Happy weekend! I have almost completed two months of my internship in New York City. During this time, one of my favorite weekends was when my high school best friend, Ali, came to visit.
From the moment I found out I would be in New York City interning for the summer, Ali started planning a trip to visit. She would be spending a week at an internship training in DC, so extending her trip to include NYC worked perfectly. She arrived extremely early one Saturday morning, and after getting a little sleep, we set out to conquer the big city.
In general, it was just great to have a chance to catch up before continuing on our own paths. Because of her visit I got to be a total tourist. We fit in so many sights and adventures, and we also took A TON of photos. You'll see that one of my favorite ways to take a photo has become taking a selfie on my DSLR! I'm excited to share our photos, memories, and tips in this post.
DAY ONE- Saturday
Times Square can be overwhelming, but if you visit New York City it is a must-see. We started the morning by taking the subway right to Times Square. Walking up the steps into the sea of electronic billboards and neon signs made my jaw drop! There is so much
#1 Tip: Times Square goes from 42nd-47th Street. If you're looking for the iconic ball that drops on New Year's Day, it sits atop the One Times Square building at 42nd Street and Broadway. Go to the other side of Times Square to get the best view of it. Additionally, there are tons of Broadway theaters located off of Times Square.
Grand Central Terminal
Regardless of if you're using Grand Central to travel or not, you have to stop by to see the beautiful architecture of the terminal and the hustle and bustle of people. We walked through the terminal, took a lot of photos and made sure to explore the Whispering Gallery and dining options below the main concourse.
#1 Tip: Wander around. You may find the best photo angle of the main concourse, your new favorite restaurant, a foyer dedicated to Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and so much more.
The Empire State Building
Because we were packing our day with tons of different sights, we didn't want to take the time or money to go up in the Empire State Building. However, as we were walking around (we did A TON of walking), we made sure to stop and take a selfie with the Empire State Building!
#1 Tip: Although I didn't go to the observation deck on Ali's visit, I have since gone up with my family when they visited. There are two main observation deck opportunities: 1) the Empire State Building 2) Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Plaza). We chose to go up in the Empire State Building because it is somewhat iconic to us, however Top of the Rock gives you a view that includes the Empire State Building which some would consider to be "better."
You can purchase tickets for the Empire State Building observation deck online or at kiosks in the building. Just know that you may run into some lines. We ended up taking the stairs from the 79th floor (where you go first to learn information about the building and skyscrapers in general) to the 86th floor so that we didn't have to wait for the elevators. It was a trek, but it was well worth it!
The Flatiron Building
Another iconic building in New York City is the Flatiron Building. You may not be able to go to the top of the Flatiron Building, but the Flatiron District has tons to offer. An Eataly restaurant/marketplace is located nearby for all your dining needs, and there are small parks scattered all over where you can rest your legs.
#1 Tip: Multiple vantage points allow you to see this architectural masterpiece. Move around to different street plazas/squares to get your perfect photo and avoid as many fellow photographers as possible!
The last time both of us had been in New York City was in 2012 for a youth group trip. On this trip we visited the 9/11 Memorial but only the reflecting pools were finished, and the Museum and One World Trade Center were still being built. With these main monuments now finished, we made sure to include a trip back into our day. Even just viewing the memorial is powerful. On this day we just walked around the reflecting pools, but on Monday as I was working Ali went through the whole museum.
#1 Tip: The 9/11 Museum has free tickets for Tuesday nights starting at 5pm. These tickets go on sale early Monday mornings.
#2 Tip: Give yourself PLENTY of time to go through the museum. My family and I went at 5pm on a Tuesday night and were ushered out when the museum closed at 8pm. We could have spent hours more looking at every artifact and reading every description. This is probably the best museum I've ever been to because of the volume and organization of the artifacts. Know that the Historical Exhibition is massive and is composed of three sections: the Events of the Day, Before 9/11, and After 9/1. I am planning to return to the museum because I only made it through half of this exhibit. I would suggest tackling the Historical Exhibition first and then spending time seeing artifacts in other museum spaces.
This was also Ali's first time visiting the Oculus. After taking some photos together and capturing the amazing architecture, we walked each wing to see the stores and soak in the air conditioning!
#1 Tip: Besides just being a beautiful building, the Oculus is home to tons of great stores. From luxury fashion stores perfect for window shopping to a humongous Apple Store, you're sure to find something interesting by just wandering around. The Oculus also serves as a transportation hub with access to many different subway lines.
DAY TWO- Sunday
One of the best decisions I've made while living in NYC is getting up super early to walk the bridge and experience the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO (the area Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Both of these areas can get so busy which takes away from the experience and the photo opportunities. Knowing this, we left my dorm building by 7am and took the subway to the bridge walkway entrance in Manhattan (near City Hall). We decided not to stop for many pictures on the walk to Brooklyn because we wanted the Manhattan skyline in the background. Because of this, and the lack of people, we were able to get across in around 30 minutes.
We took the stairs off the bridge walkway and started on DUMBO's infamous Washington Street (see entry below).
After exploring DUMBO we walked the bridge back toward Manhattan. We took lots of pictures and admired the sights of the city from the middle of the East River.
#1 Tip: Go early! I recently walked the bridge again with my roommates, but when we went around lunch it was packed.
With cobblestone streets and views of the Manhattan Bridge with the silhouette of the Empire State Building in the background, DUMBO looks like something out of a movie. We beat the crowds to the iconic Washington Street and were able to grab tons of great photos. We then walked in Main Street Park, Pebble Beach and Empire Fulton Ferry Park (along the East River). These are also great photo locations with amazing views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked through Empire Stores and Time Out Market which offer great food and shopping options. After we were content with our exploration of DUMBO, we walked back to the Brooklyn Bridge and began our trek back to Manhattan.
#1 Tip: Besides getting there early, you should know that you can find the iconic photo location on Washington Street. If you walk the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, look for the first pedestrian exit with a Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO sign and take the small staircase to street level.
Along with a few NYC friends, I was able to take Ali to the church I have been attending in NYC this summer. The message and worship were AMAZING! I'm so glad Ali was visiting on this specific weekend!
#1 Tip: Check out C3.NYC!
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
The minute I saw a photo of the inside of the Chelsea, NY Starbucks Reserve Roastery, I added it to my must-see list. We walked all the way from church to the roastery so we were ready for some refreshing treats. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery aims to give customers a peek into the coffee journey. Here you can get the most innovative and high-quality beverages including cocktails and coffee. I had the most delicious pastry and latte.
#1 Tip: Go in knowing that this is not an ordinary Starbucks. You should expect your coffee to cost more, but the experience is well worth it. The roastery also has tons of souvenir items for purchase.
The High Line
We continued our journey in Chelsea by walking the High Line. The High Line is a public space built on a historic elevated freight line. As transporting goods by train became less common, the city threatened to demolish the line. The Friends of the High Line advocated for the preservation and reuse of the space and has since supported its operation. We walked a segment of the High Line to experience it and then returned home for some food and rest. (View from the High Line below)
#1 Tip: On a beautiful day, the High Line can be extremely busy. Choose your starting time wisely to avoid crowds while walking the 1.45 miles filled with over 500 types of plants and trees. The High Line is completely free!
We ended our second day of adventures by relaxing in Central Park. We ventured into the park, set out a blanket in Sheep Meadow and spent some time reading and soaking in the sun. It was a great way to end the day!
#1 Tip: If possible, use the restroom before arriving. Bathrooms can be difficult to locate and often have extremely long lines.
Ali stayed until Tuesday morning, so she was able to see more of the city while I worked at my internship. We spent our remaining night eating great food and catching up. I was so sad to have to send her off for the airport, but I am so thankful that she was willing to make the trip. Thank you Ali! Hosting friends and family in the city has become one of my favorite things. Showing off New York City makes it feel even more like home.
I hope you enjoyed this post! I apologize that it took me so long to compile the photos and information, it has been a busy few weeks. However, I continue to be so grateful for this little creative outlet of mine. You'll be hearing from me again in no time. Have a great week!