This weekend I had 2 friends visiting me in NYC from Italy and Chile. This weekend would be their first time in New York City – how would we squeeze everything into two days? I think we managed to do quite well, so I thought I would share our weekend in NYC itinerary for others who are also short on time!
On Friday night I decided to take my guests out in Williamsburg, the official “hipster” neighborhood of Brooklyn. There are many trendy restaurants there, and we picked one called La Superior. In typical Williamsburg style, it’s a hole in the wall that is not much to look at, but is always packed. We each had a michelada, two tacos (yum!!) and guacamole and our bill for 3 was only $47 with tip – $15.67 each.
After dinner we wandered over to The Woods, a local Brooklyn bar that has everything from a low-key backyard for hanging and chatting with friends to a DJ and dance floor. The prices here are also quite good for New York City – $7 for standard drinks – and it’s an excellent place to people watch. There are always some interesting characters at The Woods! Since it was freezing and we wanted to wake up early the next day for sightseeing, we splurged on a taxi back to my apartment.
We lucked out with a beautiful sunny day on Saturday. After grabbing breakfast at a local bakery, we took the subway into Manhattan and started off the morning with the Statue of Liberty. Skip the expensive tours for this one: the Staten Island Ferry is completely free and goes right by the statue, offering a great photo opp as well as stunning views of lower Manhattan. A ferry departs every half hour on the weekends.
After the Statue of Liberty, we moved on to another must-visit attraction in NYC: Central Park. We took the 1 train heading uptown to Columbus Circle and spent about 45 minutes wandering through the park. We walked all the way across and came out on the Upper East Side.
We strolled down Madison Avenue, where all of New York City’s luxury stores like Hermès, Lanvin, etc. are, for some window shopping, finally ending up at Bergdorf Goodman to see their famous holiday window displays.
Next we decided to walk to nearby Rockefeller Center and see the Christmas tree. It was absolute madness! We snapped photos of the tree and then fought through the seemingly endless crowds until we could make our way to Grand Central Terminal.
I think Grand Central is definitely one of my favorite places in New York City – not only is it beautiful but there are so many interesting things to do inside. The girls kept saying they wanted to eat “American” food so of course I took them to GC’s dining concourse for some Shake Shack, where we each had a $3.50 hot dog.
By now it was dark out, and Times Square is better at night. We took the subway shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square which took about five minutes. We didn’t spend much time here – it’s not exactly a great place to hang out, but I guess every NYC tourist has to see it once and take a photo.
After the madness of Rockefeller Center and Times Square, we took some time to relax at home before a late dinner of more American food! We made our way to Butcher Bar in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. Butcher Bar is another of my favorite wallet-friendly restaurants in New York City. It’s BYOB, so we brought our own bottle of pisco to share. We split two “platters” which meant 6 plates of BBQ meat and 4 side dishes and it was the perfect amount for our group of five. The bill came out to $16 each with tip – and we were stuffed. You can’t beat that!
Next we headed into Manhattan for drinks at Kingston Hall, one of my favorite bars in the East Village. It’s especially great to go there in the middle of winter because you can get a “Drunken Coconut” tropical drink served in an actual coconut ($13 each, possibly less if you befriend the bartender).
After filling up on coconuts, it was time to burn off all these American calories with some dancing. Our group walked about ten minutes to Blind Barber, a bar that out-of-towners usually get a kick out of because it is a “speakeasy.” Everyone knows about it so there’s a quite obvious entrance, but you have to walk through a barber shop to get to the “hidden” bar in the back. They almost always play good music and it’s a fun scene.
I was shocked to discover that my Chilean and Italian friends had never had brunch. Imagine a whole life deprived of mimosas and eggs benedict? Since brunch is practically a sport in New York City, I knew we had to go. We went to William Hallet, another Astoria restaurant that serves (you guessed it!) more American food. They even deep fry their poached eggs for the eggs benedict, which I didn’t know was possible. Every entree at this restaurant comes with a free mimosa AND coffee, so our total bill came out to $15 each.
Since it was a cold and snowy day, we wanted to do something indoors so we took the subway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, aka the Met. Admission to The Met is $12 for students and $25 for adults, but these prices are “recommended” – you can actually pay whatever you want. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon here wandering through the different galleries (grab a free map so you don’t get lost).
After we left the Met we realized that we had not had a bagel yet, which is definitely a must-eat in NYC. Even though we were still full from brunch, we had to stop at a spot on the Upper East Side to get bagels before the girls caught their bus back to Boston.
I wished we had been able to see Soho, Union Square and the West Village, and walk along the High Line, but I think that for two days we did quite well with the itinerary. My friends also wanted to see the Empire State Building but I explained that there’s usually a long line and it’s a pricey $22 to get in, so we skipped it. Hopefully they can make it to New York City again, and we’ll do all these next time!
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