The Lazy Travelers Guide to the Upper East Side New York
We get it—when people visit Manhattan, they assume the #1 thing to do is rush to Times Square or the Statue of Liberty or Central Park. The Upper East Side brings stuffy visions of women running up the steps to their brownstones, hands filled with shopping bags, while Dalton girls skip past with big bows in their hair and Hermes bags in hand. It’s streets lined with designer boutique after designer boutique and filled with town cars running New York’s elite around for a busy day of manicures and lunch dates.
While that part of the Upper East Side most definitely exists, we tend to ignore that side of life when convincing people to give the UES a try on their visits to Manhattan.
Go grocery shopping
I’m aware that this doesn’t sound that exciting, but does your grocery store have an elevator? Seriously, Fairway at 86th between 2nd and 3rd is hands down the best thing to ever happen to the UES. It’s Trader Joe’s and Whole Food’s lovechild…in heaven. Our favorites include the freshly baked baguettes ($1.89, still warm from the ovens) and their huge selection of artisanal cheeses.
Picnic in the park
Grab some picnic supplies (at Fairway, duh) and make your way to Carl Shurz Park at East End Avenue between 84th and 89th. It’s like a mini-Central Park but on the water, less crowded, and complete with two dog parks. So when we say “like Central Park” we mean “but better.”
Leave the pearls at home
Sure, you could go to The Plaza for afternoon tea and feel completely out of your element while everyone else pretends they enjoy their mini sandwiches. OR you could hit up Alice’s Tea Cup at 81st between 2nd and 3rd for a much less pretentious experience. You can get morning or afternoon tea (how’s that for breaking rules?), and we’re here to tell you: do not skip the scones.
Yes, New York has museums aplenty, but the Upper East Side is home to Museum Mile! Spanning Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th Street, you can easily spend a week museum-hopping. Our personal favorites are the Met and the Guggenheim, but we have serious plans to check out the Frick Collection in the near future.
Sample beers like a pro
Fairly new to the Upper East Side, City Swiggers at 86th St. between 1st and 2nd has quickly become one of our favorite spots. With their beers on tap changing regularly, we love their cheap beer flights, and even more: love the option to take home a growler full of our favorite.
Prefer wine over beer?
We got you covered. Check out Vino Versity on 1st Avenue between 86th and 87th. Along with a selection of wines that you won’t find at other local shops, they offer daily tasting classes. We’re dying to try their champagne class (mostly because it’s called “Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere!” because how CUTE?), but book early! From our website stalking, classes fill up fast.
Feel like a hipster without even crossing the East River
Williamsburg is adorable, it’s true. But the subway ride there involves at least one transfer from almost anywhere in Manhattan and cabs are few and far between (oh, did you think we were joking about the “lazy” thing?). Instead, take your mustachioed beau to the next best spot: Earl’s Beer & Cheese on Park Avenue between 90th and 91st. The menu is small and a little adventurous (grilled cheese with kimchi and a fried egg?) but everything we’ve tasted has been life-changingly delicious.
Bring the beach to you
We can’t full express how much we love Flex Mussels at 82nd and 3rd. Bonus points if you can make it on a Wednesday, where they serve $20 all you can eat mussels from 5-7 pm. No matter what day you’re there, we recommend ending with the homemade donuts. To die.
Don’t feel left out, non-adventurous eaters!
If Earl’s and Flex don’t do it for you, head to Sunny’s on Third at 81st and 3rd Avenue for some surprisingly fresh Chinese food in a cute, clean atmosphere. Oh and? They serve FREE UNLIMITED WINE with your meal. You’re welcome.
Rumors aside, there is nightlife on the Upper East Side
Our go-to when we’re looking for a hilariously entertaining night on the town? Head to Brandy’s at 84th between 2nd and 3rd for a tiny piano bar where the entire staff serenades patrons late into the night.
ABOUT THE BLOGGERS:
The romantic & the wino of The Lazy Travelers are two girls who have survived driving across Ireland without a valid license, sleeping on a sailboat in St. Thomas, singing along with drunken expats in a Parisian piano bar, food poisoning in Egypt, and many poorly packed last-minute getaways. They’ve gone on an 8-day proper Irish bender and navigated London in less than 24 hours. Collectively, they’ve covered four continents, 19 countries, and more than half of America. When put to the test, they’ll pick a bottle of wine at an outdoor café over a museum any day, anywhere.
Learn more about The Lazy Travelers here
Find them on Twitter
Find them on Pinterest