Looking for a travel guide that gives you true insight into NYC? 500 Hidden Secrets of New York is part of a series that dig deeper into a city’s heart and soul. Author Ellen Swandiak shares the mindset behind her top picks in the book.

New York City is one of those cities that is in a state of constant flux, and keeping up with interesting new places has been my pride and joy in writing for Hobnob Magazine. Then came along another opportunity: I got to co-author 500 Hidden Secrets of New York. This travel guide allowed me to flex my city muscles and look at where I live in a whole new way. In this book, we delve into locales off the beaten track and talk about places that exude a certain zeitgeist of New York.

500 Hidden Secrets of New York cover


The book is divided into 100 “Top 5” categories, and starts with the basics: Where to Eat-Drink-Shop-Stay, but then digs deeper. It includes:

• little ways to really discover New York’s history

• ideas for viewing architecture

• interesting ways of taking in art and theater

• special, fun things to do with kids

This guide represents a starting point for enjoying what the city has to offer and those quirky things that make people fall in love with New York. Think of it as not only a great resource for tourists, but for hardened city dwellers as well—I too became acquainted with many places that I had never even heard of, even though I grew up in New York.


You can imagine the amount of thought went into narrowing down the 5 Great Places for Artisanal Cocktails or the 5 Top Tasting Menus in a city with such vast choices and high standards! Streamlining the picks was a little heartbreaking and nerve-wracking, especially having to leave out so many fantastic places I love. But I ended up choosing those spots that have a bit of magic—or offer something unique. Visit them for an experience to cherish, then go back and do it again! The shortlist:

HOBNOBMAG 500 Hidden Secrets of New York eat drink


from 5 Charming Restaurants with Character: The Beatrice Inn  Like being in a wealthy person’s brownstone who’s special focus is serving meaty delights. (Photo at the top of the post shows Ellen and friend Bev at the bar.)

from 5 of the Best Media Hangouts: Racines  A gem of a spot with artsy, simple, French fare and natural wines.

from 5 Cool Italian Restaurants: Carbone The Godfather ambiance with absolutely stellar Italian fare and old school service, like creamy burrata cut with special scissors tableside.

from 5 Top Tasting Menus: The Musket Room Michelin tasting menus to be had in a rustic, relaxing vibe, with backyard garden.

from 5 Great Spots for Intellectuals: KGB Bar  Get dirty, meet interesting folks, or see an stimulating show in a dive.

from 5 Best Hotel and Rooftop Bars: Temple Court  Breathtaking 9-story atruim highlights the lobby and drinking experience.

from 5 Places for Oenophiles: Air’s Champagne Parlor Inexpensive and pricey selections of bubbly, plus the daily deal, and Aldo Sohn Wine Bar Wine selections from a famous sommelier in a comfortable, oversized living room setting.

from 5 Best Places to Watch Films: Metrograph  For true film buffs: enjoy special dinner and a show.

HOBNOBMAG 500 Hidden Secrets of New York tour


from 5 Lifestyle Concept Spaces: Whisper Editions One of the many reasons to visit newly revived South Street Seaport for original finds in art, jewelry, and home accessories.

from 5 Must-See Modern Buildings: Via 57 A super cool pyramid shaped-building with inner coutyard cutout, best viewed from the Hudson River.

from 5 Most Intimate Museums: Neue Galerie My favorite little museum featuring German & Austrian art from the early 1900s.

from 5 of the Best Places to See Dance: Joyce Theater Every seat is good for watching imaginative dance acts.

from 5 Best Day Trip Destinations: Govenor’s Island A short ferry ride takes you to nirvana.

500 Hidden Secrets of New York also gives some great tips on the most popular and familiar places, like how to beat the line for the Empire State Building or which trains to take over the East River, so you can experience the views as you go.

HOBNOBMAG 500 Hidden Secrets of New York press


Media outlets around the world have lots of nice things to say about the book. Here’s a sampling.

The Daily Mail (UK)

Issimo Magazine (Australia)

Female First (London)

Conde Nast Traveler (Spain)

The Finer Things in Travel

Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald 500 hidden secrets of new york


Learn more about 500 Hidden Secrets of New York—and the other 23 cities in the series—on the website: the500hiddensecrets.com

Purchase the book on Amazon at this link.