NYC: A Guide from a Small Town Southerner - Part II

Since the Part I, we have been back to New York twice. The first time back (our third time together) was at Christmas last year. We went to see the lights, do some shopping, and freeze. Needless to say, it was beautiful - but not as beautiful as this last time (our fourth time together). Okay, I'm lying. There's nothing like New York at Christmas...but this last time was amazing because we had PERFECT weather. 

Two weeks ago, I celebrated my 26th birthday. Jason and I were supposed to go on a work trip to Texas and then we were going to stay over the weekend for fun. At the last minute, the work trip was postponed, but we'd already paid for my flight. So, being the amazing husband he is, Jason called me and said, "Would you possibly want to maybe go to New York instead?" Um, YES! So that's how I got to go to New York for my 26th birthday!


We basically flew all day. Ironically, we had a layover in Houston on the way there and in Dallas on the way back. When we arrived, we took our beloved NYCAirporter to the Port Authority and then took a subway to our hotel from there.  I packed enough for at least two weeks, because New York.

When we arrived at our subway station, I realized that was a super bad idea because I had to lug that junk up a ton of stairs. Thankfully, as previously mentioned my husband is top notch, so he carried my luggage and I got to carry his. I'm still recovering from the stairs though. When we got to the top, we realized there was an escalator and we both laughed/cried at how dumb we are. 

Before we got on the subway for the first time, we bought our 7-day unlimited subway tickets. Even though we were only there from Thursday-Sunday, we have learned the hard way that it's better to go ahead and buy an unlimited pass for $31 rather than have to constantly stop and fill up your ticket every time. 

Finally we arrived at the hotel. This was our second time staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Central Park South. We LOVE it. It's typically affordable, the rooms are a good size [for NYC] and it's a decently central location. 

Our hotel was all that and more, except when the fire alarm went off at 4am and we were staying on the top (34th) floor. Notice all those lovely folks in their normal clothes...they're all dead to me because I was out there in Tinkerbell jammies like a normal persona at 4am! Rant over.

After we freshened up and rested a little bit, we got our fancy clothes on and headed to Tavern on The Green for my birthday dinner. I had been there once, but Jason had never been there, so we decided that it would be a good 'special occasion' dinner spot.

Birthday dinner!

Once we finished our delicious and romantic dinner, we walked around the park for a little bit and then went back to the hotel to change and rest. After that, we ventured out to Times Square to people watch and enjoy people being out  and about at 11:00 at night. 

Super legit setup. I love the people in this city.

Tired, but having a blast trying to run out the clock on my birthday! Jason reppin' his t-shirt from our last trip.


We had lofty plans to go see the Today Show, but since we woke up at 4am the day before and didn't go to sleep until after midnight, we decided to sleep in. It was glorious. 

After a bagel and some coffee, we took the train down to Herald Square and walked over to the High Line. I've been meaning to visit this fun little attraction for several years, but every time we have been in New York, it was either February or December = cold! May was the perfect time to see the flowers, people watch, and enjoy the sunshine! I also loved seeing all of the new revitalization and development going on around that area. 

After walking the High Line, we ended up in Chelsea and explored the Chelsea Market and some other stores. It was so much fun, especially since we've never really spent much time in that area. 

It was time for lunch, so we decided on pizza. After several tries at "authentic New York pizza" on our previous vacations, Jason and I decided that we're just not that into it. So I looked up a place to get deep-dish "Chicago-style" pizza. Of all places in the world to find good deep-dish, outside of Chicago, I knew New York would be our best bet. Sure enough, there's a restaurant called Emmett's in Soho that had good reviews on deep-dish, so Jason and I headed that way for lunch. Much to our [stomachs'] demise, Emmett's is only open for dinner on Friday nights.

[NOTE: If you're planning out your meals ahead of time, make sure to notice restaurant hours for specific days! Schedules change, and we learned the hard way.]

After hungrily wandering for several minutes, we decided to just flip-flop our lunch and dinner plans. So, we hopped a subway (thank you unlimited ticket) and headed up to one of the best restaurants I've ever eaten at...and as Jason would describe it, "heaven on earth!" My cousin lives in the city and always gives the best restaurant recommendations, but I'm pretty sure this has been his best yet (thanks Rocky!). Le Relais De Venise L’Entrecôte only serves one dish - steak and french fries. Its sister restaurants are in London and Paris. The steak was incredible. The fries were incredible. The sauce is out of this world. But the best part? They bring you seconds! I typically make fun of Jason for ordering french fries with his steak at nice steak restaurants, but I stand corrected...he's been on to something all along. Maybe he should have been French? The only downside (for Jason) is that they don't have ketchup.

After lunch we went back to our hotel for a little rest, that turned into a two hour rest (whoops!). When we finally made it back out for dinner, we hopped the subway and headed back down to Soho for some We weren't SUPER hungry yet, so we decided to walk around a bit, and guess what? I saw the inside of the internet, and it looks like Soho. Everything I shop for online from Warby Parker to Birchbox is in Soho. Like, real storefronts! It was awesome! After a little shopping, we went back to Emmett's for dinner, and let me tell you - it was 110% worth the wait! 

After dinner we decided to go see a movie. Jason loves to see movies in New York City, so we typically try to do that if we have the time. We saw While We're Young, which was perfect because it takes place in New York! We walked to the movie after dinner, which took us right through NYU's campus and it was so interesting to just be around all of the liveliness. #collegelife #wefeltold  

We even took a few selfies in Washington Square Park :)


When we woke up on Saturday, we realized we'd slept in until 10:00 again, but this time we just gave into it and didn't care. No Today Show for us this trip. After grabbing coffee and a bagel again, we headed off in search of flea markets. We found several, including the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market. We didn't buy anything, but we did feel like we were in the opening scene of a Woody Allen film. It was cool to see, but a little out of the way if you're not looking for something specific. We also walked through the UrbanSpace Garment District market, which was not as out of the way and was actually pretty cool. Go hungry!

Totally living a Woody Allen film.

After a little market browsing, we headed up to the Upper West Side for lunch. Jason and I always talk about how we somehow always tend to end up in the Upper West Side. We just love that area of the city because it's a lot quieter than midtown, but it's still in the middle of everything. We ate at Shake Shack, which is very unlike us because it's a chain, but I was just really craving a burger and fries and we can always count on the food being good there. 

We wrapped up eating lunch and headed to Central Park. We usually go to Hillsong NYC when we're in New York because, well, it's awesome. But this time when I looked at their website for service times, I saw that all of their services were being redirected to #occupythepark on May 9th. What is #occupythepark, you ask? Well, it was only an awesome church service with Hillsong United and Carl Lentz at Rumsey Playfield in the middle of Central Park! I'll just say, it was one of my most favorite New York experiences.

We had to wait in the standby line for about an hour, but it was totally worth it because got tickets! 

We got to sit up high on the bleachers, which is perfect for me because I could see!! #shortpersonproblems

For dinner we had sushi at a place we've been before called Kodama Sushi. We always try to eat sushi when we're on vacation, and this is the place where that all began. We ate at Kodama on our first New York trip back in February 2013. It's an old-ish favorite. Jason likes it because he can get teriyaki chicken and I like it because I can get a ton of sushi for a decent price.

After dinner we walked down 5th Avenue, because New York. We also stopped at Rockefeller Plaza and Magnolia Bakery. When we were in New York for Christmas, we tried to go to Magnolia Bakerytwice, but it was so crowded that we just didn't want to wait. This time, I was happy to find out what all the fuss was about. 



We woke up early for the first time in several days to get to the airport. We decided not to take the NYCAiporter this time because, well, we wanted to try something different. Instead, we took the E train to Jackson Heights. After that, we had a Lyft pick us up and take us the rest of the way to the airport. Lyft is basically like Uber, but it's Jason's preferred car service when he travels for work. PLUS, Lyft gives you $20 off your first ride when you create an account, and since I didn't have an account before New York, our ride to the airport was free + $3 tip! Yay! It's always hard to leave New York because we love it so much, but I'm always happy to arrive home to beautiful Birmingham, to our comfy house, and to our spunky puppy! 

Leavin' on a jet plane. P.S. I'm pretty sure the kind woman who took this thought we were brother and sister because she said we should text this to our mom for Mother's Day. Weird + Gross. #weremarried #relatedbylaw #andlove


Where we ate

  • Tavern on The Green
    Central Park West & W 67th St, New York, NY 10023
    Fine dining

  • Le Relais De Venise L’Entrecôte
    590 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022, b/t 51st St & 52nd St
    French, steak and french fries

  • Emmett's
    50 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
    Deep-dish pizza

  • Shake Shack - Upper West Side location
    366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024, b/t 77th St & 78th St
    Burgers, fries, shakes

  • Kodama Sushi
    301 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036, b/t 9th Ave & 8th Ave

  • Magnolia Bakery - Rockefeller Plaza location
    1240 Ave of the Americas, New York, NY 10020


Where we stayed:

Recommended Attractions/Areas:

Thanks so much for reading about my vacation! I am by no means an expert AT ALL, but I'd be happy to answer any questions about our vacation experience, how we travel, where we get ideas from, or how we plan/budget for our trips!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Posted on May 21, 2015 and filed under Travel.