Cue the tears, I don’t want to be home! I am 1000% the type of gal that prefers her life to be packed full + move fast. Thus, making New York City the perfect place for me. I would relocate tomorrow if T would follow + who knows — he fell in love with it this time. As a side note, I’ve received three calls from a NYC medial school over the past month…I want to live in the moment until after the new year, but maybe (juuuust maybe), that dream could become a reality.
A little background on this particular trip to the city: I’ve been in the summer, but never when the city is lit up for Christmas. I’ve also heard it’s magical, so I listed it at the very top of my bucket list and started working towards it. I knew I couldn’t go alone, and T Giles and my mom had never been to the city, so I quickly recruited two travel buddies. (we’ve begun to call ourselves the travel trio since my mom tags along on most trips hahaha)
SO, the planning process began. Flights were easy, as you literally just Google search where you’d like to go and Google calculates the lowest available fares. Full disclosure–our flights were only $185 each. That’s a steal compared to when I went in the summer — crazy, right?
Next order of business was to find a place to stay for the weekend. We have recently become Airbnb hosts + are absolutely loving it! It’s been so much fun getting to meet folks from literally all over the world. Knowing we could trust Airbnb, I immediately started my NYC search.
If I were going just me, I would have been content with staying in a studio Airbnb, but with two special guests, I knew I’d have to find something a tad bit larger. So, I found a two bedroom Airbnb three blocks from Times Square for less than $600 for three nights. I immediately booked and did a little happy dance, considering hotels in the area were pricing for more than $1,000 for the weekend.
To diverge for a quick second, we also found a high quality Airbnb outside of Orlando for our weekend trip at the beginning of December for less than $40 a night. Again, a steal. Each Airbnb experience, including our own as hosts, have left us with a greater appreciation for other people, their space, and the pure goodness of a human being. We feel strongly that staying with Airbnb gives you, the guest, an “at-home” experience that a hotel just can’t buy.
Airbnb is incredibly easy to use — just follow the link here and sign up. Say I recommended you to receive a $20 discount from your first booked trip!
Another fun fact about me is that I enjoy being extremely organized. I have my days planned out before they begin + you’ll find my iPhone calendar is booked weeks ahead of time. This quality makes me a hardcore trip planner. For each trip T + I have taken, I’ve sat down beforehand and planned each stop. I feel it makes you better prepared + not wasting time figuring out what to do.
That being said, I’m sharing a list below full of all of my NYC favs, complete with a printable itinerary that spans over four weekend days! Check it out + leave your most anticipated stop in the Instagram post comments for a chance to win my latest Travel Giveaway! (heart eyes)
Prepare yourself for the best pasta you’ve had in your life. We found this little place on our way back from our Statue of Liberty boat tour, all starving. My personal favorite menu option is the Cacio E Pepe. Someone help — I’m craving!
SO, I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Junior’s. It’s a NYC classic + an all around must try. My favorite entrée is a simple cheeseburger with the onion ring/steak fry side. However, the goodness doesn’t really begin until it’s dessert time. There is NO other cheesecake in the world better than a slice of Junior’s Original. Trust me, friend, order the $7 slice of Heaven + thank me later.
Talk about YUMMY Italian. Carmine’s is NYC fan favorite. The only downside to this restaurant is the reservation requirement. Be sure to call + book a few days ahead + grab the Penne Alla Vodka!
I know, I know — you can eat Olive Garden at home anytime you want. Before you keep scrolling, hear me out — the view of Times Square from this eatery is unlike any other you can find. You can be certain you’ll enjoy the food, as you probably already have a favorite!
New York style pizza is a 100% must on your next trip to the city. This small little shop looks so in-expecting. You walk by assuming it’s a sandwich shop, until you walk in on tired feet and a hungry tummy to find the absolute best pizza in the world. If you know me at all, you know that I am the most picky eater. I don’t like BBQ, bacon, mayonnaise, etc. The only type of pizza I will eat is cheese + there is only one pizza place that knocks my expectations out of the park every time, which is back in Wynne, AR (Spinner’s Pizza). That being said, the cheese pizza at this establishment is right under Spinner’s. You must try!
Located at W 47th + 9th, this little bagel shop will wow you! If there is anything at all that you leave this post knowing, you have to try these bagels!! I ordered the Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese and a side of Fruit Salad every single morning. When I woke up the morning we got home, I was so disappointed in my breakfast bar. *tears*
As you’ll find under my sights tab below, the 9/11 Museum + Memorial is my #1 top recommendation for those who haven’t experienced NYC — even at Christmas. Both times that I’ve gone to the museum, I’ve spent approximately four hours there — there is quite a bit to take in. That being said, lunch will be waiting for you right across the street at Brookfield Place’s Hudson Eats, otherwise known as their food court. I personally recommend the little shop named Olive’s, where I absolutely loved my lunch choice of a Roasted Turkey sandwich with Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cheese. AGAIN, I’m crying over my cold Pizza Hut dinner tonight, longing for this meal!
If you’re new to NYC, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a must. This is such an eye opening experience, and for me, brings a reminder of who we are as a country. The memorial will leave you breathless, but the museum will teach you so many things. Prepare to have your heart gripped like never before, but to also leave with a sense of American pride.
You’re probably thinking “DUH”, but I just had to say it! I was worried T Giles wouldn’t like the city because of the lights, sounds, and excessive people, but Times Square is what made him fall in love. Grab a seat on the “red stairs” and people watch for hours! When you’re hungry, head over to the McDonalds for a second floor view + grab a few Souvenirs at Grand Slam!
The park is more beautiful than you could ever imagine. It looks just like the movies portray it + in spots, even better! There are a ton of things to visit in the park, but this large fountain overlooks a pond, and has a beautiful sitting area.
Ever seen Night at the Museum? If not, this very museum comes to life at night + seeing it in person is amazing. Fun story: when T walked into the museum he stopped to make note of how happy he’ll be to bring our babies and convince them the movie is real–aka, that the exhibits actually come to life at night. My whole entire heart!
Seeing the Statue of Liberty was my mom’s #1 bucket list hope + let me tell you, she did not disappoint. I’ve seen her from afar on previous trips, but hadn’t ever been up close. To think of all the immigrants that entered our country, knowing they were free when they saw her on the horizon–breathtaking. We weren’t able to visit the crown because tickets have to be booked far in advance. Make sure to look at least two months before your trip!
This is another giveaway, but equally as amazing. Grab tickets to see what used to be the view from the tallest building in the World. They even have sunrise/sunset tours!
You’ve all heard of Macy’s at Christmas time in NYC, but until you experience it, you just don’t know what that means. With 12 floors, and two of those whole floors dedicated to the Holiday’s, Macy’s did not disappoint. Be sure to grab Starbucks on the 2nd floor before exploring–it will take a while! Fun bonus: the upper floors are still using the original wooden escalators!
THE TREE. That’s all you should know about Rockefeller…just kidding haha. Really, though, this is the location of the world famous real Christmas Tree. The tree is a Norway Spruce that’s over 70 feet tall. Check out more history on the tree here.
Talk about feeling like a kid on Christmas! Fao’s is all that + more. With two floors full of toys and sweet treats, this toy store is everything you could have ever wanted as a child.
Sak’s Fifth near Rockefeller has the best light show in town. It lasts for approximately five minutes, but everyone on the corner stops to watch when it begins. Truly will put you in the Christmas spirit!
You’ve heard of the Rockettes, right? Okay, imagine a 1.5 hour show of kick lines and dancing. If you’re interested this is the place for you! Look next door to see the entrance for Jimmy Kimmel, as well!
This stop is truly a NYC classic! We’ve all seen the big red ornaments, and recently they’ve added the large Christmas light strand. They make for a perfect picture spot and we even saw two proposals while there!
You wouldn’t think the NYSE would be a Christmas stop, but the tree outside is only beat by the Rockefeller. It is absolutely exquisite + the Wall Street area is a fun stop, anywho. While you’re in the area, be sure to stop by to see the Fearless Girl.
Thanks to my friend, , I was able to find super cheap Broadway show tickets at broadwayforbrokepeople.com! We will definitely be making use of this next year!
Stay tuned for another NYC post, where I’ll list several Rainy Day activities for when the Big Apple starts to float! hehe