This post is going to be a long one, so I’m warning you now – grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, whatever floats you boat. Got it? Let’s get to the good stuff!
You might be sick of hearing about my bachelorette weekend in New York City, but I promise that if you are interested in doing some of what I can only call hipster tourism (touristy without being stereotypical) in NYC, this is the blog for you. I always knew that I wanted to have my bachelorette party somewhere outside of Cincinnati – some people think of going to Vegas or Miami Beach, but my mind always returned to New York City. Why? The answer is pretty simple really – I just can’t get enough of the city. It also doesn’t hurt that one of my best friends (and soon to be bridesmaid) lives there, but that’s the icing on my cake.
Despite a 10 hour drive in the pouring rain from Cincinnati to New Jersey (with a quick stop in Cleveland to pick up a friend that was going to be visiting the city for the first time) we were there and ready to rock an roll! Just kidding, we were exhausted and hungry so first things first – our friends that we were staying with fed us, wine-d us up and sent us to bed early(ish) so we could be ready for out bright and early (5:30 am, baby) start. I will stop beating around the bush and get to the good stuff!
Since we were with someone who was in the city for the first time, we decided to get as much wandering in the first day as possible (remember comfortable shoes!). As we stepped into the smog of NYC at Port Authority (yeah, we came from Jersey, what of it?) and faced the iconic New York Times sign, we knew we needed fuel – coffee that is (you will have to wait a little longer to read about the wonderful food and beverages we had, stay tuned!) Feeling adequately buzzed, we ventured to our starting point: Central Park.
My favorite place to enter Central Park is from the south-east corner (opposite the Plaza and the large Apple store). If you go through this entrance, you stumble on a little bridge which is an ideal place to take pictures of the city looming right behind you. I like to take that same pathway down towards the pond and feed the ducks in a Blair Waldorf fashion, if that’s your thing. You can spend hours walking around the park (especially in the fall when all the leaves are turning) but unless it’s your first time visiting, I wouldn’t spend too much time walking around: there’s so much more to see in New York! Some other things to do while in the park is to go to one of the pop-up shows (tons of bands perform there sometimes even for free in the summer), or go to the theater (free Shakespeare in the Park happens at the Delacorte Theater) or perhaps see the Alice in Wonderland sculptures. I would recommend wandering around, but be careful not to get too lost!
Sticking to the big NYC landmark, we headed to Times Square next, partially because we were having lunch with my friend around there (she happens to work right in the middle of it). On our way down from Central Park to Times Square (starting from 60th street on the East side and trying to make our way down to 42nd) we did a bit of shopping and exploring. If you are looking to channel Audrey in the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s you can wander down 5th Avenue for some window shopping (unless your budget is much better then mine) and then move on to the real stuff. Along the way you can stop by the historic St.Patrick’s Cathedral which is a stunning church with beautiful architecture which looks almost out of place around the shops and office spaces around it. It’s one of many free entry historical churches all over the city if you want to make a quick detour to see it. We also stopped by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)’s design shop which is a perfect place to get unique souvenirs from the city without buying people foam Statue of Liberty hats or “I Love NY” shirts. The store is full of really interesting items such as matryoshka (Russian nesting doll) measuring cups, pear shaped sugar pots, copper solo cups, etc.
Times Square, as it usually is, was swarming with people, and after stopping for some stereotypical pictures, we were more than ready for some lunch. Be mindful that the agenda from the start of this section has already earned me 20,000 steps (close to 8 miles) so we decided to pivot to something a little more relaxing in the mid-morning, and one of my favorite places in the city – Bryant Park. The park is really a lawn that’s surrounded by chairs and tables, a fountain and some food vendors that is like a little oasis in the middle of the city. This is a place where you see a lot of corporate folks sneaking lunch or a coffee, but you can usually also find a spot to unwind or catch the occasional free show (if you are lucky). There’s always a very happy atmosphere around the park. Happy and peaceful. What makes Bryant Park extra special is the New York City Public Library which looms in the background with its signature lion statues. It’s free to enter and the hours are strictly 10-5 so make sure you squeeze it into the earlier part of your day. The library is gorgeous on the inside with intricate interior and beautiful ceilings. Some of the rooms are so unique on the inside that I don’t know how I would get any studying or any work done inside them if I was actually using this for library purposes and not tourist-ing.
After the library, and once my friend/tour guide got off work, it was time to head down to our dinner spot (an amazing Mexican place in Greenwich village, but more on that later). Our after dinner plans included a show at the Comedy Cellar, the stand-up comedy spot famous for giving a start to big names like Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Louis C.K. Staying true to their roots, these comedians will pop in quite often, and since they don’t tell you who is performing, you have to take a gamble every time. We had a bit of time to kill before the show, so we stopped by Washington Square Park (the park with the large Paris-esque arch) and sat by the fountain listening to live music.
Our experience at the Comedy Cellar probably deserves its own post: it was absolutely spectacular! I can’t convince you to go there, you will just have to take a gamble yourself. If you do, you have to get a reservation well in advance and keep in mind that there will be a $20 cover plus a 2 drink minimum (so your minimum bill will be about $36 which is completely worth every penny). If you are looking to get comedy on a budget you can also check out the UCB (Upright Citizen Brigade) which is an improv show which will cost $5-$15 depending on the show and you can also get some cool celebrity guests if you get lucky. For both shows you need to get there really early otherwise you won’t get good seats and won’t have as good of an experience.
Back to the Comedy Cellar, we got to see 6 comedians that night including Michael Che from SNL and Allan Havey from Mad Men and Billions as well as some up and coming talent which had us laughing so hard there were tears! It was a perfect night that included a lot of audience interaction from the comedians (we got our share of being picked on considering we were placed directly in front of the stage) and a lot of great comedy. If you’re planning on going to New York, just trust me and go to the Comedy Cellar to see a show.
Day 1 ended on a perfect note. In the words of my “homie” Borat (for those who don’t know, I was actually born and raised in Kazakhstan) – “Great success”.
The second day we started by heading towards one of the coziest neighborhoods in NYC, Chelsea, to go see the High Line and infamous Chelsea Market. What makes Chelsea so unique are the cute walk ups which are well manicured in perfect flowers but with all the spunk that makes the city what it is. We walked along the High Line (starting at 10th Ave and 21st St) which is a park built in the place of an old railroad. It allows you to see some of the amazing architecture in the area and is the only park in the City which is completely sustainable with the plants being native to that climate. The view is like no other!
Chelsea Market, which followed, is another place that I think I might visit every time I go to the NYC. They have lots of great food, and a little flea market inside for more souvenirs to bring back to people (lots of unique jewelry pieces can be found here) and of course the amazing gelato. You can find whatever you are in the mood for there and much else, and of course, be on the look out since the top floors are all TV studios so you never know when you will bump into an Iron Chef or someone from Food Network Test Kitchens. It’s a really cool place and if I lived in the city, I’d be a frequent visitor.
Next stop was a “must have bachelorette party” experience if you asked my friend, that same Sonia from some other posts, who planned our whole weekend. She basically dragged us into Journelle, a boutique lingerie store where you get to wear a terry cloth robe and sip on Prosecco and eat European chocolates as you look around. If you’re going to the city for a bachelorette party, have a bride-to-be in your entourage or just like pretty lingerie, I definitely recommend checking this place out. The prices range from the same as Victoria’s Secret to high end, so be careful, and have fun!
After shopping, it was time to get ready for the bachelorette party activities. Some things I am going to keep to myself, but let me tell you, if you can party in the Meat-Packing District, I recommend it.
New York City would be nothing without its Sunday Brunch culture, and there is nothing better to nurse your hangover with then more booze (it’s healthy, right?). I will also be talking about the place we went to in detail in the next post. Once we were all better, we decided to see how much walking we had left in us and headed downtown.
Our goal was the Brooklyn Bridge – if I had to make a list of 5 things to see in NYC, this would be one of them. This bridge has to be seen twice, once in the daytime and once at night. If you have a multiday trip, take the bridge to Brooklyn and follow the road down past Barclays center to Carol Gardens a very cute area with tons of hipster shops and great food. When you walk the bridge, its nothing special until you suddenly get overwhelmed with the views. It is always swarming with people, so if you can go really early in the day or late at night, it might greatly improve your experience. Otherwise, expect to be in the way of bikers and a lot of other people while you’re walking on the bridge. Totally worth it though.
After the bridge, it was time to visit the financial district. We saw some of the usual suspects including walking through Zuccotti Park (now that Occupy Wall Street has left) and to Wall Street, seeing New York City Exchange. Then headed down to water street towards the Staten Island Ferry (which is free don’t let someone sell you a ticket to it), there is a secret park hidden by Standard and Poors, which is a hidden gem of the FiDi.
Sadly we did not go on the Staten Island Ferry this time, but if its your first time visiting and you have time time, check it out. It gives you an amazing view of the city as it’s pulling away as well as the Statue of Liberty. The ferry ride is about 30 minutes to Staten Island and 30 minutes back. It’s a great free activity if you’re on a budget or just in general.
By the end of the day we were all pretty exhausted (we calculated that by the end of the 3 days, we’ve walked 38 miles) so we headed back to the dirty Jers’ and had a relaxing last evening there. The trip couldn’t have been more perfect and I have my friends to thank for all of it! I can also thank NYC for although threatening to storm, holding up the whole time. People say that New Yorkers are mean, but I just don’t see it.
Wow, you made it to the end, good job! How much wine/beer did it take? Was this helpful? Would you like to see posts about New York, perhaps a list of my favorite free activities or just in general my absolute must-do activities and must-see sights, just let me know in the comments down below. I’ve been to the city close to ten times at this point and since Sonia lives there, I have an expert that’s just a text or phone call away at all times – sadly you can’t have her take you around, but I’ll help you around.