Manhattan New York
My family and I went to New York a few years ago, but my parents made the terrible mistake of trying to drive into New York. Never drive into New York, ok?! The subway system and walking is a much more practical and cheaper way to travel. I’ll talk more about that later. It was mine and David’s first time in New York and yes, it was dirty and smelly, but the people were actually pretty nice and helpful for the most part. Manhattan has a lot of insanely cool architecture and we hit as many tourist spots as possible within a 48 hour period. I’ll talk more about my favorite ones and the ones I could’ve done without seeing.
First, let’s talk about my favorite topic. FOOD! Anybody who knows me well knows that cheeseburgers are my favorite type of food, so I had to find a good burger in New York. I had heard about Shake Shack, so David and I tried it for out first meal in Manhattan to see if it was worth the hype and reputation. Guys… it totally was! It was so good that we ate it every day we were there! And twice they gave us extra fries, so yeah, we’re obsessed. We even found a Shake Shack in Boston!
And now for bakeries! There are a ton of little bakeries around New York, but the two most talked about are Levain Bakery and Magnolia Bakery. We actually went to these one right after the other. (Hey, we walked a lot in 48 hours, so we earned it) Levain Bakery is known for their cookies, but when I saw their chocolate chip banana bread, I knew I had to get some of that. David got lemon bread. And btw, they gave us huge chunks of bread too! You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck and it was soooo good too! I had been personally told that Magnolia Bakery has the best banana pudding ever and it did not disappoint. Oh man, that stuff is good! I had it three times on my trip and I can’t wait to try making my own at home. If I fail at least I can have huge tubs of it shipped to me, right?
When looking at hotels I really wanted to get something cool and hipster, but not too expensive. Now in Manhattan the prices are gonna be high anyways, so I tried finding a cheaper one that was still nice and clean. I also wanted something close to Penn Station where we would be coming and leaving from. I found Moxy NYC Times Square, a Marriott hotel. It fit our needs perfectly! It’s only a couple blocks from Penn Station, bonus! The room was small, but not too small. It had that modern, New York style I was looking for and a bunch of hooks along the wall to hang all our stuff on.
One of the other reasons I chose it was for their rooftop bar. I thought it would give us a nice view of the city, but it really wasn’t that amazing. At only 18 stories high, there really wasn’t much to look at. If cool bars are your thing though, you’d definitely like it. Their elevators were so high tech that you couldn’t get to the bedroom floors if you didn’t have a room key. And I don’t know if other New York hotels do this, but what really impressed me was the fact that when we checked out they had a luggage storage area in the basement where your could store your luggage if you still had a few hours till your plane or train left to explore the city. That was so nice to be able to walk around a little bit more without dragging our suitcases everywhere with us.
David and I were traveling from Boston to New York and back, so we just took an Amtrak train. It’s a long 4 hour ride both ways, but there was no way we were taking a rental car into Manhattan. It’s just not worth it. There are so many people walking in the streets that it is so stressful and crazy. Plus, I think the traffic lights are optimized for pedestrians anyways, which is very convenient. After a few minutes of watching the walking patterns, it’s really easy to navigate the city. And most of the streets are numbered in order, so if you’re on 34th street and need to get to 38th street, no problem! Just walk up 4 streets. One of the benefits of walking around the city is being able to see the architecture and places your won’t find on Pinterest.
The subway system looks really complicated, but again once you spend a few minutes studying it, it gets a lot easier to navigate it. And anytime I had a question and asked the person standing next to me they were nice enough to help me out. New Yorkers get a reputation of being mean and rude and while there were a few of them, I think every city has rude people. I gotta say though, my iPhone maps was super helpful. It had all the routes mapped out and I was able to navigate well with it. Our first time on the subway we got on the 1 train, which is what we needed, but it was going uptown instead of downtown. Seeing our location on the maps made me realize that mistake.
Since we were there for such a short time, we visited as many of the most talked about sights as we could. Most of them are worth seeing again and a couple of them are more one time sights. Times Square was just another block, but with a ton of LED boards. It’s cool, but there are way too many people there in such a tiny space. The 9/11 memorial was very powerful and moving. You really get a feel for how large the buildings were. It’s definitely worth it to go at least once and give a moment of silence for all the innocent lives lost that day.
If you want a really nice view of the city, check out the Brooklyn Bridge. There’ll probably be a lot of people on it, even on a Monday, but it’s really cool. The architecture and engineering that went into building it is truly fascinating. There are also two lanes, one for bicyclists and pedestrians. This is so smart, because the cyclists coming down the bridge just whiz by so fast it’s scary.
Central Park is amazing and HUUUUGE! Man that place is big. We didn’t even see half of it, it’s that big. What we did see though is truly beautiful. It’s a giant park in the middle of this massive, concrete city. Just be warned though, your iPhone maps will not be very helpful here. There are so many trails and roads throughout the park and they’re not all on the iPhone maps. It’s very frustrating, trust me. But the park does offer free paper maps. While they’re overwhelming cause they do list all/most of the trails, it’s more informative than the iPhone. They have a lot of cute, old bridges throughout the park and lots of huge rocks. It’s basically one big playground for children and adults. They had a pretty cool kids playground too, baseball fields, and lots of big, beautiful trees. There were people putting on dance shows and others making ginormous bubbles with sticks and rope too. My favorite part was the Bethesda Terrace, it was gorgeous! Almost everywhere you go in New York there’s someone around the corner playing music, and under the terrace there was a guy playing his guitar and in the park we passed by a man playing his violin. It really added to the dreamy atmosphere.
A lesser known tourist spot that we visited was the High Line. It’s this old subway track above the city floor that had been repurposed into a walkway. There were flowers and trees growing all up in between the old train tracks and you got a really good, closeup view of the surrounding buildings. Some really old and some really weird and modern. It was very interesting to witness the contrast between nature and architecture.
I had to go shopping in at least a couple places, even though I didn’t have much time when I did. I buy most of my photography gear from B&H Photo Video, so I had to go there to geek out over everything. There was so much equipment and gadgets everywhere that it was overwhelming. They even had conveyor belts over our heads transporting goods to and fro to get them to the proper locations for shipping. I’m very much a minimalist when it comes to owning gear as a wedding photographer, but I loved just going in and browsing their selections. I also went to the Urban Outfitters near our hotel and it had 3 floors! Like, how?! It really fulfilled the hipster in me though. I seriously could decorate my house solely with Urban Outfitters home goods. I tried on a few dresses that I had been eyeing online, since there isn’t an Urban Outfitters store anywhere near me, and it took everything in me not to buy one of them. I guess I have to keep my eyes on their sales.
David and I were surprised at how much we liked New York. Definitely can’t wait to come back and explore some more and eat some good burgers and banana pudding again! So if you need a photographer to shoot your wedding or engagements in Manhattan, hit me up! I can take you around and show you all the cool spots.