Not for newlyweds who want to spend their days lazing by a pool, Manhattan makes for a very different kind of island honeymoon. New York City is a nonstop adventure—we're not going to lie, you'll have to dodge a few taxicabs—but it's also a mecca for fine dining, art, culture, and even relaxation (the decadent spas are in a class all their own). There is so much to do that even native New Yorkers can't hit all the hotspots, so we've assembled a can't-miss list to get your city honeymoon rolling.
You'll start uptown: elegant and posh, with brownstone-lined side streets and Manhattan's most revered museums (The Frick, The Met, the American Museum of Natural History), the northern half of Manhattan is great for a couple who's into the classic, not the über-trendy.
Where to Stay in New York City: The Mandarin Oriental
For heart-stopping views, nothing beats the Mandarin Oriental in the posh Time Warner Center above Columbus Circle. The lobby level starts 35 stories up in the sky, and the Central Park views are unreal. All 248 sleek, Asian-inspired rooms (which run from floors 38 to 54) have a sexy red, black, and cream color palette, and the staff can't do enough for you. Toast your first night with "Bella Pescas" (champagne, elderflower liquor, lychee juice, and a splash of Chambord) at scene-y Mobar, just off the lobby. Rooms from $695.
Where to Shop in New York City: Columbus Circle and Fifth Avenue
The Shops at Columbus Circle are the closest NYC has to an upscale mall (Cole Haan, Williams Sonoma), but even better are the iconic department stores—Saks and Bergdorf Goodman—over on 5th Avenue. The new shoe salon in Saks Fifth Avenue is so crazy over-the-top big, it even has its own zip code—10022-SHOE (really!)—with a population of Louboutins, Pradas, and Manolos.
Where to Go in New York City: Central Park
At the Mandarin, you'll be steps from 843-acre Central Park—even celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis come here for romantic picnics. Throw on sneakers and jog around the reservoir; see giant polar bears at the zoo, or just park it at 15-acre Sheep Meadow (locals sneak in bottles of vino all the time).
What to See in New York City: The Met
Head up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the "Met" for short), which has a rooftop bar that's fabulous on a summer evening. Oh, and downstairs is also stuffed full of art—everything from Van Goghs to Monets to Elizabethan knights' armor to ancient Egyptian sarcophagi.
Insider tip: With a City Pass, you'll get into the Met—and the MoMA, the American Natural History Museum, and the Empire State Building. You also get your choice between the Guggenheim or Top of the Rock, and the Statue of Liberty or a Circle Line Cruise. Buy all these tickets separately and you pay $165; with City Pass, it's just $89.
Where to Snack in New York City: Ladurée
Where to Drink in New York City: Bemelmans Bar
It doesn't get more old-school New York than The Carlyle, a marbled jewel box of a hotel where JFK and Marilyn used to meet up for trysts. Today, A-listers like Cameron Diaz, Mariah Carey, and Sarah Jessica Parker drop by to the discreet Art Deco-style Bemelmans Bar, where original illustrations by the famed Ludwig Bemelmans (creator of the Madeline children's books) line the walls. The bar is black granite, the ceiling is painted in 24-karat gold, and the wine comes by the glass—though $20-plus each—are a very healthy pour. Or, order two Patron Starlets—Patron Silver tequila, St-Germain, muddled mint, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and champagne.
Where to Eat in New York City: PJ Clarke's
You've been living fancy—now go homestyle for dinner. Calorie-splurge on Cadillac burgers (bacon and cheddar, and ask for Bernaise sauce if you really want to blow it out), creamed spinach, and perfectly-salted fries at fratty-but-fabulous PJ Clarke's. The Third Avenue outpost —set in a two-story 1884 building, surrounded by skyscrapers—is the original and the best. It gets a mix of both tourists and locals coming in to hang at the bar, order oysters, and set tunes on the jukebox.
Where to Stay in New York City: Mondrian Soho
We love the refined elegance of uptown—but for sheer energy, electricity in the air, and late nights out, nothing beats downtown. One of the coolest new places to stay—that's still intimate and warm enough for a honeymoon—is the Mondrian Soho, a 270-room hotel that straddles Soho and Chinatown. The rooms are done up in a feminine, elegant cream-and-blue palette, and the downstairs restaurant, Isola, serves superb Italian food: think burrata pizza with squash-blossom pesto, or branzino with braised escarole and limoncello sauce. Rooms from $229.
Where to Go in New York City: The Spa at the Trump Soho
You'll be walking a ton, so a massage is totally necessary. The Spa at the Trump SoHo has a lovely couple's treatment room and an authentic Turkish hammam with gorgeous mosaic-tiled walls. You'll lie on a heated slab of Calacatta marble and be buffed and polished with a traditional, handmade kese mitt.
Where to Eat in New York City: Eataly
In case you hadn't noticed, New Yorkers love Italian food. Hop a subway up to the Madison Park area. You can't miss Eataly—celebrity chef Mario Batali's mega-store of all Italian food, with a salumi-and-cheese counter, shelves filled with pasta of all shapes and sizes, restaurants that specialize in everything from vegetables to seafood, and even a gelato-and-coffee bar.
What to See in New York City: The Highline
Walk west toward the Hudson and stop by the High Line, an abandoned elevated rail line that's been transformed into a cool urban park and 1.5-mile promenade. This is the perfect place to stroll (it's neat to see apartments and buildings a couple of stories up) or kick back, sit on a bench, and people-watch.
Where to Party in New York City: The Meatpacking District
The neighborhood got hot during the Sex and the City days, and today the Meatpacking District is still packed every Saturday night with party-goers. The old standbys (Pastis, Spice Market) are still there, but one of the newest spots is Toy, a buzzy Asian-fusion restaurant on the ground floor of Hotel Gansevoort. Split a couple of appetizers (the Kobe-beef-and-foie-gras tartare and lobster dumplings are amazing).
Insider tip: Order the "Barbie Bowl"—a ginormous glass of 10 Cane rum, Bacardi, pineapple juice, ginger syrup, habanero, and wasabi. A massive drink plus two straws equal trouble.
Where to Eat in New York City: The Little Owl
Walk over to one of the most popular restaurants in the West Village—The Little Owl (P.S.: Ask the concierge at the Mondrian or Mandarin to help you score a reservation—it has just 28 seats). Chef Joey Campanaro's American-Mediterranean cuisine is simple, hearty, and absolutely delicious—order the gravy meatball sliders (it's his grandmother's recipe), homemade ricotta cavatelli, and the pork chop—and look out for frequent celebrity diners like Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig.
What to See in New York City: The Statue of Liberty—at night!
Instead of dinner and drinks in town, try a four-hour "Starlight Dinner" cruise with Hornblower Yachts. The boat leaves at 6 p.m. from Pier 40, and then you're on for dinner, drinks, and a DJ spinning tunes while you sail past the Statue of Liberty.
Getting to New York City
Fly into one of the New York City area's three major airports—JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark Liberty. Alternatively, you can take the train to Penn Station, a major Amtrak hub. Once in town, the most economical way to get around is via the subway, though taxis are easy to come by in a pinch.