America’s Best Tattoo Studios

pink neon tattoo sign against a brick wall

As tattoo culture grows, its artists, specializations, and processes grow with it. Like any art form, body art is always evolving technically, as well as visually—so if you’re the type to pick whichever studio is closest, and whichever artist can seat you right away, you might be missing out on the true quality and artistry you want. 


The following U.S. tattoo studios—organized by region—were selected based not only on creative merit, dedication to craft, and strong portfolios, but also because of their ability to either uphold longstanding tattoo tradition, or bring in new and fresh perspectives. 


Tattoos may be impulsive by nature, but the satisfaction of planning ahead and getting the most for your money will last as long as your new ink. Here are some of the best tattoo studios in America for your next piece. 




Hudson Valley Tattoo Company

Interior of Hudson Valley Tattoo company in Wappinger, NY
Photo Credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

With eleven artists on staff—as well as a rotating cast of guest artists—Hudson Valley Tattoo Company is guaranteed to match you with the right pair of hands.


Located right on Route 9 in Wappingers Falls, the studio is hard to miss. Walk-ins are welcome, and even preferred, to make sure your final result is exactly as you imagined (or even a little bit better). 


There’s an artist for every style, including portraiture, Irezumi inspired work, and geometric. Scale isn’t an issue—the artists’ portfolios feature full torso and back pieces, along with smaller, more contained work. 


Consistent service, accurate estimates, and true versatility should push this shop to the top of your list if you’re in upstate New York or nearby. Day-trippers from the five boroughs might even want to consider stopping at Hudson Valley Tattoo Company, instead of waiting for an appointment at the city’s top shops. 


Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlour

exterior of fleur noire tattoo in Brooklyn
Photo credit: Fleur N. via Yelp.

Having opened just five years ago, Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlour has become a mainstay both in its original Brooklyn location and across the country, gracing Los Angeles. Sophisticated yet casual, the studio feels like a professional creative space, and its artists uphold the standard. 


The studio’s international cast of tattooers from all walks of life brings their own angles to the medium, ranging from highly illustrative to simple line work. 


Fleur Noire is a great choice if you have an idea floating around your head but just need to get inspired by a professional to flesh it out. Along with the Los Angeles location, there is a third Fleur Noire outpost that recently joined the original studio in Brooklyn.


Three Kings Tattoo

exterior of 3 Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn. A graffiti art style is painted onto a metal roll-up security door. The store's name "Three Kings Tattoo" is in gold lettering on a black awning.
Photo credit. From the business owner via Yelp.

Over twenty years ago, Matthew Marcus and Alex McWatt’s friendship began with a single tattoo, from one artist to another. In 2008, the pair opened the first Three Kings Tattoo Parlour in Brooklyn. 


Since then, Three Kings has expanded to Manhattan, Long Island, Los Angeles, North Carolina, and London. Attracting top artists from both sides of the Atlantic along the way, the original shop has grown into a household name, with new co-owners bringing their personal goals to the business model. Despite its huge success, the original vision behind Three Kings is still going strong, putting creative integrity and great customer service at the forefront.


The Three Kings story continues to evolve, with fresh perspectives making their way into the mix and new artists joining the team to push fine tattooing to new levels. Getting a piece done at any of the three locations in New York brings you back to the studio’s roots in the Tri-State area; with no shortage of talent to choose from, you’re guaranteed to walk out with ink that exceeds expectations. 



Sacred Lotus Tattoo

exterior of sacred lotus tattoo in Asheville, NC
Photo credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

Owned and run by artist Kimi Leger, Asheville’s Sacred Lotus Tattoo prides itself on being an inclusive space in a vibrant creative hub. The shop’s five artists, including the owner, specialize in a variety of styles, approaching each with patience and precision. 


The staff also includes a professionally trained microblading artist for your aesthetic needs. Browse the shop and you’ll find an array of original body jewelry and earrings, hand-selected from independent brands to make sure you look and feel your best. 


An appointment is required, so make sure you reach out to the shop and book in advance. 


Arte Tattoo Studios

Interior of Arte Tattoo in Gainesville, GA
Photo credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

Just over three years old, Arte Tattoo Studios has honed a reputation that reaches beyond the shop’s hometown of Gainesville, Georgia. 


Well-known in and around Atlanta, Arte Studios is all about the vibe. Its artists pride themselves on connecting with their clients before picking up the needle. The result is an experience that is less about a transaction, and more about the conversation. 


A well-paced and relaxed tattoo process will help you let go of any doubts while refining your design to make sure it’s exactly what you imagined. 


Keeping the Southeast on the map, the team at Arte is bringing the young shop up to its full potential with diverse portfolios, dedicated service, and a steadily growing following in the Atlanta area and beyond. 


Hart and Huntington Tattoo Company

Exterior of Hart and Huntington Tattoo in Orlando, FL
Photo credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

Orlando’s Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company is a must-stop in a city that is more famous for its rides than its creative circle. 


The studio represents the side of Orlando that is built by locals, for locals. Twelve versatile artists call Hart & Huntington home, which was founded in the name of passion almost fifteen years ago. 


Catering to tourists and regulars alike, the artists work with a focus on narrative, detail, and innovation. No challenge is too demanding, and you can see the results for yourself in the portfolio portion of the H&H website. 



Electric Ladyland

Storefront of Electric Ladyland Tattoo in New Orleans, LA
Photo credit: Mia P. via Yelp.

An ode to perseverance, New Orleans’ Electric Ladyland first opened about seventeen years ago, having moved three times since. The studio’s current location on Frenchmen Street is a local fixture, making top lists year after year. 


If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air from the general hubbub surrounding the Frenchmen Street studio, Electric Ladyland Bywater should be your next stop. This second location focuses on appointment-based, custom work by resident and rotating artists


At either address, Electric Ladyland is a local legend, merging the natural revelry of New Orleans with the precision and detail that goes into quality ink. Throw a long-standing reputation and baby blue walls covered in flash art into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a NOLA classic. 



Northern Tide Tattoo

Interior of Northern Tide Tattoo in De Pere, WI
Photo credit: Northern Tide Tattoo

Owned and operated by artist Micah Gunderson, Wisconsin’s Northern Tide Tattoo is a testament to the universality of the medium. 


The small shop just outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin, features Micah’s work alongside that of Samuel Fisher. Both are motivated by a lifelong interest in art, action, and music. The duo works largely in American Traditional and black and gray work, but no style is off-limits. 


Gunderson coins the term “Midwest Aloha” as his shop slogan, melding American iconography with a vintage Southern Pacific aesthetic that thrives on the bright and the bold. Both artists are heavily inspired by their Midwestern roots, which translate to not only their stylistic choices but the ethos and work ethic of the shop as a whole. 


If you’re not local to the Green Bay area, a trip from Milwaukee or even Chicago is well worth the effort. A custom piece from Northern Tide is about the search for the perfect tattoo, as much as it is about the look. 


Ragtime Tattoo

Exterior of Ragtime Tattoo in St. Louis, MO

With a unique setup in the heart of St. Louis, Ragtime Tattoo is your go-to for custom designs—with the added bonus of supporting a diverse group of independent artists. 


Getting to know you is a priority, as is listening to your request. Ragtime Tattoo is divided into three studios, which operate privately under one address. The Oasis and Desert Rose studios both have two artists each, while the Prickly Pear studio is run by three tattooers. A look through each studio’s portfolio of past work will clue you in to whose style suits your needs best. 


Separate entrances, professional health and safety protocol, and a special focus on the client as an individual—as opposed to the consumer—make Ragtime one of your best bets when in the St. Louis area. 


You can find each artist’s bio and current contact information under their studio page on Ragtime Tattoo’s website. 



The Nova Expansion Tattoo

Exterior of The Nova Expansion in Seattle, WA
Photo Credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

Located in Uptown Seattle, The Nova Expansion is a tattoo studio and art gallery owned by artist Justin Coppolino. The studio, only two years old, features five artists (including the owner) and has been built on years of collective creative experience among the team. 


Passion and a powerful visual language are principles, as is the importance of a platform for all creative expression. The Nova Expansion’s gallery is just around the corner from the shop, showcasing the work of rotating artists from the area. 


The artwork is visible to passersby, redefining a traditional gallery space. Custom framing is also available to participating artists. 


While The Nova Expansion is primarily a high-quality tattoo studio, the venue also promotes local arts and is quickly becoming a mainstay at its Second Avenue location. 


If you’re looking for professional service, emphasis on process, and a stress-free experience in the greater Seattle area, start with The Nova Expansion. Appointments and free consultations can be booked online


Flatiron Tattoo

Client receiving a tattoo on lower left hip from Flatiron Tattoo in Portland, OR
Photo credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

Though there’s no shortage of tattoo studios in a place like Portland, a select few still manage to stand out among the competition. 


Perched on the top floor of a historic building in Rose City Park, Flatiron Tattoo is a two-year-old shop operating under the expertise of Jason Bradbury. With years of experience in the industry, Jason’s goal is to bring a variety of approaches under one roof, taking cues from working in different environments. 


In the mood for something spontaneous? Special offers include Flatiron Flash, where you can choose a watercolor design from the shop’s collection and take home not only a new tattoo but also the original framed watercolor. 


If you’re feeling lucky, buy a spin on the shop’s roulette wheel and let fate choose from the flash book. The pace is key, so expect your artist to take their time perfecting your tattoo. 


Flatiron is currently open for appointments as well as walk-ins. 



Love Always Tattoo

Interior of Love Always Tattoo in Yucca Valley, CA
Photo credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

Hand-poked tattoos are all the rage nowadays, and Yucca Valley’s Love Always tattoo studio is at the forefront as the trend sweeps across the professional tattoo world. 


The studio describes the customer experience is rooted in luxury and ritual. As you sit back and relax, your artist will treat your design as a personal masterpiece, working it through entirely by hand. Instead of the traditional drone of a tattoo machine, your experience will be defined by the rhythmic pace of your artist’s needle. 


The image takes shape millimeter by millimeter, and the result is one of a kind—starting with the intimacy of the process. Hand-poked tattoo work is an ode to the timelessness of the medium, and its growing popularity only cements the importance of handiwork in today’s culture of detachment. 


A small staff of three artists makes Love Always a business bent on working with clients in-depth. The studio is open by appointment only, so make sure you secure your spot with one of the artists in advance. 


Terry Ribera’s Remington Tattoo Parlor & Gallery

Exterior of Remington Tattoo Parlor in San Diego, CA
Photo credit: Sara-Marie F. via Yelp.

Named after a vintage typewriter, San Diego’s Remington Tattoo Parlor is well known throughout the city and beyond. With high regard for body art as one of the purest mediums, the Remington team is all about taking the craft to the next level, with hours spent at the needle and in the illustration phase. 


While Remington is, by all means, a contemporary shop, the space is a nod to the glory and history of tattoo culture and aesthetics. After reading about the artists and why they chose to pursue tattooing, head behind the scenes to the “Latest Work” page on the shop’s website to see what they’re currently working on. 


Just as novels once came to be, letter by letter via the keys of a typewriter, your Remington tattoo will be a labor of love. 


Raventhorn Manor Tattoo

Exterior of Raventhorn Manor Tattoo in Salt Lake City, UT
Photo credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

A tattoo is only as good as the environment in which you receive it. Why not take it up a notch and get inked in a historic manor? 


Salt Lake City’s uncanny Raventhorn Manor Tattoo treats you to the early twentieth-century grandeur of an architectural relic. Built in 1901, the building now houses resident and guest artists bent on furthering their craft. 


Book your consultation online, or walk right up to the front desk after viewing each artist’s work on the shop’s portfolio page. If you weren’t feeling inspired before your consultation, just walking in and absorbing the manor’s original touches might strike a creative chord. 


Sentient Tattoo Collective

Interior of Sentient Tattoo Collective in Tempe, AZ
Photo credit: From the business owner via Yelp.

When it comes to Tempe, Arizona’s Sentient Tattoo Collective, it’s all in the name. The studio and gallery doubles as a community force and cooperative creative space. 


Working with Tempe’s Free Arts For Abused Children, the shop helps bring art education to local kids, making self-expression accessible to those who need it most. 


Other than being mentors and volunteers, the shop’s six artists hail from across the United States, each bringing their own specialization to the table. Whether you’re looking for watercolor work, pop culture imagery, or a fauna-and-flora-inspired design, there’s an artist waiting for you at Sentient. 


Though the Sentient Collective story dates back to long before the Smith Road location opened in October 2019, the shop brought a strong following to its new home near Arizona State University. In it for the long haul, Sentient remains one of the Tempe and Phoenix area’s top studios. 


Call ahead to book an appointment or consultation with one of the Collective’s artists. 


The Painted Lady

The Painted Lady logo in Tucson, AZ
Photo credit: The Painted Lady logo via The Painted Lady.

If the Painted Lady’s classic aesthetic and glowing local reputation isn’t enough to get you into this Tucson mainstay, the artist portfolio should seal the deal. 


Each artist’s bio clues you into their stylistic focus, as well as their relationship to tattooing. The shop’s booking process will lead you to your chosen artist’s direct email to set up your appointment in advance. 


Special attention to aftercare procedures is a high priority at the shop, so expect to leave with expert advice on how to make sure your piece lasts a lifetime. 


With a presence on Speedway Boulevard since 2008, The Painted Lady is tried and true, keeping the Southwest inked and adorned for over thirteen years. 


Whether your design is already fully fleshed out, or you only have an inkling of what you want tattooed, go for quality over convenience. The best artists walk you through the process, from conception to end result, to ensure you’re in good hands every step of the way. 



As fast as the tattoo industry has grown, it’s still crucial to find the shops and artists that pride themselves on pace, quality handcraft, and establishing a relationship with their clients that goes beyond the transaction. So the next time you’re out taking a day trip from NYC, or just exploring some of the best parks in California or Oregon, and you’re looking to get a permanent souvenir, be sure to check out these amazing tattoo shops. 

Where To Find the Best Coffee in NYC

Where To Find the Best Coffee in NYC

New York is home to a vibrant coffee culture that includes independent shops, small scale roasters, and knowledgeable baristas, all bent on delivering the finest cup of joe from bean to brew. If you’re looking to up your coffee game, the answer might already be in your neighborhood—or a short subway ride away. 


Whether you live in the city or are just visiting, take some time to explore the independent businesses that keep New York caffeinated.  You never know when you’ll find your next perfect cup. 



What is Third Wave Coffee?


Much of New York’s current coffee culture is considered “Third Wave,” which broadly encompasses the artisanship of roasting and brewing. Third Wave coffee shops are businesses opened in the past two decades that put emphasis on sourcing, processing, and preparing coffee in different ways. 


Most third wave coffee shop owners and baristas have a true passion for all aspects of preparing a quality cup.  You might call them connoisseurs. The subtle flavor, strength, and even texture of the drink depends on the region in which its beans were grown, how they were dried and roasted, and the method used to brew the ground coffee. 


It might seem abstract, but the more different coffees you try, the more sensitive you’ll become to their unique flavor profiles. 


Talking to the barista during your first visit to a new shop is a great way to learn about what you’ll be drinking. An expert recommendation will help you find the exact bean, roast, and process for your taste buds. 


The following businesses offer an impressive variety, exceptional dedication to quality coffee, and awesome atmospheres (because vibes are just as important as the latte art)!


Uro Cafe

uro cafe storefront in NYC
Image credit: Veronica R. on Yelp

Located steps from McCarren Park and the G Train, Greenpoint’s Uro Cafe is a neighborhood fixture where simplicity meets specialty. 


Blink and you might just miss it—the shop serves nuanced flavors in a small, no-frills setting, making it the perfect spot to pop into on your way to the farmer’s market or to do some vintage shopping in the area. 


Expect friendly service, strong espresso, and a lack of long lines, as Uro is a bit of a local secret hidden out in the open. It’s the kind of place you come upon—and keep coming back to. 


Stop by and try the iced americano, hot mocha, or chai latte with oat milk for chillier North Brooklyn mornings. 


Brooklyn Roasting Company       

brooklyn roasting company interior. Large wooden hutch and wood countertop with patrons sitting drinking a cup of coffee or working on the computer
Image Credit: Shun Y. on Yelp

High on any list of New York’s top roasteries, Brooklyn Roasting Company has been around since 2009, bringing out the flavors of the borough while supporting community institutions. 


While the company’s original location at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge is no longer operating, new locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan are set to open within the next few months.

In the meantime, visit the Brooklyn Roasting Company shop at 200 Flushing Ave., located just across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


A focus on fair trade coffee and rotating releases make this location a go-to. Grab a travel mug with the company’s signature block-letter logo on your way out and enjoy that latte on the go. 


Maglia Rosa NYC – Industry City Cafe

A corner of a building painted in pink and white stripes sits a coffee shop names Maglia Rosa
Image Credit: Randall M. on Yelp

As a high-end custom bike shop that fuses Italian and American cycling culture, Maglia Rosa’s expansion to a café location in Industry City seems only natural. 


Serving Industry City visitors, shoppers, and employees, the café embodies its founder’s Milanese roots, serving a house blend titled “Milano.” Chocolatey and decadent, the coffee matches the seasonal small plate menu in personality and vigor. 


Most meals are made with ingredients from local farmers markets, and even the tea selection is made up of customized blends. 


The shop also offers a small grocery collection featuring imported dry goods, pasta ingredients, and more. 


Maglia Rosa’s decor makes it clear that cycling and espresso go hand in hand, especially in a Milanese-inspired café in the heart of Sunset Park. Choose a fresh pastry delivered daily from Ceci Cela (a Manhattan patisserie), and relax at the outdoor tables or in one of Industry City’s spacious public courtyards. 


As an added bonus, the café will soon introduce an after-hours wine bar. 


Bond St. Coffee and Goods

Brick exterior of Bond Street Coffee and Goods. Patrons sit on a bench in front of a wrought iron fence placed in front of the entrance
Image Credit: FredRock A. on Yelp

Bordering the Gowanus Canal, Bond Street Coffee and Goods serves locally roasted D’amico Coffee, along with an extensive breakfast, salad, and sandwich menu. 


The D’amico coffee legacy goes back over half a century in Brooklyn history. Stopping at Bond St. gets you seventy years’ worth of expert roasting in a single cup of black coffee. 

Perched on the edge of Carroll Gardens, Bond Street is the kind of shop you seek out to spice up your morning buzz—it doesn’t get overly crowded like Brooklyn’s better-known coffee destinations. 


Ample outdoor seating, fresh-cooked plates, and roasted beans that honor the neighborhood’s Italian heritage put Bond Street Coffee & Goods on the map as one of the area’s best casual stops for brunch or a get-together. 




Exterior on Konditori coffee shop with a small cup of coffee being held in the foreground of the photo. A sign in front of the shop reads "Be AMAZING today. But first...COFFEE."
Image Credit: Taylor C. on Yelp

With three locations open in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, Konditori has become a household name in third wave coffee—thanks in part to its unique roots and telltale Swedish flag logo. 


The vision of a Swedish-American duo, the shop’s handcrafted, homey aesthetic goes well with a large coffee selection focused on Central American beans. That means nutty, chocolatey flavor to complement fresh pastries. There are plenty of gluten-free options to choose from, as well. 


Breakfast sandwiches and bagels add a savory twist to the assortment of baked goods behind the counter. Stop by any of the locations in Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, or the Financial District for a hot matcha and a Scandinavian take on what makes a coffee spot truly local. 




Exterior of Gumption Coffee with highlighted orange steel bars as people walk by the storefront
Image Credit: Gumption Coffee on Yelp

Another Industry City favorite with a newly opened location in Midtown, Gumption Coffee brings Aussie panache, a strong reputation, and freshly roasted beans to the five boroughs. 


Both the roastery and Brooklyn café are located on Industry City’s 39th Street. The Gumption team is involved in every step of a bean’s journey to the roastery, from the hands of a coffee farmer to its arrival in New York. 


For those who prefer to brew their coffee at home, Gumption offers a monthly subscription, making sure you’re the first to try the latest blend. 

The selection of bagged beans is global, with various South American and African options. Try the Costa Rica Yellow Honey (peach, pineapple, honey), the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (Apricot, Honeysuckle, Black Tea), or something in between. 


If you’re in the city, the Midtown location offers the perfect coffee break from the general rush of the area. Gumption interiors match the coffee—color, geometry, and minimal accents set the scene for a burst of flavor. 




Cuisine by Claudette

Exterior of Cuisine by Claudette. A planter of lavender sits in the foreground of the photo as well as the front of the shop.
Image Credit: Tania G. on Yelp

Tucked into a storefront right off the Rockaway Beach boardwalk, Cuisine by Claudette is as charming as it sounds. 


The family-owned café and eatery, opened in 2012 just before Hurricane Sandy, persevered to become the fixture it is today. Take a look at the business’ Core Values for insight on what goes into running a community-driven gathering spot, other than fresh ingredients. 


Serving homemade pastries, vegan entrees, nutritious bowls, and a whole pita menu, chef Claudette takes an innovative, healthy approach to cooking with a hint of Mediterranean inspiration. 


From espresso to drip, the coffee pairs well with the all-day breakfast—try the Monkey Bowl alongside an Almond Latte! 


If you’ve hit your caffeine limit for the day, Claudette’s juice and smoothie bar deserves a special mention.  The Halva smoothie is like brunch and dessert in a cup. 


Take advantage of the café’s outdoor seating area, or enjoy a five-minute walk and picnic on the sand. 



Astoria Coffee

Exterior of Astoria Coffee. A sign outside reads "Let us BRIGHTEN your day"
Image Credit: Jesseca T. on Yelp

Well-known and lauded in this pocket of Northern Queens, Astoria Coffee stays true to its beginnings as a bean delivery service. 


Making sure their neighborhood had easy access to a variety of beans was the owners’ priority. Since then, the business has evolved into a mainstay on 30th Street, serving a rotating collection of beans sourced from roasters throughout the United States—so be sure to ask your barista what’s on the menu. 


Run by residents and frequented by locals and visitors alike, Astoria Coffee supports independent roasters, varying up your palette with every new featured blend. Fast service, history in the neighborhood, and a passion for discovering hidden talent in the coffee world make this Astoria destination a staple.



Baruir’s Coffee

Exterior of Baruir's Coffee Shop. A family in heavy coats gathers outside the storefront.
Image Credit: Theresa X. on Yelp

For a house blend built on almost six decades of coffee roasting experience, look no further than Baruir’s, a coffee and grocery shop on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside where you can grab beans by the pound along with your cup-to-go. 


Baruir’s roasts on site, just as they have been since 1966. The vintage roaster in the front window is where your beans begin their journey to your morning coffee—they quite literally couldn’t be any fresher. 


Along with a daily Latin American blend, other specialities include Turkish and cold brew, complete with ice cubes made of frozen coffee so that your drink doesn’t become watered-down. 


Balkan and Turkish groceries including condiments, dried fruit, and nuts round out the selection. 


If you’re looking for artisanship that’s been thriving long before the specialty coffee craze took over New York’s hippest neighborhoods, you can’t go wrong with Baruir’s.



Prince Coffee House 

Exterior storefront of Prince Coffee House, NYC
Image Credit: Denise R. on Yelp

Located just off Arthur Avenue in the Bronx’s Little Italy, Prince Coffee House brings specialty coffee to a corner of the borough steeped in tradition. 


With origins in Kosovo, Prince caters to the neighborhood’s diverse immigrant population, which includes large Balkan and Latino populations, as well as a rich history of Italian influence. 


A cozy corner space, the coffee house is worth the journey. If you’re only in the area to visit attractions like the Bronx Zoo or Bronx Botanical Gardens, take some time to explore the neighborhood as well. 


Plenty of seating, spanning two rooms and an outdoor section of sidewalk, will convince you to stay a while. Hot espresso drinks, pastries, and table service make this a great casual meeting spot, or a place to have some much needed “you” time. 


Don’t leave without seeing the café’s high-flying cup collection (just look straight up)!



Cafe Amrita

Exterior table sit out in front of the entrance to Cafe Amrita. A green awning provides some shelter and shade relief to the entrance of the coffee shop.
Image Credit: Roberts R. on Yelp

Counting nearly twenty years on West 110th Street, Café Amrita lights up the block with breakfast, brunch, and entrees in an inviting atmosphere. 


If you’re craving nothing more than a smooth cup of coffee, Cafe Amrita won’t disappoint. Start your day outside at one of the wooden tables or head to Central Park, only a block away. Come back for an evening cocktail—the café is open daily until 11:00pm. 


While many drinking and dining spots around Central Park can be overcrowded and overwhelming on any given day, Cafe Amrita manages to slip under the radar and preserve its intimate vibe. 


If you’re planning to spend a day in Central Park, make your way Uptown to unwind at Amrita. 


For soccer fans, call ahead to find out when the café is showing televised international games. 



Pasticceria Rocco

The exterior storefront of Pasticceria Rocco sits in the lower left corner of this photo. A crowded sidewalk of people are walking by
Image Credit: Wicky R. on Yelp

Pasticceria Rocco (or Rocco’s, as it’s known), is an example of the quintessential New York business. This classic Italian eatery and coffee shop has been around since 1974, standing its ground as Bleecker Street changed through the decades. 


Today, you’ll find pistachio cannolis, giant cookies, an all-day breakfast and sandwich menu, and more. 


If you’re spending a day in Lower Manhattan, walk over to the West Village and expect a warm welcome at Rocco’s. The Pasticceria holds a special spot in the hearts of countless locals, from longtime residents to first-timers. 


Nostalgic and approachable, it’ll feel familiar as soon as you step in. If you’re in a hurry, grab a cappuccino to go with your biscotti cookie, and take a moment to savor the timelessness of it all. 




Porto Rico Importing Co. 

Upward shot of Porto Rico Importing Co Coffe Shop
Image Credit: James A. on Yelp

If you’re familiar with New York City or know anyone who has called the city home, you might have heard of Porto Rico


Established over a century ago, the shop is hands-down one of the best-known “by the pound” coffee shops in the city. Both the East and West Village locations are bound to have a devoted regular sipping a piping hot drip coffee on the bench outside. 


If you’re just looking for a cup to go, expect options—the baristas will point you in the right direction. 


The menu is rotating, and you can also order a fresh pour-over made from any of the varieties that are for sale by the pound. 


Flavored beans, multiple blends in every roast, organically grown products, and a global approach to sourcing only the best make Porto Rico your one-stop shop for coffee to brew at home—and an expertly prepared cup to start your morning off right. 


Check out the café’s gift sets for the caffeine lover in your life, or grab a souvenir for yourself. Even a bag of freshly ground French Vanilla roast makes a great present. 


Always painted just the right shade of red, each Porto Rico storefront is a precious slice of New York history. You can find additional Porto Rico outposts at the Essex Market and on Grand St. in Williamsburg. 


Just visiting? The company ships everywhere, so you won’t have to wait too long for your next dose of fresh roasted Porto Rico goodness, no matter where you’re located.


B Cup Cafe

Exterior of coffee shop B Cup Cafe. Above the store front entrance there is a graffiti style art with the words "east village cafe"
Image Credit: Ruwan J. on Yelp

Wander all the way down 13th Street to the corner of Avenue B, and you’ll come across B Cup Cafe


You can’t miss it—the painted storefront beckons to a quaint and just-as-colorful interior. Look out for a mural of the café’s adorable “B in a cup” logo. 


Hot espresso drinks served in mugs, cold brew, and unique tea blends complete the drink menu, while the food menu serves up sandwiches, hot soup, salad, and pastries. Sink into a comfy couch inside, or relax in the outdoor seating area. 


B Cup was founded on a love for the neighborhood, and the feeling is mutual. Local art adorns the wall, and mornings are full of regulars from down the block or the other side of the East Village.


Try the Israeli breakfast paired with tahini cookies for dessert and foamy latte on the side.


Bloom Cafe

Storefront of Bloom Cafe painted black with flowers and greenery hanging over the windows of the strorefront.
Image Credit: Mallak T. on Yelp

While Staten Island’s various businesses sometimes get the short end of the stick when it comes to New York-based features, the borough has plenty to offer whether you’re coming from New Jersey, Brooklyn, or beyond. 


Separated from the rest of the city by the New York Harbor, the island thrives on its own terms. Bloom Café, located on Rosebank’s Bay Street, rivals any of Manhattan’s specialty coffee shops. What’s more, it’s within walking distance of the Staten Island waterfront. 


The café serves Think Coffee, a local roaster known for its dedication to improvement projects within the farming communities that source its beans. 


A full coffee selection, including bonuses like the Superfood Latte and Chaga-ccino, accompanies a line-up of health-conscious breakfasts, including many vegan options. 


Finish up brunch, take your drink to go, and head over to Alice Austen Park for views of Downtown Manhattan and the Verrazano Bridge. 


The sheer amount of NYC coffee aficionados bringing their passion to the public means that every shop has something to add to the table, whether it be creative brewing methods, experimental blends, or a one-of-a-kind business model that goes beyond counter service. 


Loved and frequented by generation after generation, they’re the true purveyors of third wave coffee culture. Don’t hesitate to visit the experts while also stopping by independent cafés in every borough, whether they opened less than a month ago, or two decades ago. 


If you’re new to the city or just visiting, seeking out different cafés can be a way to discover entire neighborhoods that aren’t in the tourist handbook. There is a lot more to NYC than amazing restaurants, sightseeing and shopping. If you live in the city, show your support by becoming a regular at your favorite spots, but also make an effort to visit new ones—even if they’re a train ride (or three) away. A quick stop on your day trip from the city before you leave would be a perfect way to support these businesses. Plus, you get to have a delicious cup of coffee on the way!


Ultimate Guide to Camping in the Adirondacks

Crystal-clear, still lake in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, US.

Naturally and culturally intriguing, New York State’s Adirondack Park is worth every moment, especially if you choose to rough it under the stars.

The region’s towns will introduce you to local lore, craft, and spirit. Meanwhile, 46 peaks, 3,000 lakes, and 6 million acres of wild woods will keep you blissfully disconnected. Though it’s impossible to discover all the secrets of the largest park in the continental United States during a single trip, you have to start somewhere.

A short drive through any part of the Adirondacks will bring spontaneous discoveries and unexpected detours. In this guide, learn about the best sites to camp and explore—and get inspired to create your ideal itinerary.



Why the Adirondacks?


Great Camping Year-Round

Hiking couple standing on cliff edge admiring view of Adirondack Mountains in New York.

The Adirondacks are a four-season destination, so you can expect plenty to see and do any time of year.

Though experienced campers venture into the wild during colder seasons for the solitude and challenge of it, summer and early fall are prime camping seasons. Visitors often head to the mountains for the refreshing summer temperatures, and stay for a glimpse of incredible fall foliage.

There’s also nothing like sipping on a hot cup of local cider on a crisp morning. Autumn makes it to the mountains long before it reaches the city.


Plenty of Campsite Options

There are hundreds of established and primitive campsites within the park, and where you spend the night should depend on your favorite activities.

For alpine adventurers, staying near the bases of some of the park’s highest peaks promises access to summit trails, hidden ponds, and hours of uninterrupted hiking. Much of the park is divided into designated wilderness and wild forest areas, with miles of maintained trails through mostly untouched land.

If you see yourself relaxing on a sandy shore and dipping your toes in cool waters instead, camp lakeside and wake up to the fog rolling in over a picturesque, still surface.

Looking for natural attractions within reach of locally roasted coffee (and a mean breakfast sandwich)? You’ll be happiest at one of many campgrounds around the area’s larger towns.

Whenever you visit, plan ahead. New York State campgrounds are generally open from early summer to mid-October, and many require reservations. Some fill up months in advance, so it’s not crazy to reserve a summer site as early as January.

Amenities vary, but you can usually expect running water, bathroom facilities, and showers. Also, lakeside campgrounds often offer canoe or kayak rentals to help get you out on the water.


A Range of Camping Experiences

Canoe on a serene lake attached to a dock, underneath a pink, orange, and purple sunset.

Primitive and backcountry camping is allowed on public land in the Adirondacks, and high-use sites are usually marked with a yellow disk.

Generally, backcountry camping is allowed in a large portion of the Adirondack Forest Preserve with a few exceptions, such as wildlife management within the preserve. It is prohibited within 150 feet of a road, trail, or body of water, including streams (check out these regulations before wandering into the woods).

Carry out what you carry in, dispose of your waste properly, and pay attention to fire warnings. There are pockets of private land within the forest preserve, so don’t assume that you can set up camp anywhere. Be aware of signs or structures indicating private property.

Keep an eye out for lean tos, which are strategically located at some of the Adirondacks’ most trafficked primitive spots. Though you can’t exactly set your tent up in it, a lean-to can provide cozy shelter thanks to sturdy log walls—and the occasional fellow hiker to share it with.


Where to Camp

The list below includes both reservation-based state campgrounds and primitive spots for those looking to plan their trip on the fly.


Saranac/Lake Placid

Aerial view of Lake Placid, NY during sunrise,with the mountains in silhouette and the sky reflected on the water's surface.

Known for hosting two Winter Olympics ceremonies, Lake Placid and the neighboring village of Saranac are just as much of a summer destination as they are a snow sports paradise.

The town of Lake Placid wraps around Mirror Lake, the smaller counterpart to actual Lake Placid. You can find wineries, dining, and a number of sports shops along Main Street, along with plenty of local advice on where to go and what to do in the area.

Easy access to one of the state’s top five highest summits means you can experience the views and hang out in town all in one day, with enough time left over to grab a beer at a local brewery. Whiteface Mountain is only thirty minutes from Lake Placid, and allows you to drive five miles to the summit via its Veterans’ Memorial Highway. Views are said to span from Vermont to the east, to the Canadian border to the north.

The drive up Highway 86 towards the mountain will also bring you by High Falls Gorge, which has a hiking network and a wooden bridge that winds above gushing waterfalls.

Wilmington Notch Campground lies just past High Falls Gorge, right in between Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain. This state-run campground is all about location; if you’re tired of driving after an entire day of touring nearby attractions, the small forest oasis of Wilmington Notch Falls is just across the street. The campground runs along the bank of the Ausable River, and the sound of rushing rapids is never far.

Trout fishing is popular here, and the campground has all the basic amenities to act as your home base. Wilmington Notch requires reservations and is open until October 11th, making it a great choice once the weather cools down.

For those looking for a slightly more remote stay in the Lake Placid vicinity, Eastern Shore Campground on Copperas Pond is a High Peaks favorite. It features secluded access to the mountain pond, a lean-to, and several primitive camping sites.

Getting there requires an approximately 1-mile hike to the pond shore, where campsites are first-come, first-serve. The hike is slightly steep, but by no means strenuous—and the first thing to do when you get to the end is take a relaxing dip in Copperas Pond.

Bring all your essentials, including a supply of water, bear bags, and firewood if you plan to use the on-site fire pits. Don’t forget to sign the lean-to visitor’s journal on your way out!

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a boat, kayak, or canoe (and know how to use it!), the Adirondack waterways are famous for island camping. Like in the old days, you can only reach these serene sites via water vessel, and staying at one requires advance planning and stocking up on supplies.


Star-filled sky in the Adirondack Mountains, with starlight reflected in the still surface of the lake.


You’ll be rewarded with utmost peace and quiet, as you might just get an entire tiny island to yourself for the night. Saranac Islands Campground, located right outside of the stroll-friendly village of Saranac, is one of the region’s most extensive island campgrounds. Eighty-seven campsites on Lower and Middle Saranac Lake will be waiting for you to claim them—just make advance reservations to secure your dream setting.

Park at State Bridge Boat Launch or parking lots within the village of Saranac if you’re planning to get out on the water overnight. When in town, make a pit stop at the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation for unique gifts, or Donnelly’s for some Saranac soft serve.

Other notably awesome island campgrounds include Blue Mountain Lake and Indian Lake Islands.


Schroon Lake

Two figures on a boat in silhouette, fishing on Lake Schroon in the Adirondacks before sunrise.

Venturing farther south through the park, you’ll find the town of Schroon Lake, located on the western border of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.

Long and narrow, the lake itself has a few campgrounds scattered along its shoreline: Eagle Point, perched right on the water, is a favorite.

There’s a natural attraction in every direction out of Schroon Lake, starting with Pharaoh Lake to the east. The hike to the lake is a favorite, as is the trek to the summit of Pharaoh Mountain.

A few miles south of town lies the Natural Stone Bridge & Caves area, a small hiking area perfect for all levels. Expect illuminated cave entryways, intriguing stone formations, and even an on-site rock-themed gift shop.

When you’re ready to step back into civilization, the Schroon Lake-Paradox area has enough going on to keep you fed, busy, and even tipsy. Don’t miss Paradox Brewery, which prides itself on using pure Adirondack-origin water in their brewing process. Try a Beaver Bite on tap and sit back, knowing you’re supporting a cornerstone of Adirondack craft beer.

For a spot a little farther from town but right at the gateway to the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, consider Paradox Lake Campground, located on Schroon Lake’s much smaller counterpart. This campground has all the benefits of shorefront tenting, with easier access to hiking and a more secluded forest feel—despite still being a short drive from Schroon Lake and Ticonderoga.



Lush green hillside of Newcomb, Adirondacks.

Built in the 19th century, Camp Santanoni in Newcomb is one of the Adirondacks’ best preserved “great camps,” private retreats meant to provide a refuge from city life.

Rustic architecture that defined the log cabin aesthetic of upstate New York makes this complex a historic artifact, and a pleasure to look at. Formerly owned by a banker from Albany, the camp is now open to the public and home to a trail system.

Santanoni allows primitive camping, and has eight designated tent sites along Newcomb Lake Road Traill, as well as along the bank of Newcomb Lake. There are also two lean-tos available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

If you’re driving west into Newcomb on Route 28, stop and take in the Hudson River, which crosses Route 28 before taking a sharp turn to the right. This far north, the Hudson looks like nothing more than a garbling stream, and it’ll be hard to believe you’re looking at the same mighty river that runs under New York City’s George Washington Bridge.


Long Lake, Inlet, Old Forge

Buttermilk Falls in Old Forge, Adirondacks.

Known as the central Adirondacks, the area nestled below the High Peaks Wilderness is not as elevated, but just as wild.

Between Long Lake and Blue Mountain, hike into Forked Lake Campground for convenient access to the Sargent Pond Wild Forest, Buttermilk Falls, and the Adirondack Experience, a museum devoted to the cultural and natural history of Adirondack Park.

Spend your day lake hopping, watching the falls tumble into rocky pools, or exploring the fire tower at the summit of Goodnow Mountain. Stop for lunch at the old-fashioned Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake, and top it off with a drink and a slice (or eight) of pesto pizza pie at Inlet’s Screamen Eagle.

Eighth Lake Campground spoils with spacious campsites overlooking the shore of (you guessed it) Eighth Lake, minutes from the village of Inlet.

Shaded by towering pines and featuring a trail system right next door, Eighth Lake has all the amenities you need for no-frills tenting, within driving distance of several towns.

If you’re visiting in late spring or early summer, keep your ears open for the distinct calls of loons as dusk falls over the lake. Closer to a coyote howl than a bird call, the sound of these seasonal residents brings Adirondack nights to life. Soon enough, it’ll be putting you to sleep.

As the Southwestern gateway to the Adirondacks, Old Forge is always ready for visitors, with restaurants, outdoor-focused businesses, and a public beach at Old Forge Pond.

Though the town has more than enough indoor lodging options, consider nearby Nicks Lake Campground your home away from home on your next visit. Just outside of town, the campground sits on pristine Nicks Lake on the edge of the Black River Wild Forest. The lake is shallow and closed to motor boats, so expect an uninterrupted morning swim.

One of the southern Adirondacks’ best-kept secrets is the Moose River Plains wilderness, which has over 100 primitive campsites along its main thoroughfare, Limekiln Lake Road. Once you pass the state campground at Limekiln Lake out of the town of Inlet, you’ll be following Limekiln Lake Road until it meets Indian Lake Road. There, you’ll come across Red River Campsite, the first of many along the road.

As desirable as the riverside spot is, if you find it taken, just keep driving. Primitive campsites line the road, so you’re bound to come across an unoccupied space complete with a table, a fire pit, and a privy.


Lake Champlain

Vibrant sunset from a dock on Lake Champlain.

If you suddenly find yourself missing the coast, head to Ausable Point Campground on Lake Champlain, from which you can see Vermont on the other side. It’s no Atlantic, but the sandy shore and blue expanse stretching out before you will definitely put you in a beach mood.

Some of the campsites are right on the water, meaning they fill up fast, but the rest are only a short walk away from the sand. The campground even has a windsurfing area, along with swimming and boat launch access.

Ausable Point is only a twenty-minute drive from the town of Plattsburgh, and thirty minutes to Essex. From there, you can catch a ferry ride to Charlotte, Vermont.

It’s also minutes away from storied Ausable Chasm, a gorge carved out by the Ausable River over hundreds of years. The chasm is full of history and attractions. Go rafting through the chasm walls, strap on a harness and learn how to climb, or drive down at dusk for a guided tour by lantern light.

Crown Point Campground, on Lake Champlain’s southern narrow stretch, is another option. It places you closer to historic attractions in the Ticonderoga area. You can still see traces of 18th century forts on the campground property, as well as a lighthouse built shortly before the Civil War.

The campground itself was built in 1915, strategically overlooking the lake and the Vermont border. You’ll be right next to the Lake Champlain bridge, which promises easy access to Vermont’s rolling pastures and day trip destinations like the town of Vergennes.

Ticonderoga, the restored site of New York’s most famous French and Indian War fort, also played a major role in the American Revolution, and is open to the public.

When you’ve had your fill of history, Giant Mountain is less than an hour to the west. Top off your summit challenge with a late lunch at Noonmark Diner in Keene Valley, or take one of their freshly baked pies back to the lake with you.


Paddling Through

POV shot from inside a canoe on a clear lake in the mountains.Driving in is often the only way to get to most of the Adirondacks’ best camping destinations, and some sites won’t be accessible without four-wheel drive.

With that said, it’s possible to make your Adirondack getaway at least partially car-free—as long as you’re willing to put in the effort and some extra planning.

Combining your drive with other forms of transportation, like boat or canoe, gains you access to less-frequented areas with the comfort of knowing you won’t have to paddle all the way home.

The Nine Carries in the very north of Adirondack Park is a well-known route that can take up to three days if you’re not in a rush (beginning canoe travelers can do a much shorter portion of the trail, if necessary).

The route is part of the St. Regis Canoe Area, which has 50 ponds open to kayaks, canoes, and shoreline camping. For easy roadside access, choose from multiple primitive sites available along Floodwood Road.


Final Tips for Camping in the Adirondacks

View from Mount Darcy in the Adirondacks with range visible in background, vanishing into rolling fog.

Most newcomers to the Adirondacks are bent on conquering the park’s highest peaks, like exceedingly popular Mount Marcy. Some plan to relax in tourist hotspots like Lake George Village, in the south of the park.

If you can, visit those classic destinations in early spring or fall, before and after the crowds at the height of the summer. During the busier months, do some research and hit the road (or trail) less traveled.

This might mean staying away from summits and popular beaches, but having just a small part of the Adirondack wilderness to yourself will be worth it. Many wilderness areas go unnoticed because they don’t play host to a famous peak. The Sentinel Range Wilderness near Lake Placid is one example that often gets overshadowed by Mount Marcy to the south. If you’re in the area on a summer weekend, it might be best to forgo Marcy or Whiteface and give Sentinel’s Pitchoff Mountain a chance instead.

Adirondack Park is bear country—and should be kept that way. The park’s population of black bears are known for their foraging, as opposed to aggression, so follow good bear practice to avoid interaction altogether. Bring odorless bear bags and string to hang them from, or keep your food and scented products sealed in your car.

Temperatures can drop quickly at higher elevations, so keep layers handy, especially in the High Peaks area. A detail that’s easy to overlook when shopping for gear is the temperature rating on not only your sleeping bag, but your sleeping pad as well.

Sleeping pads have their own rating system called “R-value,” which corresponds to temperatures. The general rule is that higher R-values lose less heat, therefore keeping you warmer. Your sleeping bag could be the softest, plushiest cocoon ever, but if your sleeping pad is not fully insulating your back from the ground, you’re in for a rough mountain night.

June in the Adirondacks means tons of black flies in your personal space. Arriving around the same time every year, these bugs live to bite. It’s painful, irritating, and often draws blood, so be prepared before venturing out. Carry insect repellent, cover arms and legs when temperatures allow it, and consider wearing a hat with a bug net.

Lastly, make sure you don’t leave the park without a bottle of local maple syrup—and that dream Adirondack chair!



For more camping and travel guides, check out these buyers’ guides for tents or camping packs, the best national parks bicycle trails and loops, or the coolest places to travel this year.

Best Bicycle Trails and Loops in America’s National Parks

Silhouette of a bicycle against a pink and gray sunset atop a mountain.

If you’ve visited any of the United States’ sixty three national parks, chances are you either drove through or parked your car and set off on foot. Though a hike or slow drive are both great ways to take in the scenery, cycling lets you get up close and personal to national parks’ stunning landscapes, breathtaking views, and memorable details.

Many park roads are open to cyclists, and you can ride the same loops and sightseeing routes as any vehicle. Some destinations, like Montana’s Glacier National Park, offer seasonal cyclist-only access, leaving you to own the road without fear of traffic.

Drive in with your bike, or—if you’re lucky enough to live near a national park—ride in and camp for an extended getaway. If you have some cycling experience, a geared bike, and a curiosity about the nation’s most celebrated natural wonders, redesign your next national park visit and see firsthand what you and your wheels are capable of.


Glacier National Park

Grinnell Lake at Glacier National Park depicting a tree-lined hill with soaring mountains behind the lake

Montana’s Glacier National Park is a dream destination thanks to its peaks, pines, and incredible geological history. The park’s distinct formations were created by the movement of Ice-Age glaciers tens of thousands of years ago.

It’s easy to imagine massive glaciers carving their way through the land once you’re in the park—valleys, rugged slopes, and lakes greet you immediately, and can be enjoyed up-close or at a distance.

Going-to-the-Sun Road is the main road that cuts horizontally through the park. Said to be named after a spirit sacred to the local Blackfeet tribe, the 50-mile road connects the East and West entrances of the park. Its highest point, Logan Pass, features a large visitor center and staggering views from an elevation of 6,646 feet.

Cycling this road is a feat that requires patience, stamina, and dedication. The climb is not easy, but manageable for experienced riders.

The eastern section of the road, starting at St. Mary, features Saint Mary Lake. Meanwhile, the western portion follows the shore of Lake McDonald. Expect a steep but exhilarating downhill after you reach Logan Pass from either direction.

Additionally, keep in mind that the climb from west to east is longer. You’ll want a bike with a wide range of gears to keep your ascent steady and well-paced.

If you’re looking for a shorter and easier foray to get your adrenaline going, consider biking only the shore of Lake McDonald. And don’t miss the swimming areas along the way!

In the spring, Going-to-the-Sun Road is officially closed to cars and filled with cyclists enjoying the rare space and smooth surface without the drone of engines. Spring is hands-down the best time of year to bike Glacier, since summer brings balmy temperatures but more traffic.

If you do plan to get on the road in the summer, choose a weekday to avoid congestion, and start early to avoid the heat.

There are some cycling restrictions in place between June 15th and Labor Day, so plan accordingly! Highlights along the way include Bird Woman Falls, ice-topped Heaven’s Peak, and the crystal-clear Sprague Creek.


Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Bison headbutting in a field at Theodor Roosevelt National Park.

Often overshadowed by the South Dakota Badlands, North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a worthy counterpart. Painted buttes, rolling terrain, and a winding 36 miles of paved road are open to drivers and cyclists alike.

Starting and ending in quaint Medora, the South Unit Loop follows the rims of rock walls, carved to perfection by ancient river flow. The road is curvy but not excessively steep, and includes fun pit stops like the prairie dog village and Scoria Point Overlook.

Watch for heavy summer traffic, wildlife, and occasional cattle grates—you’ll have to carefully walk your bike over them.

Bison sightings are not uncommon, and prairie dogs dot the roadside. These badlands will vary from a deep red to a subtler ochre, and turn bright green during a wet summer, while sunset and sunrise highlight the unearthly palette.

The park’s rugged North Unit is also open to cyclists, but is known to be more isolated and distanced from services.

Medora itself is a tourist hub with enough history, shops, and dining to keep you busy all day. Dakota Cyclery is located steps from the park entrance for your pre-ride tune-up, and campgrounds and lodging are readily available.

For more experienced mountain bikers, the southwestern corner of the state is also home to the Maah Daah Hey Trail network, featuring 144 miles of off-road adventure running through the badlands. Pick a segment and shred, surrounded by the country’s wildest hills.


Saguaro National Park

A cloudy sunrise over desert in Saguaro National Park with desert greenery and hills in the background

A favorite among southern Arizona’s local cycling community, Saguaro National Park combines one-of-a-kind vistas, easy access, and perfect winter weather.

Divided into two sections that hug Tucson from both sides, the park has several roads open to cyclists that are easy to reach from the heart of the city.

In the Eastern district, Cactus Forest Loop Road is one of the quickest and most popular introductions to the park. This 9.5-mile loop has enough climbs and descents to keep your heart pumping, multiple overlooks, and lively native fauna and flora in all seasons.

On the western side of the park, the 6-mile, mostly-gravel Bajada Loop Drive is a great option for those looking to try their hand at gravel biking. You’ll want to have a gravel or mountain bike with wide tires for maximum comfort and accessibility.

Tucson’s roads are famous for their summertime abundance of Goathead thorns, tiny but vicious burs that love to stick to anything with air in it. Be prepared for flats—try buffing up your tires with tube sealant and carry a repair kit containing a spare tube, tire levers, and a hand pump.

It goes without saying that the Sonoran Desert gets pretty warm, so avoid riding in the middle of the day during hotter months. Be sure to carry an all-day supply of water, as well.

If you’re a summertime visitor, be aware of road flooding caused by the sporadic monsoons that keep the desert vibrant.

Acadia National Park

Bright blue waters of Jordan Pond at Acadia National Park with tree-lined hills surrounding the body of water.

There’s no better remedy for the heat than coastal Maine’s rocky shore, fir forests, and shady, tree-lined paths.

Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is open to cyclists of all levels and features one of the area’s best-kept riding secrets—nearly 50 miles of gravel carriage roads, spearheaded by John D. Rockefeller as horse trails and repurposed to accommodate bikes.

Acadia’s most famous road is, without a doubt, 22-mile Park Loop Road, which follows the eastern shore of the park. Gorgeous but congested, this road is open to cyclists—but be warned: it gets crowded and narrow, and features plenty of blind spots.

The park’s carriage road network, open in summer and fall, does not allow vehicles and provides a safer alternative. This system connects multiple trails, so you can customize your trip based on where they intersect.

Concentrated in the east, the roads ferry you through the interior of the island, crossing original stone bridges along the way. Consider Hulls Cove as an entry point—use this map to orient yourself! Keep an eye on storm and wildlife closures while planning your trip, as well. Early spring rains tend to get the paths muddy, and mud closures are not uncommon.

Make Bar Harbor your home base for exploring Acadia. The seaside town will take care of all your bike needs, and Main Street is lined with shops, restaurants, and diverse local businesses.

Acadia is your taste of New England, and biking the carriage roads is the best way to get to know a less-traveled part of Mount Desert Island throughout your visit.


Mount Rainier National Park

Lone hiker watching moonrise against a starry sky over a snowy peak at Mount Rainier.

If you’re looking for an alpine challenge, Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park checks all the boxes. Steady elevation gain, majestic views, and Northwestern woodland makes the park an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. Make the climbs by bike, and you’ll feel at the top of your game as you reach heights well over 3,000 feet.

Two hours from Downtown Seattle, the park’s Nisqually Entrance launches you onto Paradise Road, a 19-mile climb ending at the historic Paradise Inn and an adjacent visitor’s center—and yes, there are burgers!

Ringed by mountaintops and sitting at 5,400 feet, the Paradise meadows are often blanketed with wildflowers, and it’s easy to spend a few hours’ rest in the area after your ride. Beautiful but popular, this road tends to have high traffic, so consider avoiding weekends and peak hours.

Right behind Paradise Road, Sunrise is the next best-known option for those entering the park from the White River entrance. Totaling 14 miles one way out of the north east, the stretch leading to Sunrise Point is part of the state’s highest paved road.

Ending in the foothills of Emmons Glacier, the ride opens up to all-around views of not only looming Mt. Rainier, but surrounding peaks as well.

Start early, break a personal record, and get to know the Cascades personally on your next Northwest expedition.


Shenandoah National Park/Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sunset at Shenandoah National Park over the mountain range with orange sky.

The Appalachians are no Rockies in terms of elevation, but the Eastern range boasts some of its own unmatched characteristics.

Cycle the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to see the land of gaps and hollows, as made popular in folk legend and lore. Skyline Drive, which cuts diagonally through the park and is open to cyclists, starts in Front Royal and ends at Rockfish Gap, where it turns into the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

Skyline Drive itself totals 105 miles one way, making it a good option for a multi-day excursion or a section ride. For overnighters, Big Meadows is a conveniently located halfway point, featuring a campground and a resort.

The drive is definitely steep, and you’ll be sharing the road with traffic—and the occasional black bear. Elevation dips, rolls, and climbs frequently, as you’ll virtually be following the crest of the range and reaching heights well over 3,000 feet.

Mileposts line the west side of the drive, keeping you updated on progress, and there are a total of 75 overlooks for those moments of doubt, reflection, and snacking. Views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont are abundant, and the road is categorized as a National Scenic Byway.

This ride is best suited for experienced cyclists who can sustain long climbs. Devoting a few days to the experience would be a great introduction to bike touring, for those who have only done day trips in the past.

If you’re feeling ambitious, start at Front Royal, head 105 miles southwest on Skyline Drive, and don’t stop in Rockfish Gap! Continue on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which can take you anywhere from Roanoke, Virginia, to the gateway to the Smokies in Cherokee, North Carolina. Take the plunge in autumn to witness the area’s incredible foliage and take advantage of the cooler climate!

Speaking of which, Great Smoky Mountains National Park rivals Shenandoah in its rocky ridges, native forests, and Appalachian history. The park’s Cades Cove Loop is a significantly milder ride for those looking to spend only a few hours on the bike.

This 11-mile loop is closed to vehicles on Wednesdays during the summer season, and there’s even a bike rental service available right at the Cades Cove Campground. All you have to do is pick your cruiser, get on the road, and admire the sights.


Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Whitewater cascades over rock ledges of beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, a waterfall photographed in the colorful autumn landscape of Cuyahoga Valley National Park of northeast Ohio.

Sitting between the urban centers of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a rare oasis in suburbia, easily accessible from both metro areas.

Waterfalls, streams, and greenery fill the park, which offers 125 miles of hiking trails to let off that city steam. For a slightly hilly but not exceedingly challenging day ride, hop on the park’s Towpath Trail, which runs along the former route of the Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Lock 39, Station Road Bridge, Ira and Lock 29 Trailheads all offer access to the trail, as do the villages of Boston and Botzum.

If you choose to only ride the trail one way, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad—one of the park’s main draws—accepts bikes onboard and can bring you back to your starting point in minutes.

If the Towpath alone doesn’t satisfy, take your trip a step further by joining up with the Ohio & Erie Canalway Trail in Cuyahoga County.

The trail totals over 80 miles one way, and links Cleveland’s Lake Erie shoreline to Portsmouth, Ohio. There are campsites available along the way, and some portions are crushed stone, so strap on your widest tires before tackling the historic towpath.


New River Gorge National Park

Mountain biker traversing dirt trail through sunny forest.

One of the most recent additions to the National Park System, New River Gorge National Park had a reputation as a mountain biking destination even before its new title.

Perched along the banks of West Virginia’s New River, the park is ideal for beginner mountain bikers, with miles of maintained trails ranging from easy to intermediate.

Totaling 12.8 miles between them, the park’s four Arrowhead Trails are the place to start if you’re looking for a basic introduction to mountain biking. All four are loops, and range from 1 to a little over 6 miles.

A rock bridge, gorge views, forested bends, and a rhododendron garden are only a few of the natural highlights this trail system is hiding.


Indiana Dunes National Park

The shoreline of Lake Michigan near Indiana Dunes on a bright, clear day.

Another one of the country’s youngest parks, Indiana Dunes National Park makes for a perfect ride out of Chicago and its suburbs.

Nearly 40 miles of connected trails span the park’s 15,000 acres, guiding you through a unique lakeside habitat filled with shorebirds, wetland waterfowl, and prairie plants. Coastal and wooded at the same time, the Indiana Dunes are a freshwater rival to any seaside destination.

The gravel-based Calumet Bike Trail and the paved Prairie Duneland are the two longest rides at 19 and 22 miles long, respectively. Shorter jaunts include the Porter Brickyard and Marquette trails, both paved and under 10 miles.


Big Bend National Park

Hiker smiling in a valley at Big Bend National Park.

For a truly remote cycling experience, Big Bend National Park promises a tranquil desert with less crowding than you might see at other national parks.

The closest town with lodging and services is the tiny community of Terlingua, a little over 30 miles from the park. If you’re venturing out to Big Bend, you’re in it for the long haul—so why not make the best of your visit with a cycling challenge?

There are various roads, paved and unpaved, which are open to cyclists year-round. Your choice might depend on whether or not you can arrange for someone to drop you off and pick you up, since many are one-way rides.

The road between Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village offers 20 miles of medium difficulty, as a large portion of it is downhill. While you coast, keep an eye out for the Rio Grande in the distance! Rio Grande Village is equipped with a Visitor’s Center and reservation-based campground, in case you want to stay to see the unbelievably starry skies that illuminate the region by night.

For a longer and tougher ride, follow the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive from Panther Junction that runs adjacent to the park’s rugged Chisos Mountains. Steep hills abound, and the 35-mile ride is best for experienced riders used to climbing and navigating desert terrain.

The rides out of Panther Junction will require you to be picked up at your endpoint. Don’t risk attempting to do a round-trip once temperatures soar and daylight dwindles.

For a flatter and arguably easier unpaved route, try the 18-mile Dagger Flat Auto Trail. Follow the sandy trail from the paved main road and admire the wild garden surrounding you on all sides. This is not a loop, so you’ll be returning the way you entered.

Big Bend is an ecosystem and landscape that operates on its own terms, so don’t underestimate the power and solitude of the West Texas desert. Carry food and water, invest in park maps, and avoid midday heat.


Planning Tips for Biking National Parks

Cyclist overlooking mountain views atop a cliff.


  • Keep an eye out for construction, road maintenance and weather closures. Most recent announcements can be found on your park’s homepage.


  • Wear a helmet! Most national parks require cyclists to don a helmet while riding.


  • Be ready to pay an entry fee. While costs are usually reduced if you’re entering a park by bike, the entry fee still applies to everyone. Some park entrances, like the entrance to Glacier National Park at St. Mary don’t accept cash. so bring your card just in case.


  • Be aware of and do not disturb wildlife. Some western parks are grizzly bear territory, so bring bear spray and proper food storage bags if you’re planning on staying overnight.


Cyclists biking on paved road through lush green forest with dappled sunlight.

  • For those embarking on a multi-day bike tour, note that some national parks offer special campsites for those hiking and cycling. These sites give travelers dirt-cheap rates, are usually first-come, first-serve, and don’t require reservations. Be prepared to share your site with fellow travelers!


  • Find out ahead of time if it’s a loop or one-way trail. Loops are especially helpful to cyclists, since starting and ending at the same point makes it easier to park your car or be picked up. If you choose a straight road that starts and ends on two different sides of a park, make sure you arrange pick-up or are able to cycle back. Some parks also offer shuttle services via buses equipped with bike racks.


  • Remember basic safety precautions. Stay to the right, remain aware of vehicles and RV’s, and ride safe!



Whether you’re staying local or traveling across the country, incorporating cycling into your national parks experience is a game changer. Stray from the beaten path and put yourself out there as you travel the landscape, feeling less like a tourist and more like an athlete. Pick a route that fits your experience, pack your best padded shorts, and pedal America’s natural sanctuaries one breath at a time. When you’ve finished your trail for the day and are ready to hit the showers, be sure to check out your next cycling adventure in one of these parks.

Planning is essential when it comes to exploring these parks. Even though you may not be ready for extreme adventure, planning your first tour is a step in that direction. If you’re taking a longer bike tour, be sure that you’ll be giving your body the right fuel it needs by seeing how to eat healthy on these trips. But most of all, be sure to have fun!


The Ultimate NYC Travel Guide


New York, New York: the center, the capital, the core. Whatever title it holds in your wildest dreams, it’s definitely a place to be. Whether it’s your first time visiting NYC or not, this travel guide—combining New York classics with shopping, dining, and wandering that strays off the beaten path—will help you experience the city through the eyes of a local.

A slightly jaded, cynical, and tourist-wary local…but what true New Yorker isn’t?



Where to Stay in NYC

In NYC, where you stay depends largely on your budget.

If your trip is a reason to splurge, then you’ve chosen the right city. There are a number of beautiful vintage hotels that will take you back to the decade of your choice.

For more frugal travelers, however, staying in an outer borough can be cheaper. Additionally, it’ll offer a totally different perspective on the city.

Getting on the bus or subway is a part of most residents’ daily routine, and public transportation will get you nearly anywhere if you play it right.


Man with a tattoo on upper back standing in front of a hotel window with a white towel around his waist, looking at the city skyline.


Brooklyn: EVEN Hotel and the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge

Centralized and busy, Downtown Brooklyn is a good option for a hotel stay outside of Manhattan.

There’s a cluster of popular hotels in the area, which is accessible by about ten subway lines.

The EVEN Hotel and the NY Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge are two safe bets for a comfortable stay.

Located on Nevins Street, the EVEN is blocks from Brooklyn’s busiest shopping districts and the East River waterfront. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a short walk, as is the bridge itself. Walk south along the river to Red Hook’s piers, and then circle back through residential Carroll Gardens and Gowanus.

The best feature of a hotel like the EVEN or this particular Marriott is their proximity to Manhattan, the riverfront, and some of Brooklyn’s most walkable historic neighborhoods.


Manhattan: Colonial House Inn and Chelsea Pines Inn

Chelsea is one of Manhattan’s most popular neighborhoods, and luckily, it offers a few affordable options for overnights.

The Chelsea Pines Inn and the Colonial House Inn, located on 12th and 22nd streets, respectively, will place you in a sweet spot between downtown and uptown Manhattan.

Close to Hudson River viewpoints like Pier 57 and the Hudson River Greenway, both locations will motivate you to put on your walking shoes.

After wandering the food and gift stalls at Chelsea Market, take 8th Avenue up to Midtown, or walk crosstown across 14th street to the East Village.

The Colonial House Inn has the added bonus of a fireplace suite, while the Chelsea Pines Inn offers breakfast and the rarity of a Manhattan terrace.


Queens: Feather Factory Hotel and The LOCAL NYC Hostel

The Queens waterfront has risen in popularity over the past decade, and lodging options are now abundant.

The borough is still a good option for budget travelers though, and it’s close enough to Manhattan and Brooklyn without sitting smackdab in the heart of the city.

Staying in Queens could also be a gateway to venturing deeper into the worlds’ most diverse borough.

The Feather Factory Hotel sits right on the 7 subway line, and is within walking distance to everything from North Brooklyn, to the Pepsi Cola sign on the river, to Astoria’s famed gyro spots.

The Local NYC Hostel offers a similar experience, with the option of private or dorm rooms. Best of all, these start at much less than your average hotel rate.


Staten Island: NY Harbor House Bed & Breakfast

For travelers willing to subvert their own expectations, NY Harbor House Bed and Breakfast is an interesting take on a city stay.

This B&B, located on the shores of Staten Island, is one of the more authentic lodging options out there. In short, it’s quaint.

Being in an outer borough that hasn’t gained the kind of attention Brooklyn and Queens have in recent years, the Harbor House promises a residential experience with one-of-a-kind views.

Its windows face Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty all at once. What’s more, it’s right next door to a small museum dedicated to photographer Alice Austen.

The Staten Island Ferry terminal is located a short bus ride away, and the ferry can take you to and from Lower Manhattan 24/7. The boat ride is free, and an attraction in itself.

There’s plenty of food, essential shopping, and waterside strolls in the Rosebank neighborhood where the Harbor House is located.

This stay is guaranteed to be a quieter, more low-key choice for those looking for a slice of life from the outer boroughs.


The Best Places to Eat in the City

A group of four sits at a table each eating their meal of choice of a burger or a vegetarian dish.

New York boasts any kind of cuisine you can think up—and more.

So where do you start when you’re deciding what to sample? These neighborhood spots are worth checking out, based on both quality and atmosphere.

Most of these are tried-and-true local businesses that benefit from your support, and speak to New York’s global heritage. Some of these might be a trek from where you’re staying, but what you happen upon along the way is as worthwhile as the destination.

All of the businesses listed here offer some combination of takeout, as well as outdoor and indoor dining. Whether you’re hungry, parched, or low on caffeine, choose local dining over chain restaurants, especially in New York!



The best thing about New York’s cuisine is that affordable options from around the world are around every corner.

Though many old immigrant neighborhoods have been gentrified, there are still family-run gems throughout the five boroughs.

In Brooklyn, support Greenpoint’s historic Polish community by trying homestyle Eastern European cooking at restaurants like Pyza, Karczma, and Krolewskie Jadlo. Expect a healthy amount of meat, potatoes, and cabbage, as well as vegetarian options like pierogi.

For a modern take on classic Polish food, try Pierozek or Polka Dot, located within a few blocks of each other. Both offer creative spins on standard dishes.

Old Poland Bakery, Syrena, and Jaslowiczanka Bakery are neighborhood mainstays that keep the Polish baking tradition alive with plenty of homemade fillings and age-old recipes.

While you’re in North Brooklyn, stop at Ashbox for its adorable decor, fantastic Japanese meals, and kind employees.

A classic rice ball and hot drink will amount to less than ten dollars—though spending more is definitely worth it, if you’re looking for a healthy and cozy breakfast or lunch.


A close up of a slice of New York pizza being pulled away from the pie with melted cheese being stretch along with.

Real Brooklyn Pizza

Vinnie’s in Williamsburg is a go-to that makes memories. They serve both classic and vegan slices. In fact, the latter is so savory, even the most committed dairy fans should give it a shot.

For more experimental flavors, find a Two Boots pizzeria near you. They now have locations in Jersey and Tennessee, but originated in the East Village in the late eighties.

Try the loaded Bayou Beast for a taste of true Two Boots tradition: cajun flavors on an undoubtedly Italian pie.


International Fare

Moving south through Brooklyn is a trip across continents in terms of international flavors. Look for Caribbean food in Flatbush, Russian and Georgian dinners in Brighton Beach, and Chinese Dim Sum in Sunset Park.

Or, if looking restaurants up online is too overwhelming, take a walk down Court Street, Bedford Avenue, 7th Avenue, or any other large avenue in Brooklyn.

There’s too many great restaurants to name, but you’ll know yours when you see (or smell) it.


3 main dishes of oriental cuisine, appearing to be pot stickers or dumplings, laid in a circular pattern in their respective bowls.



As you might already know, Queens has been called the most diverse spot on Earth.

It’s impossible to list all the amazing South American, Asian, and European restaurants you can find in the borough, especially since the best ones don’t have a website, let alone a Yelp page full of elaborate opinions.

With that said, get on the 7, A, E, Q or bus and plan your own route through neighborhoods like Elmhurst, Flushing, and Howard Beach.

Among the endless options, one of the top recommendations is Lenny’s Clam Bar in Howard Beach, a waterfront section of Queens built around Crossbay Boulevard.

Lenny’s has the atmosphere of a family-run Italian restaurant, with a reputation that far surpasses your expectations. It belongs right where it first opened in 1974, on Crossbay, and there it will stay.

The deeper you get into Queens, the larger it seems. Howard Beach is a breath of fresh, salty air from what you’d consider the city.

The same goes for neighboring Rockaway Beach, where places like Uma’s make the trip well worth it. Try their Central Asian dishes a few blocks away from the Atlantic.


The Bronx

You’ve definitely heard of Manhattan’s Little Italy, and you may have even been told about the Little Italy in the Bronx, which is just as worth checking out.

The Bronx neighborhood’s best-kept secret, however, isn’t its eggplant parmigiana or cannolis.

The Belmont-Arthur Avenue area is also home to a significant Albanian population, and Cka Ka Quellu is one of the best restaurants serving an Albanian menu in New York.

The restaurant itself is decorated with cultural artifacts, setting the atmosphere of a medieval dining room, and meals are served sizzling hot.

Start with the Mantia (baked dumplings) to get a savory taste of the Balkan palette. Then make your way to one of the many grilled options and traditional desserts that follow.



Sometimes, with so much to choose from, it’s nice to just sit down at a spot with an all-around menu where you know you’ll find something you’re in the mood for. It also helps if the atmosphere is awesome, and the restaurant is a downtown classic.

The Grey Dog and Mudspot Restaurant are two choices that check all those boxes and then some.

Since 1998, The Grey Dog has served breakfast, brunch, and dinner all day—along with coffee and alcohol. The menu is diverse, the food is fresh, and the decor features many a canine portrait.

Mudspot, located in the East Village, is equally eclectic and approachable. Grab a coffee and pastry, or sit down to all-day brunch in the back—mimosa included.

Dimly lit, cozy, and beloved, Mudspot promises a good time on 9th street. Don’t forget to grab a bag of their famous coffee beans on your way out, so you can bring the mud home.


Beans and Bars

A brunette woman enjoys her cup of coffee as she holds the mug with both hands

Getting a coffee is, usually, just a thing you do to start the day…but you might as well do it right while you’re in NYC.

With locations in Greenpoint and Queens, Sweetleaf Coffee is hard to miss and easy to remember.

Try the Voodoo Child Cold Brew or toasty Maple Leaf Latte, along with a house-baked scone. The coffee is roasted carefully, intentionally, and—most importantly—locally.

Additionally, the Center Boulevard location doubles as a cocktail bar. Be sure to visit twice!

Stop by Cafe Grumpy in either Brooklyn or Manhattan to enjoy house-roasted coffee…and an adorable logo that might just reflect the way you start your day.

Pause Cafe on the lower East Side has seen such a flow of devoted customers since 2010, it recently expanded its storefront to the space next door.

The cafe serves all your favorite caffeinated drinks, along with breakfast bowls and Moroccan-inspired options. Its cushions are soft, the people are nice, and even the restroom is charming. Head over to Clinton and Houston when you’re in the area.

As for bars, the list remains eternal and endless. Check out Mona’s on Avenue A, Goldie’s on Nassau Ave, or the Zombie Hut on Court Street for a low-key night out.

And for more mouthwatering recommendations, check out this NYC foodie travel guide with even more restaurants to love.


Shopping in New York City

A crowded New York street with tourists crossing in the foreground with busses, taxis, and other vehicles in the background.

Online commerce has taken some of the magic out of shopping, but hopefully these businesses will pleasantly surprise you.

There’s nothing like associating an item with the first time you saw it through a window, or the recommendation of the local at the register.

Don’t write a shop off if it doesn’t have a website or online presence; let yourself be taken by surprise. There are still some things you can’t buy online, after all. It’s just your job to seek them out past SoHo or Midtown storefronts.



No amount of handheld, lightweight, semi-conscious screens can replace the satisfaction of a good book in your hand, and New York’s bookstores are here to stay.

A used find is a great way to mark a successful getaway, especially if it keeps you busy on the way home. The Strand, Manhattan’s most famous bookstore, has been a community gathering spot for nearly 100 years. Today, it’s still a hub for locals and visitors alike.

Filled with new and used titles, souvenirs, and a good helping of drama in recent years, it remains a classic. Besides the downtown location, there is a new Strand store on the Upper West Side, and two additional kiosks by Central Park and Times Square.

In Brooklyn, Spoonbill & Sugartown just celebrated its twenty-first year as Williamsburg’s best independent bookstore. The extensive collection of art, photo, and design books sets it apart, as does the charm of wandering off Bedford Ave and into a cozy space stacked with books in every genre.

Don’t forget to grab a sticker featuring an actual, finely-rendered spoonbill.

Finally, in Queens, Astoria Bookshop (est. 2013) is a worthwhile pitstop if you’re in the area. As a small independent bookshop, it serves all tastes and interests; there’s something for everyone.

It has the added bonus of a memorable address, too—the bookshop sits right at the intersection of 31st St. and 31st Ave.


A shopper appears to be looking and sampling some of the products being offered in a store

Health and Wellness

Herbal and wellness shops aren’t unique to New York, but the variety within them might very well be. Check out these small businesses for alternative gifts and supplies to have your souvenirs last longer than your trip.



In Greenpoint, Ziolko (“Herb” in Polish) is a unique destination for body and skincare products.

This shop carries products imported from Eastern Europe, many of which are focused on herbal ingredients that are hard to find in the States.

The shampoos, salves, and lotions sold here include traditional healing herbs from chamomile to calendula, and are an affordable step beyond what you’d find at CVS or other conventional drug stores.

Stokrotka (“Daisy”), located on Manhattan Ave, is a similar shop, with an equally large array of wellness products in the same neighborhood.

If you’re elsewhere in Brooklyn, stop by Remedies in Carroll Gardens for a slightly different herbal medicine experience.

Instead of mostly body care products, this shop sells herbs by weight, as well as all sorts of hand-chosen gifts from bath salts to teas.

You can find elderberry syrup bottled by the shop, kitchenware, and even an elixir known as “Fire cider.”



If you’re in the city on a Wednesday or Saturday, the Union Square Greenmarket is an essential stop for your herbal needs.

The market is open on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays, but Furnace Creek Farm, a vendor from Pennsylvania, is only there two days a week.

If you’re able to catch them, check out their tonics and powdered and liquid supplements, made from plants grown on their small farm in Berks County.

The Greenmarket is a great place to shop in general, with vendors selling everything from fresh baked bread to local honey, condiments, and even merino wool yarn.

Himalayan Vision in the East Village is well-stocked with Tibetan gifts, including jewelry and clothing. The store is budget-friendly, while embracing an authentic Nepali and Tibetan shopping experience.

There are a variety of similar stores peppering downtown Manhattan, but Himalayan Vision is the full package in terms of special pieces, an inviting atmosphere, and fair prices.



Tucked into a tiny nook on Jackson Ave, Slovak Czech Varieties stands ready to introduce you to all things Czech.

Browse imported snacks and tchotchkes; the wooden children’s toys are beautifully crafted, and make refreshing gifts for the little ones of this digital age.


Gifts and Souvenirs

A yellow taxi passing in front of a store on a busy New York street

Museums might not be your first shopping destination, but some of New York’s best art institutions have gift shops with enough curiosities to keep you interested.

The American Folk Art Museum’s gift shop greets you right at the entrance of the museum, and the actual exhibition space, while small, is a delightful way to pass an hour or so.

The shop carries a variety of gift items like home accessories, jewelry, and art books, some of which are related to current and past exhibits.

The Whitney, MOMA, and Cooper Hewitt Design Museums all have a variety of design objects for sale, along with books, apparel, and even artist prints.

And, if you’re really looking for New York-themed shopping, don’t miss the subway souvenirs at the Transit Museum gift shop, nor the Big Apple-obsessed knick-knacks at the Museum of the City of New York.

Last but not least among museums, the Met’s gift shop lives up to the museum’s reputation. (As does this MET-themed Monopoly!)


Records, Books, and Miscellanea

Amid the many, many record stores around the city, Generation Records is just special.

With a shrinking CD section but expanding T-shirt selection, it’s still a comfortable place to browse and—hopefully—walk out with a fairly priced record to remind you of Greenwich Village.

While you’re there, stop by the Chess Forum across the street for all your chess needs, including beautiful sets and accessories like clocks scorebooks. The Forum defines itself as New York’s last “old style chess parlour,” so take the time to stop in…even if you’re brand-new to the game.

Famous for its natural historical artifacts, the Evolution Store on Broadway is a very important part of downtown Manhattan. The store sells everything from artist-made jewelry to specimens, including bones and minerals.

Though it does focus on books, Polonia Bookstore in Greenpoint is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience in terms of gifts and unique souvenirs.

This neighborhood mainstay sells handmade, traditional crafts imported from Poland at ridiculously affordable prices. There’s nothing more New York than artisanware you can’t find anywhere else in the U.S.

The shop’s collection of Polish pottery is vibrant, delicate, and varied; everything sold here comes from a region of Poland that prides itself on its community of painters and potters, known all over the world.

If you’re there around Christmas, you’ll also find a beautiful selection of hand-painted ornaments.


Sightseeing and More

A young blonde woman standing atop of a building overlooking the New York skyline.

New York may ruffle your pockets—and even turn them inside out—but after you’ve spent everything at The Hard Rock Cafe or The Museum of Sex, sightseeing will mostly remain free.

The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, etc. are all worthwhile excursions, but the city carries a different, less monumental beauty all throughout the five boroughs. In fact, some of the best viewpoints around the city are hidden, unassuming…and, more importantly, not too crowded.


Pier 40

There’s no shortage of waterfront access in the city, but Pier 40 might be one of the less-trafficked ones, despite its West Village location.

The Pier features a soccer field on the top level, and is easily accessed from West Houston St.

In the evening, the top level offers a glimmering view of the Downtown Manhattan skyline, which only gets prettier as night falls.


A person standing with their hands on the railing overlooking the ferry to Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island

Often overlooked, Roosevelt Island is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to waterfront destinations.

Being a residential island, it has plenty of apartment buildings, but also a very walkable and bike-able riverfront pathway. The path stretches across the small island, ending with a small but handsome lighthouse on the north end. Looking around, you’ll take in Manhattan from the middle of the East River.

The island is easy to reach on foot, bike, or subway from Queens or Midtown, but its real attraction is the tramway that picks up passengers at 60th Street, then whisks them across the water in minutes.


Fort Tryon

For more riverfront views, visit Fort Tryon Park, located at the very tip of Manhattan.

The park is all stone arches and corridors, and follows the Hudson River, giving you an expansive view of New Jersey.

Also in the park are the Met Cloisters. Its medieval culture exhibitions accentuate the surrounding Fort Tryon’s lovely gloom.


Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is perhaps the best nature walk within the five boroughs.

Located on marshland, the refuge offers a walking loop through wetland habitats that are home to migrating bird species. The walk features educational material along the trail, which weaves in and out of thickets and clusters of trees.

If you happen to look out on the horizon, you’ll see the entire skyline stretching out before you, albeit microscopic.

The refuge is located on the Southern edge of Queens. It’s a trek, but if you have the time to commute, it’s a truly special environment.


Industry City

Industry City is a cluster of warehouses, studios, and dining located on the riverfront west of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The complex has grown to include restaurants, bars, public art installations, and even a small ice skating rink in the colder months.

Start with a coffee from Italian cycling cafe Maglia Rosa, then walk between the buildings lining 34th to 40th Streets, where you can check out the ground-floor businesses on each block.

The indoor food court on 36th Street is your best bet for global cuisine, and Sahadi’s on 35th will satisfy all your Mediterranean grocery needs (or introduce you to ones you never knew you had).

Top all that off with Brooklyn Kura, a brewery specializing in Japanese sake. Take a walk down to Bush Terminal Piers Park for an uncrowded, unbothered riverside stroll with views of Lower Manhattan.


A New York ferry called the NY Waterway carrying passengers to their destination while the city's buildings are depicted in the background.

NYC Ferry

You might not necessarily associate New York with boats, but the fairly new NYC Ferry system has been a blessing. Taking the ferry has become a mode of commute for many New Yorkers, but it’s also just a lot of fun.

For the price of a subway ride, take the Ferry from borough to borough. You even get a free transfer along the way.

Sit on the upper outside deck for views from a different perspective. For a truly great route, take Sunset Park to Rockaway stretch and the East River line.

From either of those, you can connect to routes spanning the East River, from Soundview in the Bronx to Wall St.


Transportation in the Big Apple

A yellow NYC taxi pictured in a blurred style to indicate its driving to its destination.

Taking advantage of New York’s public transportation system is an important initiation rite to the city.

So is hailing a cab, for that matter—but if you’re staying frugal, get a weekly Metrocard or rent a Citibike as soon as you arrive.

Combine the subway, MTA bus, and NYC Ferry to design your routes around the city.

Additionally, keep these tips in mind:

  • There are free transfers between the subway and any public bus! The NYC Ferry also offers free transfers between boats, so hold on to your ticket.
  • If you can, check subway service before you leave. Always be prepared for changes, and make sure you have an alternate route in mind, just in case service is disrupted.
  • Pay attention to which trains are designated as express trains. You might zip past your stop without even realizing it.
  • If you’re renting a Citibike, or a different bike from a local shop, ride carefully, stay in the bike lane, and always be aware of turning vehicles coming up behind you. Biking in New York is no joke, especially if you’re not familiar with the roads.
  • If biking around the boroughs sounds appealing, consider these cycling routes to navigate the city quickly—and safely.


Ocean Parkway Greenway

This bike route is heavy on intersections, but a great way to get to Coney Island from areas around Prospect Park. Stay on Ocean Parkway: it’s a straight shot down to the beach.


A row of CitiBikes are pictured showing an other method of transportation around NYC.

Shore Parkway Greenway

This Greenway sticks to the water, and can take you from South Brooklyn to Queens—with plenty of open water views along the way.


Westside Greenway

The Westside Greenway is extremely popular, thanks to its sweeping Hudson vistas and length. In fact, it runs all the way up the west edge of Manhattan.

From Inwood, the northern tip of Manhattan, you can circle back around via the Harlem River Drive Greenway. Once you get down to around 59th street, avoid biking through Midtown by climbing the 59th Street Bridge into Queens.


Randall’s Island

Randall’s Island isn’t usually at the top of tourist destination lists, but it promises a great ride if you’re on two wheels, especially in the warmer seasons.

The island can be accessed from Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. It also has bike and pedestrian paths.

The RFK Bridge, which connects the island to Astoria, is a steep ride…but its expansive views of Queens and upper Manhattan make the huffing and puffing worth it.

Additionally, the bridge has a few staircases: go slow, and be ready to carry your bike a bit.


New York is painted in a graffiti style on a metal roll up security door as two women walk by.


Travel to NYC…Your Way

If fitting all of New York into a confined stretch of time seems like a daunting task…it most definitely is!

While a travel guide will certainly make NYC more enjoyable, don’t forget what the city is all about: originality. Your trip is completely your own, and no two visits to New York can—or should—be alike.

Don’t be afraid to explore the city without a route in mind (it is a grid, after all), and set aside time between classic sites to wander wherever your heart desires.

New York is constantly changing, for worse and for better…but first and foremost, it continues to welcome.

If you’re looking to get out of the city, but still stay close, there are amazing day trips you can take out of the city. If you’re looking to get much further away, consider these guides to Portugal or Italy as your next destination.

Best Restaurants in New York

A young woman with short hair enjoying dinner with a view of the New York City skyline.

There are over 25,000 restaurants in New York, serving up familiar favorites, authentic cultural food, and delicious basics on almost every block.

With so many options and so little time, how can you sort through the noise to find the gems? Here are the best restaurants in New York to satisfy your inner foodie.



Best Cheap Eats

Just Pho

Exterior of Just Pho in NYC.
Image Source: Just Pho via Yelp

It’s said that the best Pho is not found in the well-known East Village or Chinatown, but across the street from Penn Station.

Just Pho offers a fairly simple but excellent Pho that doesn’t use the sprouts or basil like more Americanized versions. It’s laboriously crafted, too, with hours dedicated to boiling beef or pork bones just the right way. Sample their outstanding crab-stuffed spring rolls while you’re there, too.


Papa’s Kitchen

Sign in Papa's Kitchen, reading "Traditional Filipino Cuisine."
Image Credit: Papa’s Kitchen via Yelp

Papa’s offers great Filipino fare at great prices. The restaurant recently moved from a smaller store to a larger one, on the 37th Avenue shopping strip.

For less than $10, score some “silogs”—a Filipino dish served on rice with a runny fried egg on top. Other inexpensive entrees include milkfish, sweet sausage, and crisp fried pork belly. They serve a great mix of meat and veggies too!


USHA Foods

Wall of food dispensers in USHA.
Image Credit: Ashmani M. via Yelp

USHA Foods is unique: they only serve vegetarian food.

Their sandwich bar is under $8, and includes the Alu Tikki burger, which is a griller potato stuffed with vegetables and tomato and wrapped in a bun.

They also have a “fast food” menu starting at $4. It’s filling and varied, from the Paneer Pakora plate to the Chola Bhature.



The exterior of the Pyza building in New York.
Image Credit: Kate S. via Yelp

No, Pyza isn’t pizza: it’s Polish for “dumpling.”

This small Polish restaurant offers counter service, and meals for around $10. Pyza offers some great stuffed cabbage, potato dumplings, stew, and pierogies, as well as Poland’s famed Borsch soup.

The prices are kept low by its cafeteria atmosphere, which is surprisingly peaceful and enjoyable compared to similar setups. Pyza also offers huge portions, so prepare to box it up and take it with you.


Best Pizza Parlors in New York

Di Fara

Exterior shot of the Di Fara pizza shop building in New York.
Image Credit: Vicki G. on Yelp

Dom DeMarco has been making almost every pizza here since Di Fara opened in 1964.

A round pizza from Di Fara has several kinds of cheese with olive oil, and a light, slightly salted crust. The square pizza has almost too much cheese (almost), and a crunchier but more buttery crust. Be warned: a second slice might result in a food coma.

The interior of this pizza place isn’t especially exciting, but who cares. It’s pizza!


L&B Spumoni Gardens

A dish from L&B Spumoni Gardens.
Image Credit: Wendy W. via Yelp

Spumoni Gardens make dense pizzas with a sweet tomato sauce (made from a top-secret recipe) and a thick, doughy crust.

They also put the sauce on top of the cheese. Don’t worry: not only is this more traditional, but many say it’s even better than what you’re used to.


Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop

Wood-fired pizza oven in Paul Gee's Slice Shop, New York.
Image Credit: Cameron D. via Yelp

Without a doubt, Paulie Gee’s is a mainstay of Brooklyn pizza. Perfectly complementing their thick tomato sauce is a mountain of toppings on every crispy slice. Paulie Gee’s would be a perfect stop on your way back in from your day trip from NYC.


Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria and Restaurant

A black and white menu from Joe and Pat's Pizzeria and Restaurant in New York City.
Image Credit: Sumana K. via Yelp

Do you like bright red tomato sauce and gooey cheese on your pizza? There’s no better place than Joe and Pat’s. They offer incredibly thin crust and one very interesting Tri Pie, which includes three different sauces in alfredo, pesto, and vodka. Many people outside of New York have Joe and Pat’s on their pizza bucket list.


Best Restaurants in New York for Pasta


Pasta dish from Celesta in New York.
Image Credit: Melanie G. via Yelp

Handmade pasta, anyone?

Celeste is full of old school charm: they’re cash only, with an old-world decor and made-from-scratch…well, everything.

The pasta is naturally delicious as a result, and comes with toppings like goat’s milk cheese. Bring friends: you’ll want to split dishes, just to try them all.


Union Square Cafe

A sandwich from Union Square in NYC.
Image Credit: Andreas P. via Yelp

Union Square changes their pasta seasonally, and rotates other dishes monthly, so no two visits are ever the same!

With pasta dishes starting at $25, Union Square Cafe isn’t exactly budget-friendly…but it’s totally worth the price, considering how flavorful their pasta and sauces are.


Times Square in New York at night, illuminated in neon.

The thousands of restaurants in New York provide locals and tourists alike with endless variety. Just like Portland or San Diego, it’s the ultimate melting pot: you can try authentic and delicious dishes from different cultures, stick to American classics, or score some comfort food favorites no matter where you go in the city.