A Travel Diary: Manhattan, New York City


New York City.  The city of dreams, the city that never sleeps, the big apple, and the city that I love the most.  I just spent the past week in NYC with my boyfriend and it was one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time.  A week full of fun, sightseeing, and constantly being on the go left me so exhausted but so happy for the experience.

As a Seattleite, I had no idea what I was in for being on the east coast in the heart of winter and the arctic storms affecting the area.  I totally packed for the weather, but just was not expecting it to be as cold as it really was.  I’m so used to the mild, 40-50 degree temperatures and rain that Seattle goes through every year.  When I first stepped outside of LaGuardia airport upon arriving in New York into 18 degree weather, it was definitely startling.  And what made that 18 degree weather feel like 5 degrees was the intense windchill sweeping through the high rises in the city.

After a red-eye flight from Seattle to Chicago to New York City, we arrived at our hotel and couldn’t wait to take a power nap before going out to explore the big city.  We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Midtown Park Ave and it was the perfect location for us to stay.  Staying in midtown, we were close to everything.  Herald Square, the Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, the Flatiron District, and some of the best restaurants were just walkable distances away from our hotel.  Staying on the 16th floor of the hotel, we got a great view city view of high rises near by.  The city view of New York is one of my favorite views that I love going to sleep and waking up to.

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Day 1

After checking in to our hotel and taking a power nap after a long night of traveling, we went out to explore parts of midtown and popular attractions near our hotel.  One of the first places we stopped at was Rockefeller Center to see the big Christmas tree still lit up right above the ice rink.  It was so cool to finally see the tree in person after you see it on all these New York City based holiday movies.  We then walked through St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was completely mind-blowing, you definitely do not see cathedral’s like that around Seattle.

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After the cathedral, we walked past the iconic Radio City Music Hall, Fountain Pool, and of course Times Square.  One of my favorite things about walking through Times Square was seeing bits and pieces of confetti on the streets from New Years Eve the night before.  We saw the New Years Ball above the big billboards with the new year “2018” sign right underneath.  It was like being in Times Square on New Years Eve! Just without Ryan Seacrest and the music performances.

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After eating at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, we went back to Rockefeller Center to experience the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at night.  It completely took my breath away.  Best. View. Ever.  Everything just seemed so close, it was like the Empire State Building was right there in front of you, with the One World Trade Center right behind it.  With the entire city lit up, it was so amazing.  DREAMY.  And SO cold!

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Day 2

After the fun of day 1 and being awake for nearly 36 hours, a good night’s sleep refreshed us for the adventures of day 2.  Day 2 was probably my most favorite day out of the days we were there.  We explored so much in just 9 hours.  We spent this day in the lower Manhattan area, including the West Village and Greenwich Village, Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, Chinatown, and Little Italy.

After a breakfast of New York bagels, we took the subway downtown to the West Village. In the West Village, we walked through Washington Square Park and the NYU campus, and of course, the iconic “Friends” TV show apartment on the intersection of Grove St. and Bedford St.  I am a total die hard Friends fan and was so excited about this part of the trip.  Seeing the apartment building in person felt like being on the Friends TV show and getting to experience the part of town the characters lived in and saw everyday.  Just living my inner Rachel Green lifestyle in that moment.

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After Greenwich Village, we took the subway to Brooklyn to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and wander around the Brooklyn Bridge park.  The bridge was so busy during the day but had amazing views of lower Manhattan and the city skyline.  Plus, walking on the bridge was an awesome experience, you always got to look up and see the brick and arches of the bridge.

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We ate lunch at Shake Shack in Brooklyn which was SO delicious, they had some of the best crinkle cut french fries I’ve ever had.  If only they had Shake Shack in Seattle!

After lunch we took the subway back to lower Manhattan where we then wandered around the World Trade Center and visited the 9/11 Museum.  The museum was really fascinating and had a lot of cool artifacts from the incident.  Outside of the museum were two large pools sitting right next to the One World Trade Center Freedom Tower, each pool were layouts of where the two World Trade Center buildings originally were and had the names of each victim in the 9/11 attack.  It was really cool to be walking on those historical grounds.

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Walking through the wind and cold of the city, taking pictures of all the top sights, the strangest thing kept happening to our iPhone’s.  They kept turning off and turning back on to a battery of 10%.  Like, what? Who knew that below freezing temperatures could mess up your phone so much!? It happened every single day of the trip, talk about frustrating.  But thank goodness for having a backup DSLR camera.  Although, we had a couple moments of panic when we were wandering around a part of the city we had never been to before and were relying on the navigation of our phones, only to come to the point where they both shut off and we were walking around with absolutely no idea where we were going.  Definitely not the ideal situation for a tourist.

At that point, we were wandering around Tribeca and SoHo trying to find Chinatown and Little Italy so we could finally eat dinner.  Walking around with hand warmers covering our phones trying to turn them back on, we finally got the life back in them and made our way to Chinatown and Little Italy.  We went to a small Italian Restaurant, La Nonna, where we had spaghetti and meatballs and were able to charge our phones!

By about 7:30 p.m. we were completely wiped from the adventures of that day, we spent the rest of the night in our hotel room eating junk food and warming up from the brutal temperatures outside.

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Day 3

Thursday.  The day that the east coast blizzard had finally hit.  We woke up to dumping buckets of snow falling outside our window with an intense wind leading the snow everywhere.  It looked so cold out.  By about noon when we left our hotel for brunch, there was already about 4 inches of snow covering the streets of Manhattan and wind blowing the snow in everyone’s faces, making it extremely difficult to walk around anywhere.  We hiked through the snow about 4 blocks to a super fancy restaurant, Sarabeth’s, for one of the best meals I had in New York, buttermilk pancakes covered with powdered sugar and fresh cut strawberries, with a fresh fruit bowl on the side of sliced bananas, strawberries, oranges, and grapefruit.  Definition of breakfast goals.  What made it even more special was eating right next to a view of all the snow in the city.

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After breakfast, we took the subway to upper Manhattan, toward Central Park and the Upper East Side.

We arrived at the Columbus Circle which led us right to the entrance of Central Park.  The park was so magical covered in snow.  It was like walking in a true winter wonderland.  Literally the best time to be in Central Park.  It was amazing.  And we definitely needed a Starbucks after hiking through the snow and cold of the park.

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We walked through the iconic spots of Central Park, including this postcard view of the bridge and the Plaza Hotel back out onto the streets where we took the bus to the Upper East Side and the MET.  Living like Serena and Blair on Gossip Girl.

“Gossip Girl here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite.”

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Xoxo, Gossip Girl.

That night, we ate the best New York thin crust style pizza at NY Pizza Suprema next to Madison Square Garden, and went ice skating at Rockefeller Center.  The perfect way to end the perfect snow day.

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Day 4

Our last day in New York.  We shopped around Herald Square and Times Square some more and explored the Flatiron District before heading to the airport for our flight back to Seattle.  It was a cold and clear blue sky day after the snow storm, just in time for us to head back home without any flight complications.  I was sure going to miss the view from our hotel room and the convenience of everything being so close and walkable distances.

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As I am back home, I only wish I was back in New York City.  I had so much fun and love the energy and life of Manhattan.  I can’t wait to visit again in the future and hope to one day make Manhattan my home!





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