My friend Joncel and I decided to have a sightseeing and shopping weekend in New York. I hadn’t been there in several years, so I wanted to see a lot that I either hadn’t seen before, or had forgotten about. We left early Friday afternoon and stayed through Sunday evening. We were here the last weekend in July and had absolutely beautiful weather! The highs were in the 70s (low for this time of year), with only a little rain late Friday night.


Times Square

By the time we got to our hotel, showered, and got ready for the night, it was almost time for sunset. We took a Lyft straight to Times Square, because I knew it would be magical at this time of day with all of the lights. It was crowded with tourists, so we didn’t stay long. Just stopped to get a few pictures.

Melissa in Times Square

Dinner at Nino’s

We had an 8:30 dinner reservation at Nino’s Italian restaurant, a five-minute walk from Times Square.The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the street, but it is very cozy and nice on the inside. I’m glad we had a reservation because they were pretty busy. I had the orecchiette, which totally surprised me when the water brought it out and the sauce was green. Still delicious though!

Melissa and wine

Empire State Building

After dinner, we took a Lyft to the Empire State Building to go to the top. We arrived around 10:30, and it was packed! I was surprised by how many small children were there. The ticket line was long, so we bought our tickets on our phones and skipped the line. The elevator was extremely fast, and before I knew it we were on the 86th floor. The balcony was just as crowded as the ground floor, and we fought to get through the wall of people to catch a glimpse of the glimmering city below.

View from the top of the Empire State Building

View from the top of the Empire State Building


Central Park

We woke up around 8 and got ready for the day. I’ve always wanted to eat at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, so we decided to go there for brunch. We took the subway from our hotel to E 86th street and walked to the restaurant along 5th Avenue. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was on the way. We stopped at Bethesda Fountain and Terrace along with hundreds of other tourists.

Central Park

Central Park - Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain

The ceiling in Bethesda Terrace

Brunch at Loeb Boathouse

The restaurant is located inside Central Park right on the pond. We got to Loeb around 10:30 and to our surprise, it wasn’t crowded at all yet. The hostess sat us on the porch right by the water next to a couple that we enjoyed talking to and getting recommendations from. I got the waffles, bacon and a bloody Mary and Joncel got quiche and a mimosa. This was my favorite meal of the whole weekend. I highly recommend!

Melissa with her bloody Mary


The view from our table

Top of the Rock

From brunch, we walked out of Central Park and took a Lyft to Rockefeller Center. The spot where an ice skating rink is located in the winter holds a garden bar and restaurant in the summer. We had booked tickets for the Top of the Rock at 12 pm while we were at brunch. The Rock was much less crowded than the Empire and way more enjoyable. The elevator to the top was like a rocket ship, with a clear top so you could see just how fast it was going.

Looking out at the Empire State Building

Melissa in front of Central Park

Empire State Building

We got out on what we thought was the top floor, and saw the amazing view of the Empire State Building and Central Park. Then we noticed a sign that said “upper decks, this way”. A ride on the escalators took us to the next level, where we discovered yet another level! This was literally the top of the building, with only antennas standing above us. With as much viewing space as there was, there was plenty of room to spread out from other tourists and take lots of pictures. I enjoyed this skyscraper better than the Empire, especially because you can see the Empire from it.

Empire State Building

Melissa & Joncel at the top

Public Library

The famous New York Public Library is only a ten-minute walk south of Rockefeller Center. I had never been inside before, so we walked up the three flights to see the Rose Reading Room. The library is so gorgeous; I couldn’t believe all the detail that was put into it. With so many tourists walking around taking pictures, I was surprised anyone was able to study/work in those conditions!

Rose Reading Room

Rose Reading Room

Library entrance

Library entrance

Grand Central Terminal

Joncel and I walked another five minutes to Grand Central Terminal. We watched all the people coming and going, and even a couple getting married! From here, we took the subway down to Chelsea.

Grand Central and the Empire State Building

Inside of Grand Central Terminal

Chelsea / Flatiron Building

We spent some time relaxing in Madison Square Park, and admiring the Flatiron Building. I think this was my favorite neighborhood in New York, without all the crazy hustle and bustle of the city, but still plenty to do and a great atmosphere. We were starting to get hungry, but knew we would be eating dinner later, so we decided to get dessert instead of a meal.

Flatiron Building


I saw online that there was a Nutella bakery inside a place called Eataly. That sounded exactly like what we wanted, so we entered what looked like a small cafe from the outside. We quickly learned that Eataly is actually a huge mall-like complex, with lots of restaurants, cafes, and markets inside, all representing the Italian culture. It’s a huge area, and lots of people were getting everything from gelato to fresh pasta to take home and cook. We found the Nutella bakery and I got a Nutella-filled croissant and an espresso. Joncel got a Nutella cappuccino.

Shopping on Broadway

We took the subway a few stops down to SoHo so we could get our shopping on! Along Broadway, there are tons of stores and it almost feels like an outdoor mall, but with lots of traffic. When our feet were so tired that we couldn’t walk anymore, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.

Staten Island Ferry

From our hotel, the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry was only a ten-minute walk. The ferry is free and runs every 30 minutes. We had no desire to go to Staten Island, but the ferry goes right by the Statue of Liberty. Since we didn’t have enough time to actually go to the Statue of Liberty, this was the next best thing. We got on the 7:30pm ferry and had the most amazing sunset as a backdrop to the city and Lady Liberty herself. The boat arrived at the Staten Island side at 7:55, and by the time everyone rushed off, the 8pm ferry had just left. We hung out in the nice terminal, resting our feet until the 8:30 ferry.

Looking at the city from the ferry

Looking at the city from the back of the ferry

Statue of Liberty at sunset

Dinner/Drinks on Stone Street (Mad Dog & Beans)

Once we arrived back in Manhattan around 9, we walked to Stone Street to get dinner and drinks. Stone Street is a really cute street in the financial district that has lots of international restaurants and bars. The street is closed to cars, and restaurants have tables literally in the street. We chose Mad Dog & Beans, because we were in the mood for Mexican, and it looked really popular. We luckily got seated outside without a reservation and had a great time. I had a quesadilla and a mojito to end a fantastic day.

Melissa and mojito

Drinks at Clinton Hall

We weren’t quite ready to go to bed yet, so we went to Clinton Hall, a fun bar across the street from our hotel. They have games including foosball and a putt-putt green. I had a beer and finally went to bed after a long, eventful day.


9/11 Memorial

We started out the morning by visiting the moving 9/11 memorial. The memorial is the full size of both buildings, and holds waterfalls all the way around all of the edges. The names of those who passed away are on the memorial, and it really put the amount of people that lost their lives into perspective. I teared up when I saw the roses left by visitors for certain people.

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

One World Trade Center from the 9/11 Memorial

One World Trade Center

Biking around New York

Instead of taking the subway today, we decided to use bikes as our main form of transportation. We rented bikes from Citi Bike. There are bike stations every few blocks all over the whole city. You can ride an unlimited number of times for 30 minutes at a time. That was the perfect amount of time to move between destinations. We got on our bikes from the World Trade Center and rode all the way up to the Highline, about a 25 minute ride. There is a really nice bike path on the Hudson River Greenway that is separate from the street, so you don’t have to stop at every streetlight. We really enjoyed it. It was a good introduction to biking before we had to go through the New York traffic!

Walk the Highline

The Highline is a park located on an elevated section of an old railroad track. No bikes are allowed, so we dropped our bikes off near the middle of the Highline and walked south. We took our time, stopping to take pictures and relax along the way. Once we got to the end of the trail on the south side, we got two more bikes and rode them to the Village, where we were going to brunch.

Melissa on Highline


Melissa on Highline

Brunch at Agave

We got to Agave a little after they opened at 11 and were seated immediately. They had really cool open-air seating in the front of the restaurant. The brunch menu had bottomless mimosas, margaritas, and wine for only $35 including an entre! We stuck around for awhile here and really enjoyed our meal.

The Village / Friends Apartment

Greenwich Village is a neighborhood of New York that has a more suburban feel. I still felt like I was in a city, but not a metropolis like New York. We rode bikes around the streets and there was hardly any traffic to run us over. We stopped by the building used as the outside of the “Friends” apartment. I’m a big fan of the show so I really enjoyed that.

Friends' apartment

More Shopping on Broadway

We decided we hadn’t had enough shopping yet, so we biked back to the same area we were shopping on Broadway yesterday to go to a couple more stores. When we had reached our spending limit, we moved on. Next, we biked south to the Brooklyn Bridge. This ride was a little more nerve-wracking because we had to bike on very busy streets, some without bike lanes. I never felt in danger though, and the second half of the ride gave us a nice road with a large bike lane.

Brooklyn Bridge

We parked our bikes at the beginning of the Brooklyn Bridge. Instead of biking across the bridge, we decided to walk because there is a lot of foot traffic and it gets hard to bike around people. We only walked across half of the bridge and then back again. When we were on the way back, a large parade of hundreds of bikers rode past us on the bridge. Sure was a site to see!

The city from the Brooklyn Bridge

the Brooklyn Bridge

the Brooklyn Bridge

Bill’s Bar & Burgers

We finished walking the Brooklyn Bridge with about an hour left before we needed to head back to our hotel and pick up our luggage. We decided to find somewhere to get a snack. The path to get to Bill’s Bar and Burgers was so nice on a bike. It felt like we were right downtown, but the streets were relatively quiet. I ended the trip with a delicious campfire milkshake (vanilla milkshake with lots of marshmallows).

Campfire milkshake

Overall, we had an awesome trip! This itinerary is very ambitious, and a few things could easily be left off to give yourself more relaxing time. I do feel like we saw most of the city though so I’m glad we did it this way.

Watch my video on our weekend in New York:


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