A Weekend in New York City
Nothing screams “weekend getaway” like escaping to the City that Never Sleeps. We wanted to celebrate our anniversary in style and did just that. I hadn’t been to NYC in probably 15 years, and Brian hadn’t been in years as well. We did our research and made sure we had everything in place to follow COVID restrictions - it honestly was a breeze. Every place inside required a mask, so we stocked up on clean masks. We went from Friday morning to Sunday night and hit the ground running as soon as we got there. I do highly recommend making reservations for dinner if you know where you want to eat!
Here’s how we did it, and our recommendations for a full 48-hour visit.
How We Got There
If you’ve ever been to NYC you know the drivers are aggressive, and finding parking is a joke. Most hotels have valet parking but for our stay, it would have cost as much as the room. We opted to go the “old fashion” way and took the train. I don’t think I’ll ever travel another way again to the city! AMTRAK made it so easy and with wifi on the trains, Brian and I knocked out a bunch of work in the 2.5 hour trip. We were required to wear masks the whole time for safety.
Where We Stayed
I couldn’t recommend our hotel enough. We stayed at the Marriott Pulse in Midtown - and it was a block from 5th Avenue with views of the Empire State Building from our hotel terrace. It had every feel of a quaint boutique hotel, and the staff was impeccable. It was clean, accessible, and they had a ton of great amenities for their guests.
Every day from 3 pm-4 pm we had complimentary wine and cheese at the lobby bar. They provided tours around the city, walking tours of certain neighborhoods and parks, and even would book tickets on our behalf if we had wanted to see a show.
The hotel room was stunning - and oddly spacious - considering we were in the middle of the city. Complete with coffee makers, irons, a great closet, love seat, chair, and side tables, we couldn’t have asked for a better room. Our view looked right out at the Empire State Building, like any room on the south-side of the building. It was impeccable. We love staying at Marriott properties when we travel because we know what to expect and the level of perfection we will receive.
We got to the city at 10am, and our room was not ready so we dropped off the bags, freshened up, and got an Uber to East Village. There were a few spots we had scouted out, and had plans to spend a little time in different neighborhoods in the city. East Village had all the charm and eclectic energy we wanted to kick off our weekend. We walked through NYU campus buildings and found some great little instagrammable spots.
Our first stop was at the Oldest Irish Pub in America - McSorley’s Pub. Brian had heard about it and we knew we needed to check it out. It snuck up on us in a row of crowded apartment buildings and restaurants, and almost looked closed. We found the door and crept into a dark, moody pub with sawdust covering the floors. We were greeted by the owner and asked what we were drinking - only two choices at the whole bar: Light Ale or Dark Ale. There was memorabilia for days… the walls, tops of every surface, and even ceiling were covered in memorabilia from the last 165 years that the pub had been open. I cannot urge you enough to check out the history of this amazing pub. We stayed for a round or two, sat by the wood-burning stove in the middle of the pub, and headed back into the cold.
After changing for dinner, we headed to the Financial District to see Ground Zero and the World Trade Center memorial. It was breathtaking. Truly remarkable. After spending some time there, we decided to walk into the Oculus - not knowing what it was. Whoa. A massive, underground shopping mall with luxury stores. We wandered around a little and found what we were really looking for - Eataly. It had been recommended to us by an older friend of Brian, who is also a huge foodie and former New Yorker. I think that was one of the coolest places we’ve been to. It’s a massive Italian market type of place with fresh pastas, a butcher and meat counter, cheese for days, homemade gelato, and a drool-worthy pastry counter. Previously, we had only been to Italian markets like DiBruno Bros. in Philadelphia, but this was about 8 times the size, and we learned that it wasn’t even the flagship location - which was even bigger! We had a little liquid appetizer for dinner at the bar in the middle of everything (perfect for people-watching).
Dinner was at the Bar at Momofuku Ko. A place I had been looking forward to for months. We love David Chang’s concepts, recipes, and own most of his cookbooks (Brian went through a phase). The Korean-American fusion is everything you could want. We were immersed into this cool culture from the moment we walked in the door. Each bar menu was handwritten each day to reflect what specials and seasonal options were available. We had a blast looking back at other menus! There are tables to reserve, but we had Bar Table reservations and that is 100% the way to go. The kitchen is open, so sitting there you can see how they make and prepare every dish that goes out. Our kind of dinner and a show! We got a handful of small plates to share, which is our favorite way to eat when we go out. Cocktails and wine were outstanding, such cool creations and varieties. First course was Cold Fried Chicken with Ranch and Caviar. Phenomenal. I could have eaten that every day of my life. Next was a burger with foie gras. It was everything I never knew I needed. I think foie gras should be on every burger from now on. Lastly, we shared the Chicken Friend Steak. It cut like butter and the breading they used resembled Doritos. It was the perfect crunch with a hint of spice. It was so good.
Not quite ready to end the night, we went to the German Bierhaus right next to the hotel - and it was a rowdy time. It was packed with groups of people and really loud. We got the fries and some snacks, all of which were delicious. We love German restaurants and this didn’t disappoint. Exactly what you’d expect - long tables with benches, a few high-top tables, and lots of bar seats. The perfect way to end the evening.
We woke up nice and early (thanks to the sunshine in our hotel room), got ready, made a rough plan of attack, and bundled up for another day in freezing cold NYC. Even though it was super cold, we made the trek up to Times Square. I have literally never seen it so empty, even though it was 8:30 am! There’s something magical about walking up to Times Square and soaking it all in.
From there, we kept heading towards Central Park and getting hungry. We walked along Central Park South and found lots of places to eat, but there were long waits. Finally, we ended up at a NYC brunch landmark - Sarahbeth’s. It was perfect. We sat in the front window and got to people-watch while we ate. The food was outstanding, and I still dream about the 5-Flower Mimosa!
After brunch, we walked over to Central Park, not sure if we were going to walk through, or just find a few hotspots. Our dilemma was solved when we started chatting with a Pedi-Cab driver - and knew a ride through Central Park was exactly what we needed! Our driver, nicknamed Smiley, gave us a full history of Manhattan, showed us where all the famous movie film spots were, and took a ton of pictures for us. If you’ve never been to Central Park or want a really great time for an hour or so, definitely budget for a Pedi-Cab tour. SO worth it!
It was cold and warming up was a huge priority. It didn’t take much convincing for me to tell Brian I wanted to sit at the Champagne Bar at the Plaza Hotel. The hotel is breathtaking and the Champagne Bar didn’t disappoint. We got a bottle of Moet & Chandon and relaxed, chatted with the bartender, and enjoyed celebratory macaroons for our anniversary weekend.
Dinner that night was the penultimate moment of our trip: the Chef’s Tasting at Le Bernadin. It still baffles me how we landed a coveted reservation, but I’m forever thankful. From the moment we walked in the door, it was pristine, white-glove service. We started with cocktails as we perused the menu, even though we knew the tasting was the real reason we were there. The food was impeccable. I could go on and on about the tasting, and describe all 8 of the courses with the wine pairing - it was that memorable. By the time we left dinner, our tummies were full and we were so tired.
Sunday morning we woke up and packed up - but didn’t leave. Our train home wasn’t until 3pm, and there were still a few things left we wanted to do! We caught a cab to Brooklyn and found ourselves a great little bakery to get pastries and coffee. A block over was the infamous Brooklyn Bridge DUMBO view. Talk about Instagrammable… the street was packed with people getting pictures just like us!
We wandered around a little, looking in the windows at the cutest shops and art galleries before heading up to the government buildings. Brian had me walking a long way, only to find out that he was taking me to the walking path that would lead us over the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve always wanted to walk the bridge! I was so thankful the weather was the nicest it had been all weekend.
After we were back on solid ground, we got caught in the middle of a production crew that was filming on the steps of the NYC Courthouse for an episode of Law & Order. It was so fun to watch!!! Chinatown was close by, and it’s always a destination for Brian and I when we travel. Find Chinatown. It was incredible - and massive. There were outside markets galore with cool, crazy ingredients and spices. The smells were enthralling.
Our last stop was a late lunch at a very historical landmark - Katz’s Deli. Brian was giddy and I understand why! The pastrami was piled high, it was melt-in-your-mouth good, and I could hardly finish a sandwich. We got the Katz’s ale, which was also delicious. Beer and Pastrami are a match made in Heaven.
The final stop was to get pastries for the girls before we got on the train and headed home. I was exhausted, our tummies were so full, and it was the best time.
Before this trip, I never fully understood the appeal of NYC. And now I can’t wait to go back.