So here is the scenario: 3 best friends who met in undergrad and haven’t seen each other in nearly 2 years because one lives in New York City, one lives in Madison, and one lives in Los Angeles; 3 different time zones, 3 busy schedules, one solid friendship, and 4 days to make as many memories as possible.
I flew from Madison to LaGuardia early Friday morning. I was too excited to sleep and knew I’d get by on an obnoxious amount of coffee. I took a bus into Manhattan to reunite with my wonderful friends; it was like we were never apart. My friend has the cutest little NYC apartment and the cutest little pup and it was the most perfect location, only a block from Central Park! The cost of accomodation in NYC is outrageous, so I am forever grateful to have had a place to stay during my visit. That means I could spend all my money on food!
We sure managed to do a lot in 4 days! Here are the most notable things that I’ve done in NYC this time around. (Keep in mind I’ve been to NYC twice before this and have already done most of the touristy things!)
BAGELS: Our first stop was for coffee and a bagel (surprise surprise). An everything bagel with plain cream cheese and 2 eggs--that’s what I call a balanced breakfast!
ICED COFFEE: Iced coffee in NYC is some of the best I’ve ever had. Try adding a splash of almond milk too.
THE HIGHLINE: The Highline is a 1.45-mile long elevated walkway that used to be a railroad. Pick a nice day to do this as it is all outside. There’s a beautiful view of the city every way you look. I have always heard that it’s NYC’s most underrated thing to do, and it’s free! On the very south end of the highline is Chelsea and on the very north end of the highline is a new attraction, the Staircase to Nowhere which is pretty neat!
EATALY: Eataly is a vibrant italian marketplace with cafes, wine bars, desserts, and groceries. The iced coffee is amazing and you’ll definitely want to stop by the make your own cannoli bar. It’s located right by the Flatiron building too!
CHELSEA MARKET: This is an underground marketplace with small shops and a wide variety of delicious places to eat and get dessert. It has a very cool atmosphere and vibe. I had lunch at Chalait; a cauliflower & squash quinoa bowl. There are restrooms in the basement of this place, which finding a bathroom in NYC is always a plus.
CITY CAKES: This is also in Chelsea. I didn’t actually make it here, but I hear it is phenomenal. It’s definitely on my list to do next time!
BOUCHON BAKERY: There are a few locations in the city to stop by for dessert. I got 2 cookies, which was technically a cookie sandwich with filling between. One was peanut butter-filled and one was like a giant oreo. My friends both had cream puffs that were the size of their heads.
DUMBO: This is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is very instagrammable. There are cobblestone streets, amazing views, and delicious brunch spots. I ate at a brunch spot called AlMar that’s an italian eatery. They had bottomless coffee (yay!) and the food was very good. There’s a famous bagel stop called La Bagel Delight that had a line out the door.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE: This is a must-do everytime you go to NYC. It’s a 1.1-mile long beautiful bridge with a stunning view of Manhattan. Definitely walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the best view. This is a very touristy spot, so I recommend getting out there are soon as you can in the morning to avoid large groups of people. Oh, and watch out for bikes because they will hit you.
CHINA TOWN: Not going to lie, this was a bit sketchy. If you’re looking for legit knock-offs of sunglasses, purses, bags, you-name-it, this is the place to go. Just find a little Chinese woman on the street who is holding a laminated paper; they are illegally selling goods and will take you a street or two over to their partners and try to sell you legit knock-offs. This is a place to negotiate prices. Don’t be surprised if one of them calls you crazy, though. It was definitely a unique experience!
MILK & CREAM CEREAL BAR: YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE. Even if the line is out the door, do this. You choose your favorite cereal to blend into ice cream and top it with whatever you’d like. They have pre-made creations, but I decided on Captain Crunch with vanilla ice cream topped with cookie dough and a honey drizzle. They make very aesthetically-pleasing ice cream which is why the line is always long. Treat yourself! I’m from Wisconsin, yet this is the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
MELBA’S: Just a block north of Central Park lies a life-changing meal; chicken and waffles. Call me crazy, but I’ve never had this before and it was hands-down the most incredible thing I’ve ever eaten. This dish was the winner on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. It comes with a dollop of strawberry butter and it’s just wonderful. I am a changed woman.
THE BOATHOUSE: This is a restaurant in the heart of Central Park. It overlooks the small pond where you can rent boats. I recommend going for brunch and getting there early to secure yourself a table with the best view. You’re not able to make reservations on the weekends. The coffee is strong and unlimited. I had the Eggs Benedict (again, I’ve never had this before) and it was amazing. You get some sweet bread as an appetizer and get to enjoy the view and fresh air. It’s a bit pricey, but totally worth it.
59TH STREET SUBWAY STATION: There is a little underground market that has a famous doughnut shop called the Doughnuttery. Basically, they make mini doughnuts with seasoning of your choice.
HAVEN ROOFTOP RESTAURANT: A rooftop dinner and drinks was at the top of my bucket list for this trip. We were craving pasta and we were very happy with the food, wine, and the view.
TIMES SQUARE: Is this not a must-do every time you’re in New York? It’s just so beautiful, there’s nothing like it.
PHD TERRACE: This is a rooftop bar with an amazing view of the city and very instagrammable staircase. The drinks are ridiculously overpriced, but it’s worth the view. TIP: go for the view and then dip out before you’re asked to buy a drink!
CENTRAL PARK: It’s just such a beautiful change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the city. I highly recommend renting a bike and riding around the entire park; it’s a great way to see all of the attractions in the park including the large lake near the north end. Don’t miss this!
LEVAIN BAKERY: The best cookie in NYC, you’re welcome.
Be prepared to walk a lot, end up going the wrong direction on the subway, spending a lot of money on incredible food, and going home with a full belly. Thanks for the memories, NYC. See you next time!