New York City is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world! Right there with Paris and London, there’s just so much around all the time! I always hear everyone say how they love NYC or how it’s their favorite place in the world, and I must say I have a complicated relationship with NY – hahaha. I lived there also, but in Westchester, about 1 hour away and we went to NYC often and I do LOVE how much there is to see and do at ANY given day. I love the crazy outfits you see, especially when Halloween is approaching, and I love that fact that I can walk to most places!
In 2016, Kyle and I decided to make it all the way up to NYC and Westchester while we were in Baltimore because I also have a good friend who lived in Tarrytown, NY at the time. We drove from Baltimore and it was a feat to avoid all the tolls, so FIRST TIP, MIND THE TOLLS! There’s about $50 worth of tolls from Baltimore (I think they start in Delaware) through Westchester, some of them I think we were unable to bypass, but what we do is set all of our GPS maps to avoid tolls and ferry, and for the most part, it works! Some of the tolls are no big deal, while other can cost upwards of $15 each. If you are alone or just going into NYC itself, get tickets through Megabus, it’s only a 3-hour journey and you won’t have to worry about tolls or parking.
Best time to visit: September (August is still too hot and October can be really cold)
Coney Island view from the Pier
Since it was on the way and further from the rest of our points of interest, we started in Coney Island, you can visit the Brooklyn museum while you’re there, I went years ago and it was really cool! There’s the beach, the pier and opportunity for some great pictures depending on what time of the year you go, in our case, it was PACKED with people, but I have been there before in the beginning of spring and it was almost empty towards the water and the rocks. In Coney Island, you can take a stroll through the famous boardwalk (pay attention to the boards too, some are dangerous), there are restaurants, shops and kiosks selling all kinds of carnival food. There’s also the “amusement park” more like a large carnival, and they have The Coney Island Cyclone, a super old roller coaster (over 80 years old!).
We headed to Tarrytown after that to enjoy some delicious Greek food from Gyro, right on the corner of Main St. I LOVE their food, the warm pita bread and tzatziki sauce, their Greek salad is also amazing, I believe they make their own feta cheese. Another spot to check out in Tarrytown is Little B’s, aw man, their burgers and wings were SO GOOD. I appreciate an amazing, actually flavorful beef patty and they delivered! They also have tons of options for you to build your own burger, custom sauces and craft beers on tap, always something different.
Coney Island Boardwalk
Coney Island Pier
Day 1 – NYC – Central Park / Washington Square Park
On our second day, we hit NYC, now I don’t really think it’s the best way to get to the city, BUT what we did was drive to the closest subway station to Tarrytown and instead of taking the expensive train, we rode the subway, it was off-peak so it wasn’t crazy crowded and it saved us quite a bit of money, money that we spent on food, so it was worth it!
So, NYC day one started at Central park (if you take the train, start at grand central, since all trains will take you there anyway). Now, Central Park IS HUGE, LIKE, REALLY! I have never been able to make the whole thing. We did try last time, but it was in August and oh, so dang hot! We started by the South Entrance, right across from the Grand Army Plaza, which can be a beautiful spot for portraits, but generally very crowded. We made it through about half of it. We passed the pond, the Wollman rink (you can go Ice Skating during the winter months, lots of fun!), there’s a Zoo inside, I have never been so I can’t comment, The Bethesda Fountain is a must! I love the look of the stairs, and the view above (see picture below), we also made it to Strawberry Fields, Shakespeare’s Garden, The Henry Luce Nature Observatory and anything in between, sorry if memory fails me! We ate some crepes along the way and when we left Central Park we stopped to enjoy some AC and had truffle fries at Ella Kitchen & Bar.
From Central Park, we headed to the Washington Square Park to see the arch, we also enjoyed some well-deserved Ice Cream at Grom and headed back to Times Square, my plan was to make it to the top of the Empire State Building for sunset photos, but we were a bit late and I would’ve missed the Sunset by the time we got up there, so instead we grabbed some Fall beers at Heartland Brewery and headed back to Westchester for the day.
NYC skyscrapers view from Central Park
The Btehesda Fountain view from above
Day 2 – NYC – Statue of Liberty / Wall Street / NY Pizza / World Trade Center Memorial / Brooklyn Bridge / Chinatown - Little Italy / Time’s Square / Empire state Building / Grand Central
Yes, this was the crazy day! We had done almost everything on our list by the end of the day and we didn’t want to come back one more day to do just one thing or two (we were also very tired) so we just pushed through and did as much as we could so we could relax and enjoy the day in Westchester for our last day in NY. We started with a reservation for the Statue of Liberty (crown passes need to be scheduled way in advance). Don’t bring any knives or such with you, Kyle lost a multi-tool because they have a screening process to board the boat. I always wanted to go there and it was so much fun, I loved the views of Manhattan from the Island and the windy boat ride.
After we left the ferry, we hit Wall Street (everything was on lower Manhattan, so we walked as much as we could), we walked around, ate some well-deserved NY pizza (I looooooooove NY pizza, if you like pizza, you MUST try NY style) We ended up stopping at Giorgio’s Pizzeria and it did not disappoint, NY style, I like Cheese pizza the best! I feel like too many toppings obscure the amazing crust.
From Wall street, we made our way to the beautiful World Trade Center Memorial, you may want to skip this step if you’re not ready for it, but it’s a beautiful homage. You can also visit the museum inside the new tower and have a 360 view from the top. I went to the mini museum in 2010 when it was all still being built. They have mementos, timelines, guided tours and remembrance Knick knacks. There is one surviving tree from the whole ordeal and that tree is now marked and protected, the names of the fallen are around the fountain’s edges.
After the memorial, we stopped by Brooklyn Bridge but we probably only made it to the edge (it was SO hot and we were beat and thirsty). I want one day to make it across the bridge (walking haha I have already driven through plenty of times) and maybe get some pictures at sunrise while it’s still not so crowded.
From the bridge, we made our way to Chinatown! Two tips, take CASH, there was only one Bank of America ATM on the edge of it, and most other ATM’s didn’t work, hardly anyone accepted cards. Second tip, hit restrooms BEFORE you get to Chinatown, it was pretty rough finding a half-decent restroom around, even Kyle had a hard time. Oh, one more tip, bring hand sanitizer because you will want to eat there too!
We followed Food Network’s recommendations for our eating choices; we ate at Tasty Dumplings first, they weren’t life-changing but they were good, Tasty Hand-pulled Noodles on the other hand, were SO good, I am not even a huge Chinese food kinda girl, but I loved it! Kyle didn’t care much for them. Keep in mind: Everything there in Chinatown is really honkytonk, and run down, honestly dirty too, but the Noodles didn’t disappoint.
We actually took our noodles with us because I didn’t want to be late for my sunset pictures at the Empire state again, so we ate our tasty noodles at Times Square. There are plenty of restaurants, stores and gift shops there, as you can imagine, most gift shops sell the exact same mugs, tees and trinkets, but you will pay more if you buy them at Times Square.
Empire state building! I would NOT go to NYC and not enjoy at least one of the sky scraper views that they offer (World Trade Center Museum, Rockefeller Center and Empire State Building, there are also bars, restaurants and hotels with rooftop views, and they’re amazing too!) I totally recommend, each will give you a different view of the city, obviously! I had already done the Rockefeller, so I opted for the Empire State this time. It didn’t disappoint, I love the pictures I got!
Last stop, Grand Central Station! This one was more for Kyle, I spent my (very) late nights after partying eating bagels and drinking vitamin water while we waited for our trains to start running again (they don’t run form 1 am to 6 am). Aside from the bagels on the lower floor, there is also a shake shack and delicious brownies around the corner, worth a visit if you’re craving. That was the end of your NYC tour, phew! I think we walked over 12 miles that day, it was something crazy.
NYC Streets & Wall Street
Oh, while on Wall Street, YOU HAVE TO touch the bull there, it;s for good luck and prosperity!
Wall Street from below
World Trade Center Museum
World Trade Center Memorial
View from the Empire state Building at Sunset
View from the Empire state Building at Sunset
Grand Central at night long exposure
Day 3 – Westchester / Chappaqua / Historic Sleepy Hollow / Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Since we were already there, we took the last day to do some slow-paced exploring. We drove to Chappaqua, the town I used to live in, and showed Kyle around, we stopped at Ogden Park for a stroll, sitting and talking by the lake. If you end up in those parts of Westchester, enjoy some food at O’Connor’s public house, they have AWESOME fries and wings. Or the Pizza place in Chappaqua, because NY pizza…
After that we headed back to Sleepy Hollow and visited the famous cemetery, now I am not a fan of cemeteries or ever really visit any of them, but there were some very cool sculptures and mausoleums to be seen. There are also other points of interest in Tarrytown, some old-school shops and antique stores right on Main St., the theater, Lyndhurst Castle and an all you can eat sushi restaurant called Osaka Hibachi & Sushi.
Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
View from the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Ogden Park and the Old Dutch Church