Recently, I had the opportunity to take a weekend visit to one of my favorite places:New York City. However, I only had 24 hours in this incredible city. There are endless amounts of activities to do in the city; how could I possibly narrow it down to only a couple, and still make the most out of the experience? Luckily, with the help of my sister, who is a Soho local, I was able to find some cute, unique spots around her neck of the woods.

After three hours of driving, my dad, brother and I arrived around lunchtime and decided to meet up at Baz Bagel and Restaurant to grab something to eat. The small cafe on Grand Street scream “old fashioned” with its black and white tiles and framed pictures [and a basket of free postcards] of vintage female icons, like Celine Dion and Judy Garland. Baz’s menu is filled with healthy soups, salads, and [most importantly] bagels. You can keep it simple and order their homemade bagels plain, or you can get one of their specialty bagels like Baz, Super Nova, or Rainbow Kitty. I opted for the Vegan Avocado Toast, a wheat bagel topped with smashed avocado, cucumber, tomato and Baz’s housemade everything seasoning [think Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning, but even better]. I highly recommend Baz Bagel & Restaurant— I walked out happy, full and carrying a Barbara Streisand postcard. 

After lunch, we wandered down the main shopping streets of SoHo. If for some reason you can’t find anything to do in NYC, these few blocks of shops could keep you entertained for days. There’s something for everyone, with shops ranging from Glossier and Louis Vuitton to Champion and Madewell. While strolling down Broadway, we stumbled across The Lion King interactive pop up, at Dolby SoHo. Founded in 1965, Dolby was the first company to introduce 5.1 surround sound into the cinema world, and they now focus on expanding that technology from the theater into the home. This free experience featured a number of immersive experiences that Dolby offers, including a four-wall projection of The Lion King trailer and the chance to try out Dolby’s audio mixing program. As a media major, I was immediately intrigued. Not only did it show off the Dolby products that you can buy in stores, like their TVs and headphones, but it showed some of the programs they use behind the scenes to create surround sound and 4k visuals. I’m so glad we stumbled on this experience, and although this one was only in SoHo for a limited time, there are always shops and experiences popping up throughout the city year-round that you could find.

Beginning to lose energy, we decided we needed a little pick-me-up. Instead of going to a coffee shop, my sister took us to one of her favorite places to get a midday treat: a Cha Cha Matcha. This pink and palm tree decorated SoHo café specializes in a variety of hot and cold matcha green tea drinks. Their super-powered green tea has just as much caffeine as coffee but doesn’t give you the anxious jitters and heavy crash afterward. As someone who is definitely not a tea person, I was hesitant to try a matcha drink. However, I tried an iced matcha latte with oat milk and was surprised by how much I actually liked it [after I got over the grassy aftertaste]. I’ll definitely always be more of a coffee person, but I’m happy I’ve discovered this less jittery caffeine alternative.

For the rest of the time we were in the city, we wandered down the streets of Chinatown and Little Italy. We meandered through the crowds, amazed at how many Italian restaurants could be tucked into one block. We eventually decided to stop at a small Italian restaurant that focused mostly on specialty pizzas. I honestly couldn’t tell you the name of the  place, but I will never forget the taste of their pizza. It was a fresh mozzarella and homemade tomato-sauce heaven. If I ever find myself in this area again, I’ll scour every end of Little Italy to find this restaurant. 

When we were looking for something fun to do after dinner, we found the Chinatown Family Fun Center [shoutout to my sister for this secret local hangout]. Tucked in between tourist shops and bubble tea cafés, this arcade is a hidden treasure. It’s full of various arcade games like skee ball, air hockey and at least three separate versions of Dance, Dance Revolution. Stepping inside was like stepping out of the chaos of the city and into a completely different realm, where you could take a minute to relax and forget about the world outside. You could come in for ten minutes on a lunch break or stay for hours trying to beat the highest DDR record, but either way you’ll walk out smiling [and maybe with a 15-ticket-worth plastic dinosaur like me].

Even though I only had the chance to be in New York City for a short amount of time, I took every second I was there to my advantage and got to visit a ton of new places, try new foods and make memories I’ll keep with me forever. If you ever have the opportunity to visit a new place, even if it’s just for a day, I promise that it would be worth it.

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