I am, by no means, an expert on the Big Apple. But this time last year I was packing for my second trip and I wish I was planning my third. Instead of just dreaming about it, I thought I’d turn my yearning into another city guide: 48 hours in NYC. This won’t be specific to a weekend or anything, just what I would do with two days in the five boroughs. I would definitely recommend staying in Lower Manhattan, preferably the east side, it’s very easy to walk in the city but don’t be afraid to use the subway. I’ll be skipping some of the more major attractions, like the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Ground Zero, 30 Rock, Canal Street, Time Square…this isn’t an accident, if you’ve seen these once, it’s kind of enough. No disrespect. Ok, let’s get started.
Day 1: The one touristy thing I love doing in NYC is going to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s a 360 degree view of the city, the air is fresher and all the commotion of the busy city is barely a whisper. You can see the tiny cabs moving in slow motion but you can’t hear the car horns and see any angry driving faces. It’s a bit surreal and completely breathtaking. I know lines can be long, but I’ve always gone first thing in the morning and never had to wait. It’s also less crowded so you can enjoy the view and peacefulness without a ton of other tourist trying to take the best selfies. It opens at 8am so grab a coffee and maybe a bagel (Tofutti schmear for me) and start your trip on top of the city, literally.
After you’ve seen enough (for me that’s about 45minutes to an hour), cab or walk (it’s a little less then 20 blocks) up 5th Avenue to the MoMa to enjoy a different kind of beauty; Impressionism, cubism and surrealism. Depending on how much of an art lover you are will depict how much time you would like to spend there. I normally can’t spend longer then an hour in any museum.
From there, continue up town and make sure to stop and check out the brilliant window displays on 5th, like Bergdorf’s, Tiffany’s, and Barney’s (which is actually on Madison Ave). If you feel like shopping (and can afford it), be my guest.
We should be right next to Central Park, so let’s go for a walk. Follow the path, you’ll pass the Central Park Zoo, follow it up to the Mall and see the Bethesda Fountain. Head over to Conservatory Pond and watch the kids play with the model sail boats. By this time you’ve probably worked up a pretty big appetite so lets a grab lunch in the Upper East Side. Candle 79 is an elegant vegan restaurant favourited by vegan celebrities like Woody Harrelson and Alicia Silverstone. Located on 79th street and Lexington, I recommend the live enchiladas. (Side note: If going to the Met or the Guggenheim is something you’d like to do, they are only a few blocks away)
Let’s head south again, cab or subway is recommended. No trip to NYC is complete without some shopping. 5th Avenue is lined with luxe, midtown has Macy’s and Tribeca has Century 21 (all shopping destinations in the city and recommended if you’ve never been). I prefer Soho. Grand, Prince, Thompson and Lafayette streets make a square that contains everything from high street to designer. I normally stay on Broom and Spring. Don’t miss TopShop’s NY flagship, Opening Ceremony or Uniqlo. When you’re done, drop your bags off at your lower east side hotel and maybe get changed into some of your new duds for dinner.
Take a causal stroll through the lower east side, have a pre-dinner drink in a bar on Bowery, stroll through Chinatown and little Italy. I recommend dinner at Wild Ginger, a intimate pan-asian, vegan restaurant. Afterwards you can grab dessert at Erin McKenna’s bakery, they offer vegan and gluten free cupcakes, donuts, cookies, and soft serve. They are open until 10pm most nights, (11pm fri and sat, 8pm mon and sun). Finish the night off with your own mini pub crawl; enjoy a drink in one of the many bars while you walk around my favourite part of the city.
Day 2: In the city that never sleeps, neither should you. Wake up earlier, perhaps have a left-over donut from Erin’s for breakfast and grab a coffee on your way out the door. Let’s start the day by getting off the island: cross the Williamsburg bridge to Brooklyn. (Side note: if you happen to be going on a Sunday check out the Williamsburg Flea Market by the East River, April to December, 10am – 5pm). Spend the morning walking up Bedford Avenue, grab a juice at Juice Press (on 8th west of Bedford), check out Catbird, Amarcord Vintage, and all the other wonderful, eclectic stores that line the street. Beacon’s Closet is a must for anyone who likes vintage shopping (11th and Whyth Ave.) Brooklyn Brewery does tours if you want to get an afternoon buzz going. Try Vinnie’s pizza (they have tons of vegan topping options) and eat your pie in East River State Park and enjoy the view of Manhattan. (Side note: if you don’t feel like leaving Manhattan, try taking a walk around Tribeca, equally as cool, check out J Crew’s liquor store while you’re at it.)
Head on back to Manhattan; take the subway, or perhaps take one of the other fabulous bridges across and then grab a cab. Relax in Washington Square; watch some of the street performers, listen to music, or read a book. Take a walk around Greenwich Village and head up to the High Line; an old freight train track turned into a public space where you can walk from the Meat Packing District up to Chelsea. You’re slightly above the rest of the city so make sure to take in the stunning view, especially at sunset. By the time you’re done it’ll be dinner time! Have an awesome vegan dinner at Blossom. Go to their West Village location, it’s nice and close to the High line. Then you can wrap up your trip by heading over to Employees Only for cocktails. (Especially good if you work in the industry like me.)
– Travel AVEC LUI – KL