NYC during the holidays can be a magical time. There are lights everywhere, bars and restaurants are decorated, and there's fun parties and events almost any given night of the week. However, NYC during the holidays is also one of the most crowded times of the year. Tourists flock to the city, and locals, myself included, make sure to take advantage of being able to go out and about before the bitter cold and snow arrives. I love celebrating the holidays, but I hate being uncomfortable in crowds and waiting in lines. So I decided to compile a list of some of the most overrated places and events to skip and alternative, more under the radar things to check out instead.
Check Out: Boilermaker
Even if you don't live in NYC, you've probably seen photos of Rolf's, a German Bar and Restaurant with extravagant Christmas ornaments and lights hanging from the ceiling. I've never been here, but it only has 2.5 stars on Yelp, so I don't imagine the food or drinks are very good, and I've heard it's ALWAYS a ridiculous wait to get in. I actually saw a blogger I follow on Instagram post on her Stories that she went to line up outside Rolf's before they opened just to make sure she was able to get in and get pictures.
Instead, head to Boilermaker in East Village. At Christmas time, this place turns into "Sippin' Santas Surf Shack". They serve up tiki drinks, decorate the bar in kitschy holiday decor, and play 60's beach movies, like "Blue Hawaii" and "Beach Blanket Bingo" on a projector. Also, their burgers and fries are amazing too!
Skip: Bryant Park
Check Out: Union Square
Bryant Park is one of the biggest destinations during the holiday season. They have a holiday market with vendors, as well as the ice rink, which makes it a popular place for both tourists and locals. I love to shop the market for gifts from local businesses, but the crowds make it unbearable.
Instead, check out the Union Square Holiday market. They have similar unique, "shop small" vendors, and while this market can still get crowded, especially on weekends, I feel like its a bit more under the radar than Bryant Park.
Skip: The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
Check Out: A screening of "It's A Wonderful Life"
Ok, ok, I love The Rockettes, and I've been lucky enough to see the show twice in my life, but it's a tourist trap and the tickets are super expensive!
Instead, check out a screening of "It's A Wonderful Life". A few theaters around the city show it, including IFC, which is one of my favorite indie theaters in West Village. Try checking out smaller scale productions of live theater or dance too. I was lucky enough to catch a live radio show of "It's A Wonderful Life" at the Mile Square Theater in Hoboken. It was a great performance and and lovely evening because the theater was cozy and intimate and not overly crowded. The show is still running until this Sunday, if you're interested in checking it out! You can find tickets here:
These photos were taken at the Vintage Holiday Train two weekends ago. Since it's in such a public place like the subway, this event can get pretty crowded with vintage lovers, photographers, and just the common New Yorker or tourist who just happens to find themselves in the subway and stumble upon the event. The event is happening again this Sunday (the 23rd) and next Sunday (the 30th). You can board the train starting at 10am at the 2nd Avenue subway station and ride it uptown to 125th street. I highly recommend catching the first train at 10 because it gets crowded later in the afternoon! The trains depart at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm from 2nd Avenue.
P.S. if you'd like to shop my dress, you can find it here:
Dress: c/o Smak Parlour
Tights: H&M; Shoes: Steve Madden; Purse: Vinage; Bow: Claire's; Bracelet: Kate Spade; Coat: Vintage
Location: 2nd Avenue Subway Station (East Village)
Last Friday I had an absolutely marvelous afternoon visiting The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Carnegie Deli Pop Up here in NYC. I first heard about the pop up about three weeks ago via Instagram. The pop up was only open for 7 days, so reservations went quickly, but luckily I was able to secure one for my partners in crime, Desirae and Adam, and I. Our reservation was for 11:30 am, right when they opened for the day. Luckily since we had a reservation, we were able to go right inside. But even that early in the afternoon, there was already a line wrapped around the block. There were booths where you could sit and eat if you had a reservation, but if not, you could line up to grab a sandwich to go at the counter.
Once we were inside, we were seated at a booth. The decor was great, complete with a wall of vintage photos mixed with shots from the show, a juke box and vintage phone hanging on the wall. They were playing the Mrs Maisel soundtrack over the speakers. Even the waitresses were in character and spoke in old school, New York accents. When it was time to order, Desirae and Adam both got the Maisel sandwich (pastrami) and I got the Susie (turkey). We got a knish for the table to share. The sandwiches also came with dessert too. Desirae and Adam both went for the cheesecake, but I opted for the black and white cookie. Since we're all big fans of the show and the 1950's in general, we all went more for the experience, not so much the food, so we didn't have very high expectations. So we were all pleasantly surprised with how delicious the food was! I'm still dreaming about the black and white cookie I had. The menu listed the food as 1950's prices, so we were all expecting to pay about $3 for our meals. But while we were eating, they made an announcement that lunch was on Mrs Maisel and instead asked us to consider making a donation to a charity they were raising money for.
Before we headed out, we took some photos at the counter and in the photo booth. Everyone loved that we were dressed up and one of the guys working behind the counter asked to take photos with us. He also gave us some extra black and white cookies for the road. My only regret of the day is that we didn't get any photos with the vintage cab parked out front. When we came out to leave to try and take photos with it, the driver had to leave for some reason and drove off. Other than that it was truly a marvelous experience!
Sadly, this pop up was only around for a week. But if you're in NYC and want your own Mrs Maisel experience, here are four permanent places to check out:
28 Eight Avenue (West Village)
If you watch the show, you'll recognize this old school eatery from the flashback scene in season 1 where Joel and Midge are eating breakfast the morning after their wedding. I love the exterior of this place especially because they have an Coca Cola sign with the name of the restaurant on it.
Kettle of Fish
59 Christopher Street (West Village)
While The Gaslight was a real coffeehouse back in 1958, it closed down in the 1970's, so sadly you can't go visit it. Even though it looks like an authentic coffeehouse on screen, the Gaslight in the show is just a set at the studio where they film in Brooklyn, which I was a little surprised to discover that when I was an extra on the show. Instead, check out Kettle of Fish. This bar also opened in the 50's and is still around today. You'll also recognize this from the show, as Susie and Midge come here in season 1.
169 West 4th Street (West Village)
You'll also recognize this record store from season 1. Susie and Midge come to visit. This is also where Joel overhears the recording of Midge from the first night she does stand up at the Gaslight. They sell musical instruments as well as records here, just as they do on the show.
New York Transit Museum
99 Schermerhorn Street (Brooklyn)
There are several scenes throughout the show where Midge is seen riding the subway. These subway cars are located at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. At the museum, you're able to go into each of the cars (they have other decades besides just the 50's). I've been before and it's a super fun experience!
Dress: Dolly & Dotty; Beret: Beau xoxo; Shoes: Steve Madden; Watch: MVMT
Location: Carnige Deli Pop Up (NoHo, Manhattan)
Pizza is an iconic food of NYC and a staple in my diet. There are tons of options to choose from, but I have different go to spots for different reasons. Here is a list of my favorites:
If you just want a slice...
Locations in Union Square, Times Square (my two favorite spots) and West Village
Their pizza is a thin crust and their sauce is super sweet, which is why it's my favorite. I love the fresh mozzarella and caprese slices.
Locations in Gramercy, Meatpacking, West Village, Park Slope, Astoria, Bushwick, Williamsburg & Financial District
My second favorite slice in NYC. It's thicker and bigger than Joe's. The margarita slice is my go to here. Pro tip: if you try the artichoke slice, you only need one because it's so filling!
If you want a whole pie...
Located in West Village & Times Square
You can only get a whole pie here, no slices!
Prince Street Pizza
Located in Soho (on Prince Street, duh)
I've been here for slices, but I honestly don't get the hype. There is ALWAYS a line wrapped around the block, regardless of what time of day you come. However, I've ordered a pie here before and was more impressed with that than with an individual slice, plus you can skip waiting line if you order a whole pie.
If you want a personal pizza...
Tramonti La Pizza
Located in East Village
Solid sit down place with personal pies. They also have pasta too!
Located in Lower East Side
They have lots of specialty personal pizzas. I love the classic margarita or the white album for something different.
If you want nice aesthetics...
Paulie Gee's Slice Shop
Located in Greenpoint
This is where these photos were taken! Paulie Gee's is a Brooklyn staple. The original spot only serves full pies, but the slice shop just opened recently and is a retro dream. I had 2 slices of plain, but according to my friend Emily, the hot honey flavor is amazing.
Top: Vintage; Skirt: Forever 21; Shoes: Eastland Shoes
Location: Paulie Gee's Slice Shop (Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
Last Sunday, I finally got to have breakfast at Tiffany's in the Blue Box Cafe here in NYC. The cafe opened in the Tiffany's flagship store last fall. I desperately wanted to get a reservation for my birthday last December, but it seemed impossible. You cannot call to make one, you have to do it online through Resy. They also do not take walk ins. The cafe is very small, and the reservations are gone in a blink of an eye. The reservations open up at midnight for the following two week period. You literally have to log on right at midnight to get a spot. Once I tried logging on the following morning at 7am and they were already all taken.
After several tries, I decided to give up and hoped that it'd be easier to get a reservation once the initial hype died down. Meanwhile, my aunt also continually tried to get me a reservation. Then a few weeks ago she received an email saying they had an opening for September 30th at 4pm, so that's how I was finally able to secure a reservation.
Going at 4pm actually worked out perfectly. The last seating for the day is at 4:30, so it wasn't crowded at all, which meant we could get some good photos. Even though it was afternoon, we were still able to get breakfast, as they serve it all day long. Breakfast cost $32 a person, and includes a pot of coffee or tea, a croissant with fruit, plus an entree. We got the Tiffany Tea, because when in Rome, right? For our entree, Desirae and I each got the waffle, which was delicious! I was a little nervous about the food, as I read some mixed Yelp reviews. However, everything tasted great! It's slightly on the expensive side, but I thought for the food quality and ambience it was completely worth it.
Of course Desirae and I both dressed up in our best Holly Golightly ensembles. I thought more people might be dressed up too, but surprisingly we were the only ones.
Overall, I would totally recommend the Blue Box Cafe! Whether you live in NYC or are just here visiting, if you're an Audrey fan, it's a must do.
To make a reservation, click here:
If you’d like to shop either of my Holly Golightly costumes, you can find them here:
And you can use my code NICOLE13 for 13% off your order!
Rum based drinks are my favorite, and there's nothing I love more than transporting myself to a tropical oasis in the middle of a hot NYC summer. So I decided to do a round up of my favorite retro inspired tiki bars in NYC.
Mother of Pearl
95 Avenue A (East Village)
Mother of Pearl is the bar pictured in this blog post. Funny story, I actually intended on taking photos of this outfit in another bar. However, after a few minutes of starting to take photos, the manager got an attitude with me and kicked me out. Oh well, their loss because now they’re not getting a mention in this post. I think the decor at Mother of Pearl ended up complimenting my outfit just as well!
Anyway, the decor and drinks are both amazing here! Whenever I come, I always get the Vanilla Coke Float, and it is delicious. The waitress I had was also super sweet and accommodating while I was taking pictures in between sips of my drink. I’d definitely recommend checking this place out!
400 W 42nd Street (Midtown West)
This bar just recently opened, and I checked it out for the first time a few weeks ago. I loved it! The bar is located inside The Pod Hotel, so head up to the rooftop once you enter the hotel lobby. We sat inside, and I was surprised by how spacious it was. We came on a Thursday around 730 pm, aka prime drinking time in NYC and got seated right away. I got the Damned To The Depths drink and it even came adorned with a little treasure chest on top.
The Happiest Hour
121 W 10th Street (West Village)
I love the decor here! For their cocktails, I also like how they give you the option to choose which type of liquor you want. I usually get the What The Doctor Ordered with rum. One negative of this place, it has always been very crowded whenever I’ve been here. If you’d like a quieter, more intimate option, check out their speak easy called Slowly Shirley, which is located just downstairs from The Happiest Hour.
357 W 44th (Midtown West)
It can be impossible to find a bar that’s NOT a bro infested, Irish pub in Midtown. But Reunion is definitely a breath of fresh air. They also have solid happy hour specials. While the rest of my suggestions on this list are better for an artfully crafted cocktail, I’d recommend this place for casual and cheap after work drinks.
23 Lexington Avenue (Flatiron)
Ok, so I haven’t been to this location yet, but I have been to the Miami location and loved it! I know a few people who have been to the NYC location, and they said it was “meh”, but to be fair, this location is very new, so I’m hoping they will improve once they’ve been in the space a bit longer. This Broken Shaker is a rooftop bar, located in the Freehand Hotel, so you know your drink will at least come with an amazing view of the city.
Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
Sunglasses: Vintage; Bow: Claire’s; Bangle: Old; Shoes: Utopiat
Bag: c/o Sun Jellies
This past Sunday, I took a day trip to Asbury Park, NJ. This was my first time visiting, and I’m not sure what took me so long to check it out! It’s only about an hour and a half from NYC. We took the NJ Transit train from Secaucus, NJ (one stop before NY Penn Station). It was raining in the morning before we left, but we crossed our fingers the weather would clear up and we headed down the shore.
When we first arrived, it was still raining, so we headed over to the Convention Center to check out the Summer Bazaar, a craft fair type of market that was happening that day. To be honest, we were pretty disappointed by this fair, because it was much smaller than we expected. They also advertised that there would be vintage vendors there, and there was literally only one booth carrying vintage.
After the bazaar, it was still misting outside, so we headed to the Silverball Museum Arcade, a supercool arcade filled with retro games. They have everything from pinball, to skeeball, to video games. You pay before you enter, and the price depends on the amount of time you want to stay. There are options from a half hour up to a day pass. Once you’re inside, you can play as many games as you’d like. We stayed for an hour, which was the perfect amount of time for me because there were tons of kids and it was very loud (probably since everyone was trying to escape the rain).
After the arcade, the rain finally cleared, so we grabbed a quick lunch, then headed off the boardwalk to the Main Street to vintage shop. Unfortunately, I underestimated how good these vintage stores would be, and we only had about an hour to spend in them before they closed at 5pm. All of the stores had amazing selections at very affordable prices.
The first store we checked out was Backward Glances, where I bought a super cool 70’s printed shirt for $15. This store is primarily women’s and men’s clothing and accessories. Next we stopped into Flux Modern. This store was mostly furniture and home decor, so I didn’t buy anything here, but they still had lots of amazing items. Then we headed to Antique Emporium. I could have stayed in this store for two hours easily. It is huge, and they had everything from clothes, accessories, records, magazines, furniture, home decor, literally anything you could think of. Unfortunately we only had about 15 minutes to browse (and the guy working there kept following me around the store telling me they were closing, which was a bit of a turn off). Since I felt pressured to look quickly, I didn’t end up buying anything here either. Lastly, we checked out the record store called Hold Fast. They had an amazing selection for super affordable prices. I ended up getting an Elvis record for $5.
After shopping, we headed back to the boardwalk. We grabbed some ice cream at Coney Waffle (we each got a waffle and ice cream). Then we decided to play some mini golf at Asbury 18 Mini Golf. Finally, we grabbed a quick cocktail before heading back to the train. Overall, I had an amazing day, and I definitely plan on coming back again. I’d definitely recommend a day trip to anyone living around the NJ/NYC area if you haven’t been yet!
If you'd like to shop my top, you can find it here:
Top: c/o Dolly and Dotty
Shorts: vintage; Sneakers: H&M; Sunglasses: Hello Holiday; Headband: American Apparel
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Last Saturday, my friend Desirae and I shot these photos at Beauty Bar, one of my absolute favorite bars here in NYC. I know I've mentioned Beauty Bar in a previous blog post about my favorite retro inspired bars, but I feel like I needed to dedicate a full post to this place. Beauty Bar was one of the first bars I discovered when I moved here five years ago. It looks like an old school salon, complete with the hair dryer chairs and everything. You can even get your nails done here! They offer a $10 manicure and martini deal (but you can get any drink, doesn't have to be a martini). On the weekends, they have a DJ spinning hits from the 60's, 70's and 80's in the back room. I have actually broken a sweat here because the music is always so good. If you're visiting NYC, I definitely recommend checking this place out!
This shoot was kind of a full circle moment for Desirae and I. We initially met through Instagram, then last July while Desirae was here for work, we met IRL for the first time. One of the first things we did was go to Beauty Bar. I had a feeling it would be right up Desirae's alley, since she is also a retro girl at heart. Now a year later, Desirae has officially just moved to New York. I think it's funny our first shoot together here in NYC ended up being in the first place we met a year ago. Instagram definitely has it's ups and downs, but one thing you can't deny is it's amazing ability to connect people who might not have otherwise crossed paths in real life.
Dress: vintage; Bow: Claire's; Watch: MVMT; Saddle Shoes: Eastland Shoes
Location: Beauty Bar (Manhattan, NYC)
There’s nothing I love more than a vintage inspired diner. However, in NYC, they can be very hit or miss. Either they’re so iconic, they are impossible to get in (would you believe Katz Deli actually has a security guard managing the line outside now?) or the food is subpar, and who wants to have a mediocre meal in a city that is known for amazing food. Here are my suggestions for diners with a good balance of tasty food and vintage vibes by borough.
Lexington Candy Shop
1226 Lexington Avenue (Upper East Side, Manhattan)
If you’re looking for an iconic NYC diner without a long line, check this place out. It’s been open since 1925 and not much has changed. I can’t comment on all the food, as when I went I only had fries and a milkshake, but it was very no muss no fuss. Aside from the vintage interior, the windows also have coke bottles from around the world displayed in it (which you might recognize from my Instagram).
Cobble Hill Coffee Shop
314 Court Street (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)
As I said, its not uncommon to be disappointed by diner food. However, the food here is extremely solid. I’ve even been there when theres been a line to get in, which is a testament to their food quality. Aside from solid food, the interior and exterior also looks like your classic, vintage inspired diner.
1110 Washington Street (Hoboken, NJ)
Okay, so I know it’s not in NYC, but if you cross the river and find yourself in my neck of the woods, I’d recommend checking out Schnackenberg’s. I come here a lot since it’s not far from my apartment, both to shoot content for my blog and IG, and also because I love their grilled cheese, milkshakes and doughnuts.
P.S. If you'd like to shop my top, you can find it here:
My heart ring is sold out :( but it is from Little Sky Stone, you can check them out here:
Top: c/o Dolly & Dotty
Headband: c/o Lysande (@shoplysande)
Ring: c/o Little Sky Stone
Skirt: J.Crew; Shoes: DSW
Location: Remedy Diner (East Village, NYC)
Photos by Michelle Zagardo
Another one of my favorite areas to vintage shop in NYC is Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. I spent this past Monday, a cloudy Memorial Day, vintage shopping in this area, so I decided to make another little shopping guide to my favorite stores in these neighborhoods. Williamsburg is just a short subway ride from Manhattan (one stop on the L train) and you can easily walk to Greenpoint from Williamsburg.
309 Bedford Avenue
Open 11am-8pm daily
Come Here For:
Arbor Vitae is an extremely reasonably priced vintage store. They even have $5 racks out front, where I've scored one of my favorite skirts from.
567 Driggs Ave
Open 9am-9pm daily
Come Here For:
records, books, glassware, antiques, furniture, vintage photos & more!
The name says it all. This giant warehouse has everything from little vintage knick knacks to furniture. It's definitely a lot to dig through, but you can definitely unearth some hidden gems here.
Fox & Fawn
570 Manhattan Ave
Open 12-7:30pm daily
Come Here For:
This store is mostly women's clothes, but they have a small men's section as well. The prices are very reasonable and I've scored several of my favorite vintage finds here!
74 Guernsey St
Open 11am-8pm daily
Come Here For:
Beacon's Closet has several locations here in NYC, and to be honest, I'm not always a fan. Some of their other locations I find to be overcrowded and overpriced for the quality and brands they are selling. However, I like this location because it is very spacious and it is the location where I've seen the largest vintage selection.
10 ft by Stella Dallas
285 N 6th Street
Open 12-7:30pm daily
Come Here For:
Prepare for sensory overload. This store is huge and has a ton of great product. The front of the store is more modern (80's and 90's) and a bit more affordable. The back is older vintage (50's, 60's, 70's) and a tad more expensive. However, all of the product here is extremely well curated and high quality!
Last Friday, I made my first trip of the year to Coney Island. Coney Island is one of my favorite things about New York City summers because it really does have an old school, retro feel to it. Even though most of the attractions are new, there are still a few original rides left.
The Ferris wheel, better known as The Wonder Wheel, was built in 1920. In 1989 it became a historic NYC landmark. The Wonder Wheel is definitely my favorite ride. It's cool getting to see the whole park from a birds eye view, even though it's equally as terrifying too haha. Some of the cars intentionally "swing" during the ride, so make sure you opt for a stationary car (like I do) if this isn't your thing.
The Cyclone is another original ride. It is a wooden roller coaster built in 1927. It also gained NYC landmark status in 1988. I rode this ride once, but to be honest, I wouldn't do it again. Since it is old and wooden, it is super rickety and rough, a very different feel than riding a modern roller coaster.
I'm not a huge ride person, so I mostly just like to go to walk around and enjoy the ambience. And of course I always stop at Nathan's for french fries and lemonade. My friends all swear the hot dogs are amazing too, but I don't eat meat, so I can't directly comment on them, but I'll take their word for it.
I can't wait to go back to Coney Island again this summer!
If you'd like to shop my dress, you can find it here:
Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
Necklace: vintage; Ring: Kate Spade; Sneakers: H&M; Sunglasses: Guess; Headband & Bag: unknown (both were gifts)
Location: Coney Island (Brooklyn, New York)