I love food. Ethnic food, specifically. Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Cuban… the list goes on. So when my Aunt and I started planning our girls trip to NYC, I understandably got excited.
Aside from eating, I only had a few things I really wanted to do – biking/running central park, doing a city tour, and seeing a broadway play. The rest we played by ear, and I’m pretty happy with all that we did/saw. Interested in taking a short trip to the city? Follow below for our four day adventure and recommendations.
Day 1: Flying in on a red eye, we purchased bus tickets at the airport ( outside Terminal B) for $14pp or $26 round trip. This ride only took ~30 minutes to Grand Central Station, and in my opinion was was great value. Google had uber fares around $70 including tolls.
We were exceptionally lucky to find an Expedia deal ($300CDN/night) for the Lotte New York Palace, (Gossip Girl, anyone?) and feeling like Serena Van der Woodsen we strolled into this beautiful hotel. Our room wasn’t ready for early check in at 11am, but the hotel had a spa level available for guests, with showers, a steam room, and a fully stocked dressing area. We really appreciated being able to freshen up and then drop off our luggage before exploring the remainder of the day. Hotel Rating: 5 Stars; not a single complaint. From the helpful concierges to the knowledgeable doormen, the experience here was one of the best non-all-inclusives I’ve had. And the beds were SO COMFY.
The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring our way to and from the 9/11 Memorial ($24pp, 1.5-2 hours), and dinner at a great and reasonably priced Mexican place over by NYU (Burrito Loco).
Day 2 Highlights: We rented bikes ($14/hr) at the SW corner of Central Park and toured the area, then explored North to the Met and the Upper West Side. After some light shopping and a nap, we headed out to BROADWAY! Wicked was playing at the Gershwin, and you need to go. I didn’t think I was a musical person, but I was floored! If you go, the bottom floor back seats are almost as good as the Front Mezzanine. Wish I’d known this – those balcony tickets weren’t cheap. Still, 100% worth it. 5 Stars. Food at intermission is quite expensive though, so eat first ($11 for wine, $16 for cocktails, $4 for small snacks).
Day 3 Highlights: On day 2, we booked a last minute tour with Eat Like a Local for their Boozy Sunday tour of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. First thing though, we headed out to the Empire State Building, where there was a surprisingly minimal line up for Sunday at 10AM. The trip to the 86th floor was $32pp – moderately worth it. If I could have a do-over, I’d trade this for the NBC studio tour and trip to the top of the Rockefeller. From here we walked (yes, walked), south and across the Williamsburg bridge into Brooklyn for a 3.5 hour food and art tour ($55pp), which was well worth it! Stops ranged from beer and bbq to wine and ice-cream, topped off with a visit to a local flea market. I would definitely recommend this – especially the 1001 beer at the Brooklyn Brewery. Stuffed and satisfied, we took the subway (first time!) back into the city.
Day 4: The final morning in a city is always a bit awkward as you balance packing up and trip planning with fitting in as much as possible. I forced myself out of bed at 7AM to run the loop at Central Park (10km) #bucketlist, then we window shopped our way down 5th Avenue for some out-of-budget dreaming. (Saks 5th Avenue! Ted Baker!) After grabbing a slice of NY Pizza, we hopped on the bus for a quick return to LaGuardia.
Final Thoughts: There are so many great food options around New York. Make sure you figure out which neighbourhoods are known for their restaurants, else you could be walking for a ways before finding what you’re looking for.
There really is no bad place to stay South of Central Park – we were really happy with our location on Madison and 51st, but for more culture, staying near or north of the the financial district might put you in closer proximity to the fun restaurants and non-big-name shopping.
New York City is a bit like Vegas: I really enjoyed a long weekend there, and found this to be just the right amount of time. I don’t think I would return in the near future though, unless it was to see a specific play or show. New York State, on the other hand; the area looks prime for a nice bike tour.
If you are going to take the subway, you will need to buy a Metro card (minimum $10, including a card fee of $1). Each trip is $2.75, and worth the time saved if your feet are exhausted. Otherwise, plan for around 20km a day from touring, and pack comfortable shoes!
Wifi is hard to find (the hotel was charging $16/day), but all the Starbucks have hot spots. For a cheap Canadian without a US data plan, this was a lifesaver!
Finally, if you’re going to Broadway, get your tickets at ticketmaster – they were ~$20pp cheaper than through the broadway.com website.
Next on the List: Andy and I are off the England and the Irelands in a few weeks time. Stay tuned for that review, or drop some suggestions in the comments section if you’ve experienced something amazing in London, Oxford, Dublin or Belfast.