New York City – Almeida Style

The Big Apple did not disappoint last week! This trip we decided to just wing it. No agenda. No schedule. Not even a restaurant reservation or show. We didn’t want to have to be anywhere at a certain time. And it was one of my favorite trips ever! We literally ate our way through the city. I didn’t feel like we took many pictures until I started going through them on the computer. But that’s because Anderson took them all. I was totally lazy with the camera, but he took a ton. Brace yourself. Anderson loves to dream about moving here. And this time we even looked at some apartment and condo listings and figured out that if we sold everything we own we could probably get a nice, roomy 800 square foot place. Yeah! So we agreed that if we can talk Grandma and Grandpa into moving with us, we’ll do it! 😉

Okay, you made it through the pictures! Good for you!
Now… I asked Anderson to help me come up with a list of “How to Do NYC Almeida Style.” Are you excited yet? Ha!
Remember, I didn’t say this was the smartest way, but it’s the Almeida way:

Arriving in the city – Fly in as early as you can. Take a cab straight to your hotel, drop off your bags, (they’ll hold them even though it’s too early to check-in) then hit the ground! Make sure you have plenty of cash for tipping. Also, some stores/restaurants only accept cash. Cab fare varies depending on how far you’re hotel is from the airport, but coming from LGA you can plan on an average of about $50 including tip.

Subway – Get a 7-day unlimited Metrocard for $30. Don’t lose it though. One of us always loses our Metrocard. Get your money’s worth out of that card. Ride it everywhere! It will get you close to pretty much anything you want to do in the city. And make sure you download the NYC Subway KICKMap app. There’s no phone reception in most of the subways, so this app stores the subway map on your phone for easy access. Anderson uses it the whole time we’re there to quickly get us around the subway system. But… know that if you’re traveling on the weekend the schedule completely changes. Good luck with that! People are really helpful, so don’t feel weird asking for directions. Just know that while locals are generally friendly, they don’t want to hear about your kid or pet hamster. Get to the point and keep moving!

Food – Eating cheap in NYC is a completely relative term. It doesn’t mean the same as it does anywhere else. Most “cheap” meals (drink and simple entrée or sandwich) for 2 people will be around $35. Here are a few of our favorite restaurants: There’s a tiny little Italian place in Nolita called Parm that has the BEST baked ziti. Get the pizza knots for an appetizer. Anderson really likes the chicken parmesan sandwich. And he also says to pack your Tums. 🙂 Then there’s Ipanema, a Brazilian place in Mid Town that has amazing legit Brazilian food. And maybe my favorite in the whole city: Amy Ruth’s in Harlem – Best soul food ever! We really like to grab lunch at Shake Shack one day. It really does live up to the hype, and there are so many locations that you’ll be near one at some point! If you don’t eat burgers try the ‘shroom burger. It’s filled with cheese! Our two favorite places for dessert/sweet munchies are Momofuku Milk Bar (I feel very strongly that you have to get the crack pie) and Doughnut Plant (We both think the coconut crème will make your stomach happy). Doughnut Plant is cash only. You can find the donuts at different places all over the city, but for the yummiest, freshest ones we think you should hike it to the lower east side. And if you happen to be in the Financial District and sports bars are your thing (or you’re staying at the Marriott Downtown and want room service) Bill’s Bar & Burger doesn’t disappoint. They have two other locations in Manhattan, but we can’t vouch for those.

Brooklyn – Walk or ride a Citi Bike (if you’re a biker, I’m not. Proof here.) across the Brooklyn Bridge and eat at Grimaldi’s. It’s our favorite pizza in Brooklyn, and it’s cash only. Then head to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for an amazing view of lower Manhattan. It’s breathtaking at night! If it’s a weekend hit Smorgasburg once you get hungry again (ha!) but skip the Brooklyn Flea… unless you’re in the market for produce. We don’t think it’s worth the hike. If vintage shopping is your thing, Carroll Gardens and Williamsburg will not disappoint.

Upper West Side – Wander through the UWS with no agenda. (I love that area and could totally spend a whole afternoon just walking.) Then hit Central Park – Spend hours exploring. Get lost. It’s worth it. There’s so much to see and do! Also, the American Museum of Natural History is on the west side of the park and The Met and Guggenheim are on the east. You know. If museums are your thing.

More Parks – Washington Square Park is beautiful and always full of street performers. Totally entertaining! If you visit at Christmas you have to hang out in Bryant Park. It has ice-skating just like Rockefeller Plaza but isn’t as crowded and also has lots of temporary “Christmas Shops” with good food and unique gifts.

Grand Central Terminal – Get off the subway here and just wander around. It’s beautiful. Stand in the center and just turn in circles as you take it all in. The people watching is pretty good too.

Chelsea – Go to Chelsea Market and grab lunch or an afternoon snack/dessert! Then take it to the High Line and people watch while you eat. The High Line is a public park built on an historic rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. And it’s another one of our favorite spots in the city. There’s a crazy cool exhibit there right now with a bunch of sheep hanging out at a corner gas station. There’s a picture of it above, but it’s pretty far away. We meant to go back and check it out but forgot. Boo! If you’re there this month you have to see it and tell me all about it! Read about it here.

Times Square – I really don’t like this area. Anderson loves it. But I do think it’s one of those things you should probably experience… once.

If you have extra time – Financial District, 911 Memorial – free but you must have a pass to get in, Garment District (walk 39th St between 7th and 8th), Top of the Rock- great views that include the Empire State Building, see a Broadway Show. Get the TKTS app to find discounted show tickets. It’s updated in real time, so you’ll know if you should make the trek to one of the ticket booths or not.

If you have even more time – The Late Show, Lady Liberty – you can get a good look at her from Battery Park or take the ferry over. But know that it will eat a big chunk of your day if you head over and wait in line to see her. We just like to salute her from lower Manhattan! If you’re a major techie nerd you might like the B&H store. It’s huge. HUGE! Anderson loves it. I enjoy a nap on a bench while he shops. Better than outside in a park. 🙂

If you go at Christmastime – Except to catch the Christmas spirit… BIG TIME. Even the worst Scrooge can’t help but get excited after a little taste of NYC during the holidays. I mentioned this above, but make sure you visit Bryant Park. They set up a ton of temporary shops, and there’s a cute ice skating rink too. I like this area better than Rockefeller Plaza at Christmas. It isn’t usually as crowded. But of course, you must see THE TREE at Rockefeller. I mean. Duh. Make sure you walk along 5th Avenue and take in all the shop windows. It’s magical! And I don’t say that word very much. (Or ever!) And The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a fun show!

Things to skip – We (I) do a lot of research on places to eat/things to see, and honestly we’re rarely disappointed. So there’s not much to say here. But I do have to mention that we hate Carnegie Deli. I’m also not a big fan of Magnolia Bakery, but Anderson ordered caramel cheesecake this time and said it’s the best he’s ever had. He’s quite the cheesecake connoisseur too.

Leaving the city – On your last day wake up and shed a tear, then get it together and call to get a late check out. Send your husband down to flirt with the front desk people if necessary. Go cram in all the stuff you haven’t been able to see/eat yet. Then come back to the hotel and either leave your bags like you did when you got there or grab them and get in a taxi to head to the airport. Immediately start planning your next trip!

Okay, how do YOU like to do NYC? What should we try next time? We want to add to the list!
PS- You can see more NYC pics here and here.