This was one of my favorite itineraries to put together because it's definitely the kind of trip I like to take. I love all types of culture from books and movies and art to plays and ballet and music and you can really get it all in New York. If those things are your passions, too, here's your itinerary:
The Library Hotel
This is truly my dream hotel and perfect for anyone on a culture-inspired trip to the city or just anyone who loves books as much as I do. The entire hotel is inspired by the library, with each floor being a section in the Dewey Decimal System and each room being a genre in that category. For instance: the Literature floor is where you'll find the fairytales room and the Arts floor is where you'll find the music themed room. There are also floors for science and technology, religion, philosophy, and more.
The New York Edition
I love this hotel for a culture trip because of its unique, elegant design. The hotel is located inside a clocktower and the rooms are designed in a warm, minimalist style. It's located conveniently on the edge of Madison Square Park, giving you easy access to most places in the city. This is the perfect place for design lovers to stay.
This is a super chic hotel on the Lower East Side that will put you in a really good neighborhood for a more authentic New York experience. The hotel itself is super focused on art, displaying murals by Lee Quinones and sculptures by Mr. Brainwash, both paying tribute to the graffiti scene that was so big on the LES in the 80s and 90s. This is a great place to stay if your art vibe is more youthful and rebellious.
M. Wells Dinette at MoMA PS1
Head over to Long Island City (easy to access by train) to spend a few hours at the incredible MoMA PS1 and while you're there, stop by the M. Wells Dinette for lunch. This place is so cool. Because the museum is in an old school, the restaurant is, of course, designed to look like a chic cafeteria with green chalkboards and communal tables that look like desks. Food is elevated comfort, so think croque monsieur, blueberry cobbler, and soup with bread and butter.
Café Sabarsky at Neue Galerie
Plan to visit Neue Galerie to view Austrian art by Gustav Klimt and then continue the vibes at Café Sabarsky, a beautiful Viennese café where I suggest you eat an apple strudel.
This is one of the city's most historic speakeasies, founded in the 1920s by a socialist activist and a gathering spot for beat artists and the Lost Generation. Writers like Edna St. Vincent Millay, EE Cummings, and Jack Kerouac were known to frequent the bar. Today, it still has the vintage speakeasy vibes, an unmarked entrance, secret stairs, and trap doors. Food is hearty and classic with things like lobster, wild mushroom risotto, and hamburgers with a drink menu perfect for Hemingway: whiskey, cider, scotch and soda.
Another literary haunt is Minetta Tavern, visited by the likes of Hemingway and Ezra Pound. To this day, it's still a celebrity haunt. It has the vibe of a French brasserie, with menu items like steak frites, caesar salads, and oysters. This place really reminds me of somewhere that Gatsby and Daisy would eat.
Sing Broadway tunes at Marie's Crisis
If you love Broadway, you have to spend an evening at Marie's Crisis. It's a tiny little West Village dive where everyone huddles around the live pianist and sings Broadway tunes at the top of their lungs. It's super laid back and really, really fun. Keep in mind that it is cash only and that you'll need to check your coat and bag. There is also a one drink minimum per set, so bring about $15-$20 in cash minimum.
Go gallery-hopping in Chelsea
In between paying to visit the art museums, check out the world renowned galleries in Chelsea that you can explore for free. If you head to West 24th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, there are a ton of galleries with incredible art.
Shop for books at The Strand
Stop by The Strand, my personal favorite bookstore near Union Square, for eighteen miles of books. Not only will you find cheap books (pretty much any one you'd want), and rare and out-of-print books, but they also have tons of culture-related pins, stickers, notebooks, and more. This is a must-do for anyone in the city but especially culture-lovers.
Rush tickets to the ballet
Most people tend to go to Broadway shows in the city, but I highly suggest going to the ballet. I try to go as often as I can (especially during the summer when Lincoln Center puts on their festival). Yes, you can buy your tickets beforehand but if you're traveling alone or in a pair, I recommend going to the box office on the morning of a performance and rushing tickets for $25 each. I've never gone and not gotten tickets because they're, unfortunately, not in as high demand as Broadway shows. However, ballet is everything and will probably make you cry happy tears.
See a movie at a special theater
This city has so many cool and unique movie theaters that you won't find in other cities. Whether you want to see something new or something older, there's a place for you. Some of the theaters I recommend are Metrograph, Syndicated, The Paris Theater, Nitehawk Cinema, and The Angelika. Some are fancier than others, but even the less fancy ones (like The Angelika) are so magical.