“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
― Tom Wolfe
I love New York City. It is such a vibrant, beautiful, exciting city with friendly people and so much to see and do. You just have this feeling when you are there, the possibilities are endless.
We spent 5 days in Manhattan on this trip last October and did what we reasonably could see and do during that time. We purchased the New York Sightseeing Pass that includes many of the top attractions, museums, tours, and activities. I would highly recommend getting one of the many sightseeing passes available when going to any large city- they can save you a lot of time and money. New York City has multiple passes available for purchase online- just find the one that fits your trip expectations the best and gives the best bang for the buck!
We arrived at JFK around 3pm and were picked up by Carmel Car Service (look into the different options of getting to your hotel- hotel shuttle if offered, car service, ride share like Lyft or Uber, taxis- you will sometimes be surprised which is the best deal). It took about 40 minutes to get to our hotel, The Hotel Wales, a nice boutique hotel on Madison Ave between 92nd and 93rd Street in the Upper East Side near Central Park and Museum row. After settling in, we went to find NY pizza, because NEW YORK- you have to eat pizza right?! We found Marinara Pizza Upper East on Lexington and 91st Street so we picked up some food and took it back to our hotel.
Day 2- Central Park and School of Rock
We had matinee tickets for School of Rock so we decided to walk through Central Park to Midtown. Central Park is amazing. It’s incredible to have that large of a park right in the middle of all those tall buildings. We stopped at P.J. Carney’s Pub where we ate lunch and had a couple drinks before heading down to the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway and W 51st Street for School of Rock (super cute show). My husband is not a Broadway show kind of person so we compromised on this production since he had seen the movie and liked the music. We explored around Midtown after the show heading back for the day. We rented CitiBikes when we made our way back to Central Park then rode through the park back to the hotel.
TIP: Getting around NYC- there are lots of options here-the subway, Citibikes, Uber and Lyft, cabs, hop-on hop-off buses, etc. There is a reason most New Yorkers do not own a car….. It is easier and faster to just walk for short trips and take the subway for long trips inside the city!
Day 3- Museum Day We love to visit museums. First, we walked along Central Park/5th Ave to the Metropolitan Museum of Art “The Met”. We used our NY Sightseeing Pass to skip the line (really, you have your own line to go to- which is significantly shorter than the other lines- but it can be hard to tell where to go in there, it is huge with people in line seemingly everywhere). This is a must go place! Next we walked across Central Park (using google maps because there are an amazing amount of trails that run through the park) to the American Museum of Natural History- think Night at the Museum. Again, using our pass, we queued in the correct line. This museum is like a diorama heaven, but they also have Earth and Space halls, tons of fossils, dinosaur skeletons galore, and human and culture halls with artifacts as well. After leaving, we caught the 81st Street subway station to the 7th Ave station and walked over to the Museum of Modern Art or “MOMA”. Here, we got in fast and easy. We really enjoyed the outdoor sculpture garden and the classic collections galleries with Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s huge Water Lilies. Neither of us are fans of modern art so we skipped a lot of the other galleries.
TIP: Make sure to check the hours of the museums and attractions you want to visit, as well as the days they are closed. Sometimes they are not the same or traditional hours and dates you would think and that could make a difference in your itinerary.
Day 4- Bus Tour, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial, One World Trade Today we caught the hop-on hop-off bus (included with our NY Sightseeing Pass) from the Met and went through Times Square heading south. I highly recommend the hop-on hop-off buses on large cities- they are an excellent, cheap way to get around the city and stop at all the top attractions. We got off at the 9/11 Memorial stop at Trinity Church, a historic Neo-gothic church. We passed St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church (nicknamed ‘the little chapel that stood’ after 9/11, it was used during the aftermath as a round-the-clock relief ministry to rescue and recovery workers) on our way to the 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade building, stopping at the pools to pay our respects. We stopped at Parm to have sandwiches before heading to the dock for our boat ride to Statue of Liberty. We did not book tickets to go to the island since that sounded like an all day trip and we had limited time. I think it would be cool to see it up close and personal but I really kind of preferred seeing it by water and we got great pictures. We got off the boat near Hell’s Kitchen, walked east to Times Square, then jumped back on the bus to finish the rest of the bus tour through the financial district and the East Village. We finished the tour pretty late at Rockefeller Center and walked back to our hotel (a very long walk, BTW). We stopped along the way at an awesome Italian restaurant called Serafina Fabulous Pizza to have dinner-yum!
TIP: All NY streets are NOT created equal! There are the streets (ie. 94th Street) and there are avenues (ie. Park Avenue). In general, one long block between avenues = three short blocks between streets. Streets are generally 200ft apart, whereas avenues can be 400, 600 or 800ft apart- with an average of 750ft! So, just a couple blocks away could be a very long distance depending on the direction you are going.
Day 5- Central Park, Top of the Rock, Bus tour 2
We rented CitiBikes and rode all the way around Central Park, all 6+ miles. Our original plan was to bike down to Midtown but the bike path is only one way so we decided we may as well bike around…. This was awesome but it was also a lot of work for someone that has not ridden a bike for quite some time… The path is not flat, with many uphill and downhill portions so we had to stop and take a few breaks ☺ After returning the bikes, we walked down to Rockefeller Center and used our NY Sightseeing passes to get skip the line access to Top of the Rock- amazing views of the city!! Unfortunately, it was a little rainy that day so the Statue of Liberty and the top of One World Trade were obscured by the fog, but the views of the city were awesome. From there, we jumped on another hop-on hop-off bus for a tour that took us up through Lincoln Square, into Harlem, and back down the Upper East Side where we got off and headed back to our hotel. Later that night, we hooked up with a friend of ours and hit some little Irish pubs for a few drinks.
Day 6- Road trip
We checked out of our hotel on day 6, picked up our rental car, and headed out on part 2 of this trip, stay tuned for my next post- Road trip through New York, Massachusettes, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, with special October stops in Sleepy Hollow and Salem!!
One can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt. – Georgia O’Keefe