Chris Leamy
Chris Leamy/Shervin Lainez

Every New Yorker seems to have an opinion on the best local place to eat, shop, and party — and no matter who you ask, you’ll likely get a different answer. With almost unlimited options for all of the above, it can be overwhelming to plan…especially if you want an authentic experience in the Big Apple.

We consulted some of NYC’s top influencers for their tips on finding unique experiences in the city — from planning a group brunch to rising with the sun to shop for flowers. Here are a list of experience you won’t find in the typical New York City guidebook.


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Chris Leamy is a local musician and activist. He has a social campaign called #HePlaysForMe in which he sets up in Union Square once a week and plays guitar, raising money on behalf of the city’s homeless population.


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ShermansTravel: Where are the best places to listen to live music in New York City?

Chris Leamy: Rockwood Music Hall. Tons of amazing performers roll through, and they vary the lineups to keep everyone interested. The last time I was there, I saw a ska band, a folk singer-songwriter, and a killer big brass group. I would suggest the main stage on a Monday night; the people that come on those nights tend to be true music lovers and it creates a really cool performer/audience environment. Most of the shows are free, so it’s a great cheap date as well.

 

Amanda Gluck
Amanda Gluck/Alexandra Wolf

Amanda Gluck is a party planner, and a wedding and décor expert. Her website Fashionable Hostess features tips for hosting parties, recipes, and more. 

ShermansTravel: Where is the best place to host your birthday party or bridal brunch in New York City?

Amanda Gluck: My two favorites are the Gramercy Terrace at the Gramercy Park Hotel and the outdoor patio at Palma on Cornelia Street in the West Village. The rooftop at the Gramercy Park Hotel is draped in lush greenery, which is so beautiful — plus I love the views of Madison Square Park. I especially love it for an evening party draped in twinkle lights. The outdoor patio at Palma is the most charming hidden gem for bridal or baby showers: small and cozy but so perfect for teas and flower crowns. Personally, I like smaller and sweeter venues, which the West Village is packed with, so I usually start my search there. Then I go on Instagram and see where some of my favorite bloggers have hosted parties; that can inspire things from the menu to the flower arrangements!

 

Christy Doramus
Christy Doramus/Adeline/You Look Lovely Photography

Christy Doramus is a flower crown designer, floralist, and flower crown DIY book author. Through her namesake brand, Crowns By Christy, she creates custom designs for individuals, events, and celebrities, too.

ShermansTravel: Where is the best place to buy flowers in New York City?

Christy Doramus: NYC Flower District on 28th street between 6th and 7th Avenues. There, you’ll find the best selection in New York City, among the many different wholesale vendors who sell flowers from around the globe. I recommend getting to the flower market early. The best store in the market typically opens between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. and closes around noon. Get there with a plan and a budget in mind. There are no prices listed, so it’s best to tell the shop owner what you’re looking to spend so that they can help you stay within your budget — especially considering that every flower is a different price.

 

Jeremy Jacobowitz
Jeremy Jacobowitz/Scott Brodee

Jeremy Jacobowitz a food blogger and the guy behind every drool-worthy photo on the @brunchboys Instagram. His pics range from burgers to pizza to craft cocktails — and every delicious dish in between. 

ShermansTravel: Where are the best brunch places in NYC?

Jeremy Jacobowitz: Speedy Romeo. Yes, a pizza place has one of the best brunches in New York City. As good as the brunch pizzas are, they have legit brunch items as well; don’t skip over their baked eggs and cheeseburger. Flex Mussels is another surprising brunch spot. Their dinner and brunch menus have amazing mussels, but the secret is their everything bagel doughnuts stuffed with cream cheese. This is no gimmick, just one of the most perfect brunch dishes, ever. Finally, Chefs Club: Don’t be intimidated by their dinner menu, because they have an amazing pre-fix for brunch with an appetizer, entree, and drink for just $28. It’s well worth it for one of the best restaurants in New York City.

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