I started to make the NYC trip recap one post, but there were just too many photos and I couldn’t pare down. The city begs to be photographed, especially on the beautiful weather days we were lucky enough to experience. Thus a 2 part blog recap. Part 1 will recap our Thursday evening arrival into Manhattan and our Friday in the city.
My husband and I took a kids-free weekend trip to New York City in mid October. Neither of us have ever been and we were both excited and nervous to visit the city. Thanks to my (honestly) wonderful in-laws who took very, very good care of our kids, we got to spend 4 nights and 3 full days (Thursday pm-Monday am) with nothing on our agenda but experiencing as much of NYC as we could.
We arrived around 8pm on a Thursday evening and took a cab ride from the airport to our hotel. The cab ride was a bit intense – our first peek into the traffic and roads of the city. The first of about 1345 times I thought “I could never drive in this city.”
the first photo I took on the trip – looking out the cab window, way, way up and with my mouth wide open
We stayed at The Distrikt Hotel after reading good reviews on Trip Advisor. While we won’t stay in Times Square again, we were very impressed with the hotel. If you are looking to stay near Times Square, I’d highly recommend the hotel. They even had a little birthday dessert in our room upon check-in (this trip was a birthday gift from the husband).
I was a little shell-shocked after the cab ride and wanting to curl up in the fetal position on the bed, but the husband insisted we head out into the city. We walked to Times Square which was insane as you’d expect it to be. People EVERYWHERE. Lights EVERYWHERE. Total sensory overload.
After about 5 minutes we were ready to move on. We consulted Yelp for a restaurant that wasn’t too touristy – most of Times Square is gimmicky chains – and decided on John’s Pizzeria. It’s in an old church, which makes for unique decor. I had two glasses of wine to calm my nerves from both the cab ride and the Time Square sensory assault and we enjoyed a Margherita pizza. The prices were surprisingly reasonable and the pizza was pretty good – thin crust, fresh mozarella and lots of fresh basil.
It was dark – sorry for the haunted house pizza picture.
Day 1 (Friday)
We started the day by braving the subway. On a Friday morning at 8:30. At a very busy metro station. I was a wee bit overwhelmed by all the hustle. New Yorkers aren’t messing around with their Friday morning commute. We figured out which train we were waiting for, leapt on and held on for dear life. First stop: Zucker’s Bagels in Lower Manhattan. We had heard they had phenomenal bagels. They did. I had a bagel with smoked pastrami salmon, cream cheese, onions, capers and tomatoes that probably weighed a pound. Besides scraping off a bit of the cream cheese, I ate the entire thing. I wish we could have gone back on day 2 or 3, but we weren’t in the area again.
With full bagel bellies, we walked over to Ground Zero. We first toured St. Peters Church which became a haven for rescue workers after the 9/11 attack.
We then got passes for the 9/11 memorial at the visitor center and toured the memorial. The museum isn’t open yet, but the two inverted waterfalls are stunning and sobering.
From the memorial we walked down to the Battery Park area to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. I snagged a green juice on the way there:
This was as close as we got to the Statue of Liberty. Before we got to NYC we decided that we’d save some activities and attractions for the eventual trip we’ll take to NYC with the kids (in 5 years or so) and taking the boat out to the Statue of Liberty was one of the ‘we’ll do this next time’ items.
From Battery Park we walked up to the Financial District, seeing the famous Bull Statue and the NYSE.
We caught a subway to Chinatown. That subway ride was considerably less stressful than our first one. We walked around for a bit and then located Joe’s Shanghai for lunch. It came highly recommended from a couple of different friends, so we were excited to try it out. The restaurant was packed and they sat tables with more than one party. We shared a table with two tiny college-aged gals who ordered 4 huge plates of food. With their four dishes and our three dishes, it made for a crowded table. It felt like a pretty authentic Chinatown experience and the soup dumplings were pretty tasty. The fried rice was probably the best I’ve ever had. We walked around for a bit more after lunch. The seafood and veggie markets were quite the sight. The food scientist in me was nervous about all the raw seafood sitting out in the open air, but the veggie lover in me wanted to buy all the unique greens. I settled for just looking.
We hoped on the subway again and headed to the NYU area. We walked around a bit and then headed to Washington Square Park. It was an absolutely gorgeous day so we staked out a park bench and spent about 30 minutes just people watching. The park is beautiful and the people watching was world class. I was particularly impressed with a 4 year old who could work a skateboard like a pro. His nanny kept having to chase him down. We walked around some of the streets surrounding the park and they looked like the tree and brownstone lined NYC streets you see in movies like You’ve Got Mail. We kept watching for Brinkley.
We stopped for some gelato and then walked up to the Union Square Greenmarket. It was a foodie’s dream. Rows and rows of vendors with all kinds of products. Because we were just tourists and had no way to store or prepare food, I only bought a few apples. I hungrily eyed all the other vendors.
We bought a hard apple cider (they were doing an apple themed event that day) grabbed a table and called the kids. They were happily playing with their grandparents and we hung up and happily enjoyed a cider. Ah, vacation….
We walked all the way back to our hotel in Times Square, stopping to gawk at the Flatiron Building.
Once we got back to our hotel, we realized that we had done some horrible time management and we actually needed to be at Rockefeller Center for our Top of the Rock reservations in 30 minutes. We hustled through the Times Square craziness and made it there in time. We had purposely booked a time at dusk and it was, put simply, magical. Watching the sun set over the city and seeing the buildings (so many buildings!) light up as darkness fell was breathtaking. Even though the observation deck was packed, it was still an emotional and moving sight. These pictures don’t do it justice, but it gives an idea of the view.
We stayed on the observation deck for about an hour, in no hurry to leave the view. I highly, highly recommend Top of the Rock and especially recommend booking a time just before sunset.
We had dinner at a wine bar overlooking the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink. It was a bit surreal to be sitting just across the street from the iconic ice rink. We started the walk back to our hotel and came upon Magnolia Bakery (the famed cupcake bakery). There was no line, so of course we had to go in and get a cupcake. It was easily the best cupcake I’ve ever had. I’m usually very underwhelmed with gourmet cupcakes but this one was the real deal. I understand the hype. We made our way through Times Square, especially crazy on a Friday night, and got to our hotel. After all the walking and sight seeing we were exhausted. True to our hard partying selves, we were fast asleep by 10.
Some of the day’s eats: Soup Dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai, Bagel at Zuckers, Gelato and Magnolia cupcakes.