Visiting New York City can be a bit overwhelming; especially if it is a short visit or your first time. There is so much to see and experience, it can be difficult to decide on an itinerary and how to determine what is possible to accomplish in a 24 hour period. I had the opportunity recently to visit the city on 3 separate occasions with 3 different companions: my husband, my brother, and my husband and children; ages thirteen, eleven, and three. Each visit was customized to fit the audience. In the first of our blog series on New York City Three Ways, I have provided our “Couples Getaway” Itinerary and how we accomplished our experience.
Trip One: Couples Getaway
I had the opportunity to get away without the kids for the night with my husband. We won a pair of tickets to a celebrity chef dinner experience through my credit card company. As soon as we secured an overnight sitter, we made our plans for a date night in the Big Apple.
2:00 pm. Arrived via Metro North to Grand Central Terminal. We are so fortunate to be a train ride away from NYC. The cost of two round trip train tickets is about the cost of overnight parking an SUV in a New York parking garage.
Just arriving in the iconic station is exciting, it really is so grand a station. Many tourists and photographers spend some time here, just photographing the beauty and hustle and bustle of it all. Thanks to our former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grand Central exists today after almost being torn down in 1968. She partnered with the Municipal Art Society to create the Committee to Save Grand Central Station and as a result, this amazing architectural building, which celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in 2013, still exists today.
2:05 pm. Head down the corridor to the entrance of the Metro station.
*Always have cash on hand to purchase a metrocard. Often times, the credit machines are down, and cash is the only way to pay.
*There are no locker and bag check facilities in Grand Central or Penn Station. Most hotels offer bag services so you can explore the city without luggage in tow, but plan accordingly. We packed for our trip with just one backpack.
2:25 pm. Fraunces Tavern 54 Pearl St. Green Line to Bowling Green Station. This restaurant and tavern is considered the oldest tavern in NYC. Originally built in 1762, General George Washington gave his farewell speech to his men here, in 1783, following the Revolutionary War. It was actually used for a time by the Continental Congress until Washington DC became the official capital of the US. The restaurant offers some unusual but delicious dishes, including Scotch Eggs and Chicken Pot Pie. If you are not interested in lunch, definitely order a round of drinks in the authentic, early American saloon. The bartenders are not necessarily the friendliest you’ll find, but certainly know how to make a fantastic Manhattan or Old Fashioned. If you have the time, tour the Fraunces Tavern Museum. If the whiskey bar is open and you imbibe in such haberdashery, just sitting in this cozy, wood paneled lounge, in leather bound furniture, is worth the cost of a well drink.
*If time allows, you are within walking or a short metro/uber/taxi ride away from The Brooklyn Bridge : the #1 most visited attraction in NYC. If you have never been (or even if you have), it is quite a magnificent sight. Head uptown on the metro from Bowling Green to Brooklyn Bridge City Station.
3:50 pm. Back to the Metro to travel uptown to our hotel.
We have been to Times Square several times and I am not into the pressure cooker atmosphere of the area. Being accosted by costumed men and women for photos and then tip money is not my idea of fun, but we did walk through to reach our hotel for check in. If you have never been, look for the Naked Cowboy, often found there, feel free to have your photos taken with Mickey Mouse, Toy Soldier, Elmo, Batman, etc. etc. Take a few images of the iconic glowing screens and hordes of tourists from all over the globe. In warmer weather, you may find a market of sorts, with souvenirs and several food vendors. We perused a few and did purchase three, “I Love NY” tee shirts for the kids.
Before dinner, head to the St Cloud Rooftop at the Knick. The rooftop has a fairly large seating area, table service or a walk up bar. As the sun sets, it is lit with strung lights and the glow of the nearby skyscrapers.
** As I stated, we won tickets to a celebrity chef dinner, hosted by our credit card company. Here is an alternative plan, I experienced on a previous NYC overnight:
7:00 pm Eataly 200 5th Avenue. It is a 20 minute walk from The Knick to Eataly. You can walk, hail a cab, or take the Times Square/42nd Ave Metro on the Yellow line to 23rd Street. It is very close to the Metro.
Eataly is a bit hard to describe. It’s an incredible marketplace, filled with wines, cheeses, meats and bread; there are cooking demonstrations, counters to sit and enjoy a drink, an appetizer or a sample or two. There are several restaurants that are first come, first serve and some where reservations are highly recommended. It is a very busy, popular spot, so if you have your heart set on a particular restaurant to enjoy a leisurely meal, absolutely plan ahead. If you are the type to just go and experience this vibrant eatery, it will not disappoint. Take your time eating, drinking and shopping!
10:00 pm 10 minute walk to The Empire State Building 338-350 5th Avenue
The Empire State Building needs no introduction, and should be experienced at least once while in NYC. Tickets can be purchased to visit just the 86th floor observatory, up to the 102nd Observatory, or a VIP experience that allows the ticket holder to skip the line. There are quite a few queues, lots of waiting, and several elevator rides before you finally reach the top. I am a fan of VIP treatment, but did not find it necessary the night we visited (about 10 pm on a Saturday). We really did not have to wait in line; there was quite a bit of walking and weaving through the barriers, but we did not encounter crowds until we reached the 102nd floor.
Uber/Taxi/Metro to Hotel or, depending on when you decide to end your night
After Dinner Drinks at The Stagecoach Tavern An authentic- feeling Irish bar with Guiness on tap and shandies on the drink menu. I really wonder if the waitstaff is truly from “the old country”, or it is part of the atmosphere of the tavern to be surrounded by true Irish patrons, but either way, we enjoyed listening to the accents.