104 Best Things to Do in New York City: A Local’s Guide
Check out my ultimate local's guide to the best things to do in New York City. Including non-touristy things to do, it'll be a trip you won't soon forget.
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Although there are endless things to do in New York City, there’s nothing like the simple pleasure of sitting in a cafe.
Think about just how iconic Central Perk in Friends—it basically was a main character!
We all need a spot to chill with friends when the city feels overwhelming.
When I first moved to New York over a decade ago, I stumbled upon one of my now favorite cute cafes in NYC is Alice’s Tea Cup.
It’s a charming Alice in Wonderland themed spot, where the servers wear fairy wings, and amazing tea, and mouthwatering scones are just an order away.
It quickly became a home away from home (well, the dorms), where I’d go to enjoy some tea with friends, or while I learned lines for whatever scene I was working on in acting school.
Even now, every time I walk through the door of Alice’s, I get that instant sense of home, with tons of fond memories popping into my mind.
Sometimes we all need that home away from home to unwind with a tea or coffee, so I created a list of cute cafes in NYC to help you find your own cozy home away from home while in the city.
Dominique Ansel Bakery quickly rose to international fame after their original creation, The Cronut, went viral.
If you’ve been living under a rock the last decade, here’s the deal, The Cronut is a hybrid between a classic croissant and a cream filled donut.
If you can’t score this fan favorite, (typically the first item to sell out), try the DKA. It’s a pastry similar to a caramelized croissant, with a flaky center and crunchy coating.
To be totally honest, I prefer the DKA since it’s not as overly sweet.
In the mood for a decadent drink?
Try the blossoming hot chocolate. It’s topped with a floral marshmallow that buds as you sip!
Given the popularity of this SoHo bakery, be prepared to wait in line.
Local’s Tip: There’s a two Cronut limit per party. If you’re planning ahead, or need to score more than two, you can try to score a pre-order via this site.
Address: 189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
If you are looking for a colorful cake or treat to brighten your day, head to the Flour Shop on the Lower East Side.
If their name sounds familiar, it’s because they’re Instagram famous for their explosion cakes, which are filled with sprinkles or candies that spill out as the cake is cut.
They sell tons of fun desserts, including colorful cakewiches, and mini cake balls, plus large, made to order cakes.
Address: 177 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10013
Maman is an airy, bright cafe that’s perfect for a relaxing afternoon chilling with a good book, or visiting with friends.
With a minimalistic decor that gives major French vibes, this chain is one of my favorite cute cafes in NYC.
The food is fresh with a wide selection of savory breakfast and lunch items, including pastries, quiche, omelets, salads, and sandwiches.
Plus, their Lavender Honey Latte is to die for!
Local’s Tip: Order the Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookie, which was one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2017.
Address: 239 Centre St, New York, NY 10013
Remi Flower and Coffee is the perfect cute cafe to meet a first date, or chill with friends.
This flower shop/cafe hybrid offers a unique experience with its delicious lattes and stunning floral arrangements.
The serene atmosphere makes it one of my go-to cafes to relax after a crazy day of work.
Fair warning though, there’s limited seating, so it is not always a stable option for indoor dining.
They do have free WiFi, with limited outlets, so if you’re coming to work, it’s best to arrive early.
Remi also offers tons of gorgeous floral arrangements, making it the perfect stop for your plant, coffee, and IG photo needs!
Address: 906 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017 (inside Morton Williams)
Hutch & Waldo used to be one of my favorite go-to brunch spots when I was living on the Upper East Side.
It’s an Australian cafe, so you know the coffee is on point, and the menu is perfect for health nuts.
I’m obsessed with all their wellness bowls and smoothies!
My favorite is the drip coffee, and “brekkie sando”, a breakfast sandwich filled with scrambled eggs, baby kale, caramelized onion, roasted tomato chutney and chipotle mayo.
The only annoying thing is that they don’t offer WiFi. It’s best for a midday lunch break solo or with friends.
You’ll also want to be photo ready because this funky NYC cafe is an Instagram photo hotspot.
Address: 247 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028
If you’re really into French pastries, then swinging by Mille Feuille is a must.
They offer all of the French pastry staples, including croissants, pain au chocolat, macarons, and napoleons.
Try the almond croissant when you’re there, it’s one of my favorite pastries in the city.
Oh, and if you’re a dessert addict like me, they even have pastry workshops to learn the craft yourself.
Fair warning, there’s limited seating, so it’s best to get your delectables to go.
Fun Fact: Olivier Dessyn, spent a year at Ritz Cooking School in Paris, before opening Mille Feuille with the goal of bringing a “combination of the French touch with American openness” to New York.
Address: 552 LaGuardia Pl, New York, NY 10012
Alice’s Tea Cup was one of the first spots I had breakfast in after moving to the city.
It’s an Alice in Wonderland inspired cafe that serves over one hundred teas, plus delicious scones, amazing crepes, and delicious salads, and sandwiches.
I love going in for their pumpkin scone with cream and jam, and a cup of their signature Alice’s Tea blend.
My mouth is watering just thinking of it!
It’s also an adorable spot to meet friends or have an intimate get together for afternoon tea.
They offer multiple afternoon tea options, complete with unlimited tea, a choice of three scones, tea sandwiches, and dessert.
Don’t be surprised if you see children, and even some staff wandering around in fairy wings. This place is seriously magical, including their adorable gift shop.
Fair warning though, this whimsical wonderland gets very crowded on weekends, so either arrive early or plan to visit during the week.
Local’s Tip: If Alice’s is crowded,get your tea and scone to go, then walk a couple blocks over to Central Park to enjoy your goodies.
Address: 102 W 73rd St, New York, NY 10023
Chances are you’ve noticed Cha Cha Matcha on Instagram at one point or another, thanks to their fun pink interior, neon signs, and delicious matcha.
The best part is you’re not just limited to matcha drinks, they also serve matcha snacks, smoothies, and even ice cream!
The Beautiful Latte is one of my go-to orders here when I need a bit of a pick me up.
It’s a delicious wellness drink with collagen, ashwagandha, raw honey, bee pollen, and vanilla.
The fun laid back atmosphere, with plenty of tables, makes it a fabulous spot to chill with friends.
Address: 373 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
Another popular cat cafe, Koneko offers kitty playtime, plus the option of Japanese snacks and drinks (including sake).
This is a great spot for people who aren’t into sharing an eating space with the cats, since the cafe is separated from the rest of the space.
There’s three different spaces to play with the kitties, making this an afternoon you’ll never forget.
Plus, all cats at Koneko are adoptable!
You’ll want to make a reservation to ensure availability, since dates book up fast.
Address: 26 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
The second you walk into Matchaful, you’ll want to stage a cool photoshoot with their refined vibe, green paneled walls, chic wood floors, and hanging lamps.
They have an expansive menu, with artisanal drinks that almost feel more like art than beverage.
One of the cafe’s most popular drinks, and one of my favorites when I want something sweet to sip, is the Vanilla Zen. It blends Hikari matcha, vanilla extract, ashwagandha, cinnamon, MCT, maple syrup and oat milk.
If you’re looking for something with more zest, try the Ginger Zing. It’s got matcha with ginger, turmeric, peppercorn, raw honey, and macadamia milk.
The one downside to this place is it’s got limited seating, is best treated as a grab and go destination to get your matcha fix.
Address: 359 Canal St, New York, NY 10013
Bluestone Lane is one of the most popular cafes in NYC when it comes to getting quality Australian inspired cuisine and your caffeine fix (hello, strong Aussie coffee!).
They serve breakfast (or as the Aussies call it “brekkie”) all day, making it the perfect hangover cure.
Choose from savory options like the avocado toast or breakfast burrito (my go-to), or opt for something sweet and a bit healthier like granola with yogurt.
My favorite location is their 5th Avenue one, since it’s steps from Central Park, and housed in a gorgeous old church.
The atmosphere is casual, with light chatter, making it friendly enough to stop by with friends and quiet enough to get some work done.
Plus, they have outdoor seating with a view of the park in the warmer months.
Local’s Tip: Take your coffee to go and enjoy it while you walk around the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.
Address: 1085 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128
With its 1980s pink interior, and cozy Italian vibe, Pietro Nolita, is easily one of the cutest cafes in Manhattan.
In fact, I think if Mean Girls were real, they’d be obsessed with sipper homemade pink lemonade in this pink paradise every Wednesday.
Beyond its Instagram-worthy decor, this cafe serves up some of my favorite pancakes in the city.
Order the try the Pink As F**** Pancakes, when you go.
Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by these fluffy pancakes, served with ricotta, and raspberries.
Address: 174 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
Meow Parlor, NYC’s first ever cat cafe, is the spot to go if you want some cat cuddles to go along with your caffeine fix.
The best part is, if you fall in love with your new furry friend, they’re available for foster or adoption, which means you better have great restraint if you don’t want to come home from the cafe with a kitty.
I won’t lie, if my cat, Zoey got along with other cats, I’d have 100% brought home a kitten.
They can only accommodate between 6-10 people at a time, so you’ll absolutely want to reserve your spot early.
Local’s Tip: Check their event calendar and sign up for the next Kitties and Yoga session.
Address: 46 Hester St, New York, NY 10002
Are you dying to escape to the “City of Lights”, but low on vacation time?
Just head to La Parisienne for a dose of Paris cafe life.
This hidden gem serves a typical French menu, boasting croque monsieur, pate, and of course, tons of pastries.
Their bread is so fresh and tasty, you’d swear you were actually in France—and they even play French music to complete the illusion!
I love coming here to leisurely sip a glass of wine while enjoying a book and of course, a bit of pate de campagne.
Address: 9 Maiden Ln, New York, NY 10038
I discovered this cute Aussie spot a couple months before leaving the city to start my travels, and now it’s one of the first spots I suggest for meeting up with friends while I’m in town.
Their breakfast items are carefully sourced and curated, providing you with a menu of outstanding options.
The finest example of this is their French toast, which is topped with caramelized banana, mascarpone, miso butterscotch and black sesame soy powder (yum!).
As with most Australian hotspots, Citizens of Chelsea has a killer avocado toast, which I’m currently craving.
The staff is also super friendly, providing fast service, even when the cafe is at full capacity.
Oh, and if you’re into Instagramming your breakfast, you’ll love the colorful plating when the food hits your table.
Address: 401 W 25th St, New York, NY 10001
Head to the NoMo Hotel’s NoMo Kitchen for an upscale farm to table menu that will quickly become one of your favorites in the city.
With a gorgeous sunroom, plus an expansive outdoor patio with a floral arch, this is the perfect spot for romantic occasions and to shoot photos for your socials.
They serve food all day, but this spot is best known for its brunch menu, where you can indulge in its bottomless cocktails and some amazing lemon ricotta pancakes.
Address: 9 Crosby St, New York, NY 10013
An intimate rustic spot in Manhattan is hard to find, but Urban Backyard delivers, with its eco-conscious cafe offering a wide variety of coffee, teas and desserts.
I love that they stick to seasonal ingredients while creating signature drinks.
One of my favorites is the Floral Matcha Latte, a latte with either lavender or rose syrup, mixed with organic matcha, and milk.
While you’re there, pair your latte with one of their mini botanical cupcakes, earl gray banana bread, lavender lemon blueberry loaf, which are all out of this world.
Unfortunately, this cafe is quite narrow in space with limited seating, so it’s not a place you’ll want to hang out in for too long.
Address: 180 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
Outro offers an extensive seasonal brunch and lunch menu in a cute and cozy setting that will have you feeling like you’re chilling at your eclectic friend’s apartment.
The space is warm and inviting, so it’s perfect for reading a book, getting work done, or catching up with friends.
Try the strawberry tiramisu waffles while you’re there. It’s one of my favorite items on the menu.
They also serve up hand-crafted coffees, including a delicious rose latte that’s pretty enough for its own IG shoutout.
Address: 816 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Anyone who’s obsessed with French macarons will know Laduree on the UES is the best spot in town to score these delicious treats.
But did you know they now have their own downtown cafe and tea room?
You’ll be transported to France the moment you step into their extravagant decor, and taste their decadent desserts.
Don’t worry, they’ve got all the French staples, including macarons, eclairs, and tarts.
My favorite are the floral creations like the rose croissant or ispahan macaron, which is a macaron made of rose petal cream, fresh raspberry and lychee.
This cute cafe is the perfect spot to plan a low-key bachelorette brunch, or just a chic catch-up with friends or family.
Address: 398 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012
For a hip spot with fresh energy, check out Ruby’s Cafe in the East Village.
This NYU favorite is the perfect local hangout if you want delicious food with a chill Aussie vibe.
They’re best known for burgers and fries, but also serve up healthy breakfast options like egg scramble bowls, avocado toast, and chia muesli.
Oh, and don’t forget to try their coffee. They do a fabulous turmeric latte, that’s one of my favorites in the city.
Address: 198 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003
Head to the heart of the West Village,to check out one of my favorite new Italian cafes, Bar Pisellino.
Here you’ll enjoy classic espresso, or aperitivo cocktails, like a great Aperol Spritz in a setting that will make you feel like you’re in Italy.
Don’t forget to order bomboloni alla crema to go with your morning coffee.
It’s basically a heavenly creme filled donut that is the perfect mid-morning treat.
Fun Fact: An aperitivo is a pre-meal drink that helps to prepare the stomach for food, and is a cultural ritual in Italy.
Address: 52 Grove St, New York, NY 10014
Stumptown is another one of those classic NYC chains that all the locals will hit up instead of the nearest Starbucks.
Honestly, the most annoying thing about this place is how long the line gets, but it just shows that their coffee is worth the wait.
Besides a full espresso bar, drip coffee, and cold brew, Stumpton offers a plethora of pastries, and even breakfast tacos.
The best part is there’s plenty of seating inside, making it the perfect place to relax without the stress of grabbing a free table.
Address: 30 W 8th St, New York, NY 10011
If you’re looking for a cute place to have a quick and delicious breakfast, look no further than Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen.
This NoMad hotspot serves up a great cappuccino, and even a chocolate chip pancake latte if you really want to jumpstart your morning with a ton of sugar.
You have to order at the counter, and the line can get long in the mornings, so plan on a bit of a wait if you arrive during peak hours.
If you swing by in the afternoon, they also offer an array of wine and beer besides their delicious coffee.
Address: 121 Madison Ave #5, New York, NY 10016
Sweet Moment NYC might be the most funky cafe on the list, thanks to its cool interior and unique shaved ice concoctions.
Though being totally honest, I go for their Earl Grey lattes, which are to die for!
They also have some killer macaroons, and even Earl Grey pudding, which is a unique item that’s shockingly satisfying.
I love coming here in the afternoon to get some writing done.
You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but they’ve got plenty of space to spread out, and the space is always nice and clean.
If you’re traveling with kids, I highly recommend treating them to shaved ice.
I swear every kid I see orders one and they all leave with a giant smile.
Address: 106 Mott St, New York, NY 10013
Felix Roasting Company has a few locations around the city, but it’s their Park Ave. location near NoMad that really hooked me.
The interior is beautiful. They’ve got plenty of outlets, solid WiFi, two restrooms, great music, and tables that are the perfect size to spread out and work on.
The only annoying thing is the kitchen opens a bit after they open for coffee, so if you’re an early bird like me, be ready to wait until well after 9am for their food menu to become available.
Luckily, their latte art is adorable, and they even make some amazing coffee cocktails if you want to treat yourself after a long day of working.
Address: 450 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10016
With views overlooking the Hudson River, The Old Rose cafe, found inside The Jane Hotel, is a charming spot to relax with a latte or late night cocktail.
Fair warning though, the interior is dark and moody, so don’t expect to get much work or reading done here.
Instead, use this spot to chill with friends, have a romantic rendezvous, or take a bit of refuse from the weather outside.
Their breakfast is solid, though it’s their dinner menu that really pulls me in. Try the vodka pizza for a real treat!
It’s also a popular spot with locals and celebrities, so don’t be shocked if you see an A-list actor here memorizing lines or taking meetings.
Address: 113 Jane Street, New York, NY 10014
If you’re searching for a gorgeous cafe with a solid smoothie selection, or delicious acai bowl, look no further than Hibiscus Brew.
I love meeting friends here for catch-ups, and occasionally will even make the trek from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn, just to satisfy my smoothie craving with their hibiscus smoothie.
My friends tell me they also do a really amazing matcha, and delicious red velvet latte, if you’re into that sort of thing.
With its tropical pink decor, faux flowers, and velvet couches, this is also a prime spot to get a few of those colorful IG cafe photos you’re likely dying to shoot while in the city.
Local’s Tip: It’s a bit hidden, but there’s extra seating on the other side of the counter. Don’t be afraid to venture back there to check it out.
Address: 546 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
Just named the “Best Coffee Shop in NY” by Food and Wine magazine, Sey Coffee cannot be missed on your next visit to Brooklyn.
Once you try their coffee, and experience their modern and slightly hipster interior, you’ll understand why it caught the attention of Food and Wine so quickly after opening.
It’s a solid cafe to get some work done in, however the music can get loud.
They also ban laptops on a fair amount of the tables, and have a two-hour time limit for the electrical outlets along the bar (where most of the laptop approved space is), which will either irritate you, or delight you when you score a spot.
I’d hit up this spot for a coffee and catch up with friends over working most days.
Address: 18 Grattan St, Brooklyn, NY 11206
My friend’s ex used to work at the Astoria location, so it delighted me when we found out Sweetleaf Coffee Roasters has a Brooklyn location for us to enjoy without worrying about seeing her ex.
This chain is quickly becoming one of my favorites in the city.
It’s a solid place to chill with friends, take cute photos, get some work done, or even to meet on a first date.
They’ve got cool music, really nice staff, delicious coffees and teas, and a healthy menu.
Address: 159 Freeman St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Who doesn’t love having a bit of chill time with some adorable cats and kittens?
Fair warning though, The Brooklyn Cat Cafe is all about the cats and doesn’t offer people food or drinks.
You will get plenty of time to take cute cat cafe photos, plus you can feed the cats treats (which is rare for NYC cat cafes).
There’s tons of seating, the staff and cats are incredibly sweet, and all the cats are available for adoption in case you fall in love with one of them.
Book your reservation early, as everyone wants to experience this place and it books up fast.
Address: 76 Montague St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
This adorable local gem is absolutely worth a trip to check out.
Cafe Regular is one of those places where you can hang out with a book and just feel like you’re one of the locals of North Park Slope (even if you aren’t).
I love that it’s got a cool antique French vibe to it.
They have a beautiful chandelier and they have a lovely mural on the wall, which makes it the perfect place to get that cool Brooklyn cafe photo.
Plus, they make great croissants and coffee.
I could easily sit for hours here, writing in my journal and watching the world go by.
Address: 158 Berkeley Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217
If you’re looking for a cool coffee shop with homemade pastries and fast WiFi to get some work done, and a beautiful and covered outdoor space, head to Poetica Coffee.
I love any excuse to swing by here for a day of writing and indulging in their divine egg and scallion pierogies.
They have a few locations, but my go-to is their Windsor Terrace location.
I love the vibe and friendliness of the staff, but it’s a peaceful walk over to Prospect Park, which is the perfect place to unwind after a day of writing.
Address: 1233 Prospect Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11218
If you’re looking for a solid latte and a stunning place to take cute social media photos, look no further than Homecoming in Greenpoint.
It’s part florist, part greenhouse, and part cafe, making it the ultimate spot to relax and indulge in a bit of light shopping.
I have to admit, the first few times I was here, I’d buy a plant, telling myself this one will be the one to stay alive, but alas, I just can’t keep them alive more than a couple of weeks.
Now I just go there to enjoy the plants, especially in the winter when greenery is scarce around the city.
While you’re there, try the iced hojicha latte with oat milk.
The best part is that most people don’t realize there’s a cafe, so it’s a guaranteed peaceful spot for a bit of reading or writing, or even a romantic first date.
Address: 107 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
This is by far my favorite spot to meet a group of friends for a coffee or cocktail while in BK.
Devocion’s coffee is sourced from Columbia, and they make a mean oat milk cappuccino, which I highly recommend with the leek parmesan croissant.
The interior has couches, and a fair amount of seating, plus a limited amount of outdoor seating, giving you plenty of options if you arrive before it gets too packed.
I love meeting up with friends here for a caffeine fix before heading to Domino Park for a hang or a day of reading in the sunshine.
Address: 69 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
If you’re looking for a cute cafe near the Graham stop on the L, Variety Coffee Roasters is the spot to go (they also have a variety of other locations).
It’s a super chill, almost retro feeling cafe, with delicious coffee, friendly staff, and a wide variety of pastries (including vegan and gluten-free).
Plus, if you time your visit just right, and score a seat, they have a solid WiFi connection for a day or work.
Address: 368 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Okay, so this one is a bit of a step up from your typical cafe, it’s more of a fancy bistro, but trust me, you’ll want to spend a lazy morning or afternoon relaxing here.
Milk + Roses’ interior is beautiful, they’ve got Balthazar pastries, plus their avocado toast with poached eggs, and tiramisu are to die for.
Fair warning though, it’s cash only, so come prepared (if you don’t, you’ll pay a small fee at the nearby ATM).
This is the perfect spot for when you’re craving an elevated dining experience to go along with your espresso.
Address: 35 Box St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Whether you’re a tourist looking for a bit of peace, or a local wanting to find a home away from home, I hope you’ve found the perfect cute cafe on this list for your time in NYC.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve discovered a spot that you believe deserves a place on this list. I’m always looking for pretty fresh places to get my caffeine fix in the city!
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