May has been an exciting month for us. It saw a reunion with our friends from Korea in Boston, the beginning of our new adventure to New Zealand, and our long awaited honeymoon. While most couples opt for a sun drench beach and cocktails, we decided to go for something a little more adventurous: a three-week road trip across the USA. This trip is essentially a camping trip, so in order to prepare ourselves, we splashed out on a little bit of luxury while in New York. We checked into the Wellington Hotel on Manhattan’s 7th Avenue and 55th Street. First things first, this hotel is all about location, location, location. Located smack bang in between Central Park and Times Square, this hotel is in a great location for exploring everything Manhattan has to offer. And it has plenty to offer! Check out our blog post all about The Wellington and why it is a great place to stay in Manhattan.
New York is one of those cities, mind altering as it is eye-opening it has the power to turn even the smallest town girl into a ‘city gal’ making it almost impossible to leave. Between the incredible sights, amazing smells, and uproarious noise, it has the ability to take you in and swallow you whole in a way that feels utterly delicious. I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to be swallowed up by a city before, but my few days in New York saw the beginning of a love affair that made me feel like I was actually cheating on Chris, and I’m sure anyone who has ever been to Manhattan can identify. I now understand why the residents of this dynamic city differentiate themselves from other Americans, to be fair, if I lived in Manhattan, I’d refer to myself as a New Yorker, too. Bustling with excitement, the city is nothing short of effervescent and after all that walking, partying, or whatever you’ve been doing, a girl needs a good place to kick off her shoes at night, so believe me when I say that no New York experience is complete without a great place to lay your tired head at night.
When we made the decision to include a few days in New York as part of our grand adventure across the U.S, we decided we should avoid doing all of the ‘typical’ things that tourists do, examples being things like going up the Empire State Building, and really anything that involves queuing for an hour. Time in New York is limited and I didn’t want to spend it in line. But saying that is all well and good until you actually get to New York; how do you travel to this incredible city and avoid some of its most iconic sights? You can’t. So, ok, do it! But remember, New York is full of cool and interesting things to do, so don’t spend all of your time in a queue, unless of course you’re queuing for cupcakes at Magnolia bakery, those you should definitely queue for! Amazing, and delicious; I felt like I was cheating on Chris again.
So here are my favorite things we did while in New York
We only had three days which isn’t a lot of time, so Chris and I really had to cram in as much as possible. So first things first, the only way to begin your day in Manhattan is with breakfast. Diets be damned, eat the pancakes and enjoy them. You’re going to do a lot of walking while in Manhattan so don’t fret about the carbs, and just enjoy the French toast. Food is going to be a large part of your New York experience, so you should probably make peace with that before you arrive or else you’re only going to experience half of what New York has to offer.
On our first day, we walked to the NY public library which has to be one of the most impressive building I have ever seen. Located on 5th Ave at 42nd St, it packs a punch the first time you see it. Described as one of the top four most important libraries in America, this incredible feat of architecture is definitely worth a visit. You may even be lucky enough to arrive in time for a reading or a book discussion. There is an entire catalog of events which take place seasonally, so make sure to check their website if you are really interested in maximizing your experience.
In my opinion, the best way to see Manhattan is to walk. The subway is easy to use and it’s been seriously upgraded in the last few years making it really comfortable for commuters and visitors who may be feeling a little nervous. I used it several times and felt completely safe, a lot safer than I did ten years ago when I first visited, but in saying that, only use it when you absolutely have to because the way to see Manhattan is by foot. And, you can burn off some of those carbs from breakfast.
I did a little prep before we arrived and read about The Highline which is an overhead rail line that’s been converted into a park, connecting Chelsea and the super trendy Meat Packing District. We grabbed a couple of coffees and away we went. Full of people with the same idea, it’s actually a really cool little oasis in the middle of the city; you get some pretty cool birds eye views of the surrounding neighborhoods, and it’s nice to be off the streets for a time, too. My favorite area in the city that I walked through was definitely Greenwich Village; full of little cafes, bookstores, and cool boutiques, the pace really slows down and you begin to imagine yourself living in one of the overhead apartments. From there we took a walk down to The Hudson and gazed across the water to Jersey. It’s a really relaxing walk down by the river, and weather permitting I definitely recommend it. Personally, I loved the ‘dog parks’ I just thought they were the cutest thing I’d ever seen, but then again, I really am a small town girl.
Something on everyone’s list who comes to NY is a trip out to the Statue of Liberty. It’s just one of those iconic sights that everyone should see, and it is actually pretty cool. Although, depending on exactly what you want I wouldn’t necessarily encourage a boat trip out to it. I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, but I wasn't really concerned with going to the island. I wanted a few nice pictures for my Instagram so we were happy to just take a cruise. For this option I recommend Circle Line’s Harbor Light’s Cruise. Departing from Pier 83, tickets cost about $30 and the cruise lasts for two hours. I loved this cruise, it took us down The Hudson River, around the southern tip of Manhattan, up The East River, and past Liberty Island before returning to Pier 83. We choose the 7pm option so that we could see the city at sunset, and it was spectacular. As we sailed, the captain pointed out the significance of everything we saw giving us each a little lesson in history, and when the cold got a little much we simply went inside to relax with coffee and snacks. I highly recommend this tour.
On our second day, we were blessed with glorious sunshine which could only mean one thing; Central Park. Luckily our hotel was located a mere few blocks away, and after breakfast, we headed straight for the park. Ok, so, Central Park. You could spend an entire day in Central Park, there is simply so much to see and do including the Museum of Natural History, the Central Park Zoo, Shakespeare Garden, Belvedere Castle, and much more. Stop by Strawberry fields and listen to some locals playing tribute to John Lennon as you pay your respect, or head towards Mid-Park to the Bethesda Fountain where you are guaranteed to be entertained; for us, it was some amazing bubbles, and an acrobatic comedy act by some local guys from The Bronx, The Afrobats. Check them out on our Youtube; politically incorrect, offensive, and hilarious; it’s everything I look for in entertainment.
But my favorite thing to do on a sunny day in Central Park is rent a row boat. Located in Mid Park near Kerbs Boathouse, we rented a boat for an hour costing us $15. It was worth every penny for the photo opportunities alone, and it was great fun watching Chris trying to steer between twenty other row boats as he tends to get a little flustered. I just lay back and basked in the sun, heaven.
Rowing a boat really takes it out of you which is perfect because by that time I was ready to eat again. If you haven’t already tried an NY bagel then absolutely do it, just make sure you go to an actual bagel shop. And if you have had your bagel and eaten it, then I suggest hitting the street food if you’re lucky enough to be in Manhattan on a weekend day. For $10 I got the biggest Italian sausage I have ever seen, it had to be the width of my wrist. Totally worth it.
A day in the sun really takes it out of you, so with our big night on Broadway looming we decided to call it a day and get ready for Phantom of the Opera. I cannot stress enough how essential it is that you take in a Broadway show during your time in NY. The entire experience was so amazing that I’ve dedicated an entire blog post to it, so you won’t read about it here, but you should read it. It was without a doubt the best money we spent in New York.
We reserved our last day in New York for the smaller, less time consuming, but equally important things we wanted to do, such as visiting the HBO store so I could buy myself a Game of Thrones t-shirt. We also took a walk around Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, The 9/11 memorial, Wall Street, stopped by Magnolia for the best cupcakes I have ever eaten, and went to Paris (for all of you SATC fans). Later that evening we took a trip out to Williamsburg in Brooklyn and had an awesome slice of pizza. For a Brooklyn hostel, check out LoftHostel; I am a seasoned traveler and I can attest that it is one of the best hostels I’ve been to, truly excellent.
So that was New York and part one of my NY Series. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 which tell you in detail why The Wellington Hotel on 7th Ave and 55th St is an excellent choice for a hotel, and why no New York experience is complete without a trip to Broadway.
For our videos including The Afrobats, please check out our YouTube channel Two Peas In A Foreign Pod https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCx8Dm6NVzNlmhQhADapAVg
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