We took a trip to NYC post-pandemic when NYC first opened. Traveling to NYC during the pandemic was different, but all my favorites stayed the same! I have taken several trips (about 40) to NYC over the last 10 years. I took my sweet niece and my fifteen-year-old daughter for my niece’s graduation present, we waited for over a year and a half to celebrate and take this trip to NYC! It was about time.
New York City is my favorite place in America. I am drawn to the city and I feel like my best, free self in NYC. Traveling to NYC is exciting and you can always find your favorite eateries, try some new ones and the entertainment is always changing for something new to do.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
Firstly, when traveling to NYC, a must and a duty as an American citizen or someone visiting New York City are to see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and Freedom Tower.
This Memorial is my number one recommendation and must-do in New York City. Every time I visit New York City, I make it a point to visit the Memorial and pay my respects. 9/11 is one of the most significant events in United States history, one of the most traumatic and devastating. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is so beautifully done.
The Memorial site is calm, quiet, and a time of reflection and honor. The lump in my throat never goes away, my heart trying to grasp the events that day and what people and families of those lost went through. If you have children with you, it is a learning opportunity about the events that transpired on September 11, 2001, and a vital lesson of empathy.
The stillness of the Memorial is something to take in. There is something about this Memorial that somehow fills you with sadness yet peacefulness all in one. It is a feeling I cannot describe, but something everyone should experience in their lifetime.
The silence, the reflection, the open skies above, the immense sadness takes your breath away. For me, this is the most beautiful place in New York City. Every time I visit, there is an emotional connection left in your body that you cannot fully comprehend.
If you have a few days and plan on seeing the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and few other major attractions like going up the Empire State Building, I suggest the CityPass saving some money on six major attractions in NYC.
If you are short on time, the C3 Pass, which saves on 3 major attractions for your trip to NYC. It saves you about 41%. New York attractions are costly; saving where you can is important.
Ride Bikes Or Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
One of my favorite things to do when I travel to NYC is riding on Citi Bikes or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. It is so much fun. Walking across or biking across this charming bridge is a must-do when sightseeing in New York City. The locals love the Brooklyn Bridge too.
From the Brooklyn Side, there are two entrances to the bridge; the pedestrian walkways begin at Tillary Street and Boerum Place. The second entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge is the underpass at Washington Street, and it’s a stairway to a ramp that leads to the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.
I always have entered the bridge from the Manhattan side, to do so, there is one entrance at City Hall Park on Centre Street.
If you are traveling the subway from either the Brooklyn or Manhattan side of the bridge, I found Google Maps App gives the best directions. I highly recommend; Google Maps gives you step-by-step directions to which subway to take, where you need to walk after, directly to your location. It is a lifesaver for me and the best app for directions in NYC, and it even beats the subway-specific apps.
Download the Citi Bike App before arriving in NYC to access the bikes easily. The Brooklyn side and the Manhattan side of the bridge have bikes near the entrances. The hike up walking or biking is quite the feat, be prepared and make sure you have a water bottle. You will get a fantastic view of the Manhattan Bridge.
My suggestion is not to be afraid to pull over your bike or stop walking to take as many pictures as you want. People will be in the way but get your shot.
There are benches and side paths for bikes to take pictures. People and bikers get aggressive if you are in the way. So be it, I say. People will also be in your way trying to get their pictures and shots and will do anything to get theirs; you need to do the same. From the wise words of the movie Bring it On, “be aggressive, be, be aggressive.” Just a little heads up and tip!
Moreover, you will need at least 30 minutes to walk across the mile-long bridge on foot. To bike, maybe 20 minutes and patience with the walkers and aggressive bike riders.
Stroll Through Brooklyn Heights
If you walk or bike over the bridge from Manhattan, I suggest you grab a bite to eat in the charming neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights when traveling to NYC. It is my favorite neighborhood (my future house is located at 31 Pineapple Street????) The streets are charming, lined with carriage homes and beautifully maintained brownstones.
Head over to Brooklyn Bridge Promenade to take some stunning photos of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, with little obstruction from other people and bike riders. Then head on over and grab a nice meal and ice-cold beer at Henry Street Ale House.
Eat at the Oldest Pizzeria in NYC
Every trip to NYC, I eat at the “America’s first pizzeria” (and my favorite pizza in the world), Lombardi’s Pizza. That given, You can call me a tourist if you would like, but pizza places do not last over 100 years, only feeding tourists. Lombardi’s makes perfectly made pizza.
Lombardi’s is my favorite pizza, and I will fight to the death to say it is one of the best pizzas ever. It is a delicious, perfectly cooked, freshly made-to-order pie.
This pizza has been perfected. The restaurant is quaint, charming and it’s an experience. I eat this pizza every time I come to New York City; will continue to eat at Lombardi’s, will recommend it to friends for a lifetime. I have been to NYC well over 40 times, and I have eaten here every time.
Lombardi’s Pizza 32 Spring St New York, NY 10012
Eat the Best Cheesecake…Ever
After eating your divine pizza, walk a very short walk around the corner to Eileen’s Special Cheesecake. A tiny little store that barely holds three people, this little shop serves up some of the best, if not the best, cheesecake in the world.
Eileen’s Special Cheesecakes offers whole cheesecakes or perfectly bite-sized cheesecakes that are light, airy, and simply delicious.
My favorite, strawberry. On this trip to NYC, we came three times, twice a 30-minute ride and walk on the subway. My daughter who claimed “she doesn’t like cheesecake” wanted to come back twice after our first.
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake 17 Cleveland Place, New York, NY 10012
Eat the Best, Most Expensive Brunch of Your Life
I love this restaurant. I save extra to eat here. It is my splurge. The rest of the time in NYC I eat the donuts off corner carts and bagel shops because I have spent my budget at Sarabeth’s. It is completely worth it. Everything I have ever tried here is amazing and consistent.
The food is simple but fancy, the coffee is strong and their preserves are great. I love the Central Park location, I actually recommend that location, make your reservations because it fills up sometimes a month in advance.
Of Course, Explore Central Park
Of course, when I am traveling to NYC, I go to Central Park. Central Park is beautiful, lush with flowers, trees, rocks to climb, parks for kids. I always find something new exploring Central Park.
Therefore, if there are spots in Central Park you want to see specifically, make sure you research it and map it out. I suggest starting at the east side at the Plaza Hotel after eating at Sarabeth’s. The park is so big, and there is so much to see. We always get a popsicle at one of the vendors or a hot coffee if it’s cold and start strolling.
We also grab a lunch to go from Pret-a-Manger, which has several locations around the city, and have a picnic on one of the open fields. I do not like to have a plan, I like to just explore and relax.
I love going to NYC. It is one of my favorite places in America. I hope you have a wonderful time on a trip to NYC. Try not to get overwhelmed, stay safe, and have the time of your life! If you need some suggestions for budget, but beautiful hotels you can check it out here!
This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for the links used at no obligation or cost to you 😉