San Francisco

The sparkling jewel of northern California, SF has wine, food, beautiful architecture and world-class parks. While there is much to do in the city itself, we highly recommend tacking on a day or two to visit the surrounding areas.

Depending on time of day and traffic, take a cab or Uber from the Airport to the city, or the local BART train (30 minutes).

EAT


Akiko's Sushi (Bush St.) Unassuming from the outside, this small Japanese restaurant serves excellent, fresh sushi sourced daily from local purveyors or directly from Japan.

Bar Bocce Great food, wine and outdoor seating with a fire-pit on the waterside in Sausalito.

Brenda`s French Soul Food hearty brunch spot near the Tenderloin. Unpredictable wait times so plan accordingly.

Ferry Building Marketplace Stalls, gourmet food stuffs and a farmers market are all inside this historic building.

Good Mong Kok Cantonese bakery and dim sum in Chinatown.

Leo’s Oyster Bar Old school vibes, cool cocktails and oysters. Recommended by a friend.

Murray Circle Restaurant Admire the view from across the Golden Gate Bridge at this restaurant on Cavallo Point. Go for brunch, sit on the deck and order the pastry basket (a friend’s brother is the pastry chef!)

Taqueria El Buen Sabor An unassuming taqueria in the Mission District.

DRINK

Mikkeller Bar industrial craft beer bar in the Tenderloin district.

Napa Valley and Sonoma Just an hour north of the city, it is worth exploring California’s most famous wine regions. We love Patz & Hall and Three Sticks in Sonoma.

The Pour House Wine bar and tasting room in Nob Hill.

Vertigo Bar Cash-only dive with dancing on Polk Street.

PLAY

Alcatraz Island Tour the island’s old military and federal prison. Book tickets in advance!

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Make a day trip to visit these gentle giants two hours south of the city.

Golden Gate Park This urban park offers stunning views of the world’s most famous bridge.

Fisherman’s Wharf While touristy, it does offer a great vantage of the bridge and Alcatraz. Pick up a few homegrown chocolates from Ghirardelli Square.

Mission District “The Mission” is a vibrant, eclectic neighborhood with Latino roots, street art and no short supply of tacos and hipsters. Spend an hour people watching in Mission Dolores Park or take a stroll down Valencia Street.

The Painted Ladies For children of the 80s and 90s, these Victorian houses were made famous by the Full House sitcom.

Presidio This former military post is a large park at the tip top of the peninsula with beautiful views of the bay and bridge.

Sausalito This cute, artsy town overlooking the water lies directly across the bay. Bikee from Golden Gate Park and take the ferry back, or take the ferry both directions from the Ferry Terminal in the Embarcadero.

STAY

If you are just in town for a long weekend, choose an AirBnb in Pacific Heights or Russian Hill to be near the sights, restaurants and nightlife.

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Nashville

Music CIty is famous for its whisky, honky tonk, live music, southern cooking and hipsters. It’s also a college town, with Vanderbilt and Belmont just a few of the universities that have campuses in the city. Be sure to pack your cowboy boots, or at least your dancing shoes!


EAT

Cabana Upscale dining with big, dreamy windows and a lovely patio near Belmont University.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken You’ve not had fried chicken until you’ve had Hattie B’s.

The Southern Steak & Oyster Southern food in the SoBro district. Excellent for brunch.


DRINK

Bluebird Cafe Famous for turning out talent, many Nashville stars got there start here. Recommended by friends.

Honky Tonk Central Fun, three-story bar on Broadway Street with pub grub and live music.

Printer’s Alley A cute alley off of Broadway Street with karaoke bars and pubs.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge A Nashville institution. Turn up for honky tonk!


PLAY

Broadway Street The lower end of this street, close to the river, is referred to as Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Grand Ole Opry The most famous country music hall in the world.

Riverfront Park Nice spot for a walk along the Cumberland River.


STAY

If you are in town purely to enjoy the music scene and nightlife, stay downtown. Consider the Courtyard by Marriott Nashville Downtown, it’s affordable and just two blocks from Honky Tonk Highway.

 

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Asheville

Ashvillle is a bohemian town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Known for its artist enclaves, live music venues, craft beer breweries and delicious food, Asheville is just sparkling with southern charm!

Asheville’s airport is small and flights in and out can be pricey. Another option is to fly to Charlotte and drive two hours through the mountains.

Given the loveliness of the surrounding area, we recommend renting a car. If you’d rather not drive, Uber is available and an easy option for getting from the downtown area to the River Arts District, Biltmore Estate, and Biltmore Village.

EAT

Green Sage Cafe Healthy, organic cafe in downtown.

Tupelo Honey Perhaps Asheville’s most famous restaurant, serving up Southern food from scratch. Try the South Asheville location, likely to be less crowded.

Twisted Laurel Mediterranean food in an industrial-style setting.

Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe Tasty bakery in Biltmore Village with outdoor seating.

DRINK

Wicked Weed Brewing Pub Friendly brewery in downtown Asheville with outdoor seating.

New Belgium Brewing Company Industrial brewery and taproom near the River Arts District. Grab a seat on the deck for lovely views of the French Broad River.

Village Wayside Bar & Grille Local dive open late night in Biltmore Village.

PLAY

Biltmore Estate A historic, Chateau-style home built by George Vanderbilt with gardens and sprawling grounds at the seat of the Blue Mountains.

Blue Ridge Parkway A 496 mile drive through North Carolina and Virginia offering stunning vistas of the Appalachians. There are lots of hiking trails near the Parkway.

North Lexington Avenue A street in downtown with antique and eclectic shopping.

River Arts District Just west of downtown, this industrial area along the river is home to artist studios and galleries.


STAY

For a weekend stay, base yourself within walking distance of the downtown area.

If you have a car and intend to hike or visit surrounding areas, parking could be tricky downtown. We stayed in the very affordable Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville, just south of and within walking distance of Biltmore Village.

The Biltmore Estate offers luxury accommodation, a lovely option for a romantic weekend.

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Brooklyn

While Brooklyn and Manhattan are separated only by the East River, Brooklyn’s vibe is a world away from the big City. It’s immigrant enclaves have inspired vibrancy and diversity, while millennials and families who call it home have found solace in its open green spaces, farmer’s markets and welcoming spirit. Come play with the cool kids.

EAT

Celestine Mediterranean restaurant on the water in Dumbo.

Doughnut Plant Tasty donuts in Prospect Heights.

Emily Beloved restaurant serving amazing wood-fired pizzas and burgers in Clinton Hill.

Grimaldi’s This landmark serves some of the best pizza in the Five Boroughs. Stand in line at the Brooklyn Bridge location for a slice or two.

Smorgasburg One of the largest, open-air food markets in the country.

Vinegar Hill House Rustic, cozy restaurant in Dumbo with a back garden. Great for weekend brunch.

Westville Locally sourced ingredients. Locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but we like the Dumbo spot.

DRINK

Brooklyn Brewery Book a Saturday or Sunday tour the morning of.

Brooklyn Roasting Company This roastery has a few locations with great ambiance.

Donna Chic cocktail bar in Williamsburg with romantic candle-lit tables and DJs.

Insa Korean barbecue and karaoke bar with private rooms in Gowanus.

Radegast Hall & Biergarten Large, indoor beer hall in Williamsburg with live music and an Oktoberfest vibe.

Spritzenhaus33 Relaxed beer hall in Greenpoint with communal tables, outdoor seating and good food.

PLAY

Brighton Beach Nicknamed Little Odessa and Little Russia for its enclave of Russian speaking immigrants. Eastern Europe Jews began immigrating here in the 1930’s, followed by a wave of Soviet Union immigrants in the 1970’s. Today Brighton is one of our favorite areas in Brooklyn and much less crowded in the summer than its northern cousin Rockaway Beach, and southern sister Coney Island. Head here for a relaxing day at the beach followed by Russian beers, perogies and borscht soup.

Brooklyn Flea A sprawling market known for its myriad of treasures. Open on Saturdays and Sundays in varying indoor and outdoor locations.

Brooklyn Bridge While touristy, the walk across this 19th century landmark should not to be missed.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Excellent views of Manhattan’s FiDi. In the summer movies are shown against the city backdrop on the lawn. Book in advance.

Norbu Contemporary jewellery boutique on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg,

Prospect Park Peaceful haven with a zoo, botanical garden, and winding paths.

STAY

Our favorite neighborhoods to stay in are Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope. If you want to be close to the City with nightlife and restaurants, choose Williamsburg, though you will pay a pretty penny. If money isn’t an issue, check out The Hoxton, which was recommended by a friend.

Otherwise, Brooklyn Heights and Prospect Park might give you more bang for your AirBnb buck.

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New York City

The City That Never Sleeps evokes all the senses: bright lights, metallic smells from the subway tracks, blaring horns, people jostling along the sidewalk and a diverse food scene thanks to the thousands immigrants calling NYC home. While there are tens of thousands incredible restaurants, bars and places in NYC, those below are just a few favorites.

From JFK airport take the AirTram to Howard Beach or Jamaica to then take the subway to Manhattan. From Howard Beach, take the A train toward Brooklyn and Downtown. From Jamaica, the E will take you to Midtown. From Newark airport, take a direct New Jersey transit train from the airport to Pennsylvania Station.

If you plan to spend at least a weekend in NYC, visit the 911 Tribute Museum and Memorial. While an emotional experience, this Museum is incredibly well done.

We’ve broken out our suggestions below by Downtown (anything below 14th Street) and Uptown (anything at 14th Street and above). In our humble opinion, Downtown has a better nightlife scene overall.

DOWNTOWN

EAT

Adrienne’s Pizza Bar Delicious square-shaped pizzas on Stone Street in the Financial District (FiDi).

Bleeker Street Pizza The best pizza in the city (we think). Pop into their tiny West Village location to grab a slice and takeaway or order delivery.

BondSt. High-end Japanese restaurant in Noho.

Cuba  Restaurant and rum bar in Greenwich ViIlage. 

Jeepney Filipino food in the East Village.

Jing Fong Enormous Cantonese dim sum restaurant in Chinatown with plates served from push-carts.

Kiki’s Amazing and affordable Greek food in Chinatown. No bookings.

Louie and Chan Italian restaurant in the Lower East Side (LES) with an Asian-inspired cocktail bar in the basement.

The Meatball Shop An NYC institution with locations across the city.

The Odeon French-American bistro in Tribeca. Great for brunch and celeb-spotting.

Pig and Khao Trendy Southeast Asian restaurant in LES.

Red Farm Trendy dim sum in the West Village. The pastrami egg-rolls are a must.

Sauce Cozy, family-style Italian in LES.

Tacqueria St. Marks Place Cheap and good by NYC standards. It gets noisy on the weekends and is on a fun street in the East Village.

Two Hands Australian restaurant in Tribeca with a great wine list and attractive serving staff!

Yuerba Buena Pricey but delicious Latin Food and cocktails.

DRINK

Antler Beer & Wine Dispensary Chill bar in LES. Good for groups.

Blind Tiger Alehouse Craft beer pub in the West Village.

Bonnie Vee Hip cocktail bar and garden in Nolita.

The Dead Rabbit Funky cocktail bar in FiDi.

Decibel Sake speakeasy in East Village.

Hill & Dale Trendy gastropub with a DJ and dancing in the back.

The Flower Shop 70’s style basement bar in LES.

Fools Gold Craft beers on tap in LES.

Happy Bones Sweet, tiny cafe in LES run by Kiwi friends.

Jeremy’s Ale House Dive bar in Seaport popular with locals and firefighters.

McSorley’s Old Ale House 1854 beer saloon in the East Village.

Meow Parlour Cat cafe in the LES that makes great coffee. All of the cats are available for adoption.

The Spotted Pig Posh pub in the West Village.

PLAY

Battery Park Walk around the oldest and southern-most tip of the island of Manhattan.

Comedy Cellar A West Village institution where many of the greats started out and still swing by for late-night gigs.

Staten Island Ferry This is a free way to take a cruise with views of the Statue of Liberty.

Tenement Museum Step back into the 19th and 20th centuries to experience life as an immigrant in New York’s LES.

Wall Street Check out the New York Stock Exchange and statues of the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl.

STAY

For those on a budget, the West Village’s historic Jane Hotel offers rooms that maximize space and shared, communal bathrooms. The Holiday Inn Financial District is another option.

UPTOWN

EAT

Chelsea Market Urban food market next to The High Line. Our favorite stalls are Los Tacos No. 1, Num Pang, the Lobster Place and Doughnuttery. There are often sample sales happening here too.

Eataly It’s touristy but a fun way to spend an hour. Locations in Flatiron and the World Trade Center.

Jacob’s Pickles Southern American in the Upper West Side (UWS). Great for brunch.

Levain Bakery The BEST chocolate cookies in the entire world. This UWS shop sells cookies the size of fists.

Red Rooster Famous Harlem restaurant revered for its Southern-inspiring cooking and jazz brunches.

DRINK

Boat Basin Cafe Great spot in UWS to sit outside as the sun falls across the Hudson.

PLAY

Broadway shows Grab same-day discounted tickets from the TKTS South Street Seaport location.

Central Park Pack a picnic and relax in Sheep’s Field.

The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Design museum on the Upper East Side.

Dizzy’s Jazz Club World renowned jazz music at Lincoln Center.

The High Line Former raised railway that is now a west side park spanning from 14th Street to Hudson Yard.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Museum of Natural History Stately gem on the UWS.

STAY

If you are on business and based in Midtown, or budget is not an issue, we recommend the Iberostar 70 Park Avenue or The Redbury Hotel.

For a more local, relaxed experience, stay in an Airbnb in a fun neighborhood. Lindsay’s brother and sister-in-law host this brownstone penthouse apartment in Harlem, just two blocks from the 125th Street station.

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