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A Wellness Girl’s Guide to San Diego

We’re not as woo-woo as LA, but San Diego is a health and wellness mecca in its own right. There’s no shortage of fresh pressed juice, boutique fitness studios and holistic spas in this city. For those planning a weekend getaway with wellness top of mind, San Diego is one of the best places to go. Here are a few tried and true local restaurants and activities to make your trip a breeze, from one wellness girl to another. 

Eat & Drink

Donna Jean

The best things in life aren’t very complicated. Donna Jean has a simple menu that happens to be 100% vegan. Best known for their thin crust pizzas, Donna Jean also has handcrafted pastas, salads, and sweets on their seasonal menu. Their plant-covered front patio feels like a secret hideaway, a quiet reprieve from the nearby bustling city and Balboa Park. A glass of wine with crusty focaccia bread under twinkling string lights…it’s the perfect atmosphere for a casual, comfortable and cozy dinner. 


Everything at the organic North County eatery GOODONYA will feel good in ya, thanks to high-quality ingredients. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner: with a menu this nice you might want to drop by twice! Morning meals include eggs and scrambles, avocado toasts, a coconut yogurt parfait and more. Nosh on organic Mexican dishes, bone broth and soup made from scratch, giant colorful salads, wraps, and similar fare. Wash it all down with biodynamic wine, beer, kombucha, low sugar cocktails, or the restaurant’s own electrolyte and mineral hydration blend. They’ve also got a daily happy hour, as if there wasn’t enough to feel good about.  

Parakeet Cafe

If probiotics and adaptogens often make their way into your vocabulary, you’ve come to the right place. Parakeet Cafe has three locations in San Diego, all overwhelmingly pretty in pink. Start your morning with a specialty coffee, ranging from turmeric and beet lattes to mushroom elixir and cacao blends. Personalize your coffee with almond, coconut or oat milk, collagen, MCT oil, and more…all this all before the food menu! Breakfast is served all day, so you can enjoy matcha waffles or shakshuka anytime. Lunch includes salads, soups and bowls, all packed with organic greens, vegetables, and add-on sides to make your meal just the way you want it. 


Hard kombucha is taking over the city, and it all started with JuneShine. Their honest alcohol is made with honey, green tea, organic spices, and juice to make delicious flavors like blood orange mint, pomegranate basil, and chili mango. Grab a glass or try a flight at their beach-inspired tasting room near the city. Or drive twenty minutes North to JuneShine Ranch, featuring brewery tours and a full food menu created by certified nutritionists. 

You & Yours

Undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammable places in the city, You & Yours is the perfect mix of trendy and charming. This female-founded distillery makes gin and vodka onsite, which means a fresh-as-it-can-get cocktail for you. You won’t find artificial syrups or mix-ins here; the drink menu offers a unique mix of fruit and veggie inspired cocktails, complete with adorable names. Little Bunny Foo Foo (gin with carrot, turmeric, ginger, and lemon) and Rhubarbie’s Dream House (gin with rhubarb, raspberry, lemon, bitters, and pink peppercorn) are just a few options. 

Rest & Restore 

Encinitas Meditation Gardens

Unwind surrounded by lush greenery and a stunning ocean view at this self-realization fellowship in North County. Look for three large gold dome-topped towers on the Pacific Coast Highway. The nearby meditation gardens are open to the public, offering walking paths and several spots to sit and be still next to koi ponds, cactus, beautiful birds of paradise, and other colorful plants. 

Citrine Spa

Tucked away on an adorable block of Point Loma is Citrine Spa. The setting is sweet and inviting, and the clean beauty facials are just as soothing. The Citrine esthetician Dawn will curate natural products specific for your skin type. Enjoy a series of cleansers, masks, peels, and even gentle microdermabrasion with an essential oil shoulder and arm massage. After your serene facial, keep that refreshed feeling going by visiting the tea bar and plant shop across the street. 

Leo by Liv3

This picture-perfect salon will make sure your nails are ready for a close-up. Offering manicures, pedicures and massages, Leo sources non-toxic treatment products as much as possible. The team here is known for creating expert nail art, both minimalist chic and bright and bold. Following through with their mission statement ‘be good to yourself,’ Leo also offers free postcards: write down a reminder for some self care, mail them to home and smile when you get something other than a bill in your mailbox. 


A medical spa that offers beauty services for the inside and out, ALCHEMĒ utilizes treatments both cutting edge and ancient medicine. Aesthetic medicine services range from plasma therapies to photo facials and skin tightening technologies. For something a little less futuristic, opt for a Chinese medicine treatment like cupping or gua sha, or simply consult with a functional medicine practitioner. There’s no appointment necessary for a vitamin injection at the shot bar if you’re looking to get an extra boost of energy, ward off an oncoming cold, or even to help prevent a hangover. 

Saffron & Sage

This holistic health club has everything a wellness girl could ever want. Get pampered with acupuncture, cupping or a massage. Get moving with a yoga class, or mindful with a meditation therapy session. Get advice from a nutritionist, psychologist, or life coach. Saffron & Sage also sells clean beauty products, minerals, essential oil diffusers, and more goodies to take home as a reminder of your experience. Spend some time in a calming, multi-sensory space filled with like-minded locals who dive deep into health and wellness. 

Break a Sweat

Babes Who Sweat

This event series makes fitness fun, with indoor and outdoor workouts all over San Diego. Check their Facebook page for information on upcoming events; past sweat sessions include spin classes, bootcamps, yoga classes, and stand-up paddleboarding, and typically include a goodie bag from local wellness brands.  Meet fellow health and fitness lovers through this inclusive, friendly community. 

Convention Center Steps

Looking to really get your heart rate up? Walk or run up the open-air convention center steps downtown: there’s nearly 100 steps on the grand staircase. Your reward is an epic view of the Gaslamp District one direction, and the San Diego Bay on the other.  There are several shorter staircases around the convention center, perfect for working on sprints, lunges, or similar bodyweight exercises. 

Torrey Pines Hike

Get close to nature at Torrey Pines State Reserve, covering around 2,000 acres of coastal land. Open from 7:15 a.m. to sunset, the trails here are great for newbies or more experienced hikers. Bask in dramatic ocean views, scenic overlooks, coastal plants and the area’s eponymous pine trees. Check the Torrey Pines website for more information on parking and entrance fees. 

Stand-Up Paddle-boarding

There are plenty of places to get your paddle-board on. But the most quintessential San Diego spot may be taking to the water around Coronado Island. SUP Coronado offers rentals and group tours, leading around the Coronado Bay Bridge with views of the city skyline. Sit, stand, and hopefully catch a glimpse of sea life during your session. 

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An Insider’s Guide to Philadelphia

Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love, “Philly,” the bird place of America, “the cradle of America.” Pennsylvania largest city is a place with many names, and now it’s a place that I hold dear to my heart.  As a New Yorker, I’ve heard great things about Philadelphia… especially in terms of its food culture, its history and its close proximity to Manhattan (thanks to the rail system). After just a few short days here on a whirlwind long weekend trip, I can honestly say I love Philadelphia. I’m excited to visit more regularly! Here are some of my absolute favorite finds in Philly!

Where to Stay

Fitler Club

When planning my rather spontaneous weekend trip to Philly, I found myself staying at the exclusive social club of dreams, Philly’s @fitlerclub. Each time you stay here earns visitors access to all of the privileges that the members have, such as 34,000 square feet of luxury co-working space, dining options curated by the geious Philly chef Marc Vetri, an incredible gym, and luxuriously stunning and sleek rooms. The Fitler Club also happens to be located right by the shimmering Schuykill River and a stone’s throw away from 30th Street station (Philly’s centrally located Amtrak train station). I loved waking up in the morning and having my breakfast right by the water. I can imagine this space is the perfect spot to grab a drink by the lounge or on their rooftop too! Such a stunning and easy location, if you ask me! Be aware there are only 14 rooms available, each of them adored with contemporary art and unique touches. It was the perfect place for a last minute getaway…  found on Hotel Tonight!

An Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia

If you’re on the hunt for a hotel that’s both centrally located right near City Hall  that also houses some stellar views of the Philadelphia skyline… the Kimpton Hotel Palomar is a great choice. What I love most about this boutique hotel is its design sense! It’s stylish, Art Deco-inspired, but with a Philadelphia scene of humor and a twist (think busts of Benjamin Franklin). It’s no wonder it’s a favorite for travelers! The Kimpton also offers their guests bikes to explore the city, as well as complimentary yoga mats in each room… nice little touches that truly make a big impact!

An Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square

Decorated beautifully around the holidays, the Warwick has one of the most chic lobby’s in the city. I loved seeing it looking merry and bright right around Christmas time. If you’re looking to stay close to Philadelphia’s favorite little park, Rittenhouse Square – this is a great spot! The Warwick Hotel is also listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places as it was originally constructed in the 1920’s – so history buffs will adore its  commitment to maintaining its age and architectural details.

What to Do

Reading Terminal Market

This was honestly one of my favorite experiences in Philly! The market has endless food choices of some of the best of the best treats in Philly… but what captured my heart the most was how vintage and old school it is. You won’t find any hipster vendors trying to hard here. What you see is what you get (such a Philadelphia mentality – and I love that!)… and what you get in Reading Terminal market is the best, because many of them have been around for years and years. Established and Philadelphian-loved market vendors know what they’re doing here! Just spend an hour or two grazing amongst its stands! Trust me, you’re going to love this place.

An Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Broad Street

Head to Broad Street and capture the perfect shot of City Hall with this perfect frame of view. Philadelphia’s City Hall is an architecture lovers delight.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

I absolutely loved this unique experience of exploring Phlly’s Magic Garden! This large and expansive mosaic exhibit is so charming and interesting! It’s a outdoor labyrinth of some of the coolest mirror mosaic pieces that stretches three city blocks, as well as a museum and community art space with so many unique touches and picturesque spots. You’ll find splashes of mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar all around Southern Philly too! I loved exploring the many quaint and quirky neighborhood blocks, especially Washington Square West.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia   An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

City Hall Tower & Observation Deck

The most popular observation deck in Philadelphia  is the One Liberty Observation Deck… but we decided to check out the observation deck inside the City Hall’s tower and found it to be stunningly beautiful and more of an authentic, less touristy experience. With a small space and 360 degree views all the way to Jersey, this desk is the perfect place to catch the sunset at golden hour.Bring your cameras for this one!

An Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Square

Take a stroll around one of Philadelphia’s most beloved parks! The Rittenhouse Square area of the city is surrounded by old trees, historic architecture and… my favorite find, Anthropologie’s flagship store. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I explored the store decked out in holiday garb!

An Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

An Insider's Guide to PhiladelphiaAn Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

30th Street Station

Whether you arrive in Philly via train or not, a stop to the city’s gorgeous train station is worth it, in my opinion! I’ve never seen a more elegant look to a buzzing train stop. Soak it in and observe the hustle and bustle.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

Where to Eat


These Lebanese eatery stole my heart with its refreshing and authentic dishes with a twist. It’s been voted Philadelphia’s Restaurant of the Year, and I can truly see why! It’s not only a restaurant serving up creators Nathalie Richan and Roland Kassis’s genius recipes (the restaurant is named after their grandmother), but also a market celebrating the best grab and go bites from around the world. I loved their restaurant’s menu! Each dish was classical and modern, as well as their cocktails – all named after the beautiful words of Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran!

The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar

This timelessly styled, stainless steel diner is so much more than meets the eye. You’ll find a brunch menu with trendy choices just as much as the classics, served up with some of the best martinis in town. It’s the perfect place to pop in for a drink in between exploring!

The Dandelion

I was enamored with this pub’s exteriors! Isn’t it just darling? There are so many European influences around Philadelphia… but this one took the cake. The Dandelion is a British-style pub located right in the heart of the Rittenhouse Square area.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

The Love

Owned by some of Philly’s most renown restauranteurs, The Love is a bilevel restaurant and bar with communal style country tables, serving up fresh wine, ciders and more. It’s got such an energy to it that I loved!

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia


A taste of France right in Philly! Parc has one of the best views of the Rittenhouse’s park area, and it’s a great place to pop in for a warm bite or a toast of champagne. The menu is all so chic, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Paris’s Forgotten Era.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia


I loved this little coffee shop! Filled with Swedish influences, Kanditori feels like a local, neighborhood coffee spot with some of the best Scandi pastries too.

An Insider's Guide to Philadelphia

I fell in love with Philly after just a few short days, and I hope more travelers consider a trip into America’s birth place! Philly’s attitude, its historic sights and amazing culinary scene will have me coming back for more, I’m sure!

Stay sponsored by Hotel Tonight.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

Food North America

Foodie Recs Straight From A Washington, DC Local

Foodie Recs Straight From A Washington, DC Local

​​​​​​Today, I’m beyond excited to share my DC local friend Jenna Brayton’s favorite foodie spots in the capitol. (P.S. if you’re on the hunt for our insider’s guide to DC – look no further!) Hope you’re hungry. Take it away Jenna!

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​So you’ve booked your trip to our nation’s capitol. I can’t even express to you how lucky you are to be in Washington, DC now… instead of in 2012! Since I’ve moved here, the food scene in DC has changed dramatically over the past seven years. Washington has a Michelin guide now… which would have been truly unheard of 7 years ago! ​​​​​​Here are some of my absolute favorite spots around the city.

My Favorite Restaurants Right Now

  • Maketto – Get the fried chicken!
  • All Purpose – Great pizza and amazing garlic bread.
  • The Salt Line – Fantastic oysters and an amazing view of the river. You absolutely must spend time exploring the Wharf area. It’s brand new and such a great addition to DC. I absolutely love it!
  • Elle – The farro salad is wild and so worth it. Come for breakfast or lunch.
  • The Columbia Room – Amazing drinks. Do the drink tasting!
  • The Dabney – Delicious and a great environment.
  • Tiger Fork – This is a really good Chinese food (technically Hong Kong, I think). A word to the wise – sit at the bar. It’s faster and there’s no wait!
  • Maydan – I don’t have words to express how much I love this place. The spreads are all amazing. The fire in the middle of the room is great and really sets the atmosphere.
  • Sfoglina – The cutest place ever! Great vibe and really, really good pastas.
  • Fiola – Great oysters, especially for any seafood lovers.
  • Fiola Mare – Another great seafood option. I love looking at the water (…this is definitely the best Georgetown waterfront restaurant. Don’t bother with the others).
  • The Royal – Great breakfast. Really historic looking interior. Love getting my morning coffees here.
  • Bad Saint – I think they take reservations now which is huge – you used to have to wait in line for hours. Great Filipino food. Not super expensive.
  • Tail Up Goat – The breads are a must. Order their trio of breads as an appetizer you will not regret it. The rest is really good too.
  • Himitsu – This place has a really great Japanese experience. Highly recommend although it’s a bit small. 
Foodie Recs Straight From A Washington, DC Local

Classic Washington, DC Restaurants 

  • Ben’s Chili Bowl – President Obama has visited, Bill Cosby has visited, and it’s a DC staple. 
  • Taylor Gourmet – This sandwich chain is scattered across DC. They have AMAZING sandwiches and amazing sodas – made right on sight. It’s a very popular DC lunch spot.
  • Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill – Affordable Mexican food, set on a “historic” meeting place… because it’s where Paul Ryan struck a secret budget deal with other members of the Republican caucus. And a lot of Hill folks do the same now today, in their room downstairs.
  • Georgetown Cupcake – Go here for the original Georgetown Cupcakes the TV show was filmed at! It’s in Georgetown on M Street. Worth the wait!
  • Old Ebbit Grill – Notorious DC celebrity spot – lobbyists are here always. It’s right across the street from the White House & the Treasury, so its a neat view!
  • Lauriol Plaza – Delicious Mexican food. Located in Dupont near Florida Avenue. Really neat location – the restaurant is beautiful and has a great patio if its nice out.
  • Ted’s Bulletin – Make sure you get the pop-tarts! They’re homemade. And they have these crazy boozy milkshakes that are perfect.
  • Marvin’s Tavern – This is where JFK proposed to Jackie and they have a booth you can request to sit in. Love Marvin’s! 
Foodie Recs Straight From A Washington, DC Local

Other Things To Do

For things to do, there is literally nothing you can’t do here! Obviously, go see the White House. Go see all the monuments – Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Washington are the best, as is the Reflecting Pond near the Lincoln Memorial. When you’re there, walk across the bridge and go explore Georgetown. Love doing my shopping on M Street & Wisconsin Ave.

There’s also a ton of JFK sights to see in Georgetown, which is neat to track dow!. You can go see the House he lived in when he was a Senator (3307 N Street), and the house Jackie moved into after he was killed (3017 N Street). Also go to Marvin’s, above, because it’s neat to sit in their booth! Go to the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and go see a show there. If you do see a show, make sure and go up to the roof afterwards because you can see across the Potomac River to Virginia… it is so, so beautiful.

Also it’s really worth doing some of the museums and some of the art scene. Go to the National Portrait Gallery and see the Obama’s portraits. Go to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture – it’s incredible. Go to Renwick – it’s got some really great installations. The Smithsonians are all good too, though I’d say they’re good and not great. The biggest upside is that they’re all free! And you can see the Constitution and Declaration of Independence if you go to the National Archives, which is neat.

If you have extra time and want to explore outside of Washington DC boundaries, go to Alexandria, Virginia, especially Old Towne. It’s a 15 minute metro ride outside of DC, across the river. Old Towne is absolutely beautiful. You feel like you’re in another time there – I love the cobblestone streets and all the historic homes. There are so many cute restaurants there it’s hard to pick – basically you just want to walk up and down King Street and you’ll find all of them.

Foodie Recs Straight From A Washington, DC Local

If you go to Alexandria you can turn it into a half day trip where you go see Mt. Vernon too, if you want to check out President Washington’s estate. I’m a big fan of history, so I love doing stuff like that. Also, Bethesda Maryland is a 10 minute metro ride outside of DC up the red line and is also beautiful. It’s a very cute little city center with good shopping.​​​​​​​ Most importantly, have a blast! Exploring Washington DC is sure to fill you with lots of pride in our nation’s history.

Insider Tips North America

Washington, DC: An Insider’s Guide

Every inch of Washington, DC fills up with tourists every spring because of its iconic cherry blossom season… and there’s no doubt why. The pink blooms, beautiful weather and seasonal events are a treat after a cold winder in the north east. But I truly believe a visit to Washington, DC in the fall is a real delight! The area isn’t packed with travelers and visitors, and the quaint and historic quarters of the city feel colorful and alive.

As an American citizen who’s traveled far and wide, making the trip to our nation’s capitol feels like an important chapter to honoring my home country. Today, I’m excited to share with you all my seasonal discoveries I experienced this fall in DC. Here is my insider’s guide to autumn in Washington!

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

What To Do

Washington, DC is filled with many, many historic sights and relics, so it’s important to do your research before you hit the city! American history buffs will revel in all of Washington’s monuments, statues and museums. As a culture-seeking traveler myself, I’m always on the hunt for a healthy balance of historical places with local, authentic neighborhoods (and, of course, some delicious eateries in between)!

DuPont Circle

One of my favorite nooks of Washington was the residential neighborhood of DuPont Circle. Filled with eclectic eateries, warm coffee shops, shops and bookstores (always one of my favorite pit stops no matter where I am!), mansions and historic homes… DuPont Circle had my heart within minutes of exploring it. It’s the perfect blend of local/residential and urban liveliness!

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Dolcezza Gelato
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

Lincoln Memorial

A classic historical sight that had me speechless! The Lincoln Memorial is at the very top of every Washington bucket list you’ll find, but it’s for a good reason. Sit beside the Reflection Pool, especially at sunset and soak in the powerful message of Lincoln – “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

Union Station

Train stations feel so nostalgic to me, and as an old soul, I feel like I’m constantly drawn to them. Union Station’s towering architecture is almost like the gateway into America’s capitol… and I loved photographing its beauty.

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

Capitol Hill

The historic Capitol Hill neighborhood of the city is scattered with some of the most important political meeting places in the country (the United States Capitol, Senate, Houses of Representatives and Supreme Court buildings)… just to name a few! It’s a bustling part of the city that’s also home to many 19th century row homes and markets too.

After exploring the iconic political buildings, get a taste of local life underneath the changing fall leaves! While exploring, I stopped at Peregrine Espresso for a warm cup of coffee while walking through the brisk autumn weather and loved it! I’d also highly recommend exploring Capitol Hill Books and the neighborhood’s Eastern Market too.

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

Library Of Congress

In between crunching the newly fallen fall leaves of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, be sure to take a stop into the Library Of Congress’s hallowed halls. Simply, utterly stunning – aren’t they? This research library serving the US Congress is the national library of the US and is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States… making a must-do in my eyes!

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

National Mall

The iconic, long stretch of the National Mall is flanked by some of the most important monuments and memorials in Washington… making it one of the most-visited sight in the city. You’ll find school groups, military groups, local workers, international tourists and people from all walks of life here. It’s a buzzing section of the city that cannot be missed!

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide


I always like to explore smaller, immigrant-historic neighborhoods when possible… so I had to add Washington’s Chinatown to my autumn visit. The area is filled with such amazing markets and restaurants! The giant arch was also one of the largest in the world when it was built back in 1986!

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

Adams Morgan

In Adams Morgan, neighborhood charm meets monumental grandeur. Adams Morgan is DC’s only 24-hour neighborhood with live music seven nights a week, all night diners, early morning coffee shops and midday shopping at local bookstores, shops and vintage boutiques. Area restaurants showcase DC’s diverse cultural population with a focus on Ethiopian, Salvadorian, Barbecue, Vietnamese, West African, Middle Eastern, Japanese and Peruvian fare. We recommend having coffee at Tryst and dinner at Afghani restaurant, Lapis.

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

Where To Stay

Washington is the perfect getaway during those cozy, chilly fall months… especially if you choose a hotel that feels like a home away from home. As a last minute planner, I’m a huge fan of Hotel Tonight for finding the perfect place to rest your head, especially for last minute trips. I’m always completely inspired by the carefully curated properties they offer (and the Daily Drop prices that show a special deal every day).

The Line DC

Chic, un-stuffy and perfectly situated in the Adams Morgan neighborhood (a lively area of the city any season of the year) – The Line DC is an eclectic hotel I simply adored staying in. The hotel pays homage to its building’s 110 year history with every detail, from its full service radio broadcast hosted live from the lobby, its restaurant’s diverse American inspired-international menu and many seasonal, cultural events hosted on sight. The Line DC really felt like a place to rest and recuperate and meet up with friends and locals.

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

The Adams Morgan neighborhood (where The Line is located) was the perfect walking distance from everything I had on my list to see and experience!

Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide
Autumn In Washington, DC: An Insider's Guide

If you’re looking for a cozy weekend in the Northeast, I couldn’t recommend Washington, DC more! It’s filled with historic relics and lovely restaurants, museums, and quaint neighborhood gems.

Stay sponsored by Hotel Tonight.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

North America Travel Planning

A First Timer’s Guide To New York City

NYC is my forever home, and I’m so proud of my city. The hustle, the diversity, the beauty… I love it all so much. Every day I seem to discover a new side to New York, and I’ve been here for years! First timer’s in the city might feel overwhelmed by all there is to see and do in dear ol’ NYC – but today, I’ve gathered up my top recommendations. (After hosting many friends and family members, it’s always nice to have a go-to itinerary suggestions!) Without further ado, here is my first timer’s guide to NYC! Filled with must-do activities, some hidden treasures, my absolute favorite eateries, rooftop bars and photo stops as well.

To Do

Use The City Sightseeing Pass

If it’s your first time in NYC and you’re not keen on taking the subway just yet and not interested in wasting tons of money on expensive cabs and Lyfts all day, hopping on the Hop On / Hop Off bus on The Sighseeing Pass is one of the best ways to get around. ​​​​​​​

We know, we know… it sounds touristy, but it’s an efficient way to see majority of the city in a short time frame (especially if it’s your first time in the city). It also helps you get a the lay of the land. Just leave your bags with an NYC luggage storage company and start riding! This is super helpful, because you can mental notes of where you’d like to go back to visit and spend more time. The stops are in the most convenient locations and the buses run frequently too!

Head Downtown

Consider spending time in Downtown as the area has grown quite a bit over the years since 9/11. There are tons of things to do! Be sure to stroll along Stone Street and stop at the many bars and restaurants. Don’t miss out on check out the beautiful architecture at the Oculus (which also serves as a mall and a train station). Shopping at Brookfield Place is a treat… and afterward, I’d recommend heading to Pier 17 to catch stunning views of Dumbo and the water.

Rooftop Cinema

A movie night on the rooftop? Rooftop Cinema has a mission to transform nights at the movies to cinematic events like no other. Starlit evenings, cocktails, snacks, and a great movie selection… what’s not to love?

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Best Observation Deck – Top Of The Rock ​​​​​​​

Getting an iconic shot of the New York City skyline is a must for first timers, if you ask me! Because you want a view of the city with the iconic Empire State Building in it, Top Of The Rock is my top recommendation of observation decks. Plus, it’s the only deck with epic views of Central Park.

Insider Tip: reserve tickets in advance because they sell out! I personally love coming to Top Of The Rock at 8am because it’s the only time you can get photos without crowds in them!

Runner Up For Best Observation Deck – The Empire State Building 

Just as beautiful as Top Of The Rock’s perspective, and you’ll get a chance to see the well-established and world famous Empire State Building from the inside out. Every inch of the building is filled with such history!

One World Trade Center 

No modern trip to NYC for a first timer is complete without paying homage to the One World Trade Center. It’s such an emotional experience learning about the history here… and the architecture is simply stunning. It’s a fantastic place to people watch and have a moment of reflection. I also adore the viewpoint from One World Trade Center because you can see both downtown and uptown views, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

P.S. I’d highly recommend coming to these places later in the evening. Observation decks are best to visit and photograph during golden hour/sunset!

Brooklyn Bridge

Sitting at 6,000 feet long, the Brooklyn Bridge has become just as recognized as the Manhattan skyline… and it’s simply not to be missed. No first timer’s guide to NYC would be complete without a recommendation to see the Brooklyn Bridge for yourself. Seeing the bridge early in the morning is an incredible experience. Minimal crowds, cool air and a stunning sunrise – it’s a photographer’s delight.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Little Italy

Little Italy is perhaps the most charming of the Manhattan neighborhoods This Italian immigrant haven has transformed over the years in Lower Manhattan, but it’s retained its traditional flair and commitment to the families, restaurants and businesses who brought it to life.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC


Take a trip to the other side! If you have the time in your itinerary, I’d highly recommend exploring Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. P.S. a trip to Williamsburg’s William Vale is the perfect vantage point to get a look at the Manhattan skyscrapers from the riverfront.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

The Vessel

New to the NYC skyline is the modernist structure you’ve probably seen scattered around Instagram… the Vessel! Created as part of the Hudson Yard’s Redevelopment Project, this climbable landmark is the perfect place to people watch. The sculptural, honeycomb-esque design is truly unique against Manhattan’s skyscrapers and it’s the perfect backdrop for some photos too!


Once home to the ferry landing, Dumbo has become such a trendy part of NYC! I have a soft spot for it’s cobblestone streets, chic converted Brooklyn warehouses and up and coming cafes and restaurants. You’ll find people from all walks of life here, including many photographers soaking in the beauty.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Where To Eat & Drink

Au Za’atar

Au Za’atar has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in the city! Their Lebanese/Middle Eastern menu is so special. Fresh ingredients, homemade recipes, an inviting space and a great vibe – I couldn’t recommend it more and their table side shawarma makes it such a fun experience!

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Supermoon Bakehouse

Famous for its cruffins (a delicious mix of croissant and muffins) – Supermoon Bakehouse puts a twist on traditional pastries and then some!


What once began as a Mexican BBQ food truck is now a full fledged staple in the city! Tacos, tequila, lots of interesting combinations of Americana/Mexican staple foods… it’s simply a great spot to meet up with friends.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC


Hong Kong’s famous egg waffles right in the heart of NYC! Their ice cream concoctions are so much more than just photogenic, they’re incredibly delicious.

The Loeb Boathouse

The Loeb Boathouse is one of my all-time favorite spots in New York City. The restaurant is set on the most peaceful pond where you can watch the row boats go by while having a drink outside on their patio or lunch/dinner inside of the restaurant. It’s my go-to destination to take New York first timers to get away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.


Queensyard has one of the best views of The Vessel – and its British inspired menu is top notch! It’s the perfect mash up of English classics with an American twist. It’s an excellent brunch spot!

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Mister Dips

An airstream trailer serving burgers, fries and soft serve ice cream? Yep! You read that right. Only in New York! Mister Dips is parked at the William Vale hotel, a 15,000 square foot public outdoor park overlooking the Williamsburg waterfront. It’s the perfect little spot to enjoy the weather, catch a view of the water and catch up!


Come here for one of the best bagel experiences in the city! Sadelle’s is a New York establishment with lots of history. A first timer’s trip in New York without a delicious bagel would be a sin.

Van Leeuwen

Vegan ice cream that actually tastes even better than the real thing (trust me). Van Leeuwen must do some kind of magic to create such delicious flavors!

Brooklyn Bagel

Another exceptional spot for a New York bagel! This time with a dash of more color and pizzazz. Brooklyn Bagel’s doughy goodness is hand rolled, kettle boiled and the perfect combination of chewy and crunchy. It’s a great breakfast spot!

Black Tap

The best burgers and milkshakes place! Black Tap has such a cool vibe. Their Soho menu is top notch and in a great location too! Be sure to order one of their infamous Crazy Shakes.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

I hope you enjoyed this first timer’s guide to NYC! There’s no place quite like New York, that’s for sure. Be sure to check out more of our NYC posts!