Travel

A Week in New York City

June 29, 2016

I’m back from spending a week in New York and am so excited to share all the details from my summer trip. A trip to NYC has been on my wishlist for many years – it’s been almost 10 years since I was last in the city. I was actually only in New York for 5 days with my husband. Our trip was planned primarily for sight seeing fun and for me trying new food places was high on my list. I mapped out approximately 30 spots prior to leaving knowing I would not be able to make it to most of them, but it was very helpful for planning and narrowing down what to see by location. I had such an amazing time and cannot wait to go back – there’s an energy in New York City that can’t be matched anywhere else. Summer is such a lovely time to visit although it was quite a bit more humid than the mild weather in Southern California. Thank you to everyone who took the time to e-mail me and message me recommendations! Today I’m sharing the highlights of my trip. More details to follow in separate posts on what I packed, a review of the luggage I tested out, where we stayed and special spots I visited. A quick note to those who expressed some serious concern about me wearing white jeans in the city. I made quick adjustments to my packing list before I left and thank you to each and every one of you for warning me 🙂

In this post I’m covering sights we saw, places we ate and some thoughts about getting around the city which might be helpful for first-timers or those who haven’t been to NYC in a while and are looking for an updated guide. This post is a long one so grab a cup of tea or a snack before reading.

We took the red-eye to NYC with Delta (my husband’s preference) and while I do really like flying with them, I will say that we both agreed next time we will not do the red-eye again. Neither of us can sleep on planes. We arrived bright and early at JFK at around 6:00 AM (yes, super early!) and it took us about a 25 minutes to wait in line for a taxi and about 1 hour to get to the city.

During our week in New York we stayed at Langham Place New York on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Much to our surprise our room was ready even though check in wasn’t until afternoon. I spent around 2-3 days researching hotels and online reviews via Trip Advisor – the number of options to pick from in NYC are overwhelming. My husband and I were beyond thrilled with our stay at Langham Place. A dedicated review to follow because this place deserves it – every one was incredibly helpful right from the time we booked our hotel. Upon arrival the service was impeccable –  the concierge, housekeeping, and all the doormen were so amazing. They also leave delicious cookies in the room at turndown – heart won. We found the location was great – although being in NYC it’s very easy to get around the city with the subway and taxis.

Bottom left flats by Chloe, bottom right view from our room

For sightseeing we both had a few places we wanted to see together. Both of us have been to New York before but this was the first time we had been together. It was relatively hot and humid during our week there so we did some leisurely sight seeing and didn’t rush anything. My favorite place was Central Park – we walked about half of the way through from the south end to the middle. Other places we saw included Washington Square Park, the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, Battery Park, Bryant Park and Grand Central Terminal. We passed through a lot of areas by walking but those were the highlights. If you’re in NYC during the summer I highly recommend you check out the event calendars – at Bryant Park they have the HBO Summer Film Festival going on and they play films on a large screen. We passed by at the end of the one of the films – it was packed but looked really fun.

Night time in the city is an experience in itself. I’m not a huge fan of bus tours but they are a nice way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. We took the Grayline Double Decker Bus Night Tour which leaves from Times Square and enjoyed it – our tour guide was very entertaining. It was about a 2 hour bus tour and goes from the city to Brooklyn. For the day tours you can hop on and off the bus, but for the night tours it’s a continuous ride. A few snapshots of the city at night – some are from the bus tour, some are from dinners and walking around the city.

For the places to eat, we only made it to a small handful of spots on our list, but every place we stopped by was amazing and well worth the extra walking and travel distance to find. Breakfast, lunch and dinner spots included Jack’s Wife Freda on Carmine Street (beyond obsessed), Buvette (amazing!!), Shake Shack (burgers are better than In-n-Out, although I didn’t really like their french fries), Don Antonio’s (pizza is amazing! just like ones from Naples), Momofuku (went twice for the cookies), Laduree Soho (for macarons and tea to bring home as gifts), Cafe Cluny (one of the cutest cozy dinner spots ever) and the Soho House (great views).
If there are any I would deem must visits – it would be Jack’s Wife Freda, Buvette and Cafe Cluny. On my next trip I hope to have time for afternoon tea somewhere in the city.

My husband had the waffle sandwich at Buvette and I stole a bite, it was amazing!

These were the only pictures I was able to get of Don Antonio’s, the pizza was THAT good and literally gone within minutes. More on them and their menu on Yelp – it can get very crowded, it appeared to be a very popular spot. We were seated right away because we took the spots right by the window instead of the main dining area – but it was cozy and perfect for people watching. Among the top 2 best pizzas I’ve tried since visiting Italy last year with the soft and fluffy crust.

I will have a separate post on shopping spots that I stopped by. This trip I wasn’t able to get much shopping in – there was a lot on my list that I missed this round but there is always next time! Soho is just absolutely adorable – I could spend forever and the rest of my life there. For those who want a sneak peek of what’s coming next, I will be covering Bergdorf Goodman x Edward Bess, Space NK in Soho, Birchbox Soho, Diptyque at Grand Central Station and the Away Travel. A quick peek at some snapshots from walking around Soho – it’s so charming, I wish I could have spent more time here exploring and shopping. Many of the stores did not open until 11, I was in the area early in the morning so most were not yet open to go inside but it was fun to window shop.

A few thoughts to share on getting around the city and budgeting for transportation from a newbie perspective. It’s been a while since I’ve been in New York but I’m familiar with the metro and subway systems of other cities and also outside the US. Since it has been almost 10 years since I’ve been to NYC I reached out to a few friends who are New York locals, friends who travel to NY frequently for work and also looked at reviews online.

There are a number of websites and reviews that help break down the cost of transportation between taxis, Uber, or the subway. I’m one of those people who often gets confused about direction and since WIFI can be spotty in larger cities, it takes me longer to navigate my way through new surroundings so I thought worst case scenario was that I would have to take taxis everywhere. I am happy to report that navigating NYC is indeed relatively easy to figure out. In general both my husband and I found the subway easier and faster. The areas I went to were all very safe (even to and from Brooklyn late at night, late as in past 10:00 pm). I took the advice of friends who assured me the subway was safe and just to make sure to be in areas where there were lots of people versus the isolated areas with nobody around.

On budgeting for transportation, we each bought a $20 metro card that we used up almost all the way. For taxis getting to and from the airport runs at a flat fee and with tip it’s about $75 to $80 each way. For our taxi trips rates ranged from $8.19 to $33.54 (these numbers included 20% tips). I took the taxi from NYC to Brooklyn once which was the most expensive trip. On taxis – it was recommended that I stick with the yellow cabs and I would highly recommend you do so as well. Total spent on taxis for 5 days (excluding airport transportation) was $160 (including tips), the average taxi ride cost $15ish. Now that we know how to navigate the city next time we will probably use the subway more. I have friends who use Uber every time they go to NYC. This trip we did not try it.

One last note on timing for travel leaving the city to get to the airport. My flight left from JFK at 4:55 pm and the airport guidelines said to arrive at the airport 2 hours prior to take off which meant I would have to arrive at the airport by 2:55 pm. Several assured me I would be ok leaving the city at 2:00 pm but I gave myself an extra 45 minutes since I was leaving on a Friday and I’m glad I did. At around 1:15 pm a traffic surge happened and it took 20 minutes for the doormen to find an available cab. They were so nice about it too, one made several calls to try and find one while the other ran around the block trying to find one with working AC. It was really so impressive how much they went out of their way. Once I was on my way to the airport there was traffic – it took 60 minutes. There was a quick line for airport security – all in all, giving myself the extra time was worth it so I did not have to rush or feel anxious about missing my flight.

A few more snapshots:

One final photo because I know beauty lovers will appreciate this. Net-A-Porter has same day delivery in the city which is so cool. If this showed up at my door to deliver a package I think it would the coolest thing ever. I also wanted to mention that Edward Bess is now carried online at Net-A-Porter!

I hope you enjoyed this roundup of my trip highlights! There’s so much to see in New York City and even though there’s so much I didn’t get to, I enjoyed the week there. I can’t wait to go back again. More on the beauty, shops and packing in the upcoming days! I know many of you are eager to see how I packed carry-on style again.

For those who visit NYC either frequently or occasionally, what are you favorite places to go to? We didn’t make it to any museums this round since we had a short trip. It’s definitely on our list for next time along with places like The High Line, Top of the Rock, the One World Trade Center Observatory (we hope to go inside next time) and for me so much more for the beauty spots 🙂

For those who follow me on Instagram @beautylookbook, thanks for following along!

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  • So glad you had a good time! We love going to NYC – I was born there, but moved away as a child. My stepdaughter lived there for 3 years, and my stepson lives there now…good excuses for visiting! We usually stay in or near the East or West Village, since that's where they live(d). Love to go to shows…in fact, every time I watch the Tony awards, I get the itch…we may go in the fall. Summer is way too hot and humid for my husband…last time we were there in the summer, I dragged him into almost every Starbucks so he could cool off and get a cold drink!

    There are so many good places to eat…it's almost impossible to choose. Next time we are going to make it a point to go to Brooklyn to try out some of the many restaurants people rave about.

    Museums – of course the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, MOMA, the Museum of Natural History…the list goes on and on.

    Last time we were there we did a lot of "tourist" things – Empire State Building (I hadn't been there since I was a child) and the 9-11 Memorial. I had been in NYC 2 months after 9-11 – my friend took a cab down to the site, but I didn't – it felt like gawking to me and was way, way too soon. I was very moved by the Memorial – we had tickets to go into the Museum, but even though they are timed, it took way, way too long, so I gave my tickets to some people who were about to buy them.

    • Loved reading this! LOL about you dragging your husband to Starbucks 🙂 I agree – so many good places, impossible to hit them all up!

  • Lunch with Edward Bess?????? :O

    • Yes – highlight of my trip!

  • Great photos! I went to New York two years ago. It was a short visit and I didn't get to explore as much as I wanted to. Hoping to go there again soon. 🙂

    Nicole | In The Life of NM

    • Thank you! I hope you are able to go again soon 🙂

  • Valerie

    I'm a New Yorker and I wear white jeans here! Street dirt usually washes out!

    • That's what I thought! A few told me to rethink it – I'm glad I did so I didn't have to worry but yes I agree, it washes out just fine 🙂

  • I love NYC so much! I try to go once every few months, I live in Rochester so it's just a quick flight. I know you said your husband prefers Delta, but I can't recommend Jet Blue enough! Especially since one of their main hubs is at JFK. The flights are always really well-priced and they're the most efficient airline I've ever flown with.

    I'll have to check out Cafe Cluny the next time I go, it looks fantastic!

    • Ooh sounds so amazing to go every couple of months! I love Jet Blue too, but I leave my husband in charge of the plane tickets, he's tall so he needs the extra leg room 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I so agree…there is an energy in NYC that is simply unmatched anywhere else in the world. The streets just hum. I feel so alive there!

    • I did too! Already missing the energy 🙂

  • It sounds like you had a wonderful trip and managed to pack a lot into a one week visit. So, glad you re-thought the white jeans. Yes, they wash up nicely, but who wants to be doing laundry when on vacation? Not me! I want to be out and about; enjoying the sights 🙂

    As always, your great descriptions and fantastic photos have us armchair travelers right there with you as you explore the city. What you call snapshots are beautifully composed and capture all the vitality of the city. I did get a chuckle, though, out of the picture of the empty plates at Don Antonio's–that must have been one really good pizza! Yum!

    I'm sure we're all looking forward to more of your adventures in the Big Apple.

    • Thank you Eileen – so so sweet of you to say, glad you enjoyed!

  • GLJ

    So glad you enjoyed your stay in NYC! Next time you visit, you must discover the many wonders of my hood in Brooklyn! It's just as cool (if not cooler) than the city. 😉

    • Thank you GLJ – yes I wanted to explore Brooklyn more! I was able to stop by briefly but did not have time to explore, hopefully next time!

  • I'm so jealous! NY is my favourite place in the world and I've never even been! x
    http://my–socalledlife.blogspot.com.au/

  • What a great post! i was in NYC myself back in April after also not visiting for a decade or so & it was such an amazing experience! A note for ur next trip – don't waste your time at the Top of the Rock – it's tedious & completely not worth the wait 7 the money! We went because last time I was in the city I went to the Empire State so I thought i'd try something new. BIG mistake. HUGE! Looking forward to the next post 🙂

  • Lucky, lucky you!
    Love the Net A Porter truck! LOL

    http://a-woman-of-a-certain-age.com/

  • I've never been to NYC but am DYING to go. My cousin is moving there…maybe I'll have to come visit her. For now I guess I'll just live vicariously through your pictures. 🙂

    It's Me, Maggie | http://itsme-maggie.blogspot.com/

  • Anonymous

    I once took the subway for JFK airport to NYC. It was a good ride.

  • Gorgeous photos! I only recently got back from New York but want to go back SO badly to see all the bits we had to miss out 🙂

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

  • Just discovered your blog, love it! As a native new yorker, who now lives in South Florida, i travel to NYC every 6-8 months and I highly recommend taking the train into the city. it's quick and cheap. next time try the staten island ferry, its a nice ride. looking forward to the next posts.

  • Sounds like you had an amazing time and love your photos. I just came back from New York, only 2 full days…definitely not enough time, but we had a great time. We saw two shows, ground zero and shopping in Soho and like you mentioned is amazing!!! Can't wait to go back and spend more time there!!!