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NEW YORK CITY

Updated: Aug 3, 2022


Tennis • Hotels • Restaurants • Activities • Shopping • Extras


"There's something in the New York air that makes sleep useless." -Simone Beauvoir

I've been to New York several times and my love for the city grows with each visit. There's an energy in the air that inspires you to dream. I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 US Open for the first time, and it was such an incredible experience! Here is a wrap up of our last visit, plus some of my favorite places to eat, shop, and visit!


TENNIS

US Open There are so many reasons why the US Open is so exciting! It's the last of four grand slam tournaments and this year will be played in front of a full capacity crowd. Although some of the biggest names in tennis won't be playing- Roger, Rafa, and Serena to name a few, it's going to be a eventful tournament. Novak will be fighting for the calendar slam, Naomi is back to defend her title, and Ash Barty is on fire! Not to mention the talented young players doing their best to make sure these milestones don't happen! It's going to be SO MUCH FUN!


Tickets - I like to buy good seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the day session. These tickets include assigned seats in Ashe Stadium, plus first-come, first-served access to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand and all field courts. This seems like the better value to me and I love being there during the day when it's bustling and lively. Some people prefer the night sessions, which usually feature the more popular players, but it's really a personal preference. I like to spend a full day at the Open, then head back to Manhattan for dinner and drinks at a local pub where we can watch the night matches with fellow tennis fans.


Safety - This link will take you to the health and safety page of US Open. Currently you don't need a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination to attend the Open, and only unvaccinated individuals need to wear a mask. However, you will need proof of vaccination to enter any indoor spaces. Any of the following will be accepted as proof of vaccination:

  • NYC COVID Safe App

  • CDC Vaccination Card (or photo)

  • NYC Vaccination Record

  • An official immunization record from outside NYC or the U.S.



Where to stay?

Each neighborhood in New York City has its own unique feel. I've stayed in Midtown, Soho, Chelsea and the Financial District. Here are my favorites.


MIDTOWN

I've come to like staying in Midtown because of its proximity to Central Park. I come from wide open spaces, and being deep in the city without open space can make me feel a bit claustrophobic. The park is a great place to get some fresh air, go for a run, and stay attached to nature. I also love being able to walk to great museums like MoMA, Guggenheim, and the New York Public Library.



Hotels

JW Marriott Essex House A lovely art-deco hotel located at Central Park South.

Park Hyatt New York One of our favorite places to stay, stylish and luxurious.

Conrad New York Midtown Formerly The London hotel, this all suite hotel is just as stylish as ever. We stayed here in 2017, and saw Sloane Stephens and her coach in the lobby! She went on to win the women's singles title and we're convinced our positive juju was the trick!

Soho Grand Stylish, and newly renovated, a great place to soak in everything Soho.


Restaurants

There are so many incredible restaurants in NYC, it can definitely get overwhelming. We

spent a small fortune on an incredibly fancy anniversary dinner one year. We were so hungry when we left, we couldn't resist stopping at the hot dog vendor on our walk back to the hotel! The chef would be horrified! We've also been to a popular steak restaurant where JLo and ARod were spotted only to leave incredibly underwhelmed. When we relay these experience to our friends who've lived in New York, they say, "That's New York."


We like to think we're older and wiser now. Over time, we've found our favorites and we always make time for them, plus try a few new places each visit. Honestly, after a long day of watching tennis at the US Open, nothing sounds better than walking to the corner pub, having a cold beer, and watching the night matches on TV.


Here are some of my favorites, along with some places I plan to visit when I'm in New York next month.


Sarabeths We always try to have breakfast at least once at Sarabeths. There are several locations throughout the city, and always popular, so make reservations early.

Levain Bakery Home of the most delicious chocolate chip cookie I've ever had! You won't regret it!


Balthazar I love this restaurant so much, everything is delicious! I'm already dreaming of a pain au chocolat and cappuccino!



Maison Kayser This lovely parisian bakery is filled with the most beautiful pastries. I love admiring their bakery case. Unfortunately, their locations have been closed due to the pandemic. I'm crossing my fingers they'll open soon!


Rosie O' Gradys Irish Pub Home of the aforementioned cold beer, hot wings, and fun atmosphere.

Faces and Names We discovered this contemporary lounge when we stayed at The London Hotel (now Conrad Hotel) in 2017, our first visit to the US Open. We ended up here almost every night sitting by the window, people watching, laughing, and talking about our day. Many inside jokes and embarrassing stories have been shared here, and despite the service being "just okay," we keep going back!



STK I know what you're thinking, this place is a chain, I'm lame, I get it. However, we've been to STK in Vegas, San Diego, NYC and it always delivers. Sometimes, restaurants just get it right, and their locations around the world are a testament that STK has got it figured out. There's always a stylish crowd, great vibe, and really good food. My first visit was the location in the Meatpacking district, next month I'll visit the Midtown location.



The Modern This award winning restaurant is inside of the MoMA and has three different dining experiences, The Bar Room, The Modern, and The Kitchen. I'd suggest having a drink at the bar and soak in the scene.

Lombardi's The first pizzeria in the United States! Amazing pizza, and we like to imagine it's where serious business conversations take place, capisci?

Grimaldis (the original) We rented bicycles and rode across the Brooklyn bridge to the original Grimaldis at 1 Front Street in Brooklyn. We waited outside in line for about 40 minutes, then paid cash for the most delicious wood-fired pizza.



ACTIVITIES


If time permits, here are some fun things to do. Although kids may complain about museum visits, my children admit they secretly enjoyed them. They just couldn't admit it at the time, because, well you know, they were too cool. *although most places are open, make sure to visit their websites ahead of time for details on requirements, advance tickets and reservations.

MOMA One of my favorite museums in the world! I saw my first Rothko here.

Guggenheim This museum doesn't take that long to get through, which is great if you're traveling with little ones (kids under 12 are free). The Frank Lloyd Wright building is a spectacular sight and it reminds me of the scene in Mr. Poppers Penguins when the penguins slide through the hallways. You can grab a snack at The Wright, the museum restaurant before you move on to your next adventure.


9/11 Museum Everyone remembers exactly where they were on September 11, 2001. Although my children weren't born yet, they've learned about the attack on the World Trade Center in school. It can be a very emotional experience, and although the museum does a good job of censoring the more graphic images, I believe it's best for an older children and adults. The beautiful thing about being there is looking around and seeing patrons from all over the world and it makes you realize, this wasn't just an attack on New York, it was an attack on humanity. It is very unifying.



NBC Experience NBC Studio Tour was one of the most fun we had when we took our kids to NYC for the first time. My daughter had shown interest in journalism, and it was fun to give her a behind the scenes look at how shows are produced and filmed. The tour is currently closed, but hopefully will be up and running soon!

Live with Kelly and Ryan Attend the taping of a live show! Choices are limited these days, and they require full vaccination, but this was so much fun! We went to a taping of Live with Kelly and Ryan, and Liev Schreiber was their guest! We are HUGE Ray Donovan fans, so we loved it!



SHOPPING

Anything you want, you can find in New York City. I'm very sentimental, and I love bringing something special home with me from every trip I take. The memory is the value and the item is a reminder. My husband bought me the most beautiful, soft black leather Chanel bag over 15 years ago from the Chanel in Soho. I still have the bag (and the card he wrote to me) and I plan to give it to our daughter someday. The memory is so special to me.


SOHO

My husband and I stayed in Soho on our first trip to New York City. The vibe in Soho is effortlessly cool. Picture a young crowd in "model off duty" street style, artists, designers, and NYU students. The shopping in Soho is the best with luxury brands like Chanel, Dior and Chloe, and if you're traveling with GenZers, they'll love street brands like Stussy, Bape, Off-White, and Supreme.



Over the last few years, I've tried especially hard to support small business owners. Here is one of my favorites. I'd love it if you could share any small businesses you like to visit in the city.

Olive & Bettes I first popped into this small clothing boutique over 15 years ago. Amy Winehouse was playing as I walked in, the shop girls were so nice, and I bought my first pair of pricey jeans. I was so worried that the pandemic may have taken it under, but I was so happy to see it's still a thriving shop that has expanded to several other locations. I can't wait to go back!



EXTRAS

Dylan's Candy Bar We would usually keep this little gem in our pockets and pay a visit here when the kids had it with the museums and were on the verge of a melt down. The store is very visually stimulating and full of every confection you can imagine. In 2001 Dylan Lauren (daughter of Ralph) created Dylan's Candy Bar, and I like to think of her as a modern day Willy Wonka in a much more stylish suit.


JK TAT What better way to wrap up a great trip to the US Open than to take home a little something permanent? I found this incredibly talented fine line tattoo artist prior to my last trip to the Open. We set up an appointment and she did a beautiful little piece for me that I love so much! She's super busy these days, and travels all over to tattoo, but she's conveniently based in Queens.


I can't wait to go back to the Open! If there are any great new spots that you like or old favorites, please share!


XOXO,

Val




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