Listopedia: The Design Files’ New York Bucket List | Expedia Australia Travel Blog

Listopedia: The Design Files’ New York Bucket List

Listopedia: The Design Files’ New York Bucket List

MANHATTAN. Where to start. There is SO much to do and see, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed.

When in New York, I find myself dividing activities into the following categories – eating, shopping, art/culture and, in the warmer months, the outdoors. If you find yourself spiraling in a retail vortex, it’s always good to balance this out with a day spent wandering one of Manhattan’s amazing art museums… and on the flip side, if you’re all art-ed out, you might find yourself craving a day of window shopping in SoHo, with a long lunch at Balthazar to rest the feet and soak up some old New York atmosphere.

There’s no shortage of options, but here are some of the fave spots The Design Files team frequented during our recent trip to Manhattan!

Cafe Gitane

Cafe Gitane is hands down our FAVE cafe in Manhattan. There’s just something about the laid back vibe and spunky (though slightly nonchalant) staff that keep us coming back with every trip. Situated on the cutest corner in NoLiTa, if you can score an outside table, it’s a sweet, relaxed spot for people watching with a glass of wine as the afternoon fades to evening.

With a casual, contemporary French/Spanish/Moroccan inspired menu, Gitane is also a great option for slightly lighter, fresher fare than can often be found elsewhere in the Big Apple. It’s the kind of place you find yourself quickly falling into the habit of ordering one favourite dish every time, mine is the zesty orange and palm heart salad – always outrageously good.

The Whitney Museum of American Art

Incredible art galleries are a dime a dozen in NYC. Unless you’re here for a month, you’ll be unlikely to get through all of them… so it’s wise to be selective. The newest of the bunch is the Whitney, which just this year has moved to an immense brand new building designed by architect Renzo Piano, located between the High Line and the Hudson River.

The Whitney showcases an incredible collection of contemporary American art over nine levels. Founded by philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1930, this new $422 million dollar building is the Whitney’s fourth home. Aside from its impressive new exhibition spaces, the generous outdoor terraces provide incredible views across the Meatpacking district and beyond.

SoHo shopping

SoHo is basically the centre of the retail universe. Here you’ll find all the very best retail stores, with the most beautiful interiors and the newest and most ‘on trend’ fashion and homewares… this relatively contained pocket of Manhattan really does set the standard for retail trends globally.

A melting pot of big name brands (J Crew, Bloomingdales, Anthropologie) and more ‘independent’ stores, SoHo is endlessly varied. Our favourite spots for fashion include the beautiful APC store (Mercer St) and Rachel Comey store on Crosby St (most fabulous store fit-out in Manhattan IMHO!). Great gifts and books can be found at the MoMA design store (Spring St), while the most beautiful and unique homewares can be found at Michele Varian (Howard St) and BDDW (Crosby St).

To catch your breath and top up your credit card balance, take a pit stop at the fabulous new Mercer Kitchen on Prince St.

B+H Photo

Having recently travelled to Manhattan with both a photographer and filmmaker in our crew, B+H Photo was a non-negotiable part of our itinerary! Occupying a full city block in bustling mid town, B+H has a cult following for its incomparable range of photo, video, audio and computer gear, at the very best prices. Set over two huge levels, the store is noted for having an extensive conveyor belt system that runs along the ceiling!

Founded in 1973, many of the store’s employees are observant Hasidic Jews, and it’s worth noting that they observe traditional Jewish holidays and trading hours – closed Saturdays, open Sundays.


Balthazar is a SoHo institution. Serving French-style bistro fare in a brasserie setting reminiscent of 1930’s Paris (think red leather banquettes, aged brass mirrors, pressed tin details and vintage light fixtures), you’d be forgiven for thinking this place has been around for a hundred years. In fact, Balthazar was founded in 1997 by famed restaurateur and celebrity chef Keith McNally, who owns a number of establishments across Manhattan. Each has a unique knack for channeling the charm of bygone eras. (McNally’s other venues include Pastis, Cafe Luxembourg, Odeon in Tribeca, and Schiller’s Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side). Balthazar is essentially ‘faux’ old… but, somehow, it’s perfect. Balthazar typically serves around 1,500 guests a day. Definitely make a reservation well in advance, and definitely order the French onion soup!

The High Line

Almost TOO obvious to include, the High Line slips in to our NYC bucket list simply because it’s just such a truly special space in this bustling metropolis. If visiting NYC in the warmer months, a stroll along the High Line is non-negotiable.

The High Line is essentially a 2.3km walking trail/park, planted on a disused elevated section of New York Central railroad. Inspired by a similar project in Paris, the High Line has been a tourist magnet ever since it was completed in 2009. It’s beautifully landscaped, impossibly lush and leafy in the warmer months, and offers a unique perspective through the rooftops of Chelsea and out to the Hudson River. Just don’t expect to get a photo without a thousand other tourists in it!

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