Travel Journal #12
Start spreading the news; we’re going to New York City for a few days! This was sort of a last minute trip we put together, and we’re super excited to take off on our first big adventure of the year. Most people who visit stay in Manhattan, as it’s where all the tourist action is; but since we’re staying with friends in Brooklyn, this is where we plan to spend most of our time. There are so many great small neighborhoods to explore on this side of the East River – including incredible views of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Piers – so we’re looking for hidden gems of this under-explored borough.
This will be Norma’s first trip to New York and she’s super excited to visit for the first time. Even though Rob has been a few times in the past, he’s always excited to go back. It’s freakin’ New York City! It’s one of the most exciting cities in the world, and we plan on doing it right! We’re staying at a pretty central location in Brooklyn (close to Prospect park) and we will have easy access to the subway, which means we can be anywhere in the city pretty quickly.
This doesn’t mean we’re not going to all the classic New York destinations; places like Times Square, Grand Central Station and Central Park are essential for your first trip to the city. We plan on spreading our time between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and really just trying to give Norma an amazing first impression of the city.
We haven’t booked anything in advance, and would be happy if we ended up doing none of the things we have “planned”. There are over 993 things that we won’t see or do on this trip, so we’re not worried if we miss things. We can always go back. We’re visiting friends, so we will get some good insider info, and a lot will depend on the weather when we arrive.
So far, the weather report for next week looks pretty good, so we’re hoping things stay this way for our trip. No matter what happens, we have 4 days in the city, and lots of time to see much of what the city has to offer.
That doesn’t mean we don’t want to have some ideas ahead of time; there is nothing worse than wandering around a big city with no idea or direction. We have a few ideas for things we want to see and do, which we’ve broken down into smaller segments (half day trips) to help give us lots of options.
One thing that makes New York easy to navigate as a tourist, is the subway (once you learn how to use it). It can take you from one end of the city to the other without much effort. Taxi’s and Ubers are everywhere too, and apparently they have city busses (its like an above ground subway). We’ll likely stick to the underground.
We expect to go into this trip without much of a plan, and just see what happens. We’ve been reading blogs from other travelers, which is essential for stockpiling good ideas. We had some amazing feedback on a tweet we sent out last week, which has sort of blown up, and there have been over 25 comments, with incredible suggestions and blog links that have helped us formulate a plan.
Hey there #traveltribe! We’re going to New York at the end of the month, so we’re looking for some of everyone’s favourite things to do!
Any tips or blogs you can send our way would be greatly appreciated!! #travel #newyork #travelbloggers pic.twitter.com/cIOLy3Pm71— Norma & Rob | Travel Around the Galaxy (@travels_galaxy) March 9, 2019
We’re pretty open ended with how to spend our four days in New York, have no plans to stick to. These are some of the best ideas and suggestions we’ve pieced together so far from several great sources. We had some great inspiration from other bloggers who shared their experiences, so we’ve included links to the appropriate blog posts.
Now, it’s time for some of that last minute suggestions magic! What are you’re favourite things to do in New York City? We’re still looking for ideas, so let us know in the comments below if you have any things we have missed out for any of our itineraries listed below.
Full Day. A full day in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Museum(s), Prospect Park and an afternoon Brooklyn Brewery Crawl. Mixed day of local stuff and some touristy things. And beer. Our friends have lived in New York (Brooklyn) for almost 5 years now, so we will probably do a day close to their ‘hood, since they will have at least one day off to share with us. This will be much less sightseeing, and get a bit more of a local view of the city. We’ll be happy if we spend the whole day in one place catching up and telling stories.
Half Day. Long walk from Brooklyn Heights, including Brooklyn Brooklyn Piers, Dumbo, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, WTC, Battery Park and Staten Island Ferry. This might be an ambitious plan, as it will include several hours of walking, and the anticipation of doing something else with the second half of our day. This route is sort of the essential Lower Manhattan plus day, and since we’re staying just over the river in Brooklyn, we can turn this into a nice long walk. After taking the Staten Island Ferry we’ll hop on one of the uptown subway lines and go somewhere else in Manhattan.
Half Day. (This is our possible rainy day itinerary). Walk through some of Central Park followed by a short Manhattan Museum Crawl (aiming for two or three of either the American Museum of Natural History, MoMa, Guggenheim, Frick Collection or the MET). If we get really nice weather, we will spend as much of it outside as possible, and instead would only visit one of the listed museums and spend more time in Central Park this day.
We were inspired greatly by the New York portion of a a post from thealterlookout.com – “USA ROUND TRIP: NEW YORK…” – which really helped to sell the Museum Crawl idea.
Half Day. Queens, Long Island City and Rosevelt Island. When looking for ideas for our trip, we were given a great itinerary for a brewery tour in this area by fishoutofmalbec.com “A DIY Queens Craft Brewery Tour” – so that really helped to move this up our list. This was a neighborhood we hadn’t really considered, and seems like an under-explored area of the city, so it would be nice to go somewhere where it feels like we’re exploring. Since we’re both photographers, we love seeking out unique views to take pictures from.
From here, we can make our way across the river, stopping off at Rosevelt Island (recommended a few times, by whereareweofftonow.co.uk “Rosevelt Island“) which allows us to take a gondola ride into Manhattan.
Half Day. Brooklyn. Either walk or take a train to somewhere we don’t know too much about, and just wander around. There are lots of neighborhoods known for Street Art and Grafitti (like the Bushwick Art Collective), so why not seek out some of it. We’re going to be staying in Brooklyn (and yes, we know Brooklyn is massive and huge) so we figured we needed to split our 4 days in NY between here and Manhattan.
Half Day. This really is an essential part of any ‘first time’ visit to New York. Beginning at one of the corners of Central Park, we will wander through Times Square, parts of 5th Ave and Midtown. Midtown is the beating heart of the New York tourist experience, so while we don’t have any specific plans to do anything here, we have to at least let Norma see it. It’s big, flashy and sometimes hard to comprehend how big it is.
We really enjoyed madhattersnyc.com’s “A local’s guide” which had some great tips, and we will definitely be going inside the lobby of the Chrysler Building to have a peek.
Quarter Day. Spend some time between Midtown and Lower Manhattan. Most people spend their trip to New York on the island borough of Manhattan, as its where the “action” is, including most things you find on every “10 must see attractions in New York”. But Manhattan has some smaller neighborhoods too, like Soho, Greenwich Village, East Village or the Lower East Side. This is also where two of Rob’s favourite places are located; Union Square and Washington Square Park. There is just something about these urban parks that looks cool, especially being surrounded by tall skyscrapers.
It always seems when you’re wandering around New York you end up here; this part of town is good when you’re looking for lunch or dinner. We will likely spend some time here after dark, as this seems to be where you can find a lot of really unique places to eat and drink.
One really great itinerary was sent to us by hannahhendersontravel.com about their “New York Birthday Trip“. We really enjoyed reading their take on New York, and it was a good reminder that some of the best moments were had at restaurants and bars, after the sun goes down and your day of being a tourist is over. It also reminded me that some days, thanks to the wine you enjoyed the night before, you might not be as energetic at 8am the next morning, so be realistic in your planning.
Quarter Day. Walk the High Line. This seems to be one of the most recommended sights in the city, so we will find a way to do this. Starting around Penn Station, we will walk the line like Johny Cash, heading south. The only thing that Rob has seen along here is the Chelsea Market, and there seems to be lots to see. One twitter response highly recommended the Whitney Museum.
Half Day. Absolutely no plans. We want to leave ourselves open to stumbling into new territory, and usually the best way to do that is get lost. Who knows what we might feel like doing spur of the moment. Maybe we’re tired, and need a rest? Or just a lazy day sitting nowhere in particular drinking coffee.
Planning ahead is important (and also not important). One of the favourite blog posts we read was from allthingsfadra.com’s post “A kids first adventure to NYC“. She made some good points about reaching out to the tourist boards of different cities, to arrange press passes in advance (usually need a month for them to get back to you).
The big take away we loved was that sometimes you get bored doing the same things (as symbolized by traveling with a kid) that you need to be open to doing something in the moment to keep you happy. It’s okay to miss things. New York isn’t going anywhere. If you stick to your plans to rigidly, you’re going to miss out on enjoying the moment. Sometimes the kid inside of you needs a break at the Nintendo store.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks for updates on our completed trip. We’re both excited to walk around and take pictures of the city, and we will make sure to put together some great itineraries for others to follow, once we have experienced them first hand. Happy travels everyone!