Last weekend I flew to New York City to meet my boyfriend who was there for work. The good thing, New York City is a cheap flight from Chicago, sometimes under $100 for a round-trip ticket. This was my second time in New York so I didn’t need to see all the major landmarks. This is my personal experience but there are great tips and advice that could help you! I’ll have a more in-depth guide on New York through my upcoming weekend travel guide page.
From Chicago O’Hare, I took an early United Airlines flight to Newark. Landed early morning and went on Newarks AirTrain to the local train station that took me into Manhattan. I was a little weary at first about the AirTrain situation but it turns out the local train to Manhattan is easy to do. It’s comes pretty regularly, and is cheap, only costing $12.50. Cabs to Manhattan can cost up to $100!
So my advice is to take the train if you’re flying into Newark. The train took about 30 minutes and dumped me right at Penn Station in Midtown. My hotel happened to be in Midtown so it was perfect. Since I wasn’t carrying too much I decided to walk the nearly 20 blocks to my hotel. Residence Inn Marriott at 48th Street was a really fantastic hotel. A whole kitchen, free breakfast and a modern urban feel right between Lexington and 3rd Avenue; highly recommend!
Put my stuff down, rubbed my feet, freshened up and hit the streets of New York. I had to wait for Roman a bit so I decided to go to the nearest attraction, Grand Central. What a beautiful building and probably one of my favorites in New York. The Friday I was there they also had a market just outside, so I grabbed some food at this taco stand on 46th and then went to eat inside Grand Central. They have several restaurants and food stalls right below the main lobby, including a Shake Shack.
After filling up on food, I wandered further down Midtown to meet Roman and some of his coworkers. I did a quick stop at Macy’s but really couldn’t find anything worthwhile. I got to go up one of the buildings directly in Midtown and was able to get this stunning 360 view of Manhattan. Not really something many people get to do besides going to the nearby Empire State Building.
We then rushed over to Dylans Candy Bar up near the Upper East Side since some of his coworkers had to catch late night flights out. I’m not a candy person at all and really don’t take much interest in artificial sweets however they had an awesome chocolate selection. Roman and I wrapped some chocolate to go, said goodbye to his co-workers, and headed back to the hotel to drop his luggage off.
Resting a bit and changing from our daytime clothes, we dressed up and headed out to experience New York nightlife. Both tired and hungry we needed food, so we decided instead of sitting down we would go to a falafel stand somewhere near Houston Street in SoHo. We planned to walk around SoHo for drinks and then head down to the World Trade Center Memorial.
Get a falafel if you can find the halal stands somewhere in the city; cheap and very tasty! Now the World Trade Center Memorial is quite impressive and moving, with two giant holes in the ground and water filling into both. There is a separate museum, that we did not do, but I’m sure displays artifacts and more information from that tragic day.
From the quiet financial district we headed back north into SoHo to get some drinks. I was annoying Roman, I’m sure, since I had to go to the bathroom so bad, so we stopped at the first bar that seemed somewhat appealing. Ended up being this college dive bar called the Peculiar Pub but they had some amazing beers. Also saw a guy reading a book there, not sure why?
I actually got to meet up with a friend from Texas, which what are the odds! So we hung out for a while at the Peculiar Pub and then drifted over to the Lower East Side to go to this bar called the Fat Baby. Place was loud and crowded but when I’m drinking and tired, I tend not to care. After like 5 hours of drinking it was time to call it a day.
Head hurting a bit, we drank some water, got our lovely free breakfast and decided to go to Brooklyn to meet up with one of Romans co-workers. But first we took the subway to the West Village to see a very unique apartment. I’m a Sex and the City fan and I looked up where all the outside shots of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment was taken and it’s on 66 Perry Street in the West Village.
Roman was apprehensive to go but once we got there I think he realized it was totally worth it. For fans it really is amazing to see where they filmed all those scenes and there were plenty of tourists who had the same idea that I had. Plus the area is already very historic and scenic so it’s differently worth a visit if you’re a fan. Just make sure to be quiet and not make too much noise!
Next up was Brooklyn, a borough I’ve never been to. We had a guide and she was taking us to see one of their food festivals that happens every summer called the Smorgasburg Food Festival. First off it’s actually easier to get to than what we did. We took a subway across the Williamsburg Bridge and walked from the first stop. An easier way from Manhattan is to take the ferries that leave from the Financial District or 35th Street, bringing you right to North Williamsburg where the festival is. We took the ferry going back costing us $6 each.
The Smorgasburg Festival is something that you absolutely should do if you’re in New York for the summer. On a beautiful day you can walk around glancing at the yummy food and drinks and then get a stunning view of Manhattan. Lay on the grass, eat some food and socialize, all with a perfect view; it really doesn’t get better than this.
Back in Manhattan we went to get some macaroons at this French macaroon place right next to our hotel that I just happened to stumble upon on the first day. Macaron Café is that perfect place if you need some sweets and a rest, my feet were pretty much shot by then! Grabbed six macaroons and then chilled at the hotel to get some rest before the evening.
From 48th Street we headed north on Park Avenue and caught up to 59th Street which is the start of Central Park. I have been to Central Park before but honestly this is one of the few things you want to do over and over. The park is massive and really a true gem for a city like New York. We began at the southern corner and worked our way up through the park to get to the MET or Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Near the MET there were some beautiful trees and this 3,500-year-old obelisk that Roman had to see. Called Cleopatra’s Needle, it is quite impressive due to its age but it’s kind of sad that they leave it outside. It was at given as a gift from Egypt and has so many twists and turns on how it got here; it’s an interesting read!
Now the MET is a really great museum and is actually free to get into. You’re suppose to make a recommended donation of $25 but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. We made a combined donation of $10 because I had already visited a while back and we only were staying for an hour or so. I thought that was appropriate! Anyways we saw many interesting artifacts including Roman mummies with a portrait of a handsome guy.
From the MET we walked a good 40 minutes back to our hotel and my feet were dying. It is essential that when you come to New York to get the comfiest shoes you can find and hopefully they are stylish. I know those two combinations are hard to find but your feet will thank you. Anyways we went to one of New Yorks hundreds of Duane Reade, grabbed beer, stored them at our hotel, dressed up and went out 2 blocks to get some yummy Japanese udon at Udon West in Midtown. From there we called it a night, drank our beer and rubbed our tired feet.
Wake up feeling recharged and ambitious. We hop on the subway and take it down to the start of Brooklyn Bridge which is on the southern end of Manhattan. We said we were going to walk it so we decided to start our day there and then work our way up through Manhattan, hitting all the cute neighbors.
Okay Brooklyn Bridge should be done once but it’s extremely touristy, especially on a nice day like we had on that Sunday. It was sunny and near 80 degrees so everybody was out. We walked half of the Brooklyn Bridge to get our pictures and then walked back into Manhattan to get away from the crowds. The bridge does offer stunning views though.
From Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown and Little Italy border the southern end, notably around Canal Street. It is touristy but in fact this where a large population of Chinese heritage live and the evidence is the street markets. You will smell so much fish and see some of the most interesting foods. Canal Street is also known for its shopping, not the high quality kind but still we bought 5 dollars scarves!
Bordering Chinatown there is Little Italy which kind of mixes in with it. Little Italy is pretty touristy too but there is of course plenty of Italian food and markets if that is your scene. It was noon by this point so we decided to yelp it and find the best pizza joint in the area. We decided to go to Lombardi’s which is apparently an institution in Little Italy, specifically their white pizza.
One of our goals was to walk the High Line, a converted subway track between the West Village and Chelsea. Now this is a very unique thing for a city but obviously it was busy since the day was just beautiful. We actually walked all the way from Little Italy to get there, cutting through neighborhoods like SoHo, Greenwich Village, Nolita, West Village, and Hudson Square.
There is shopping and some restaurants on the High Line for when you want to eat but it can be crowded. We decided to hike it over to Empire State, not too far from the northern end of the High Line. We didn’t go up the Empire State, I’ve already been, but did get a drink below at the Heartland Brewery to rest for a bit. We had some flight troubles too so we had to sort that out but luckily were able to get a flight out of Newark after our flight was severely delayed at LaGuardia.
To cap off our trip we decided it was time for macaroons round two. We went back to the Macaron Cafe to relax almost leaving for our long trip to Newark. On a Sunday, Midtown near 48th is fairly quiet and it was nice change from some of crowded parts we had experienced earlier. I highly recommend this place if you’re looking for a sit down coffee with something sweet.
What do I think of New York? New York is truly the perfect getaway weekend destination because there is always something to do. And don’t even bother trying to do everything because you can’t! The city is approachable, walk-able, has so much culture, fantastic food and beautiful monuments. If you’re ever bored in New York you are definitely doing it wrong.
images by: shawnvoyage