nyc. gems. // part. one.

While I'm not a New York native or current NYC resident (maybeeee, someday), I DO visit the city frequently enough that I've accumulated quite the list of *favorite* neighborhood spots (from Nolita to Williamsburg to the UES) that I'd recommend in a heartbeat. I have my favorite sorbet spot, my favorite hotel rooftop, my favorite place to stockpile sheet masks, my favorite slice of pizza, etc. etc. etc. I honestly struggled with how to make this series a reality — I debated doing individual trip recaps vs. in-depth profiles of shops and businesses. Ultimately, I decided that bite-size roundups would work best.

A charming pencil shop, a green lifestyle coffee shop with succulent cupcakes (s'cute!), and a lush rooftop/restaurant located in the heart of the Meatpacking District.

Urban Backyard

This must be the place. initial thought upon stepping foot into Urban Backyard. Sure, I had seen snapshots on IG of this magical coffee shop located in Nolita, but photos simply don't do it justice. I arrived bright and early on a Monday morning (8 a.m. sharp!) to meet a friend, so we pretty much had first dibs on seating. Take note: The small "cozy" space adds to the zen atmosphere. But perhaps, it's the houseplants and adorable embroidery hoops lining the walls that entice you to linger a wee bit longer. As I like to say: "come for the cute aesthetic, and then stay for the succulent cupcakes." I sampled a few macarons (lemon + passion fruit) before moving onto a flourless chocolate cupcake (which was divine). The cushioned wooden futon couch accompanied by a goldenrod pillow beckoned for company, as did the open window. Last, but not least, it's the outdoor seating area in front — a dreamy tiled oasis, complete with gorgeous blooms and "cold water for fur babies" — that make passersby pause for a pic.

Bonus points for Urban Backyard's sustainable initiative. They have biodegradable hay straws, y'all. According to Yelp, they also offer a discount to customers who bring their own cup.

Urban Backyard
180 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

CW Pencil Enterprise

Pencil shops are rare. Pencil shops with *secret* sticker rooms are even more of a rarity. While I've known about CW Pencil Enterprise for what feels like an eternity, it wasn't until a dreamy (and long overdue) December 2017 visit to their Orchard St. shop that I became a true pencil devotee. ✏️ 

A little backstory. CWPE was founded by Caroline Weaver, a lifelong pencil aficionado, in November 2014. A brick-and-mortar shop opened shortly thereafter in March 2015. Whenever I'm in the city, I make it a point to pop in, even if it's just to pick up a few Tombow colored pencils or a sheet of stickers. The store itself is an aesthete's dream. Heaps of natural light and a p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y curated wall of pencils (over 200 varieties to be exact) make it a Lower East Side gem. 

Beyond everyone's trusty yellow No. 2 pencil, you'll find a slew of specialty and novelty pencils (from a baseball scoring set to toothpick-sized heart pencils) — plus notebooks, sharpeners, erasers, and other fun knick-knacks aimed to delight the creative enthusiast in all of us. Did I mention that there's a pencil sample station, complete with a notebook for doodles and notes? Yessss. Cuteness ensues.

Oh and certainly not least... ! My favorite part of the Orchard St. shop just may be the CW Sticker Emporium. With so many kawaii Japanese and world-class stickers to choose from, you'll 100 percent feel like a kid in a candy store. I dare you to leave empty-handed.      

CW Pencil Enterprise
15 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

RH Rooftop Restaurant by Restoration Hardware

Scattered all across the city, you'll find a plethora of hip hotel rooftop bars — many of which are charming — but it's not every day you discover a lavish + lush rooftop garden of this size. Enter the RH (aka, Restoration Hardware) Rooftop Restaurant, located in the historic Meatpacking District, a mere stone's throw away from The High Line and the Whitney. The perfect spot for people watching, grabbing a bite to eat (come early, as they don't take reservations!!!) or sipping rosé. I know what you're thinking… "but isn't that a luxury home-furnishings store?" My thoughts exactly! Part swanky showroom, part gallery, part restaurant — no detail goes unnoticed as you take the excursion from the first floor to the 🔝. 

While I can't comment on the food — we were just checking out the space for the first time — the atmosphere is quite lovely. It's fancy enough for after-hours, but relaxed enough if you're just there to soak in the views and hang out with friends. The scenery, no joke, is "inspired by the great classical gardens of Europe." And they don't rush you out, so you can truly enjoy your experience. 

On level three, you'll find a Barista Bar (espresso + wine). Not at all an inconvenience for me (I don't drink), but just FYI, there's no bar service on the rooftop wine terrace, so you'll have to purchase your drink here and then take it upstairs. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 

RH Rooftop Restaurant
9 9th Ave, New York, NY 10014

What are your favorite NYC spots? Have you visited any of these gems?


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