I’m throwing it back to this time last year, when shortly after getting the kids back to school, the hubs and I took a quick getaway to New York City. Neither of us had been before, and there was a lot we wanted to see and do while we were there. We had three days, a centrally located hotel reservation, and a laundry lists of to dos.
How We Spent Our Days
Day 1 (Half Day)
Our first day was mostly spent getting to the city, but once we landed, got checked in to our hotel, and settled, we were ready to start exploring. Since it was later in the day, we decided to just head to Times Square and walk around. We were immediately inundated with throngs of people, city sounds, and lots and lots of lights and Lady Liberty checking her phone.
Nintendo World Store
Before we left, my husband and I made a bargain. I would go with him to the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Center and in exchange he would go with me to the Lion Brand Yarn outlet in NJ. So, since we were so close in Times Square, we headed towards the Nintendo World store. I’m not much of a gamer, but I can hold my own in a few games. Even so, I had to admit that this store was pretty cool.
After that, we wandered around a bit, stopping here and there for a few photo ops and a quick dessert from Magnolia Bakery. Later we caught the free ferry so we could see the city lit up at night, and Lady Liberty shining like a beacon in the distance. It was a nice way to end the day. I wish any of my pictures turned out but sadly, the lack of good lighting plus standing on a moving ferry rendered them mostly blurry. But if you have a chance to ride the ferry at night, it is worth it.
Day 2 (Lion Brand Yarn Outlet, NYPL, Grand Central, and Brooklyn Bridge)
Lion Brand Yarn Outlet
Going to the Lion Brand Yarn Outlet was on my must-do list, much to the amusement of my friends and the chagrin of my husband. But come on! I had to, right?? Right! So we bought our bus tickets and made our way. It was kind of a pilgrimage, not just because I love LB yarn so much, but because it was quite a walk from the closest bus stop, and it was HOT. Luckily, I was more than happy to allow my husband excess amounts of time spent in the air conditioning of the store while I perused. The yarn selections were great, but they also have some of past window displays from their store in the city set up in the outlet. These things are true yarn works of art!
Now, I have to tell you a funny part of this story that wasn’t so funny at the time, but I can laugh about it now. Let me preface this little story with the fact that my husband hates being lost, like HATES it. Driving somewhere new and he misses his turn? He starts getting irritable. Me? I would just find the next place to turn around and try again. Him? He drives past turnaround point after turnaround point, getting madder by the minute. It usually doesn’t help that I start laughing.
SO, when we were on our way back and trying to locate the bus stop to catch the bus back to the city, and the cross streets were the same name (Moonachie Rd vs Moonachie Ave) and the bus stop reading only Moonachie, well…. it was confusing. He was looking at Google and thinking we needed to be at a stop on one and I was looking at the bus map we’d grabbed at the terminal and thinking we needed to be at another. Missing the bus meant waiting a while, so to pacify my husband’s ire at being seemingly lost, we went with his. He was convinced, but the more I looked at the sign and route numbers on the sign, I was convinced too….that we were in the wrong place. Voicing that only made him more irritable, because to double check, we would basically need to run so that if we were wrong we could hopefully make it back to his stop in time. So off we went, and it’s worth mentioning that his legs are WAY longer than mine, so here I was trying to keep pace with him, a big bag of yarny goodness bouncing behind me. We went past where I thought the stop would be and didn’t see it. So we start booking it back. But lo and behold, strapped to the back of one of the light poles was a bus stop sign, with our route number on it. VICTORY! (and an “I told you so” look shot at the hubs). I’m laughing at this adventure, but the hubs wasn’t ready to just yet, particularly when I told him I was going to make him a shirt that said “I’m sorry for the things I said when we were lost.” LOL
But with our morning adventure behind us, we opted to do some easy touring (in the blessedly cool a/c) at the main branch of the NYPL (the Stephen A. Schwarzman building). This place was amazing! The architecture, the artwork, not to mention the books! This was already starting to turn into one of my favorite days…yarn and books in a new place, pretty much the epitome of what my whole blog is about, right?
After that, we wandered around a bit more, stopping at Grand Central Station, grabbing some smoothies, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, and grabbing some dinner in Chinatown (bring cash if you do this). We got a bit turned around again on the subway trying to get to Big Gay Ice Cream for our dessert, but luckily we made it and no husbands were lost in the making of this adventure.
Day 3 (Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial, Freedom Tower)
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
I have been fascinated with history for as long as I can remember. So having the opportunity to tour Ellis Island was a can’t miss. We purchased our tickets in advance, since we wanted to avoid long lines and sold out tickets. Bright and early, we were on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. You can opt to purchase pedestal tours, but we passed on that. We hopped off, got our photos, then got back on the ferry to take us to the main event, Ellis Island.
I had family that had come through Ellis Island, and I’ve read books about it as well (A Fall of Marigolds is a great example), and I have this habit of wanting to see the real-life places that inspire the stories I read. Getting to research my family’s entry into the U.S. was the icing on the cake. Learning about the process of immigration during the time Ellis Island was operational, was both eye-opening and emotional. When I think of what these people went through to come to this country, one that inspired freedom, fresh starts and the opportunity to make something of oneself using nothing but determination and perseverance, I want to applaud them, all of them. The courage to face the unknown is always something I will applaud. I can only imagine how scared they must have been and how desperate that they had be to resort to traveling to a new country that doesn’t speak their language and having to start over with little or no help from anyone else. Some made the voyage across only to be turned away, or maybe didn’t make it at all, as illness raged through the confines of a ship.
It breaks my heart at the treatment some of these people received, because as with anything, there are good people and bad people in this world and working there at the time. There are those kind people who would assist the sick, translate instructions, and other honest, well-meaning work, and there were those who would take advantage of a language barrier or ignorance of customs, or mistreat people simply because they are different. The story of those who passed through this facility was wonderfully told through placarded exhibits and an audio tour that was worth the price.
9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower
Having witnessed the second plane crash into the second tower on TV, tears streaming down my face for the people who were lost that day and for their families, visiting the site was as necessary as breathing. When I stood at the beautiful memorial, looking at the names of the fallen carved into the stone around it, once again, I found tears running down my face. And as we entered Freedom Tower, and listened to the recorded stories of people who witnessed that day and its atrocities in person, I was very powerfully moved. Listening to the stories and seeing how these people came together to build a new World Trade Center building that would tell those that would do us harm that they can’t break our spirit and that we would not be defeated was, in a word, beautiful.
We ascended in a sky pod to get our view at the top, once again having pre-purchased our tickets. Looking out over the sprawling city below was pretty cool. The ability to snub our nose at terrorism, priceless.
Day 4 (Central Park, Wicked)
We couldn’t go to New York and not visit this iconic expanse of green among the concrete and glass. We enjoyed a casual morning perusing and wandering around Central Park. We started out with a game at the Chess & Checkers House. It’s free with a photo ID as collateral. We had a lot of fun chilling with checkers….even if the hubs DID beat me three games in a row.
From there, we just walked around, taking our time and enjoying the sights. The Literary Walk, musicians playing, kids laughing on the carousel, toy boats on a pond, it was nice to relax and enjoy our time there.
If you go to New York and don’t see a Broadway show, then did you ever really go? I don’t think so. We scoured the offerings and decided on seeing Wicked at the Gershwin Theater. There were lots of amazing options to choose from, it was hard to decide what to see. We wished we’d had time to see more shows.
We wanted to make sure we would be able to see it, so once again we purchased our tickets in advance. But if you find yourself with time on your hands and you aren’t particularly picky about what to see, you can usually find last minute tickets for a bargain at booths in Times Square, South Street, and now Lincoln Center.
There were places that were recommended to us, and others we discovered all on our own, but these places were delicious the food we ate while in this amazing city tied for the things we loved best about it.
We stopped at Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Center for dessert on our first day, and the cupcake was so yummy, I didn’t even take a picture of it. It went immediately into my belly :).
We hit this place for breakfast a couple times. I was super stoked that they carried not just my favorite brand of hot tea, but my favorite blend too! Looking back, Harney & Sons is based out of NYC, so I guess it makes sense. Pair my Paris blend up with some of these delicious baked goods and I was ready for the day ahead.
Big Gay Ice Cream
We had multiple people recommend Big Gay Ice Cream to us. And since my husband is an ice cream addict, we were excited to try it. Friendly, colorful, and delicious!
This was another place we found near our hotel and frequented. I mean, just look at those goodies!
Little Eataly / Alla Pala
You could spend your day walking through Eataly Italian market and breathing in the delicious smells, noshing on yummy foods, and taking in the beauty of this market. I feel that if I lived in NYC, I’d probably do most of my shopping and dining here.
If you’re hanging out at the Flatiron location, do yourself a favor and go grab a slice and a glass over at Alla Pala Pizza & Enoteca. It was freaking amazing.
After a relaxing walk through Central Park, we decided to go to Ladurée. Ever since our failed attempt to taste some of their delicious macarons in Paris years before, now was my chance. They seriously just melted in my mouth. And their beautiful displays of delectables had me wanting to buy one of everything.
This burger joint is a hidden, hole in the wall, no frills, no apologies gem of a restaurant, with hands down the best burger I’ve ever had. Seriously. Best. Ever. If you go, you might have a hard time finding it, we walked past it several times. That could be because when we first got there, it was a bit on the early dinner side and there wasn’t a line (we were eating earlier so we could make curtain at Wicked later).
There was definitely a line when we left. It is hidden in the dark service hallway of a flashy boutique hotel in Midtown, features a roll up door covered in stickers, and menus and ordering instructions posted on cardboard taped to the walls. It might look a little sketch, but do not judge a book by its cover. Get in line, get your cash out (no cards), and get your order in. You won’t be sorry. Also, it’s a small space, and while there are some tables and booths, they are first come first serve.
Well, that’s a quick and dirty run down of what we saw and did in New York last August. We spent a lot of time kind of meandering around, taking everything in, getting a few fun photos, and making sure we hit every item on our must-do list, which we accomplished.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Tell me, if you’ve been to NYC, what was your favorite thing(s)? Let me know in the comments!
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The opinions and recommendations given in this post are entirely my own. I wouldn’t suggest anything to you that I have not tried and done myself. I earn nothing from my recommendations, I’m simply passing on a little information.