New York City, NY
I went to New York for the first time as a kid with my childhood bestie, her mom, and another one of our friends. I remember having a fun time and the memory of seeing the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, and Times Square. What 90s kid wouldn’t be impressed by a ferris wheel inside of Toys R Us?! Surprisingly, making it back to New York never made it to my travel list as an adult until recently. Once Misty Copland became the first African American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater, I knew I needed to see her! I actually tried a few different times to see her in Detroit and New York before, but I had a hard time getting tickets or issues with my schedule. So, hello New York, and welcome to my calendar :). However, as a budget traveler, there was one detail that completely slipped my mind. New York is an expensive city!
WHERE I STAYED
My mom and I stayed at the Hilton because it was within walking distance to many things, including Rockefeller and Times Square, so it was convenient. It also wasn't too far from the Metropolitan Opera House. It was regular, and it worked considering my last-minute planning, short stay, and there was a huge festival the same weekend. Remember if you stay with friends, you can share the cost :).
They say New York City has a lot to offer; however, I think it all depends on the traveler. I think it has more sightseeing than anything. I agree there's so much to fit in if you're there for a limited amount of time. Of course, everything I've done before did not make its way back to my list. My mom has already done a lot in New York as well. While researching and putting together my loose agenda, we did lots of sightseeing, the ballet (duh), leisure exploring, and a few limited New York experiences. We didn't accomplish everything, so I managed to talk some friends into going over the summer too :). I would recommend at least four days, probably five instead of a weekend, because it simply isn't enough time.
you must see a show
There are so many shows on Broadway, and there's something to appeal to everyone's interest, whether it's theater, a concert, or the arts. Instead of theater, my mom and I went to see Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House and enjoyed every moment of it. From talking to people there, we were told numerous times that we were in for a treat because the lineup was incredible. They were right! Not only did we get to see Misty, we saw other amazing leads including, special guest artist Brooklyn Mack. The ballet was phenomenal, and the set and costumes were gorgeous. We both were truly pleased with the whole experience, even though I was nervous, considering the lineup could change without notice. I heard Misty was reliable, so we took a leap of faith.
Top of the rock
Going to Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center was the second thing on my list. My mom and I also wanted to avoid the crowd because I've heard the line and wait can get very long. We went in the morning, and we stopped on all three observation decks to take in panoramic views of the city. Of course, you can see Central Park and the Empire State Building. I even spotted the ball in Times Square, surprisingly. My how tiny it is. The tickets are reasonable compared to other city observation decks and towers. The experience is similar to any other, so you really won't miss that much if you pass. When I was deciding which observation deck I wanted to go to, I had difficulty choosing between here and the Empire State Building. It turns out I made the right choice because I liked the views better. Essentially, I guess it depends on if you want the Empire State Building in your pictures or not.
We then took the subway from Rockafeller Center to Dumbo, which was easy enough to see the Manhattan Bridge. I recommend using Rome 2 Rio to figure out how to get there, making the subway much simpler. It was easy to find the spot at the intersection of Washington St. and Water St. Since we didn't go first thing in the morning, which I read was recommended, we did encounter a crowd. We had to be patient for it to clear out a little to snap a good or at least decent shot :). No wonder why getting there at sunrise is highly recommended.
From the Manhattan Bridge, we took Washington St. straight down to Camden and Prospect to the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, it was even more crowded! We waited for a little, and it cleared out for a few. So again, remember to be patient or go at sunrise. We then explored the area and stumbled across Taco Dumbo for a margarita or two. It had a really cute atmosphere and hipster vibe, plus they had a nice early 2000s playlist. If you know me, you know I enjoy a good karaoke session. It was also a nice break from the heat so consider making a pit stop.
Breakfast at tiffany's
When I was looking for things to do with my mom, one of my friends suggested having breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had no idea it was a real thing! I know, I’m late :). Once I saw pictures, I instantly wanted to go because it’s just so darn cute. Unfortunately, I had no idea it was difficult to make a reservation, so we couldn't get in. My friends and I got in after a few more attempts. It was almost as hard as getting tickets to see Beyonce or Adele. When I went back to New York, the experience was what I anticipated. Their menu options are available all day. I chose the Tiffany’s Tea with the Tiffany’s blend, which was delicious. The tea spread was similar to any other high tea experience. It’s pretty pricey, but in my opinion, it’s for the experience, so it’s worth it. Surprisingly we got there super early because, of course, we didn't want to miss our slot. They sat us early, so just ask :).
So how do you get a reservation?! Tiffany's Blue Box Cafe release dates 30 days in advance. All of the time slots vanish within the first 5 minutes or so. You must book early, so set your alarms. First, make sure you already have a Resy account and have a card on file because if you do get one of the times available, it does not sit in your "basket." You do not have a window of time as you do with Ticketmaster to fill in your card information. I learned this lesson the hard way. Always attempt to get a table for your first day in New York, so if you can't get a table the first day, you can try again for the next day. Second, make sure you are already logged into your Resy account. This will also help save time to reserve your table. I've read it's best to aim for a time slot that isn't as popular such as 1 or 2 p.m.. instead of 10 or 11 a.m. because everyone wants those times. I'm pretty sure I attempted to reserve 11 a.m., but I ended up with 2:45 p.m., so don't be pressed about the time, just that you get one. The website is straightforward, and if you do these things ahead of time, you should be able to put Breakfast at Tiffany's on your calendar too. :)
Flat iron buildng
Although I am not into architecture, I will say I found the Flatiron Building's shape to be interesting. While doing my research, it popped up numerous times to the point that I thought I might have missed out if I didn't see it...it turns out I wouldn't have. When I went to the Empire State Building, I spotted the Flatiron Building down below, which was kind of cool for 2 seconds lol. It's a New York icon, so if you have the time and are near the area, you might as well make a pit stop and take a look. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see it.
the high line
What was once an elevated railroad track is now a public park with views of the Hudson River and the city skyline. It was a relaxed stroll through the park, instead of the typical stroll in Central Park. The square at 10th ave and 17th st is a lovely spot for a photo op, and there are lounge chairs to relax throughout the park and snack vendors I did not know were there. There are gardens, artwork, and it's just a unique space to enjoy the city.
Washington sqaure park
Similar to the Flatiron Building, it's something to see, but don't be pressed even though it popped up numerous times when I was doing my "research." Again, I think it's one of those places you go to, grab a New York snack, and chillax, which we did. I read that it's known as a center of the community for the locals, which is a sweet touch instead of the typical tourist spots.
the color factory
You had me at ball pit! I discovered the Color Factory, and once I saw pictures, I was hooked instantly. I’m pretty confident it was the ball pit ocean that did it for me because I’m 5…sometimes. I simply couldn’t resist all the colors either, probably courtesy of my inner kindergarten teacher. I recently went to a ball pit at another pop-up shop, so I anticipated the same amount of fun and a similar experience. It was cute and a fun time. However, I expected things to be larger, but that wasn’t a deal-breaker. I really enjoyed the fact that they offer you pictures through the exhibit, which was a nice touch. I enjoyed the experience and read it’s on it’s way to Houston next. I also read they’re extending their stay in New York for a few months, so I would definitely recommend checking it out if adult recess is your thing.
The Metropolitan Museum didn't quite make it to my list, only the steps courtesy of my recent binging of Gossip Girl. I read a lot that it's an excellent museum. It's one of the city's most visited attractions; however, going just didn't spark an interest. Even one of my friends literally wouldn't stop talking about her visit there, and it still didn't convince me that I was missing anything. If you're a museum lover, I would recommend it based on how many times I heard about it and read about it from locals.
grand central Terminal
And more sightseeing lol! It's a world-famous landmark and another great place to stop for a snack, meal, or even an adult beverage, which we did. I'm not big on the history itself of the station; however, it is gorgeous.
The heart of Manhan! Central Park is another cool place to go and chillax. If you're a tad lazy like me, be prepared for some major walking. We decided to rent a rowboat, which sounded easy enough....it turns out I was wrong lol. I did a terrible job. Meanwhile, everyone else, including children, made it look so easy. I had a feeling we should've gone for the gondola option. It appeared to be more fun than it actually turned out to be for me, but it's inexpensive, so it's worth giving a try.
empire state building
One of New York's most famous sights to see! The Empire State Building experience itself is similar to any other observation deck. I only visited the 86th floor and took a lap around the entire deck. I would also recommend getting there when it first opens because the line and wait get long very quickly. We didn't buy tickets in advance, which wasn't a problem. We bought them at the kiosk rather quickly. I did spot the Statue of Liberty, which was pretty cool. I kind of sped through everything to get to the deck because again, I wasn't pressed for the history of the building. I did take a quick look on my way to the elevator lol.
My new york tips and recomendations
1. Stay in Midtown
Yes, it's pricey, but it'll make traveling more convenient. Either you pay more and travel less or pay less and travel more. Keep this in mind depending on how long your trip is.
2. New York is big on sightseeing
If you're not real big on sightseeing, I'm not convinced New York is the city for you. I think New York has more sightseeing than anything with a few cool experiences. I am sad I discovered they have an ice bar after the fact because that would've definitely made it to one of my agendas.
3. Try out some rooftops
We went to a few in Times Square. Magic Hour was my favorite and reminded me a lot of the Carousel Bar in Nola. It's worth a drop in. It's super cute.
Honestly, I don't have to make my way back to New York, but it's still worth a visit. I think I did and saw all the things "you're supposed to see." Again, my whole point in going was to see the ballet, so going was totally worth it. I had some fun time between the two weekenders, so I would encourage New York to make it to your calendar at least once. Enjoy! - XO Amb :)
WRITTEN AUGUST 25, 2019