As I have already mentioned, I recently took a trip to NYC for about a week. I thought I’d document our New York City itinerary for those planning their own trip and as a way to journal my own experience. Here goes!
We took an early early flight to NYC from Dallas. We arrived in New York around noon and took a taxi from Laguardia to our hotel which was the Hampton Times Square South. Speaking of the hotel, it was great. It was in a good area with lots of restaurants and close to the Port Authority subway station and Starbucks. The room was small as expected in NYC, but it was comfortable, the staff was very friendly, and you can’t beat the free breakfast and 24/7 coffee! We also were on the 26th floor and had a nice view of the Empire State Building!
We were too early for check-in, so we stored our luggage at the hotel. We then set out on foot to the Shake Shack which I read in advance was a must-eat restaurant. It was DELICIOUS. We may or may not have gone back two or three times on the trip. Cherry peppers, cheese sauce, and bacon on a cheeseburger? Yes, please.
After Shake Shack, we picked up our night bus tour tickets and our New York Passes from the Port Authority Bus Station on our way back to check in to our hotel. The plan at that point was to go to the Empire State Building to get a nice feel for the town. This didn’t happen. We were so tired from waking up so early and from the days of packing and travel (taking children 7+ hours away to Grandma and Grandpa’s house). I was also super overwhelmed with my first NYC experience being clouded by hunger and exhaustion. We took a little nap. New York City was much more palatable after that.
After our nap, we walked to Times Square, went to the Hershey’s store, and ate hot dogs/gyros from a street vendor while we waited for our night bus tour to begin. We did the New York at Night Bus Tour from Go NY Tours. The bus tour itself was nice. It was really cold (which was awesome coming from Texas summers!), but it was beautiful to see all the sights and was a great introduction to the city. The audio tour didn’t work, and the ticketing people on the street and phone customer service people were not very friendly, so I wouldn’t recommend this company.
After sleeping in a bit and eating an early lunch of quick and random pizza, we headed to the subway to visit American Museum of Natural History. We bought the 7 day unlimited ride Metro Card for $30. It probably paid for itself over the trip, and if it didn’t, it was worth the convenience of not having to buy tickets each time. As for the museum, some parts were fun, like the big whale, the American Indian art, and the Hayden planetarium. Overall out of all the places we went on the trip, I think we could have skipped this. It was just okay. Dioramas aren’t my thing I guess. I’d rather go to a zoo then see taxidermy scenes of animals, and it was all a bit dated. We also have a brand new and excellent nature and science museum here in Dallas, so maybe I have higher standards.
After many hours at the museum and hot dogs in Central Park, we went back to the hotel to rest and clean up. We went for an early dinner at the Chimichurri Grill which is an Argentine steakhouse. It was super pricy, but it was good. After dinner, we saw Once on Broadway. It was excellent. I think we went to Starbucks and hung out there too that night. We were pretty tired each day and overwhelmed, so we do we didn’t do a lot of night life stuff. Honestly, we watched a lot Friends reruns in the hotel, and I’m okay with that. I forgot how funny that show is.
Again we slept til 10 or so, and then had an earlier lunch. We took the trek to Katz’s Deli (“I’ll have what she’s having.“), and it was worth it. It was crazy busy and a little stressful. Note: the have waiter service too, but it is not clear when you come in. I had the rueben with corned beef. And they have me a giant plate of pickles. Mmm. After that, we subwayed to downtown and took a 15m walk through the financial district to Battery Park where to took a boat to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We didn’t get out at the statue because we didn’t have tickets to go inside, but we stopped at Ellis Island and took a quick look at the museum and then enjoyed the view of NYC from the island.
The plan at that point was to go to the 9/11 memorial, but our feet were aching at this point, so we saved that for another day. We went back to Times Square for another stop at Hershey (my hubby loves chocolate), but it was Friday at 6:30 in Times Square. I came about one second shy of a panic attack because my feet hurt and all the people and noises and lights. I hailed the first cab I saw and we paid $12 to drive 4 blocks back to our hotel. I had to get OUT of there!
After resting in the hotel and calming down, we went to eat pizza at Capizzi. It was super yummy Italian-style pizza, and the staff was so friendly and welcoming. I recommend it. I liked it better than the pizza the internet recommended (more on that later). The Urbanspoon app on my phone came in handy on the trip finding recommended restaurants near where we happened to be.
After stopping by some broadway box offices to check for tickets, we went to Schnippers where I had a delicious 4-cheese grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and bacon and a Caesar salad. Quark didn’t like his meal as much, but I highly recommend what I got.
After that, we went to the Guggenheim to stop in on the way to the Met Museum. We bought the 7-day New York Pass which gave us free entry to 80+ attractions (I recommend), so even though we didn’t want to see the art there, we got to sit and relax and enjoy the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture inside for a few minutes.
Then, we went to the Met Museum and stayed there for a long time. I thought it was just too big and crowded to fully enjoy, but I found a lot of stuff I really liked: the African art, the Oceanic art, the Greek and Roman sculpture, some Rodin sculpture, some Rembrandt self-portraits, and the medieval ivory carving. Quark liked the Ancient Egyptian art. I loved that I got to see some of the votive figures from Tell Asmar and was shocked at how small they were. I always imagined them a bit bigger. Much of the collection was blocked off including a lot of the European art. We didn’t hit much of the second floor, because museum fatigue is real, y’all. Quark didn’t go up to the second floor at all. He hung out on a bench on the first floor while I checked it out. I regret not popping into the Asian art section to see the Great Wave. I forgot about it until I had left and saw it on a sign outside.
We took a painful stroll through Central Park and then ate more hot dogs before hobbling back onto the subway and back to the hotel for a rest. I think we actually took a nap for an hour or two and had dinner around 10pm. We went to Tabata Noodle, which I really enjoyed. One place I really wanted to go was Momofuku Noodle Bar, but in the evenings, our overwhelmed, introverted selves didn’t feel like visiting crowded places, so this was a substitute, but it was still really good. I had the Tabata Ramen which was a coconut curry noodle dish with cilantro and spicy eggs and other yummy things. My unadventurous hubby had Chicken Fried Rice.
This day was my 33rd birthday. Woohoo! It started with a very sweet birthday video from my babies. Then, we went for lunch at Daisy May’s BBQ Restaurant on the way to our tourist stops for the day. The ribs were mediocre, but the mac and cheese was really good! We got there right when they opened, so it was all freshly made. The sweet tea tasted like toothpaste. Ick.
We visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (it bothers me to no end that they don’t use the Oxford comma in their title *sigh*), which was Quark’s top choice of things to do on the trip since they have a real space shuttle. I really liked this museum more than I thought I would. I liked touring the inside of the ship especially. The Intrepid is an air craft carrier used in WWII and through 1974. All the planes on top and the Space Shuttle were cool as well. It was a really neat place.
We then took a “Beast” speed boat tour to the Statue of Liberty and back which was really fun despite the teenagers seating next to me taking selfie videos. The. Entire. Time. (“Hi! We are on a speed boat, and it is really fun!” + whip hair dramatically x5). This was part of our NY Pass and a fun little ride. I don’t know if I’d pay the $28 for it, but with the NY Pass, it is worth it.
Then we took the NY Water Taxi (also part of the NY Pass) back to Battery Park where we walked about 20minutes to the 9/11 Memorial. I talked about this a bit before, but this was very moving. I started crying a block before we even arrived as a saw the void where the towers would have been. The memorial itself was so beautifully done. The water fall drowned out the sounds of the city, and the seemingly bottomless void reminded me a bit of the veil in the ministry of magic fight in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (quoted my last post about the trip). There was also rainbow on the waterfall. It was hard not to imagine what happened there, and I had a hard time watching other tourist smile big for selfies in front of it.
From there, we took the subway to Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn under the Brooklyn Bridge. Everywhere on the internet, this was recommended as it was a favorite of Frank Sinatra. We waited in line outside for maybe 30 minutes in the hot sun. Once inside, the pizza was okay. It was a little bland honestly, and there was no alcohol to be found. If you are planning a trip, I’d skip this. Capizzi was much better.
We then went back to the hotel, watched a lot of friends, and ate some late night Shake Shack, but they were OUT of cherry peppers. The horror.
We were exhausted this day. Really exhausted. We took taxis most places and just took it easy. First, we packed up all of our stuff and checked out of the hotel and stored it there. We went to the Empire State Building observation deck. That was really nice and a good way to say goodbye to the city. We bought some souvenirs here as well.
We had lunch nearby at O’Reilly’s Off Fifth. It was an Irish pub/bar type place and not busy at all which was great. I had chicken curry half on rice and half on FRIES. Genius. Eric liked his burger too.
We then went to MOMA. I loved it so much. It was just so great to see all the work I teach about and look at regularly on the computer. It looks so different in person. I am usually underwhelmed at the work of Paul Cezanne, but his work was so vibrant and lovely in person. I see why the other artists of the time respected him so much. Starry Night was beautiful. When I saw it in Houston a few years ago, I was underwhelmed by it, but not this time. The stars of the show were definitely the Picasso works. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was more wonderful than I could have imagined. I couldn’t step away. The mask in the top right seemed to move as a viewed it from different angles. There is a vibrancy and lushness that it lacks in digital pictures. I also especially loved these other Picasso works: Woman Plaiting Her Hair, Head of a Warrior, and Three Musicians. My favorite paintings Girl Before a Mirror and Marc Chagall’s I and the Village also did not disappoint. They were bigger and even better than I remember. Magic.
We then visited Rockefeller Center, went to the NBC Store and Nintendo World, and then finished up at FAO Schwarz where we got Lalaloopsy umbrellas for the children, candy, and cupcakes.
After that, we taxied back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and headed to the Hampton Laguardia and had dinner delivered to the hotel from a Greek place thanks to Seamless.
We flew away back to Dallas.
Overall, it was amazing. We couldn’t accomplish quite as much as I hoped. We didn’t eat dim sum in Chinatown or go to Chinatown at all (just a drive through on the bus). I had also hoped to see some spoken word poetry, but we really needed a break from the busy at night. Those were the only things I wanted to do but didn’t.
So, there you go! Thanks for reading, and I hope that helped anyone planning a trip to the Big Apple.
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