you that and offer you insight into what to do in New York and what this beautiful city has to offer.
Not sure what to take on your trips? Check out my article on travel must-have’s.
So whether you steal my bucket list or this list is just the starting point for you, adventure awaits you!
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