The cutest cupcake shops in NYC

These five adorable cupcake shops are as sweet as they come

Personal-sized perfection is what cupcakes are all about. Baked up fluffy and light, frosted with flair, and often filled with ooey gooey goodness, cupcakes make folks smile, and who could blame them? Whether you're two or 102, the thrill of cupcakes never goes away. Thankfully, NYC is cupcake heaven, with plenty of shops to stop for your favorite bakery treat. And these five adorable cupcake shops are as sweet as they come.

Molly's Cupcakes

Via pinterest.com

Named one of the 10 Best Cupcake Bakeries in the Country by USA Today, and winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars, Molly's Cupcakes evidently serves up some of the most delicious cupcakes around. The NYC location (there are others in Chicago and Iowa City) is baking up batch after batch of cupcake creativity, filled with flavor and fun. Some noteworthy cupcake confections include their Cookies-N-Cream, which is chocolate cake, cookies-n-cream filling, vanilla buttercream, and cookie topping; the Samoa, a vanilla cake, caramel filling, buttercream, toasted coconut, chocolate and caramel drizzle, and shortbread cookie cupcake creation; and "The Ron Bennington," made with chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, chocolate ganache, and crushed butterscotch topping. Vegan options are available, as are cookies, bars, pies, cheesecake, eclairs, cake pops, and brownies. A portion of Molly's Cupcakes proceeds goes towards donations to local schools, making every purchase even sweeter.

228 Bleeker Street, New York, NY

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Via foodgal.com

With three booming locations in NYC, Sprinkles Cupcakes is sprinkling its sweetness all over the Big Apple. Their outrageous cupcakes are made in regular and mini sizes, satisfying a major sweet tooth or just to hold you over 'till suppertime. Flavors like chocolate marshmallow, lemon coconut, red velvet, peanut butter chip, Cuban coffee, cinnamon sugar, and vanilla milk chocolate are craved by cupcake-lovers, and since some flavors are offered as gluten-free, sugar-free, or vegan, nearly anyone can enjoy the Sprinkles experience. They even make "pupcakes" a treat for Fido with a yogurt frosting. Ice cream and cookies are served up too, and their Cupcake ATM on Lexington Ave. "dispenses freshly-baked cupcakes and cookies 24/7." Talk about instant gratification!

225 Liberty Street, New York, NY

2 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY

780 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY

Georgetown Cupcake

Via sassandthecityblog.com

Owned by sisters who have a flair for frosting, Georgetown Cupcake is a NYC hot spot… or better yet, sweet spot, for those who love cupcakes that are as pretty as they are pleasing to the palate. Along with the NYC location, there are five other Georgetown Cupcake shops across the U.S., so if you're not in Manhattan, indulge in L.A., Atlanta, Boston, D.C., or Bethesda, MD. Go for their Vanilla Birthday, a Madagascar vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and sprinkles; the red velvet with a vanilla cream cheese frosting and a red fondant heart; or Sunshine on Chocolate, bright yellow vanilla frosting on top of a Valrhona chocolate cupcake topped with a seasonal decoration. And that's only a taste of what Georgetown Cupcake is baking. Daily specials keep customers on their toes with limited offerings of carrot, salted caramel, mocha fudge, chocolate coconut, and lemon blossom cupcakes, to name a few. Vegans and those who follow a gluten-free diet are in luck with flavors like apple cinnamon and strawberry lava fudge. Attention to detail with exceptional decorating turns these edibles into works of art. But these are a case of "now you see 'em, now you don't" as they disappear into the eager mouths of Georgetown cupcake fans.

111 Mercer Street, New York, NY

Baked by Melissa

Via theseventhdistrict.com

With 14 locations throughout the city, Baked by Melissa is giving New Yorkers a bite (literally) of pure bliss. Their bite-sized desserts are pop-in-your-mouth magic, made with creative culinary care. Each tiny treat is topped with just the right amount of sweet frosting, making each cute cupcake perfectly balanced. But who could eat just one? Flavors include cookie dough, triple chocolate fudge, cannoli, mint cookie, sugar cookie, peanut butter and jelly, and a whole lot more. Along with Baked by Melissa's signature cupcakes, they also whip up mini cookies and macarons, with options for gluten-free and nut-free baked goods. For a special gift, Baked by Melissa creates beautiful boxes, samplers, and subscriptions for that friend who is crazy for cupcakes.

Click for locations

Magnolia Bakery

Via eatamadworld.wordpress.com

There are six Magnolia Bakery locations throughout the city, one in L.A. and another in Chicago, allowing lots of cupcake aficionados in on their delectable freshly baked goods. Known for their super-moist cakes and generosity with frosting application, Magnolia's cupcakes are beloved by customers who are always eager to return time and time again. German chocolate, red velvet, carrot, caramel, devil's food, truffle, and pistachio are all favorites, proving that simplicity is indeed, scrumptious. Crowds come for the cupcakes, but don't pass on Magnolia's morning muffins and scones, layer cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cookies, brownies, and their "Famous Banana Pudding." Since 1996, Magnolia has been a NYC gem, and with the bakery's ongoing popularity, expect to see a Magnolia near you for years to come.

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Oh, what goodness you'll gobble. NYC must stand for New York Cupcakes!

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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.


Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).


Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!

Travel

So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—Workaway.info.

Workaway Workaway


Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).

Workaway WoIsango.com

You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway


Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker