When you’re right out of college, a decade seems like an eternity away – or, at least, it did for us. We had grandiose visions of jetting off to Europe, the Caribbean, or the Great Wall of China to celebrate our 10th anniversary, because we would certainly be at the peak of our #lifegoals by the ripe old age of 30, right?! Or, mebbe not…
Two children, four job changes, innumerable white hairs, a blink of an eye, and you have 10 years of matrimonial toil (err, bliss) in the books. With an impending cross-country move and a baby, we postponed our jetsetting plans for another decade. But, you can’t let a matrimonial milestone go by without a little pomp and circumstance.
So, we opted for the next best thing: a sightseeing trip to New York City. John had never been to the Big Apple, so we plotted to see how much we could cram into a span of 24 hours, mostly because we couldn’t afford to stay any longer. 🙂 Turns out, you can do an amazing amount when you’re not taking potty breaks every 10 minutes, stopping to speculate over random trees, or languishing on park benches because of the exhaustion of walking more than .001 centimeters!
Hands down, our best decision ever, was to take Grayline’s Best of Manhattan Tour. (And, believe me, I researched every tour out there!) The last time I was in NYC, I trotted behind Kiley of Cherry Blossoms Blog, as she steered me out of the way of cars driving on sidewalks and yelled back at the taxi cabs who tried to cheat us. But, without her guidance, I had visions of us totally lost in a bad part of town with Uber charging us $500 to go 0.5 mile.
This way, we picked up the bus a few blocks from Times Square, which was quite convenient to our hotel, the Kimpton Muse and had a full day of worry-less fun. Our tour guide got us situated in our cushy seats on a climate-controlled van and we were off to see the city in a whirlwind six hours.
Best Places to Eat
When you’re in NYC, you basically eat non-stop…because it’s just so good! For those of you who love Korean food, Danji is a small, hole-in-the-wall near Times Square that has amazing Bibimbap. (John would note that the Bulgogi Sliders, while also mouthwatering, aren’t nearly enough to fill you up!) Be sure to make reservations ahead of time or be there as soon as it opens, because it’s quite the popular restaurant with extremely limited seating.
More a steak and potatoes person? Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Times Square was definitely worth the anniversary splurge! Their Porterhouse steak for two was enough to feed an army; and their sides are rather hefty portions. It’s a perfect venue for a romantic, sit-down meal, away from the crowds.
Craving dim sum? If you can’t get down to NYC’s Chinatown, the next best thing is Dim Sum Palace, again within walking distance of Times Square. I was a little worried that the food might be sketchy, but their dim sum is on point. For those who might not be able to identify the various dim sum by their names, their menu has pictures of every one!
If you want to turn every head in the train depot, carry a New York style pizza back to Washington, DC! Several NYC natives told us that Patzeria Perfect Pizza is the best (and affordably priced!) pizza. The lines quickly validated their stories. And, UnPhiltered Guy, the happy recipient of the pizza, said it was pretty delicious, even though it was several hours old when he finally sunk his teeth into it.
For decadent pastries, Paris Baguette has all the sugary things. Sweet potato rolls, apple cream cheese bread, green tea cake – there are no bad choices!
In addition to good food, New York City is known for its shopping. In addition to having flagship stores for nearly every well-known business, they have some amazing off-the-beaten-tracks shopping venues. One of our favorites was the M&M’s World, smack in the middle of Times Square. Trust me, you’ll never see so many colorful flavors of chocolates in one place!
Brookfield Place, across from the 9-11 Museum, is a gorgeous shopping area. With delicious food options and high-end stores, we had a wonderful time window shopping and relaxing on the waterfront with some of the snacks we purchased. (Num Pang Kitchen is worth a stop if you appreciate Asian cuisine!)
Want to be hip for a day? Chelsea Market is the hub of New York City hipsters and foodies. From up and coming artists and outgoing barbers to oyster bars and locally sourced fruit, you’ll find a little bit of everything in this indoor marketplace in the Meatpacking District.
I could write an entire post just on the virtues of seeing a Broadway play. It’s an experience of a lifetime, whether or not you’re a huge music lover. Even John, who generally rolls his eyes at all things opera-related, was carried away on the wings of the Phantom of the Opera. Since Broadway plays can be prohibitively expensive, I suggest downloading the “TodayTix” app on your phone, which lets you see what plays are on sale. We were able to catch “Aladdin” while we were in town and found tickets for less than $50. (Granted, they were nosebleed seats but the music was just as glorious up there!) If you’re in town and have a little time on your hands, you can stand in line at the TKTS Booth for same-day, discount tickets. They have several booths around town, but South Street Seaport has the shortest lines, in my experience.
Can’t Miss Museums
I’m a bit of a book lover and one of Miss A’s favorite books, The Library Lion, was set in the New York Public Library, so the NYPL was a necessary stop. You can take a free, docent-led tour of the building at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays – the docents are so knowledgeable and take you into areas that you wouldn’t otherwise be allowed without credentials. It’s definitely worth taking the tour!
The Museum of Modern Art is another must-see museum. We happened to be there on a Friday night, when admission is free for all visitors during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. I would highly recommend being there by 4:00 pm, as lines get ridiculously long as it grows later.
The 9-11 Memorial and Museum is one of the most sobering museums I’ve walked through. Since most of us can remember exactly where we were when we heard the news that our Nation was under attack, it was especially heartbreaking to see the faces of those who died, hear the frantic calls made, and see the footage of those who risked their lives to run towards the crumbling towers. While we only spent about 1.5 hours walking through it, you could easily spend all day watching the videos and reading through each exhibit.
We really wanted to visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, but sadly, we didn’t have enough time! But, from everything I’ve read and friends I’ve talked to, it’s definitely worth a stop, especially if you’re a history buff.
To Cruise or Not To Cruise
A portion of our Best of Manhattan Tour was a jaunt down the Hudson. During this 90 minute cruise, you see both sides of the Manhattan Island, from 42nd Street down to Battery Park, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Immigration Center, Governors Island, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, United Nations, Ground Zero (World Trade Center), Greenwich Village, Wall Street, Chrysler Building, and many more landmarks…all from the comfort of your comfortable chair. Without a doubt, it was worth every penny – in fact, next time, we would like to do the same cruise at twilight!
We squeezed so much into our vacation that we needed several weeks to recover from our whirlwind trip! But, it was so worth it and I would do it again in a heart beat! After all, when you visit the city that never sleeps, why would you? 🙂