Earlier this summer, I was trying to figure out fun weekend trips I can do to make the most out of my summer, while not taking too much vacation time from work. When I was looking at my map of nearby locations, my eyes fell upon New York City.
Living in Central MA. I do a lot of weekends in New England, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine… I honestly had never reallllly considered traveling to NYC before this exact moment. I’ve always had Boston just a short drive away, and never felt it was necessary to make the trek allllll the way down to NYC. As a young girl, I wasn’t much into city life, but the older I get the more I crave the hustle and bustle of a big city. So now, at 26 years old, I saw NYC on the map and a lightbulb went off in my head. It is SO CLOSE and it is one of the number one travel destinations in the world! How can I not visit NYC?! I booked my hotel and some bus tickets and prepared for a long weekend!
Here’s a look into my itinerary, lodging, restaurants, and transportation! As well as things I’ll do differently if/ when I go back.
I went on this trip with my sister, who lives very close to the Rhode Island border. Therefore, I picked her up from her house and we drove to Providence, RI and grabbed a bus from there. We booked the Peter Pan bus. There were several bus options, but I ultimately chose this one because the times it left RI and NY aligned with my plans the best, and it only made one other quick stop in Providence along the way. The bus was scheduled to take 4 hours to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. It ended up taking much longer, due to traffic, but I’ll get into that more later. We left Providence at 11:00am and got to NYC around 4:15pm.
I looked at a map of NYC and read several blogs about where to stay in New York before I ultimately chose my hotel. I was being very cautious with choosing where to stay; I wanted it to be safe, affordable, and easy. I looked on AirBnB a lot, but decided on a regular hotel instead. On AirBnB, anything that looked nice was out of my price range or out of the way. Anything I wanted was way too expensive. I decided to look for hotels within walking distance of the Bus Terminal. I didn’t want to take cabs or ubers. And despite my experiences in Boston, I was nervous about trying to figure out the subway system (silly me, the subway ended up being one of my favorite things about the city!) We ended up staying a the 36 Hudson Hotel, located in Midtown, but right next to Hell’s Kitchen. It was ½ a mile from the bus station. I really enjoyed the hotel. It was very nice inside and extremely good value for the cost. We paid $153 a night for a room with one king sized bed.
FRIDAY (Day 1)
We were supposed to arrive at 3pm in the city, however due to traffic we didn’t get there until about 4:15. This cause me to stress a bit because it left very little time for me to check into the hotel, change, do my hair, do my make up, and make it to our dinner reservation at 5:30pm! It all turned out fine though. I booked a reservation at Blue Dog Kitchen and Bar. I chose this place due to its convenient location next to the Gershwin Theater (our next stop) and due to the Fired Mac and Cheese balls I saw on their menu. We had a darling time at this restaurant. The food was fantastic, as were the drinks. I loved that the cocktails were named after Broadway shows! The mood set by the restaurant was fantastic. It gave of a vintage vibe, reminding me of the 1920’s. All the staff were dressed in suspenders and bow ties. There was a black and white silent film being projected on the wall behind us. The restaurant was small and packed, but super fun and wonderful.
We had some time after dinner, so we decided to check out Times Square really quickly. It was bustling, loud, and full of tourists. It reminded me of when I was walking the strip in Vegas; people dressed up in ridiculous costumes, asking if you want a picture and then demanding money afterwards. It was showy and kitschy, but amazingly fun at the same time! There was one interesting man who came up to me and my sister and asked if we spoke English. I usually put on my best city-girl face, and ignore people, but I thought mayyybe he was just lost. When I answered yes he motioned to his friend and said “My friend would like a picture with you”. That threw me off! I answered by saying, no, and then we walked away. It was a good gentle reminder to keep our guard up. They were probably harmless, but in a tourist trap area it’s best to not talk to anybody.
We made our way back to the Gershwin so that we could see Wicked! We bought our tickets in advanced, instead of finding those low-cost booths around the city. I had read online that Wicked tickets are never available at those booths, and this was the show we really wanted to see. When I booked, I was trying to get the cheapest tickets possible, with a good view. I ended up discovering the “partial view” seats at the very front of the theater far on the ends. I decided to go for it and got 2 tickets in the second row. Some people hate being that close and that far over, but I enjoyed it! We did miss some of the action on the sides of the stage, or sometimes the supporting cast would be standing to the side of the stage, which ended up blocking our view of the main characters. But being SO CLOSE to action was a fantastic compromise. Every expression could be seen. We also enjoyed getting a peaked of the actors when they were back stage! The show was spectacular, definitely not one to miss!
We debated getting a drink after the show, but we were just so exhausted that we walked backed to our hotel to sleep. We did take the long way home though, so we could walk through Times Square Again.
SATURDAY (Day 2)
To our disappointment, we woke up to thunder, downpours, and our phones warning us about flooding! Saturday was planned as a sightseeing day, all outdoor activity. We didn’t get as early of a start as initially planned, but when we finally left the hotel around 10:00am, the rain was pretty much done. We walked to the closest Subway station, which was about 1/3 of a mile from the hotel. We were trying to get down to the financial district area for brunch and sightseeing. Once we purchased our subway cards we asked someone working there if he could tell us how to get to the area we were looking for. He was very helpful and we were on our way. After that first nerve-wracking journey on the subway, I realized how EASY it is! I’ve heard people talk about how easy NYC is to navigate due to its grid system, but I thought I wouldn’t get the hang of it (I am notoriously bad with directions). But I was wrong, I became an instant fan of the subway and we began taking it everywhere. The google maps app is also super helpful. It even knows when certain lines are in the middle of construction and will bring you to the lines and stops that will work better!
We made it to our brunch with perfect timing. We ate at the Malt House and it was once again, fabulous! Everything was clearly homemade. We especially enjoyed the sausage; I think it was the first time I’ve had one that wasn’t some sort of prepackaged item. So yummy and satisfying. After that, we walked a couple blocks to check out the 9/11 memorial. It was grand, beautiful, and impactful. We walked along the memorial, reading all the names of the victims and remembering that tragic day in history.
We then moved on, and made the quick walk over to the Staten Island Ferry. We grabbed the Ferry as a way to see the NYC skyline and Statue of Liberty for free! It is a great option that I enjoyed thoroughly. The only bummer was the weather. On the way to Staten Island it wasn’t raining at first, but so foggy that you couldn’t see the skyline much. It did start pouring right as I tried to take a picture with the Skyline.
It was a fun little cruise though. On the way back to Manhattan is was pouring so we didn’t get to enjoy the views much at all. When the ferry ride ended, we decided to skip the next trip we had planned; the Brooklyn Bridge. It was so foggy, plus the on and off rain made us decided we would save it for another time.
Instead we jumped back on the subway and headed to Soho for some shopping! By the time we exited the subway the rain had stopped and we were free to walk the streets and peruse the shops. My sister was super excited that we stumbled upon the Glossier showroom. It was fun trying out all the samples and I splurged on an eyebrow gel (I’m usually a drug store make up kind a gal).
We then shopped at little markets in the streets of Soho. We stopped at Dylan’s candy bar for some epic ice cream before heading back to the hotel to rest our feet for a bit.
At the hotel I tried to figure out where we should grab drinks for the evening. After much contemplation we decided to go somewhere close that we could walk to and we ended up at Becco’s and intimate little Italian spot in Hell’s Kitchen. We each got an entrée with their daily pasta special on the side. Let me tell you, that pasta was amazing! Everyday they make 3 specialty pastas and you get to order 1 plate that samples all three pastas. We got a pesto rotini with green beans, an artichoke ravioli, and a spaghetti that had fried shrimp. I was hesitant to order it, because I am an extremely picky eater. All three pastas were incredible though. My lemon chicken entrée was good too, but the pasta was the star of the night. Probably some of the best I’ve ever had. Actually it probably takes the number 1 spot.
It was a late dinner so afterward we headed back to the hotel for bed.
SUNDAY (Day 3)
We woke up just a tad earlier and headed to another brunch. This time we hoped the subway to head up towards Central Park. We went to a place called The Smith. It looked suuuuper busy, but is was so huge inside that we had no problem getting seated right away. I got the $17 pancakes, which seemed outrageous, but once I saw my plate I understood why! These pancakes were huge, topped with toasted pecans, whipped ricotta, and drizzled with a salted caramel sauce. It was tasty for sure, however I will say I prefer a simple chocolate chip pancake with powdered sugar and syrup.
After brunch we strolled the Central Park, which is ginormous! We barely made a dent before heading into The Met. The Met was incredible. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but as we were walking I caught a glimpse of a Monet through a doorway and from there I went room to room, looking at art by some of the most well known artists in history! Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Degas, it was such a treat being in front of all of these pieces that I’ve studied and replicated in my art classes.
We also got see the Heavenly Bodies exhibit, dresses that inspired the celebrities at this years MET Gala, which was a real treat, and my sister loved as well. An additional section of the Met that was impressive was Ancient Egypt. I was taken aback by the number of tombs, shrines, sarcophagus’s that were on display!
We roamed the Met for several hours and then headed back to Central Park for a short bit. At this point our weekend adventure had to end. We pick up our bags and got back on the bus to Providence at 5:00pm.
I realized on the bus home that a long weekend is nowhere near enough time to discover this amazing city. This is how New York is vastly different than Boston; it is just so huge! There are still so many things to do and to see.
For the next trip:
The next time I travel to New York I plan to do a few things differently.
· If I take the bus again, I will make sure it is due to arrive in the City earlier in the day, to try and avoid Friday afternoon traffic. I might however, look into driving as far south as I can, and then taking the subway.
· I won’t stay in Midtown again. It was good for a first trip, but now that I know the subway. I think it would be fun to grab a place in Brooklyn, close to the subway.
· I’ll explore Brooklyn for sure, and finally check out the Brooklyn Bridge.
· I barely saw half of Central Park, so I’ll need to go back there.
What else do you think I should check out the next time I visit NYC? Let me know in the comments!