Guide to New York

Customize a better-than-Magnolia cupcake—without the dreaded Magnolia line—at Butter Lane, whose cake and frosting flavors turn over seasonally (read: pumpkin frosting in October). 123 E. 7th Street between First Ave. and Avenue A, (212) 677-2880

Feel like you’re floating in a Star Wars cityscape as you sip hot chocolate in MObar, the 35th-floor lounge of the Mandarin Oriental, in frosty winter. 80 Columbus Circle, (212) 805-8800

Fantasize about your wedding at the New York Botanical Garden. Or live in the present like a respectable person and, you know, smell the roses. 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx, (718) 817-8777

Eat a steaming bowl of noodles paired with exotic seasonings and Japanese sea vegetables (yum!) at Totto Ramen. Karma points for asking one of the bashful, smiley chefs about his sweetheart back home in Japan. 366 W. 52nd between 7th and 8th Ave.s, (212) 582-0052

Cronuts are overrated: Wake at 6am to be first in line for a doughnut from the original Doughnut Plant. Having a dramatic and unpleasant gluten allergy that I occasionally spite just for one(/two) yeast doughnuts here, I can attest firsthand to their superior flavor and texture. 379 Grand St. between Essex and Norfolk, (212) 505-3700

If you’re looking for good, old-fashioned Coney Island sleaze, you’re certain not to find it at today’s Luna Park (although the updated theme park is cute, nonetheless). Instead, zero in on the next-door Cyclone, which is as historic as it is bumpy and rickety. 834 Surf Ave., Brooklyn (718) 265-2100

Get a warm crumby feeling in your mouth and that warm fuzzy feeling in your body. If your mama ever baked her own bread, this is what it would taste like. Amy’s Bread Hell’s Kitchen, 672 Ninth Ave, (212) 977-2670 (other locations throughout Manhattan)

Nurture your inner dreamer: Wander the idyllic Impressionist halls at the Met. (The rest of European Paintings holdings aren’t so bad, either.) 1000 Fifth Ave., galleries 818-822) (plus Degas in 814-817) (212) 535-7710

Make like a Columbia bookworm from the ’70s and order an almond horn and espresso from the Hungarian Pastry Shop (now in its 52nd year of business). Cash only. 1030 Amsterdam between 110th and 111th, (212) 866-4230.

Walk to any shelf at Strand and see what intriguing finds await. 828 Broadway at E. 12th St., (212) 473-1452

Sing American hits (or for that matter, those from China, Japan, or Korea) with laser lighting and a supporting video cast of Korean schoolchildren. Chiclets and sake on the house! Anywhere in Koreatown, seriously, no, just enter any building walking east from Penn Station on 32nd St

What’s Japanese for “tchotchke”? Whatever the word, find it in abundance at the basement of Kinokuniya, a veritable trove of origami papers, pocket planners, and dessert erasers. 1073 Avenue of the Americas between 40th and 41st, (212) 869-1700

Find an oasis of peace, calm, fair-trade canvas bags, and fair-trade beaded bracelets in the Lower East Side’s Sustainable NYC. There’s even a bar where you can order peanut butter-and-jelly with a vegan ice-cream sandwich for dessert. 139 Avenue A, (212) 254-5400

Practice your pliés or pop it and lock it at a drop-in class at Steps on Broadway. If you’re lucky, one of the greatest dancers in the world will also drop by, to brush up on the basics between rehearsals at ABT or City Ballet. 2121 Broadway between 74th and 75th, (212) 874-2410

Do you hear the people sing? If you’re at Marie’s Crisis, that’s probably a yes: The piano bar’s singalong musical-theater songbook—typically climaxing with the hits of Les Mis—plays, to enthusiastic crowds, every single night. 59 Grove between 7th Ave. S and Bleecker, (212) 243-9323

What’s sweeter than a baby-pink bakery of donuts, pumpkin loaves, and cookie sandwiches? Ingredients that everyone can enjoy. The recipes at Babycakes—still voted one of the best cupcakeries in New York—are 100% free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and nuts. 248 Broome St between Orchard and Ludlow, (212) 677-5047

You can’t go wrong with anything at Veselka, but the latkes are worth their citywide celebrity. Omelettes and matzo-ball soup are also fantastic—turns out Ukrainians know a thing or two about Jewish food. 144 2nd Ave. at 9th St, (212) 228-9682

Italy and New York may not be neighbors, but it feels like they are at Eataly. From Mulino Biano breakfast biscuits to bottled sodas to fresh pastas, all the best Italian delicacies are available at the Flatiron District outpost of Mario Batali’s Turin-based food hall cum marketplace. 200 5th Ave between 23rd and 24th, (212) 229-2560

Make like a rustic European farmer and order your ice cream mixed from goat’s milk and topped with locally sourced toppings, from figs to flaxseeds. Victory Garden, 31 Carmine St between Bleecker and Bedford, (212) 206-7273

Unearth a hidden gem in Bushwick. At Gotham City Lounge, encounter all sorts of superhero memorabilia, a loyal following of laid-back twentysomethings, and owner Lou, the single coolest lady you will ever meet. 1293 Myrtle Ave between Hart and Cedar St.s, (718) 387-4182

All forms of chocolate and a decent Wi-Fi connection are on the menu at café-slash-wine bar Cocoa Bar. Make sure to try the truffles and pralines as well as—obviously—the cocoa. Wine is $5/glass during happy hour. 21 Clinton St between Stanton and East Houston St.s, (212) 677-7417

Collards, cornbread, mac ‘n’ cheese—you can’t go wrong with any of the offerings at Harlem institution Amy Ruth’s113 W. 116th St. between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Malcolm X Blvd.s, (212) 280-8779

The tagines in the intimate dining rooms of Cafe Mogador will transport you from Manhattan to Marrakech. 101 St. Mark’s between 1st Ave. and Ave. A, (212) 677-2226

Lexington Candy Shop is a charming and legendary luncheonette and soda fountain. The milkshake menu is pitch-perfect, and the waiters have truly mastered that art of scrambling an egg. 1226 Lexington Ave and 83rd, (212) 288-0057

The cozy French atmosphere of La Bonne Soupe stretches over both of the restaurant’s two floors, where New York’s richest cheese fondue (and chocolate, if you have room) are served. 48 W. 55th between 5th and 6th Ave.s, (212) 586-7650

Admire the ancient seals and the vaults of historical volumes at The Morgan Library & Museum, the stunning and inspiring former estate of J.P. Morgan. From Alice in Wonderland to A Little Prince, the exhibition topics are also consistently inspiring themselves. 225 Madison Avenue between 36th and 37th, (212) 685-0008

Want to check out that famous New York City improv? It’s at the Upright Citizens Brigade, and so are a certain Seth and Amy, if you come on the right evening. 307 W 26th St between 9th and 8th Ave.s, (212) 366-9176

Every city should have its own perfume company, and New York’s is Bond No. 9. Creative—and fragrant!—takes on all New York’s vibrant subcultures makes for fun product sampling, and if bottles are pricey, they look as stellar as they smell. Literally: They’re actually shaped like stars. 9 Bond St at Lafayette, (212) 228-1732 and other locations

Dates at this secret speakeasy may feel extra-dangerous and Old Fashioneds extra-authentic, but the most thrilling thing about Bar Centrale, Midtown’s unmarked drinking club, is the following of Broadway superstars who’ve become regulars. 324 W 46th St. between 8th and 9th Ave.s, (212) 581-3130

Not only is Twisted Lily Apothecary an exotic and intoxicating library of handmade perfumes, but the owners have pretty much every every ingredient committed to memory, so they can point you to your new signature scent in seconds. 360 Atlantic Ave between Hoyt and Bond St.s, (347) 529-4681

Cafe Pedlar is a charming and welcoming local fave for coffee-drinkers as well as tea herbalists, as long as they’ve learned not to start sipping the boiling-hot beverages too fast. 210 Court St at Warren St., (718) 855-7129 

Trendy beats, cocktails, and beautiful people rule at Le Bain, and when they hear that the bouncer let you in here, all your friends from home will be so jealous. The Standard, High Line, 848 Washington St between 13th and Little W. 12th Street, (212) 645-4646

Columbia students know a lot of things, and one of them is to hit up Community Food & Juice—even at the expense of trendier downtown eateries (or the library)—for a boozy brunch. Another is to swing by during holiday season for top Hanukkah latkes. 2893 Broadway between 112th and 113th, (212) 665-2800

You could spend an entire weekend digging through Beacon’s Closet, but the buyers’ knack for curating means that you can also find something great without digging at all. various NYC locations; see list here

Dive bar it may be, but Beauty Bar feels like the hair salon of Betty Draper herself (season 7 edition). 231 E. 14th St. between 2nd and 3rd Ave.s, (212) 539-1389

Antique maps, hand-shaved ice pops, and an awesome collection of sundresses crowd the booths at the Brooklyn Flea. Come between March and November to enjoy the thrift-shopping fun under the Fort Greene sun. locations vary by season and time of week; check list here

Wind down from your work day properly at the buzzy yet cozy Library at NoMad. NoMad Hotel, 1170 Broadway between 27th and 28th St.s, (212) 796-1500

It’s hard to wait patiently for the to-die-for Eggs Rothko and brioche French toast at Egg, but that’s why there are waxed-paper tablecloths for you, each with its own collection of assorted crayons. 109 N. 3rd St. between Wythe and Berry St.s, (718) 302-5151

There’s no other way to start off a Lincoln Center evening than at Fiorello’s, the legendary Italian eatery across the street. With plaques at the former booths of its most dedicated—and famous—regulars, it’s almost as star-studdedly storied as the theaters themselves. 1900 Broadway between 63rd and 64th, (212) 595-5330

Get lost in two floors of jacquard, poplin, and everything in between at Mood, which you may recognize from its weekly appearances on Project Runway. 225 W 37th St between 7th and 8th, (212) 730-5003

New Yorkers have a reputation for being jaded, but anyone who lies under the blue whale in the Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Ocean Life will feel a profound sense of wonder in the world. Central Park W and 79th St, (212) 769-5100

Texas culture and New York’s Flatiron District are an unlikely match, and yet Hill Country Barbecue Market has made a name for itself as one hell of a restaurant; country music venue; and, on Tuesdays, live-karaoke bar. 30 W 26th St. between 25th and 26th St., (212) 255-4544