Guides

Brighton, England

If you ask any stressed out Londoner where they head for a beach break, it’ll be Brighton. The capital of kitsch is just 1.5 hours away and the ideal place to trade the smog for some sea air. 

Even the most cynical city dweller won’t be able to resist the fairground rides, cotton candy and ‘Stick of Rock’ (Google it). There’s also a proud green focus here – Brighton often wins award for its eco credentials thanks to its beach cleaning, burgeoning vegan scene and pioneering politicians. The LGBTQ+ community has played a huge part in putting the city on the map. Brighton’s Pride celebrations are considered the best in the UK and this year Britney is headlining, need we say more? 

Before you read on, don’t miss our best tip: for quieter beaches, take a 15 minute train ride from central Brighton to Hove. You can thank us later. 

Photo via Day Out With the Kids

Where to stay

Drakes Hotel

Located right on the seafront, this townhouse is as quintessentially English as they come and loved by Cate Blanchett, Kylie Minogue and Woody Allen. If you can, book the circular room with couple sized bath overlooking Brighton Pier. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into a postcard. Don’t miss the Drakes Viper cocktail before perusing the Modern British menu. 

Artist Residence

Above the green patch of Regency Square, this bohemian Artist Residence was the first of the boutique brand. The ping-pong in the basement tells us that the crowd is younger and perhaps more sociable than other hotels in the city. Decorated by artists, rooms are curated for creative eyes and filled with antiques. Don’t forget that breakfast is served until midday – these guys know what they’re doing. 

Harbour Hotel

The real pull for this hotel is the underground spa. Built within the exposed bricks of the old smugglers’ tunnel, you’ll find six treatment rooms, a heated indoor pool, sauna, steam room, Scandinavian hot tubs, a hydrotherapy pool, and gym. There are plenty of seaview rooms to choose from and Harby’s bar offers a relaxed setting for drinks and dinner. 

Photo via The Travel Magazine

Where to eat

Little Fish Market

Looking for sustainable seafood? This place should be your go-to. The tasting menu includes six courses and recent favourites include: Hand Dived Scallop, Mussel Curry With Apple and Gigha Halibut. Add the wine pairing – you won’t regret it.

Cafe Marmalade

The first thing you’ll notice about this cafe is the beautiful handwritten menus (you’ll understand once you see them). For breakfast, the coffee is spectacular with a bacon sandwich (a British staple) and lunch means healthy salads and veggie quiches. 

Isaac At

Practicing ‘farm-to-table’ perfection, every ingredient is sourced from a local supplier on a daily basis. Notably, Isaac At claim to be the only restaurant in the UK to offer an all English wine list. We’re particularly intrigued by their desserts: Barmley & Chervil Sorbet followed by Pear, Cobnut & Lemon Thyme then Almond Cake. 

Photo via Isaac At

Where to drink

Plateau

Wine minus the guilt – a no brainer. Plateau focus on ethical farming, sustainability and organic wines. Their friendly staff mean newbies aren’t intimidated by a tasting. Offering a choice of around 20 wines a day, the list is updated regularly too. 

The Gin Tub

This bar hit the headlines a few years back by banning phones. Whether you’re for or against the idea, the lack of technology means you can focus on present company and enjoy a fantastic cocktail or two. Their Happy Hour works out as extremely good value. 

The Mesmerist Pub

One for the beer drinkers in the heart of Brighton Lanes, this pub spans three floors so you’re guaranteed to find a spot. Saturdays draw in the crowds ready for a night of dancing whilst Sundays offer classic ‘Roast Dinners.’ 

Photo via The Independent

Where to dance 

Number 32 Duke Street

Here you have all three: a restaurant, bar and nightclub venue. From 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, the tables are cleared and people hop out of armchairs to get ready for the DJs. Expect RnB, hip-hop and pop classics. 

The Haunt

Expect a lot of themed music nights at The Haunt, from ‘80s Party’ to ‘SH*T POP.’ Entry costs just £3 and in the past they have hosted fantastic British bands, such as Hot Chip, The XX and Wild Beasts. 

Casablanca Jazz Club

Locals love this spot for the atmosphere and warm welcome from the staff. A reliable option for those who want a no-fuss live music experience. Don’t expect anything ‘fancy’ – this place is founded upon grit, good stories and classic British charm. 

Where to shop

Workshop

Don’t leave the UK without trying seaweed beauty brand Haeckels. This shop stocks a whole bunch alongside Grown Alchemist, Tangent and plenty more. 

Wolf and Gypsy

Do as the Brits do and take yourself thrift shopping. You could spend hours in Wolf & Gypsy sifting through one-off treasures. Don’t rush it. 

Resident

Vinyls are slim and can slide nicely into your carry-on. There, we’ve given you permission to go crazy at Resident: the best record shop in Brighton. 

Dowse Design

Your friends will be seriously pissed if you don’t bring back a present. Don’t leave it till the airport lounge – Dowse Design have got you covered with jewellery, art prints and ceramics. 

Photo via Trouva

What to do

Time for a cliché: let’s talk about the British weather. We’ve saved you the hassle of coming up with rainy day alternatives by choosing a few ourselves. 

If it’s sunny, head to Pavilion Gardens, walk down the coast, hop between shops in North Laine and we’d highly recommend the street art tour. 

If rain persists, cheer yourself up with treats and arcade games at the Pier then take shelter in The British Airways i360, which presents the best panoramic views whatever the weather. 

Photo via Thousand Wonders

Quick hit of culture 

Everyone knows that the ocean is a huge inspiration for artists so it’s no surprise that the city has some great museums to check out. 

Start with Brighton Museum for photography or LGBTQ+ themed work whilst Two Kats and a Cow is a smaller option, launched by three painters (so it’s bound to be good). Finally, Fabrica is all about new work as Brighton’s hub for contemporary art, based in a former Regency church building. 

Photo via Brighton Museum

San Francisco

San Francisco has changed a lot over the last few years. We won’t bore you with our opinions on the tech boom or rising rents, but it’s important to acknowledge that the city has seen a poignant shift. 

Despite the cultural developments, many are still drawn to SF a few times a year for work and, yes, to take some time to play as well. We love the potent NorCal energy, mind-blowing hikes, and consistently impeccable food that makes SF one of our favorite places in California.

Where to Stay

Phoenix Hotel

Named one of America’s coolest hotels some years ago, Phoenix Hotel has managed to maintain its hip factor. The courtyard pool is naturally a plus. Sitting between the Tenderloin and Civic Center, the hotel plays on the city’s arty influences and definitely has a 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it.

St Regis Hotel

If you are looking for a more upscale experience, check into the St. Regis. We love the shameless luxury and the fact it is next door to the mesmerising SFMOMA. The indoor lap pool is absolutely worth a dip and we would highly recommend visiting Remede Spa while you’re here too.

Proper Hotel

Inside the Tenderloin flatiron building you’ll find Proper Hotel. Most guests book to witness the great contemporary design and attention to detail. We love the rooms but (if we’re being honest) we really come here for the rooftop lounge with an in-built fireplace and great view of Market Street.

Photo via Proper

Where to eat

Flour + Water

In the Mission District, this is easily our favorite place for pasta in the city. The queues are long but the creamy carbs are entirely worth the wait. They have inventive dishes (mixing ingredients like chocolate and lobster) and we’re hard pressed to find another spot like this in SF.

Taqueria Cancun

San Franciscans will claim the city has the best Mexican food in California. They’re wrong (because LA and San Diego) but Taqueria Cancun’s burritos come close. Get the Burrito Mojado and prepare yourself for a nap afterwards.

Yank Sing

If you haven’t been to SF before, this should be your first stop. Go with a group and make room for some seriously good Dim Sum. If you’ve already been to SF, chances are you’ve already heard of this place, so what are you waiting for?

State Bird Provisions

First things first: book a table early. State of Bird Provisions is one of the city’s busiest restaurants. Thanks to the quality service, every dinner is transformed into a luxury affair. Some of the experimental plates may not sound appetizing but we dare you to try them. You won’t regret it.

Photo via State Bird Provisions 

Where to drink

The Alembic

A place for fantastic cocktails accompanied with old-school banquets and a wood bar. The music is as good as the food. One of our favorite spots to grab a drink with that person you haven’t seen in 5 years but still want to impress.

KAIYŌ

We love a Pisco Sour, which is why we are putting Kaiyo on our list. The menu boasts creative cocktails featuring Pisco as well as Sake, which encourages you to try something new.

Bon Voyage!

You may think you’re in Palm Springs when you walk into this place and that is exactly why we love it. For those foggy SF days, head to Bon Voyage for their bright interior and tropical cocktails.

Where to dance

Bissap Baobab

The crowd at Bissap Baobab may have changed since its inception but the buzzing atmosphere will always deliver. Come early to order Senegalese food and stay for the sweaty dancing. They’ll be blasting West African music, hip-hop, reggae, and everything in between.

The Make-Out Room

We love this Mission establishment because it has something for everyone. Latin music, 80s, pop… They do it all.

Monarch

In SoMa, this weekday bar turns into an underground dance fest come the weekend. You’ll find acrobats and sweaty dancing. We bet you’ll have the time of your life.

Where to work

Verve Coffee Roasters

You might have seen Verve on our LA list and their SF location is just as good. You’ll find large tables, WiFi and couches. Plus their coffee is some of the best around. They have outstanding pastries and some healthy California menu items to keep you going.

Photo via Verve Coffee

Axiom Hotel Lobby

We love this well lit lobby for some peace and quiet. The space is decked out in modern furnishings and you’ll always find a spot.

Saint Frank

This laid-back coffee shop in Russian Hill make their own almond milk (you’re in San Francisco, remember?) and has great WiFi. A good option for some caffeine fuelled motivation when you are in the neighborhood.

Where to get your hit of culture

de Young Museum

Nothing new here – everyone has heard of de Young. The fantastic exhibition schedule is second-to-none. Located in Golden Gate Park, team your art fix with a nature stroll.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

YBCA serves a mix of exhibits ranging from film to performance to fine art. Largely community based, this is the place to find out about what’s up-and coming in SF.

Coastal Trail Presidio Park

This route spans from Baker Beach to the Golden Gate as part of the California Coastal trail, which stretches across the state. In case you’re not a Cheryl Strayed fan, this 2-3 mile walk is a good alternative and you get a view of the bridge.

Where to shop

Mill Mercantile

If you love Unionmade and wish they sold women’s clothing, this is the answer. We always fit in a visit to this perfectly curated shop.

Woodshop

Make an appointment to visit this showroom in Outer Sunset. Owned by a few artists, you will find gorgeous, reclaimed furniture and high-design surfboards.

Le Point

With its minimal design and dream collection of womenswear, you will definitely find something irresistible at Le Point. Started by a stylist, she stocks labels like Staud, Mr. Larkin, and Tibi.

Where to work out

International Orange

Don’t miss a Vinyasa flow class at International Orange. Inspired by Japenese minimalism (it’s gorgeous), the space absolutely feels like an escape. The real reason we come here is to unwind given that International Orange is a spa first and foremost.

MNTStudio

Expect white walls, clean lines and great Reformer Pilates classes. This studio in SoMa may well be the classic California wellness space you crave. Their tough barre classes are also worth a try.

Hike

There are tones of hikes in and around SF. Of course, Point Reyes for a day or two is ideal, but if you don’t have time there are plenty of other trails close by. Head to Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson or Angel Island State Park for an outdoor sweat.

Where to break

Mercury Cafe

This coffee shop has somehow remained humble amongst the cavalier SF coffee scene. They make their scones every morning (they are amazing) and have homemade pie at the ready. It’s the perfect place to break if you are around Hayes Valley.

Trouble Coffee Company

We love this little coffee shop in Outer Sunset. If you want a small cup of fresh brew before heading to hike, stop here. If caffeine isn’t your thing, we’d go for the fresh coconut juice.

Sightglass Coffee

Are you a coffee snob? Do you know a coffee snob? Sightglass is the one true place for coffee aficionados. Even the fussiest of friends will leave impressed.

 

Cape Town by Ashley Ellis

We’ve caught wind of more and more friends heading to the Southern Hemisphere to visit South Africa’s most popular city. Apparently seasons don’t matter all too much in Cape Town, because just as many people are flocking there during South Africa’s winter.

Between the surfing, hiking, food scene, and countless activities just outside the city – it’s no wonder this is a popular destination year round. We tapped Ashley Ellis, local Cape Town resident and a writer, teacher, PhD candidate,  and filmmaker, for her expert tips on where to go in and around Cape Town.

We know you live or have lived in Cape Town, but let’s say you were to take your dream staycation. Where would you stay?

The Silo Hotel – The building is an architectural gem; the decor, ambience and views are unparalleled; and it’s adjacent to Zeitz MOCAA and The V&A Waterfront, so the location couldn’t be better.

The Belmond Mount Nelson – The epitome of luxury and relaxation on gorgeous, manicured grounds.  Belmond is one of my favorite brands, and this property of theirs doesn’t disappoint.

MannaBay – The perfect hideaway for a screenwriting retreat.

Photo via MannaBay

Favorite places to eat on the daily? What do we order?

Cape Town is such a diverse food city, so we’re spoiled with options. My routine is often something like:

Weekdays:  

Eastern Food Bazaar – Shawarma! (but do try Bunny Chow while visiting South Africa!)

Pahari – Beef Stew, Pap and Veggies

Obz Cafe – Prego Chicken Wings with chips or veggies  

Weekends:

Neighborgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill – Bunga Bunga with Kudu

Mojo Market – Take your pick from the internationally inspired food stalls!

Where would you go to eat for a special occasion? What are they known for?

Grand Africa Cafe & Beach – all things seafood are nice at this restaurant .

Want more? I’ve got more!

We’ve lost our luggage. Where would you suggest we get a new wardrobe?

This is one time when you won’t be sorry. Today, Cape Town is considered one of the design capitals of the world, and there are tons of local talents creating contemporary and African inspired fashion. I have two suggestions for shopping centers where you can buy local: The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront features all styles of clothing but also has tons of gift options.  Inside the mall, there are global brands if you need some staples. Then in Woodstock, a very short drive outside of the city centre, is The Old Biscuit Mill, which has a variety of clothing stores and some great art.  On Saturday mornings and afternoons, Biscuit Mill hosts a pop up market with live music, and just outside of the building, Albert Road is lined with factory shops from the leading local designers. If you like walking and shopping, there are many boutiques in town to check out. My favorites for African inspired wear are WAG Fashion and Merchants on Long. Otherwise, Shop. Collective on Kloof Street; If it isn’t your style, you’ll find anything you’re looking for within a few blocks on Kloof. Last but not least is a concept store for the fashion forward that I love, Maison Mara, but let me not forget the men… nearby, Bastille is a great shop specifically for menswear!

What are your favorite bars around town? What should we be ordering?

Yours Truly on Kloof Street is an intimate spot that’s perfect for a warm night.  There’s usually a diverse crowd and good music, and because it’s attached to an upmarket backpackers, the bar attracts both locals and international travelers.  Try some of their homegrown Truly White and make some new friends here.

The Gin Bar is a speakeasy behind a small chocolate cafe.  I love gin, and my absolute favorite in the world is the amber gin by Inverroche, made from fynbos botanicals, which are only found here in the Western Cape. For that reason alone, I highly suggest The Heart, one of the cocktails made with this particular liquor on The Gin Bar’s menu.

Beerhouse – If beer is your thing, you’ll get a huge selection of craft beers here in an unassuming atmosphere that overlooks all of the action on Long Street.  At night it’s pretty poppin, but I’ve been there plenty of times during a lazy afternoon just to chill with friends and a cold brew.

Kloof Street House – for gorgeous, delicious, high-end cocktails with prices that aren’t so ridiculous. Try to the Strawberry, Mint, and Rooibos Daiquiri.  Since it’s made with rooibos tea, you’ll likely only find this cocktail in South Africa.

Photo via Kloof Street House

Best place for an AM pick me up? Either coffee, green juice, or tea?

I’m a coffee addict who can easily find a good fix in Cape Town, but I think a much rarer find is a great tea house.  My friends at KA PA Tée have curated a selection of teas from all over the world, have state of the art equipment to make the perfect brew and have cultivated a cozy, intimate environment in which to enjoy a cup or two.  I wouldn’t seem to be “in the know” if I failed to mention Truth Coffee because this steampunk inspired locale for serious coffee lovers boasts the title of the “world’s best coffee shop”.  However, my personal favorite is Ou Meul Bakkery, because they’ve got Bootlegger Coffee, another great local brand and freshly baked everything.  You can also get fresh juices there if that’s your jam.

We have an entire afternoon free, and are looking to do some damage to our credit card. Where should we go?  

Definitely swipe for African housewares, art, and curios.  At these places, you’ll find beautiful, quality and authentic pieces that are actually made in Africa, which isn’t always the case at the big tourist markets:

Tribal Trends  

Africa Nova

Everard Read Gallery

Zeitz MOCAA Museum Shop

Where can we get our dose of culture where we won’t be swarmed with other tourists?

There are lots of museums in Cape Town, but District Six Museum is in an area of the city that is rich in culture and history but doesn’t get too much tourist traffic.  It’s a great place to turn inward and learn about how and why Cape Town came to be the way it is today. You’ll also be supporting those who are working against the erasure of certain people and places in post-apartheid South Africa. Similarly is the heritage neighborhood of the Bo Kaap, through which you can take a walking tour or explore on your own. And if you get hungry, stop at The Kombuis which claims to have the some of the best traditional Cape Malay food you can find.

Photo via District Six Museum 

We’re looking to party….like a local. Where should we go?

Check out the slew of bars and restaurants on and around Lower Main Road in the Observatory neighborhood. Here you’ll find a dedicated local crowd in unpretentious settings. Otherwise, you can travel a bit farther out of the city into Khayelitsha and head to Rands which has great food and dance music. Khayelitsha is one of the largest and fastest growing townships in South Africa and is vibrant and full of energy. Visiting will give you a fuller understanding of Cape Town than just hanging out in the CBD. With that said, townships are not tourist spectacles; Go because you want to have a good time, but be respectful and aware of this. Visit both of these neighborhoods with a local who’s familiar with the area if possible. It’ll be a better experience overall.

We’d love to see some live music. Where to?

You know how it is… different spots for different nights!

In no particular order:

The Waiting Room – DJ’s, hip hop, eclectic, acoustic… a multilevel bar with inside and outside hang out spots.

Aces n Spades – Where bands perform just before they become famous.

The Piano Bar – Jazz vibes (SA is known for jazz!)

Alexander Bar – An intimate performance venue for all kinds of shows, even for the literary types.

Dizzy’s Camp’s Bay – Beachside dive bar vibes with a karaoke night and live shows.

Favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

The Company’s Garden is just a one minute walk from my flat, so I go there often to clear my head or read a book.

Photo via Company’s Garden

Tips and tricks for getting around town? 

Most of the Cape Town CBD is walkable, which is one thing that I love about the city.  The MyCiTi Bus is cheap, convenient and safe. Otherwise Uber is easy, because most things aren’t very far in distance.

Let’s just say we are single – where are the babes hanging out?

I have no idea, but I’d suggest you put on your best beachwear and head to Camp’s Bay.

And if we are coupled up – what is the best date spot that will actually have a table?

Asoka 😉

Where should we go for some “forest bathing,” or a nature walk (if not a full-on hike)?

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is one of the richest and most comprehensive in the world and has plenty of walking trails.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

I’d go to Rhodes Memorial, because it’s so quiet. It has a dazzling view of the city for the sketch artists and a tea garden for those who bring their journal.  

You need to work, but the wifi is down at work/home. Where do you go?

I take a long walk or a short drive (from “town” Cape Town’s CBD) to Woodstock and head to Superette in Woodstock Exchange. It’s a bright, comfortable environment to work with coffee, treats, and delicious light meals. The wifi is powerful enough, and I can stay and work for hours without being rushed. It’s bustling but not noisy nor packed, and there are so many creative offices and retailers in Woodstock Exchange, that I always feel surrounded by the good vibes of creative entrepreneurs hard at work.

Photo via Superette

Where do we go to work out like a local? What are the trends that everyone’s into these days?

The hike life is definitely a thing here, and it’s understandable, because the landscapes in Cape Town are treasures.  If you’re looking for a traditional gym experience, then I’d recommend Virgin Active which has plenty of locations.  For me personally, I really enjoy going to Spring Pilates Shmilates with other locals.  It’s intimate, and they take great care of my body there!

We’re jetlagged AF. Where do we go to treat ourselves, spa or massage-wise?

Definitely the spa at 12 Apostles Hotel.  The views alone will get you feeling right.

Anything else you want to add in terms of interesting activities or must-see/do’s?

Yes definitely. I have three very important suggestions!

1. Do pay your respects to the freedom fighters who were willing to serve time in abhorrent conditions to see South Africa become a more just society.  I think anyone who comes to Cape Town should visit Robben Island Today, the tours there are led by former inmates and guards, but these people will not be around forever to tell their stories first hand, so this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.   

2. If you have time on your trip, take a day trip to down the coast to Cape Point and experience the southern most tip of the continent, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.  It’s considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, which I cosign. There are several ways to approach the trip, but do stop in Llandudno Beach, Muizenberg, Simon’s Town, and Hout Bay along the way and just give yourself time to explore.

3.  Most people who come to the Western Cape want to visit the wine country at some point.  I highly recommend visiting the French influenced town of Franschhoek and the Solms Delta Wine Farm specifically.  Solms Delta sits on land where artefacts from some of the Earth’s first humans were left.  In addition to this, it has a social business model which is completely unique to the region and empowers its farmworkers.  It has two small museums that pay homage to the history of the people who have worked the land for hundreds of years. Here, you can picnic, taste wine, and soak in the landscapes that will leave an imprint on your hear.  And the wine is superb. They have a Shiraz (a personal favorite) in the 1,001 wines you must try before dying. Oh, and there’s a hidden gem of an Ou Meul Bakkery on the road to Solms Delta that has a farmstall with the most delectable items for your pantry.

Toronto

Turns out, Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America (we had to double check that fact too). That being the case, you can only imagine the breadth of things to do in Canada’s business capital. Though most of us pass through here for work – there is plenty to do in terms of food, drinks, and a good time.

The most exciting thing about Toronto is the diversity that makes the city so special. It celebrates those who call the town home – no matter their background – and you can easily see this in the cuisine you eat, art you see, and people you meet.

Our recommendation? If you find yourself on a two day stay for some meetings, extend your trip a while and see what this town is all about.

Where to stay

The Drake Hotel

Hands down, this is the coolest hotel in Toronto. Their eclectic design is a visual representation of how they foster the local creative community and bring Toronto’s best to their visiting guests. With great programming (they have DJs and performers every week), vibrant mid-century modern design, and the Sky Yard rooftop bar – we are pretty much ready to move in. 

Photo via The Drake

The Gladstone Hotel

Boasting artist-designed hotel rooms, this certified B-Corp hotel feels good to stay in know you’re doing good. They support local vendors and use locally made products within their space, and pride themselves on “socially conscious hospitality.” Housed in an old Victorian, they have preserved the floor plan and converted the building in 37 unique rooms and 3 dedicated art galleries.

The Templar Hotel

If you are heading to Toronto for business, but still want a dose of chic – head to the Templar Hotel. Located in the Entertainment District, you can book anything from a single room to a two-story loft. The design is minimal (which we love) and you are walking distance from the CN Tower, Queen Street, and tons of restaurants. 

Where to eat

Pukka

If you like Indian food – you’ve found your spot. This is a refined, British take on the cuisine but the vibe is entirely low-key. Definitely get the slow braised beef short-rib. 

DaiLo

This is a French-Cantonese restaurant with a generous $65 tasting menu. Think braised lamb with sweetbreads and pumpkin dumplings. We love how exciting the menu is here – and definitely recommend dipping into the cocktail list pre-dinner.

Gusto 101

Housed in an old auto-body shop, this Italian restaurant is famous for its wood-fired grill, and the dishes that come out of it. The space is cozy and we definitely don’t hate their $1 house wine deal.

Photo via Gusto 101

Where to drink

Paradise Grapevine

Offering a very well-curated selection of great beer and innovative wine, Paradise Grapevine holds a special place in our heart. As much as we love the drink menus, we also come here for their charming patio.

Barchef

Known for exceptionally artful cocktails and the wonderful mixologists who make them – this is the cocktail bar you come to when you want to impress the co-workers that hated on the Toronto trip.

Seoul Shakers Club

If you’re looking for ambiance – look no further than Seoul Shaker Club. It’s in theme (neon signs, plants hanging from the ceiling, and Korean inspired cocktails) and also offers soju. If you’re boring, they also serve beer, wine, and have a hit list of classic cocktails. 

Photo via Seoul Shakers

Where to workout 

Kula Yoga

With hot, restorative, and beginner classes plus meditation and various workshops – Kula Yoga does a lot for us. We love the general vibe and think that they have some of the best teachers in the city.

Spokehaüs

Similar to a SoulCycle or FlyWheel, Spokehaüs is an uber chic spin studio that makes you want to work it. Get ready to sweat it out to heart pumping music, and then wash it all away with Malin + Goetz products that they stock in their dressing rooms.

Core Pilates Studio

If you need to get your body aligned and back on track, head to Core Pilates studio for a reformer class. We love their Reformer Sculpt class, but you can choose from 6 equally challenging classes that they provide. 

Where to break

St Lawrence Market

Once named the worlds best food market by National Geographic, this major public hall features everything from produce to food stands. If you are in need of a break (and maybe a snack), definitely head here. We recommend hitting up Carousel Bakery but there are tons of options. They also offer cooking classes and frequently have events – so make sure to check their schedule!

Odin

If you are into the Scandinavian design thing, we have found your spot. Odin is a Corktown coffee shop designed by a local architecture studio that prides itself on beautiful modernism and minimalism. Though we definitely come here for the space, we also think they make great coffee. If caffeine isn’t what you’re craving, grab a baked good or a microbrew. 

Tokyo Smoke

This industrial-chic space is basically created to be Instagrammed. Though it’s a bit uber-trendy, we love their espresso and Vietnamese drinks made with custom beans from North Toronto’s De Mello Palheta.

Where to work

Boxcar Social

With great coffee, and a patio for the warmer months, Boxcar Social is popular with Toronto-based freelancers. If you stay longer than the A.M hours, they have snacks and even beer to keep you motivated.

Fix Coffee + Bikes

In West Queen West, this is our pick for a low-key coffee shop with outlets, good lighting, great coffee, and bike repair if you need it. They have bleacher style seating as well incase the table and chair vibe isn’t your thing.

Photo via Fix Coffee + Bikes

The Gallery at Gladstone Hotel

Take in local art as you set up shop in The Gallery at Gladstone Hotel. It has comfy couches and WiFi, and will get you out of the typical coffee shop environment. 

Where to get your hit of culture

The Royal Ontario Museum

ROM combines art, culture, and natural history all under one roof. It’s the most visited museum in Canada and though there is a ton to see – we definitely nerd out on their Art Deco interior collection. 

CN Tower

We know, we know. This isn’t anything new and even if you’ve never set foot in Toronto before, you probably know what CN Tower is. That said, it used to be the world’s tallest tower and you can still go up to the look-out level (which is casually over 1k feet). 

Trinity Bellwoods Park

If you are visiting Toronto during the warmer months and want to take in the local scene of people fully enjoying the warm weather – head to Trinity Bellwoods Park. Pack a picnic and watch how happy Canadians are to see the sun.

Where to shop

The Wanderly

This exceptionally curated boutique is a perfect mixture of vintage finds and consciously sourced accessories and clothing. Think California chic, with products suited for city life. 

KOTN

A unisex basics line we love. Their brick-and-mortar location on Queen Street sells hoodies, t-shirts, and more – all made with high-quality Egyptian cotton. 

Oak + Fort

You may have heard of Oak + Fort because of their digital presence and subscription model, but their store location in Toronto is where it’s at. These simple but classically chic cuts are everything we need. 

London by Journalist Annabel Herrick

Trying to boil down London to just one city guide isn’t possible. There is way too much going on in the UK capital to try and choose between a few restaurants, shops, or hotels- London makes even NYC seem tiny in terms of potential travel time between areas and hot spots. Yes, commute time can suck- but it also makes London an amazing place to explore for as long as possible, as there’s no end to diversity and culture here.

Instead of giving you one top list, we’ve decided to show you a variety of perspectives of our home base (we call London home here at Safara- mostly). First up, check out Annabel Herrick’s guide to her London – focusing around the North East areas (Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Islington, and more!). This freelance journalist has written for CN Traveler, Vice, and Stylist. She is definitely a woman you want to be taking tips from – and her London spots are second to none. 

We know you live in London, but let’s say you were to take your dream staycation. Where would you stay?

42 Acres yoga retreat in Somerset – I’ve heard good things…or the Pembrokeshire Coast – it’s so wild there.

Image via 42 Acres

Favorite places to eat on the daily? What do we order?

I loved the Friday food market on Southbank when I worked in Covent Garden. You can’t go wrong with Dishoom (if you’re happy to queue). I’m pescatarian so I find Indian and Thai food is great as you really don’t need meat for flavor with all the spices. There are various Natural Kitchens all over London and they do great salads, good for meetings too. I just discovered a lovely organic market at the end of my road, Manse Road, in Stoke Newington that’s on every Saturday morning. They have whatever the farmers have grown that week as well as honey, homemade bread, cheeses, milk etc.

Where would you go to eat for a special occasion? What are they known for?

The Modern Pantry is beautiful, a Georgian Townhouse in Clerkenwell. It’s ‘fusion’ European.

Image via The Modern Pantry

What are your favorite bars around town? What should we be ordering?

I’m more about pubs than bars. A few that come to mind: Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park, The Water Poet near Moorgate and the Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak have a live jazz duo who are wonderful. They only take cash, very old fashioned, proper ‘old man pub’ with great local ales.

Best place for an AM pick me up? Either coffee, green juice, or tea?

London Grind (various all over London) is an easy choice and always good (short and strong with oat milk) and my favourite new local is Cafe Z in Stoke Newington. Any Hoxton is reliable for a quiet spot when organising a meeting.

We have an entire afternoon free, and are looking to do some damage to our credit card. Where should we go?

Has to be Rivington Street in Shoreditch for mid/high end brands like Acne or Church Street in Stoke Newington – lots of lovely interior/furniture boutiques and antique shops.

We’ve lost our luggage. Where would you suggest we get a new wardrobe?

In and around Shoreditch; Brick Lane for vintage, BoxPark for local designers and Spitalfields for bigger brands.

Where can we get our dose of culture where we won’t be swarmed with other tourists?

Clissold Park in Stoke Newington for a stroll (the goats…!) or smaller Shoreditch galleries like Jealous or Protein. Now I’m freelance I tend to go to galleries midweek (a luxury I know) as I can’t handle weekend crowds!

We’re looking to party….like a local. Where should we go?

Rowans Tenpin Bowl in Finsbury Park. It’s very weird but very fun. Old Queen’s Head in Angel or Concrete in Shoreditch are crowd pleasers.

We’d love to see some live music. Where to?

Union Chapel in Angel is a beautiful venue.

Image via Union Chapel

Favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

The northern edge of Hampstead Heath away from the crowds, ideally not on a weekend. Super early when it’s misty if you can handle it!

And if we are coupled up – what is the best date spot that will actually have a table?

You have to book in advance wherever you go really. I’m so not the right person to ask for this! I just like a big beer garden with good ales (easily pleased) so further out in North London like The Spaniards Inn in Hampstead is lovely.

Where should we go for some “forest bathing,” or a nature walk (if not a full-on hike)?

Hampstead, Clissold Park, Lea Valley, there’s an old railway line above Archway that not many people know about. Download Go Jauntly for more ideas, they have loads. 

Tips and tricks for getting around town?

Cycle! That’s my number one tip if you’re brave enough. It’s really not as bad as it looks.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

The best galleries but midweek if possible: RA, Tate, Courthauld, Barbican

You need to work, but the wifi is down at work/home. Where do you go?

One of the many beautiful Stoke Newington cafes. 

Where do we go to work out like a local? What are the trends that everyone’s into these days?

Chroma in Shoreditch do colour therapy yoga sessions, gimmicky but really cool and I swear it works. I love spinning at Digme or 1 Rebel (they do hip-hop themed classes). There’s a tiny community focussed yoga studio called YogaHome near me that’s a registered charity, their classes are amazing considering their low prices. Other amazing studios with a cult following (more expensive) include: Yotopia (Covent Garden), Indaba (Marylebone) or Tri Yoga (Camden, Shoreditch, Soho).

Image via Chroma Yoga

We’re jetlagged AF. Where do we go to treat ourselves, spa or massage-wise?

I’ve heard treatments at Tri Yoga are amazing.

Anything else you want to add in terms of interesting activities or must-see/do’s?

Columbia Road flower market on a Sunday. Get there early.

 

Paris

We could walk every arrondissement 100 times and still discover new things to love about Paris. From sipping on an espresso at a sidewalk cafe, to duck fat potatoes at every meal, to running through the rain along the Seine – this is a place where your dreamy image (or cliché) of what it could be actually matches reality.

Though people think of Paris as a city for the posh and fashionable (and let’s be real- everyone who lives there seems to be slightly cooler) the town has so much to offer for anyone who decides to pay a visit.

With The City of Lights being one of the most popular destinations in the world, we figure you’ve already got The Louvre and a few of the famous restaurants on your list. In an effort to add some lesser known gems, and pay homage to the places we love most, check out our guide to France’s picture-perfect capital.

Where to stay

The Hoxton Paris

Okay fine. You will find a Hoxton on our list of “Where to stay” in any city the hospitality company may have a hotel in – and with good reason. Their Paris outpost is housed in an 18th century hôtel particulier and is their largest (and arguably most beautiful) hotel. Many of the furnishings come from famous French designers and you can choose a variety of guest room sizes ranging between a Shoebox, Cosy, Roomy, and Biggy. We recommend snagging a room on the top floor as they have striking views of the Eiffel Tower. With the Rivié restaurant serving classic French fair and Jacques’ Bar making exotic cocktails right in the hotel – you may feel like you don’t even have to leave.

Photo via The Hoxton

Le Pigalle

This might be the sexiest hotel in Paris. With in-room bathtubs, views of the city, and eclectic artwork decorating the walls – it’s definitely a spot to book if you are getting away with your special someone (in fact – we even included it in our V-Day guide). As much as we love the rooms, our favorite thing about this hotel is that the good time comes to you. Their ground floor not only has a vinyl record library, they also have DJs that come in to spin on a weekly basis.

Hotel Des Grands Boulevards

Experimental Group (the guys behind Experimental Cocktail club and other mainstay watering holes in Paris and beyond), took a step into the hotel business and opened hotels in both London and Paris. Built in an 18th-century townhouse and boasting 50 rooms that are designed with rich fabrics and playful details, we would crown Des Grands Boulevards the chicest of Experimental’s hotels.

Grand Amour Hotel

This is the older sibling to Amour Hotel (3-star hotel which is also 100% worth staying at). This place serves us old retro Hollywood vibes, if Hollywood was in France. With a major “cool-kid” factor, we stay at this place as much for the courtyard bar and the great restaurant as we do for the eclectic rooms.

Where to eat

Chez Janou

This restaurant is loved by locals and tourists alike. The food is good, the vibe is better, and their chocolate mousse (which is literally bottomless) is the best.

Chateaubriand

Don’t come to Chateaubriand if you are a control freak. This distinctly French restaurant has one of the best and most affordable tasting menus we’ve come across – but you pretty much get zero say in what comes to your table. Truth be told, that is entirely fine with us because everything that comes out of this kitchen is great.

Le Stresa

We have insider knowledge that this is model Elsa Hosk’s favorite restaurant. Though it’s a bit scene-y and may not be your first pick if you are trying to go to authentic Parisian style, you can’t deny that La Stresa is a good dose of fun. Pasta, velvet chairs, and ornate mirrors are what define this small Italian restaurant. 

Pamela Popo

This restaurant is named after a Serge Gainsbourg song. Need we say more? Fine, we will. Decked out in vintage wallpaper, Pamela Popo will take you right back to the 50s & 60s. It’s classic French food and when it’s warm we encourage you to grab a seat outside.

Where to drink

Le Comptoir Général

Along Canal Saint Martin is one of our favorite multi-use bars in Paris. This Franco-African themed space looks like a warehouse loft that has been converted into a venue – with mismatched chairs and vintage finds hanging on the walls. The best part about Comptoir is that you can come here for drinks and great tunes in the evening, and return the next day for morning coffee.

Photo via Le Comptoir Général

Le Perchoir

Our favorite rooftop bar in Paris. Come here for a sunset drink (or three) and make sure to dress well – you’ll find a seriously fashionable crowd.

Hero

Hero is actually a Korean-inspired restaurant on rue Saint Denis. We encourage you to order the food – but we come here for the killer cocktails. The vibe is dark and sexy, and you will hear a mix of hip-hop and K-pop in the background. Can you ask for anything more?

Le Dépanneur

Great cocktails in a cozy-chic space. This spot is also a restaurant, so if you get hungry there are some great picks on the menu. It’s in the increasingly hip Pigalle neighborhood which has bars popping up on every street – so this is a great place to start your evening or meet for a date (you are in Paris after all…).

Le Syndicat

Behind a storefront that is seemingly closed is Le Syndicat. This bar specializes in unusual cocktails and bringing back old-school French spirits.

What to do

Marche des Enfants Rouges

An indoor market with tons of stalls that carry fresh produce, prepared food, and more. It’s a great place to stop for lunch.

Picnic on the Seine

There are few better experiences in Paris than buying a baguette, bottle of wine, and great cheese to bring to the banks of the river. 

Institut Suédois

We are throwing this one in the mix because we bet you haven’t visited this museum yet. The gallery explores the history of artistic exchanges between France and Sweden, and frequently has exhibits by young creatives and artists. If you have a love for Scando aesthetic – definitely don’t miss this one.

Canal Saint Martin

We love the Canal Saint Martin because it’s truly one of the most picturesque spots in a very photogenic city. It’s more tranquil than the other sites along the Seine and is close enough to the Marais to make it an easy stop-by. If you’re looking for that romantic pic with your friend, partner, pet, or stranger – this is your spot. 

Piscine Molitor

If you are in need of a Wes Anderson Instagram moment, or just want to cool off in the warmer months, come to this iconic pool at Hotel Molitor. 

Where to shop

Merci

That little red car you’ve seen all over the internet? That’s in front of Paris’s favorite concept shop, Merci. This multi-floored high-end general store has home goods, clothing, used books, gifts, and even furniture. If you are meeting a special someone, they have a flower shop and if you are in need of a pick-me-up, they also have a cafe (because duh). 

Ami

The St. Germain location of this super cool men’s brand has the only women’s capsule collection anywhere- go for a cool blazer nobody else can get their paws on.

Thanx God I’m a V.I.P.

This is a secondhand vintage shop…but it’s not any secondhand vintage shop. Their collection is more curated than other shops in the area (which you should explore – because there are quite a few) and it is even organized by color. We have found some seriously great finds and trust you will too.

Shakespeare & Co

You’ve probably already heard about this iconic bookstore. Even if you have, go back and buy a book or a poster or anything else. We are big supporters of small bookshops, and this is one of our favorites across the globe.

Nous

This is a men’s concept shop started by the same men who ran the shoe and tech departments at the famed Paris store Colette. The space has events, DJs, and guest appearances weekly,  and an inspiring product collection.

Where to dance

Rosa Bonheur

Set in the middle of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, this bar is a great day-time or sunset spot to grab a drink.  Once the sun goes down, this place can turn into a serious dance party. It’s known as a gay bar which means you can count on a good time and great moves.

Lulu White Drinking Club

Once you walk through the unmarked door in Pigalle, you’ll find live jazz and brass music and a bar that specializes in New Orleans style cocktails. The crowd gets rowdy in the best possible way and this is definitely a place you can keep dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

Andy Wahloo

This place has been around for a while but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. With great tunes, neon lights, and a Moroccan themed bar, this place creates some of our favorite cocktails in the city. If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a bite before hitting the dance floor, check out Derrière which is a restaurant by the same owner. We’ve been to both – multiple times – and can solidly say it’s a great time.

Photo via Andy Wahloo

Le Montana

Located in Saint Germaine, this small club has been popular with the fashion crowd for years. You will most likely find an intimidating bouncer out front, alongside a very attractive woman with a “list” that you may or may not be on depending on their mood. If you get in the door, head downstairs for champagne and dancing in a parlor style bar decorated in floral print.

Where to break

Le Loir Dans la Théière

Truly some of the best pasties you will have in Paris. Come here for tea or lunch – or both. 

Ten Belles

One of the city’s first specialty coffee shops. Similar to the small coffee-culture spots you now find in NYC, this place has a strong brew and not a lot of space, but come here for takeaway and you won’t be disappointed.

Télescope

Popular with the fashion crowd, Télescope offers great coffee, an amazing tea selection, and a variety of other warm or cold beverages for that perfect pick-me-up in your day. Be mindful that you can’t bring your laptop – but it makes this cafe a great place to read, write, or people watch.

Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg

Pick up a coffee or something sweet and make your way to the famous Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg. Sit along the fountain to watch little kids play with boats and Parisians sunning themselves. The Luxembourg gardens is a perfect place to have a picnic, and has tons of things for children. The Tuileries will set you in the middle of museum isle. Either way, they are great spots for an afternoon kickback.

Where to get your hit of culture

Jeu de Paume

We are assuming that you are already going to the Musée de l’Orangerie (which is one place we make sure to visit every time we go to Paris). We highly encourage you to also make a pit stop at this museum dedicated to photography which sits on the edge of the  Tuileries gardens – just a short walk from Monet’s waterlilies. 

Musée Rodin

Once the workshop of the famed sculptor, the Hôtel Biron and its gardens are now a museum dedicated to the work of the artist and the collection of art he kept. You can visit his studio in central Paris as well as his home just outside. We recommend doing both.

Palais de Tokyo

One of the largest contemporary art centers in Europe, Palais de Tokyo extends the Musée d’Art Moderne. With a focus on emerging and established artists from around the world – you will see new works from some of recent history’s best talent. Though it may not be one of your first stops in Paris, this is the place to go when you’ve already hit the classics a few times.

Palais de Tokyo

Père Lachaise Cemetery

If it were possible to have a dinner party with the dead – you would 100% want to come to the largest cemetery in Paris for the best company around. Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and Edith Piaf are all buried here. 

Where to work

Hubsy

This is more like a co-working space than a coffee shop. You pay based on the hour and get free drinks and snacks while you’re there. Conveniently located in the 3rd, you’ll find fast wifi and plenty of outlets.

CRAFT

This coffee shop is bright and welcoming with plenty of space. The staff is super friendly, and it serves as sort of a “remote office” for locals and tourists alike. Plus, they have great coffee.

Gaîté Lyrique

This is a large concept space that is completely free to the public. It has cultural programming and events that come through the space. It’s also home to coffee shops and bars on each floor. Make yourself at home because this is the kind of place you can stay awhile. Make sure to check out any exhibitions or shows that are up while you’re there.

Milos

Milos is what we wished Mykonos was like on a good day. It’s the lesser known Greek island with better beaches, better food, and way less tourists. Not insinuating that we don’t like a good visit to the party island – but if Mykonos was Beyonce, Milos would be Solange. You get what we are saying here.

With spring on the horizon for many of us – the warm weather destinations on our go-to list start and end with Greece. If you’re craving white washed houses and clear waters – Milos is your place. Unlike Santorini, Mykonos, or any of the more popular islands – Milos is home to 72 incredible beaches and a more interesting history (the statue of Aphrodite, now in the Louvre, was discovered here).

Adamas, Pollonia, Plaka, Klima, and Mondrakia are only a few of the towns that make up this incredible island (ie: you will definitely need a car to explore). All of them offer something different, and all of them are equally as stunning. Regardless of how or where you spend your time on Milos, it’s sure to be your next favorite Greek getaway. 

Where to stay

Skinopi Lodge

High in the hills, these modern glass and stone structures look like something out of Architectural Digest. A stark contrast to Adamas or Pollonia, these three villas are discreetly placed on a hillside overlooking the a bay. If you are wanting top notch design, attention to detail, and perfect seclusion  – this is your spot.

Kostantakis Winery & Residence

For an accessible option, check out Kostantakis Winery & Residence. Though it isn’t directly on the water, these well designed rooms are placed on a beautiful vineyard. It’s a small boutique hotel, and you can tell they pay attention to detail. Plus – you can always head to their downstairs cellars to get a glass of vino when the time is right.

Salt Hotel

Located near Pollonia. Salt Suites makes your white-washed Grecian dreams come true.  Only 1.5 miles from Papafragas Beach, the location is pretty hard to beat. Some rooms come with jacuzzis on the decks but we don’t think that is 100% necessary. If you can, make sure to book a suite with a patio overlooking the bay.

Where to eat

Armira Milos

This Pollonia restaurant does a great job with Greek classics. This taverna is family run and the menu is based on recipes that were taken from grandma. Their seafood dishes are fresh and wonderful. Make sure to get a glass of white wine to wash them down with. 

To Kyma

This restaurant isn’t technically on Milos. Take a short boat ride to Kimolos and head to this simple seaside taverna. Though it clearly takes pride in the no-frills atmosphere – it’s known to host the same celebrities as some of the best restaurants in NYC or Paris (Brad Pitt, Keira Knightly – you know, the regulars). Order the octopus and a variety of salads.

O Xamos

Set in a charming garden, this old school restaurant is where you go when you want home cooked Greek food like goat, lamb, and the like. They are famous for their grilled meats, and with good reason. Make sure to get a side of grilled cheese as well.

Medousa

This is our favorite restaurant on the island. Come here a little early to check out Mandrakia beach and put your name in (there will likely be a wait but it won’t be long). Serving the best seafood we had, make sure to order the octopus and get a full bottle of white wine. There will most likely be cats roaming around and if you can get a table overlooking the ocean….that’s ideal.

Where to drink

Utopia Cafe

For the best sunset views, and decent cocktails, head to Utopia. In the hillside town of Plaka, you can come here to shop a bit before sitting down for a beverage. Make sure to check when Utopia is open – hours can be unpredictable.

Kri Kri

Located in Plaka, Kri Kri doesn’t serve the best cocktails we’ve ever had…but it does serve cocktails. You will most likely find other tourists starting their evening or grabbing a drink after dinner in town. The garden area is adorable and you could do worse than one of their watermelon cocktails.

Kostantakis Winery

This isn’t the best wine in the world – but it’s great to have a taste of what Greece is making. You can come here for a full tasting or just a glass, and walk the grounds while you sip.

What to do

Firiplaka Beach

Firiplaka is the idyllic sandy beach we all think about when Greece comes to mind. The hillside that juts down to the water is a mix of yellow, pink, and sand – which proves to be a pretty incredible contrast to the bright blue ocean. Once you realize you aren’t in fact on drugs and this place is actually that beautiful – take your pick of either renting a cabana or lounge chair, or walk a bit further down the beach and find your perch in the “clothing optional” zone.

Boat trip to Kleftiko Caves

Milos was once an island where pirates took shelter after looting ships. The Kleftiko Caves were some of their favorite places to hide – and you can clearly see why (they are beyond gorgeous). You’ll need to take a boat to see the caves, but it’s 100% worth the trip. Make sure to check the weather as boats don’t go out if it’s too windy. We recommend taking Oneiro tours since they cater to small groups and a more personalized experience.

Tsigrado Beach

On the other side of the island from Plaka and Adamas is this tucked away beach. It’s near Firiplaka – so feel free to wrap a visit into a larger beach day when you’re hitting a few spots on the southern part of the island. Make sure that you are prepared for the descent to the sandy perfection that is Tsigrado. There is a steep passage way that isn’t suitable to everyone…but if you can make it down, it’s a gorgeous place to spend the afternoon.

Sarakíniko

By far one of the most famous spots in Milos – Sarakiniko is the moonscape beach that we have all swooned over in photos. White volcanic rocks line the shallow waters, and make for amazing structures to jump off of and sunbath on. 

Firopotamos Beach

Classic fishermen houses provide a backdrop to Firopotamos beach. This isn’t the secluded cove you may want, but it is gorgeous for other reasons. Take in the local culture of boat houses and Greek tourists getting their dose of Vitamin D on the sand. 

Where to get your hit of culture

Venetian Castle

Built in the 13th century, the Venetian Castle is located on the highest peak on the island and is well preserved. Definitely come here for a sunset (or sunrise) and find some of the best views in Milos. 

Klima Village

One of, if not the most picturesque village in Milos. An old fishing town that still operates. The houses are carved into the rock that makes up the white-washed background, and the village is famous for its colorful “boat garage” doors. This is another great place to catch a sunset.

Catacombs

These things are very, very old. Dating back to the 1st – 5th century (yes, that’s a thing), these are the only Christian catacombs in Greece. They are super well preserved and offer a welcome break from the sunshine.

Where to break

Palaios Pastry

If you happen to have a sweet tooth and, for some insane reason, need a break from the delicious Greek mezze that Milos has to offer – head to Palaios Pastry. Everything in the shop is homemade, and they offer a variety of traditional Greek desserts.

Alesta

A little coffee shop in Pollonia where you can get your afternoon coffee fix. Don’t expect the high end espresso bars you might find in London or LA, but you will certainly enjoy your company and a pick-me-up.

Austin

Austin has become an increasingly popular U.S city for visitors and transplants alike. Though big name festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest call Austin home base, they aren’t even close to the only reason tourists are making the trek down south. With great music 7 days a week, excellent restaurants (or food trucks), and more outdoor activities than we can count…we understand why.

With its history of music, art, and exceptional food – not to mention the University of Texas campus in the middle of town – Austin has been a long-standing hub for creativity and innovation. It’s no surprise that large scale festivals chose this city to call home. The increase of young professionals moving in has driven small business owners to expand their doors and open new coffee shops, boutiques, restaurants, and more. It’s given way to boutique brands like Outdoor Voices to move headquarters down south, new chefs like Zach Hunter, and niche boutique hotel businesses such as Bunkhouse to expand. All without losing the quirk we love so much about the city.

Where to stay

Hotel Saint Cecilia

In the South Congress neighborhood is this 14 room boutique hotel. A bit more secluded than the rest of the properties on our list, Saint Cecilia sits on lush grounds that give a true sense of privacy. Named after the patron saint of music and poetry, you can imagine that the hotel is designed to convey a sense of rock n’ roll. Oh, and that iconic neon “SOUL” sign overlooking a beautiful pool we’ve all seen photos of? You’ll find that here too. 

The LINE Hotel

The LINE’s third property, Austin’s hotel is much like the DC and LA experience in the sense that it is shaped by the town it’s built in. Housed in an old jazz club, the LINE gives homage to the creative history of the building and the city itself. Rooms overlook Lady Bird Lake and come complete with local art. If you can find any time to rest during your trip, definitely spend a few hours by their gorgeous pool. 

Hotel San Jose

Behind stucco walls on South Congress Avenue, you’ll find Hotel San Jose. The modern design, showcasing concrete and minimalist accents, go perfectly with their gardens and courtyards. Their pool is surrounded by bright couches and pillows, and looks like it was staged for some sort of photoshoot. This hotel is almost too pretty to leave, but luckily we love the cocktails they are serving so we can stay here all day.

Heywood Hotel

Heywood Hotel is located in the East Austin area – which is probably one of the hottest neighborhoods in town now. The design is what we would call “Southwest Minimalist.” With only 7 guest rooms, you can expect impeccably personalized service.  Grab a bike to explore the neighborhood ( or for a quick ride downtown) or get some emails out of the way in their sunny courtyard. 

Where to eat

Dai Due

Former farmers market stand and supper club, Dai Due brick-and-mortar location gives us a taste of Texas. Hyper-locally sourced meat and heavy recipes that will let you know you’re definitely in the Lone Star State. 

Sour Duck Market

From the owners of upscale restaurant Odd Duck (which you should also go to), is an all-day eatery/market/bar called Sour Duck. We are putting Sour Duck on our list because we thoroughly enjoy the multifaceted approach to goodness as well as the Eastside location. This is a perfect place to grab a beer, wine, or cocktail and a few apps with your friends, and enjoy all of those things at outdoor picnic tables. It’s the perfect answer for when you want fantastic food but don’t feel like putting on heels in Texas.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

For those of you visiting from New York, LA, or anywhere else that claims to have the best ramen around…get ready. Austin restaurant Ramen Tatsu-Ya might be one of our favorite bowls around and their sister restaurant, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is equally as good but more inventive. Dubbed “Texas Izakaya,” Kemuri is a hybrid of Texas BBQ goodness and Japanese ramen goodness. It’s all very, very good. 

Saigon Le Vendeur

Austin has exceptionally good Vietnamese food, and this spot has our favorite banh mi in town. Sandwiches are served out of an old shipping container, and that only adds to the experience. 

Veracruz Tacos

You’ve heard of Veracruz. If you haven’t heard of Veracruz…we don’t understand why. Either way, it’s worth the hype and you should go to any or all of their locations. Our favorite is the one near Radio Coffee & Beer or around Mueller’s Farmers Market (open every Sunday and Wednesday). Get the Migas Pablanas and have your life be changed forever. 

Where to drink

Kitty Cohen’s

Kitty Cohen’s is a Palm Springs inspired patio bar where you can get punches and other tiki drinks and probably be the happiest version of yourself possible. They have a small pool in the middle of the outdoor area, which you can actually get into. Basically, this bar is giving us everything we want. 

P6

On top of the new LINE hotel is P6 – a cocktail bar serving serious booze and even more serious views. The space just opened on March 1st and you should make sure to check it out. The drinks aren’t cheap but they are delicious, and it would be a challenge to find a better place to watch the sun go down. 

Techo Mezcaleria

Located on top of a restaurant in the East Austin neighborhood is this tiny mezcal bar. The romantic interior boasts a dark wood bar and a seriously amazing mezcal selection. You’re in Austin, so don’t worry they don’t expect you to cram into a small cave to enjoy good liquor. Techo also has an outdoor patio that is perfect for a larger group if need be. 

Where to dance

Barbarella

If you’re looking for a club experience that still has hints of Austin culture – come to Barbarella. Each night of the week is themed (the 60s, 70s, 80s, electronic, etc), so there is truly something for everyone. 

The White Horse

If you’re looking to dance to live music (usually honky-tonk) and want to get your two-step on – there isn’t a better place than this Eastside staple. The live bands change depending on the night – but you are pretty much guaranteed a great time 7 days a week. 

Cheer Up Charlies

Cheer Up Charlies is a queer-friendly bar made for literally everyone.  Housed in what looks like a lodge, the bar has a great patio and even better music. They have dance parties, live music, art shows, and beyond. Plus, if you aren’t in the mood to take down a beer, don’t worry – they have kombucha on tap. 

Where to shop

STAG Provisions for Men

One of our favorite men’s stores on South Congress. They have some vintage and a ton of new, cool brands. Whether you want to pick up a crisp button up or go the full Austin lumberjack look – STAG will hook you up with the trendiest threads. Also, their staff is super friendly so you might feel inclined to stay a while and have a whiskey.

Esby Apparel

We love Esby Apparel for the classic cuts and clean lines. This sustainable brand values minimalism and makes those pieces that you can wear on repeat. Specializing in menswear aesthetic made for women, we consistently find closet staples to take home with us.

Mueller’s Farmers Market

One of our favorite farmers markets in Austin. Sitting right on a man made lake, come here for great produce vendors, packaged goods, games, and food trucks. 

ByGeorge

By far Austin’s most upscale and chicest store,  ByGeorge has high-end designers and high-quality brands you might not have heard of (yet). Their jewelry section is second to none. If you’re looking to drop some cash on some seriously beautiful items…this is your spot.

Feathers

Austin has really good vintage shopping (Charm School Vintage, Room Service Vintage, Blue Velvet, etc). We could fill this list with a host of other store names, but we are going to give you Feathers because it’s a great option for a more curated selection of vintage. There won’t be piles of clothes here – the store reads more like a boutique, but we can guarantee you will find great denim, hats, and amazing one-of-a-kind pieces (we splurged on a floor-length denim jacket and we couldn’t be happier).

take heart

If you are looking to by a gift – look no further than take heart. This might actually be our favorite store in Austin because, though it’s not large, you could spend an hour going through every shelf and checking out the perfectly curated goods they sell. We love their minimalist pottery, Japanese goods,  jewelry, and candles.

What to do

Barton Springs Pool

This is Austin’s favorite watering hole, and will probably be yours soon too. Fed entirely by natural springs, Barton Springs is a man made pool in the middle of Zilker Park. It’s the perfect place to cool off during the warmer months in Austin. 

Wild Basin Preserve

Made up by 227 acres and miles of hiking trails, Wild Basin Preserve is a great and totally accessible outdoor excursion. With different trails connecting at different points, you can decide how long you want your hike to be. There is a clear map at the entrance that allows you to map your route – but no matter which one you take, it will surely be gorgeous. 

Pangea Lounge Food Truck Park

Second in the US for the number of food trucks per capita, Austin knows what it’s doing when it comes to serving food out of a van. Luckily, many of the best trucks are clustered together in food truck “parks” which makes it easy to hit a few of them at once. Pangea Lounge on E. 6th Street is one of our favorites. You can find Thai, Greek, Indian, and, of course, tacos.

Jester King Brewery

About 30 minutes from Downtown Austin is Jester King Brewery. Their year-round and special edition beers are fantastic, but what we love more is the property. The farmhouse sits in Texas Hill Country and makes you feel like you could be much further than 30 minutes west of Austin. With beautiful views, outdoor games, and truly great pizza – you could easily spend an entire day here.

Where to work

Thunderbird Coffee

This is actually our favorite coffee in Austin (a bold claim, but we made it) but we are putting it on our “Where to Work” list because of the big communal tables, large outdoor space, and private high tops. Plus, their baked goods and drinks are good enough that you can stay for hours. Pro tip: if you buy a bag of beans to take home (which you should) you get a free drink of choice. 

The pool at Hotel Saint Cecilia

Listen – you’re in Austin where the weather is pretty warm most times of the year. If you aren’t taking advantage of that while you are penning emails, closing deals, or editing copy…what are you really doing? Head to the pool at Saint Cecilia for prime sunshine and privacy.

Austin Public Library

We know this might sound like we are sending you back to college by telling you to work in a library but hear us out. The Austin Public Library is an architectural gem inside and out, and happens to have a fantastic restaurant. It’s right downtown and the perfect place to come to plug-in. 

Where to break

Juiceland

If you are looking for a healthy start to the day, go to any Juiceland location. This Austin based chain makes really good smoothies and has healthy bites too. We love the location near Deep Eddy.

Seventh Flag Coffee

One of our favorite coffee shops in South Austin. It’s spacious and comfy, which makes sense because it was once a home. We love the minimalist design (part of the reason we come here) and the coffee is some of our favorite in town.

Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors

Insider Margot Boyer-Dry calls Figure 8 the best cup of coffee she’s had, hands down. Started by two Austin natives, Figure 8 is a small local coffee shop with great coffee. We are putting it on here because you may not have heard about it, and it isn’t another “second location” hip storefront like Alfred. The reclaimed wood tables and serves up its own roasted beans.

Where to get your hits of culture

Two-Step at Broken Spoke

Broken Spokes is a legendary dance hall and music museum. Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton have both played here. Need we say more? Come here to two-step any day of the week. Dancing isn’t mandatory, but we dare you to resist jumping on the bandwagon once you’re there.

Live Music

Continental Club, Cheer-up Charlies, Mohawk, Scoot Inn, C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. We could keep going for the entirety of this article, but you get the picture. Austin is a great place to see music. Whether it’s during Austin City Limits and SXSW or long after the festivals have departed – this town hosts a range of great artists on a nightly basis.

Blanton Museum of Art

Set on the UT campus, this is far beyond a traditional college art museum. With permanent collections and exhibitions that come through, it’s a must visit on your trip to Austin. We love the peaceful courtyard as a way to wind down from the buzz of the city. It also has a great cafe we’d suggest stopping into. 

Where to work out

Practice Yoga

Donation based yoga on the Eastside. We love this no-frills studio and every teacher we have had has been great. They categorize themselves as “absurdly high-quality donation based yoga” and we couldn’t agree more.

CorePower Yoga

We know this isn’t necessarily a “hyper-local” add to our list, but CorePower Yoga does the trick and we happen to love the Austin location. When you need to sweat it out and feel good about those arms before you take a dive into Barton Springs – CorePower has you covered.

Bike or run along Ann & Roy Butler Path

Austin boasts some of the most beautiful city greens we could ask for – so why not take the workout outside? Ann & Roy Butler Path is the trail that runs along Lady Bird Lake, and it’s the perfect place for a bike ride or a jog. Our suggestion? Jog along the trail to Deep Eddy, and then take a dip.

 

Mexico City

For the last few years, Mexico’s capital has been listed as one of the top destinations for travelers. Even though safety was a concern in the past, it seems as though the increased assurance, expat community, and tourism infrastructure have given most peace of mind and the opportunity to explore one of the greatest cities in the world.

CDMX is a city with immense design-forward thinking, a culinary scene that has taken the world by storm, and a cultural hub. The population has always been incredibly diverse, but with more ex-pats from both Europe and the U.S. moving there full or part-time, it’s only getting broader.

We could spend our entire visit to Mexico City tasting tacos from stands and dining in the progressive restaurants that are found throughout town. In fact, we have. Though the food-centric capital leaves much to be tasted – there is so much more to do that it would be a shame to miss the many museums, exhibits, shops, and parties. Plus, the walking and dancing help to manage the extra 10 pounds of taco weight we may have put on.

With so many places to explore in this expansive ciudad, we couldn’t give you a full hit list (because you would never finish it). Instead, find a few of our favorite spots to check out that you may or may not have heard about. ¡Vamos!

Where to stay

La Valise Hotel

Characterized by matte black details, beautiful tiles, and beds that can move from inside the design forward rooms to outside on large terraced balconies – this hotel does “attention to detail” very well. Not only do we love the unique experience, but the Roma Norte location is perfect. 

Nima Local House Hotel

This is a four-room boutique hotel that you should definitely consider booking in advance. Housed in one of the prettiest townhouses in Roma Norte, each room is designed with its own style and most have windows opening up onto a quiet street. The lobby is covered in greenery and makes for a perfect place for a drink, coffee, or truly anything else we can think of. The only issue with this place is that you might not want to leave.

Condesa DF

Located right in the middle of the chic Condesa neighborhood, Condesa DF is one of Grupo Habita‘s famous hotels. The modern interior serves as a contrast to the colonial exterior. The rooms aren’t large, but they are perfectly done. Definitely head to the roof for a cocktail or four.

Where to eat

Masala y Maíz

As the name might suggest, this restaurant pairs Mexican and Indian fair. The unique combo gives way to truly amazing food. The concept was born out of two friends putting together a menu for a dinner party and finding the similarities in the two cuisines. Order the uttapam and make sure to take some time to explore the natural wine list. 

Casa Virginia

When you walk into Casa Virginia you’ll notice the white table clothes and well dressed-waiters. This is perfectly complemented by the untouched, old mansion the restaurant lives in. The entire menu is excellent and the simplicity of the beautiful space only adds to the perfect atmosphere. It isn’t the tacos or mole you might be craving – but it’s really damn good for a nice meal out.

La Docena

We love Contramar, and we aren’t saying that La Docena is a replacement – but if you aren’t looking to drop serious cash on a 3pm power lunch and you want somewhere a little more hip, this is your place. The seafood is what Docena is known for, and this cantina does it well. We love the music as much as we love the food. Don’t be afraid to show up with a group.

ENO

Enrique Olvera, chef and founder of famed restaurant Pujol (which we, of course, expect you to have a res at, which is why we aren’t including it on this list), opened up this daytime cafe near his staple restaurant. It’s delicious, considerably more affordable, and should be where you head for your first breakfast in CDMX.

El Vilsito

This place will give you the gift of truly fantastic late-night al pastor. The fact that it’s next to a car wash should only solidify the fact that this taco stand is the real deal and the perfect place to end a night.

Where to shop

MACOLEN

Macolen is a print shop that functions as a commercial press where locals send their work to be professionally printed, and an adorable little shop selling its own designs and illustrations. There are varied drawings done by artists from around the world. Feel good about the prints you buy, because Macolen is committed to sending half the proceeds back to the artist.

Hi-BYE

This fashion-forward shop in Roma Norte definitely isn’t the place where everyone will find a piece to take home. It’s a bit on the edgier side and that’s what we love about it.

Sandra Weil

Weil’s gorgeous designs are all inspired by latin design and culture. Come to this beautiful boutique in Polanco to find long silk dresses, trousers, and textiles that ring true to high-end Mexican fashion. 

Ikal 

This concept store carries a great selection of Mexican designers. We love their clothing selection, but you will also find jewelry, objects, and home goods. 

Where to break

Café NIN

This beautiful Juarez coffee shop seems like a Belle Époque wonder you would stumble upon in Paris – but you’re not in Paris. You’re in Mexico. And that makes it better, you know? If you leave here without a pastry, you’re doing it wrong. 

CAFÉ NEGRO

We’re including Café Negro because it’s a solid coffee spot in the Coyoacán neighborhood (ie: not Condesa, Roma, or Juaréz). They roast all their own beans and have a commitment to small coffee producers. As the name might suggest, order your coffee black and grab a pastry to satisfy any sweet cravings you might have.

Buna Coffee

Buna Coffee is some of our favorite coffee in Mexico. We always bring back a few bags of beans in our luggage. While you’re in the DF, stop into their super sleek, minimalist coffee shop for an afternoon pick me up. This isn’t the place you can lounge all day, but it’s 100% worth the visit. 

Ojo de Agua

If coffee isn’t your thing (who are you?) and you need a smoothie or juice of some sort (or breakfast, lunch, fruit, and anything else remotely healthy) – come to Ojo de Agua. Right off the beautiful Calle Amsterdam, this adorable cafe is the perfect health fix while you’re shopping around Condesa. 

Where to drink

Bósforo

This is a mezcal bar in the city’s Centro district. Once you make your way through a curtained door, you will find yourself in one of our favorite mezcalerias. The concrete walls and narrow space ensure that this place will get heated – but that’s why you’re there.

La Botica

You will find no shortage of mezcal bars in Mexico City, but La Botica is one of the better ones. It’s one of the first and continues to support small batch production of the popular liquor.  It isn’t the millennial design inspired space you might imagine, but that is kind of why we love it. The entire staff is well versed in what we have deemed “mezcal talk” and can tell you where each bottle is from and how it’s made.

Cicatriz Café

We love Cicatriz during the day, but we love it more at night. This is an all-day cafe that serves great “food in a bowl,” good coffee, and some of our favorite cocktails. It’s a true neighborhood spot and you will definitely find a cool young, local crowd. If you’re hungry, definitely place an order – the food is great. 

Páramo

For all intents and purposes, Páramo is a restaurant. That said, we use it more as a bar. That isn’t because the food isn’t great (it is) but the cocktails are even better. We love the high ceilings, long wooden tables, and perfect lighting, and it’s a great place to come for birthday drinks. It’s loud enough to make you feel like you’re somewhere worth being but quiet enough so you can have a conversation.

Where to dance

Leonor

Leonor is an underground club in the middle of the city. There is no sign on the door, and if we weren’t visiting local friends who frequent this sweaty underground dance fest, we would have missed it altogether. The space isn’t big, but there is a disco ball, strong drinks, and great music.

Café Paraíso

There is usually a line to get into Café Paraíso, but once you walk down the stairs and see the neon signage and tropical style decor, you will understand why. The space feels a bit like Miami – but a better version of Miami because you’re in Mexico. We love the music and the DJs that frequent the club.

Patrick Miller

Note that this party only goes off on Fridays. That said, if you find yourself in the DF on a Friday – the Patrick Miller Party is where you are going. The dance moves are serious, there are two floors to appreciate the full scale of the fiesta, and you will find people from all over enjoying the music. No need for heels or dress shoes – but make sure to not wear anything too warm as you will end up getting sweaty.

Where to work

Público

This is a beautiful co-working space with three different locations in Mexico City. We love the Condesa location, but all three are perfect places to sit down and get some work done. The design-conscious space has meeting rooms, a cafe, a bar, and some even have photo studios.

Librería de Porrúa

This beautiful little bookstore is actually located in Bosque de Chapultepec park. With a store and cafe at the entry, and stairs down to a patio that overlooks the park lake, it would be hard to find a more peaceful place to work in the city. 

Courtyard of Nima Local House

If you need to find a quiet place to focus, stay in at the Nima Local House Hotel. The courtyard is surrounded by greenery, and you can make yourself comfortable in one of the banquets. 

What to do

El Bazar Sábado

On Saturday’s, a square in the San Ángel neighborhood turns into a full market full of craft vendors. You will find artists selling higher end goods, so don’t forget to bring along extra money. It’s also a great excuse to explore this beautiful neighborhood south of the city center.

La Lagunilla

One of our favorite markets in CDMX, La Lagunilla happens on Sundays. If you are a first time visitor and aren’t familiar with getting around or the language, try to go with someone who is a bit more comfortable with the language and the area. You will find exceptional antiques, great accessories, and perfect gifts to take home.

Xochimilco

If you have seen your friends on colorful boats, drinking beer, listening to mariachi music…they were at Xochimilco. Set on a series of canals, you can rent a gondola and have food vendors and other bands float up to your boat. It’s absolutely a tourist experience – but one that you might love.

Where to get your hit of culture

Luis Barragán’s Architecture Tours

You can’t come to Mexico City without seeing Barragán. Whether you make an appointment to visit Museo Casa Luis Barragán or choose to visit Casa Giraldi or San Cristóbal (which are privately owned but you can pay to visit) – you have to experience his work. He is arguably the most famous architect in CDMX and his style has defined much of what we think of as Mexico City design.

Casa Azul

The Frida Kahlo Museum is located in her home in the center of Coyoacán. Make sure to buy tickets beforehand as the time slots sell out. We could go on and on about this amazing museum – but it’s Frida Kahlo and we will just let you experience it for yourself.

Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

The Frida tour does not end at Casa Azul. Head to San Ángel to check out the studios of her and Diego Rivera. The architecture is just as impressive as the interior features. 

Museo Nacional de Antropología

In a city filled with museums (all of which you should visit), the Museo Nacional de Antropología is one of the best. It houses pre-Columbian relics which are truly out of this world – but the real reason it is our favorite is the architecture which includes a “rain tower” that will have you gawking in the courtyard for a solid amount of time. Plus, the museum is located on the edge of Bosque de Chapultepec which allows you to have a beautiful stroll on your way in.

 

Brooklyn, Part 1

“That’s so Brooklyn” is a bit of a ridiculous saying, being that the famous borough is made up of 77 neighborhoods and 2.7 million people. That’s right – if Brooklyn were its own city, it would be on track to surpass Chicago. Between the brownstones of Fort Greene, the famous Chinese restaurants in Sunset Park, and the bars we have all been to in Williamsburg – it’s pretty hard to categorize “Brooklyn” as one thing. The sheer diversity of people, food, and fun you can find in the borough is unmatched and we could probably dedicate 100 city guides to Kings County alone. We aren’t going to do that – that’s far too overwhelming – but we are going to break down a few of our favorite BK spots by area, just for you.

First up is our guide to a few of our favorite north Brooklyn hoods, which include Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Bed-Stuy. Whether you are here for vacation, a work trip, or have decided to make the move – trust us, these are the spots you’ll love.

Where to stay

The Wythe Hotel

It’s one of the longest standing hotels in Williamsburg but it remains our favorite. Even among the other trendy properties that have popped up along “hotel row” of Wythe Ave, this BK staple keeps winning our hearts when it comes to the industrial chic rooms, great restaurant, and The Ides (a.k.a the rooftop bar to end all rooftop bars). 

Franklin Guesthouse

We mostly love this place due to the location. Set in the middle of Franklin Street in Greenpoint, it’s harder to find a better stretch of shops, restaurants, and bars all within a few blocks. You can choose between studios or suites – both designed as airy lofts and complete with kitchens. That means if you’re the chef type, you can hit the McCarren Park Greenmarket on Saturday mornings to make yourself a nice little meal.

The Hoxton Hotel

This newer edition to the Williamsburg Hotel scene has been welcomed by tourists and locals alike. The Hoxton has a lobby that could be mistaken for a Brooklyn co-working space – mostly because the coffee, food, and general vibe is so good. We love the perfectly designed rooms and the drinks they are serving at Klein’s.  Plus, in the summer they have the perfect patio to take in the good weather.

Photo via The Hoxton Hotel

Where to eat

Diner

Answering a question like “Where to eat” in one area of Brooklyn alone is nearly impossible – but Diner is almost always a great option. Owned by the same people behind Brooklyn mainstay Marlow & Sons, this has one of our favorite burgers in the city. Bonus: you are consuming said burger in a train car. If you don’t like burgers that isn’t a problem – everything else is fantastic too.

Kings County Imperial

This isn’t the hole in the wall dumpling spot you are finding in Sunset Park or Queens – but that’s okay, because it’s really f*ing good. They recently opened a Manhattan location, but come to the Williamsburg outpost because it’s better and the original. Make sure to order the soup dumplings (off menu) and at least three of the vegetable dishes. And the noodles. Just order everything.

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster

If you are in need of a really good fish taco – or really good fish anything – come here. Part fish market and part restaurant, it’s a great lunch option when you want something light but don’t want to skimp on flavor.

Saraghina

One of our favorite restaurants in Brooklyn is found on a corner in Bed-Stuy, and that restaurant is Saraghina. The space is made up of a wine bar, the restaurant, and a bakery.  We suggest partaking in wine before sitting down for the full experience, which should include pizza. Inside and outside seating options are equally as romantic, but we prefer inside due to the perfect rustic decor.

Photo via Saraghina

Chez Ma Tante

One of our favorite new restaurants in Greenpoint. You’re not coming to Chez Ma Tante for jaw-dropping design because it kind of looks like everything else in Brooklyn. You’re coming here for excellent food (which they describe as “Canadian inspired” but we aren’t sure what the hell that means). What we do know: the cocktails are incredible, the caesar salad changes lives, and their falafel is to die for.

Samurai Papa

With two locations – one in Bushwick and one in Bed-Stuy – this is some of our favorite ramen in Brooklyn. Don’t come here with a big group or expecting bells and whistles. Samurai Papa means business, and that business is highly concentrated, really good ramen. 

Blanca

Behind famed Roberta’s pizza is this 12-seat restaurant. It serves a 19-course Italian inspired tasting menu and will cost you a pretty penny – but it’s out of this world. If you need to celebrate a special occasion, please come here. Do it for us. It’s a truly unique dining experience, and probably one of the best you’ll have during your stay. 

Where to drink

Achilles Heel

You could easily miss Achilles Heel, being that there is no signage and the door looks like it belongs on the set of a western film that lost funding. All of this only adds to the charm of our favorite Greenpoint bar – and one that will certainly set the mood for a first, second, or eleventh date. Inside you will find a wood burning stove, two tops, great drinks, and fantastic small plates. We love their wine selection, but their cocktails are innovative and equally as good. If you’re hungry, order from their seasonal menu.

Four Horsemen

Our favorite wine bar in north Brooklyn, Four Horsemen was opened by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. What does that mean? Apparently a great rotating selection of natural wine and amazing small plates served in a clean, modern space. This is a perfect third date spot, and you could spend hours on their bar stools talking wine with the bartender.

Ramona

Ramona wins our hearts due to it’s beautiful design and the fact that you aren’t crammed into 500 sqft with 100 other people. There are two floors, so you can actually hear the person you are talking to. Order the Self Portrait. 

Photo via Ramona

Donna

We love Donna for many reasons. It has frozen cocktails (which are really good) but also serves a Paloma on draft. The tacos are good and the nachos are better, and the beautifully designed space makes it a place you don’t want to leave. It’s great for groups, or for a casual meet-up before dinner at Misi or Marlow & Sons. 

Bar LunÀtico

Make sure to get to Bar LunÀtico on the earlier side, because it fills up. There is live music almost every night, and if you are lucky enough to snag a small table you can enjoy tunes, cocktails, and food all in one go. We mostly come here for the first two, but either way it’s a great time.

Grimm Brewery

If beer is your thing – head to the newly established Grimm Brewery in Bushwick. Serving up grade A artisanal ales, you can snag a growler to go or lounge in their taproom for hours.

Where to dance

Good Room

This Greenpoint club hosts DJs most nights of the week – and is a true club experience (well, our kind of club). You won’t find $1k table service here, but they do have a disco ball, dim lights, and some of the best house music around to groove down to. 

Friends and Lovers

Bar in front, party in the back. Friends & Lovers is technically in the intersection of Crown Heights & Prospect Heights, but we are including it because you need to go here ASAP. It’s one of our favorite “dance bars”  – and yes, that is a category we are establishing and you know exactly what it means. Make sure to head there late, and see who is scheduled to DJ.

Casablanca Cocktail Lounge

This cocktail bar turns really sweaty at around 1am on weekends. It’s been around for a while, which we love, and it isn’t just geared towards the new young professional neighbors that have moved in. This will be an eclectic mix of young people and hopefully some great R&B.

C’mon Everybody

C’mon Everybody is set up the way a lot of bars in NYC are organized – part bar, part music venue. They host everything from live music to comedy shows, and you can’t go wrong with any sort of entertainment this establishment puts on. This is a great place to drink and dance on the weekends, and part of that reason is its proximity to Chilo’s. What is Chilo’s? It’s another bar, with a food truck in the back serving some of the best tacos in Bed-Stuy.

Bembe

If you are looking to sweat your ass off and be extremely close to other individuals while listening to live Brazilian music – you’ve found your spot. Bembe has become increasingly more popular which has come with a cover charge – but it’s worth it.

Where to break

SEY COFFEE

This uber-sleek coffee shop in Bushwick looks like it was built for Instagram. The interior is white, airy, and everything we want when it comes to good light in the winter. The coffee is fantastic (and very strong). 

Lella Alimentari

This quaint Italian cafe sits on a quiet block in Williamsburg. Run entirely by real deal Italians, you can trust the piadinis and rotating breakfast they serve is legit, and their espresso bar is on our regular rotation. In the summer, come to their coffee window and take a seat outside on the benches to people watch. If you need to get some work done, head inside to check out the knick-knacks that decorate the entire space. We recommend going with the classic European soft boiled eggs and fresh bread.

Devocion

One of the most beautiful coffee shops in New York, Devocion Williamsburg looks like part architectural wonder, part cafe. The coffee is expensive but good. We mostly come here for the ambiance, and we are entirely okay with that.

Maman Greenpoint

Maman has several locations throughout NYC, but this one is our favorite. The shabby chic interior with worn white table and benches is only the first thing we love about the cafe. This is a great place to get a matcha (or lavender) latte and fresh pastry. 

Champion Coffee

On Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Champion is one of our regular picks due to how good their coffee is, and the fact that it’s never too busy. 

Where to shop

Home of the Brave

This home goods store has everything you would expect to find in an adorable Brooklyn home goods store: beautiful pottery, geometric rugs, handmade blankets, and monochrome kitchen wear. A perfect place to buy gifts for those back home…or yourself.

Wolves Within

Also on Franklin St (which has a ton of great boutiques), Wolves Within is an affordable, well curated shop owned by the same people behind Home of the Brave. Selling both men’s and women’s clothing, it’s a perfect place to get those high waisted trousers or long gold earrings you’ve been eyeing.

10 ft Single by Stella Dallas

One of our favorite vintage stops, Stella Dallas is a longstanding Williamsburg favorite. Though it isn’t the cheapest, it would be hard not to find something great to take home from this store. Their denim selection is top notch and you can absolutely find some good graphic tees.

Concrete + Water

Selling brands like Ganni, Nanushka, and Mr. Larkin – this is the “Brooklyn cool” shopping destination we all need. Carrying some of our favorite threads for both men and women, you can do some serious damage on your credit card here. 

Where to work

A/D/O

This work space/restaurant/event venue concept in Greenpoint is a great place to plug in for the day. The Scandinavian inspired interior is large with wall-to-wall windows. There are tons of places to sit and outlets everywhere (huge win). The restaurant, Norman, serves great lunch specials and good coffee to keep you going throughout the day. Check out their programming while you’re there, and you might come back for an interesting talk later in the evening. 

Lobby of the Hoxton Hotel

As we mentioned above, the Hoxton Williamsburg could easily be confused with a Brooklyn co-working space. Locals come here for the good breakfast, chill music, and great ambiance while they plug away. The lobby is colorful and charming, and a perfect place to start the work-day

Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen

Stonefruit almost went into our “Where to break” and “Where to eat” categories, and then we realized that it was both those things, which made it a great place to spend the day working. With a cafe in the front and a flower store in the back, this adorable coffee shop serves up great espresso drinks and even better health-conscious food. There is a large table amongst the plant life in the back, to keep you serene while you type.

What to do

Greenpoint Open Studios

Chelsea isn’t the only place in NYC with great art going on. A few times during the year, Greenpoint opens up its various warehouses and invites the public to see what artists in the area are up to. This includes small fashion brands, multi-media designers, and fine artists. 

Syndicated Movie Theater

If you are in the mood for an evening in (or it’s way too cold outside for anything that involves walking), head to Syndicated. As the name suggest, this movie theater plays great films that range from older French cinema, to the Sandlot, to movies that were recently in theaters. The best part? The menu is excellent and you can order booze and food while watching the movie.

Domino Park

A new addition to the Williamsburg waterfront, Domino Park has an incredible view of the city. It’s a perfect location for a picnic, but if you forgot to pack food there is a taco stand nearby (because we are in Brooklyn…). The park is complete with a dog run and benches for taking in the Manhattan skyline. For kids, there is a playground and, in the warmer months, fountains that children love to play in.

Live Music 

Between Brooklyn Bowl, Knitting Factory, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and the smaller venues that can be found in bars across Brooklyn – it would be hard to find a better place to listen to (any different type of) live music. Check out the calendar for the larger venues, or pop-in to low key spots and be surprised at newer acts.

Where to work out

Modo Yoga

Even though Modo has locations in the city, we prefer the Williamsburg outpost. It’s newer and the studio is nicer. We love all the teachers and it’s a perfect place to work up a sweat on the colder days.

East River Pilates

With three locations, this is our favorite pilates studio in Brooklyn. The bright interiors are welcoming, as are the instructors. Choose from mat, reformer, or cardio classes. All of them are great.

Photo via East River Pilates

Flywheel

Feeling like you ate too much pizza and need to burn the calories? There is a Flywheel right on Metropolitan waiting for you. 

Namastuy

A great yoga option in Bed-Stuy, Namastuy is a beautiful independently owned studio in the neighborhood offering a variety of classes.

 

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