I love New York and I don’t think the 10 days we spent there last year was enough to try out all the things that this bustling city has to offer. This time around we didn’t bring kids with us (our last New York trip was with a ten-month old Julian) so we got to try out stuff we can’t do with kids in tow. I’ll just do a run down of the top things I really enjoyed on this visit. Quite timely too, with Valentines fast approaching, since this can also be a fun and romantic guide when visiting New York.
1. Go on a food trip.
Apart from the marathon, one of the predominant themes of this trip was food. Everyday was an opportunity to pick from the many dining choices available in the city. As I mentioned in previous posts, we choose to spend more on experiences over stuff so whenever we travel we try to look for interesting things to do. Food is one of the few things we like to enjoy and spend a little bit on. We like taking boutique culinary tours that are unique and give you a very local flavour of the place. We usually book these tours directly or discover them through the following sites:
For this trip, apart from just sampling various restaurants we went on prearranged food tours around Greenwich Village, around the Flatiron District and around Williamsburg. Each one was unique and came with historical highlights of each area. So far my top resto picks from this trip are as follows:
- Pio Pio for Peruvian chicken
- Momofuku for their meat-filled buns
- Milk Bar for their biscuits
- Levain for their cookies
- Bleeckers for their pizza
- Beecher’s for grilled cheese
- Luke’s Lobster for lobster rolls
- Eataly for all sorts of yummy finds
- Cubana Social for empanadas
- The Bagel Store for everything bagels
- Hill Country Barbecue for the best ribs
- Tre Giovani for their ravioli
2. Walk and have fun exploring the five boroughs.
We didn’t have enough time to visit all boroughs and only got to explore Manhattan and Brooklyn. But between those two there is so much to cover on foot. I particularly liked getting lost around the Soho area, going around Williamsburg, exploring the Greenwich district and just walking up and down the busy streets of Manhattan. Unlike my past life of check list travel, we were just content to have a flexible schedule with just an overall direction on how the day will flow, leaving lots of time for just slow travel.
3. Watch a comedy.
We were lucky that our home for this trip was centrally located right at the heart of the theater district, 150 meters away from Times Square. It’s so hard to choose which show to watch but given our budget and interest we decided to go for one lower priced, bang for buck show and another mid-prized one that we have always wanted to watch. We ended up with “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” which was staged right beside our apartment building. We also went to the afternoon show so it was cheaper. Then we watched Book of Mormons and were rolling in laughter for the entire show. Such a fun way to end the day:)
4. Bike around Central Park.
New Yorkers are blessed to have such a gorgeous park where they can run and exercise anytime they want. For the early part of our trip, we wanted to have an overview of Central Park and decided to go on a DIY bike tour following a suggested map. It was a good alternative instead of aimlessly walking around to explore it’s expansive grounds. We like taking bike tours in every city we visit especially in places where cycling is a popular mode of travel. It is like being a local even for just a few hours.
5. Have a leisurely brunch.
Since the weekdays are usually fast paced and packed, weekends start slow with a relaxed brunch. One nice place is Sarabeth’s near Central Park. The lines are long in these brunch places on weekends so try to go early or after 11 am to beat the crowd. Or if you are just on vacation, hit the best brunch places on weekdays so you are sure to get a table without the lines. We also liked the comfort brunch food at Fairways.
6. Have a drink at a rooftop bar.
This was the first thing we did as soon as we got there (talk about priorities). Despite the chilly weather, rooftop bars are usually full from dusk onwards, with Manhattanites unwinding after a long day at work. I like the vibe better than an indoor bar because you can enjoy a nice conversation with drinks without having to shout above the din of blaring music. The alfresco atmosphere is also more relaxed and laid back. For this trip we went to Brass Monkey at the Chelsea district.
7. Walk the High Line.
The High Line is an ideal example of a community led development that is both transforming and sustainable. It was a project to make better use of the elevated train tracks that have been abandoned for several decades. Instead of just demolishing these historical infrastructure, a group of like minded individuals banded together to push for its conservation and development. The result is an innovative and ingenious use of space that has given the district a unique sense of place. It is nice to just stroll or sit here to take a breather from all the walking.
8. Go to market.
Weekends are also interesting for all the markets around the city. I used to love flea markets but ever since I stopped buying stuff I now go for the food markets. First on our list was Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, made famous by the ramen burger craze. We also visited the produce market at Union Square. Although these are not seasonal and open air markets, I also loved the Chelsea Market and the more deli type Eataly.
9. Celebrate Halloween on the streets.
We were not prepared for Halloween but it was too fun to not take part in it. So we bought impromptu costumes from one of the many pop up stores set up for the occasion. Then we went with the crowd, wading in a sea of people as we waited for the parade to pass by. But more than the parade, it was just the overall revelry that made it a fun night. Everyone was just game and happy to be out in the streets. The city came prepared with the mighty NYPD all alert. It was interesting that although the crowd was thick and it would have been easy to just wreak havoc, the general atmosphere felt safe not just because of the presence of the police but because people just genuinely wanted to have clean fun.
10. Run the world’s biggest marathon.
And let us not forget the main reason for the visit, to run the New York Marathon. It is always romantic to see the hubby at the finish line of every race. But of course nothing can beat the preparation and support to get there.
So as a believer of everyday manifestation of love versus the showy grand gestures during occasions like Valentines, I wish everyone a year of loving:)