I planned a trip to New York City for my 31st birthday. Last October I received an email with the chance to purchase Hamilton tickets. And I acted on it immediately!
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I signed myself up and the following week I was given the date and time that I could log onto Ticketmaster. When I logged in I could choose from April, May and June dates – so it was perfect to aim for my birthday! Since May 18 fell on a Friday this year, of course the tickets were sold out. Sad face. I ended up getting the tickets for Thursday night’s performance. And, omg, I got Hamilton tickets!
New York: Day 1
The sole purpose for going to New York was to see Hamilton. And I dragged my husband with me. We flew in on Wednesday morning and it ended up being rainy for most of the day. The clouds were hanging over the city.
After landing into LaGuardia, we cabbed it to our hotel. We couldn’t check in yet, so we dropped off our luggage and headed out for lunch. I was suggested to check out Carmine’s, which serves family style Italian dishes. Zack and I each had a cocktail and shared a plate of pasta and meatballs.
After lunch, we set out on the adventure of my long list of must-see’s. The first stop was the Hope Sculpture followed by a quick run in with the Love Sculpture. It was still raining and I was happy to have a jacket with a hood. It was a saving grace when Zack and I were trying to share the same umbrella.
There’s nothing better than searching for a birthday ice cream shop in New York! I had heard about the Momofuku Noodle Bar that created a delicious cereal milk soft serve dessert. Momofuku expanded to open Milk Bar Bakery. The cereal milk soft serve is made with milk, cornflakes, brown sugar and a pinch of salt, it tastes just like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cornflake. I got hot fudge drizzled on top and it was yummy snack!
Top of the Rock
We walked by the Radio City Music Hall, but did not go in. I purchased tickets to go to the Top of the Rock. We were a little bit early than we signed up for, but we were allowed to go in early. There was no line because of all the rain, so we got to go right up to the top. The place was empty! Got to stare out into the cloud over New York City. What great views, lol!
Ellen’s Stardust Diner
After being outside in the rain all day, we headed to Ellen’s Stardust Diner to stand in the rain some more. There was maybe about twenty people ahead of us in line. On the plus side, the restaurant is conveniently located on the block next to our hotel. We could see the line of people when looking down from our room’s window.
New York: Day 2
On our second day in New York, I planned a trip to take a boat to see the Statue of Liberty. We woke up super early because I planned that to be the first thing on our to-do list. And, welcome back to drizzling weather!
Financial District and Battery Park
We took a cab straight to Battery Park at around 7 a.m. We went over to get a photo op with the Charging Bull. No one was there, surprise, because of the rain. It wasn’t pouring, but it was just enough to be miserable standing outside. Then we stopped through the East Coast Memorial on our way to the security checkpoint before boarding the boat.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
All my photos are a little dreary and grey! When I bought our tickets to visit Lady Liberty, the crown level tickets were sold out. We did get to go to the pedestal level which has great views of the foggy New York City.
The best part of getting on the first boat ride of the day was that we were back in the city before 11 a.m. We didn’t linger too long in any one place and there were not that many crowds because of the rain and the time. The boat that arrived after ours at the Statue of Liberty was full – so we left the island just in time.
One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial
We stopped by O’Hara’s for lunch after our Statue of Liberty tour. I wanted as much as possible to plan routes that were walkable to avoid too many taxis over the three days. Zack has visited this pub on work trips before.
The pub was affected when 9/11 happened and they have this book of pictures about the damage they received. The kitchen was up and running as soon as possible to help feed the people working to clean up the aftermath. The book contains letters and newspaper cutouts about the fire and police department and more.
After lunch we walked through the 9/11 Memorial and went into the Westfield World Trade Center – which I didn’t realize was a mall. It was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava who had also designed the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum.
Kate Spade New York – Birthday Pin
We stopped by the Kate Spade New York store in the Rockefeller Plaza area to pick up my birthday pin, but they didn’t have any available. When we walked into Westfield World Trade Center, there was another Kate Spade store. I stopped in to ask and they had a pin available! This was a free pin promotion that I received an email about, but didn’t have time to stop into a store before we went on our trip.
And, finally, we got in line to see Hamilton! The show was amazing. There was never a dull or slow moment. I loved it and it was the best birthday gift to myself! I am so happy that Zack was there to enjoy it with me.
New York: Day 3
After having a jam-packed scheduled during Day 2, I also created a jam-packed schedule for Day 3. I guess that’s the type of vacationer I’ve become!
Good Morning America & City Hall Fountain
The morning started off with breakfast near Times Square in which we rolled on by Good Morning America. The crowd wasn’t too large, but we didn’t need to stay too long because we had to head back downtown. I booked a free walking tour of Brooklyn that started by meeting near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Our tour started with the history of how the bridge was built, who built it and that it was the first steel suspension bridge in the country. The tour guide was great and we learned a lot of tidbits during the three hour tour. The bridge is one full mile across.
Brooklyn Heights & DUMBO
After stepping off the bridge, we arrived in in Brooklyn heights where we headed towards the DUMBO area. DUMBO is one of the most expensive areas of Brooklyn at this time as it is full of newly renovated warehouses. Then we walked to the Fulton Ferry Landing and took a break complete with a scoop from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
This is probably one of the best views of lower Manhattan that I got to experience these past three days. The sky may be cloudy, but at least the cloud isn’t hanging over the tops of all the skyscrapers!
The building above on the left is the newspaper where Walt Whitman worked before he decided to write Leaves of Grass. The building on the right is where Truman Capote was living when we wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The tour guide was sure to point out that he did not own the building, he was only living there for many years. Also, the building used to be yellow.
We ended our tour by stopping in front of this small garden behind Plymouth Church. This church was a prominent station on the Underground Railway. And the church’s first pastor had a sister named Harriett Beecher Stowe – who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Another fact about the church is that they invited Abraham Lincoln lecture on the topic of anti-slavery to its congregation, which happened before he was elected President.
Chelsea Market & The High Line
And if I’m not crazy enough for all the walking we just completed, we grabbed a cab to head to the Chelsea Market. I had planned for us to eat lunch there, but it was already pushing 1 p.m. and the market was so busy that it was hard to walk through. So we walked though and got out right at the entrance to the The High Line.
And then? We walked some more! At least The High Line is a beautiful walkway full of greenery and flowers. And the best part is that it is away from the street traffic noise.
The Frying Pan
Walking along The High Line for about eight blocks then we headed to a restaurant called the Frying Pan, which was located on the pier. It was fairly empty, so what we considered a great choice for lunch considering how busy the market was at the same time.
After lunch we continued walking along the Hudson River Greenway, which was a walking/bike path that ran parallel to 12th ave along the west side. We were strapped with time, but we walked right by the U.S.S. Intrepid. We then grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel to change before heading out again.
NBC Universal Tour
I planned a NBC Studio Tour for 4 p.m. The tour itself was pretty bland, but it was was cool to see all the studios. We got to see the SNL cast rehearsing and we also got to see the set of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I was surprised how small the studios were. In the gift shop was a photo op about the Megan Markle and Prince Harry wedding – since it was happening the very next day.
After the tour we then went on to get a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. I wasn’t sure what I wanted so I was still looking, then one of the bakers brought out another dozen cupcakes. On the royal wedding train again, they were cupcakes that mimics the royal wedding cake: elderberry and lemon curd. Surprisingly, not that good, lol!
Champagne Bar at The Plaza
We then walked to The Plaza in which I wanted to have a glass of champagne in the Champagne Bar. I ordered a glass of Dom Perignon and Zack had a whiskey while we rested for a quick thirty minutes before heading out to dinner. This was as close as we got to Central Park.
To finish off the night, Zack and I had reservations at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Midtown. We had a great steak dinner complete with a birthday dessert. After, we had to pack up because we had picked one of the first flights out of the city the very next morning. We arrived so early to the airport that even TSA wasn’t open. Overall, one of my favorite birthday trips!