Guides

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.

 

L.A. – Mid-City

In the second instalment of our LA guide, we’re here to focus on what lies between west and east Los Angeles. Though true Angelinos understand that “mid-city” defines an actual LA neighborhood, we are using it here to describe the areas between West Hollywood and K-Town.

So much of what defines “old LA” style can be found in and around the central part of the city: Art Deco signs that rise above classic hotels, restaurants that hark back to old Hollywood glam, and surprisingly excellent shopping that gives residents their defining laid-back look.

With areas like Korea Town filling its streets with trendy new bars, there is a sense that parts of each neighborhood are changing. The change isn’t all bad (though some really great hole in the wall food has been sacrificed), and it has even made some ‘hoods more diverse and exciting to visit.

Check out what we love about all that space between the beach and the LA river. We are pretty certain you’ll dig it, too. If for some wild reason you missed our “Westside” guide – check that out, too, for even more spots to hit on your next visit to LaLa Land.

Where to stay

Hotel Figueroa

This place has a rooftop pool. We could probably end our recommendation there, but alas – it does a few other things well, too. The Spanish colonial-style interior is gorgeous and translates well to each of the eateries inside the hotel. Drinks at Bar Figueroa are brought to you by the cocktail guru from Employees Only in NYC, and we can attest to the fact that the booze here is just as fantastic. Make a reservation at Bar Alta afterward. Just trust us.

Petit Ermitage

Petit Ermitage is very much a West Hollywood hotel. It has a private rooftop pool that feels so “LA” that you could probably spend your entire visit up there. If you happen to make your way back to your bohemian-inspired room, only do so to change into something warmer and then walk right back up to the roof to sit by the fire. It’s a transportive, leafy oasis. We’ll meet you there.

The Line

You’ve probably seen this hotel pop-up on your social media feed the last two years or so, and with good reason. Koreatown is increasingly popular with Angelenos from all parts of town, and has bars and restaurants popping up everywhere (please note: it ALWAYS had good bars and restaurants). This Mid-Century Modern-doused hotel came was opened in the last few years, and recently added a new section of rooms that were designed by the brothers behind Houston Hospitality (Good Times at Davey Waynes, Dirty Laundry, and about 5 other places you have definitely been to). Oh, and if you head upstairs you can dine in a greenhouse which makes for fabulous #content.

Image via The Line Hotel

Where to eat

Jon & Vinny’s

If you can get a table, this is some of the best pizza in LA. We recommend going for a late lunch or at some odd hour in order to grab a seat, but in the event you attempt to go when the crowds hit, don’t worry – know it’s 100% worth it.

Animal

This is not the place to come for your “light dinner” of quinoa and lentils. As the name suggests, this place doesn’t F around when it comes to shared plates for carnivores. Be prepared for one of the most unique experiences in LA, and to leave with the meat sweats. Come here with a date, specifically one with an adventurous palate, or with a larger group of friends. If pig ears or the beef tendon chips are too out there, don’t worry. Animal has added some more approachable items to its menu, including the Hamachi Tostada and Spaghetti Dan Dan. But you should seriously get the pig ear.

Guelaguetza Restaurant

Great Oaxacan food in Koreatown. “Great” might be an understatement being that Jonathan Gold (the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize!) actually named this “the best Oaxacan restaurant” in the entire country. Opened by a husband and wife team from Mexico, the restaurant is still a family business. Expect a live mariachi band (huge bonus)- and you should definitely order every type of mole on the menu.

Sushi Park

There is a sign outside of Sushi Park that basically reads “No Bullshit.” They don’t serve California rolls or teriyaki, they don’t do veggies or salad, and don’t even utter “spicy tuna” here- they admittedly display that they don’t partake in any “trendy sushi.” If that doesn’t get you in the door immediately – just walk away. Sushi Park is where you come for high-quality fish and super authentic Japanese sushi. Even though it’s in a strip mall, it isn’t cheap- and it’s worth it.

Rosaliné

On Melrose Ave sits this beautiful Peruvian restaurant. Full disclosure: we love Peruvian food, and could eat it for most meals of the day. Rosaliné does a great job at the classic ceviches, lomo saltado, and vegetarian options. The interior is worth the trip in itself, as is the food presentation.

Otus Thai Kitchen

If you’re looking for a solid breakfast with good coffee – but you’re sick of hearing how this “avocado toast” is the best in town – head over to Otus Thai Kitchen. We order the “Kai Kata” and a latte, and take a seat in their sunny backyard. We recommend you do the same. 

Gracias Madre

We aren’t vegans and therefore we don’t typically take our Mexican food in vegan format. But if you do – this is your place. Gracias Madre has a gorgeous tiled courtyard and interior. We promise they don’t skimp on the food, so don’t let the “vegan” prefix detour you.

Where to break

Liquid Juice Bar

If coffee isn’t a part of your “I just got to LA” cleanse, then head to Liquid Juice Bar for a green juice fix. It doesn’t look like much from the outside – but we love the quality of their product. They are also known for one of the best acai bowls in the city. 

Paramount Coffee Project

This small coffee shop on North Fairfax serves a great cup. This Sydney outpost is another Aussie coffee project – so you can trust their flat whites, gibralters, and other fantastic specialty drinks. They have good food in case you need a bite, and a small but cute backyard. We wouldn’t recommend coming here to work, but it’s a perfect place to meet your old co-worker for an afternoon break.

Go Get Em Tiger

Though not very big, Go Get Em Tiger is a great place to grab a coffee in central LA. Located on Larchmont (which happens to be the unicorn of LA streets – one you can actually leisurely walk and shop on), you can peruse any of the stores around the area. If you happen to get hungry, turn right around and go back to Go Get Em Tiger because their food is solid, too.

Where to shop

American Rag

This is an LA mainstay- and you’ve probably come here before. American Rag is still a great place to find denim staples and great boots to match. Selling cool brands like Ulla Johnson and Norse Projects, there is something for everyone.

Des Kohan

Selling high-end jewelry, clothing, and accessories, Des Kohan is the upscale boutique that makes us wish we had a black card. Collaborating with emerging designers, this shop has both unique pieces and major staples.

Denim Revival

Did you rip those vintage Levis that make your butt look perfect? Denim Revival can repair them. Did you never even have your dream jean that made your butt look perfect? You can buy those at Denim Revival. Do you need a trendy vintage leather jacket to go with your new pants? Denim Revival has you covered.

Mister Freedom

Though this is a store for both men and women, we truly feel like the vintage finds for the gents are why Mister Freedom shines. Alongside rows and rows of well-curated vintage is the Mister Freedom in house label, as well as finds from around the globe.

What to do

Cinespia – Hollywood Forever Cemetery

On Fairbanks lawn insider the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is where you’ll come with big blankets, pillows, and picnic supplies. Get cozy and gear up to watch a number of different films. You’ll see other Angelinos enjoying a date or a night with their friends here. If you’re thinking “this is in a cemetery – I bet they only show horror movies,” you’d be wrong. With past films like Dazed & Confused, Almost Famous, and season finale screenings – there is something for everyone.

Hollywood Bowl

Check out the schedule of acts coming into the historic Hollywood Bowl. This is one of our favorite venues….ever. With the Hollywood Hills in the background, and the natural acoustics, there isn’t a better place to see music. We recommend getting a table and bringing a picnic.

LA Farmers Market

LA has a ton of farmers markets, but the original one on Fairfax is a must visit. You can get everything from produce to homewares to prepared food. The flowers are also to die for (in case you need to pick up a little something for a dinner party you’re planning to attend later). 

Olympic Spa

Korean Spas are a way of life in LA. We’ve tried a bunch, and Olympic remains one of our consistent go-to spots. Don’t come here for the luxury experience you might expect at the Four Seasons – but if you want to feel like your skin has returned to baby form after a great salt scrub – this is your place. 

The Comedy Store

This is an LA institution. From Whoopi Goldberg to Eddie Murphy to Robin Williams – this place has seen some legends. Grab tickets to either stage and don’t be shocked if you get a surprise celebrity comic crashing the performance.

Where to get your hit of culture

Barnsdall Art Park

Okay, so technically Barnsdall Art Park is in “East” Hollywood but we are including it anyway. An 11-acre park, Barnsdall is home to a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, a phenomenal art gallery, creative classes for kids and adults, and views.

LACMA

This might be surprising, but if you walk past the famous lamp post installation that has been Instagrammed thousands of times, there is an incredible collection of art inside LACMA. With fantastic exhibits and a staple collection that people travel to see, LACMA is one of our favorite museums in LA. And yes, you can still take photos of the lamp posts. 

La Brea Tar Pits

Off of Wilshire Blvd are the centuries-old La Brea Tar Pits. One of the worlds most famous fossil excavation sites, you can take a tour of the natural history museum that sits behind the viewing area. We love the fact that this is right in the middle of Los Angeles.

Where to work out 

Wanderlust Yoga Studio

Wanderlust goes beyond just a yoga studio. With Vinyasa, Kundalini, Mindfulness classes and more – you can definitely get your mat time in. They also have a cafe, a collaborative studio space, and they host events.

Modo Yoga LA

Modo has made its name across America, but we love their LA outpost. This hot yoga studio has great teachers and is exactly what we need after a night of drinking and eating tacos at 2am.

Edge Dance Center

If you want to take it up a notch, head over to Edge Dance Center to take a class. This famous academy offers classes for all levels – but any of them will get your sweat on. 

The Wall Fitness

With 5 unique classes ranging from cycling, to interval training, to stretch – Wall is where we go to kick our own ass. Their signature 123 Stack class is the perfect antidote for jet-lag, and will keep you coming back for that adrenaline high. We also love their facilities.

Where to drink

The Dime

A Los Angeles classic. The Dime is still running and it’s still as great as it ever was. If you get here early, you can slip into one of the banquets and avoid the crowds that start coming in around 10pm. It isn’t a big place, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in great music. Drinks are strong. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

Jones Hollywood

Jones is also a restaurant, but we usually come here for a martini or another self-important drink at the bar. The interior is the classic LA vibe you’re looking for, and the bartenders have some stories. The last time we were here, the power went out and even though they couldn’t pump out food or…see, they lit the entire place in candles and let the drinks flow. That’s the kind of place Jones is.

The Normandie Club

If you’re looking for a fancy cocktail or an impressive date spot, head to the Normandie Club in K-Town. It’s a dark, beautiful bar and we feel like you should probably order a really nice whiskey on the rocks. If for some odd reason your date isn’t impressed by the bar itself, take her to the secret bar inside the Normandie, called Walker Inn

Kibitz Room

This dark bar might smell like corn-beef and mustard – and that’s because it’s attached to Canter’s Deli (a moment of silence for this LA staple). The bar is kind of a dive but that is why we love it. You will pretty much exclusively see LA locals and the rare but real LA native. 

El Carmen

Tequila on the rocks. Tequila cocktails. Tacos to go with your tequila. This is El Carmen. 

Where to dance

Break Room 86

This is an 80s-themed karaoke bar in Korea Town. And yes, we know what you’re thinking: dreams really do come true. Walk through the secret entrance through a loading dock, and just know that one of the best bars in LA is waiting for you on the other side. 

Good Times at Davey Wayne’s

Brought to you by the Houston Brothers (like Break Room 86), this is a 70s bar that you get through via a secret entrance (see a theme here?). There are mustard colored couches, hammocks on the patio, and really, really good tunes. One of our favorite places in LA. 

Dirty Laundry

Okay fine – all of our places to go out are Houston Brothers establishments. We don’t care – because they all serve their purpose, and Dirty Laundry’s purpose is to be sexy AF. With a speakeasy vibe, candlelit bar, and good cocktails, this is one of our favorite places to come. The real kicker is the secret dance room with fantastic DJs, hidden in the back.

Where to work

Verve Coffee Roasters

The Melrose location of this LA coffee house is large, airy, and has great outdoor space. Some of our favorite coffee (we buy the beans every time), Verve also has food. Take a seat on a comfortable cushion or at a table outside to get some sun while you work. 

Bricks & Scones

Located on Larchmont in Hancock Park, Brick & Scones is huge. Head to the second floor and make yourself comfortable for the day. Plenty of outlets and, yes, scones to keep you charged. 

The pool at Petit Ermitage

Listen, you’re in LA. That means that you should be in a bathing suit at least 50% of the time. If that means suffering from a little screen glare while you soak up the rays while writing a few emails, so be it. Head to the bohemian-inspired rooftop of Petit Hermitage and plug away.

Cartagena

With cobblestone streets and colorful mansions, it’s hard not to be immediately charmed when you set foot in Cartagena. If the Caribbean getaway you’re after is complete with breezy, quiet days by the ocean and taking pleasure in solitude – this is not the place for you. The palm-lined plazas that fill the walled city are humming with people at any hour of the day, and you would be remiss to not catch a salsa party or eat a world-class arepa in one of the squares during your stay.

With Cartagena’s increasing popularity has come an influx of awareness around tourism. The city has become much safer, but it is also much more geared towards visitors. That means a growing number of vendors crowding the streets to sell their goods and climbing prices for locals and tourists alike.

Though most people will tell you to stick within the limits of the old city and its beautiful homes, the probability of you getting woken up by a group of large, drunk men who just landed for their friend’s bachelor party is…high. We usually opt for Getsemani as our home base while visiting the coast. However, with all the gorgeous places to stay in the old city, and the privacy they afford their guests, you can’t really go wrong. In fact, Cartagena is one of our favorite places to explore hotels because of the individual boutique lodgings that are housed in old mansions. We sometimes just pretend we are in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel (until we realize that we don’t, in fact, own a colonial home on the beach and need to log back into our Gmail).

Between the beautiful scenery, short boat trips to stunning beaches, great dancing, and the fact that it’s a direct (and relatively painless) flight from most major cities in the Northern Hemisphere, Cartagena is one of our go-to trips for that necessary weekend getaway.

Where to stay

Hotel Casa Don Sancho

One of our top picks, Casa Don Sancho is housed in a renovated townhouse on the edge of the walled city. We love the location – away from most of the crowds but still in old town – and the 6 bedrooms are spread across 3 beautifully designed floors. Bright rooms and neutral colors give this place a peaceful energy amongst the buzz of colorful Cartagena. Head up to the rooftop patio for sunset.

Casa de Alba

Right next to Bolivar Park, Casa Alba is an old mansion located in the city’s historic center. With an outdoor pool and courtyard garden, this hotel is a perfect option for larger groups or for a romantic getaway. We love the individual decor of each room, ranging from stunning canopy beds to a set of perfectly placed twins. If for some reason the courtyard pool isn’t getting enough sun exposure for your perfect tan, just head upstairs to the roof for their second pool and A+ views.

Hotel Capellán de Getsemaní

Hotel Capellán is one of our top picks in our neighborhood of choice. The minute you walk in, you get a sense of the Caribbean inspired design elements – beautiful fountains, white cushioned chairs, and dark wood accents. The rooms are bright and airy, and the rooftop pool is second to none. They also have a pretty good spa if you are looking to indulge. 

Tcherassi Hotel

The Tcherassi Hotel is one of the chicer options in the old city. Owned by fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi, you can tell that the minimal, elegant interiors were created by someone with two feet in the design world. With a beautiful pool on the roof, we also come here for one of our favorite spa experiences in Cartagena. Both restaurants in the hotel are fantastic, and we recommend indulging in one if not two dinners on site.

Casa Lola

Located in Getsemani, Casa Lola is a great price-conscious choice. This quaint but perfectly styled hotel has a fantastic roof top pool and bar. Down the street from Cafe Havana and Bazurto Social Club, you can dance your way home in about two minutes.

Casa Venita

For those of us on a budget, Casa Venita is one of our favorite places to stay in Getsemani. Though it does have hostel-type accommodations, Venita also boasts both queen and king size rooms. With an adorable cafe serving acai bowls and other healthy eats, we opt for the “breakfast included” option. There isn’t a better way to start your day.

Where to eat

Demente

This is our favorite restaurant in Getsemani for a few reasons: the location right on Plaza de la Trinidad gives way to pretty spectacular people watching, the tapas style menu, and the really good cocktails that will start your night off in the best way. 

Moshi

Brought to you by the owners of Colombian institution, Carmen, Moshi is their Japanese sister restaurant. We say go here over Carmen because the tasting menu is where it’s at. We think the 7-course is the way to go, but they also have an 11-course option if that’s your style (which we would highly respect). The food is inventive and the fish is fantastic. This is a must visit during your time in Cartagena. 

Pasteleria Mila

A perfect place for a breakfast pastry or a morning bite, Mila is located in the center of the old city. They also have brunch, but it wouldn’t be our top choice. We recommend grabbing something sweet and a coffee, and relaxing before kicking off the day in the sun. 

Candé

Serving high-quality Colombian cuisine, Candé is what we would label “upscale authenticity.” This basically means that the traditional food they serve is the real deal, but you are also eating that food while sitting in gorgeous banquets, in a courtyard with plants hanging above you. Definitely make sure there is fish on your table, and you’ll thank us for sending you here.

Bonche

This Getsemani bar was started by two young locals who were in need of a great cocktail bar that would serve quality without the American price tag. Enter Bonche. The cocktails are good, the food is also good (though not necessarily healthy), and you can absolutely find a party here any weekend you visit. You’ll meet young locals and visitors alike, and we recommend the burger.

Cafe Stepping Stone

An Australian cafe that most of our America friends will be very excited about. Yes, that means you can find avocado toast, acai bowls, and other vegan-friendly options on this menu. Though we fully admit we are to blame for loving the Aussie health trend – we actually come to Cafe Stepping Stone because of their mission. They work to shrink the gap between the “two Cartagenas,” and employ young teens and adults from around the city. They teach them English, how to serve, how to cook and make drinks, and overall hope to jumpstart their careers. Yeah – so go order yourself an almond milk latte and feel really, really good about it.

Street food

On the corner of Carrera 11 and Calle 38 is our favorite arepa stand. Come here in the morning to get a ham, cheese, or veggie arepa freshly made. This is a Cartagena staple and you need to grab one (from any stand) before you leave.

Where to drink

El Barón

This upscale cocktail bar will feel very familiar to those traveling from America or Europe. Though it’s rather small, the romantic decor and great drinks make you feel like you could stay for hours. The bartenders are half the reason to love it here – and they also serve small bites. 

Alquimico

This three-floor bar looks like something out of a 1920s novel. Each floor is distinctively designed with beautiful attention to detail. Once a worn down warehouse, the owner has renovated it but kept the integrity of Cartagena architecture. With a first floor bar that gets fairly crowded, a second floor with blue velvet chairs and beautifully tiled floors, and a rooftop patio that plays great tunes – you definitely have options here. All the cocktails are good, but we recommend the mezcal concoctions they do so well.

La Jugada

This could technically be put in our “where to dance” category, but being that La Jugada serves wine, and there are so many incredible salsa clubs to shake your thing at in the city, we are leaving it right here. This bar is relatively expensive and is mostly geared towards tourists, but well-heeled tourists. The art deco design and crowded basement prove for a truly great experience. 

Beer Lovers

For those of you that aren’t big on cocktails, come to Beer Lovers for some of Colombia’s best brews. They serve more than what the country has to offer, but we recommend sitting at the bar and trying what’s local on tap. 

Where to dance 

Bazurto Social Club

Hands down, our favorite place to get down. Bazurto has no rules, except the fact that you hit the dance floor with conviction. There are live bands performing cumbia, salsa, reggae, and more. You can dance the night away, or watch the performance and order calamari. This place is pretty much everything you want in Cartagena. 

Quiebra Canto

The third of the Getsemani club staples (Cafe Havana and Bazurto being the other two). Though we love Cafe Havana and would put it on our list, we figure that most people in search of dancing will head there. Quiebra Canto is geared more towards the experienced salsa dancers -but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time for everyone.

Mister Babilla

This isn’t where you go to get the local flavor. That said, if you want to listen to some good DJs who play a mix of Latin music and the usual hits – this is your spot. In any other country this bar wouldn’t be anything special. In Cartagena, where beautiful cocktail bars are easily found, this straight-forward establishment is a breath of fresh air. Be prepared to find loads of tourists – also be prepared to dance your heart out.

Where to break

Cafe de la manana

A recommendation from Cartagena native, Ernesto Roman, Cafe de la Mañana is a perfect place for a morning or afternoon break. If you need a cup of coffee, a $6 breakfast of eggs, bread, fruit, and juice, or a mimosa midday – this place if for you. Feel free to post up here with your laptop or journal.

Café del Mural

On a quiet street in Getsemani, you’ll find this adorable cafe. Cafe del Mural takes pride in the coffee they serve. Though Colombia is a huge exporter of premium brew, the country doesn’t keep the high-end beans within its borders. This cafe has a mission to showcase the true beauty of Colombian coffee, and serves some of the best cups in town. Take a seat outside and look at the beautiful graffiti art that this neighborhood is famous for. 

Beiyu Cafe

If you aren’t in the mood for caffeine, head to Beiyu Cafe in Getsemani for a smoothie or juice. This adorable cafe has seating inside and great A.C. (which is important in the summer months). They also have reliable wifi – so if you need a healthy snack and an e-mail break, this is your spot. 

Epoca

Our favorite place for iced coffee is Epoca. We get a blended iced coffee and call it a day, but there are so many options at both locations. The food they serve is a great breakfast choice, but you can’t go wrong with simply taking advantage of their beautiful interior and a refreshing caffeine fix. Make sure to check hours, as it opens a bit later than most shops.

What to do

Day trip to Rosario Islands

When people think of Cartagena, they usually think of the beach. You won’t find that beach in the city, which is why we are sending you to the Rosario Islands. Technically a national park, the Rosario Islands (or Islas del Rosario) are about an hour boat ride away from the Cartagena port. Feel free to stay overnight at one of the hotels, or just visit the stunning beaches for a day. This is where you can swim in the calm, aqua blue water you dream of when thinking about the Caribbean. 

Walk the wall of the walled city

Built in the 1500s, Cartagena’s historic walls run 4km around the center of the city. It was previously used to protect the city from pirates, and you can now take a romantic stroll or come here to catch the sunset.  

Tierra Bomba 

Another beach getaway for when you want to hit the ocean in Cartagena. Closer than the Rosario Islands, Tierra Bomba is easily accessed via boat. If you opt for an overnight mini-vacation, we recommend Blue Apple Beach House. You can also pay for a day-pass to this adorable hotel – but we think you might as well stay a night or two.

Las Bóvedas

Las Bóvedas is a series of 23 structures built into walls that were originally purposed to vault weapons or anything else the Spanish wanted to hide. Later, these same vaults were used as prison cells during the civil war. Very charming. Today, these historical structures are used as markets stalls. Come here to find local goods and souvenirs to your friends back home.

Where to get your hit of culture

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

When going to Cartagena, you need to visit the fortress that overlooks the city. A 15th-century structure, you can tell that the conquers of this land weren’t messing around. Make sure to come here on a sunny day, because it can take a minute to walk around the preserved site. 

Museo del Oro Zenú

Exhibiting a fantastic collection of gold pottery, Museo del Oro Zenú showcases the work of pre-colonial times, with a strong focus on the indigenous Zenú culture. Definitely one of our favorite museums in town.

Salsa classes

Technically Cali is the salsa capital of Colombia. Admitting that, Cartagena is still a great place to take classes. Check out Crazy Salsa for to learn some moves. After you’ve been schooled, head to Cafe Havana or Quiebra Canto to show off your skills.

Getsemani street art

Colombia has incredible street art. Within Cartagena, the best place to see this is within the Getsemani neighborhood. Walk around the winding streets and discover gorgeous murals everywhere.

Where to shop

St. Dom

This concept shop is one of our favorites. With over 100 Colombian and international designers, St. Dom has something for everyone. If you forgot sunglasses but don’t want to buy the cheap options on the street – St. Dom has you covered. If you need a gorgeous dress that is sure to impress for New Years – St. Dom is your place. You can’t go wrong at this multi-faceted fashion mainstay. 

Silvia Tcherassi

With stores in Miami, Madrid, and Cartagena, Silvia Tcherassi is a household name. Making the “Latin flair” look exponential more popular, Silvia is also a hotel owner and overall Colombian chic-queen. If you need a dress for a wedding, party, or really anything at all, check out her store.

El Arcón

If home furnishings are what you’re after, come to El Arcón to find adorable antiques. It’s also one of the only places we found you could buy the famed door knockers you see throughout the city. 

Where to work

Selina Hostel

Though we wouldn’t recommend staying here, Selena Hostel is a popular place for young people working remotely. That being the case, they are set up with great facilities (and fast wifi). They have decent food and you will inevitably meet someone who knows someone who knows someone you used to work with.

Folklore Colombian Café

A large space with great wifi and lots of outlets. You wouldn’t think that these 3 qualities are super hard to find in a place like Cartagena, but you would be wrong. This cafe is a diamond in the rough, and a true gift when we need to power through some work.

Abacus Books & Coffee

Part bookstore, part coffee shop – Abacus is absolutely adorable. The wifi isn’t super reliable, but that doesn’t really matter when you are surrounded by tall shelves housing hundreds of books. We aren’t going to lie – it’s also one of our favorite places to take an IG photo. Come here for good coffee and solitude when you need to focus (but make it cute). 

 

Cusco

Machu Picchu has put Peru on the tourist map for quite some time. In fact, it has made Peru one of the most popular destination in all of South America. We aren’t trying to hate on Machu Picchu, and are truly shocked that the Incas created that masterpiece, but we think there is much to see before you even get to the famous ruins.

Cusco was the Incan capital and declared a UNESCO world heritage site in the 80s. Though we love the cultural significance of the city, there is so much more to Cusco than the ruins. The food is top notch, and we love exploring the cobblestone streets and colonial style houses in search of art and textiles. The city is home to great markets, and as the entrance to the Sacred Valley, it’s a perfect home base for exploring the rest of the region.

The city sees a fair amount of tourism, and that is apparent when you’re visiting. Around the Plaza de Armas, there are a lot of shop owners that come out to encourage business. The smaller streets in the main area get crowded, and the major attractions will get busy. Some of the indigenous culture has been intensely commodified, so we encourage visitors to shop and explore responsibly (especially when it comes to dipping into the “medicine” experiences).

That being said, we completely understand why Cusco is so popular, and we honestly wish we could have made this guide way longer. Out of respect for you, and your scrolling thumb, we decided to pick out a few of our favorite places – but keep in mind there is so much to see in this great town and beyond its limits. The Sacred Valley is truly a magical place, and this is just your first stop.

Where to stay

Nao Victoria

If you’re looking for a less expensive, hostel option – Nao Victoria is your best bet. This design conscious hideaway is perfect if you aren’t in college or into taking shots at 4am, but you are on a bit of a budget and wanting to meet new people. Basically, a good hostel for those of us who don’t happen to be 21 and backpacking. The shared rooms come with comfortable, lofted beds, nice sheets, and privacy curtains. If sharing isn’t your thing, Nao Victoria also has standard private rooms and a superior private room. The cafe on the second floor serves food all day, and is a great place to get some work done.

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

This is the idyllic luxury hotel you dream about staying in when you come to Peru. Probably Cusco’s most high end option, The Monasterio is housed in a 17th century Baroque seminary. Though the outside structure has been perfectly maintained, the interiors are up to the Belmond standard (which, if you haven’t stayed at a Belmond, is…high). The courtyard is the perfect setting for morning coffee or an afternoon glass of wine, or really anything you could possibly think of enjoying.

El Balcón

Our favorite hotel in Cusco, El Balcón, is one of two hotels created by Wendy Weeks. We love the intimate vibe, the minimal but perfectly tasteful design elements, and the fact that it’s housed in a pre-colonial house from the 1600s. The gardens that lead to the rooms are perfect and you can choose between balcony level and ground level quarters. The wood balcony  (as the name suggests) has stunning views and the dining area offers complimentary coca tea. Don’t skip on the breakfast either – it’s exactly what you need to start the day.

Where to eat

Organika

If you get to Cusco after traveling throughout other cities in Peru, you might be in need of some lettuce. This is where you will procure those much needed greens, and they will be presented to you in a truly gorgeous fashion. Edible flowers, big salads, Organika has it all. Tucked away on a side street, the restaurant is small but the food is healthy. Most ingredients come from their farm in nearby Urubamba.

Chicha

We don’t like Chicha’s Cusco location quite as much as their Arequipa restaurant, but we still love the food. Come here for high quality Peruvian cuisine. They stick to the traditional flavors and use the highest grade ingredients from local farms. Their desserts are equally as good as the mains, so save some room.

Pachapapa

Pachapapa restaurant is right off of the San Blas plaza. Though it’s a bit touristy, the courtyard is adorable – complete with wooden banquettes and heaters (which is a huge win during the evenings in Cusco). Get the Alpaca skewers or the trout.

Qura

If you need a healthy breakfast, we love this little San Blas cafe. There are only 3 tables, so don’t count on coming here with a large group, but if you are on the go and need an acaí bowl or some avocado toast – this is your spot. They make bread in-house and have treats to go.

Green Point

We love this vegan restaurant, and we aren’t even vegan. Down an alley you’ll find the sign to this quaint restaurant. There are two floors, and more seating than you would imagine. You can honestly order anything on the menu and be in good shape. We love their tea selection for when you want to take a break from the pisco sours.

Where to grab coffee

L’atelier Cafe Concept

This is that boutique/coffee shop set-up that many of us are familiar with. Owned by a French woman, L’atelier has adorable goods downstairs, and good coffee and pastries upstairs. Grab a cup and sit at the window seats overlooking the street. It doesn’t really get more adorable than that.

Monkey Coffee

Hidden away is this gem of a coffee shop. They have homemade baked goods (we had their delicious carrot cake with edible flowers) and can do specialty drinks like lattes. It isn’t big, but make yourself cozy in one of their benches. Not a bad place to do some journal time and step away from the crowds.

Cocoliso

Similar to L’atelier, Cocoliso is a clothing store that also has a coffee station in it. There are little tables outside so you can break with an espresso if you feel like you need to get off your feet. It’s fairly close to the Plaza de Armas, but you aren’t stuck with too much foot traffic which is a huge plus.

The Meeting Place

This is a no frills coffee shop that gives back to the local community. It’s run by volunteers, and has an inviting atmosphere for whoever walks in the door. We love that. They also have super reliable WiFi and lunch options if you need! 

Where to shop

L’atelier Cafe Concept

Not to sound redundant, but this place deserves a second mention. As good as the coffee is, the jewelry, accessories, and home goods are even better. Come here for that pair of earrings you are telling yourself you’ll give to your roommate, but will actually end up keeping. 

A La Lau!

This is a cute shop in San Blas that carries leather purses, ponchos, handmade ceramics, and more. Everything you see is made by local artisans, and the store itself is owned by a Cusceña – so you know you’re supporting good work!

Cocoliso

Even though we love grabbing coffee at this cute shop, it’s primarily a clothing store. It has adorable baby clothes and beautiful sweaters. We also might have picked up a leather pouch – but really anything you buy at this store is high quality and you won’t regret it. 

Iya Mayta

A bit more upscale, Iya Mayta sells beautiful sweaters and gorgeous jewelry. There is quite a bit of fringe, so you could kind of dub more than a few items “high fashion” Coachella wear. But don’t worry, it’s all made by Peruvian artisans so it’s actually authentic. Plus, a portion of your profits go towards a local non-profit. 

Xapiri

Xapiri is a gallery space that showcases and sells photography, art, and other craft goods that support the indigenous cultures of the Amazon. They have various events that are open to the public which we definitely encourage you to go to.  

Centro Artesanal

Located on the corner of Avenida del Sol and Tullumayo, this market is where you get your classic kitschy souvenirs. Think ponchos, bags, pillow cases, and beyond. Most aren’t made by hand, so just know that going in.

Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco

Located in the museum under the same name, this place aims to preserve the traditional Peruvian textile techniques. They support local communities and weaving communities. Today, the organization works with nine different communities. You can buy high quality textiles after going through the museum. 

What to do

San Pedro Market

You can’t come to Cusco without visiting the San Pedro market. This is a large scale, classic mercado with everything you can imagine. They have food stalls, where you should absolutely try Caldo de Gallino, and isles of fresh vegetables, grains, herbs, and fruits which you can have made into fresh juice. Make sure to pick up maca powder and chia seeds for your trip home. 

Temple de La Luna

This is one of the lesser known ruins to visit in the Cusco area. It’s a good hike to the ruins, and the walk takes you through a beautiful meadow and along a trail. There is a bit of mystery revolving around the origin of the ruins, which makes them even more magical.

Planetarium Cusco

The Incas designed much of their lives based on the stars. Agriculture, city planning, and spiritual practices were made with the stars in mind. At the planetarium, you can take a peak into what they saw in the sky – which looks quite different if you’re used to looking up in the Northern Hemisphere. The planetarium is a family owned operation and the staff is super friendly. They pick you up in town, and take you to the observatory up by Sacsayhuamán.

Písac

If you want a day trip into the Sacred Valley, check out the town of Písac. Known for one of the best markets in the entire valley (and we are here to say – after many, many purchases – we agree with that statement), Písac has beautiful hikes, great spas, and some of the most intact ruins in Peru. 

Where to get your hit of culture

Sacsayhuamán Ruins

A citadel on the outskirts of Cusco, Sacsayhuamán is a great option for getting your fix of Incan ruins without the car rides. Some sections date back to early 1000s, and you can spend a few hours exploring each area. Get ready for some spectacular views of Cusco.

MAP Museum

This museum showcases Pre-Columbian artwork from cultures drawn from all regions of Peru. Many works have been loaned by the Larco Museum in Lima, which date to 1250 BC. Yeah – some pretty old stuff.

Museo Casa Concha

Just a little south of Plaza de Armas is Museo Casa Concha. Once a colonial mansion, the house is now a museum where you can see archeological finds from Machu Picchu. The exhibitions are diverse, and include an “Ongoing Research Room” where you can see how modern science has led us to discover more about the lifestyle of the Incan people.

Cooking class (TASTE Peruvian cooking studio, Marcelo Batata Cooking Experience)

Peruvian cuisine has been increasingly popular all over the world, and with good reason. While you’re in the mecca of Peruvian flavor, take a cooking class to make sure you can bring home one of the best things about this country – the food. 

Where to work

The dining room at El Balcon

The light-filled cafe area of El Balcon is the perfect place to get work done. We know, because it’s where we plugged in for a week or so during our stay. The space is warm and quiet, and they offer free teas. If you get hungry, they have great food and the staff is super sweet.

Cafe at Nao Victoria

Not to tap into our “To Stay” section too much, but it turns out the communal spaces in the hotels we choose are just really great. The cafe on the second floor has great music, good coffee (or a beer if it’s a bit later in the day…), and outlets. 

La Valeriana

This spacious cafe is in the center of town and super comfortable. There are outlets galore and good sweets to keep the sugar rush going. 

Where to drink

Los Perros

This is is a great bar option owned by an Australian-Peruvian couple. There are couches in the back room so you can cozy up for hours. The drink options are solid, and the food menu is good too. We recommend the yucca to soak up some of the alcohol. Also, on Sundays they have live jazz.

Barranco Beer Company

BBC is a Lima based brewery, and this is their Cusco outpost. The space is slightly small, but this is some of the best beer in all of Peru. 

Limbus Restobar

This place is a bit touristy, but if you are able to snag a spot on their balcony it’s absolutely worth it. Order a glass of wine or a cocktail and take in the view of the entire city. 

Belmond Hotel Bar

Yes, this is a hotel bar, but we love hotel bars – and this is an exceptionally good one. Order a pisco sour and make yourself comfortable in front of the fire. The large wood bar and the friendly bartenders make this somewhere you could hang for hours on a chilly night.

 

Seattle

Seattle was a fantastic town long before Amazon set foot within its limits. With more attention being brought with the growing tech scene, it’s worth noting that Seattle has a longstanding history in music, art, and food. With musicians like Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix having made footprints in the city decades ago, artists like Dale Chihuly calling it home, and chefs like Tom Douglas cooking….Seattle has had the “it” factor for some time.

In recent years, with more young professionals moving in, the laws surrounding cannabis production changing, and, of course, Amazon: Seattle real estate is booming. With that, comes the pros and cons of an expanding city, but it also means more tourism –  which is likely why Seattle has become a top destination in recent years.

For better or for worse, we are here to say we love this Pacific Northwest town (and we have to say this, as our CEO is from Seattle). It’s surrounded by great weekend getaways, has a vibrant creative culture, and world class restaurants. We could easily spend a day in one neighborhood alone, lazing around the famous coffee shops and eating seafood.

Where to stay

The Palladian

This is our favorite Kimpton hotel within the city. They have a few, but Palladian has the quirky yet refined design elements we love. It’s located in Belltown, so you can easily walk to Pike Place Market and the waterfront. The rooms range in size, but we recommend getting at least a Deluxe Guest room so you can take advantage of the clawfoot tub.

The Ace

This is the OG Ace Hotel. A former workers hotel, the structure was built in 1909, and the owners have maintained the loft ceilings and gorgeous windows. Choose between a standard room with a share bath, or a deluxe room with private amenities. Either way, you are to see stunning artwork and the minimalist design they are known for.

The Thompson Hotel

Designed by Seattle’s Olson Kundig Architects, The Thompson sits on top of Pike Place. With floor to ceiling windows, the views from this hotel are gorgeous. The rooms are spacious and perfectly set-up for a “work-in-room” experience if you need to hammer out some hours on the computer. If that doesn’t get you, head up to their rooftop bar, The Nest. Because that will.

Where to eat

Walrus and the Carpenter

If you’re familiar with Seattle, you’ve probably heard of this Ballard oyster bar. This is probably Sea Creatures restaurant group’s most popular haunt, and we completely understand why. The decor is complete with a marble bar and oyster baskets – the food is truly amazing. Come for happy hour if you can get a table. 

Ba Bar

Seattle is famous for it’s Vietnamese food, and this is not one of the tiny hole in the wall, strip mall places that you might associate with the real deal grub, but it truly is. Dishing up great phở and fantastic cocktails made with fresh juice, it’s a perfect spot on a cold night when you want a bit of ambiance as well. They have three locations – we love all of them.

Eve Fremont

Eve is one of our go-to restaurant in the Fremont neighborhood. The dishes are consistently intriguing and delicious, and we love the large mural that makes up their far interior wall. The cocktails are delicious and we usually come here to split a few dishes. You won’t regret it if you stop in for a late lunch.

kamonegi

Named one of the best new restaurants in America by Eater’s Bill Addison, kamonegi is a Japanese standout in a city with a lot of great Japanese food. Their soba is made in-house and a must order. They also have a seasonal sake list that we encourage taking part in.

The London Plane

Seemingly taking in all the light Pioneer Square has to offer, London Plane is a gorgeous, bright restaurant perfect for any time of day. There is a flower shop and a bakery in front, and casual pre-fix meals if you decide to sit down. We love this place, and find it to be a must visit when we are in town. 

Hương Bình Vietnamese Cuisine

Remember that hole in the wall, strip mall Vietnamese place we just mentioned above? Well, this is it. Come to Huong Binh for an incredible, cheap bowl of phở. Some people say it’s the city’s best, but we won’t venture that far – mostly because we haven’t had the year it would take to try every single bowl in Seattle. Just know that it’s really, really good. 

Where to break

QED

On quiet 31st Ave, this small coffee shop is one of our favorites. Selling sustainable coffee, baked goods (vegan options too – this is Seattle), and breakfast tacos on weekends – you can’t really go wrong. If you need a place to plug in, they have tables to sit at as well. They also have a great glass of Kombucha. 

Elm Coffee Roasters

This might be our actual favorite cup of coffee in Seattle. They roast their beans in house and if that isn’t enough, they also sell fresh baked goods from Sea Wolf Bakers. Come here, order a latte, and take a seat on one of their bar stools. We will also admit we are a huge sucker for their branding.

Little Oddfellows

Located in the back of Elliott Bay Bookstore, this is the sister cafe to larger restaurant, Oddfellows. We are going to be honest with you here – we love cafes in bookshops, and we would be lying if we didn’t say that was some of the appeal. The good news is that they carry the same standard as the larger restaurant which means great coffee and snacks.

Milstead & Co

Milstead & Co is where you take your coffee snob friend that seems to fuss over every little detail. In fact, this shop truly owns the refined, snob factor and we love that. It rotates renowned roasters like Kuma and Coava, but the espresso drinks are really what hit home. Take a seat outside and enjoy. 

Where to get your hit of culture

Chihuly Museum

Chihuly is a household name in Seattle. Opened in 2012, this is his longstanding exhibition in his home state of Washington. The glass structures are other worldly and you can spend hours in each room. The museum has pieces inside, and outside interwoven with the garden, as the name suggests.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Outside the Seattle Art Museum is Olympic Sculpture Park. The design has won international competitions and is looked at as a model for outdoor sculpture parks across the US. Home to sculptures by Richard Serra and Alexander Calder, it has it’s own cache as an art exhibit itself. The architecture of the walkways and landscape is all part of the experience. 

Museum of Pop Culture

Previously EMP (Experience Music Project), The Museum of Pop Culture is dedicated to the art and ideas that have come about in…pop culture. Though it includes various art forms (film, art, etc), we love it for it’s touch on music history, specifically Seattle’s. With more than 6,000 Jimi Hendrix related artifacts, it also gives homage to the inspiration for the first museum (EMP) funded by Paul Allen.

What to do

Langley

If it’s warm, test out Seattle’s ferry system by heading to Langley on Whidbey Island. Only a 30-minute boat ride, Langley is a seaside town. Grab coffee at Useless Bay Coffee and stop by home goods shop, Edit.

Ponder Cannabis Shop

Instead of stopping by the multi-location Uncle Ikes, support the underdog by going to Ponder Cannabis Shop. In Seattle’s Central District, this will give you a taste, and puff, of legal marijuana culture. The staff is super friendly and informed. Make sure you are of age and have your ID on you to prove it. 

Pike Place

Okay, we know. You know. Everyone knows. But you can’t go to Seattle without stopping by Pike Place because it’s actually still really great. It will most likely be crowded, but don’t let that deter you. Stop by Market Grill for a blackened fish sandwich (a must order). If you head downstairs (yes, Pike Place has many levels), check out the little bookshops for some great deals.

Where to shop

Totokaelo

This store has been around for years and now has a location in NYC. We still love Totokaelo and go here for all our high end designer needs. It never fails to surprise you by being a bit ahead of the curve. For what it’s worth, we love the store design

Moorea Seal

Moorea Seal is just north of Pioneer Square and sells clothing, beauty, and home good products. It’s a great place to come for gifts, and tend to skew towards “on trend” (think blush pink walls, succulents, and mid-century modern furniture). We love the jewelry and their arrays of candles.

Peter Miller

Seattle is a bit of a bookstore hub, and Peter Miller is the design centric shop that has earned fame in the city. Alongside gorgeous coffee table books that line the wall, you can also buy home goods, drafting supplies, and more. 

Where to drink

Bottlehouse

This is one of our favorite wine bars.  The interior is a mix of rustic wood and gorgeous wallpaper, and the wine rotation is top notch. They also have oysters, small plates, and wine on tap. Do we need to say more? Because we will – there is also a gorgeous patio that we would probably stay at the entire weekend if we could. 

Tula’s

Tula’s is a bit of a jazz institution in Seattle. Walk in six nights a week to grab a drink and listen to some of the best jazz Seattle has to offer.

Perceys & Co

Serving “apothecary” style cocktails and Creole food, Percy’s has long shared tables and is garnered with hanging plants behind the bar. We also love cozying up in one of their big booths during the rainy months.

Twilight Exit

Seattle is kind of weird. And we like that. And if you want a weird “sort-of” dive bar and a great burger, Twilight is your place. It has stickers on the ceiling and random trophies displayed – but that is all part of the magic. 

Where to sweat

Urban Yoga Spa

One of our favorite yoga spots, and a huge bonus point because our /Insider, Anna Douglas, is a teacher here. They have group and private classes, but what we love most is the ability to get a massage right after our class.

Seattle Bouldering Project

If you’re wanting to get your sweat on but have a great time – head here. You can choose between Bouldering Basics, and Bouldering 1-3 depending on your skill level. If you get hungry or need a caffeine fix after, check out their cafe, West Wall. 

Green Lake Path

The weekend can get a bit crowded here but we don’t mind too much. If you need a good place to hit the pavement while you’re in Seattle, definitely come to Green Lake Path. The inner loop is 2.8 miles and the outer loop is 3.1 miles around the lake. If you want to go further, head towards Woodland Park attached to the south end of Green Lake. 

Where to work

La Marzocco Cafe

Housed in a garage space, there is ample room to spread out at La Marzocco. The espresso drinks are what we opt for here and the pastries are top notch. The space also happens to be the HQ of KEXP radio, so you can guarantee good tunes while you work. 

Victrola

Victrola has a few locations but we usually head to their Capitol Hill shop. It’s built in a 1920s auto row building and it has kept a lot of the architectural integrity. We love the big communal tables and the fact that they roast their own beans. 

 

 

Uluwatu, Bali

Welcome to 2019, people. When January 1 rolls around, we all try to “reset” and abide by the healthy rituals we may or may not stick to throughout the year to come. One of the best places to really set your intentions into play is none other than Bali, Indonesia. One of our favorite towns in Bali is Uluwatu. We head here to get away from the crowds, and to hit up our favorite yoga spots, healthy eats, and gorgeous hideaways.

Uluwatu doesn’t play into the spiritual tourism of Ubud or the “expat tech” scene of Canguu. Instead, it appeals to those who have the image of Bali before everyone seemed to tack it onto their Top 10 Lists of places to go.

Pretty much the only place you can find a quiet getaway, Uluwatu offers gorgeous beaches (some say the best in Bali), beautiful hotels, and one of the island’s most important temples. If you want a true wellness retreat, head to the tip of the island and check out this stunning town.

Where to stay

Uluwatu Surf Villas

If you’re going to take a trip with your friends, and maybe you’re looking to surf, you should stay here. The design is something we can stand behind and they have villas that are 1-3 bedrooms. The restaurant, Mana, is super affordable and we couldn’t love the location more.

Gravity

Though it’s not on the beach, Gravity is a wonderful, affordable option in Uluwatu. It boasts stunning view from each of its pools, and is eco-friendly. With rooms that open up onto gorgeous balconies, it’s the perfect place to relax if you can score one of their 15 bungalows.

Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay

You caught us red-handed. This is a Four Seasons hotel, and we are perfectly comfortable saying you should stay here and that it feels anything but generic. If you can swing it, stay in one of their villas- each with gorgeous clawfoot tubs that look onto Balinese gardens. 

The Ungasan Clifftop Resort

As you might assume, the Ungasan is set atop limestone cliffs looking over the ocean in Uluwatu. It’s stunning, and you’ll only need to creep Instagram to agree with us. With one of the best beach clubs sitting just below it on the sand, this private getaway feels exclusive and hidden – a bit like it’s made just for you.

Alila Villas Uluwatu

If you want the true luxury experience, Alila is your spot. It will thin out your wallet for sure, but the gorgeous minimalist design, luxury rooms, and beautiful spa are 100% worth it. Basically, we would live here. Some rooms open up onto private pools, and if you need more TLC than that, they have an organic spa that caters its therapies to your individual needs. Yes.

Bulgari Resort Bali

Perched on the very edge of the coast, and owned by one of the most renowned Italian luxury jewelry houses (BVLGARI, which was started way back in 1884), this hotel is luxury defined. If you can’t afford to come here or it isn’t your honeymoon or something, come for lunch. The architecture and views are stunning, and the spa is also to die for.

Where to eat

The Cashew Tree

If you are needing a casual, healthy lunch, this is your place. We order a salad and a smoothie, and call it a day. That said, pretty much anything on their menu is a great go-to for getting rid of your 2018 guilt, and starting off on the right foot. 

Dugong Restaurant

If you’re looking for high-end Indonesian food, a great pool, and good drinks, Dugong is your best bet. It’s not the casual cafe that might come to mind when you think of your trip to Bali, but it’s a great place to splurge on dinner and take the sunset in. It’s also located in a resort where you can have a drink by a gorgeous pool – and we fully encourage doing just that.

Mana

We love the minimalist design as much as we love the fresh poke bowls. With communal tables and an all-day menu, Mana satisfies everything we could ever need. We almost put this in our “where to work” list, but we decided the food was too good. Oh, and it’s located in in the Uluwatu Surf Villas camp, which is where we told you to stay.

Fat Chow Temple Hill

We would call Fat Chow “temple chic” if the term existed. A fairly funky restaurant, everything is the space is repurposed…except the food. With a pan-Asian focus, we love this place for it’s lack of pretension and focus on flavor. And of course, the general vibe that makes us feel right at home.

Where to drink

Single Fin

Located on Suluban Beach, Single Fin is a great spot for a cocktail or a bite. It truly shines on Sundays when you can catch live music, but it’s a great place to grab a drink any day of the week. Even if you don’t run in from the surf, chill here to catch a great sunset.

The Station

If you’re not looking for an all day beach club fiesta, but you are still interested in a libation, The Station is your place. We come here for a beer and a hang and we love it. With communal wood tables and a chalkboard menu, we love the general ease of this bar. Also: no shirt, no shoes = no problem, here.

El Kabron

This spot has purple lights and a stage, and also white comfy couches placed everywhere. We can’t call it a bar because it’s a kind of a restaurant, kind of a club, and also has a pool. But if your cocktails leave you wanting to swim and you are looking for a great view, this is your spot. 

Where to dance

Ulu Cliffhouse

Come here around 5pm to get a cocktail and watch the sunset. Then order another cocktail. Then stay, because this place turns into a dance club that turns up the house hits and if you’re lucky, some reggae.

OMNIA

Bringing in world class DJs to this low key Bali town, Omnia is more of a day-club but you can absolutely hit the dance floor, too. You can also find yourself a seat at the restaurant if you find that you’ve had one too many. We love the views and they also have a pool for those who need to cool off.

Where to break

Suka Espresso

This is arguably the best coffee in Uluwatu. Get a latte, espresso (as the name would suggest), or an iced coffee. The great news is that you can also order simple but delicious healthy eats. Come here before your beach time for a solid start to the day, or a for a midday break.

Drifter Cafe

Located in the back of a surf shop, Drifter offers garden seating and a mean cacao smoothie bowl. We love their coffee, and it has a few treats if you need something sweet midday.

Kafein Balangan

Kafein is full of character and looks a bit like a shack. It’s super cute and has a great cup of coffee. We love the casual vibe and encourage you to spend a lazy morning here.

Where to work

The Cashew Tree

As we mentioned, Cashew Tree is an all day cafe. It’s also a great place to post up with your laptop and has outlets for you to power up. It serves coffee all day (which is necessary for that jet-lag), and its general ambiance keeps us going.

Bukit Cafe

This is more of a cafe than a work space, but it’s a great place to spend your day. It has smoothies, bowls, and “mashes,” and also serves a good cup of coffee for that caffeine fix. It allows laptops during most hours.

What to do

Sunday’s Beach Club

At Sunday’s, you pay an entrance fee that includes snorkle gear, kayaks, a food & beverage credit, and your lounge chair. If that doesn’t get your attention, the perfectly situated beach set-up should swoon you.

Padang Padang beach

If you’re a surfer, this is one of the places to hit up. We can’t say it’s the only break in Uluwatu that is worth the ride, but it’s an absolute must visit. If you don’t happen to surf, feel free to come here to check out the waves, lay on the sand, and take in the sights.

Nyang Nyang Beach

Nyang Nyang might be the last beach in Bali where you can go for a walk at sunset and find yourself totally alone. The hike down to the beach is an experience on it’s own, and one we recommend. If you’re looking for a swim, this isn’t your game plan- but if you want to take a few moments on your own or perhaps a solo camping trip, then head here.

Where to get your hit of culture

Uluwatu Temple

Perched on top of a cliff, Uluwatu Temple is one of Bali’s most important temples. The monkeys are aggressive, but don’t let them deter you. The cliff-side walk on the way to the temple is a bit of a religious experience on its own. They have sunset Kacek dances to end the day, and we recommend trying to catch one during your stay.

GWK Cultural Park

Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue depicts Vishnu and is designed to be one of the world’s largest and highest monumental statue in the world. The park itself has a ton to do – from a shopping center to traditional dance performances. It seems a bit touristy, yes – but we truly recommend it.

Where to work out

Morning Light Yoga Studios

Throughout Bali, Yoga reigns supreme. We love Morning Light Yoga Studio, which is located in Uluwatu Surf Villas. The outdoor practice space is surrounded by jungle, and their are 90 minute classes offered every day. They also offer retreats which span from mysticism to yoga & meditation.

Surfing

There are so many places to surf in Uluwatu. We don’t necessarily recommend any of these breaks for the absolute beginners, but if you have experience, head to Dreamland, Bingin, or Balangan to catch the waves.

Bali Training Center

If you’re interested in Muay Thai, go to Bali Training Center. The owner found a passion for Muay Thai in Phuket but couldn’t find a decent gym in Uluwatu, so he opened one himself. For the intense workout some might crave, you can definitely count on this place to kick your ass.

Where to relax

Karma Spa

With a menu of Asian-inspired holistic remedies, Karma Spa is one of our picks when it comes to unwinding. Karma has locations across the globe, but we truly feel like the experience they offer you, overlooking the cliffs in Uluwatu, is spectacular.

Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay

If you have a little extra cash, please splurge on the spa at the Four Seasons. Do it for us, and for yourself. You will have a private “room,” which is more like a hut, overlooking the beach, with fantastic service.

  

Downtown Manhattan

There is nowhere in the world quite like New York City. Whether you have only seen the iconic buildings on the big screen, are an NYC ride-or-die, or have decided that the “buzz” of the streets is just anxiety cloaked in the smell of trash…no one can deny it is one of the most iconic places in the world. At Safara, we love New York- and some of us even call it home.

Even though December inevitably means NYC is averaging around 35 degrees, there is something magical about Manhattan during the holidays. Whether it’s the Christmas lights decorating West Village brownstones, or strolling through Central Park with gloves and a hot cup of coffee – you’d be lying if you said it wasn’t all just a little romantic.

Because there is far too much to do, see, and eat, we have kindly split up our NY guide so that we don’t overwhelm you with subway rides. To kick it off, we are focusing on downtown Manhattan. No matter how many iterations the various neighborhoods that make up downtown go through, there is always something new to get excited about.

Where to stay

The PUBLIC Hotel

The PUBLIC hotel is Ian Schrager’s newest project. Repping the tagline “Luxury for all,” PUBLIC boasts gorgeous rooms for affordable prices. Located on Chrystie Street, you are perfectly positioned to enjoy the bars in Alphabet City or the Lower East Side, and still skip over to Nolita for breakfast. Definitely visit their bar Diego, and if you happen to visit during the warmer months, head to the roof for great views and better dancing. Oh, and check out our interview with their VP of Brand Marketing, Sebastian Puga.

Beekman Hotel

We would honestly pay to just walk into the Beekman. The building and lobby are half the reason to stay here. If you don’t end up getting a room, definitely come for a drink. The location might not be ideal if you are planning on meeting friends in SoHo on the regular, but if you have a few meetings in FiDi and don’t mind being a quick train ride away from most of our favorite haunts, stay here.

The Greenwich Hotel

We come to the Greenwich because it feels a little bit like our rustic dream home- if we were able to decorate with beautiful leather furniture, beamed ceilings, and cozy fireplaces. And have Robert De Niro (part owner) as our partner. We also come to the Greenwich Hotel because the Japanese-designed spa is incredible (complete with an underground pool), and the general proximity to Locanda Verde – an incredible Italian restaurant located on the ground floor. Definitely try the house-made ricotta.

The Bowery Hotel

The Bowery is a downtown staple, and you’ve most likely had a drink in their courtyard, come here for an event, or found yourself at Gemma for decent Italian if you’re a New Yorker. IE it’s a local haunt. We know we aren’t breaking the mould by suggesting you stay here, but we are suggesting that you do because climbing into bed with one of their iconic teddy bears is pretty hard to beat.

The Arlo

With two locations in Manhattan, one in SoHo and one in NoMad, The Arlo is a great option when you don’t want to splurge on The Bowery, and want something a little more straightforward. The Arlo hosts events weekly that span from movie nights to wine tastings. If you are in need of a meeting, they have a few different spaces in both locations that you can book. One note, though: do not get the room service. It’s overly priced and really terrible. Go to the bodega on the corner for a 3$ egg sandwich instead – a NYC tradition. 

The Marlton

If location is what you’re after, it’s hard to beat the Marlton. This gorgeous space is located just north of Washington Square Park, and if you need to warm up, we challenge you to find a better fireplace with cosier couches than the ones in their lobby. It’s fun to work here, too- and they allow laptop squatters to do so. The rooms are small, but eclectic. Margaux, their restaurant, has a covered patio that is the perfect setting for any weekend lunch. Great for meetings, too.

Where to Eat

Il Buco

Choosing a favorite Italian restaurant in downtown Manhattan is nearly impossible. So here is one that we like very, very much. Il Buco is a classic NoHo establishment. You can order anything on the menu, and count on incredibly solid food. The wine list is approachable but can also impress, and you will adore the classic rustic decor. If you happen to have a special occasion, they have a back room that you can rent out.

Wildair

This isn’t the place to come for a romantic dinner for two when you want to nuzzle in a corner. You’ll most likely sit at a shared table- and you should over-order. Food is small plates style, and the wine list is obscure and incredible. There will be a wait… but know that it’s worth it.

Frenchette

Frenchette was named one of the best restaurants to open in 2018. People have called it the new Balthazar – but we are sensitive about that, because we don’t believe there can be a new Balthazar. That said, it is very good and serves exceptional food. The price tag will be hefty, but you aren’t getting cheated out of quality or experience.

Charlie Bird

From the owner of Pasquale Jones and Legacy Records (which you should also go to), Charlie Bird is the first project- and still remains a favorite of ours. You’ll find this Italian spot at the intersection of SoHo and the West Village, and you can count on incredible pastas and great tunes. This is also the team behind Parcelle Wine, so you can guarantee the selection is top notch.

Prince Street Pizza

If you’re in SoHo and need a quick lunch, a hangover cure, an after drinks pick-me-up, or just want amazing New York pizza by the slice, come here. It isn’t the only place we come for pizza, not even close, but it is on our rotation, and we think it’s some of the best.

west~bourne

If you’re in need of an all-day cafe with healthy food, good coffee, and potentially a glass of wine for when the sun starts to descend, head to west~bourne. The space is adorable, and almost everything on the menu is worth an order.

Spicy Village

This is great Chinese food. Bring cash, and your own bottle (BYOB)- and get ready to roll out of here. This is a no frills establishment, with plastic cups and pictures notating menu items hanging on the walls, but that makes us love it all the more.

Momofuku Ssam Bar

One of our favorite East Village restaurants, David Chang’s Ssam Bar is in a league of it’s own. Even though the Momofuku craze isn’t at the top of everyone’s radar anymore, the food is still unbelievable. We love coming here with a bigger group and ordering family style. 

Joseph Leonard

We love this West Village staple, brought to you by the team behind Jeffrey’s Grocery and Fedora (and more). We usually come here for brunch, but the bartender that works after the 8pm rush is amazing and in all reality, we could come to this adorable little restaurant any time of day.

Caracas

The original Caracas is right in the East Village. If you want something that won’t hurt your wallet but that will leave you full, opt for these classic arepas. We’ve tried almost all of them and stand by each one. Make sure to get a side of plantains, too.

Where to Drink

The Garret West

Above a Five Guys on a corner in the West Village is a small bar called The Garret. It was the first establishment in a series of “Garret’s” opened up by Gavin Moseley’s Den Hospitality (also, read his Insider article, here!). We love all the locations, but the West Village one holds a special place in our hearts. We love that it’s hidden and that if things get a little wild, we can get french fries downstairs.

Image via @thegarretbar

The Wayland

We loved the Wayland when it opened years ago. We would crowd in here to see friends play guitar for an audience of 15, while sipping extremely good cocktails. Now, the Wayland has expanded into the space next-door and is an Alphabet City staple. We love that, because we love the Wayland. It also serves (very good) food.

Lois

This tiny Alphabet City wine bar is a favorite of ours. Their small bites are exactly what we are in the mood for everyday, and the minimalist design has us swooning every time we walk in. When the Wayland is too busy, and you want to actually sit down and have a conversation, come here.

Lovers of Today

This tiny bar is a great place to meet a Tinder date…or any date. On the corner of 7th, you will walk down a few steps into a little room with dim lighting. It’s romantic- and surprisingly you will usually find a seat. Which is less awkward. We don’t recommend going on a Friday or a Saturday, but in NYC why would you wait until the weekend?

The Back Room

This speakeasy is located in the Lower East Side. We call it a speakeasy because…it was actually a speakeasy. It’s one of two bars in NYC that was operating during Prohibition that is still working today. There is no sign on the door to walk in, and when you order a cocktail it will come in a teacup. 

Little Branch

Between TriBeCa and the West Village is this experimental cocktail bar. It’s on an otherwise lonely corner, and the door takes you downstairs to a basement lounge. Come here early to get a seat, and let the bartenders do their thing. Also good for date nights.

Clandestino

We love Clandestino. There isn’t anything exceptional about the drinks, the space, or anything else really…but that is why we love it. It’s a solid bar and perfect for pretty much anything.

Sophie’s

Are the $15 NYC cocktails making you itch for a dive bar with a pool table and cheap shots? We got you. Well, Sophie’s has got you.

The Spotted Pig

This West Village corner spot has been on everyones radar for years. The thing is, it’s still our favorite burger on the west side (we love you too, Corner Bistro) – and there is nowhere else we would rather cozy up on a cold winter day.

Where to Break

l’estudio

This adorable little cafe is where we romanticize getting lost in a book for hours while sipping coffee and eating homemade baked goods. That is, if we weren’t in NYC where there was so much to do. It’s a perfect stop if you are perusing the Lower East Side and need a break. 

Café Integral

Near the Bowery is this design-forward coffee shop. They have really good Nicaraguan coffee for the coffee snobs you’re traveling with, but they also have turmeric lattes for anyone wanting something trendy they can Instagram.

THE ELK

THE ELK is somewhere we can work, eat, drink coffee, and then eat again. This cute West Village space has healthy eats that can keep you going all day long.

The Coffee Peddler

If you don’t need a chair, table, or an outlet, head to the Coffee Peddler on Lafayette and Houston. This is a coffee cart (a very NYC “thing”!) unlike any you’ve seen before. The coffee is delicious, and we can guarantee that you’ll end up snapping a few pics of their set up. They also do Australian toasts and have a few baked goods for sale to nibble on.

McNally Jackson

This is one of our favorite downtown bookstores that also happens to be a coffee shop (of course, because we are in New York). Feel free to buy a book and come here to sip on a latte and read, or stop by for a soup and a salad while shopping in Nolita. Fun/weird fact: we used to see Moby in here all the time.

Laughing Man

Hugh Jackman owns this TriBeCa shop. It’s not somewhere you can come with your laptop and it doesn’t really have seating….but did we mention that Hugh Jackman is the owner? It also helps that the coffee is excellent, and you can rest easy knowing your money is getting put to good use by supporting the Laughing Man Foundation.

Where to get your hit of culture

The Whitney

The new Whitney isn’t so new…but it’s equally as exciting. They have rotating exhibits that are usually a must-see, but the house collection and the architecture are reason enough for trekking to the far west side. If you get hungry, head downstairs to Untitled and absolute order their cookie for dessert. Walk the Highline before/after.

IFC Center

Usually featuring premiers of independent or foreign films, IFC is one of our favorite theaters in New York. You can catch cult classics, or programming with LGBTQ curators. Occasionally you’ll find directors or actors speaking before their films and doing Q&As.

Hear live Jazz 

Go to Blue Note, Smalls, or the Village Vanguard to catch a live jazz show. Order a glass of red and make sure to book in advance for the bigger acts.

Katz’s

We understand that this should technically be in our “Where to eat” section, but we truly believe that pastrami this good is a cultural experience. Go here late when the lines are shorter, and you have more of an appetite for a gigantic meat sandwich. Get the pickle.

Russian & Turkish Baths

On East 10th St, you will find a “spa” of sorts. This isn’t the luxurious experience you might find at, say AIRE Ancient Baths or Great Jones Spa (go there if you want to truly pamper yourself- book ahead!), but it is as authentic a Russian bath house as you might discover outside of Russia (or Brighton Beach). There will be large Russian men in hats, there will be people drinking, and there will be various languages spoken.

Chinatown

Head to Chinatown for a number of different reasons. Great dumplings, Chinese bodywork, or getting your aura photographed at Magic Jewelry – the options of what to do in this classic neighborhood are endless.

What to do

The Highline

Enter the Highline on Gansevoort Street, and walk the entire way up to 34th. You will definitely see some entertainment along the way, and you should stop to get a La Newyorkina popsicle. Also feel free to pop down around 18th street to see some of the famous Chelsea art galleries. They have free public openings often (including free wine!) on Thursdays, too.

Union Square Greenmarket

It’s always fun walking through the big farmers market that happens Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays in Union Square. Tons of local vendors from around the city and upstate come in to sell their goods – which range from produce to breads to cheese to wine and cider.

Lower East Side Galleries

When we think about New York galleries, people usually jump to Chelsea. We understand that because we adore David Zwirner and the Gagosian, but we also think that the LES gallery scene deserves mentioning. While you’re shopping around, head to Bodega, Lucien Terras, and CANADA. You will see many more along the way, and can explore the other small art spaces that have made this a destination for gallery hopping.

Metrograph

Specializing in vintage and niche films, this Lower East Side movie theater is part theater, part bar, and part restaurant. All the food is modeled after Hollywood studio cafeterias, and you can usually score tickets to cool events too.

Where to shop

Frankie Shop

This Lower East Side boutique is one of our favorites. It carries boutique brands like CMEO Collective and adorable accessories. Unfortunately for our men, it’s just for women for now.

C’H’C’M’

This is a men’s store on Bond Street that works with cool designers, plus has their own in-house brand. We love their sweatshirts and graphic tees for a casual NY streetwear look.

Otte

With a location in Nolita and the West Village, we are regular Otte browsers. They carry a range of brands – large and small – that we usually find a place for in our closets. Their in-house brand is perfect for that simple silk dress we all need as we run around the city.

Maryam Nassir Zadeh

When you picture the New York “cool girl,” she is wearing MNZ. From the perfect mule to a great high-waisted skirt, you can find it here. You will most likely do some damage on your credit card – but just forgive yourself in advance.

Coming Soon

If clothing isn’t your thing and you actually just want to buy beautiful home goods, this is your place. Coming Soon is a mix of colorful home decor gifts and vintage furniture. We love all of it. 

Where to dance

Paul’s Casablanca

This place is kind of annoying and you will most likely see a few 18 year old models here…but it’s still really fun. It isn’t the easiest place to get into but once you do, stay a while and be ready to spend a few dollars on drinks. 

Home Sweet Home

This place has been around for ages, and it isn’t going to be the swanky club experience – which is what we love about it. It’s not quite a dive bar, but it could pass if it tried. Located in a small basement, Home Sweet Home has a different DJ every night- and we promise you that you’ll get your 90s R&B fix.

Apotheke

Apotheke has live music or DJs most nights. Usually the music has a global flavor that we love, and we will attest to the fact that we have been here for a salsa night or two. Not sure if that is still a thing, but if it is…make it your thing. It has a speakeasy vibe, but you still have enough room to dance with your friends or that cute girl/guy you just spotted at the bar.

et al.

On Thursday’s, et al has disco parties that are definitely worth going to. You won’t find college kids here (which is a struggle for a Lower East Side bar), and it has surprisingly good drinks for a “dance bar.”

 

San Miguel de Allende

By Lily Wan of Casa Dragones

San Miguel de Allende is the sort of town that makes you believe in magic. The cobblestone streets are colorful and the Spanish architecture makes the town look almost fake in its perfection. We should also mention that it’s home to one of the best tequila companies out there: Casa Dragones. So the agave induced buzz we highly encourage might have us feeling like we are in a dream state for other reasons.

We tapped Lily Wan, Director of Content at Casa Dragones, to give us the intel on the best things to see, do, and sip in this charming Mexican town. Being 150 miles north of Mexico City makes San Miguel de Allende (or SMA) totally accessible, and with a gastronomy scene that is one of the best in the country, you will have plenty to do (and eat).

Photo by Lily Wan

We know you travel to San Miguel often, but let’s say you were to go there for your dream vacation. Where would you stay?

Hotel Matilda

Behind the colonial facade, is a modern & exquisite 32-room boutique hotel in the heart of San Miguel Allende. Named Best Hotel in Mexico by Travel and Leisure, you can trust that Matilda is a unique experience. The art in this hotel rotates periodically, and the mainstay works are incredible (ie: a Diego Rivera portrait of the hotel owner’s mother). In the hotel is Moxi, an Enrique Olivera restaurant that is sure to keep you coming back. If the award winning food doesn’t get you, we think the late night DJs and tequila tastings might be fairly convincing. 

Dos Casas

Appropriately named, this hotel was created out of two colonial style homes. Now a mix of modern design elements and traditional structures, this is definitely one of the boutique hotels to book. The rooms are large and get gorgeous light, which is important because you will definitely want to photograph the artwork and mid-century furniture. Dos Casas also has a spa (which we encourage you to take advantage of) and a restaurant, Aperi, that is as beautiful as it is delicious.

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

Taco Lab at Dôce 18 Concept House is great for casual and “please-everyone” tacos. Jacinto also serves up an incredible lunch—order the esquites and the oyster mushroom tacos. There is also a rib taco with mole and egg yolk that is supposed to be out of this world, so maybe go with that.

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

I’d try to snag a seat at Áperi’s chef’s table, which is located in a gorgeous private space that’s essentially inside the kitchen. The restaurant’s known for its inventive and beautifully plated courses made from locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. They’re well-known for their cocktail offerings, too.

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

Aside from the impeccable cocktail list at Áperi, my other favorite spots are Jacinto (also great food, and the beverage program was created by the same guy who did Áperi’s), The Monocle Cocktail Club, Hotel Casa Blanca 7, and of course, the Casa Dragones Tasting Room, which is a must-visit for a tasting of the world’s best sipping tequila.

Photo by Lily Wan

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

PANIO, for the CONCHAS. They have coffee, too, if a face-sized puff of bread doesn’t pick you up enough.

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

Mixta is a must-visit. Also great are Kingsley Market, Mercado Sano, the shops in Dôce 18 Concept House, and Mercado de Artesanías (though you’ll want to have cash on you for this one).

Photo by Lily Wan

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

Book a private tour of La Casa Dragones for a little history lesson and tequila tasting, and then stroll around the Guadalupe neighborhood for art murals and low-traffic, high-color streets.

Favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

Parque Juárez in the early morning. Even just walking around the city center in the early morning (pre-7:30 am) is really peaceful. You’ll probably spot some hot air balloons, too, which are almost comically too picturesque against the cotton-candy sunrise.

Tips and tricks for getting around town?

Walking will be your best bet, but the streets are mostly all cobblestone and the sidewalks are irregular widths, so be sure to bring flat shoes.

Photo by Lily Wan

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

Jacinto, but be advised to book early. Try Aperi or Moxi for a little bit more atmosphere, if you want something more buzzy.

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

I hear the Mayan baths just outside of town are great.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

Honestly, anywhere. Parque Juárez is a great spot to sit back, relax, and journal. Or, if you’re looking for a good angle on the iconic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church in the city center, QUINCE Rooftop has a nice view of it—post up there with a drink, and sketch away!

Photo by Lily Wan

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

Dôce 18 Concept House. Consistent wifi, spacious, tons of great food and drink options.

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

I’m not sure how the locals work out, but I personally enjoy heading out on early morning runs around 7:00 am once the sun is up – usually snaking a few streets and ending up at Parque Juárez for some laps there.

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

The spa at Dos Casas hotel. Making a pit stop at the traditional Mexican apothecary Botica de Santa Teresita for some special tinctures, herbal gels, etc wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

Photo by Lily Wan

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

Visit during Dia de Muertos for an entirely next-level experience of San Miguel. Everyone paints their faces and shops dress their doors with marigold flowers. The town really feels like one big backyard of celebration and merriment! (And on that note, if you’re looking for the utmost chill time here, do NOT go during Día de Muertos).

 

Miami

Art Basel 2018 is wrapping up in Miami, and though the art installations and high fashion parties are winding down, we are still in the mood for some time at the beach. And let’s be real – does the party ever really “wind down” in Miami?

From the Birdcage to Miami Vice to Will Smith’s (iconic) music video, we’ve been hit with various Magic City clichés via the big screen since we were kids. Though some of the stereotypes ring true (and we love the city for all of them), Miami has also come alive in recent years with it’s incredible art scene, new restaurants, and, of course, all those hot and heavy beach parties. We’ve hooked you up with the intel on how to take advantage of the best clichés Miami has to offer.

Photo by Lily Wan

Where to stay

The Edition

This. Is. Miami. Part hotel, part fiesta, The EDITION is situated in the heart of South Beach. Almost everyone that walks into the lobby is immediately trying to plan their next stay and/or a way to move full time into this hotel. Overall, it is exactly how you picture your vacation, work-cation, or staycation in Miami. With a Jean-Georges restaurant, two ocean facing pools, and a bowling alley, we can’t really think of anything the EDITION doesn’t have. Their tag line is “stay and play,” and their 24/7 party mentality creates a truly unique Miami experience.

The Freehand 

We love the Freehand. It’s a beautifully designed, super hip hotel on Miami Beach. Our favorite part about this place is that it’s totally accessible (price wise) with quads, kings, suites, and bungalows available. There is truly something for everybody. Our actual favorite thing about this hotel is the Broken Shaker – their poolside bar that is a welcomed oasis away from the spring-breakers in South Beach.

Soho Beach House

If you’ve been to Soho Beach House, you know it’s gorgeous and that the pool area is pretty hard to beat. Located in a restored art deco building, this hotel is right on the beach. If you don’t feel like risking the wrinkles, head to Cowshed Spa and book a facial. 

The Plymouth South Beach

The Plymouth is more of a boutique experience. Recently awarded Conde Nast’s “Best Urban Hotel,” The Plymouth rings old world charm in all the best ways. Rooms are gorgeous (some with claw foot tubs in the bedroom), and Blue Ribbon Sushi is right in the building. Need we say more? 

Where to eat

La Sirenuse

An outpost of the famed restaurant in Positano – La Sirenuse is not for those on a budget. It’s not where you’re going to get authentic Cubans or share small plates with our bffs, but it is excellent Italian food and the setting is absolutely gorgeous. If you’re in Miami for a 30th birthday, or maybe on your client’s bill, it’s definitely the place to go.

Yardbird

You’re not coming to Miami for southern food. That said, if you are in Miami, there is very good Southern food and you will find it at Yardbird. It’s located right in South Beach and if you go, make sure to get the fried green tomatoes.

Versailles

Head over to Little Havana to get a taste of some of the best Cuban sandwiches outside of Cuba. This is a no frills restaurant and you are here for one thing: The Famous Cuban. Sit outside and take a stroll down Calle Ocho to experience the influence Cuban culture has had on the city.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

When you’re exploring the Design District, stop in at Mandolin Aegean Bistro. It has our favorite patio in Miami, and Greek dishes that are made with ingredients straight from the restaurant’s garden. Make sure to order the sangria so you can continue your day the right way.

Joe’s Stone Crab

We’d be remiss not to include the iconic Joe’s Stone Crab on our guide. Anyone who has ever been to Miami has heard of this spot. Complete with a century-long family history and generations of devotees, this is the home of crab and key lime pie and we are game.

Where to stop for coffee

Panther Coffee

On your search for Miami’s best brew, look no further than Panther Coffee, known for high-quality, small batch coffee.  Their original Wynwood location is housed in an industrial space and you’ll find artists and locals ordering cold brew and making themselves at home.

ALL DAY

If you’re in Park West, this is the coffee shop to hit up. ALL DAY has a great cup of coffee, but it also offers locally sourced bites in case you need more than a pick-me-up. If you’ve had one too many glasses of rose the night before, definitely order the Baked Double Yoke. You won’t regret it.

Where to grab a drink

Melinda’s Mezcal & Nacho Bar

This Wyndwood Mezcal bar feels straight out of the 1930s. It’s cool enough to feel like you’ve found yourself a secret watering hole in Miami, but also serves Mezcal slushies. 

Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co

This cocktail bar manages to offer up chic Miami Beach cocktails and serve the best nachos we’ve had in a while. It’s the kind of place you could spend the entire night without getting too overwhelmed by the crowds – and that’s totally okay because the kitchen stays open until 4am.

Ball & Chain

Located in Little Havana, Ball & Chain is somewhat of an establishment. Having hosted musicians such as Count Basie and Chet Baker, this is big on music and daiquiris. You would be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out this spot when you’re in town. The space has been restored and they have even added a pineapple shaped bandshell out back. 

The Broken Shaker

As we said before, this is one of our favorite places to drink in Miami Beach. Attached to the Freehand Hotel, it’s a poolside bar that feels a little bit more refined than your standard…poolside bar. The cocktails are great and the music is too. 

What to get your hit of culture

Pérez Art Museum

Perez Art Museum used to be The Center for Fine Arts, until it was renamed and re-designed in 2013 by Herzog & de Meuron. PAMM now encompasses so much of what we love about Miami art – a unique, eye catching aesthetic that can keep you roaming for hours. The gift shop is wonderful too – just in case you need to pick up any gifts along the way. 

The Bass 

The Bass is a contemporary art museum in Miami Beach. Located in a historic art deco space, come here to see their sculpture garden or catch a film. Their rotating exhibits are excellent.

What to do

Gallery hopping in Wynwood

Miami’s Design District is loaded with things to see, but it’s good to check out the galleries while you’re there. Walk down NW 2nd Ave to get a sense of the art scene.  We recommend stopping at Pan American Projects and David Castillo Gallery. From there, head over to check out the street art murals at the Wynwood Walls

Crandon Park

If South Beach is getting a bit too claustrophobic and you want a moment away from the crowds, head to Crandon Park for a laid back beach day. You’ll definitely get the tropical island feel and be reminded that Miami is about more than just the party. 

Standard Spa

If you happen to have hit the dance floor too hard, head to the Standard Spa for a treatment. Located right off Venetian Way, you can lounge by the pool after your massage and soak up all the Vitamin D your heart desires.

Where to dance

Electric Pickle

This Wynwood club is not for the faint of heart. This can only be described as a dance institution, and if you’re looking to catch DJs like Nicolas Jaar and Maceo Plex, this is where you come. There is a rumor this indoor/outdoor club is closing come June 2019, so be sure to hit the dance floor before next summer.

E11EVEN 

We can’t really call this place a club. It’s more like a 20,000 square foot entertainment center that is focused around a dance floor. It’s truly a spectacle and is open 24 hours a day. It even has a daytime buffet to boot. Only a few blocks from Wynwood, you might want to skip out on the food for one of the breakfast places nearby, because you will stay here until the sun comes up. 

Blackbird Ordinary

This Brickell bar is the kind of place that plays 90s music that you’ll want to sing along to – but it’s Miami so you can also dance your heart out. Order a good cocktail and get ready to stay a while.

Where to shop

MRKT Avenue Deux 

This is a high end men’s and women’s concept shop in the Design District. Some of the clothing is a bit out there – but it’s meant to feel more like wearable art than anything else. Just go with it.

Boho Hunter

Also in the Design District, this is a store run by a few friends from Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. You can only imagine the gorgeous pops of color you’ll find in the store, and they sell everything from bags to jackets to jewelry. 

FrangiPani

Frangipani offers everything from kids toys to homewares, but it’s a place that you can actually find something special that is still affordable. This is a great place for gifts – for someone else or (most likely) yourself. 

Sydney

Don’t be worried if it seems a bit harder to connect with your life back home due how much there is to explore in Sydney – it’s meant to feel like a real break from reality. Due to Sydney being far from…pretty much everywhere, we would recommend planning at least two weeks for the journey to Australia. That said, you could easily spend over a month here and not run out of things to do.

The city center, or Central Business District (CBD as the locals call it), is not where we are going to send you. With a few great restaurants, your time is better spent in neighboring areas such Surry Hills, Paddington, and Woollahra. These three boroughs are all walking distance from the CBD (we’re locals now) but give you a better neighborhood feel in the city.

The suburbs of Sydney is where the real magic happens. Bondi Beach, Watsons Bay, Manly, and Coogee. These outposts are dotted with stunning beaches, beautiful trails, and adorable cafes. Trust us – it’s where we all want to be.

Where to stay

Intercontinental in Double Bay. We know what you’re thinking but this is the only five-star luxury hotel outside Sydney’s CBD. Our favorite part about this place is the amazing rooftop area with an infinity pool looking over the Double Bay (which is typically crowded with yachts, so you‘ll have plenty to look at). Another upside to this hotel is their restaurant, Saké, which boasts some of the best Japanese food in Sydney.

If you’re looking for the not-so-obvious lux option, that’s a bit more eccentric but maintains personal service, we would recommend the Medusa. This place has a perfect location in the Darlington district and is one of the best boutique hotels in the city. Another one we like is the Paramount House Hotel, which has a bit more of an industrial feel to it.

We wouldn’t hesitate for a second to stay outside the city in Bondi Beach. Our go-to place is Hotel Ravesis. This pastel colored hotel feels retro yet modern and has the exact type of personal touch we love. All products, even in the mini bar, are locally produced and you can find silk eye masks in tropical prints or hand-drawn playing cards right there in your room. I know, that last bit sold us too.

Where to eat & drink

Head over to Five Ways crossing for breakfast. You’ll find a lot of cafés to choose from – Sonder Café being our favorite. Sonder serves a great (and necessary after excessive plane travel) cup of coffee but more importantly has an insanely good coconut smoothie. Don’t worry – they are also famous for their avocado toast.

For dinner, Chiswick Woollahra is a must. As one of our favorite restaurants in Sydney, they have really elevated the garden-to-plate experience and is the type of place we can walk in for lunch and hours later find ourselves there for dinner.

In Pott’s Point you have a restaurant called The Butler. This place has great food and an even more amazing view. Sit in the outdoor terrace and soak it all in.

If you’re in the city, look no further than Restaurant Hubert. A staple French bistro and known to be one of the best restaurants in Sydney.

After dinner, you skip the dessert and go to your closest Gelato Messina. It’s extremely hyped and that hype is entirely justified. This beats Italian gelato any day of the week. If you’re lactose intolerant or generally not a fan of frozen treats, head over to Palmer & Co for an equally great cocktail.

If you are in the Bondi area, have dinner at Ode. This newly opened restaurant is pretty magical with a romantic interior and a fantastic natural wine selection.

Where to get a coffee

Aussies love their coffee and the standard is high. This means two things: 1. you won’t ever know as much about coffee as your new Aussie friends, and 2. you won’t have to look hard to find a great cup. However, the place that stands out of the bunch for the beans is Frankie’s Beans Specialty Coffee Roaster. Go here for the perfect brew, and maybe add some ice to melt in with the locals. In general, espresso is not the preference here – and if you happen to be the type to order an espresso martini, it’s prepared with cold brew. Just a warning.

Where to shop

Head to Oxford Street by Bondi Junction. You will not be disappointed with the great selection of boutique premium brands almost all of which are local.

Where to get your dose of culture

We don’t need to be the ones to tell you this – but the number one destination to head to in Sydney is the Opera House. We’re not fans of tourists attractions either, but the Opera House is a UNESCO heritage site and there are only about 1,000 of those in the world. Walk around it, take some pictures, catch a boat from the circular quay and watch it from the waterside. Maybe even go see a show and up your culture game entirely.

Where to work out

To keep it short, people are obsessed with health and wellness in Sydney. As you can imagine, with people this beautiful there is bound to be a gym around every corner. Since Sydney also boasts fantastic weather, we personally prefer to trade in our gym time for an outdoor workout (preferably on the beach). The best thing to do is take a run along the coastal walks like Bondi Beach to Congee or Watsons Bay. If you’re in Manly, you can run/jog/walk-and-selfie to Spit.

As we all know, surfing is synonymous with Australian lifestyle. If you’re not an expert yourself, take a course at Bondi Beach. If strapping on a board seems too intimidating, head to the Bondi Icebergs Club right next to Bondi Beach to swim some laps.

Where to party

Because of the lockout laws (see above), our advice is to go out early, get drunk early, and go home early. Or get invited to one of those house parties from your new Aussie buds. There are plenty of those going on since a lockout can’t seem to keep Australian’s to do what they do best: have a great time. If you’re unsuccessful with landing an invite, go to one of the few spots in town that are open late. In CDB you have The Sheaf and Pelicano which are both open until 2 am. In Newtown (which is luckily not affected by the lockout laws) you’ll find The Bank which is open until 4 am.

Where to work (ie your new remote “office”)

We wouldn’t mind sitting in the French provincial courtyard at Intercontinental Hotel, sipping on a flat white, and sending a few emails. Wouldn’t mind it at all.

What to do

Go on as many day trips as you can handle. We can’t get enough of Bondi Beach. Come here, have lunch at Bennet St Dairy, buy a book at Gertrude and Alice Café, and go shopping at Tuchuzy. If the morning activities have you feeling tired, go lay on the beach. Bondi Beach can be quite hectic especially during warmer months and weekend. If that’s the case, we head Tamarama beach instead. After a few hours of bronzing on the sand, walk to Coogee and have an afternoon bite at Coogee Pavillion.

Watsons Bay is another great day trip option. We would even suggest that you stay one night here at the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. Take a boat to the city when the sun is about to set or do a day trip over to Manly. In Manly, go to Shelly beach and have lunch at The Boathouse. On your way back have dinner at Manly Wine.

If you’re into the whole boat thing, why not rent one and go around Sydney Opera House and set sail to one of the nearby beaches for the full day.

If you’re for something a little different and want to stay dry, go to Palm Beach, Blue Mountains, or try one surrounding vineyards.

Best bar for a secret rendezvous

Barber Shop. You enter this bar through a barber shop (hence the name) where guys can get groomed while having a drink. It’s the perfect setting for a secret rendezvous, with great drinks and ample seating.

Best place to buy gifts

Go to Oxford Street on a Saturday and explore the Paddington Markets. It’s filled with up and coming designers and artists selling everything from jewelry to candles to sunglasses and sun hats to scarves and anything you can remotely classify as a “giftable.”

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