After graduating with my master’s degree, my father gifted me a trip to New York City, which included a flight for me and my husband, James, and a hotel stay.
I’m not good at relaxing vacations. I’m more of an energizer-bunny-vacationer (I’m a completionist in video game terms). I want to see as much as possible every day, and just like Rome, I wanted to see everything in the few days we would be there.
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New York is one major destination that can absolutely be done on a budget. Flights to New York City can be very reasonable. Visit CheapAir.com’s When to Buy Flight tool. As you can imagine, during this time of COVID-19, it shows April-June 2020 is the least expensive time to purchase tickets to NYC. On the other hand, the top of the price range (Orlando to NYC) is listed as $366. That ain’t bad! Trips to New York City are pretty affordable all year long, so pick a date, and buy those tickets.
Just like with any other of my vacations, I started with heavy research and began building a NYC trip map in Google maps. I will admit, we did not visit every place on the map. Below is an embedded version of the map. If you want to know how to create a trip map, read COVID-19 Travel Planning.
We arrived at LaGuardia just before 1:00 pm and decided to take a cap from the airport to our hotel. The crazy cab drivers of NYC are NOT a myth. It was a pulse-quickening ride, but we arrived safely, and we were at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel and in our room before 2:30 pm.
While navigating to our hotel, we passed a NYC pizzs-by-the-slice hole in the wall. there were no seats, standing only. We grabbed a couple slices to refuel. Make sure you do this while visiting. It’s about the experience!
Not one to rest, I insisted we hit the street immediately, where we ran into the Naked Cowboy! Thanks to Friends, I knew to be excited and snapped a pic. ‘
The ads, noise and crowds of Times Square are overwhelming and oppressive, yet exhilarating. They are everywhere!
To make the most of New York, I purchased a NYC – CityPass. With the City Pass, we were able to pay a discounted rate for access to 3 top attractions and since then, CityPass now offers an option with 6 top attractions!: Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty, and 9/11 Memorial and Museum. We chose the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty Sightseeing Cruise, and the American Museum of Natural History.
Starting off the vacation, we walked to the Empire State Building. The view is not overrated and MUST be experienced. Since visiting, they’ve added new options and experiences. In addition to the open-air views from the 86th Floor Observatory, you can now visit the 102nd Floor Observatory and the immersive exhibit galleries on the second floor.
After leaving the Empire State Building, we walked the .6 miles, about 13 minutes, to Grand Central Station. Grand Central Station is more than a transportation hub, it’s a New York City icon, worth visiting. Grand Central Station boasts 60 shops and 35 places to eat. As its website states, “Grand Central Terminal is one of the country’s great architectural achievements.”
The whispering corners are a not-so-secret secret of Grand Central Terminal. When you’re there, you may notice people standing facing the corners, like they’ve been timed out, but as a result of the architecture, someone standing in one corner can whisper and another across the gallery can hear the secret. For the full story and instructions, visit AtlasObscura.com.
James and I decided to stop for a couple drinks at one of the many establishments while in Grand Central Terminal. While resting our tingling feet, I was privileged to overhear, four New York Italians loudly discussing Joey Buttafuoco. You can’t make this up!
In our wanderings back to the hotel, we happened upon 5th Avenue Bryant Park. The grass was covered in people sitting on blankets awaiting a music performance to start. Learn more at BryantPark.org. If we weren’t so tired, we would have hung around to check it out, but we were in desperate need of a nap, which we promptly took after we arrived in our room.
After a power nap, James and I went down to the hotel lobby and had a couple drinks while catching up on emails. Later, we continued our wanderings, just taking in the city sights and sounds.
Stay tuned for Day 2 of our New York City escapades.
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