Posted by: Josey | February 18, 2009

Ask Josey: New York City Bachelorette Party Ideas


As a travel blogger and the former senior editor of Love and Weddings at Universal, it only makes sense that I launch my “Ask Josey” series with this question:

Hi Josey,
So, here’s my dilemma: We (the bridal party) want to surprise the bride with a trip to Manhattan for an NYC bachelorette party. We’ll only be in the city for one night—a Saturday night. Can you recommend a fun restaurant or bar? If it helps, we all love live music. Any thoughts?
You’re my hero for helping!
–Smiley in a Small Town

Dear Smiley in a Small Town,
My pleasure! Here are my initial thoughts for a New York City bachelorette party:

  1. Avoid Times Square at all costs (and it will cost ya’!). There are some great new hotels on the Lower East Side, which is a very edgy, cool, up-and-coming neighborhood. For example, check out this write-up on Thompson LES by fellow travel blogger Jennifer Knoepfle.
  2. Eat dinner somewhere around there that’s a) good for big groups and b) takes reservations. Oliva, a popular NYC tapas bar at the corner of E. Houston Street and Allen Street, would qualify. It has a really fun, hip atmosphere; plus, they often host live Latin music (call for the schedule: 212.228.4143).
  3. Go live-music bar-hopping along nearby Bleecker Street (a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride away). Saturdays seem to be shifting to DJs around the city, but there are always live bands playing on Bleecker Street. You’ll find a really concentrated strip of bars and restaurants that feature live music—think The Red Lion, The Back Fence, The Bitter End—on Bleecker Street between MacDougal Street and Laguardia Place.
  4. End the night somewhere silly and interactive. I love the Duplex, for example, which is known as a gay destination, but everyone and their mother goes there to drink and sing along in the high-energy piano bar. And when I say “and their mother,” I mean it: Even my in-laws enjoyed a night there a few weeks ago! Similarly, I’ve heard great things about Marie’s Crisis, another sing-along piano bar in the West Village.
  5. Finally, before you head home on Sunday, don’t miss “Sunday Gospel Drag Brunch” at Lips. Watching a drag show is something everyone must do at least once in their lifetime; on your NYC bachelorette party adventure, Opportunity is knocking… and he’s wearing lipstick and heels.

NOTE: On your walk from the live music section of Bleecker to the area where those piano bars are located, you’ll pass several opportunities to make the bride blush. I picked up some novelty items at a sex shop on W. 4th Street for a bachelorette party a few years ago, and, with a completely straight face, the saleslady asked me, “Would you like your wind-up, hopping penis in glow-in-the-dark or flesh tone?” ALSO: The Lower East Side, where I recommended you stay, is home to one location of Babeland, a very famous sex shop (94 Rivington Street)—in case you crazy girls want to do some pre-dinner bachelorette shopping near your hotel.

Good luck and have fun!

UPDATE: To read another idea for a low-key NYC bachelorette party, or better yet a NYC bridal shower, click here now.

Have more travel questions? Ask away! If I don’t know the answer to your travel question myself, I’ll do your research for you.



  1. […] See t­h­e or­igin­a­l post­: Ask J­o­­se­y: Ne­w­ Yo­­rk Cit­y B­ach­e&#17… […]

  2. Ha ha…this post makes me nostalgic for the old days. :)

  3. Josey is the coolest person, ever.

  4. No, YOU are!

  5. I’m assuming that the kind folks at Hunkamania intended their list of do’s and don’ts for this post, not my post about dive bars… Either way, here they are:

    Do’s and Don’ts in bachelorette party planning

    Don’t wait till the last minute to make your plans.
    Do plan your event 2 months in advance.

    Don’t drink heavily at the beginning of the night.
    Do instruct your group to pace their drinking.

    Don’t over indulge at dinner.
    Do have a sensible meal.

    Don’t be late for your plans.
    Do set your start time an hour ahead of schedule.

    Don’t allow your guests too much say in your plans.
    Do instruct your guests that “this is what the bride wants”

    Don’t assume planning a bachelorette party is like any other girls night out.
    Do take into account that you are taking a large group around with you where ever you go.

  6. Ummm, I’d like to agree with the *Don’t drink heavily at the beginning of the night* tip!

    Everything was great, Josey, thank you. As planner-in-chief, I appeared as if I was a real New Yorker! We even found a great cafe in Soho for breakfast, did some shopping, and headed home around 3:00. Fantastic weekend and the bride-to-be was ecstatic.

    You’re the best! xoxo

  7. Hi Josey,

    I have been searching around your site for Bachelorette ideas. I live in Manhattan, but my sister (bride) and the others do not, therefore the planning is up to me. She (bride) wants attention but not strippers. She prefers bars over clubs and nothing too “upscale”. So far I have all the girls coming to my apartment as a meeting spot where I will have snacks and drinks. Then to Tortilla Flats for a small dinner and then to Johnny Utahs for bull riding. And ideas, modifications, additions, etc…I read your trash bar guide, but she is not really into live music.

    If it were up to me I would be at a spa and out for a decadent dinner, but we are basically opposite..any help would be GREAT.

    Thanks! Love your site BTW :)

  8. I actually think your ideas are excellent, Rachel! Hopefully you’ll be at Tortilla Flats on a hula-hoop contest night… And maybe, if you tell them it’s a bachelorette party, she’ll get some bachelorette spankings. ;) You can’t go wrong with Johnny Utahs, though it’s a bit of a trek to Midtown from the Far W. Village. You might also want to consider Hogs & Heifers, which is around the corner from TF. (It might be easier to move a large party nearby after a tequila-infused dinner!)

  9. Great ideas, I would add that the bachelorette’s make sure they have transportation and travel in style with a classy looking limo.

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