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Sept 23-Sept 25, 2021
A Weekend in New York City | Times Square, Central Park, Lion King on Broadway + Top of the Rock
To hear about a family vacation to the Big Apple, walking adventures throughout a concrete jungle, views from the Top of the Rock, New York pizza and a lobster/steak dinner, a stroll in Central Park, and our first Broadway Musical -- keep on reading!
Day 1: Rainy Evening in the City
My brother and his girlfriend (Stacy) joined Lucas, my parents, and I over on the east coast for a weekend trip to New York City, NY! This was Lucas's and Stacy's first visit to the Big Apple, and it has been way too many years since my family and I have been as well.
It’s a 4-hour drive from MA to NY, so we spent the drive catching up, stopped by Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts along the way, and did our fair share of carpool karaoke. Before we knew it, we were singing “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra, and “Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift. The skyline appeared on the highway’s horizon and our excitement grew even stronger!
At this point, the skies were peppered with clouds, but the thunderstorm predicted for the evening hadn’t quite arrived yet. We parked our car in the lot across the street, hurried over to our hotel (Hotel Riu) in Times Square to check-in, and went in search of dinner.
Stacy found a pizza place called BarDough, which was a 2-minute walk away from our hotel. We got the Supreme Pizza to share, chicken wings, and Stacy and I got Shea’s Lavender Lemonades (arbikie vodka, fresh lavender syrup, lemon juice). Dinner was exactly what we were hoping for when we were all craving NY pizza.
By the time we finished dinner, it started pouring down rain, and I mean - POURING. The biggest rain drops possible started to pound on top of the roof covering us in our outdoor seats. Luckily we anticipated the possible rain and brought umbrellas, but even with umbrellas, it was inevitable that we were going to get wet!
We wanted to seize the evening, so despite the rain storm, we walked 5 minutes more to Times Square. With umbrellas in-hand, we saw Times Square almost completely empty - which never really happens but of course, no one wanted to be out in the rain. Like the crazies we were, we ran out for a quick and fun photo! And they turned out to be an awesome memory!
To get a break from the rain, we hopped into Levi’s for some NYC souvenirs. Stacy and I got matching crewnecks, Joe got some shorts, and Lucas picked up a couple of shirts. Once we finished our light shopping adventure, we walked back to the hotel to escape the rain, as we finally accepted that it wasn’t calming down any time soon.
My parents turned in for the night, while Lucas, Joe, Stacy and I concluded the evening talking over nachos and drinks at the bar located on the hotel’s first floor, Fashion Bar & Restaurant.
Day 2: Central Park + Broadway!
Day 2 was our full day in NYC so we wanted to make the most of it!
We started our Friday with the complimentary breakfast provided to us by the hotel, and my dad and Lucas picked up Starbucks for everyone. Once caffeinated, we made our way to Times Square to see it all during the daylight. The rain was nowhere to be found, and we actually had blue skies for the remainder of our trip in NYC.
Lucas found a stand (Sweet Churros) that sold churros and lemonade so we picked some up to snack on during our walk to Central Park. I had the Chocolate Almond Churro - highly recommend!
The walk from Times Square to the southwest edge of Central Park was about 15 minutes. Given that it was late September, the fall colors hadn't arrived yet, but the trees were as green as ever. We walked over to Gapstow Bridge, the Mall and Literary Walk, and Bethesda Terrace - taking photos along the way! The walk was an appreciated and peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
From Bethesda Terrace, it was a 12-minute walk over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although we weren’t able to snag last-minute admission tickets, we decided to recreate a “Hitch” moment by grabbing some hot dogs from the hot dog stand outside the museum and eating them on the steps. We didn’t drop any on our laps, but we still felt content with our recreation of a Hitch scene (IYKYK).
With stomachs full and legs rested for more walking, we made our way to 5th Ave to see all the designer stores. We did some “light” shopping at Louis Vuitton and YSL. (When in NYC… right? ;)). My mom and I each bought matching Louis Vuitton bags with the same pattern (but hers is much bigger than mine.. lol). This was my very first Louis Vuitton bag, so I was feeling pretty proud walking out of the store that day. It has always been a goal of mine to save up for my first Louis Vuttion before 30 years old, and here I was buying my very first at 26!
I’m definitely one to appreciate a designer purse, but I found it even more sentimental that my first Louis Vuitton was purchased with my mom, in NYC, at the North American flagship store - makes for a great story and memory in my book!
Joe also bought Stacy a YSL wallet as an anniversary gift, so most of us did our fair share of NYC shopping ;)
Once we finished shopping, we walked back to the hotel to change for dinner and for the Broadway Show right after. Stacy and I made outdoor seating reservations for 6 at Quality Bistro. I forgot to mention earlier that we decided to go to NYC in September to celebrate both Joe’s birthday and my own birthday! We share a birthday month, so we thought, why not celebrate together in NYC? Dinner at Quality Bistro was our formal birthday celebration with our family!
To kick off dinner, we ordered the Butter Service Garni - what an experience! It comes with bread, butter, various dips, and hors d'oeuvres. For entrees - my mom, Stacy, and I all ordered the summer special, Lobster Frites. Lucas and my dad tried the Dry-Aged Prime Sirloin (and loved it!), and I believe Joe had the Filet Mignon.
After experiencing one of the best dining experiences we’ve all had, we hurriedly walked over to the Minskoff Theatre to see the Lion King Musical on Broadway! (...Did I buy almost every piece of merch imaginable?) I was beyond excited to see my very first Broadway Show and was even more excited that I got to experience it with my entire family! It’s extremely difficult to write about the show - but let’s just say I cried twice! Once during the opening act, and again towards the end of the show. The sets, the costumes, the talent - ALL were absolutely magical, and I already can’t wait to see another Broadway Show someday soon!
Given that it was our last evening in NYC, Lucas, Joe, Stacy and I wanted to try NY-style cheesecake (yes, with fresh strawberries!), so we stopped by Junior’s Restaurant & Bakery before turning in for the night.
Day 3: NYC From Above!
The first day and a half in New York flew by! And we really did luck out on the weather because a week prior, we were looking at rainy weather predictions for the entire weekend. Saturday was another sunny day with nothing but blue skies, which made it the perfect day to see the city from up above!
Before making our way to the Top of the Rock, we grabbed brunch at the closest bagel shop, Pick-A-Bagel. Rumor has it that NYC has the best bagels and cream cheese, and that rumor did not disappoint! I ordered the Smoked Nova Scotia Salmon Sandwich with cucumber and onion on an Everything Bagel, and it was everything I hoped for!
Now that we checked-off “NYC Bagels” off our list, we walked over to the Rockefeller Plaza and surrounding area to kill time before our reservation to go up to the Top of the Rock. My parents, Joe and I went up to the Top of the Rock when we first went to NYC many years ago (I think it’s been 7 years?), and we loved it! So we were really excited to experience it once again with Lucas and Stacy.
The elevator took us up to the observation deck, which was about ~70 floors. Once we arrived at the top, there were three floors to walk around and enjoy the 360 degree views. With views of Central Park on one side, and views of midtown Manhattan and the downtown skyscrapers on another - the views were unmatched!
I truly believe that seeing NYC from the Top of the Rock is a must-do whenever in NYC. If we didn’t have a 4-hour drive ahead of us, we would’ve loved to stay until nightfall to see NYC all lit up from above. Unfortunately, we’ll have to save that experience for another time! But it only gives one of many more reasons to come back and explore NYC again in the future!
Annnd that's a wrap!
We had such a great time spending time with family, exploring the city that never sleeps! Already counting down the days until we see them all again, and also counting down the days until our next Broadway Show! There’s just something about NYC energy that makes you want to keep coming back for more - its own kind of magic!
Luckily for Lucas and I it’s only 4 hours away, so we’ll actually be back in November! :)
Cheers to our first trip to NYC this year (and stay tuned for the second)!
Storytelling by Gen
Travel diaries from explorations and adventures.