June 1, 2012

Still My Favorite Place... NYC (Part 1)

I've traveled to many places, and seen many things, but New York City is a unique experience. I've visited so often that I've lost count. And yet, I always discover something new to see and do. In many ways, the city is constantly changing, but somehow it remains the same year after year.

I can still buy a 'dirty water dog' on practically every street corner, and yellow cabs always crowd the road. Street performers work for change, and artists hock their wares. The sidewalks teem with people, the stores contain the best fashions.

And it's still my favorite place to be.

For me, New York means family. It's the Yankees and the Giants (don't hate!). It's the best pizza in the world, and the best shopping. The City is museums, and Christmas lights, and ice skating. It's the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Strolls through Central Park, and shows on Broadway.

I love watching people experience the City for the first time. And what an experience it is! If you've never been, pack your bags and go. Right now. A trip through New York City should be on everyone's bucket list.

It still surprises me when people say they have never been to NYC. When I discovered that my good friend Becky was one of those people, I knew we had to remedy the situation as soon as possible. Since we were already planning a trip to Ireland (which happened to fly right by NYC), I figured we should stop. I mean, why not?

We spent weeks thinking of all the things to see and do. With only two days to explore, I wanted her to see anything and everything, but I knew that wasn't possible. I fully expected to run through all the typical tourist sights: the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Ground Zero... you know the ones I'm talking about. Even if you've never visited the City, you know those places.
To my complete surprise, she didn't want to do any of those things!

Instead, we talked of museums and the Today show. She wanted to hike the Brooklyn Bridge! No one has EVER made that request before. This was, by far, one of the most unusual trips I've taken through NYC with a first time tourist.

Oh, we hit a lot of hot spots, don't get me wrong. But, we didn't stop at as many as I expected. I loved exploring with Becky. She understands my photo obsession... mostly because she has one herself. She was willing to walk the streets, and she climbed into a cab without fear. Even I can't do that!

We didn't see all there was to see on her first trip, because that would be impossible. However, in the short time we had, we saw a whole heck of a lot!

I stay with family when I visit New York, then I ride the train into Manhattan. So, whether they want to or not, the first place all my friends see when they visit with me is Grand Central Station.

Now an official city landmark, Grand Central is an NYC icon. How many of you have seen it featured in movies and commercials? Even if you don't arrive in the city by train, GC is worth a quick trip inside. Besides rail lines, the terminal boasts many markets, shops, and restaurants.

Upon stepping out of the terminal, I always tell my friends the same thing... 'Look up'. Simple words, yet effective. The height of the city can be overwhelming, but the view is worth it. The first thing Becky and I see is the Chrysler Building...


Even in the wee hours of the morning, NYC is bustling with life. At 5:30 a.m., we were wandering the streets, slowly making our way to the filming of the Today show.

I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but... I don't actually watch the Today show. Please don't think less of me! I was more than willing to stand in line for the experience, but I'm pretty clueless when it comes to this cultural phenomenon. Needless to say, I've never attended the live show. Though Becky was the first-time tourist, we were doing something that I myself had never experienced.

Though I'm not a habitual watcher, I really enjoyed seeing the crowd with their signs. The energy was high, and the people were friendly. One of these days, I might have to watch the show!

From the Today show, we moved on to wander the city. On nearly all my visits, I make the time to stop at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Of all the city's attractions, this is one of my favorites. Between the skyscrapers and the traffic, St. Pat's sits regally amidst it all. The cathedral takes up an entire city block on it's own!

The cathedral is open to tourists, but be careful that you don't interrupt service. No one wants to hear the click of a camera shutter as they try to commune with God.

After our visit, the next stop on the list was Top of the Rock. Most people choose to visit the Empire State Building, but we were daring to be different! The views from the Top of the Rock are wonderful, including looks of Central Park and the Empire State Building. For the real adventurer, I suggest visiting both. They each have their own unique panoramas.

The Top of the Rock observation deck is housed inside of the NBC Studios building, in Rockefeller Plaza. Even in April, people were ice skating and enjoying the beautiful afternoon.

Rockefeller Center 
Just next door, the famous Radio City Music Hall offers tours and shows. We decided not to take this particular tour, due to time constraints. Instead, Becky and I chose to spend a few hours wandering the halls of MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art. Within its walls reside several of my favorite paintings, including Vincent Van Gogh's 'Starry Night'.

'Starry Night'

The crowd around the painting 
For an art lover, this is truly a magnificent experience. The walls and hallways overflow with the work of Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali', Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, and Claude Monet (among many others!). It was nice to traverse an art museum without The Hubs whispering in my ear, "I could have painted that!"

After the museum, boy were we hungry! We hit up a cart for an authentic NYC hot dog (the best in the world!), and contemplated our options.

Ok, so we all know my OCD self had a list, a map, and a time frame. But we pretended to consider the options, and then we moved toward the next spot on the all-important list.... F.A.O. Schwarz.

This toy store is every kid's dream. They stock anything and everything. There are places to play, places to read, and places to play music. The sweet shop feels like Willa Wonka's factory. The Big Piano is available upstairs, for those of you who have seen Tom Hanks' Big. (If you haven't seen the movie, correct the problem immediately. Then go to NYC and jump around on the piano!)

Becky and I wandered in kiddie heaven for a while. We stopped for candy on our way out as an afternoon snack (no judgement here!). With bags in hand, we meandered toward Central Park....

And that is all for now! Mostly because I'm tired, but also because a city tour is very overwhelming, so I know it must be the same reading about it. More on our NYC adventure is coming soon!

If you've been to NYC, what are your favorite places to visit? What are your favorite things to do? Feel free to share in the comments below!


  1. Cool post, Allie! I have never been to NYC (except for an overnight when a connecting flight was canceled, and just the corner I visited was amazing!), and it's on my bucket list to see these places and even where you guys didn't visit! Maybe I can even visit it with you :) I love how you wrote this taking me on a tour from a first person perspective even though you have been here countless times. Great post!!

    1. I would LOVE to visit NYC with you!! We would have a total blast... I could drool over your new camera, lol. Imagine the "downtown" photos we could take there!