About a month or so ago, J and I were discussing our Christmas plans and dreaming about how fun it would be to go to New York at Christmastime — visiting Rockefeller Center, shopping at Macy’s, walking the cold streets lined with holiday decorations. We had a few vacation days left to use for the year, so just for fun, we looked up flights to see if this is something we could even afford. We were shocked and delighted to find $60 tickets from Raleigh to LaGuardia for the days we wanted. A few days later we found an affordable hotel and booked our Christmas present to each other.
Day One: Thursday, December 15
It was an early start, but we managed to arrive in the city at 8:00 am. After we dropped our bags off at our hotel (right by the Empire State building!), we went sightseeing around town. J had only been to New York once before this trip, so I was our tour guide, since I knew the area better as my sister used to live there (hi Carrie!). Our first stop was Bryant Park:
Next we walked to Grand Central Station. Did you hear there is an Apple store in there? It opened a few days before we came. We also found a corridor where you can whisper and hear each other talk through the walls if you stand on opposite ends. It was very cool, even though I was giggling the whole time.
Next we wandered down through the Village and stumbled upon this sweet little shop. The puppies were so cute!
Then we went to Union Square to do a little shopping and book-browsing at The Strand.
In the afternoon, we had the great privilege of going to the David Letterman Show! As soon as we booked the trip, we called to request tickets and found out last Wednesday night that we won. It was an amazing experience – Tom Hanks was the guest! This was hands-down the best part of the trip.
That evening we went to see Jersey Boys on Broadway, which was a Christmas present from J’s parents. Has anyone ever seen it before? It was fantastic. We also had some awesome seats, the front row of the Mezzanine. (Thank you in-laws!)
Day Two: Friday, December 16
Friday morning we woke up early and went to Rockefeller Center to get a peak at the tree and attempt to get on the Today Show. No such luck, but we did get to see the gang in person. :)
Afterwards, we headed uptown to tour the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That place is massive!
After the Met we decided to walk through Central Park to Columbus Circle. I love Central Park. It’s such a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
That evening we took advantage of the free Friday admission at MoMA. It is my favorite NYC museum, and I’m so happy we got a chance to go for free.
Afterwards we walked to Rockefeller Center (with the rest of the world!) and saw the tree lit up and the crowded ice skating rink. We even saw a sweet couple get engaged in front of the tree!
We decided to eat cheap the whole trip (pizza slices, hotdog stands, lunch diners), except for one nice dinner. Friday evening we wandered down to West Village for our nice meal. We went to La Carbonara, which is an Italian restaurant on 14th Street. I didn’t think it was going to be nice, since it had very little curb appeal, but as soon as we stepped in, it was exactly what we were looking for: delicious, lovely and affordable.
Halfway through dinner I realized we were just a few blocks away from Magnolia Bakery, so we walked over to get ourselves a little cupcake for dessert.
After dessert, we went to see Times Square in all its nighttime glory.
Day Three: Saturday, December 17
Saturday morning we ventured down to the Financial District to tour the 9/11 memorial. Apparently you need to get tickets online prior to visiting (who knew?) so we weren’t able to go to the memorial but looked from the gates at the new towers, shopped a little in Century 21, then walked to the Brooklyn Bridge for some sunny photos before heading to the airport in the afternoon.
Congrats to those who made it this far through all of the photos! It was certainly a fast, jam-packed trips but so much fun and the perfect gift for our first Christmas. :)
Update: I have had a few questions on where we stayed, sorry for not adding it above! We stayed at the Stanford Hotel, on W 32nd Street on the corner of Broadway a block away from Macy’s. It was affordable, yet clean. It has a continental breakfast and a subway stop right next to the entrance. Highly recommend for budget-conscious travelers!