5 Days in New York City (Gallery)
Y'all! Thank you for all of your sweet, Happy Anniversary wishes!! Russell + I spent five unforgettable days in NYC, and it was my most favoritest vacation I've ever had! ...which of course makes me sooo excited to share our trip with you!
***The photo gallery is further down, so if you're more of a picture person, feel free to skip there***
I'm writing this the day after we returned, and I'm still on that fresh high that comes from immersing myself in the diversity + creativity that is NYC.
It's funny how travel brings such fresh perspective, especially travel to a place so different from home. I've traveled + lived in many places in America, but NYC is the most rare. It's such a melting pot - of ideas, of culture, of people with diverse backgrounds. And being in a diverse city just points out to me how limited my own perspective can be. I love to travel, not because I dislike my home, but because I can bring parts of the distant world back home with me. I can embrace other ideas and figure out new ways of seeing my daily life.
I'm also feeling fresh inspiration and creativity after seeing all of the artists + professionals (+ professional artists) who took their work to one of the world's top markets to become the best. NYC has no lack of ambition, that's for sure.
It's so evident while walking the streets, it's practically palpable how bad people want to reach the pinnacle of their creative output, of success, of their best selves. Not to mention* the talent that I saw on Broadway. It's rejuvenating to visit such a place!
*Whenever anyone says "not to mention" they're specifically mentioning it...ironic much?
5 days in NYC
We landed at LaGuardia Airport and checked into our hotel, The Quin, located one block south of Central Park. It was a lovely hotel in a perfect location! *This is my non-sponsored opinion, though I would accept any sponsorship offered ;) ;)
The very first place you should see upon arrival is the ever-iconic Times Square. (I snapped a pic [DUH], but I looked like I "woke up at 6am after a Thanksgiving turkey hangover and rushed to the airport and spent 3 hours on a flight and another hour in a cab"...because that's what happened, so I refuse to post a pic.) Since this was Russell's first time in NY, I just neeeeeded him to see it. His face was priceless -- I hope to never forget it. If you've never been to Times Square, I can't describe it...and I'm a self-professed writer... You just have to experience it yourself. It's SPECTACULAR!!!
Here are our other adventures on Day 1:
TIP: If you're an avid reader OR a fan of architecture, you'll be thoroughly impressed by the NYPL. It's located on the same block as Bryant Park, which has a remarkable Winter Village with ice-skating...and fried mac-n-cheese balls. Need I say more?
Magnificent, isn't it??
TIP: I've been to both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock. I thought TOTR was a better overall experience. I advise you to buy your tickets ahead of time online, as they issue specific time-slots for each ticket. We bought ours there and the earliest time-slot was 2 hours later. Next time, I'll buy a "Sun & Stars" ticket so I can go see the daylight AND twilight views.
CAKE TIP: My chef friend @amostlyhealthychef told me to visit Amy's Bread for her yellow cake with pink frosting. It was literally *THE MOST DIVINE* yellow cake I've ever had. I literally ate it for days...and one of those meals was breakfast :P Amy's Bread has 3 locations in Manhattan -- def check it out!
TIP: Most of NYC is sight-seeing, but Broadway is my fave to-do! Not only is it the world's most BRILLIANT live performers honing their craft every night, but it's a necessary reprieve for your tired legs. It's truly MAGNIFICENT! Save up the extra $$ to go to at least one show. And if it's still too pricey, visit the TKTS booth at Times Square for same-day, half-fare tickets (as available).
TIP: If you're a shopper, Fifth Avenue is...how do they say it? *Das bae* It has the most luxurious shopping and the best designers in the world: Hermes, Gucci, Saks, Cartier, Tiffany's (where you can apparently have breakfast now?!). Personally, all of that is out of my current price range b/c I'm a *starving artist*, but Henri Bendel is at my perfect intersection of style, quality and price.
TIP: I highly recommend the cruise tour of the Statue of Liberty -- the one where you walk around the island. I've been before, but considering it was 30* and windy and Russell was already sniffly, we chose to view Lady Liberty from Battery Park. Even so, it's still so awesome to see! And a needed reminder that the torch of freedom should be raised high into the sky for all the world to see.
TIP: Central Park is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's also a great place for biking, as there are separate walking, running, biking, and driving lanes. With 843 acres, I highly recommend wearing comfy shoes...unlike the crazy "Florida Woman" who was seen biking the Park in stiletto boots the other day...guilty.
MUSEUM TIP: Next time we're in NY, we will certainly spend a half-day or more at the Metropolitan Museum, aka "The Met", which is the largest art museum in the USA. It's located on the east edge of Central Park. I've been a few times, and it is magnificent...especially for an art junkie like me :) If you like modern art, the Museum of Modern Art, aka "MoMa", is your best bet!
It may seem like a busy 5 days...and it was...but I missed seeing a few other places on my itinerary: The United Nations HQ, Brooklyn Heights/"DUMBO" as the locals affectionately called it, The Daily Show, the Guggenheim Museum, some of the swanky rooftop bars. I guess I'll save these for next time! ;)
Planning your tour of NYC
For those of you who are considering traveling to NYC, I'd like to help you plan your trip. Let me show you how I planned our 5 days in New York City, and a few tips and tricks I picked up along the way. Ready?
When planning a heavy sight-seeing trip, I like to pack in as many places and events as I can. In NYC, that's especially important because of how vast it is. With most cities, all of the touristy stuff is located downtown, likely within a small area. Manhattan isn't at all like this. If you just started walking around, you would run out of daylight before you visited every place you wanted to see.
Have you ever toured a city only to spend half your time wandering around in a cab? Yeah, let's avoid that in NY...especially considering the daily hotel rate is ~$500. Time is (big) money when you're traveling NYC.
Before we start, open your computer to Google Maps and have a notebook ready to scratch down places you hope to visit.
In planning my trip, I first listed out everything I wanted to see: all of the monuments, buildings, rooftop bars, and things we already bought tickets for. I then highlighted everything that was more important to me (no more than half of the list). I then organized my days based on the districts with the most places I wanted to go -- and, importantly, which districts were located near each other.
Now that you've organized the districts you want to see each day, list the most important places you want to go within each district. Then list the smaller places you'd like to go, time permitting.
To the left, you can click to see the itinerary I made -- it's well-worn and things changed all the way up until we got there, hence the messiness :P But it served its purpose, and when we were out touring for several hours, it helped to remind us not to leave a neighborhood before seeing all of the stuff we wanted to see.
I hope this helps you as you plan your trip. If you have any questions I can answer, please leave a reply in the field at the bottom of the page. I'd love to help you!
Wear comfy shoes. ...this coming from a woman with a (full) shoecase. But seriously! We walked 35 miles in 5 days. We both had gel inserts in our shoes and our legs were still beat by the end of each day.
Wear layers. We traveled in late November, and the weather was cold. Maybe it's because we visited Illinois in early January this year (hello, 0*) or maybe because we were walking so much, but it was not as cold as we expected.
Don't expect a "Hello" from everyone you *literally* run into. It's not the friendliest city in America, but that's not what you're there for, right?
Speaking of running into...PUHLEASE do not stop to check your cell phone or walk 2 or 3 people wide down a crowded sidewalk. Apparently that's a pet peeve for the locals...and me TBH.
Plan your dining in the districts you're visiting, but be flexible with it. I enjoy researching via IG - check out @nybucketlist for recommendations!
Get oriented with a map of NYC BEFORE you go. And while you're at it, download a Subway app. Google Maps works well when you're above ground, but some Subway apps work below ground, too. Ask a friend to explain the various lines and times and directions. But at the very very minimum, know if you need to take the Subway uptown, downtown, or across town. This little bit will save you a headache...or three.
Lastly, ask your friends for recommendations, especially those who have spent time in the city. I got a bunch of places to visit from friends, and they were all so good!!
New York City was the most amazingly spectacular vacation I've had yet! I left feeling so inspired and rejuvenated and challenged and motivated. Whatever time and money we traded for this experience, it was well worth it.
So here's to you + YOUR next NYC adventure! May it be as memorable and more!