OK here’s a major #TBT for ya, our first time to NYC in June 2014…
How to do be the Ultimate Tourist on a twenty something budget.
Since I was a little girl the idea of going to NYC was always my ultimate goal trip, in so many movies, that big city life, statue of liberty, empire state building, central park, the terrible 9/11 tragedy just so much to see that I had heard of for so long. So Christmas of 2013 my now husband surprised me with a trip to NYC to be the ultimate tourist (what a guy right).
So here is goes (good thing for the itinerary he sends me before every trip to remind me exactly what we did). It’s a little much, but read along to get out day by day play of what we did, being the total Tourist in NYC!
Day 1. (travel day)
We flew from SFO to JFK, then caught an Uber to our hotel, they have flat rate deals about $100 to get you to Manhattan, takes about an hour. We checked in to our hotel, we stayed at the W Downtown across from the 9/11 Memorial. Such great views, fun young spot, I definitely would recommend this hotel if your planning on using the Subway, which is a must in NYC if your doing the whole tourist thing, and don’t want to be in a super busy area.
We checked in, had dinner at a near by restaurant, then walked around out near our hotel to stretch our legs and see what what around us, across the street was the beautiful 9/11 Memorial Fountains, and down the street the Marina that looked over to Jersey. We headed back to the hotel and ended the night with drinks and views on our rooftop.
Day 2. (first full day)
Up bright and early we walked across the street to the 9/11 Memorial Fountains and 9/11 Museum, by far one of my favorite parts of the trip! We happened to go the second week the Museum was open so it was crazy packed, we had pre-booked a 9am appointment to get in (I would definitely recommended to book an appointment time to skip the lines).
I remember 9/11 so vividly, I was in 8th grade and was awake early that day because it was county fair week and I showed pigs so we had to be at the fairgrounds early that day to feed before school and when I got home I remember seeing every terrible thing unfold on the news. I really can’t say enough about this museum, take your time, and really look at everything, it’s remarkable the way they put it together and such a great tribute to those fallen heroes.
OK next stop to 33rd street a strip of sports bars, (next to the Empire State Building, which was our next stop) to watch the World Cup game. USA vs Germany. Brandon is a mega sports guy, especially in the finals of anything. So we crowed in a crazy sports bar and watched the game, such a fun crazy exciting game! USA lost, but the energy and vibe was so crazy it was just as fun as if they would have won.
(travel tip: we took the subway from Downtown to 33rd street, get a Metro Card, unlimited rides for 7 days, you’ll need this if you plan on being the total tourist up and down Manhattan)
Next stop Empire State Building! One of our bucket list stops, we got the “City Pass” definitely recommend this, it’s a pass for about $120 that gets you into to all of NYC’s main tourist spots with “front of the line” access so your not waiting in line to buy tickets to each attraction, those lines are crazy!! Trust me get the City Pass before you go!
After the Empire State we had dinner reservations at Tavern on the Green, a restored Central Park icon for American fare in an elegant setting with courtyard & garden seating. This resteraunt I was told was a must in Central Park, it had been closed since 2009 and just reopened the month before we went, we were lucky to snag reservations in their beautiful courtyard. It was such a magical spot, and with someone you love, good wine, good food, good conversations, twinkle lights under the stars… yes book this spot!
Again up bright and early, headed to the Statue of Liberty, surprisingly this was our least favorite, just because the lines to get on the boat to get out there took a while yes even with the “no line City Pass” just tons of tourist (anything with tons of people isn’t our jam, yes I know this is our total tourist trip but still just too many on this one thing). But once we got there it was Beautiful and something we definelty had to check off our bucket list.
We ate lunch on the island then hopped on the Subway to our next stop… Brooklyn for Coney Island!! Another spot Brandon and I grew up hearing all about (hello Uptown Girls?) for him is was all about the roller coaster.
We explored, got some famous Nathan Hot Dogs and Brandon rode a roller coaster that looked like it was going to fall apart! I stayed at the bottom and watched, and prayed haha.
On our way back from Brooklyn we decided to get off the Subway in SOHO and do some shopping! All the best shopping I’d say is in SOHO. Charming cobblestone streets, all the good flagship stores, one after another just so good! Put this in your itinerary if your a shopper! Or just love window shopping and a cool vibe 🙂
After some shopping we headed back to our Downtown area, grabbed a bite to eat and called it a night!
Another area of Manhattan I heard a lot about was Greenwich Village, and a must brunch spot we had eat at was The Spotted Pig, you can’t make reservations here, and apparently it’s a major haunt for celebrities so go early! Apparently Kayne West and Taylor Swift were sited dining here a few times pre 2016 delima. I didn’t know anything about it being such a hot spot before we went which probably made the whole experience even better!
Greenwich Village is seriously charming!! Cobblestone roads, overgrown trees, a very “locals only” type of feel, our kind of area. Just the perfect kind of mellow before we headed to the craziness of Times Square!
Next Stop was Times Square, I was so excited to finally see this in person where the NYE Ball drops, GMA is filmed, where TRL (Total Request Live, come on 90’s babies) was filmed. Just as I pictured there was a lot going on. Very New York. A must see if it’s your first time to NYC.
Next was Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, again another City Pass stop. No waiting in lines 🙂 The Top of the Rock’s views were amazing!! I liked the views here better than the Empire State building, there was fencing around the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock was clear glass, made for much better views and better pics (I’d normally share more pics but the picture quality from our iPhone 3 and baby faces, yeaaa I’ll spare myself the embarrassment!
After exploring the area around the Rockefeller Center we went to Saint Anthony’s Cathedral, such a beautiful Cathedral, must see if your Catholic or just into beautiful churches.
Then we went to Saks flagship store, Saks Fifth Avenue, another must if your a first timer in NYC and into that kind of thing. Lots of good 5th Avenue shopping down there, even if your just browsing and soaking up the NY life.
Next stop, from our City Pass, the MoMa Museum, Museum of Modern Art. We really just rushed through it to find Vincent van Gogh‘s The Starry Night painting. I remember growing up in an elementary class and painting our own version so this was pretty cool to see the original.
At this point we were pretty exhausted, stopped for lunch somewhere around there to re-fuel then to the MET Museum! Really I just wanted to take a picture on these steps where Gossip Girl (my high school/ college flick favorite) was filmed so many times as Blair and Serena ate their lunch. I know I was pretty embarrassing at 23 yrs old! haha
We then caught the Subway and headed back to our hotel area for a nice dinner under the stars and drinks over looking New Jersey’s skyline.
Another area we really wanted to explore was the Meat Packing District, and Chelsea. Two up and coming hip neighborhoods we’ve heard so much about. The vibe in this area was great, much more our style than the craziness of yesterday’s Times Square.
We did our morning walk on the High Line, a 1.45 mile city park built atop an abandoned elevated railway that winds through the southwestern side of Manhattan 30 feet above street level. Then stopped for drinks and a quick bite to eat at the Standard Hotel.
We then explored the rest of the Meat Packing District and Chelsea, did some more shopping, stopped at another hotel for more day drinks (what else do you do when exploring NYC pre kids) at The Dream Hotel, an awesome Hotel that was also on our list! If your wanting to stay in this area, check out The Dream Hotel & The Standard, for a hip young vibe.
Then we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the Yankee/ Red Sox game! Like I mentioned Brandon is a major sports guy, no matter where were going if its summer time hr checks the sport schedule most likely has a baseball game in our itinerary, our goal is to visit all Baseball stadiums in the US. We had drinks and appetizers at our roof top bar then got on the Subway and headed to the Bronx for the game!
This was such an awesome experience whats better than Yankee’s vs Red Sox in NY, with Derek Jeter playing his last season. We ate our way through hot dogs, garlic fries, bottomless beers & cotton candy. And the Yankee’s got the W!
This was kind of our free day to do anything that we didn’t get to fit in, but since we fit everything in we just had a leisurely day. We walked over to the Wall Street stock exchange, another big thing we both grew up hearing a lot about. Then back to the Meat Packing district to buy some goods I was contemplating from the day before.
Then back to the Standard Hotel, they were having a Sunday Funday on their rooftop with a great happy hour and great views. It was such a nice relaxing day. We hung out there the rest of the day then headed back to our hotel.
We had been wanting to see the 9/11 Memorial Fountains at night, they light
up and glow so right before dusk is the perfect time for this. All the tourist were gone for the day they were just getting ready to shut down the area so we had the whole place to ourselves. It was such a nice night, the weather was the perfect. Every time we were down there I couldn’t help but picture all the horror from 9/11, how in that very same spot some there had been so many terrible emotions that people felt and how our country has risen above it. By far our favorite part and landmark to see on this trip.
Right across the street was the Firefighters Memorial Wall, the fire station that was the first responders to 9/11. They had a beautiful memorial and tribute to all their fallen heroes. I’m sure you remember this wall with tons of flowers on it from all that news footage.
It was our last night In NYC, we had an early morning the next day, and the best views on our hotel’s roof top over looking the new Freedom Tower so we decided to din on there one last time.
This was our last half day in NYC! Brandon knew how much I liked LIVE with Kelly & Michael so he got us tickets for that Monday show! Up bright and early we went to LIVE with Kelly & Micheal. It was so cool to see the behind the scenes of this morning show I loved so much. Such a fun experience!
After the show that was it, time for us to go pick up our bags at our hotel and head back to Cali!
This trip was everything & more that we wanted for our first time in NYC! We did the total tourist thing, the only thing we didn’t get to do that we wanted was watch a Broadway play, we were told you could book one when you got there, maybe because we went in Summer it was impossible getting 2 seats together so we missed out on that! Next time!
This post was A LOT I know, probably too much! haha I’ll find my groove with these travel post and I promise most will be much shorter! Just wanted to get in all our stops in a Daily Diary type way:) You could definitely do this trip in 5 days or even less and get in all the tourist stops! We just really wanted to have those lounge and exploring days.
Below is a much quicker Travel Guide and my personal tips on how to do NYC like a Total Tourist as a 20-something year old.