VISIT: NEW YORK CITY
For my big 3-0, Blake whisked me off to kick off this new decade in style in one of my favorite places– New York City. We waited six months after we got married to take our honeymoon so we could be in New York during the Christmas season. This go around, the weather was autumn perfect, & we walked until our feet yelled at us. Blake & I both wear Apple watches, & nothing was more satisfying than closing our exercise & move rings each day without stepping foot in a gym! It’s what I love about NYC– all the places to explore. When I visit somewhere, I like blending in as much as possible. You won’t find me walking around with a giant map in my face like Joey does in London. Chandler was so embarrassed. I want to find where the local crowds eat, & while nothing thrills me more than a Broadway show at night, hanging out in Times Square just for the fun of it sounds like a loud, chaotic death. The subway is fun to us (except the first morning when we couldn’t figure out where we were going & both had to take a minute), so that’s how we got around anywhere that was too far to walk. Google Maps is what I used to learn which routes to take.
We arrived Thursday afternoon & left Monday morning. Here’s a little play by play of the highlights we ventured to–
Not knowing who the guests would be that day, we entered the lottery system for free tickets & got them! Ricky Gervais & Shawn Mendes made for a good show (although I didn’t know who either of them were beforehand), & Jimmy was super fun to watch. The Roots didn’t seem thrilled to be there, but their jazz made up for it. What I loved most was everything going on behind the scenes. The amount of people & equipment it takes to make this show run is crazy. Setting up stages during commercial breaks. Testing out the water mics for a new game. Catching a glimpse of props & crew behind the big, blue curtain. You definitely need a good chunk of time for this– between waiting in line to check in & then more waiting for the show, you’re looking at about 3 hours, half of that being for the actual taping.
We stayed in Midtown East just around the corner from the New York Public Library, Bryant Park, & Grand Central Station. This is a small, boutique hotel, & everything about it was fabulous. Everyone was friendly & helpful. The free services include a continental breakfast each morning, wine, cheese, & fruit in the afternoons, & coffee, tea, & pastries all day. They also boast an intimate rooftop bar where we enjoyed winding down a couple of evenings.
This restaurant is connected to the hotel, & we ate dinner here the first night. The Cobb salad was delicious, & it’s a good thing because the next three days consisted of bread, cheese, & more bread.
FRIDAY — GREENWICH VILLAGE & CHELSEA (Steps Walked: 21,319)
I had been dreaming of a New York City bagel for months, my mouth watering just at the thought, & this place won me over. It was close enough for us to walk before dropping on the sidewalk of starvation but still a local win. It’s been family owned & operated since its opening in 1976. Their egg sandwiches looked like they could win an award, but we always opted to shoot over to the express line to get a bagel & cream cheese.
We only made one reservation for our time in NYC, & this was it. A Michelin restaurant (I’m not even sure what this entails, but I know it means it’s GOOD), I felt like I was transported into a small 1950’s Italian restaurant. Caesar salad was made table side (you can see a clip on my Instagram story highlights), & we should have split one. The pasta? I want to marry it. The spicy vodka rigatoni was perfect. When we made our reservation a couple of weeks before the trip, all that was available was a single lunch spot (thank goodness!)– so I definitely recommend thinking ahead on this one.
We didn’t do much shopping, but I wanted to explore a few specialty shops, & this one made the list. This felt like walking into my Egyptian grandma’s closet– think suede hand gloves, one of a kind jewelry, & vintage handbags. They had a lot of clothing to look through, too. This shop is all designer vintage, so it’s super pricey– but fun, regardless.
It’s funny that we walked forever to find this indie toy store in Chelsea because the next day we saw one in Grand Central. We didn’t get anything for our kids because we could find most things at home, but it was neat seeing families there shopping for treats & birthday parties.
Even though I know very little about old school music, I love flipping through records to see if anything jumps out at me. This place had a hardy selection of original Beatles albums, as well as a fun selection of Christmas albums. The man working opened his one aisle shop in 1980.
Scandinavian candy, anyone? Color catches my eye, & this small shop is full of it. The candy is set up bulk shopping style. You pick a bag, mix whatever candies you like, & you pay by the pound. We had fun putting a bag together for the girls! They have everything from marshmallows to sour candies to licorice varieties.
I’ve been in love with this story for over a decade, so it felt only right that we’d see the longest running Broadway show in history. We sat a little high up for this show (we got tickets from the box office the day of), & while you can still enjoy a perfectly good time there, if you want to have as little disturbance as possible (think people arriving late & people in front blocking your view), pay the extra cash. EVEN SO, the costumes, the music, the story– BEAUTIFUL. The phantom always leaves me with a tear or two.
SATURDAY– UPPER EAST SIDE & HARLEM (Steps Walked: 25,639)
How did I want to start off my 30th birthday? With pie, of course. We tried the pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate mousse, & fall medley fruit (this one was ALL MINE). Two thumbs up.
We took our pie & coffee (for him)/ tea (for me) to the park. It took us a while to wander through until we found a big open area to sit, but it was perfect. A man was playing the saxophone on a nearby bridge, & some kids were playing soccer.
I feel like I should have gotten an Art History 101 credit after our visit. We only journeyed through the first of three floors, but when you’re trying to cover over 5,000 years of history, it feels pretty thorough! Everything is grouped geographically, & I loved seeing how different countries used their resources with such diverse creativity.
Picture this. A fried chicken leg on a red velvet waffle with honey sauce. No. Not for your dessert. For your meal. Let me tell you– outstanding. We sat at the bar & had a great time taking everything in. The bartender lit my Obamatini on fire before serving it to me, & that was cool, too.
There’s a reason it costs an arm & a leg to see this show, & let me tell you right now that it will be on Broadway forever because it is AMAZING. I could watch it Non-Stop. Get it? We had great seats for this show, & I’m thankful. My jaw dropped during the opening number, & I think I picked it back up on our way to the hotel. The songs, the story, the TALENT. This show is brilliant.
SUNDAY– BROOKLYN (Steps Walked: 22,381)
This morning, we grabbed another bagel (or two) from Ess-a-Bagel, & after a quick ride on the subway, found a park bench to enjoy them before walking The Brooklyn Bridge.
Based in the historic naval shipyard in Brooklyn, this place has an authentic atmosphere. Considering it was noon on a Sunday, it’s not surprising we were the only people there at the time (although I have the feeling it didn’t stay that was for long). The bartenders were super chill & friendly, & it was the first time on the trip we whipped out our phones to show off pictures of our kids to strangers.
After walking & eating our way through part of Williamsburg, we took the subway back to Manhattan.
We found this caffe in Greenwich Village on our honeymoon, & we had to visit again. They boast to be the first caffe in the US to serve cappuccino, & their cheesecake is rich & light & sweet & buttery all at the same glorious time. Sitting in here feels like you’ve traveled back in time, & it’s lovely.
We had one more dinner left, & we had to do it right. Pizza. We headed up to East Harlem to check out this pizza staple that opened in 1933 & stood as a hangout for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, & Tony Bennett. (They have since opened a location walking distance from our hotel, but we wanted the EXPERIENCE). It was hot & perfect & why can’t we just eat pizza all the time?
Thanks for hanging with me through this experience journal! NYC is an amazing city full of anything you’re looking for (unless you’re looking for the tropics or the mountains…don’t come here for those). I can’t wait to go back! In the meantime….