That one word describes me in a nutshell. I am spontaneous, energetic, never want to be still, and am always finding new ways and reasons to learn and explore the immense amount of culture we have in this world.
And with that….is how I stumbled across a “could not resist” flight deal from Delta Airlines to New York City, my urge of travel had me on the search for anywhere. Which in turn ended up with me buying two [random] round trip tickets to NY for my husband and I.
When we travel we are never prepared. We run around and pack the night before hoping we don’t forget too much and usually [half asleep] scurry out the door in the morning barely missing our flights. If you couldn’t tell already we are not big planners, but more of a “go with the flow” type couple. It’s scary for some to think about traveling with no real action items, planned out lists or hour by hour schedules, but I feel random exploring to be the greatest of adventures when traveling. Other than being immersed in another city, culture etc. It is the spontaneity that keeps it exciting and provides the easiest path to find some of the most beautiful, overlooked, places.
I wanted to take a moment and share what we stumbled across during our three days in the Big Apple. We have been fortunate to have visited NYC a handful of times in the past and had a few things in mind that we both wanted to do, but other than that it was a free for all and lots of walking…lots of walking.
So with that, here are some of the highlights we really enjoyed that you need to check out next time, or for the first time, you visit New York City. I have also posted below a few packing essentials for the city. Hope you enjoy!
1) Visit Rockefeller Center
Grab a hot coffee from near by and sit outside the plaza and take in the hustle n’ bustle. The plaza has NYC’s iconic ice skating ring, which makes for great people watching or take a spin in the rink yourself. The Rink at Rockefeller Center allows you to pre-reserve your tickets online or buy day of for us non-agenda people out there.
2) Attend a live taping of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon at Radio City.
I am a HUGE Jimmy Fallon fan from SNL, The Tonight Show to his random movies in between, and I was ecstatic to be able to attend a live taping of his show, as well as throw him a high five! I know dork alert, but he’s my ultimate celebrity crush.
You will need to reserve a waitlist ticket in advance, a month out from your trip date on NBC’s site, or you will need to wake up at the crack of dawn and stand outside Radio City’s main entrance before 9am EST (to most likely be guaranteed a ticket it’s more like 6am EST) for any remaining day of taping tickets.
You can also wing it and walk into the kiosk desk outside of the NBC store, which is located inside Rockefeller Center, and ask to be on the standby tickets prior to 12pm EST. They begin lining up standby seating at 3:15pm EST inside the NBC store. All guests who have pre-reserved tickets online will be seated first and then they will fill in seat holes with day of standby ticket holders to ensure they have a full audience. (In case any reserved tickets cancel/no show) If you are chancing it with a standby ticket, you may have to wait in line for a while- but it’s totally worth it! Plus, Jimmy interacts and walks up into the audience to speak to you individually if you have a question etc. during commercial breaks, super cool!
Picture Proof the high five happened, courtesy of our good friends sending tv screenshots, ha!
3) Attend a Broadway Show…or two!
If you’ve never attended musical and are thinking to yourself they definitely are not for you, you may be wrong. Musicals are phenomenal and much more than a few cheesy songs, if any. I always find myself feeling all the feelings during a show, it’s amazing and hard to explain. If you have never attended one I challenge you to make it a point at sometime -especially if you find yourself stumbling the streets of Broadway!
We did plan on seeing Jersey Boys, which was a lively, fun show you couldn’t resist singing along to and highly recommend, but we did not plan on seeing Kinky Boots, which we did. I am so glad we were able to get tickets while Mark Ballas was co-staring in Kinky Boots for eight weeks. Mark was absolutely amazing, per usual, along with his dance moves, but let me tell you about the man who plays “Lola”, J Harrison Ghee….he’s breathtaking, a A+ performer and has range for days! For any of you Wicked good witch fans out there, you’ll be please to know that Carrie St. Louis also stars in the show, and is hilarious in her role.
You will laugh, tear up, be in owe over the most fabulous drag queens you’ll ever see, and yearn for more when it’s over – all around fun show with a great message! Out of all the musicals I’ve seen Kinky Boots is up there in my top three, it’s simply amazing and you just need to see it. Period.
TIP: For best Broadway theater seats, depending on budget/availability I typically prefer: Front center or side orchestra first 10 rows or front mezzanine center first 3 rows.
Excited to see Jersey Boys
Snatched our Kinky Boots tickets
4) Roam around Brooklyn
If you stay in New York City make sure take a moment and step outside of Manhattan and cross the bridge over to Brooklyn; it’s perfect for afternoon strolls and has some of the best views of the Manhattan Skyline.
We honestly did not do much in Brooklyn, but walk up and down all the beautiful streets and take in the sights.
Do make sure to take a stroll through Brooklyn Heights, especially if you are in search of breathtaking views of lower Manhattan and take a walk through some of the most charming streets in New York City. Visit theIndustrial Red Hook Waterfront Neighborhood, this quaint waterfront area has bars, restaurants, music venues, as well as a waterfront Carousel, Jane’s Carousel, from 1922 that was originally installed in Youngstown, OH. It is still operating and runs daily. Also, check out the Williamsburg neighborhood and make sure to stop by Cristina Tosi’s original Milk Bar location (if her name doesn’t ring a bell she’s the baker judge from Master Chef) for some her famous cereal milk ice cream and other goodies! Don’t be surprised if there’s a line, as the storefront maybe holds a total of five people, it’s that small!
5) Stroll through Central Park
Central Park is massive, dedicate a afternoon to walking or biking (you can rent a bike almost everywhere in the city) around all the hidden paths and hideaways. Maybe grab some take out and pack a picnic fit a good stop to post up and enjoy the scenery and people watching. Central Park is full of activities outside of leisurely strolling; check out the NYC Zoo, the Boat House for Brunch or take a spin on the Park Carousel.
TIP: If interested in dining at the Boat House I recommend booking out at least a month in advance, they offer Open Table via their website for ease of booking.
6) Eat way too much food
NYC has a lot of culture packed into small demographic, which means extremely yummy and diverse food on every corner, so make the most of it!
Below are some of the restaurant we would recommend after our time in the city, in no particular order:
- Oiji – Try their honey butter potato chips and ice cream dessert, it is to die for. Trust me. Fun fact: We were randomly on the Food Network for the series “The Best Food I’ve Ever Ate” eating this dessert.
- Random Street Cart – As gross as it may seem make sure to hit up a street vendor on the corner. It’s more of a experience than the quality of food, ha!
- Dirty French – Their Saturday brunch offers live jazz, but make sure to call and make a reservation as they book up quickly.
- Hangawi – Korean vegetarian restaurant. They ask that you leave your shoes at the door before embarking onto the dining space, like entering a traditional Korean house.
- Carlos Bakery
- Rustic Table – Great breakfast/brunch spot. Make sure to try their turmeric latte and add a shot of espresso and their Nutella Classica – so good!
- Sullivan Street Bakery – amazing breakfast pastries
- East Village Pizza– order a slice of everything!
- Anejo – tequila and tapas
- Frying Pan – on the Hudson, great for day/night drinks and it floats! It used to be a boat that carried trains from NYC to NJ. *Note: It is only open when the weather is 65 degrees or over.
- Pierogi Boys – for my fellow Polish, and none Polish, people out there who respect a good pierogi, these boys are for you!
- Txikito – Superb Basque style food! We’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Basque region of Spain several times and their food was spot on. I am a huge Octopus fan and theirs was cooked perfectly. Make sure to order a few glasses of the traditional Basque drink, Txakoli. I throughly enjoyed by glasses of their Rosé Txakoli, a 2014 Ameztoi Rubentis.
- Ink48‘s The Press Lounge Rooftop Bar – make sure to visit at sunset for gorgeous views of the Hudson
Rando street cart pretzel, because why not!
Dirty French – make sure to make a reservation for seats next to their live jazz
East Village Pizza
Fall/Winter NYC Packing Essentials
- Lipstick sized charger – I personally can’t say enough about these two chargers: Lipstick sized or Slim Power charger w/plug
- Comfortable shoes/boots – if you are looking for something practical and stylish check these out and my latest blog post
- A warm dress coat, you will absolutely need a warm coat, and it should be an attractive one 😉
TIP: Do not over pack on clothes. You will only end up wearing half of them as you will mainly be bundled up in whatever outwear you pack. Make sure to stalk up on a couple statement coats and accessories.
- Hat & Gloves – you know I love a good beret and this one is my favorite!
- If visiting in the fall, a compact umbrella or raincoat, as it rained on us twice
- Crossbody purse that zips or snaps shut- Overall the city is pretty safe, but you can never too careful, especially with those pesky pick pockets out there
- Rolling Suitcase – no matter what you will be lugging your luggage to some extent whether you take the train for Newark or a taxi from JFK. You will want to be toting around your luggage in something that is easy to navigate in any situation.Follow me on Instagram @aborowski
Shop my current favorites, many of which I took on this trip!