8 Places to Stay, Eat & See in New York City

Jessica Peterson

I’ve been to New York a dozen times, but never completely on my own. I was alone the first night, waiting for my friend Mandy to arrive from upstate on the train the next day. No problem. Have feet, will walk. I found the perfect midtown hotel from which to start my solo journey…

Stay: Marcel at Gramercy

With just a few days in New York City, I stayed at the petite and impeccable Marcel at Gramercy, which afforded all the walking I love to do in big cities. Rates are reasonable and the neighborhood is great for walking. There is a grocery story around the corner and great restaurants within walking distance, from Indian to Italian. The photo below is my actual room, photographed with my camera. Yes, it’s that nice!

Marcel at Gramercy, New York Marcel at Gramercy, New York




Eat: Coppola’s Italian Restaurant

I had dinner at the traditional but tasty Coppola’s in midtown and experienced one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted.

New York City

Do: Take a Photography Class at The Met

I took my first photography class in November and this is what resulted. The seasoned and snarky Zim of New York Photo Safari urged me to compose thoughtfully and push my angles. I am forever grateful. I highly recommend this class — it pleasantly filled my solo afternoon in Manhattan. And who can beat $100 for private lessons? (There was only one other person in my class.)

The Met sculpture gallery was intensely dreamy. I’ve been to the Met a couple of times, but not in a long time. I fell in love with the Greek gods and goddesses all over again. The first time I had this feeling was at the Louvre when I was 21. See more photos from my day at The Met…

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See: Grand Central Station

After my photography class, I met Mandy at Grand Central Station and we tripped the lights fantastic from 5th Avenue to Brooklyn Promenade.

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Eat: Lombardi’s Pizza, the first in New York City

Lombardi’s Pizza is supposedly the first in NY. Good, but not the best I’ve ever had. I go all in for Chicago deep dish, so thin crust pizza has to be phenomenal for me to get teary eyed about it.

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Walk: Brooklyn Promenade at Night

With unobstructed views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, I’ve always loved strolling down the Brooklyn Promenade. Brooklyn Heights is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city with its “Cosby Show” brownstones and unique first floor shops and cafes. At night, you get the twinkling lights and a whole lot of romance.

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Joya Thai

While you’re in Brooklyn, check out Joya Thai. Great atmosphere, fast, sizzling hot, and savory food. Plus, it’s cheap! Definitely a spot I return to year after year.

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Gawk: Freedom Tower

The newly erected One World Trade Center gave me a bad vibe and I hadn’t even seen any conspiracy docs yet. If you haven’t seen any 911 documentaries, I urge you to get to Netflix ASAP and do so. Most of the docs I’ve seen read less like conspiracy theories and more like studies of the facts. They come at the events of September 11th from political, social, and architectural angles so I urge you to watch more than one before you pass judgment. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

World Trade Center, New York


White Blazer: Macy’s

Skirt: Ann Taylor Outlet

Scarf: H&M

Shoes: Macy’s

Hat: Sam Moon

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Jessica Peterson
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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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