Ah, New York, the city of dreams, the city that never sleeps, the city of so many sights to experience. Last fall, I visited New York City for three days with my sister to celebrate my birthday and to also partake in a few of the touristy adventures. I was super excited and made a detailed itinerary *shown below* which we may or may not have completed half of the items. Overall, it was an enjoyable trip and I will definitely be back to tick more items off my NYC Bucket List. Wait till you see what was my biggest regret from the list.
In this blog post I will be sharing my bucket list itinerary including the spots/activities we did complete. After much research on google/pinterest and watching YouTube vlogs, we came up with a list of activities which were interested in. After compiling this list, we needed to narrow it down as well as assign dates to them. The graphic below shows the results.
We arrived at JFK on Friday night, given it was our first time travelling into the city we decided to book an airport hotel to overnight at. We stayed at Hampton Inn where we were able to catch a free shuttle to and from. We started our journey into the city on Saturday morning whereby we caught a shuttle back to JFK, and from there we used the air train to Jamaica Station.
- Train from JFK to Jamaica Station (US $8) where we caught the LIRR to Penn Station (US $7.75). We also bought our Metro Cards at the terminal and topped them up with US $20 each. We really should have got the 7-day pass which was US $33 as we did end up needing to refill our cards during this trip quite a bit.
- Checked in to our hotel which was a few blocks from Penn Station. We stayed at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Midtown Manhattan/Penn Station.
- Grabbed a bite to eat at Chick-Fil-A *yumm*
- We went shopping since our room at the hotel wasn’t ready yet and everything was nearby. There were stores like Forever21, Old Navy, Crocs etc.
- After shopping we went back to the hotel, checked into the room and tried to come up with a game plan for getting to MoMA. Figuring out the subways (uptown vs downtown) was a little tricky but we got it.
- Visited the Museum of Modern Arts (MoMA) and spent some time looking at the various pieces. Entrance fee is $25 but we got a discount as a perk for using Booking.com. This is a famous museum with works from Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Leonardo da Vinci.
- Following MoMA we were on the hunt for food, and it really should have been a simple decision given all the options in NYC. However, we went with a friend’s recommendation which led us to the Flatiron District. It was night though, so we didn’t get to see much of the Flatiron building. What we thought was a restaurant was actually a marketplace of sorts, this was Eataly NYC where we got pizzas and heavily debated the gelato.
- To end the night we ventured to the infamous Times Square. Getting the subway there was a bit tricky but we followed some people who we overheard were going there as well. There were so many people and so many lights. We basically watched some guys do some dancing tricks, took some pictures then walked back to the hotel (because it sounded “close by”, 42nd street vs 34th street).
- We decided to get bagels for breakfast and went to Magnolia Bakery but quickly realized it isn’t that type of bakery. So, we went back to another place I happened to glance while walking pass the previous day.
- Liberty Bagels Midtown: we stood in line for about 15 minutes then there were so many options and we settled on a bacon, egg and cheese in a plain bagel (US $8.50). Honestly, it wasn’t what I thought it would be, but maybe we were too basic. They had every flavour of cream cheese you could think of, but I think the crowd and the rush threw me off so I really just wanted to get something and go!
- We stopped at Rainbow Shops to get some boots and things got a little chaotic then. *watch the vlog for the story*
- Next up was catching a train to Central Park to meet up with some friends. Basically, I pinned a bunch of famous spots in Central Park to take photos at but the walking quickly got to me. It is so huge!! It was also raining this day, so it wasn’t an enjoyable experience. However, we did make it to Bow’s Bridge (there was a wedding ceremony happening) and the Bethesda Terrace & Fountain.
- The MET (Metropolitan Museum) steps, as a Gossip Girl fan I had to visit here, especially since it was in the vicinity of Central Park. We took some photos and videos here then tried to catch an Uber to our next spot but ended up catching a yellow cab.
- Chelsea Market: our main mission here was food, so my friend took us to Los Tacos No. 1 where we had some of the best tacos ever. Prices ranged from $4.50 – $5.00 per taco, the options were carne asada (steak), pollo asado (chicken) and adobada (pork).
- Once you decide to go to NYC make up your mind that you WILL be doing PLENTY WALKING. After eating we walked the High Line to the Vessel took some more pictures (in the rain) then caught a subway to our next stop.
- Top of the Rock: One of NYC’s most popular observation decks, which is also at the top of the Rockefeller Center, hence the name. It’s $40 to enter and I believe prices differ on weekdays versus weekends. It was nice seeing the various viewpoints of the city but honestly, I didn’t think this was worth it. Maybe it would have been better at sunset, but that’s also a higher entrance fee ($10 extra).
- To the end the night we visited a Japanese BBQ spot, Gyu-Kaku in Times Square. This was my first time trying one of these restaurants where you cook your own meat. I was very unsure on what cut of meat to order and I also didn’t need the side of garlic noodles, but the experience wasn’t bad. The appetizers were the star of the show though. Prices ranged from US $8-30 for beef and less for poultry and pork.
- For a late night sweet treat, we went back to Magnolia Bakery for some goodies. I opted for the brownies (best I ever had), while my sis had a vanilla cupcake.
This day was my birthday and also a half day given we had to catch a train to New Jersey. We tried not to do too much but time still got away from us. The plan was to have brunch and then do two major stops, but we quickly learnt this day how having a strict plan may not be the best option when visiting NYC.
- On the last day at the hotel we decided to try their breakfast for a quick bite to eat given we couldn’t decide how to factor in brunch in our plans.
- First stop was to visit The Summit One Vanderbilt, one of NYCs newest attractions. If you visit their Instagram page you’ll see why. However, in addition to getting “lost” attempting to get to the location, the weather was still not on our side. It was super cloudy and we basically saw nothing but white through the windows. It was hugely disappointing given we saw what the experience should have looked like afterwards, but we made the best of the time spent. After all, we were on the 90 something floor and the elevator ride up was also an experience, as it took, give or take, 10 seconds. On a clear night I bet it’s gorgeous. Cost: US $39 on weekdays, US $45 on weekends, +$10 if during sunset.
- The plan was to get brunch after the Summit but we decided to use the bus instead of the subway and ended up getting “lost” again and also got on the wrong bus. There was also a major delay.
- After figuring out our transport we went to SOHO to find some food before our next booked adventure. Ended up at a little spot where we got burgers, a hotdog and drinks. The mojitos were good and only $10!
- Our last major adventure planned was The Color Factory, an art exhibit focusing on colours and inviting participants to interact with several installations. This was by far my favourite activity for the entire trip and we also received small treats while going through the exhibition. Again, activities are priced differently based on if you’re going on a weekday versus the weekend. (Cost: US $39 weekday, US $45 weekend)
- After Color Factory we decided we weren’t ready to leave just yet and settled on one final activity, Slate NYC which is a bar/restaurant/game room type vibe. We got there just as it was opening but we had the best time playing arcade games and mini bowling. I can definitely see how this can be a vibe with a group of friends later in the night.
- Back to the hotel to pick up our bags and use the Moynihan Station to get to Penn Station to catch a train to New Jersey.
As you can see, majority of the trip focused on adventure and not so much on food, which was my major regret. NYC is known to offer various cuisines and we really paid them no mind. Can you believe we didn’t even get an authentic NY slice of pizza?!? Wild. Also I need to mention that all of the paid adventures we did had to be pre-booked for a certain time, so be mindful of that. For some the activities, you can buy tickets upon arrival but it will depend on availability etc.
New York City, I will definitely be back but most likely in the Spring or when it’s warmer. The rain really played with us that weekend and some of the plans didn’t come to fruition. After we saw how much the subway fees were adding up and the amount of rides and time it would take to get to certain places we really gave up on the itinerary.
I hope this post was helpful for you if you’re planning on visiting NYC or if you’ve been before, comment and let me know what your activities were and if there are any must-do ones!
WATCH THE VLOG HERE
Until Next Time,