Is there anything better than a girls trip? (No there is not.)
I was scheduled to fly in and out of LaGuardia in February of this year for work, and I could NOT waste that opportunity to see some more of beautiful NYC. I had been there once before in college, as part of a career fair trip. That trip was quick and we really only had time to hit Times Square and didn’t eat at any place that wasn’t a chain. I was also missing my Pittsburgh girls (we moved from Pittsburgh to Wilmington, NC in July of 2013) and thought this would be a great opportunity to see them and enjoy a fun place together. Luckily, they were totally on board (good friends right there, to agree to meet you in a frigid, potentially snowy city in February) and we started the planning!
Picking a hotel was relatively easy, we knew we wanted to see things all throughout the island, so we decided to stay in Midtown (for info on the Manhattan neighborhoods, see here). Megan is a planning MASTER and found a hotel for a great price in approximately 5.2 minutes (Our Facebook group message from putting this trip together is seriously the most efficient thing I’ve ever been a part of. Quick and easy decision on EVERYTHING.). We also tentatively put together a list of things we wanted to do:
- Eat at Morimoto’s (Megan’s sister had been here before and recommended it)
- Go to the top of the Empire State Building
- Visit 9/11 Museum
- Find some New York pizza
- Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge
- See Times Square
- Go to Serendipity’s for frozen hot chocolate
We all arrived in the city around 2pm on Friday and decided to just do some general exploring and walking around. We headed to Times Square and had some fun looking at all the signs and buildings. We went into the M&M shop and ogled all of the columns of different colors and flavors (dark chocolate almond <3). We each walked out with a giant sack of M&Ms (originally intended to be gifts for others, but which ended up being excellent snacks for US for the rest of the weekend. sorrynotsorry).
We walked a good ways north before deciding to cross over to 5th Avenue and browse all of the fun stores on our way back to the hotel. Some highlights include looking at engagement rings at Tiffany’s (we are all happily married, but ya know. Tiffany’s!) and picking out makeup at the giant Sephora. We were basically a salesperson’s dream in Sephora. Any time one of us picked anything up, the other two were like “OOH what’s that?? A sponge in the shape of a cone? I DEFINITELY NEED THAT, hand me one!” I think we all three walked out a significant number of literally the same products.
We had reservations for that night at Morimoto’s NYC. We made a reservation in advance of our trip so we had plenty of time to anticipate and browse their online menu in excitement. Morimoto’s definitely has a sleek, modern and upscale vibe. The bathrooms especially were the most luxurious and complex that I’ve ever had the honor of using.
Pretty much everything on this menu looked fantastic, Japanese and sushi are in my top 3 favorite types of foods and we had a really hard time choosing. We conferred with our waiter and ended up getting the Shrimp Tempura appetizer and the Sea Bass, Braised Black Cod and Ishi Yaki Buri Bop for our meals. And a bottle o’ wine, natch.
After dinner, we went to a bar that was nearish to our hotel and had a couple of glasses of wine. Wine and girl talk and listening to T. Swift was pretty perfect. After we were
a few several glasses in, we started talking about what to do the next day and realized while googling that the Empire State Building stayed open until 3 am! Soo…we should just go NOW (approx. 1 am) and then we have more time for other stuff tomorrow! Great idea! We aren’t buzzed at all! We teetered and zig-zagged our way over to the Empire State Building and made instant friends with the guard.
It was one of those situations where in our heads and recollection, Brock (the guard, first name basis) loved us and was totally entertained by our life stories and toootally agreed that it was CRAZY how late the ESB stayed open! Can you even believe it! But in reality he was probably like omfg get these drunk girls away from me, I’m just trying to do my damn job in this 10 degree weather.
We made our long trek up, and lo and behold, on level 86 (I think…things are rather fuzzy), there was Brock again! OMG BROCK ARE YOU A MAGICIAN?! HOW DID YOU GET HERE SO FAST?? IT’S US!!!! He was considerably less thrilled to be reunited and tried to quickly usher us through (that’s the last we ever saw of him 😦 I hope Brock is happy, wherever he is right now).
When we made it to the top, the wind was whipping around and it was even more freezing than it had been down on the ground (soberingly so). But the views were really amazing and so worth it! It was really cool to see all of Manhattan and beyond all lit up. I always forget how small NYC actually is, it’s crazy to think that there is so much (art, food, culture, history) packed into one little island. We were also basically the only people up there at this time of night. If you find yourself with some time late night in NYC, I would definitely say tackle the Empire State Building. The lights were so cool to see, and it took us much less time overall than if we gone during the day with crowds.
After we made it back down, late night pizza was extremely necessary. We enjoyed a few slices, attacked our M&Ms, and then hit the hay.
Day 2 started off a little slow. We all slept in a little more than we probably would have liked, but didn’t feel bad about it since we were SO productive the night before. BAGELS were on the agenda and we used Yelp to find Best Bagels & Coffee, which was a highly rated nearby bagel shop.
We were all really anxious to check out the new 9/11 memorial and museum, so we headed south to the site of the former Twin Towers. This was a very sombering and heavy activity, but so, so worth it. It seems weird to say we enjoyed it or that it was “good”, but the museum is very well done and a worthwhile stop for anyone visiting. The museum delved into so many aspects of the preceding days, the day of (initial news reports, physics and physical debris of the planes and attacks, rescue efforts, activity on the planes, etc) and the aftermath (continued rescue efforts, survivors, activity in the Middle East). The museum also had a lot of the more disturbing videos, audio, and images in separate rooms with warnings, so that you (or young kids with you) can avoid, which I thought was a nice touch.
We were all a little emotional and disoriented (or maybe that was just me, as someone who is not emotional as a general rule…) after our morning. We decided that food would be a good next step and headed back north through Soho and Little Italy to get some pizza from Lombardi’s.
The pizza certainly lived up to its hype, what you see here is merely 1/3 of the pizza I put down. Lombardi’s claim to fame is that it was the FIRST pizza place in New York to serve up the thin, Neopolitan style crust. We decided to keep it simple with mozzarella, tomato and basil. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a BAD piece of pizza in this area, but we were really happy with our restaurant choice. We also had a good time walking and wandering through this part of the city, we found several good shopping spots and picked up some fun stuff (my husband lucked into me buying myself an early bday gift from him)!
After our morning full of walking we decided to head back to our hotel so that we could drop off our stuff and rest our poor, poor feet for a hot second. We also did a quick check of our “to-do” list, so that we could evaluate our next move. The only two items yet to cross off were the Brooklyn Bridge and Serendipity’s. We rallied ourselves for another walk and headed back south to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The bridge was really beautiful and I was especially impressed by the overall size and the organization of the lanes and bikers/walkers. Much different than the bridges in little ol’ Wilmington, NC. More water, lights, buildings, etc surrounded us and we spent some time just looking around and enjoying the views!
We ended up catching a cab since back to our hotel, due to the fact that our feet were dead and it was cold af by this point. Since we had a late lunch none of us were feeling particularly hungry. We briefly discussed heading to Serendipity’s for dinner and frozen hot chocolate, but we called and they had an hour+ wait, and we weren’t sure that their non-frozen hot chocolate items would even be all that special. Also, with the weather, frozen anything wasn’t sounding especially good. Next time, Serendipity’s. Instead, we walked down the street and stumbled onto Parker and Quinn. We decided to split a bottle of wine and just get some appetizers to share. The food here was great, the meatball sampler was especially good (but doesn’t look like it’s on their menu anymore?). It had several different kinds of meatballs with unique combinations of meats and spices. There was a lamb/cilantro meatball that was my special favorite.
Early flights and general exhaustion from the day eventually got to us, and we headed back to our room around 11 pm. I had such a great time this weekend, and I think the combination of traveling + girl time was good for the soul. We spend the rest of the evening packing and talking about what US city we would take on next!
What major US city is next on your list? Help us with ideas for our next trip!