I was fortunate to have visited New York City a few times with my church in high school, but was so excited to spend a long weekend in the Big Apple this past summer with Mike and two of our friends from college who took the train up from Washington D.C.
New York City is made up of five boroughs and is home to over 8.5 million people. Scattered across the city you'll find thousands of restaurants, hundreds of museums, attractions, plays, and quirky things to do. It is impossible to "see" New York City in one visit, but we sure gave it our all in the 100+ degree weather. While this itinerary doesn't include every tourist stop in town, I hope it’s a mix of must-dos and new-to-yous that you can refer to on your next getaway.
When to Go: Over the years, I've been to NYC in March, July, and October. If you can swing it, I'd suggest a visit in May or September for the best chance at fabulous weather.
Where to Stay: My philosophy when traveling is to find an affordable option that's in a central, easy to access location. The reality is that I tend to spend very little time in my hotel room because I prefer to be out exploring.
You really can't go wrong with anywhere you stay in New York City. We used rewards points to stay at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square. It was clean, the staff were friendly, and it was in a good location. Like most hotels in New York City, the rooms were small and there weren't enough elevators for the number of rooms. We were lucky enough to be on the 7th floor and could take the stairs down in the morning when the elevator was busy with guests checking out and eating breakfast.
Personally, I'll probably stay in Brooklyn on my next visit. The 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge and the Wythe Hotel are both gorgeous properties that I'll look into and compare rates on.
If you're not booking with points and are wanting to stay in Manhattan, I'd recommend the following hotels:
Getting Around: Our trip started in Queens as we landed on a Saturday afternoon at LaGuardia Airport. After collecting our bags, we purchased a 7-day unlimited MetroCard for $32 and grabbed the bus towards the subway station. I highly recommend getting a MetroCard and using it during your trip - taxis can be super expensive (and slow) in the city and you'll do enough walking around neighborhoods that it will save you a lot of time and energy to take the subway between neighborhoods.
Saturday: After unloading our bags, we were all hungry. We all grabbed lunch and some black and white cookies before heading out to explore. We made our way to the United Nations Headquarters, Flatiron Building, Empire State Building, and New York Public Library. From there, we crossed the street to Bookmarks Lounge at the Library Hotel to grab cocktails on their rooftop and escape the heat.
Everyone knows that when you go to New York City, you have to get some pizza (and bagels) and we really couldn't narrow down just one pizza place so we decided to do a pizza crawl! We stopped by six different pizzerias near our hotel and shared a slice at each one.
Little Italy Pizza
2 Bros. Pizzeria
Famous Famiglia Pizza
Kiss My Slice
NY Pizza Suprema
We ended our first night at Rare View Rooftop in Murray Hill. It was pretty busy and we waited in line for about 15 minutes to take the small elevator up, but the staff was attentive and the view was fantastic.
Sunday: I had heard great things about the brunch at 1803NYC so I made our reservation and dragged everyone out of bed to make it there. I had figured it would be pretty crazy trying to find a table for four so I made a reservation through Yelp. To my surprise, we were the first people there (and had the restaurant to ourselves for the first 15 or 20 minutes). I'm a sucker for a good Eggs Benedict and theirs features a slab of bacon... need I say more? The home fries (roasted potatoes) were also perfectly cooked.
We spent the rest of our morning in Chinatown before heading back to our hotel to refresh. We had scored a deal on Yankees tickets this evening, so we walked through Central Park before taking the subway up to Yankee Stadium.
Monday: This morning, we said farewell to our friends who had to get back to D.C. and headed for a walk along The High Line, an above ground trail/greenway created on a former New York Central Railroad spur. We got off at Chelsea Market and grabbed some pastries for breakfast.
A must visit, no matter how long you're in New York City, is the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The memorial plaza honors the victims of the 1993 and 2001 attacks and the museum houses a number of moving exhibits, collections, and personal stories. In total, we spent about 2 hours here and I could have spent another 30-45 minutes walking through the exhibits and reflecting. We had pre-purchased tickets online the day before (though they can be purchased up to 6 months in advance). This allowed us to bypass the ticket line and save some time. The memorial is free open to the public, the museum is $24 for adults, and you can do a guided tour for an additional fee.
After grabbing lunch at Pick A Bagel, we made our way to Williamsburg for the afternoon. We browsed boutiques and vintage stores for one-of-a-kind items and
Our visit to the big city wouldn't be complete without a Broadway show. We snagged two seats to School of Rock: The Musical and I can not rave enough about the show and the cast. It was such a FUN performance; it felt like I was at a rock concert! Unfortunately, the show will play its final performance on January 20, 2019. Some of my other favorite Broadway shows include:
The Lion King
The Book of Mormon
Dear Evan Hansen
Tuesday: Before our afternoon flight back to Minneapolis, we took a trip to Brooklyn to look at the skyline and hang out along the waterfront. We stopped for ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery before and making our way to DUMBO for the iconic "Manhattan Bridge" photo. I had been looking forward to a ride on Jane's Carousel, but I learned that they are closed on Tuesdays during the summer. Already added it to my list for next time. Before the rain rolled in, we walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge and stopped for our final meal at Sweet Chick on the Lower East Side - two thumbs up for their chicken and waffles!
Next Time: With limited time, there were a some places I wasn't able to cross of my list, so I'm already looking forward to going back!
Top of the Rock (super touristy, but I just want to do it once!)