Last weekend, a couple of friends of mine came all the way from Dallas to visit me in New York! We had an absolutely incredible weekend, regardless of how much rain we got or the fact that we didn’t get to do everything on our “must see” list. Such an incredible weekend, in fact, that I thought I’d share what all we did! Things we ate (let’s be real, that’s most important), places we went, what we saw, etc. Hopefully it’ll help inspire you for your next trip to the Big Apple! Also, I made a checklist of specifically FREE activities in NYC, so if you’re looking to save money, check it out, too!
What to Eat
Lombardi’s – America’s first pizzeria! Hannah, Bre, and I split a large white pizza for $30 and it was worth every penny. And we ate every bite! Given, this was on the Friday they flew in and our first time eating (at around 5:30!) that day. So yeah, I’d say the large pizza could feed 3-4 people. They’re cash only (ATM on site in case you didn’t know in advance) and don’t have free refills. That last part didn’t matter to me since I’m a water drinker, but H and B shared a pitcher of Diet Coke for $10!
Serendipity – We came here specifically for dessert, but we saw other people eating “real food” and it looked incredible! I had the lemon ice box pie, which was ahhhmazing… but also maybe not $11 worth of amazing? That may just be the cheapo in me. BUT you’re also paying for the atmosphere, which is super cool. I felt like Alice in Wonderland! If you want a little more bang for your buck, I’d recommend the frrrrrozen hot chocolate! It’s HUGE and delicious and definitely insta-worthy.
Tavern on the Green – This place. One word. WOWZA. I felt like Blair Waldorf on a regular day! It’s a little boujee, so I would suggest looking cute and bringing the $$$. But seriously. I would’ve paid even more for that french toast, people. H and B got the eggs benedict, and they even let me have a bite! (lol) Both entrees were truly delectable. 10/10 would recommend. We got the pastry basket as an appetizer, which ALSO surpassed my expectations! Basically everything about this place was wonderful. BUT you’d better make reservations ahead of time! We made ours on Wednesday for Saturday morning around 10:30, so if you plan a few days in advance, you should be fine.
brgr – This was a kind of “spur of the moment” choice, but the reviews were good so we ran from the subway in the pouring rain to get a burg before they closed! And WOW we were not disappointed! We also split “the trio,” which was regular fries, sweet potato fries (the best I’ve ever had), and I think they’re called shoestring onions? It was absolutely delicious. Shake Shack, watch out!
Dylan’s Candy Bar – This place is so much fun!! From the moment the guy handed me a gummy bear when I stepped through the door, it felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory! I actually didn’t come for the candy, but rather the MACARONS from Dana’s Bakery! Seriously some of the best macs I’ve ever had. If you want to feel like a kid again, I suggest checking this place out!
Osteria della Pace – Okay, I’m gonna be honest. This wasn’t my favorite place. BUT my friends loved it, so I assume you might, too! I’m a relatively picky eater, so weird/fancy ingredients/food combinations aren’t really my thing. Just sit me down in front of a burger or cheese pizza and I’m good to go! However, the atmosphere was great and the service was excellent, so I’d recommend it if you’re willing to pay a pretty penny for your dinner! I had a medium sized bowl of “okay” pasta and tap water and paid $33 with the tip. Do with that what you will.
What to See
Times Square – If you have the chance, go during the day and again at night! It’s like a difference place!
DUMBO – Stands for “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass,” in case you were wondering (my friends definitely were). It has a GREAT view of the city and lots of great restaurants and shopping nearby! Plus endless opportunities for pictures.
Central Park – Since we got to our brunch reservation early on Saturday, we decided to take a stroll through the park! Since Tavern on the Green is on the West side of the park, we didn’t get to go to my favorite part (Conservatory Pond) over on the East side. But that’s okay, because it was a gorgeous day and pretty much any area of CP is worth strolling through!
Statue of Liberty – There are a few places from which you can see Lady Liberty, but we settled on the free Staten Island Ferry! It leaves every half hour and takes about an hour round trip, so I’d say it was totally worth it.
Grand Central Station – When we went, it was late on Sunday night, so there weren’t a ton of people there. Which was actually nice! It’s so easy to hop off the subway and have a look around on your way to wherever you’re going. We were absolute dorks and watched the first few minutes of the Gossip Girl pilot. Fangirling ensued.
What to Do
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge – We went on Saturday and it was SUPER busy, but still worth it! Though I will say your girl was not prepared shoe-wise, and thigh chafe is REAL. I was practically walking like a cowboy by the time we got to the other side. If your thighs touch, get some of this before your NYC trip because you’re going to be doing a LOT of walking.
Go to the Top of the Rock – Sadly enough, this was at the “top” (haha I’m so sorry) of our list and we didn’t get to do it! We walked all the way there (and made a pit stop in the NBC gift shop, which was fun but that merch is expensive!) and the lady stopped us as soon as we walked in the door and told us there was zero visibility – all we would see is clouds! We were so disappointed! If you have one nice day during your trip, definitely do TotR on that day. Learn from our mistake!!
SHOP – Did you really even visit NYC if you didn’t shop while there?? Kidding. But really. If you’re cheap like me, there are several places (H&M, Old Navy, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Payless, DSW, Nordstrom Rack) in the Madison Square Garden area AND around Union Square. Or if you’re looking for something a little closer to the action, some of those same stores are located in Times Square, too! Sorry, no Tiffany’s or Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s for me. 🙂
Take the subway – I know this isn’t exactly an “activity,” but more like a helpful tip. And you should do it just for the experience! Ubering around the city adds up quickly, so if I were you, I’d get a 7 day unlimited metrocard and take the train everywhere! I’ve heard that some people find it confusing, but I don’t really get that. Just follow the signs/ directions and you should be just fine!
Go to a Broadway show – I know they can be expensive, but not if you know how to go about it! Check out BroadwayForBrokePeople.com to see what shows play when and how to get the cheapest tickets! It’s been a lifesaver on this trip. (LOL notice the no pictures signs behind us at Phantom of the Opera. We’re obviously rebels.)
Where to Stay
The W Hotel – I know this isn’t the cheapest place, but H & B were able to get a great deal on a flight/hotel package through Expedia! The room was suuuper nice with an amazing view and the staff was so accommodating!
Hotel Edison – I’ve stayed here in the past and loved the location! It’s literally right off of Times Square, so super convenient for getting anywhere. BUT it is not cheap. It all depends on what’s important to you! I’m more of a “get out and experience the city” kind of person, so for me, a hotel is just a safe, clean place to sleep and shower! Which is why I would probably choose…
Airbnb – If you’re looking for a REAL New York City experience for quite a bit cheaper than a hotel, book an Airbnb! You really can’t beat the prices and so many of them come with kitchens, which means spending less money on food! BUT I would definitely check way in advance, find a place you really like, and then plan your trip around when that place has the cheapest rates.
All right, guys, that’s it! These recommendations are mostly from our weekend trip, but since I’ve been here for almost a month, I may be able to give you more advice/recs if you have any specific questions that I didn’t talk about! Feel free to ask in the comments or DM me on Instagram!