Brian and I just got back from a quick getaway to NYC. It was a great trip and we got to do most of what we set out to do. I absolutely looove visiting New York. The energy of the place, the diversity of the people, the pace, the shopping, and of course…the limitless food possibilities. Coming from a small town that I consider a food desert, I love all that New York has to offer in that department. Being in New York is like nothing else. For me, it is like a shot in the arm and no place I would rather keep coming back to. I am pretty sure I will never tire of visiting. Before we even left, I was already telling Brian I cannot wait to come back.
Our favorite part of visiting New York is walking around and seeing new streets and just feeling the energy. We travel everywhere by foot or subway. We tend to dislike crowds, lines and tourist-y areas, so we do our best to avoid mid-town and Times Square. Not the only places that have crowds, but certainly the most obnoxious. We spent a lot of our time exploring different Brooklyn neighborhoods on this visit and loved it. A lot of people don’t think of Brooklyn when they plan a visit to New York. In my opinion, Brooklyn is like being in Manhattan, but minus the commercialism, chains and tourists. There are amazing restaurants, independent shops and gorgeous green spaces.
We had our first ever AirBnB stay on this trip. Initially, I was looking at hotels in NY and Brooklyn, but the prices were outrageous! There are tons of AirBnB options in New York City, so we decided to give it a go. We chose this apartment in Nolita (North of Little Italy) based on its location, pictures, and reviews. Luckily, it was a wonderful first experience. The apartment was clean, well-furnished and more than double the space we would get for half of the price of a Manhattan or Brooklyn hotel. We are AirBnB fans for sure now!
Here are a few of the highlights from our trip:
Get Up and Ride Sunset & Brews Bike Tour – This was another new experience for us. We have done several of the walking food tours of different neighborhoods in the past and knew we liked the experience. Somehow I stumbled on this company doing small group bike tours out of Brooklyn. Brian noticed they had a Sunset & Brews tour of Brooklyn, which was 3.5 hours long. We loved the idea of doing the bike tour in the early evening and soaking in the sunset. The ride was a highlight of our visit. It ended up just being the two of us so it felt like a private tour. Our tour guide, Chandler, would talk to us while we rode through these earpieces we were wearing. We could ask questions via a little microphone we clipped on our shirts. He really went into the past and ever-changing culture of Brooklyn as well as an in-depth exploration of the graffiti art in the Williamsburg neighborhood. We made several stops throughout to interesting spots and to grab refreshments.
Morning run across the Brooklyn Bridge & exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park – While we have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge before, we decided to do a morning run from our apartment, through Chinatown and across the bridge. Dodging people setting up their shops or sweeping sidewalks in Chinatown made it sort of an “adventure race”. And the run across the bridge was entertaining as well with so much to look at while the sound of the cars racing underneath you roared on. Once we crossed, we took the opportunity to walk around Brooklyn Bridge Park and soak in the view of lower Manhattan. We checked out Jane’s Carousel, which I definitely want to bring the boys to next time we come with them.
Chelsea Market – Chelsea Market is a place we frequently visit, and it was on our list again because Brian, who is a major taco aficionado had read about Los Tacos No. 1, which is in the market. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. Afterwards, we walked around the market. So much to look at it in there! I wish it was a little less crowded though. I would recommend trying to hit it a little earlier in the day to avoid the lunchtime crowds. I love their bookstore, so don’t miss stopping in there if you go!
Brooklyn Flea – On Saturday, we took the subway to the Brooklyn Flea in Ft Greene, Brooklyn. The flea has different locations on Saturday and Sundays. It was really nice and very manageable in size. I can see how I would furnish my home differently if I lived in Brooklyn and had all these awesome vintage treasures at my fingertips! The added bonus to the flea was that they had a section with some pretty awesome food vendors. Brian picked up pork sandwiches from two different stands that he really liked.
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – I have been wanting to check out Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for a while now, and glad we got to on this trip. We only saw about half of it. It is a gorgeous space that goes on forever! The variety of plants and environments was incredible. They even had these conservatories where they simulated different atmospheres, such as desert and tropical to host those indigenous plants. The field of Japanese Cherry Blossoms was beautiful. I can only imagine how many people must come when they are in bloom. If you have children, I would definitely recommend bringing them. There is a Discovery Garden that is hands-on and encourages the children to touch, smell and explore. There is also a large garden growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. Entrance is $12 each, but, if you come between 10-12 on Saturdays, its free. Bring a picnic blanket and some drinks if you come. Lots of gorgeous areas for lounging.
Prospect Park – We took the long way to Brooklyn Botanical Garden through Prospect Park. I wanted Brian to see it. Prospect Park is ginormous. It was designed by the same landscape architect as Central Park, Frederick Olmstead. He actually thought Prospect Park came out better. So if you like Central Park, try to check out Prospect Park next time you are in the city. We were laughing that there was more green space and enjoyment of the outdoors in New York City than in our rural suburban town where you drive from one air-conditioned space to another. People were playing games, sunbathing, running, biking, playing with their dogs on that sunny day.
Yummy places we ate & drank:
Morgenstern’s – Ice Cream in Lower East Side
Forager’s Restaurant – Farm to table restaurant in Chelsea
Dig Inn Seasonal Market – Fast casual restaurant with wholesome local ingredients in Tribeca (several other locations too)
Blue Bottle Coffee – Hip cafe with amazing coffee in Meatpacking District (other locations too)
Los Tacos No. 1 – Best tacos ever in Chelsea Market
Local – Tiny little organic cafe for breakfast on a quiet street in Soho
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream – Yummy ice cream shop and ice cream truck in several locations. Not as delicious as Morgenstern’s though.
Dirck the Norseman – Industrial craft brewery and restaurant in Greenpoint Brooklyn.
Tipsy Parson – Comfort food restaurant and bar in Chelsea. We only stopped in for a drink, but the menu looked really good.
We did a little bit of shopping here and there. Brian stopped at any place that carried outdoor gear. I sought out a few shops that I have been admiring for a while, like John Derian and Schoolhouse Electric. Both did not disappoint! I also did pop in to several clothing stores looking for some inexpensive warm-weather pieces. In my desire to get away from the Florida heat, I packed like it was going to be 50 degrees when in reality it was sunny and in the high 80’s.
We did quite a bit in our 3-night stay, but of course there are still many reasons to return. For example, we wanted to visit the new Whitney Museum, but the night we tried to go was the free entry night, and the line was wrapped around two blocks. Will have to save that for the next time! New York is one of the few places I will never get tired of. I’m already chompin’ at the bit for the next visit. Wanna come?