There are countless travel books telling us how we should see New York City. Check out the museums! Eat at a famous deli! See a Broadway show! they advise. But anyone can get recommendations from a guidebook or one of the many traveler websites. We want to know how to plan a more bespoke, less obvious itinerary. The source? Well-traveled creatives who have an eye for stylish, Instagram-worthy spots. Luckily we knew just the person to ask: blogger Nichole Ciotti of Vanilla Extract, who visits NYC frequently and knows all the under-the-radar spots that true locals frequent.
Ahead, you’ll find Ciotti’s ultimate guide to the city that never sleeps, featuring shopping hot spots, people-watching destinations, and the standout Tommy Hilfiger at Macy’s pieces she packs for her stay.
The Morning Fitness Routine
“The city is the best gym there is,” says Ciotti. “I enjoy walking and exploring new neighborhoods in the mornings, and these Tommy Hilfiger leggings and sweatshirt are perfect for doing just that. The leggings are comfortable while providing the perfect amount of stretch, and the sweatshirt keeps my muscles warm on those especially chilly mornings.” Leggings are also the New Yorker's errand-running outfit of choice, so you'll blend right in. On days when it’s too cold to go for a walk, Ciotti is a big fan of FlyBarre for its total-body workout and 45-minute power classes (perfect for when she’s short on time).
The Coffee Spot
After working up a sweat, Ciotti loves hitting up Ground Support in SoHo, which roasts its own beans and sources green coffee directly from farmers. Her go-to order? A matcha latte with almond milk. “It’s a casual spot with a welcoming vibe, so I don’t mind going straight there after a workout, especially when I’m wearing [these] leggings,” she notes.
The Photo Op
After her caffeine fix, Ciotti tackles an essential fashion-girl task: selecting a snap-worthy outfit for the rest of her day. Her look of choice? Cropped skinny jeans with a sleek black color-block turtleneck. “I especially love the cropped length of these jeans; they’re perfect for ankle booties,” she explains. “There’s a zip detail near the bottom to add interest, and the mid-rise style is extremely flattering.” Not only is this outfit laid-back, it’s also perfect for roaming the city in search of the perfect photo op. “The Brooklyn Bridge is a great vantage point for spectacular views of the skyline. It’s a beautiful walk and makes for fun people-watching.”
The Shopping Hot Spot
Another great nabe for people-watching? “SoHo brings a mix of styles, from outgoing tourists to casual locals, so it’s always fun seeing the variety,” explains Ciotti. “I love shopping in SoHo because you can find just about everything, from designer shops to affordable street fashion and small boutiques.” When in SoHo, Ciotti recommends hitting up Acne Studios for chic black booties or Topshop for inexpensive street clothes. There’s a lot to do and see here, so make sure your outfit is like Ciotti’s: smart and comfortable.
What New York hot spots would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below.