Last week was the absolute BEST. Greg and I planned a last minute (for us) New York City trip to soak in some fall city vibes. This was the FIRST trip just the two of us have taken since Makenna was born (that wasn’t a work trip). It was so fun exploring the city and learning about the history of New York.
New York has never been high on our ‘must visit’ list. We actually were planning a Nashville trip when I realized that a 3 day Nashville trip would be the same as a 4 day NYC trip, so we decided to go for it. And I have to say, I am so glad we did. While New York was never high on my list of places to visit, it is now definitely on my list of places to visit again!
We’re going to give you our four day breakdown and reviews on our favorite things! Hopefully some of these tips come in handy for your next trip!
Our flight landed around noon-ish and we had our first experience with the subway. It was not as intimidating as I thought it would be, but growing up on the west coast I am definitely not used to public transportation! After checking into our hotel we walked to central park and did some people (actually dog) watching at the Bethesda Terrace. We also took a stroll up liberty walk and saw all of the amazing street vendors. There were some seriously amazing artist and one of my biggest regrets was not buying this watercolor painting of the city! We checked back on Tuesday and Wednesday but the vendors were not there :(.
After Central Park we started to walk towards Rockefeller center for sunset at Top of the Rock. Along the way we stopped and had some really bad NY pizza, which taught us our lesson of looking up reviews before eating! We also walked passed St. Patrick’s Cathedral and went inside to light a candle. The Cathedral was absolutely beautiful inside and out, and I’m so glad we made this detour.
A New York City trip would not be complete without checking out at least one observation deck. The first we checked out was Top of The Rock, which we have mixed views about. While the views here were amazing, it was SO crowded. The crowds made it very overwhelming and diminished the experience a bit. The sunset ticket is the best, but make sure to set your ticket time for about 20-30 minutes before you want to be at the top! Our ticket time was for 5pm, but we didn’t get in the building until 5:20 and it was about another 10 minutes before we were at the top. The best part about a sunset ticket, is that you get the benefit of both day and night views. I’m pretty sure the day views were my favorite, but there is something very magical about the city at night!
Before heading back to our hotel we walked through time square. We didn’t really stop at all it was a little underwhelming and definitely something I would skip in the future. Also, I learned that there isn’t one street with all of the broadway musicals on it. They are all off different streets!
Sunday was definitely my favorite day of all! It was also a busy day where we waked OVER TWELVE MILES. We started our morning at Grand Central station for breakfast and to stroll around the station. It was so beautiful and JUST like the movies! From here we hopped on the subway down to the 9/11 museum.
We arrived early to the museum so we used that time to walk around the memorial outside. I have seen it in photos, but it is so beautiful in person. I highly recommend visiting this site early in the morning. We were some of the only people there and it was a really great way to take it all in.
After spending some time at the memorial we headed into the museum. I posted this on Instagram, but it bears repeating here:
I was 12 when the planes struct the twin towers. Being young and living across the country in California, the impact of the tragedy didn’t really hit me. To see such a large scale attack was surreal and uncomprehendible. It was such an abstract idea. As each anniversary passed I felt sad but couldn’t understand the gravity of what actually happened that day in New York.
That all changed by visiting the 9/11 museum. Hearing the voices, standing in the spot, seeing the mangled steel–it made the impact of that day real to me. The event was no longer an abstract tragedy that happened across the country. I felt the impact and was completely moved by the exhibits. The museum was beautifully put together and truly a tribute to the events of that day and the lasting impact it left. I truly believe that every American who has the opportunity to experience this museum, should.
We had some time to spare before a tour we had planned, so we walked from One World Tower to the Irish Hunger famine memorial. It honestly felt like a little piece of Ireland in New York. I played ‘Fields of Athen Rye’ on my phone as I walked through the memorial and really enjoyed it.
Then it was finally time for the first thing we booked when we planned our trip. Washington and Hamilton’s Secrets of New York Tour. With the musical being so popular, there are a lot of tours to choose from. I am glad we found this one through, since it was so informative! It was so well researched and taught Greg and I so much about New York. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the revolution I think about Virginia. However, there was also so much that happened in New York in the early days of this county. This tour was a great reminder of that. We HIGHLY recommend this tour to anyone visiting New York (as long as history is your thing).
One of the things I loved most about Hamilton’s grave is that it sits surrounded by the financial institutions he created for this county. It was really poetic.
Before grabbing dinner we decided to make a detour and head up to the One World Tower observation deck. The views here at night are amazing! The glass is very reflective and gets in the way of photos; however, it still was the best views of the trip.
After taking in the New York lights again, I did a VERY New York thing and hailed a taxi! We headed to Chelsea Market, which was this fun but expensive food market. We had fun sampling different foods and trying some great mini doughnuts!
On Monday we headed down to Battery Park to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Again, we can’t recommend the first ticket enough!!! We were the first boat to head to the island for the day, and the crowds were significantly lower.
At Ellis Island we ended up going on a tour of the hospital and grounds, which was extremely interesting. We learned the the hospital on Ellis Island was actually better equipped than those on the mainland! The hospital was vacant for nearly 60 years, so it is in ruins now, and a non-profit is working to restore it. The tour was very interesting, but because of it, we didn’t get too much time at the Ellis Island museum. Being the daughter of immigrants (although much more recent immigrants than Ellis Island) it is something high on my visit again list.
After leaving Ellis Island we decided to walk to the Brooklyn Bridge (SO LONG) and then across the bridge to DUMBO. It was a very neat experience, but the whole time I was trying not to think about the sounds the walkway was making.
The above picture is one of reasons I brought my professional camera to New York! I dreamed of getting this picture and am so happy we got to see this area. With how many people crowded in the area and standing in the street though, I feel bad for the people that live here!
We kept passing Angelina’s Bakery when we left our hotel each day. The window display looked so amazing, we decided to grab a few treats for the hotel room. They were so good we were back Tuesday and Wednesday too!
Tuesday was our last full day of our New York City trip and it was going to be one of our most exciting days too! We started our day with our favorite New York Bagels, then headed to the Empire State Building to take in the sights. Even with it being pretty overcast the views were great, especially those looking down. Also, the staff here were the friendliest people we met in all of New York. They completely made the experience! Also, this place was empty in the morning, so check it out then!
Next up was heading to 30 Rock for an NBC studio tour. Growing up near Los Angeles and having been on movie studio tours, this one was a little underwhelming and not something I would put on a ‘must do’ list. While there were some interesting things on the tour, it was very on the surface.
After the studio tour we walked (which was way longer than we thought) to the American History Museum. I’m not sure if we were just tired after three long days of touring, but this was also a bit of a let down. At this point we had walked about 9 miles before 2pm. So I’m sure tiredness played a factor, but seeing stuffed animals that we can see alive in a zoo near us wasn’t all that appealing. Seeing dinosaur fossils and learning more about a few specific dinosaurs was pretty neat. There was also a really interesting exhibit on Theodore Roosevelt’s statue that sits outside the museum. We thought we would spend 3+ hours here, but ended up leaving after an hour and a half.
Last up for Tuesday was the highlight of the trip. We got to be in the ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS! After checking daily for tickets within our budget, on Friday… THE DAY BEFORE WE LEFT…. I found two tickets in the orchestra section in our budget. This was our second time seeing this show (the first was in LA) and it was even better the second time around! I’m already counting down the days until it comes to Denver in 2020! Seeing a show on broadway as a great experience and even if it’s not Hamilton, I highly recommend it.
We had a few hours to kill before our flight, so we had one last New York Bagel and walked around central park. As we were heading to the airport, I put directions into my phone and started following them. Well, it turns out it took us on a train… which was $28 and we didn’t have tickets for. We felt so stupid and it was super stressful making sure we would still end up at the right place. Lesson… always take the subway!
There you have it! Our four day New York City trip (we don’t count the last day, since we were at the airport by 11am). It was a great trip that already has me wanting to visit again! I highly recommend New York in the fall, the weather was great and the colors were amazing.
New York City Trip Food Guide:
Here are the places we ate in New York, we were trying to make this trip as cost effective as possible, so we didn’t eat at any sit down restaurants while we were there.
Angelina’s Bakery – These were some of the best pastries we have ever had. We meant to try different bakeries, but stuck with this one after how good the treats were!
Best Bagel – great quick breakfasts, New York Bagels really do taste different!
Chelsea Market – fun food market with a lot of options, if you check it out, go to Doughnuttery and try the vanilla lavender one.
Shake Shack – These burgers rival In N Outs!
Wok to Walk – We had this after Hamilton, it was so fresh and good. It’s fresh noodles fried in a wok right in front of you and you pick all of your toppings.
Non Solo Piada – This was Italian street food and again really good! My favorite part was that as other people came in, they were all talking Italian!