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Insider’s guide to New York, Key West and New Orleans

Nothing beats local knowledge when you travel. Three people passionate about their patch share their ultimate hot spots.

 

Laura Beebe’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn 

Best morning coffee
I’m a coffee lover and there are some amazing places to slow it down and people-watching over a latte – Toby’s Estate, Blue Bottle, and the local favourites, Devocion or Pudge Knuckles.  Freehold showcases Brooklyn’s love for multi-use space. Creative types flock to the chic coffee bar in this oversized complex before work.

Café culture
Breakfast at Cafe Mogador makes me happy. To me, it epitomises a perfect blend of old and new Williamsburg. Although chic, the pricing is still starving-artist friendly. It’s traditionally a Moroccan restaurant, so I usually go for the halloumi eggs – their homemade humous is amazing.

Rides and walks
Grab a Citi Bike to ride along Kent Avenue. I head to Greenpoint to explore the neighbourhood or towards the Williamsburg Bridge for a ride over the bridge into the Lower East Side and back. This is an excellent route for experienced runners as well.

Top spot
My hidden gem is Hotel Delmano, which is not really a hotel but a cocktail bar. It isn’t marked by any signage but it serves all the best drinks. 

Shopping
Saturday is the best time to browse Smorgasburg, the world’s largest outdoor food market with over 100 vendors.
Afterwards comes the hard decision – to shop or to cocktail? My favourites are Concrete + Water, In God We Trust, The Vale Collective (Gentry across the street for men), Sprout Home and BEAM. For vintage pieces, I head to Beacon’s Closet. At the weekend there is also Artists & Fleas, which is full of high-end artisans and vintage stalls.
 
Dinner destinations
French-inspired Juliette is a real gem of an eaterie. Meadowsweet has a Michelin star – be sure to make a reservation if you can. If you can’t, the waiting times for tables usually aren’t terrible. Alternatively, hit fantastic Motorino Pizza next door.

Sundowner spot
I try to catch sunset on the Williamsburg waterfront or on a rooftop. With the iconic New York City skyline in the background, it’s a fabulous way to end the day.

Laura Beebe, founder of Like a Local tours.


Stacey Mitchell’s Florida Keys

Best morning coffee
A typical day for me begins with café con leche and a Cuban mix sandwich from the takeaway window at Sandy’s Cafe. They don’t take cards so make sure you’re carrying cash.

Café culture
Coffee and cocktails are enjoyed at one of the many open-air cafés, bars and restaurants along the waterfront. such as Conch Republic Seafood Company, Ocean Key Resort & Spa.


Rides and walks
Key West is only three kilometres wide by six-and-a-half kilometres long and my commute is four minutes. It rarely rains here so ideal for cycling adventures.

Top spot
My free time is spent in, on or under the water. I love to snorkel the reef and kayak in the mangroves – my go-to charter companies include Danger Charters and Key West Eco Tours.

Shopping
The dress code here is pretty casual. I buy all my clothes from the boutiques along Duval Street. 

Dinner destinations
I head to the wonderful waterfront restaurants such as Conch Republic Seafood Company, Ocean Key Resort & Spa and the Southernmost Beach Café. 
After dinner, I’ll head to The Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, the Green Parrot, Sloppy Joe’s or Irish Kevin’s to listen to some foot-stomping live music.

Sundowner spot
From a boat looking back at Key West and toasting the end of another day. 

Stacey Mitchell is director of sales for the Florida Keys & Key West Tourism Council


Abigail Gullo’s New Orleans

Best morning pick-me-up
For an amazing juice to kick-start the day I stop at Bywater, Satsuma on Dauphine 
Street.

Rides and walks
I like to bike down to Bywater, where you find colourful creole cottages and then head to the park on the levee there. Sometimes friends and I will do a chicken-wing tour by bike. We cycle up my favourite street, Esplanade Avenue, until we hit City 
Park. We get some wings and cool drinks at Mopho and then head down to St Ann Street.

Top spot
Willie Mae’s Scotch House, St Ann Street, serves the world’s greatest fried chicken which is super juicy and the spice has just the right amount of kick. 

Dinner destination
I head over to Bacchanal to this ‘wine laboratory’ which serves great wine and plays amazing music. Or I’ll go to The Joint for barbecue.

Sundowner spot
The Bywater as it’s peaceful and relaxing – a great way to start or end the day.

Abigail Gullo is the head bartender at Compère Lapin Restaurant