Where in the world: New York City
How many days: 5
Hellen Keller spoke it best when she said “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” I don’t know about you friends, but I choose adventure every time! Last week I packed my bags and flew off to New York City to spend a few days with my dear sister. We had the best time together doing touristy things and also taking time to relax and catch up.
I used to get a little overwhelmed and intimidated by NYC, but I’ve visited enough times now where I feel comfortable getting around and can even successfully navigate the subway system! That makes me legit, right? Read on for some of our trip highlights and travel tips!
Where we stayed: Sheraton Times Square
We spent two nights downtown in the heart of Times Square. We loved the central location of this hotel because of its easy walking distance from public transportation and all the excitement that NYC has to offer. We also appreciated the hotel bar downstairs and visited for some bubbly before our evenings out on the town! (Because bubbly makes everything better of course).
For those who have never been, the best way I can describe Times Square is a sensory overload! The sidewalks are packed with people, the glowing marquees light up the streets every hour of the day. It’s a dazzling, bustling, wild place that’s a must-see for first time visitors but it can wear you out pretty quick. We were comfortable spending 2 nights there, and after that were very ready to get out of the craziness. We spent the rest of the weekend at sister’s place in Brooklyn where we appreciated a more laidback vibe!
Where we played:
Broadway Show – When in Times Square, Broadway theatre is a must-do! As a belated birthday present, Madi surprised me with tickets to Kinky Boots, a musical featuring Cyndi Lauper songs, fabulous dancing drag queens, and all-around fun energy. We appreciated all the dazzle and the touching message that you can always be yourself, no matter your circumstances. I’d highly recommend the show to anyone!
Rockefeller Center – I had to stop by this iconic plaza in the heart of Manhattan! I had a nice lunch under the gold statue, did some shopping at the nearby stores, and even stumbled upon filming of Access Hollywood Live (look for me on TV!). Sculpture artist Jeff Koons has an installation on display this summer at Rockefeller called the Seated Ballerina. She’s a beautiful inflatable nylon sculpture with colorful, reflective surfaces. If you’re in NYC be sure to check her out, you'll love her!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden – This was one of my favorite spots we visited during the trip. The gardens are a lovely break from the city vibes; it felt like we were transported to a blooming paradise! The grounds are just gorgeous and we enjoyed walking around and taking photos of the alliums, azaleas, lilacs and peonies (told y'all I’m a plant lady). There are lots of beautiful parks around NYC besides Central Park, so it was fun to explore somewhere new!
Madi’s place – I think my favorite memories of the trip were just relaxing in Madi’s loft in Brooklyn. We did sunset yoga on her roof, got sushi takeout and danced to rap music in our PJs, cuddled in bed, and watched our favorite movie The Parent Trap. Sightseeing is fun and all, but sometimes staying in is the BEST! Can I get an amen?!
Where we ate:
The Pavilion Union Square – we stopped here for a quick lunch while exploring. Their open-air patio was very inviting and the views of farmers market stands full of plants and produce were charming while we ate. I had the avocado toast and french fries which were delicious and so flavorful! Their dishes are served with fresh herbs on the side which are a lovely touch. They also had a great summertime cocktail menu, just sayin.
Yellow Magnolia Café – this adorable café is located in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden pavilion. We shared their homemade biscuits which were served in a rustic wooden box with molasses butter and preserves. Guys, they were adorable and DELISH!!
Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop – Madi picked up donuts for us one morning at this cute vintage donut shop. As you guys probably know by now, I LOVE a good donut and these were out of this world! (I think they might even top Stan’s, my favorite donut shop in Chicago, but don’t tell). Their pastries are made fresh so you need to get there early, as the best ones sell out fast!
Since my sis Madi is a real New Yorker, I asked her to share her top tips with you friends.
1. Download the MTA subway app and get comfortable getting around the city via train. The subways are well-marked and surprisingly fast, much more so than cabs or Ubers. You’ll save a lot of time and money this way!
2. Stick to a few neighborhoods in one day. Don’t try to do it all in a time crunch, you won’t have as much fun and also will miss out on wandering and finding cute cafes and shops you may otherwise miss.
3. The best times to visit are spring, fall and winter. Summer gets very hot and muggy, and there’s a certain… smell of the city when things heat up. (There’s a reason you hear that NYC residents flee to the Hamptons for the summer!)
Rachael (and Madi too!)