New York City. The Big Apple. City that never sleeps. Last week I took my first trip to New York City, and it lived up to every expectation, and surpassed the rest. The city truly blew me away, and I’m going to share alllll the details with y’all.
Back in January, I suddenly felt an urge to travel somewhere new. I hadn’t been on a real trip since graduation in 2013 when Bryce and I visited Hawaii for a week. Itching to get out, the thought of New York City began tugging at me. So, I made it my goal that in 2016 I was going to visit NYC – for the first time. I’d never been before, and was dying to see our biggest city.
I also really felt like traveling with a friend. Of course, I love traveling with Bryce, but I was craving a different trip, and he didn’t mind at all. My friend Katie and I have been traveling together for years. I knew she’d be the perfect companion for this trip, as we have such similar interests, plus it was an opportunity to spend time with a friend I rarely get to see! Win win.
Neither of us could take off too much time from work, and a longer trip would cost more money. We ended up flying in on a Friday (she got in earlier from a red eye flight, and I got to the apartment around 4) and left Tuesday evening. It was the perfect amount of time to see everything we wanted to see without feeling too rushed. I’d say one more day might have been ideal, so we could have spread a few things out more – we were definitely exhausted with aching feet by Tuesday. Everything else about the trip was great, and I can’t wait to share it with y’all!
I’m splitting this up into two posts, just because I have so many photos. This post will have a bit more general information and what we did our first day and half, then I’ll go over the rest of the trip in the next post!
Where we stayed
We chose to stay in an Airbnb. Any decent hotels were too expensive, plus we just prefer a rental over a hotel anyway. We searched all over Manhattan and could not find a decent Airbnb anywhere in our price range, until we expanded our search to Brooklyn where Katie found a gem. The place we stayed in is a private ground floor apartment in a brownstone in the Clinton Hill neighborhood. Here’s a link to the exact place if you’re interested. It’s a great deal, and the host was so wonderful. It takes a little bit to get into Manhattan, but that didn’t bother us much. It was so nice to stay in a quieter neighborhood rather than downtown.
I took the train from JFK to the apartment, which in hindsight, I’m not sure was the best idea. It took much longer than a cab/Uber, and I had never used the New York City Metro before. If I visit again, I’ll use the train again, but for a first-timer, it was a little confusing. However, the subway is great for getting around in general. I took the green AirTrain to the Howard Beach station, where I picked up a week pass at the counter (cash only), which is around $30. Even though we weren’t there for an entire week, it was the best deal, and we used it to get around the city most of our trip.
Now, this is really touristy, but since I’d never been to the city, and we didn’t have much time to cover , we decided to book a hop on/hop off tour bus. We chose a 48 hour ticket through Big Bus, and it was actually really great. We learned so much history about the city from a couple of really great tour guides (some of them were bad, so if you get a bad one, hop off the bus and catch the next guy) and since it’s a hop on/hop off style, we were able to easy get around the city, since we didn’t really know our way around. We did the downtown and uptown tours and they were really good.
Okay, let’s get into the first day and a half!
Friday: Arrival & Dinner in Brooklyn
I flew into JFK and took the train to Clinton Hill in Brooklyn to our Airbnb. We totally lucked out and the weather was warm and sunny the entire trip. I was feeling so giddy walking to our place from the subway station. After reuniting with Katie and cleaning up real quick, we headed out for a much-needed dinner. We were both craving burgers, and she found the cutest spot in Williamsburg, Allswell on Bedford. It looked like a European pub, and we were able to catch happy hour. Bedford is a busy, popular street in Williamsburg, and we enjoyed walking around after dinner. We got 2 for 1 drinks at Soft Spot, then headed back to our place to sleep.
Saturday: Downtown & Seeing Old Friends
The busiest day by far! We dedicated Saturday to the downtown bus tour and exploring many of the neighborhoods. We took the subway to Bryant Park, which is beautiful, and the bus took us through the downtown area, past the New York Public Library, Empire State Building, and the Flatiron, among many other things. I’ll have a video up soon (probably Wednesday) showing some clips from the tour. We hopped off at Battery Park, walked around and saw the Statue of Liberty from afar. Pretty amazing. My next trip I want to go out to the statue and Ellis Island.
We hopped back on the bus and took it to Chelsea, and walked the High Line, which was crowded but very cool. From there we walked around the West Village which is so charming (by far the best neighborhood in Manhattan) and saw Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. I’ve never really watched SATC, but Katie wanted to see it. Quite the crowd was gathered there.
From there we walked through Washington Square Park and saw the arch. The only problem with the weather being so good is that all the parks were packed with people, so I wasn’t able to get very many good photos without a bunch of people. From there we walked to Little Italy, and got lunch at Lombardi’s. Half a pizza and a glass of wine were just what I needed. We had ice cream at Morgenstern’s next, then cannolis at Cafe Palermo. After a quick jaunt through Chinatown (not our scene) we hopped on the bus to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was packed, but still very good to see the bridge. It’s so beautiful in person. (Being from Portland, I’m a sucker for bridges.)
We took the bus through Times Square, which may be the worst place on earth, then caught the subway back to our Airbnb. We were a bit rushed, as we had dinner planned with two of my friends from study abroad. I hadn’t seen them since we were in Paris, four and a half years ago, so it was pretty surreal to see them again. We took a (very cheap) Uber to Williamsburg and met them at Fitzcarraldo. We shared a bunch of small plates and wine, catching up for several hours before heading back home. I really recommend the restaurant, the food was amazing, however it’s not incredibly filling so don’t go too hungry.
That was just the first day! I’ll be back with the rest of our trip on Wednesday.