New York City Guide
“The city that
Finding a cheap, not in the city, Airbnb is what we chose for this trip. Hotels in the city are going to be astronomical and Airbnbs make your stay feel more like a real life experience rather than a short trip. We stayed in an Airbnb called “Brooklyn Experience.” When you travel to New York City, you need a place to sleep, shower, and occasionally eat (when you aren’t eating pizza for every other meal). This Airbnb was exactly what we needed for our fast paced schedule and it was only three blocks from the L train, which took us straight to 14th street in around 30 minutes. Small grocery stores, coffee shops, and restaurants were within walking distance. This Airbnb is by no means perfect (I have suggested some maintenance and upkeep to the owner in our review). It was dirtier then some of us (Luke) would have liked. Corey and I preferred to stay in a (really cheap) hostel in Manhattan, but some of us (Luke) would rather have slept in a car. I would recommend staying here with a max of 5 people (we paid $155/person, amount varies per date).
If we came back to NYC, I would definitely stay in Brooklyn again!
Day 1; Time’s Square, Dumbo, Brooklyn Bridge
*Newark Airport to Manhattan: Take Airtrain to NJ Transit to New York Penn Station to buy your unlimited metro cards (trust me, you’ll need it). Total cost $13/person (NJ Transit), $34/person (NY Metro Card).*
We decided to go big or go home and visited Time’s Square first thing. Our Subway ride to midtown was one to remember. Racing to beat the closing door. Shoulder to shoulder. An obvious local yelled at Corey for hitting him with his bag. Other locals not even phased by the tourists. This was exactly how I pictured the subway and I was in love! Broadway District was Ella’s favorite (of course). Corey, Luke, and I were truly just amazed at how large and clear the screens were (photography brains).
After soaking in Time’s Square we headed towards Brooklyn to grab some lunch and leave our bags in the Airbnb before our next adventure. When we arrived in Brooklyn, we saw a pizzeria called “Danny’s Pizza.” It looked like an Italian, family-owned restaurant and it was Father’s Day, so it seemed fitting. It was by far the best pizza we had the entire trip. We (Luke) went back more than a few times during our stay in Brooklyn. Highly recommend, even if you aren’t staying in Brooklyn, take the L train to Brooklyn and exit at Montrose.
After lunch and a few hours at the Airbnb we (Ella) were ready to head to Brooklyn Bridge. I had heard of this alleyway in DUMBO where you can see Manhattan Bridge perfectly in between the buildings (photographers dream). In DUMBO, it’s the intersection of Washington St. and Water St., with Washington St. taking you straight down to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pebble Beach, and the famous Jane’s Carousel. If you’re in this area, stop by FEED Shop & Cafe for some coffee (all of their products help fight world hunger). If we would have had one more day, I would have spent it all in DUMBO!
Do yourself a favor and walk the Brooklyn Bridge across to Manhattan. Walking the bridge (1.1 mi) is absolutely worth it. You have a beautiful view of the city the entire time (watch out for bikers).
After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, we walked 3 blocks to Schnippers for dinner. From the outside it looks like a normal burger joint, but the food was incredible and the employees were very kind. We all loved it (even Luke… well, especially Luke). They have 4 locations in Manhattan, so you won’t miss it!
Day 2; Los Tacos No. 1, Empire State Building,
Central Station, Central Park
For lunch on day 2 we ate at Los Tacos No. 1. There was a long line (which means it’s good) and only standing. It was pure chaos ordering (which is its charm) and the food was out of this world. I have zero pictures to post from this because we devoured our tacos before we got the chance.
The Empire State Building was next on the list. While my dad and sister were at the top enjoying the view, I headed off to find coffee. I eventually (and what I mean by eventually is, I walked around the entire empire state building before realizing I was going the wrong way) ended up at Gregorys Coffee. It was delicious! They have locations all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City. I opted out fo the Empire State Building, because it’s more on the expensive side, but my dad has been to the top twice and says he would do it again!
Grand Central Station has always been a place I have wanted to see in person. I loved seeing the old windows where people would buy their tickets (now it’s all electronic). We stayed for a while taking pictures and trying to capture the flow of people and the fast paced environment it has.
From Grand Central Station to Central Park we go. Central Park was honestly my least favorite stop on our New York City journey. It is absolutely mind blowing that it’s smack in the middle of the concrete jungle, but it’s still just a park. The Bethesda Terrace was by far the most vibrant area. A man was singing beautifully under the bridge, a bride and groom were taking pictures on the stairs, kids were playing with bubbles, and people were admiring the fountain. If you do go to Central Park, go here. That will make it worth it.
Day 3; Laughing Man Coffee, The Poster Museum, Broadway
If I lived in NYC this coffee shop would take all my money. The Laughing Man Coffee was started by Hugh Jackman after he met the “laughing man” in Ethiopia. This is a fair trade company and every cent is donated to The Laughing Man Foundation. Not only does your money go towards something great, the coffee is amazing. I would highly, highly recommend visiting. I love supporting business like these!
If you’re in the Tribeca area stop by Philip Williams Poster Museum. We found this store while we were walking down one of the streets (thanks Dad). It was as if we had walked back in time. They had New Yorkers from the early 1900’s, banners with old comic strips, Broadway posters, and landscape photography of New York City before and after 9/11. You could spend hours looking through all of their memorabilia and asking the owner questions about each piece. This was easily one of my favorite stops. This wasn’t a touristy check off our list but a stop that piqued our interest in the history of the city!
Day 4; 9/11, Chinatown, Little Italy, Manhattan Bridge
Seeing the 9/11 Memorial was really important to me because it truly shaped how my generation views the world. It was humbling to see the names of those who lost their lives written on the memorial and the empty holes where the iconic twin towers once stood. Sobering.
We headed to Chinatown and Little Italy after I ate the two best hot dogs of my life (sorry Ella, should have gotten the hot dogs). When we reached Chinatown, it was as if we had entered into a different country. I loved the food at the markets and the busyness of streets. I found the guy who tries to get you to buy gucci, so I was happy. We didn’t get to spend much time in Little Italy, but Ella did buy a cannoli, so she too was satisfied.
We walked from Chinatown to Brooklyn on the Manhattan Bridge. I would highly recommend this! It’s worth the 1.2 mi walk because there are zero tourists. It’s said that the Manhattan Bridge is the local bridge. I loved the graffiti, the grunge, and the view of Brooklyn Bridge and the city. We felt like real New Yorkers!
Eyes for New York City
This trip I brought along with me my grandma’s old film camera (Konica Autoreflex tc 35 mm). I had an incredible time seeing the city through this lens. When I got inspired, I knew that I only had one chance to take the picture. It allowed me to really soak in New York. Most of the pictures on this blog are from the film I had developed and I am so proud of it. When I think of NYC, I picture the subway blurred in the background, a beautiful smelling flower shop, old architecture, and eyes filled with wonder. I am no NYC expert, but I do have two tips to make your trip worthwhile.
Enjoy the subway. Enjoy the grunge. The fast-pace. When you get on the wrong one (and you will) laugh and enjoy the ride. The subway is the best way to soak in everyday life in NYC.
New York is the city of opportunity and it shows. Everywhere we went; central park, subway stops, on the side of the street, there was someone singing, dancing, playing the drums, or doing all three. This city is of full of talent, don’t forget to stop and appreciate it.
City that never sleeps, we’ll see you again soon.