Spring Break 2018 in NYC

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Spring break, for many, is a time for travel. Its a chance to get away from the madness of school, relax and take a break–for most at least.

This was not the case for me.

While I did take a step back from school work, my week in NYC was not your typical “lay out on the beach, soak up the sun and relax” trip. Instead, it was a jam-packed week filled with sightseeing, delicious food and endless miles of walking and riding the subway.

My boyfriend, Ethan, and I arrived on Friday, March 23 in the evening and took a taxi from LaGuardia to his aunt and uncle’s apartment we were staying at on the Upper West Side. On Saturday morning, we hit the ground running and it was non-stop until we headed back to the airport on Friday, March 30. The week was a whirlwind and we somehow managed to fit in everything we wanted to see, do and eat, in a cost-effective manner nonetheless!

The following is an itinerary of all of the incredible things we packed into each day. We combined our trusty sneakers with an unlimited ride metro pass for $34 for the entire week, making transportation incredible cheap, easy and efficient. After studying abroad in London, I am a huge fan of the CityMapper app, which provides transportation suggestions and maps routes for major cities in the world, and I used this app to figure out how we got from place to place on the subway.

Saturday

  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum
    • We bought our City Passes here. The City Pass was a great option for us as it included all of the major things we wanted to do and for a much cheaper price. Not only that, but we were able to skip many of the ticket lines at locations such as the Empire State Building (had to wait in line but not the ticket line) and we simply had to exchange our City Pass voucher for a ticket at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ticket booth.
    • I had been to Ground Zero before, but did not have the chance to go in the museum. The museum was moving and filled with people there to remember what happened. If you haven’t been, I highly suggest it.
  • Lower Manhattan
    • For the majority of the afternoon, we walked through Lower Manhattan just looking at different sights. The first few things we saw were Charging Bull in the Wall Street area, then we walked through China Town and Little Italy. It always amazes me how quickly the neighborhoods change in New York City. We then walked through the shopping district in SoHo. We stopped in Stance, where Ethan bought a ton of socks. We then bounced back and forth between other stores and then took the subway back to the apartment we were staying at.
  • Dinner at El Centro
    • We went to dinner at El Centro in Hell’s Kitchen area. El Centro was incredibly busy and dim lit. We almost had to pull out our phones to use as light to read the menus. While it was loud and difficult to hear each other, it was a great place to people watch and had delicious food!

Sunday

  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
    • We got up early to beat the crowds at the pier for the trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Our City Pass covered the excursion which was great since it was on our must see list. While it was a rather cold and windy day, we were lucky to avoid the rain while out on the water. We did not spend much time at the Statue of Liberty, but both of us truly enjoyed Ellis Island and learning about the history of the gateway to the U.S. for many immigrants. It was incredible to read personal anecdotes from individuals who came to the island.
  • Times Square
    • In the afternoon, we went to Times Square. We first stopped at the TKTS booth to check to see if there were any shows we wanted to see later that evening that had discounted tickets. There weren’t, so we explored Times Square for a bit stopping in at different shops. The longer we stayed in Times Square, the busier it got so we headed out to get dinner.
  • John’s Pizzeria NYC
    • We went to John’s Pizzeria NYC for dinner. The restaurant is located in an old church, so it is an awesome environment. The stained glass ceiling is my favorite part. The restaurant is always extremely busy, and we waited nearly 45 minutes to be seated. The pizza was delicious though and I would highly suggest going!

Monday

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
    • We took the subway almost an hour from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn. Our first stop was the Brooklyn Bridge Park. The park consists of six piers that offer different facilities. Pier 2 was really fun to explore as it had a roller rink, covered basketball and tennis courts and what looked to be a turf soccer field. I had never seen such an innovative athletic complex before situated on a pier overlooking Manhattan.
  • Dumbo
    • Next, we headed to Dumbo, a trendy warehouse district of Brooklyn. The area was filled with upscale clothing stores and restaurants as well as cute little cafes. I found the perfect street (Washington Street) to take a photo that framed the Manhattan Bridge between two buildings. Ethan stopped for a slice of pizza at Front Street Pizza, which he said was delicious!29694630_1877943042224718_5762089606043719519_n
  • Islanders Hockey Game
    • Monday night, we headed to the Barclays Center to watch the Islanders play the Florida Panthers. It was an entertaining game, but most of all, it was great to see Ethan so happy watching the sport he loves. He was very excited to watch some player named Barzal… We also ran into a friend from school at the game, so overall it was a great time!

Tuesday

  • TKTS (Round Two)
    • Tuesday morning we got up and headed to the TKTS booth in Lincoln Center. I read that it is much easier to get tickets at the TKTS booths not in Times Square, plus the TKTS location at Lincoln Center opened at noon which allowed us to get an earlier start on our day rather than waiting around later in the afternoon. We were able to purchase discounted tickets to the showing of Kinky Boots that evening, which we had heard great things about!
  • Empire State Building
    • We then walked from Lincoln Center to the Empire State Building. It was a long walk. But we made it and luckily it was early in the day and the line was not too long to go up in the Empire State Building. We also did not have to stand in the line to get tickets as the Empire State Building was including in our City Pass. That saved us a lot of time. It was still incredibly crowded, which helped to add to my distaste for the Empire State Building (my parents decided to take my brother and I years ago around midnight right after we had gotten off a plane from Milwaukee and it was not the most enjoyable experience).

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  • Dinner at Barilla
    • Who knew that Barilla, the mass producer of boxed noodles, had a small chain of “upscale Noodles & Co.” restaurants in New York City? I found them online and we went before going to Kinky Boots as it was close to the theatre. The food was actually delicious and reasonably priced. If you’re looking for some good pasta (that reminds you of home but is still fancy) I would highly suggest Barilla.
  • Kinky Boots
    • After dinner, we walked to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre for Kinky Boots. Both Ethan and I did not know much about the show coming in, the most I knew was that it was funny, heart-warming and had great music. Needless to say, we couldn’t stop laughing and the show portrayed a message everyone needs to hear, to accept people for who they are. It was truly a fantastic show. Ethan thoroughly enjoyed it as well as Wayne Brady (who has appeared on How I Met Your Mother) starred as Lola and he had an incredible voice.
  • Black Tap Midtown
    • Post Kinky Boots it was time for dessert! We made our way to Black Tap, a restaurant known for its burgers and its “Crazy Shakes” (aka milkshakes). We went for the milkshakes and wow, they are good! After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, New Yorkers love their lines, we made our way into the funky milkshake hotspot. We ordered “The Cookie Shake” to share, but substituted the vanilla shake for a cake batter shake. Greatest decision ever. It was delicious. Highly, highly recommend.29594478_1877955428890146_7309439998022462890_n

Wednesday

  • Central Park Bike Ride
    • Despite Ethan’s grumbles about hating biking, I ensured him that the best and fastest way to see all of Central Park was by bike. So Wednesday morning we went to Bike Rental Central Park to pick up our bikes. I had already rented the bikes online where they are not only discounted, but also found a coupon for 15 percent off, which made our two hour rental incredibly cheap. We walked our bikes from the rental facility to Central Park and then we were off! We managed to see most of the big sights, such as the Alice in Wonderland statue, the Great Lawn, Kerbs Boathouse, Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, the Loeb Boathouse, the Reservoir, Strawberry Fields, Cherry Hill and finally I danced in the Cherry Hill Fountain (aka the Friends Fountain). We did it in under two hours and had our bikes back before time was up!

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  • Lunch at Burrito Box
    • Directly across from our bike rental was a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Burrito Box. I had read reviews online that raved about the food, and when we walked across the street to grab lunch, the tiny space was already packed with locals and tourists alike. Ethan got a steak and ground beef burrito while I got a quesadilla. The food was delicious and cheap!
  • NBC Studio Tour
    • The last time I was in NYC, I had done the NBC Studio Tour, and as Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show was on a break that week for Easter, the only way into Studio 6B was via the tour. Apart from loving The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, I also really enjoyed the tour the last time I went and wanted to experience the magic of NBC again. The Pages lead the tour and give a behind the scenes look at the making of various NBC programs such as Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. They also show you what it looks like in the sound, audio and lighting studios and basically how they put television together and get it to viewers around the country. If you are ever in NYC and have any interest in the shows I mentioned or simply the television industry, this is a great experience!29594599_1877964708889218_1748460956714507432_n
  • Top of the Rock
    • After the NBC Tour, we stayed in the Rockefeller Building and headed to the Top of the Rock, which was also included in the price of our City Passes. Unlike the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock was much less crowded and we made it to the 67 floor in no time. From the 67 floor we could head up to the 69 and 70 floors and by stair. From the top of the Rockefeller Building, we had a great view of the Empire State Building, Central Park and the entirety of Manhattan. Personally, the view and experience of the Top of the Rock was much better than the Empire State Building.
  • American Museum of Natural History
    • Later that afternoon we walked from the apartment to the American Museum of Natural History. It was only about an eight minute walk, and while the museum admission is pay what you like, our City Passes covered our admission and we had the choice of one special exhibit. I was most excited to see the Easter Island head that says “dum dum give me gum gum” from Night at the Museum. Meanwhile, Ethan enjoyed looking at all of the animals from around the world. 29573365_1877954885556867_3230761022699380232_n

Thursday

  • The “Today” show
    • On Thursday morning we got up at 5 a.m. You read that right, 5 a.m. From there, we took the subway a majority of the way to Rockefeller Plaza so we could get in line for the “Today” show. We were near the start of the line and got a great spot behind one of  the clothing displays for a style portion of the show. While there, we saw John Cena, I got a photo with Al Roker and we got a photo and had a conversation with Hoda Kotb. All in all, it was a great experience and I would get up at 5 a.m. to do it all over again tomorrow if I could!

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  • Cookie Do NYC
    • We headed down to Greenwich Village to go to Cookie Do NYC, where they make cookie dough that you are able to eat raw without worrying about getting sick. We got there before noon and there was literally no line, allowing us to walk right in and look at all the flavors they had to offer. The cookie dough shop is a cute venue with pretty lights and decorations. While the cookie dough was delicious, I got a scoop of Brookie Dough and Cake Batter in a cake batter cone, there was so much dough and there was no way I cold finish it. I didn’t even finish one scoop! It was oh so good though!

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  • Exploring Gramercy Park
    • After Cookie Do NYC, we walked around the Gramercy Park area. We popped into The Strand to look at the monstrous book store, Flight Club where I saw the most expensive pair of sneakers I have ever seen and NYU. 29684076_1877967182222304_3941625900558741695_n
  • The High Line
    • Post Gramercy Park, we walked to the north entrance of the High Line and walked south towards Chelsea. The High Line was really cool and very nature-y compared to the rest of NYC. We walked through the art district and could see so many art galleries from the High Line. We ended our walk on the High Line at Chelsea Market. The market was filled with people shopping and grabbing lunch and we found lunch for ourselves there. It was a super cute market that I would go back to in a heart beat!

Friday

  • The MET and Central Park
    • Friday was our last day in NYC. We were planning on going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as it was the last thing on our City Pass that we had not used. We walked through Central Park to the MET, but due to the longest lines I had seen in New York City ever, we decided against going inside the museum. Instead, we spent the next hour or so walking through Central Park and exploring the park by foot, as we had only biked it before.
  • Levain
    • After our walk through Central Park, we headed back towards the apartment to finish cleaning and packing, we made a second stop at Levain Bakery. Levain was highly suggested by Ethan and his mom as they make some of NYC’s most sought after cookies. We went to not only buy one each for ourselves, but also got a few to bring back as a “souvenir” for our parents. Ethan’s favorite are the oatmeal raisin cookies, while my favorite is the dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookies.

All in all, it was an amazing trip and not much went wrong (until we were at LaGuardia waiting to go home and our flight got delayed nearly four hours!). While I saw some things I had seen already, I saw so many other things and got to explore New York City at a relaxed speed because we were there nearly a week. These were some of my favorite places, restaurants and things that we did while there. It was no doubt a spring break I will never forget!

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