I have had several people message me to ask about what to do and see when they come into New York City — and boy, where on earth should I begin?
There’s so much to do in NYC, and I feel like a lot of people that come to New York think that they need to stick to the Time Square, 5th Ave, and Central Park area. If you seriously spend all of your time in those areas and you tell someone who lives in New York that’s what you did when you came to the city — they will probably laugh at you. I can’t tell you how many times people have said that’s what they do when they come to the city, and that’s fine if that’s what they want to do. But then they have the audacity to say that they hate the city. If all I did in NYC was wander through the frustrating streets of Times Square and shop only down 5th ave… Well, I’d hate NYC too. So, before you judge the city, you need to actually explore this amazing town and walk the streets the locals are on!
My very good college friend, Bill, came into the city the other weekend and I gave him a nice full day of touring the city. Of course I wasn’t able to show him everything, but we really covered some good ground. My first tip is to give yourself a day where you are actually exploring and NOT shopping. No one wants to lug bags all around, and I promise you that those stores you want to shop in will be there the next day.
So, with that said, explore the city and see as much as you can, pause to take photos, but no shopping allowed, folks! (And if you do shop, don’t spend your money in stores that you have at home, go to some new places.)
So, Bill and I started at 23rd Street and 10 Ave. where we climbed the Highline stairs and then walked south on the Highline. He loved seeing this really cool feature of the West Side. Who would have thought how gorgeous and relaxing an old elevated freight train track bridge could be! During the warmer months there’s a section of grass to lay out on, and a really cool feature that is near 14th Street is a water walkway where people can take their shoes off and walk through running water.
The Highline extends pretty far, so we got off on 16th Street (there’s an elevator and a bathroom at this set of stairs). And right there after you get off the stairs, you’ll find the Chelsea Market (ask someone where it is if you have a hard time finding it, but I promise you that it’s there). We walked through the Chelsea Market, we had already eaten so sadly we did not explore the food scene in probably one of my favorite places in the city.
When we exited the other end of the market, we found ourselves on 9th ave. We walked south through Meatpacking and began to wander the streets of the famous West Village. I was so happy that Bill was willing to walk, it’s always nice to be with someone who will walk and discover new things in the city with you. We walked through a little neighborhood flee market and then walked right by the well-known Magnolia Bakery (I may have said no shopping, but you should def. shop for a tasty cupcake here), and we ended up in my old neighborhood — Washington Square Park.
It was a gorgeous day and was the perfect time for him to see such an amazing (and pretty eclectic) park. We sat by the fountain for a bit to take a load off our feet and then checked out some pretty cool art and then we headed to Soho.
Before we left the park, we saw a man creating some really cool art. At first I thought it was chalk art, but it was actually Sand Art. Remember Sand Art? Different colors of sand and funky containers and you could pour the sand in and make different designs. My mom never let me pay for a toy that was made of sand when I was a kid. I agree, it’s a waste of money — but oh my gosh this guy was talented. We were catching him at the beginning of his creation, but watching him pour sand with his bare hands into such a gorgeous design was an amazing experience. Clearly, he was using the blocks of concrete as a way to measure and keep the design symmetrical. We asked him, “What if you mess up?” And his response was, “I never mess up.”
We wandered through Soho and I showed Bill Spring Street and then he got a glimpse of the outrageously hectic Broadway. Then, we got into the subway at Prince Street and Broadway and headed north to the typical Times Sq. 42nd Street.
This was Bill’s first time actually touring the city (he came in as a child to see The Lion King and has not been back since). So, I had to show him the most famous parts of the city. We got off the subway at 42nd Street and walked the typical 7 blocks through the square (Times Sq. goes from 42nd Street to 49th Street).
I will admit, I did have us go into one store, and it was one of those NYC souvenir shops because I wanted to get my very good friend from home an “I <3 NYC” shirt for his new baby. I couldn’t resist!
We then made another pit stop to my boyfriend’s office (he works so hard all the time and he was working on this weekend too). My boyfriend and Bill met around graduation time 2 years ago, and they wanted to say hi to each other before Bill’s trip came to an end. My boyfriend’s office also happens to have a beautiful view of Central Park — so Bill was spoiled with an extraordinary view of the park.
We then headed up to the park and wandered up to the Boat House and we saw some gorgeous fountains and then we figured we would just keep on walking. We changed our direction from walking south to north to walking west because we eventually needed to get to a subway.
While walking through the park to get to the subway, we stumbled upon an amazingly emotional place — the John Lennon memorial. It’s truly incredible, to this day people are still pausing in silence, and still in silence they are taking photos of the memorial. I don’t think there’s a soul out there that would ever say that The Beatles didn’t change music forever. (And I will admit, I had never seen this before. So it was a new experience for me… That’s what I love about NYC, you’re always see and experience new things!)
We then took the subway back down to Madison Square Park. I bet anyone who knows me would easily know what I was taking Bill here for… You guessed it… SHAKE SHACK! Bill lives in Philadelphia and there is going to be a Shake Shack opening there soon. But there was no way I could ever let Bill think that this was a Philadelphia thing, he needs to know that the greatest burger is actually a New York City creation (Philadelphia gets the cheesesteak, they can’t get the hamburger too). And now he knows! He was amazed by the burger, cheese fries, and milk shake (I’m getting myself hungry now).
We were laughing ridiculously hard, let alone staring for a long time at this woman who had her children on leashes! I will admit, I was a leash child growing up — my parents say that I was “a runner.” But I was never as old as these kids when I was on a leash. These kids look at least 5 or 6 years old, at what age do your children learn to stand still? This photo is even more of a hoot because I was able to capture the moment when these kiddos were playing in the dirt. They are on leashes and playing in the dirt?!? You would think they were dogs! (Go ahead and look at this photo again, click on it too to see it in a larger scale, and go ahead and laugh with me over this photo!)
That tour of New York City went from about 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Imagine folks, if you don’t shop you can actually see the city! What else would I have wanted to show Bill if he had another day? I’d want to show him: more of Soho and take him to La Esquina for tacos, China Town for some dumplings, TriBeCa for some gorgeous architecture, and St. Mark’s street for some fun, young nightlife and some very good Sake! Looks like I am already planning his next visit!