I’m back with part two of my New York City trip. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I explored uptown, Central Park, the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center, just to name some highlights. If you haven’t seen part one of New York City, you can read it here. This post will be even more photo heavy than the last, so click through to see what we did!
Before heading into Manhattan, we had breakfast at Primrose Cafe, a really cute place in Clinton Hill. It’s in the basement of a brownstone, and has some outside tables too. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood.
Once we were downtown New York City, we had a bit of an issue with a lost bus ticket, but after some tears, it was all resolved and we hopped on the Uptown bus tour. We caught it later in the morning than we did on Saturday, so it was very full and we weren’t able to sit up top. There’s not much a view from the bottom, so we missed a small chunk of the sites.
We got off the bus at Lincoln Center, trying to get an emptier bus. It didn’t work out, but it was another site to see. The bus made its way through the Upper West Side, which had some great sites that I’d never even heard of before. The city just has so much history hidden between all the fancy buildings.
From the Upper West Side, the bus went through Harlem, which hadn’t been on our list to visit in New York City, so we were happy to see it from the bus – by this point we’d snagged seats on top and could see the sites better. It’s a really cool neighborhood (we saw the Apollo Theater) and has so much history. Our guide taught us a lot about the jazz history, and why it’s called “The Big Apple”. I always wondered! From there the bus went through the Upper East Side, and we hopped off at The Met.
After hanging out in front of The Met for a bit, we explored Central Park. We got hot dogs from a cart, and ate them by Bethesda Fountain, which I’d always wanted to see. We walked up the Mall and Literary Walk, and felt like we were in a movie (it seems like every movie has a scene there, doesn’t it?) Then we rented Citi Bikes and rode them around the park. I desperately needed a break from walking, and it was so much faster to get around. We rode to Strawberry Fields and saw the “Imagine” mosaic. Yoko Ono still lives in the building on the UWS where John Lennon was shot, and they installed the “Imagine” art there specifically because she can see it from her apartment. There was a man there playing Beatles music, and it all felt very hippie. After riding around, we sat on the steps of the Met. We were planning to go in until we realized they’d already been closed an hour. Oops!
We had plans to go to the Upright Citizens Brigade to see an improv show that night, so we had some time to fill. We decided to go to the Empire State Building. After a little walk through the Upper East Side and down Park Ave. to the subway station (the UES is exactly how you’d imagine – everything feels so expensive there!) we went up the Empire State Building and saw the New York City lights from above. It was a beautiful view and breathtaking to see how big the city is from way up high.
For dinner, we headed to the East Village where we were planning to see the UCB show. After a lot of last minute searching, we landed on a cute pizza & pasta restaurant called GG’s. The grandma-style pizza might have been the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. Not an exaggeration. Then we went to the show which was hilarious (and we may have been the only non-performers in the audience.)
Monday was our final full day, so it was our last chance to see the final sites. Katie and I started at Grand Central Station, which is beautiful. I thought I lost my phone while we were there, which sent me into a manic frenzy. Fortunately it was just in a side pocket in my bag, but we didn’t realize that until I’d yelled, run to the lost and found, and cried to a Magnolia Bakery employee. He was so kind though and was ready to use his phone to help track mine down! Then we headed to the New York Public Library. They’d just reopened the Rose Reading Room after closing for renovations, and it was beautiful. Though, I can’t figure out how anyone gets anything done in there with all the tourists staring at them.
Next up, we wandered the MoMA. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed the museum. Modern art isn’t entirely my favorite thing, but there was quite a bit of Impressionist work, Van Gogh, Chagall (one of my favorites – he painted the ceiling of my favorite building in Paris, the Palais Garnier), and great photography among other lovely works of art.
From there, we wandered over to Rockefeller Center where the ice skating rink was already set up. It was 80 degrees, but people were out skating. I saw Radio City Music Hall, the entrance for the Tonight Show and 30 Rock – just a little bit of NBC geekiness. I never saw Tina Fey though, so I left slightly disappointed ;)
Ground Zero was next on our list, so we made our way to the Financial District, and had Shake Shack for lunch. I’d been dying to try it for a while (everyone knows burgers, fries and ice cream are my favorite foods, so diners and such are my thing). It was really good, but for the record: In-N-Out > Shake Shack.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a must see. It’s so raw and emotional, but incredibly well done. It took us a solid 3 hours to go through the entire space, and I really suggest setting aside a big chunk of time to see it properly. The only bummer was that we chose to see the pools after the museum, but didn’t consider the fact that it’d be dark by the time we finished inside. It would have been nice to see the pools in the daylight. However, it was a lot quieter at night which was kind of nice as well. Be prepared to feel a lot of emotions, especially if you’re American, but it would be a shame to miss it.
We were totally spent at this point, so we headed back to our Airbnb to rest for a while, then spent the evening in Clinton Hill. We had dinner at Dino (222 Dekalb Ave.), which was great food and wine, but the service wasn’t great. It may have just been an off night, though, and it was pretty late. It was warm enough, even at 9pm to eat outside. We finished the night with drinks at The Great Georgiana.
Our final morning was kicked off with breakfast at Choice Market which is just down the block from the Airbnb (we went to the one on Lafayette, but there’s another on Greene Ave). Their breakfast sandwiches are so good. The final item on our list was The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum is huge, and we had to be picky about which exhibits we’d walk through. We saw Roman statues, Picasso and Pollock paintings, and a great installation on the rooftop. The view from the roof of The Met is incredible, so while you’re there definitely check it out. The Met is donation-based, so if you buy your tickets at the counter, you choose what you pay, which is nice if you’ve been paying for other museums.
From The Met we walked back through Central Park, past the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and back to the subway. Just as we felt like we were getting to know the city, it was time to leave.
New York City was an incredible experience, and I’m so happy I made the choice to take this trip. I’m also incredibly grateful that my dear friend Katie agreed to join me so enthusiastically. NYC didn’t change me, and I’ve fallen in love with many other cities, but it’s a truly special place that I look forward to returning to someday. In the meantime, I’m happy to be settled back into home life here in Portland.
Thanks so much for reading all of this, if you made it this far! I’ll have one more New York City post tomorrow (what I packed!) then I’ll stop flooding your feeds with New York posts and photos :)