The Ultimate New York City Honeymoon Guide
Great For: Is your idea of your honeymoon fast paced? Cultured? One with more options of what to do than you can possibly pick from? Do you like great food? World-class museums? Then New York might be just the place for you.
Not So Great For: If you’re looking for a relaxing honeymoon spent drinking goblets of frozen booze, this trip is not for you. Really, if your idea of a honeymoon involves long lazy days, just go ahead and skip New York.
This summer, I got a chance to take a faux New York City Honeymoon, well, mini-moon. (A mini-moon is what I like to call any trip I get to take with my husband and without my kids these days.) So in the interest of
science APW, we decided to turn this into a full research trip, figuring out the best possible things to do if you want to take your honeymoon in New York. Since I lived in New York for almost a decade, and half of the APW staff would currently describe themselves as New Yorkers, we’re picky. If you’re looking for a list that suggests you hit the Applebee’s at Times Square (or frankly, that you get anywhere near Times Square at all, unless you’re seeing a show), look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a New York City Honeymoon Guide that’s going to take you a little off the beaten track, and guide you toward the places locals go on their own days off, look no further.
While I’m sad to report that we couldn’t test out everything on this list for you (and maybe we’ll have to go back just to try again), the fact that we made our own vacation a “research” trip pushed us far outside our old habits, and sometimes far outside our comfort zones. And it turns out that getting outside your comfort zone can be kind of hot.
We stayed at The Standard Hotel in the East Village (since we loved The Standard West Village on our last trip). Since our goal was to generally get ourselves out of the rut of two jobs and two kids and co-parenting, we tried a bunch of new things (as well as hitting up some classics we hadn’t been to in years). From Curry Row (which is still wildly fun, with weirdly mediocre food), to brunch at Temple Court in the Beekman Hotel (which is like being inside Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), to a masked night together at Sleep No More—we soaked up New York in the most magical way. Even though we’d lived in New York City together for four years, this time everything felt new.
Our trip was so great, and we have so much that we still want to try, that we put together this guide for your perfect New York City Honeymoon. Doing everything might take a month, but pick and choose, and you can create something just right for your trip.
Everything you need for your New York City Honeymoon
- New York is one of the great cities of the world for a reason. It contains a million differences experiences within it. So if you two have varied interests, or you’re both really, really into the same thing, chances are good you can find what you’re looking for in the Big Apple.
- Sometimes the best honeymoons are the ones that force you a little out of your comfort zone and give you a way to reconnect outside your daily routine. A New York City honeymoon is perfect for that, giving you new and varied experiences from dawn till dusk.
- I’m biased, given that I lived in New York for almost a decade, but I really do think that it’s one of the best places in the world. And with a little planning (and a lot of avoiding tourist traps), NYC will always leave you with more love for humanity than you started out with.
- New York, always and forever, is expensive. Sure, you can do it on the cheap, but this is the city that invented the $10 cocktail, way before they were cool.
- The city continues to struggle with accessibility. So if you have mobility limitations, make sure you carefully research any New York City trip in advance.
- Related, any trip to New York will involve a whole lot of walking. Yes, you can catch cabs, rideshares, busses, and the subway, but the primary mode of transportation in the city is your own two feet. For some of you, this might be a pro (a way to walk off all that delicious food). But if nonstop walking isn’t your idea of a relaxing good time, this might not be the trip for you.
- You hear a lot about New York in the spring (and fall), because those are when NYC’s few lovely weeks of weather happen. The rest of the time, it’s generally too hot and muggy or too cold. So come prepared to spend a lot of time outside in imperfect weather.
- You’ll hear a lot about how New Yorkers are rude, but don’t buy it. New Yorkers are moving quickly. If you get to the deli counter, you better be ready to bark your order out as fast as you know how to speak, or you’ll hear a lot of complaining. But deep down, New Yorkers are some of the kindest people in the world. You don’t live in a city that big if you don’t, deep down, like human beings.
What To Do
Yes, you can float in a pool
While I just finished telling you that New York City is not a trip for people that want to float around in a pool, I’m going to reverse course and tell you that’s not totally true. Through the new Daycation website, you can now book mid-week pool passes to the pool at The James Hotel. Our team member Keriann tried it out, and she says, “It’s the best thing that $50 can possibly get you on a hot summer day in Manhattan.” Beyond that, Thrillist has put together a list of New York City pools (public and private) worth trying. After some digging I can tell you that actually getting access to those pools is not always as easy as advertised, but any pre-planning effort you put in here will be worth it.
But this is your honeymoon, so you should be thinking bigger than just a normal pool experience. How about a spa? Well, lucky for you, we have two great places to hit up for some co-ed spa time in the city. The Great Jones Spa offers a great spa experience without a ton of frills. You can book a spa service and get free access to their Water Lounge, which consists of a large sauna, steam room, whirlpool, and cold plunge, with a lounge chair area, free snacks, and plush robes. But if you want to save on time or money (there is a lot out there to explore, after all), you can get a three-hour pass to the Water Lounge for $50 per person. The Water Lounge is first come first serve, so make this the first stop of the day. But maybe you’re looking for something a little bougier? I mean, it is your honeymoon after all. If that’s the case, check out The Aire. We suggest the three-hour salt scrub and floating experience, but you can also just book the thermal baths with aromatherapy, starting at $77.
The Museums Really Are That Good
I’m always on the fence about if I want to go to museums when I’m on a vacation, because are they work, or are they play? But on this trip to New York, I discovered the perfect balance, and that was a tour by Museum Hacks. While all of their tours look fantastic, clearly the Badass Bitches feminist museum tour of The Met was the one that we had to try out, and holy shit did it deliver. It was a great way to experience a beloved museum in a fresh and timely way. We saw a huge variety of exhibits in under two hours, learned about even familiar art from a new feminist perspective, smashed the patriarchy, and even got to make some new friends (at least for two hours). After our tour, we headed up to The Met’s Roof Garden for a glass of Rosé, and checked out their current exhibit “The Theater of Disappearance,” which I would describe as a demented dinner party in the style of Alice in Wonderland. (Needless to say, I loved it.) And after any trip to The Met, I always recommend a walk through Central Park (see below).
If museums are your style, your short list should also include: The Museum of Natural History, The Rubin Museum, The New Whitney (with Ice Skating next door at The Standard Hotel in the winter), The Museum of Sex, The Morgan Library, The Tenement Museum, The Museum of the City of New York.
If you have time to slip all the way uptown for part of day, you can have a European honeymoon in the middle of New York City, wandering through the Cloisters. (And yes, it is absolutely worth the long subway ride, and then some.)
And not but not least, The National Museum of the American Indian currently has an amazing exhibit of modern fashion by Native designers that is not to be missed.
If you’re going to New York and you have time, you should see some sort of performance. It can be Broadway, off Broadway, or wayyy off Broadway. (Immersive Theatre is really in right now, and you probably should try it.) A lot of the really big hits book up months (if not years) in advance. So unless you’ve pre-pre-pre-planned this honeymoon, you’re probably not going to see Hamilton. But you can check out the New York Times Critics Picks, and see what tickets are still up for grabs, and you can always swing by the TKTS booth, to pick up tickets up to half off to shows that night.
But the real show of the moment is Sleep No More, an immersive theatre piece based on Macbeth and the works of Hitchcock that takes place on multiple floors in a warehouse in Chelsea, refashioned as the McKittrick hotel. Over three hours, you wander through the space (alone or together), exploring the rooms, following the actors, all while wearing a Venetian mask. And in terms of bonding by getting out of your comfort zone, this might be the most outside the box way to experience something really new together. Personally, we started the night with dinner at the over the top restaurant at the McKittrick Hotel, Gallow Green. We downed several cocktails at the Manderley Bar, the center of the Sleep No More experience, before dashing out a little early to walk the length of the Highline, Venetian masks in hand, and just talk.
(And if immersive theatre sounds like your jam, Then She Fell is a smaller and more intensive show that is supposed to be phenomenal… if disturbing.)
Sorta Hip Touristy Stuff Worth Doing
Speaking of the Highline, as far as I’m concerned, any trip to New York City these days should include a meander on this lush urban landscape. Spend part of a day walking, talking, and hopping off the Highline to explore.
It’s also worth heading down to Battery Park—and not just because we all need the reminder of seeing the Statue of Liberty and remembering what it stands for. The new(ish) Seaglass Carousel is truly magical. For $5 a ride, I personally could have ridden it for half the day. If you want a really romantic jaunt, head down at night and immerse yourself in a carousel wonderland.
And while you’re downtown, should you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to check out the piers at Brooklyn Bridge Park, ride that carousel, and get an ice cream? Of course you should. There is no such thing as too many carousels in one day. (Note: If you’re going to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, we highly recommend you do it on a weekday, since fighting crowds on a bridge is the least fun way to fight crowds.)
And then there is Central Park. You have to explore it, and that’s just that. Since you’re on your honeymoon, you might as well rent a rowboat and do the thing properly. But while you’re there, check out the Kerbs Boathouse, and take a picture with the Alice and Wonderland statue nearby. If you’re thinking you might have kids one day, you can sit by the lake and dream of bringing your own little ones back here. (And while it probably is on none of the touristy lists, you should definitely check out the roller rink on Saturdays and Sundays. Access it via 72nd Street. You’ll hear it before you see it, so follow the music.)
And P.S. go to Grand Central Station and look up. Then look for the whispering wall, and say some sweet nothings.
What To Eat
This is New York, which means the food isn’t just good… but the places you eat will be an experience in and of themselves.
Enter Another World
If you want a magical experience like pretty much nothing else in this world, head to Temple Court for brunch. Not only is the dining room like something out of an Edwardian movie set, your food will be served by waiters clad all in black, descending on your table in perfect unison. Similarly the rooftop restaurant at the (fictional) McKittrick Hotel offers delicious (but pretty affordable) food in a lush garden on top of the city. For an even weirder twist, head down to the Manderley Bar, filled with characters pulled straight out of a Hitchcock film (and maybe even a fortune teller if you’re lucky). And finally, Backroom NYC is one of the only prohibition-era speakeasies still functioning in New York today. Grab your reservations in advance.
Also Pretty Damn Magical
If you’re in it for Instagram (and who isn’t, really?) head to Pietro Nolita, a cute little Italian spot where everything is Millennial pink (no reservations and no apologies, so plan accordingly). But if you want to go back to just before the millennium and unleash your inner Carrie Bradshaw, head on over to Morimoto for some sushi and some serious Sex and the City vibes… plus Japanese toilets. Still craving Italian food? You can take your dining experience underground in the “cave” at Peasant, while sipping some of the best wines on their extensive list. Swanky and fabulous Indian food can be found in Tribeca at Tamarind, where you should make sure to get the crab cakes. But when it comes to intimate and romantic, wandering into the West Village is a must. Check out Alta, with their warm decor and beautifully plated tapas.
Late Night Libations
So you’ve eaten all you can eat, but New York isn’t done with you yet. The City That Never Sleeps lives up to its name with its bars (which often don’t close till at least 2am). So head to NoMo SoHo Kitchen & Library Bar where you can enjoy the atrium room (you seriously won’t feel like you’re even in New York City anymore), or head over to their not-so-secret bar that’s hidden behind the bookcase. Mr. Purple offers up a chic rooftop bar, pool included. Just make sure not to fall in while you’re distracted by the gorgeous city views! If sexy and mysterious is your thing and you appreciate a kick-ass martini, Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel will have you smitten under their red lights with your boo. If you love a good tiki bar, Mother of Pearl will serve you the least kitschy tiki drinks on the East Coast (they make a drink served in a shark head actually look classy). And last, but not least, Jules Bistro has live jazz… Every. Single. Night. Need I say more? (And if you’re like us, and want some late night food with a side of East Village wackiness, head to Curry Row.)
Where To Stay (During your new york city honeymoon)
I tend to think that there is a clear dividing line on New York City hotel pricing. If you want to spend under $200 per night, you’ll probably get something far more comfortable using Airbnb. But if you’re willing to spring for something a little bit pricier, New York has some truly amazing hotels that you may not have heard of. (I mean, The Plaza is all it’s cracked up to be, but you probably know about it.)
On this trip we stayed at The Standard West Village, which is a smaller version of The Standard East Village‘s minimal and weird vibe. The views are to die for (floor to ceiling windows, anyone?) and they’ve got hospitality on lock.
But if you’re looking less for minimal and more for magic, the still pretty new Beekman Hotel is like walking inside Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s a mash up of Edwardian and delightfully weird, and worth a trip to New York just to stay there.
And if you want to stay in Brooklyn, you can hit the hippest part of the city with The Wythe Hotel. That part of Williamsburg is like walking onto the set of Girls (and the hotel itself is cool AF). Or you can head deep into the heart of Brooklyn and stay at the Akwaaba Mansion, a black-owned, fully restored 1860s landmark. (And if you’re wondering if that’s the real Brooklyn experience: yes, it totally is.)
What did we miss? For those of you who have honeymooned or traveled to New York (and particularly the New Yorkers among us), what are your best picks for a New York Honeymoon?