New York is loud, it’s crazy, it never sleeps and we loved our last visit there! We have some unconventional suggestions and advice for taking the Big Apple by storm on a small to medium budget, and getting the most out of some areas you may not think to check out.
1. Brooklyn. I can’t help but use a partial quote by one of my favorite movies, Zoolander. Brooklyn “is so hot right now.” What a resurrection from years past! Brooklyn has some absolutely adorable neighborhoods, gorgeous views and came as such a pleasant surprise to us when we decided to stay there. We HIGHLY recommend Hotel R.L. - it’s better than the photos and the staff was awesome. Word of warning - it’s far from Manhattan in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood so if you want to get across the river and see traditional NYC sights prepare for a LONG Subway or Uber ride (an hour!) This will answer the question as to why the very low room rate. We will definitely splurge next time and stay in Manhattan. With that aside, the hotel is surrounded by a variety of culture, diversity and the area is still up and coming, unlike parts of Brooklyn like Williamsburg that is fully adorable, hipster and super clean. We didn’t mind though, and even fell in love with a little dive bar across the street from the hotel’s front entrance called Looking Glass. Perfect for late night food and a nightcap.
Another fun bar in Brooklyn was Jeremy’s Ale House. Prepare for a giant styrofoam cup of beer and bras hanging from the ceiling. So classy. So fun.
Oh, be sure to check out Domino Park. It is so cool with the utilization of the sugar mill to revitalize the waterfront!
Speaking of Williamsburg, which is just two miles from Hotel R.L., but a 25 min Uber ride, SoulCycle has a premier location. We did a classic 45 minute ride one morning and loved it, grabbed a juice nearby and walked back to our hotel after. Great way to spend a healthy morning!
2. Central Park. We were hoping for autumn leaves, but the extended warmth from a late summer kept the green in most trees. It was still gorgeous and a must see for every visit to the city. Certainly an oasis from the craziness of New York.
3. 9/11 Memorial
Every time I have visited this site from one year after the World Trade Center Towers fell, to this past week 17 years later, I feel pressure in my chest that vibrates deep into my soul. The sense of loss, senselessness and sadness sits heavy throughout this area of the city.
This time the feeling of gratitude for the memorial, and the realization that is was so perfectly created was a highlight. Where the twin towers once stood are dazzling pools with waterfalls and the names of everyone whose life was lost etched into the side.
Surrounding the pools are simple pathways and trees, and signs to remind the visitors to be respectful and quiet. The air is filled with awe of people from all over the world realizing the enormity of this awful event and the days, weeks, months and years to follow. The pools now fall in the shadow of the gorgeous freedom tower, tastefully built close, yet not too close, to the original WTC. There is a museum, and a new underground mall built inside a gorgeous art installation called Oculus resembling a dove being released from a child’s hand.
Here is the coolest part about the building. “On 9/11 each year, weather permitting, the skylight of the Oculus will be opened to allow the sun to fill this entire space. Envisioned by Santiago Calatrava to symbolize a dove released from a child’s hand, the Oculus is situated at an angle in contrast to neighboring buildings and even the entire grid of the city, thereby allowing the light to shine directly overhead and for the sun to move across its axis exactly on September 11th each year.” Wow! I mean WOW! Although the building had been met by mixed reviews, we loved it! Breathtaking inside and out.
4. Battery Park. Before or after visiting the WTC, this park allows you to see the Statue of Liberty from afar.
Grab a Citibike for a little ride and just enjoy the scenery. Be sure to download the app before heading out. $12 gives you a 24 hour pass.
5. Wall Street. Grab a photo with “The Bull,” or a blurry video of its butt, like we did, since too many people were there, and check out our country’s financial hub. Hustle and bustle and a lot of stressed looking people in very nice suits. Walking distance from the WTC, it’s worth a quick stop.
6. Broadway show. A must! The musical, Hamilton, is the current “it” show but the $400 ticket price was not in our budget. We opted for Chicago, New York’s longest running Broadway show, and at $89 per ticket we had great seats. We also were excited to see Cuba Gooding, Jr. play Billy Flynn. It was a classic Broadway experience and we loved every second.
7. Dinner at Buddakan. One of NYCs current hotspot restaurants, perfect for pre-Broadway show extravagance plus Ryan’s birthday dinner. It lived up to every review I read! It’s considered Chinese-based but it’s way beyond what you could ever expect from Chinese food. The ambiance is dazzling and it’s huge! I literally cannot imagine one thing being anything but delicious at this restaurant. Just go for the splurge on this one!
8. A video shoot. Nope, not joking! Feel like a celebrity walking the NYC streets alone, with your bae, or your whole family followed by a videographer creating a beautiful video for you to have forever. I have to give a shout-out to Alexandra Reese, a super-talented videographer/photographer who took an hour-long shoot of us and turned it into a keepsake for a lifetime, for a verrrrrrry reasonable price. Check out our video here and reach out to Alex here.
9. Midtown + Times Square night walk. We LOVE walking the cities of the world! Start in midtown, grab a champagne cocktail at one of our favorite little spots, Flute.
Stop by the LOVE statue.
Then bask in the lights of Times Square and people watch!
10. Casa Mono restaurant in Union Square. On point! Legit Spanish restaurant with only Spanish wines, incredible tapas. We went with another couple and shared 6 dishes.
11. Street art. If you watch our video you’ll notice so much cool art in the background. I also couldn’t help myself from snapping these gorgeous murals in Brooklyn. Stop and check out what artists share with NYC free of charge.
We love NYC. That’s all there is to it. The greatest part - every trip there is SO unique and there are literally endless things to do! We hope you check out our suggestions! 🍎