Yesterday’s POST highlighted our first night in New York City for our 4-year anniversary. Today, be prepared for a whirlwind experience! We saw pretty much every major tourist hot spot in under 3 days!! Nearly impossible for most people…but I do love my spreadsheets…and made the PERFECT itinerary! As we found out on the first day, the best way to get around NYC is by foot – and by subway. Manhattan is laid out quite well: streets run east to west and avenues run south to north.
And so…the “touristing” begins!
Friday, June 10, 2011 – We set the alarm for 6:00 am to give us enough time to “wake up” before our big day. The ESB opened for tours starting at 8:00 am. As our hotel was only ~ 1 mile away, we left at 7:15 and took a stroll down 5th Avenue so we could pass the shops, the New York Public Library, and Bryant Park. When we arrived, we were about the 10th couple back. However, I had purchased our Empire State Building (ESB) tickets online and we ended up being the FIRST ones to go up (because we got to bypass the lines)! We were like giddy school children each time we passed an employee and they said, “You guys are the first ones!” We even took pictures in the elevator going up – because – well, we had the elevator to ourselves! haha. And it was AMAZING!!! We had uninterrupted views of Manhattan, New Jersey, and the rivers! We did purchase one audio tour, and I would highly recommend as it is informative, yet entertaining. At the top you can walk around inside and outside. You can imagine the view from the 86th floor: Central Park to the North, Midtown all around, and Lower Manhattan/Financial District to the South.
From here, we strolled half a mile over to Madison Square Garden (the world’s most famous arena!) to snap a few pics. Then we worked our way back up to Bryant Park for a much needed 5-minute sit-down break! Bryant park is the preferred place where Midtown Manhattan professionals come to eat lunch…but you might know it through Project Runway – where fashionistas come to strut during fashion week! Then we headed towards Times Square to take in the madness and embrace the touristy heart of the city. The wide traffic islands in the center are the best vantage points. We snapped some more pics, then headed up Fashion Avenue and crossed back over to Rockefeller Center. Even though this plaza is a must-do during the winter holidays – it was still a big-city experience that’s worth seeing at least once. The plaza has beautiful sculptures, hosts NBC studios, Radio City Music Hall, and hordes of stores and restaurants! From here, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before lunch.
From the hotel, we headed North up to Central Park. And it is an AMAZING site! Central Park was one of my favorite parts of NYC – an 843 acre Eden. There is an almost impossible amount of sights to see and things to do: exercise, dine, zoo, sculptures, horse carriages, ponds, bridges, etc. We entered the southeast corner of the park and walked the entire 1/2 mile across to the west side. Then we walked in and out and around and about until we came to the Loeb Boathouse for lunch. From this Victorian-style boathouse and restaurant, you can see the pond, boats, and gondolas. After lunch, we continued on up the park until we reached the American Museum of Natural History (where they filmed Night at the Museum) off Central Park West. This museum has a “suggested” entry fee of $16, but you can pay what you like. We actually had more fun hunting down specific scenes from the movie than touring the museum…but such is life!! After the museum, I got a Sno-Cone and we walked the entire east side of Central Park (5th Avenue) back to the entrance of the park, passing the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After all this, we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest and to try to decide where to eat for dinner. We finally decided that we would make our way towards Times Square for a few “night shots” and pick something along the way. We ended up at this fabulous lil’ Italian place where I tried some Italian red wine and the hubs tried some Italian beer. The food was delish! After the meal, we decided that it was not quite dark enough to head to Times Square, so we headed south a bit to find Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building. I am not sure what I expected to see from Grand Central Terminal…but to us it was just a giant gathering hall for people to buy tickets, eat, or shop! Still fun to say we visited. Then we headed over to take pics of the Chrysler Building, built in 1930 and had a short-lived run as the tallest building in the city. Finally, as dusk settled in, we headed back up to Times Square to take some pics of the Neon Lights! Super crowded at night – but definitely worth seeing!!
By this time, we were positively exhausted…and shocked to see that we did 45,000 steps on our pedometer – equivalent to 20 miles!!! We strolled back to the hotel by going through Rockefeller Plaza to take in the evening atmosphere, then promptly passed out from our Day 2 Whirlind!
Coming up tomorrow – Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Financial District, World Trade Center Site, Brooklyn Bridge, China Town, Little Italy!