I’m not gonna lie… I think NYC really is the best city in North America, if not the entire planet. What could be better than a NYC weekend getaway?
I know, you may disagree (there are a lot of great cities out there), but if you’re staring down yet another week of pushing papers and you’ve just about had enough, let a quick getaway to NYC help you find the energy boost you have been looking for.
All can be yours in just one weekend! (But by all means, if you have more time then that makes NYC even better!)
This was a weekend trip that started with a few hours drive from Virginia. We spent the entire drive talking about what we were going to eat.
New York does that to me.
This was a family trip so we did much less than I wanted to. If I had my way I would have added a walk through Chinatown and Little Italy, allotted more time for Central Park to include a brunch at Alice’s Tea Cup followed by a boat ride at the Boat House, a beautiful walk to Strawberry Fields and a picnic in Sheep Meadow. I have done all of these things and highly recommend them. Central Park can be a wonderfully charming and an easy-going day full of things to do.
Day 1 (Friday):
We were travelling with our kids (all boys), so when we woke up Friday morning the first thing that had to happen was: EAT! Because we might diiiiiiiiiiieeee if we don’t.
We stepped out of our hotel, crossed over Broadway and found the delicious Breads Bakery to indulge in. I highly recommend the chocolate bread and the savoury bread they have with tomatoes and chive cream cheese! (We loved it so much we did it the next morning too. We were on “eat and repeat” all weekend long and we didn’t regret it one bit.)
The The Empire Hotel is a few short blocks from the Columbus Circle subway station. We walked to the station and used a debit card to purchase our pay-per-use cards.
The idea was to start at the bottom of Manhattan and make our way up, so our first stop was Battery Park. We had pre-booked tickets to the Statue of Liberty because it’s the Statue of Liberty and the waiting lines can get crazy! You can book a discounted tour with our affiliate here.
You can choose from a variety of tickets. Ones that get you into the statue or up into the crown, yadda yadda yadda. No matter what you choose, please, please don’t forget to prebook! It will save you loads of time waiting in line. The ferry makes two stops: The Statue of Liberty and then Ellis Island which, if you love genealogy, history or even NYC, I highly recommend. The guided tour comes free with the ticket.
Afterwards we spent some time in Battery Park watching the street performers and enjoying hot dogs which incidentally, is the only NYC street food that I crave. If you walk north out of Battery Park, up Broadway, you can do some sightseeing and will find The Charging Bull, Wall Street and Trinity Church (Hamilton’s burial place). After the church we walked west and entered the corner of the 9/11 Memorial. We spent a good amount of time here taking it all in and teaching the kids what happened there on that fateful day. If you would like discounted tickets to the museum you can book them with our affiliate.
We jumped on the subway at City Hall and rode to Canal Street which is the start of Chinatown.
There are shops galore on both sides of the street. Anything from electronics and T-shirts to bags, magnets and figurines. My kids love these kinds of places so we spent more time here then I wanted to, but we came back with some swanky New York shirts that John Lennon would have loved.
To finish out the day we walked a few blocks to Black Tap Burgers and Craft Beer in Soho.
They have truly insane shakes that will make your head buzz! (Incidentally our other favourite burger joint, Shake Shack, has two locations near the 9/11 Memorial. Good to know if you don’t want to walk so far and don’t need trinkets from Chinatown.)
After all that walking we were tuckered out, and called it a night. The Empire Hotel has a lovely rooftop lounge area and bar, and had I not been so tired, I would have spent some time up there after the kids were asleep.
Remember when I said “eat and repeat”? I meant it. First thing in the morning we stopped at Breads Bakery for more chocolate bread and then walked ourselves down to the South West entrance of Central Park for some family time.
We spent the morning at Herksher’s playground.
They have a small splash pad and play area with lots of places to run and climb, and swings and slides as well. It is fairly easy to find, but if you want to spend $1 and get a map of Central Park, I would recommend it. It’s such a beautiful place to have in a concrete jungle and you will really enjoy your day if you know where you’re going and what you want to do. After the playground we walked up to the famous Central Park Carousel.
We took rides and ate cotton candy and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
There are so many fabulous places in Central Park to visit.
If you have an entire day, and the weather is nice, I also recommend visiting the Boat House for some boat rides, Sheep Meadow for a picnic and stop into Strawberry Fields on your way to pay some respects to the aforementioned Beatle.
For us and our limited time, we walked up The Mall to Bethesda Fountain. All along the mall are benches full of artists, street performers, vendors and people enjoying the park. It can be especially interesting (and busy) if you go on a weekend.
We had pre-booked tickets Disney’s Aladdin, so we had to leave the park earlier than I wanted to head to the hotel to get ready. (The theater gal in me always dresses up for a show. You too can feel fancy; fight the urge to wear jeans.) We walked down the east side of the park toward 5th Avenue to do a bit of window shopping. We walked down to Times Square and then took the subway back to Columbus Circle to get to the hotel.
If you want to see Aladdin you can book discount tickets with our affiliate. If you want to see another Broadway show (and why wouldn’t you?) I suggest looking online to see what shows are on and then buying tickets in advance.
It makes your life easier in the long run. If you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants there is a TKTS booth in Times Square that sells discounted tickets on the day of the show. You can check there earlier in the day to see what they are offering.
Be sure to read the FAQs on their website to be sure you show up at the right time; and be prepared to stand in line if it’s tourist season and/or a weekend.
Pre-show we walked through Times Square for the buzz and pace that is all its own. It can be really busy and monstrous to get through, but with some patience and planning you can speed walk around people without much trouble. Holding hands with your travel companions can sometimes help. If you have time before your show, you can stop in the pedestrian mall, or sit on the red steps and watch the billboards flash for a bit. Or take in a pre-show bite. All the places there will be touristy and more expensive, but hey, its NYC!
So point your finger at one and go.
You can do burgers at Five Guys and Fries (a chain, but totally worth it), Carmine’s Italian Restaurant (famous for a reason – be sure to get reservations in advance!), Virgil’s Real BBQ (again, reservations!) or if you want to go fast and cheap, find a pizza place and grab a slice.
Our last day was given over to nostalgia. When we were first married we lived in Queens. I brought home two babies to homes in that borough, so we took the kids for a drive over the Queensborough bridge to see where they were from.
Ok, ok… we went solely for the food.
After driving through Astoria to see our old stomping grounds, we stopped in at two of our favourite places. First on the list was Parisi Bakery. They make fabulous pies and equally fabulous butter cookies. I LOVE them.
We also stopped at our absolute favourite pizza place of all time, (and you can trust me on that because I’ve spent a lot of my life eating pizza) Sac’s Place in Astoria. Owned and operated by the Sac’s family, they have got this incredibly thin crispy chewy crust down to a science and they have the most deeeeelicious pizza sauce. And don’t even get me started on the garlic knots!
After eating ourselves silly we headed out of the city to make good time getting home to Virginia where we were staying.
However, if you have a day to spend in Queens I can recommend a few things:
First off, there is Flushing Meadows Park. You will recognize the large metal globe fountain from the World’s Fair (made famous by the Men in Black movie) and you can walk down by the water or play in the park; or of course, eat more food.
Also in Queens is one of the oldest most sprawling cemeteries I have ever seen. You can view it from the freeway or stop in and walk through if you’d like.
And if you want to get really crazy, past the airport there is always Rockaway Beach. If you aren’t driving, you can easily take the subway out to any of these places. Yes, even the beach.
Have fun on your NYC weekend getaway! I can’t wait to hear about it.
Trip taken June 2018