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There's no better time to honeymoon in New York City than the fall. Street cafes are bustling, rowdy sports fans crowd corner bars, golden-hued trees line every park, and the overall atmosphere is filled with anticipation and excitement as locals reconvene after summer weekends spent escaping the heat. To experience the City at its finest, head to the storied Upper East Side, where tony hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, and bars provide ample opportunity to mix-and-mingle with New York's high-society (don't be surprised if you spot a Real Housewife or two). This essential long-weekend itinerary blends high and low, for the best mix this chic NYC neighborhood has to offer.
Photo: Courtesy of The Surrey
Whether arriving by plate, train, or automobile, make a beeline for 76th Street and Madison Avenue, home of The Surrey, one of the Upper East Side's coolest boutique hotels. Upon check-in you'll find yourself surrounded by marble floors and large-scale portraits of celebs like Kate Moss — welcome to your swanky new home. Rooms are outfitted in a cool blue-gray palette, with plush leather headboards, Sferra bedding, Pratesi Italian robes, and diptyque bath amenities. If you're looking to splurge, there are few suites that rival those at the Surrey — from the palatial Presidential Suite (a souped-up NYC apartment you could never afford) to the 1,200-square-foot Penthouse Suite, which has access to the hotel's private roof garden (pays for itself in Central Park views).
Places like Daniel, Sushi of Gari, the Mark, and Vaucluse are mainstays in the New York dining scene, but if you're looking for something more low-key (and wallet-friendly), make your way to Pizza Beach, a colorful Malibu-meets-New-York pizza joint with an extensive wine list, gluten-free options, and a roasted Brussels sprout and pancetta pizza that's to die for. If pizza's not your thing, the restaurant's owners also run The East Pole, a British-tavern-style eatery that had the food world abuzz when it debuted.
Photo: Courtesy of Bar Pleiades
Good news: The Surrey's on-site restaurant is run by none other than famed French chef Daniel Boulud. No need for a reservation — or a wallet — just walk into Café Boulud, pick a table, and charge your Continental breakfast to the room. (Insider tip: If they don't automatically suggest it, ask the waiters if you can order anything off the menu for the same price, which they often allow.) After breakfast, take a casual stroll through Central Park, peruse designer boutiques along Fifth and Madison Avenues, and check out the latest exhibitions on view at the Frick Collection, Neue Galerie, and obvs, the Costume Institute at the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Don something sequined so you'll fit in among trendy Upper East Siders having drinks downstairs at Bar Pleiades, where head bartender Darryl D. Chan themes seasonal cocktails on regions around the world (like "Once Upon a Time in India," a mix of gin, white vermouth, sherry kummel, green chartreuse, and celery bitters). Then, go for dinner at August, a West Village transplant that's quickly found a loyal Upper East Side following. Expect delicious takes on classic dishes like New England Clam Chowder, Burrata, lobster rolls, and roasted organic chicken.
Photo: Courtesy of Toloache
It's no secret New Yorkers love to brunch, so make a point to experience this essential part of City culture and reserve your table well in advance. Le Bilboquet, on 60th Street, serves up a legendary Cajun chicken and a Champagne-fueled atmosphere that will undoubtedly check the box on "party brunch among ridiculous New Yorkers." Charge your phone beforehand, because you'll want to Instagram the entire meal.
After a long afternoon nap, make your way around the corner to the Carlyle Hotel, a Rosewood Hotel, for cocktails at Bemelman's Bar — the mural-filled Art Deco jazz joint that's made appearances in Sex and the City and A Very Murray Christmas (arrive before 9 p.m. to avoid the cover charge). Afterward, get your fill of comfort foods at J.G. Melon (the cheeseburgers are otherworldly) or upscale Mexican at Toloache. Chef Julian Medina's menu has everything from grasshopper tacos to chicken quesadillas, and even better: they deliver — dinner in bed, anyone?