Sunday was a long day and to really get the feel of each and everything we did, I'm going to make it all one post! Yes, this is long post warning! So, sit back, relax, grab a bag of chips, or if you're trying to be healthy some pretzels and enjoy!
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #8: Wake up bright and early to visit all the touristy attractions without the tourists! That is if you really want to visit all the touristy attractions.
Sunday was our discovery day. We went to bed early on Saturday knowing Sunday was going to be
hell hectic. Hectic in a good way. So much to do, so much to see and only so much daylight. We headed South from my apartment in Little Italy around 9:30am and walked through Chinatown, Tribeca and found ourselves, purposely (obviously), right smack dab in front of Ground Zero.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #9: Visit Ground Zero. It is a must.
Over the past few years, as they have slowly begun to clear out the rubble and start construction, they have installed large fences around the perimeter of Ground Zero making it a lot harder to see inside. I knew a little trick, but we didn't have a chance to get there until later.
Eventually Ground Zero will look something along the lines of this...
But for now, it looks like your everyday construction site. Honestly, there isn't much to see. However, that isn't the point of going to visit Ground Zero. That is why I felt Kimi needed to see it and experience the feeling you get inside when you know what had happened. It is still very sad and surreal.
They are in the process of building the Ground Zero Memorial and Museum which will contain two concrete pools in memory of the north and south World Trade Center Towers. The museum is located between the two pools.
Here is a map of our Downtown and Financial District tour which consumed roughly two hours of our morning (not including our little stint on the SIF and back).
Directly East across from Ground Zero is the National Historic Landmark, Saint Paul's Chapel. This beautiful church which opened in 1766 is now Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use.
Washington came here for a special service after his inauguration on April 30, 1789. He continued to attend services at the chapel during the two years that New York served as the capital of the United States.
During the Revoluationary War, British Generals Cornwallis and Howe attended services here.
During the Revoluationary War, British Generals Cornwallis and Howe attended services here.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #10: If you're going to visit the touristy places, at least learn the history behind it!
After paying our respect, we were back on track and headed to our next destination....
After five years in New York City, it's amazing that I have never actually been to Wall Street. There's a first for everything! I finally got to see the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall!
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #11: Skip Wall Street, visit the South Street Seaport then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo! Better yet, use the free Ikea water taxi from SSSP to Red Hook and test out all the delicious food trucks!
We made our way to the Charging Bull aka Wall Street Bull aka Bowling Green Bull. Another NYC monument I had never visited. I just needed an excuse to see all the touristy things and Kimi was just that!
By this time we were frozen solid. The hand warmers we stopped to buy at Duane Reade weren't doing justice! A nice warm museum was just want we needed. So why not the National Museum of the American Indian? Funny that the Oklahoman's were visiting an American Indian museum in New York.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #12: NYC is all about the museums so if you're going to go, find out their free day! Most museums have a free day or night!
The entrance ceiling was magnificent not to mention the whole surround was pristine marble including the walls!
Not only were we now a little more American Indian smarter, we were also nice and
toasty. It was time to head back out on the city. Battery Park here we come.
We got to see what was left of the twin towers...
This plaque explains the sculpture.
Kimi was determined to see the Statue of Liberty. I on the other hand could care less. The Statue of Liberty is yet another monument I've never been to. I can see it and wave at it, that's pretty much all I need. But, Kimi wanted to get closer and she had a way to do it for FREE! Yes, FREE!
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #13: Learn to kill
The next thing I knew we were boarding the Staten Island Ferry. I used to think Jersey was bad but now this 1st timer was making me board a boat to Staten Island. What was going on? There I was, watching Manhattan get further and further away! Noooo....
Then I got excited! Look!!
Mom, Dad I saw the Statue of Liberty! See!!! Ooooo she's pretty!
We also got a great view of Ellis Island. I was worried we would have to make a trip out there but once Kimi confirmed with her parents that the "Stenstrom" clan came through Chicago and not New York, I let out my breath.
I'm not gonna lie, when I saw this view I got a little nervous and then I thought, wow Manhattan really is something else! We docked ship at St. George Terminal and were herded off the ferry. We were both starving and decided what better to do on Staten Island than eat PIZZA! But where should we go?
Of course the local Authorities would know! The next thing you know, were having a photo shoot with our new friends!
Our new friends suggested their favorite pizza joint and so Kimi and I were in a taxi on our way there in minutes!
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #14: EAT a slice. Or in our case a whole LARGE pizza! More points if you eat a slice from a different borough. Hell, why not one from each borough!
We ordered the Large Vodka pizza which had prosciutto, peas, mushrooms and cheese. It was pure mouth watering, heart melting joy. I am still craving Goodfella's Vodka pizza.
It definitely got our approval!
P.S. We ate it ALL!
When our feet were safely planted back on Manhattan, and I could finally breath again, I hugged and thanked Kimi for making me go to Staten Island, see Ellis Island up closer, see the Statue of Liberty closer, eat the most amazing pizza. Not to mention doing it all for FREE!!! Well, besides from the pizza and taxi.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #15: Ask locals their secret, favorite places to hang and restaurants. I promise this is the way to go. P.S. DON'T EAT IN LITTLE ITALY! There are so many better Italian restaurants on this island!
We headed West in Battery park up along the Hudson River park and stopped at the Jewish Museum to peek for a mili-second and were back en-route to our next destination, The World Financial Center, my little New York Secret. Not only are there delicious restaurants over looking the Hudson River and a small shopping mall, there is also this view of Ground Zero...
It was around 1:30 when we decided to hop on the subway to our next stop, the Meatpacking District.
My all time favorite destination for friends and family visiting New York is the Highline. It is just amazing in every way. Who wouldn't love an elevated contemporary, green and local park which used to be a railroad into the Meatpacking District to deliver meats in and out of the city. Not to mention the amazing 360 views of the coolest areas of Manhattan.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #16: Two words: The Highline.
When Shannon visited me a few years ago, I snapped her standing in this exact spot. It only seemed right that I got my other high school best friend in the same place.
After the Highline we walked through Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market is still my favorite market in Manhattan. I first discovered Chelsea Market when i worked at Buddakan. All employees could exit through the market and when we needed a little snack, we would pop on in for a Blondie or Blueberry Cupcake!
The market is amazing in multiple ways. The first is the design, architecture and feel. It is very industrial with exposed brick, HVAC, and plumbing. Every material is used including wood, brick, metal, glass, and even a water feature.
Chelsea Market holds a variety of stores on the first floor which consist of Fat Witch Bakery, Eleni's Cupcakes and Cookies, Amy's Bread, Dickson's Farmstand Meats, The Lobster Place, Sarabeth's Kitchen, Jacques Torres Chocolates and many many more delicious treats including Anthropologie!
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #17: Visit Chelsea Market when peruse all the little shops and splurge on a cupcake or brownie! Sterling Sound, who masters just about every CD you listen to, and The Food Network are located above your head! My brother got a kick out of that!
After our lovely walk through Chelsea Market we headed up to the one place Kimi was most excited to see, Central Park.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #18: Take a stroll through Central Park. Send the men to the Ritz Carlton bar to drink while you and the ladies ice skate! Then meet them there for post skating drinks! Once the men are nice and tipsy, walk down Fifth Avenue! The men are more willing to buy you pretty things!
We hopped on the ACE and got off at Columbus Circle where we entered Central Park on the West side and made our way through to the East passing by...
The Lake, The Boathouse and Bow Bridge...
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #19: Don't visit Fifth Avenue. It's a waste of time and money. Instead, shop in the West Village, Meat Packing, NoHo, or Lower East Side! Cuter areas with many less tourists!
Then we exited Central Park on the East side and saw The Plaza Hotel...
The Apple Store Fifth Avenue...
Where we had to go in and see the "Big Piano!"
And visit Harry Potter land where the sorting hat put Kimi in Gryffindor!
Our trek down Fifth Avenue also included Louis Vuitton and Tiffany's where Kimi picked out her engagement ring! Watch out boys! We didn't have time to visit MOMA but I did want Kimi to see it so we walked through the lobby and had a mini photo shoot with the cow wall!
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #20: Legit museum goers, visit MOMA, MET, The New Museum, Whitney and Guggenheim. But, if you're more interested in galleries, visit the Galleries in Chelsea! Twenties between 9th and 11th Avenues!
Lobby of MOMA.
Our day was almost over with just two more tourist attractions to see and then dinner! I was so excited I might have rushed our next visit a little. As previously mentioned, most people who live in NYC don't visit the historic and tourist attractions
ever, and this next stop was yet again another I have never visited.
Saint Patrick's Cathedral is a spectacular site to see on Fifth Avenue because it is so out of place surrounded by skyscrapers. It really makes you think how old this city really is. Of course on many occasions I have walked past the outside of the Cathedral, I have just never taken the time to check out the inside. Obviously Kimi wanted to go inside, so I put a smile on my slightly annoyed face and followed her in...
It was spectacular! After my Europe trip and visiting many cathedrals, I have a greater appreciation for the history and architecture. It really is great for Manhattan to have such a magnificent piece of history smack in the center of the island.
Finally, our last stop of the day, Rockefeller Plaza. I was more excited it was the last stop of the day than anything. My shins were starting to cramp and my stomach was starting to make noises I'd never heard.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #21: Top of the Rock. Cheaper with better views than the Empire State Building.
I wanted to stop at Magnolia Bakery to get Kimi a cupcake however, the line was out the door and around the corner.
I really didn't care, they're not my favorite cupcakes just a New York City staple. I mean, their red velvet doesn't even have cream cheese frosting. I also find their cupcakes fairly dry! Plus, if you really want to go to Magnolia Bakery, visit the original on Bleeker Street. Overrated!
We walked back through Times Square to catch the ACE subway heading downtown back to Meatpacking. Of course I would only take Kimi to my favorite restaurants. Especially on her last night! We needed something with the "WOW" effect. I didn't even have to blink an eye to think where we were going!
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #22: Indulge. Dine at a fancy expensive restaurant in the Meatpacking District. Buddha Bar and Spice Market are great but Buddakan is unbelieved! Two words: Edamame Dumplings.
Yep, that's right, Buddakan. Everyone knows it is one of my favorites not only because I worked there but because the food is just consistently amazing. Kimi's friend Amanda also joined our cozy little corner banquette table in the lounge while my friend Courtney took care of us! It was the perfect end to an extremely exhausting day.
Courtney had met Kimi at my birthday party and knew it was her last night in NYC so she did something special for us!
I had one more stop planned for the evening. I didn't expect to stay out late, just a pit stop in to see and continue home to bed. I mean it was on the way home and everything. So we stopped by the Standard Hotel, Grill and Beirgarten. I wanted Kimi to see the amazing architecture, designs and concepts.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #23: Go get drunk. Celebrate your last night in NYC like a rockstar!
The entrance to the Standard Hotel with the Highline above.
What hotel has an ice skating rink outside their front door? The Standard Hotel in NYC does!
The Biergarten, located directly under the Highline is a fantastic concept. In the summer this place is packed from open to close. Along with a great array of beers, mixed drinks and hip people, they also have ping pong tables which can be converted to beer pong tables when it gets to that point in the night.
I wanted Kimi to see the Biergarten before heading home. We walked in, I introduced the space and said are you ready to go home or would you like a drink? Ha, and I thought I was going home! Before we even decided what we wanted to drink, we made some friends...
and we ended up hanging out with these new friends until the wee hours of the morning.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #24: Make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver and the others gold! Well, at least the new ones you meet even if they're just gold for that one night! Follow them around. No doubt they will take you to some great places!
When we finally arrived home, at 3am, my street looked something like this!
We were both so exhausted after our 15 hour day I almost didn't have anything left in me. But, Kimi did! She was running up and down the street yelling SNOW! SNOW! We managed to somehow make it to the fifth floor up, fall asleep and wake up the next morning to tell the tale.
We woke up, showered and Kimi sadly packed her belongings. Around noon, we made it out of the house with our hearts and heads set on food.
First Time Visiting NYC Rule #25: BRUNCH. You can't visit NYC and not indulge in the one ritual NYC has to offer. It would be a sin.
Come on, did you think I would take her anywhere other than the famous Balthazar? I didn't think so. After ordering the entire menu...
Balthazar Salad with haricots verts
asparagus, fennel, ricotta salata and truffle vinaigrette (TRUFFLE VINAIGRETTE, need I say more?)
Scrambled Eggs in a Puff Pastry with wild mushrooms and asparagus
Sour Cream Hazelnut Waffles with warm berries
...we weren't even full.
I believe, and I don't care what you say, it was because all the exercise we had done the day before! We needed to refuel!
I believe Kimi was more than satisfied with her first EVER New York experience. How could you not? You just saw what we did! I dropped her off at Grand Central Terminal and headed back home to sleep for the remainder of the day. And that my friends is what I did.
It is now Friday, again, and I still haven't officially returned to normal. I worked out for the first time in a week last night and was so exhausted I couldn't do the second spin class. This was a first. As much fun as I had, NEVER AGAIN!!!
Kimi, I hope you had as much fun as I did and thank you so much for coming to visit! I love you!