Monday, November 28, 2022

My Amazing Week In Manhattan, New York

by Cristina

Last week I got the opportunity to tag along for my husbands business trip to Manhattan, New York, which coincided with our 14th wedding anniversary. I love New York so as soon as he got word he was going he knew it would be a resounding yes from me. It was especially nice that his bosses suggested to him that he may want to bring me along for this trip.  This was my second time in New York and I still feel like there is so much left for me to see that I haven’t yet explored.  I learned last time to forego the obligatory ‘Instagram outfit’ choices and prioritize for comfortable walking shoes, shorts, and comfortable tees. I did bring my favorite jeans, some pretty blouses, a dress, and some dressy flats for more formal events, but my daily sightseeing attire consisted of cutoff denim shorts, simple tee shirts, and sneakers or flat espadrilles. See the bottom of this post for my packing details.

Picnic in Central Park

New York Central Park Skyline

Were We Stayed

We stayed at the Hilton in Midtown which is very much a conference and business hotel. It was roomy and central to everything, so I would definitely recommend it for that reason, but, it’s a very busy hotel in the business district. There were three conferences going at once, along with a huge high school excursion. Needless to say, the lobby and elevators were at full capacity. Last time we where in New York we got a great price at the Soho Grand Hotel. That hotel was stunning and very elegantly modern, had great ambiance, and I really loved staying in Soho. The room was tiny though and we had to take the train out to a lot of sightseeing highlights. There was a lot of shopping in Soho but not as many restaurants or coffee options as there are in Midtown, and everything closes down around 6 or 7, whereas Midtown seems to never sleep.   I think I’d stay at the Hilton again for convenience sake. We were a few blocks away from Central Park, a few blocks away from 5th Ave, Madison Ave and Rockefeller Center and we had tons and tons of restaurant options all around us in varying price points. I found out on the last day that we were very close to Bryant Park and I wish I’d spent more time there. I really liked that our hotel had a Blue Mercury store in the lobby. I enjoyed browsing cosmetics while waiting for my husband to meet back up with me.

Soho, ManhattanSpring St. and Crosby St. Busy Manhattan Crosswalk

Our Flight, Day 1, Dinner in Soho

Our first day we arrived at 7 am after taking the redeye Cathay Pacific flight to JFK. I had NO idea JFK was that far out of the city but the cab ride took an hour and a half thanks to commuter traffic congestion. Our flight left at 10:30 pm the night before so we were jet-lagged and tired but my husband was limited on sightseeing time so we had a one hour nap and then got on with the day. We strolled around Midtown, ate lunch at one of the restaurants at Rockefeller Center, and then eventually we made our way to Soho. I really enjoyed checking out the new Alo Yoga flagship store in Soho. I posted those photos on my Instagram here. We had our anniversary dinner at Balthazar’s in Soho which I really wanted to try out last time, but it was so busy we couldn’t get in. This time it was also very busy but we somehow managed to get squeezed in.

Balthazar's, Soho, Manhattan, NY

5th Avenue, St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue is definitely a site to see amongst all the shopping. I’ve been in many famous European Cathedrals and this one is just as beautiful and grand inside and out. There is a constant flow of tourists and worshipers at all hours of the day, right up until the late evening. It was also a great spot to sit and drink a coffee on the steps and people watch when we were tired from walking. It was grad weekend so we saw many, many venues throughout the city hosting grad ceremonies which is what the crowd is in this picture.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, 5th Ave, Manhattan

The Lululemon store on 5th Avenue.

Lululemon 5th Avenue

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum

A huge highlight for me was visiting my oldest friend who recently moved to New York and seeing the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum with her. We had such a fantastic day taking the subway, walking through Central Park looking for the museum and then after the museum we decided to take the train back to midtown and check out the Downton Abbey exhibit. The Heavenly Bodies exhibit though is phenomenal and I highly recommend it. If you went to Catholic school, or went to a Catholic church (and you were as terrorized as you were fascinated by the movie The Exorcist like I was), the imagery of this show is just so intense, and beautiful. It’s not that the exhibit is scary or intends to mirror that movie at all at all but there is a definite ambiance with the music and the lighting, and some of the costumes looked very familiar to the movie. I took copious amounts of Art History classes in college so the imagery was very strong for me.

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, Metropolitan Museum

The Highline and Chelsea Market

The Highline in the Meatpacking district and the Chelsea Market is another area to check out. It’s a nice stroll on a sunny day.

The Highline NYC

Bryant Park and The New York Public Library

This beautiful park was a big highlight for me and an accidental find. We walked about 10 miles on this day and stumbled upon Bryant Park as we meandered back towards Midtown.  We later realized it was very close to our hotel. We watched an amazing ballet show and sat and people watched, and then we walked around to the front were the New York Public Library is situated. The park itself has a huge grassy field, a stage, coffee shops, restaurants and bar, a carousel and a shady tree-lined stroll. This seemed to be a popular work lunch spot and after work hangout, so it’s a perfect spot to spend a few hours.

Bryant Park NYC

Bryant Park, Manhattan NYBryant Park, Manhattan

This is essential New York Ghostbusters sightseeing. The Library does not disappoint.

The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library

Eating in New York

We had several great meals so I wanted to share a few. The Wayfarer was really great for both breakfast and dinner. It was a block away from our hotel so we did end up hitting this restaurant up for two meals during the week.

Balthazar’s is in Soho and where we went for our Anniversary dinner. It’s a really great and well-loved French bistro and it’s always packed.

I think my favorite meal though was a much humbler one at Pazza Notte. This was also close to our hotel and it was constantly overflowing with dinners and was very lively. I realized later that that was due to the delicious pizza plus the two for one martini happy hour so this was a very popular post-work drinks place. The restaurant is really big with many tables, and the entire front of the restaurant was an open patio. Our waitress was fantastic! She handled an ungodly amount of tables, was really sweet and had great recommendations. We tried the martini flavor of the day (from their very extensive martini menu) and it was strong and delicious and went very well with the pizza.

Coffee in New York

Joe and the Juice is very ‘Instagram’ and youtube vlogger popular and it was right in front of our hotel so I tried it twice. The coffee was good, the smoothie was also good but I didn’t fall in love with the place. I just kind of had bad service both times I went in and it was pretty expensive. I’m not picky about service and I rarely complain but one of the issues I had was they made me the wrong drink after a really long wait for my order, and when I mentioned it they just put that drink back in the blender and added some more ingredients to it rather than making a new one – in the end, it was not what I ordered so It hurt me to pay $10 USD for that smoothie. There seemed to be a ton of smoothie and fresh pressed juice shops in the different neighborhoods so I was not so enchanted by this particular one.

Ground Support in Soho is probably the best coffee I’ve tried in New York and definitely worth looking for if you are exploring around the neighborhood. This was our main coffee shop near our hotel when we were in New York in 2014, so this time around we made sure to look for it again.

The Wayfairer

Ground Support Cafe in Soho

What I Packed
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What I Wore On The Flight
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Anniversary Dinner Outfit

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City Exploring Outfits

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Cute Museum Outfits

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Casual Dinner Outfits

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What I Purchased In New York

I posted about the dress here (from Gap), and the shoes I got at the huge Bergdorf Goodman designer sale. I price compared shoes with the sale going on down the street at Saks 5th Ave and the Bergdorf sale was surprisingly better (for such a swanky and intimidating store). The shoes were on clearance and since I love espadrilles I decided to snatch them up since the clearance price was in line with high street prices. I did ogle some Malone Soulier pumps that were stunning, but out of my comfortable price range.  Lots of Louboutins on sale there, and Manolo Blahniks and Valentinos.
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There was so much more I saw and did this trip that I wish I could fit in this post, but these are the main highlights. I really hope I can go back there next year.

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Anne June 20, 2018 - 8:07 pm

Love your post! It sounds like you had an amazing trip.

My Grandparents lived in NYC and as a child I spent a week with them each summer seeing the sights. The one thing I would recommend doing on your next trip is seeing a Broadway show. (You can catch a matinee for a better price).

And your Anniversary dress is fabulous. ?

Cristina June 21, 2018 - 6:59 am

I really wanted to see a show but the prices where insane. My friend told me there was a trick to getting tickets for cheap but by then it was too late. Definitely on my list for next time.

E June 20, 2018 - 8:44 pm

Great post! Thank you 🙂

Cristina June 21, 2018 - 6:58 am

Thank you!

Anonymous June 21, 2018 - 3:10 am

Just a suggestion…the best breakfast I’ve ever had was at A restaurant called Norma’s in NYC. You won’t be disappointed!!!

Cristina June 21, 2018 - 6:58 am

Ah that was so close! I had no idea it was a gem. Next year!

lisa June 21, 2018 - 7:43 am

OMG I just got back from NYC I was there from Friday the 15th to Yesterday Jun 20th. To be honest, i thought I saw you once at a crosswalk somewhere, but i was like “nah what are the odds, that couldn’t be her.” But it might have been!!!

Anyways, we ate at Bathlazar’s too! Had the short ribs and the salmon and sat at the bar. It was delightful.
And we stayed at Nobleden, a nice little modern and very clean hotel between little italy and chinatown. Not far from soho, too!

How crazy! I am so glad you had a great time!!!

Cristina June 21, 2018 - 9:23 am

Oh my gosh that is so funny! I bet you it was me if you saw me on Friday. We had to leave for the airport at 6pm so we spent literally all day walking around. Too bad we didn’t get to say hello to each other!

ooh short ribs!! I had the steak frittes. I’m pretty sure my husband had the salmon.

Glad you had a great time too!

Julie June 21, 2018 - 8:39 am

Thanks for the post. We used to live in Manhattan 56th & 6th. When we go back to visit my husband’s relatives we always stay at that Hilton midtown. Love your pictures! Brings back a lot of fun memories

Cristina June 21, 2018 - 9:25 am

That’s really great to know that a local would pick the hilton midtown too. All I know is to avoid Times Square. We needed a lot of help choosing a hotel back in 2014. There are just soo many neighborhoods to choose from.

Joanna June 21, 2018 - 12:07 pm

Love New York! Haven’t been in well over 10 years, but it was one of my favourite holidays, Very short, only 2.5 days since I was working in the US at the time and had the weekend off. Managed to squeeze as much as we could in, but you are right – there is so much to explore. I’d love to go back there someday.

Alicia Yang June 26, 2018 - 7:13 pm

I love reading this post and reminiscing about my honeymoon in NYC 9 years ago. We stayed at a quaint japanese vibe hotel along park avenue and also went to balthazar at SOHO. I think my favourite thing about balthazar was the french onion soup. But the best meal I had was at Per Se. It was an out of this world experience for me. During my two week stay, I watched two musicals, namely Wicked [it was relatively new back then] and Phantom of the Opera.


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