The Big Apple. NYC. Manhattan.
My wife and I had never been to the east coast prior to our honeymoon. When we were trying to decide where to go, my wife wanted to explore and I wanted to sit on a beach and do nothing. Two very different things. Long story short, we ended up settling on a New England cruise. It felt like the best of both worlds. I could relax and we would be able to explore at all of our port stops. We ended up not enjoying the cruise as much as the rest of our trip, but that’s another story for another time. Our cruise left from NYC so we figured why not arrive a few days early and explore NYC.
We flew into LGA late on September 10th. Not knowing whether or not it would be difficult to get into the city, I decided to book an airport hotel and then we would head into Midtown Manhattan in the morning. Our flight got delayed coming into LGA and the hotel shuttle took forever. Overall, it was a long night.
We woke up the following morning and had two full days before our cruise embarked. Our first day was primarily dedicated to Central Park and a Broadway show. Through the Chase UR Portal, I purchased bike rental vouchers for four hours. It ended up costing like $14/person, which was a lot cheaper than renting straight from the vendor. Central Park was one of our favorite adventures. It is beautiful and much bigger than I anticipated. Biking is pretty much the only way to get around the whole park. However, it was kind of a pain to lock up our bikes every time we wanted to stop and explore.
We wrapped up our Central Park biking and headed back to Times Square where we waited in line for same-day tickets at TKTS. They offer discounted tickets for several Broadway shows later that evening. The booths open around 3pm, but we probably got there around 3:45pm. We waited in line for roughly half an hour. After talking with some of the staff members, we decided to see A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder. It ended up costing $60/per ticket. The shows don’t start till 8pm so we headed back to our hotel
room to rest up before dinner.
We made reservations and grabbed dinner at a place called Lillie’s that had good reviews on Yelp. When we arrived at the restaurant I was so glad we had made reservations because the place was packed with people. After we finished eating we headed to the theater. We had great seats for the show, which was funny and entertaining.
The next day we planned on heading to the downtown Manhattan (i.e. Wall Street, Battery Park). Our main stop was the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. As soon as we had decided that we were going to go to NYC for part of our honeymoon, I booked tickets to go to the top of the Statue of Liberty Crown. They only sell 240 tickets/day to go up to the top and they often sell out 3 months in advance. You can book your tickets as early as 6 months in advance, which I would highly suggest doing. They don’t sell out of tickets to the pedestal, which is also pretty cool. You have to book your tickets through this website: Statue Cruises. The first step is getting down to Battery Park from Midtown. It was much further than I anticipated. To make matters worse, the subway line that runs north/south was undergoing repairs that weekend so we could only take it halfway there and then had to catch a bus shuttle the rest of the way.
The Statue of Liberty was pretty cool and I highly suggest going up to the top of the crown while you are still able to physically. The staircase up to the top is quite the climb. As one might figure, there is quite a bit of security to get to the statue of liberty. There are lockers available to lock up your stuff.
I think my wife and I enjoyed Ellis Island the most though. To be able to walk through those halls and catch a glimpse of what it must have been like to be an immigrant was breathtaking. The self-guided audio tour was great and we enjoyed just walking around the museum.
After we got back to Battery Park, we decided to walk back north where we went by the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Wall Street. As we hopped back on the subway, we debated on what to do that evening since our cruise left the following afternoon. We went back to hotel and found a nearby pizza shop (again found via Yelp). We aren’t quite sure what it was about this pizza, but it was one of the best meals we had on our honeymoon. After this we decided to utilize the New York Explorer Pass that I had bought at Costco. You can find out more about the Explorer Pass here, but long story short the Costco one allowed us to visit four different attractions. For our first attraction, we decided to hop on the Night Tour of NYC (by CitySights). What we didn’t account for was the fact that it would be pouring rain during half of it. It was nice to take the bus tour and see a little bit of Brooklyn, which we probably wouldn’t have had time to see otherwise.
Our cruise got back into New York on a Sunday and our flight didn’t leave until Monday night. So we had about a day and half when our cruise got back in port. We were pretty tired of being stuck on a boat so we quickly dropped our bags off at the hotel to hold while we explored more of NYC. We started off the day at Top of the Rock, which provided one of my favorite views of New York City. We used our New York Explorer Pass for access, which I mentioned earlier.
The next stop was just next door, which was a stage tour of Radio City Music Hall. To make things even cooler, we happened to show up on a day when we were able to actually stand up on the stage. After seeing the facilities, we definitely want to go back and see the Christmas show with the Radio City Rockettes.
We then made our way over to Midtown East, where we took an audio tour of Grand Central Station and then walked through Bryant Park and the New York City Library.
Later that night we used our NY Explorer Pass to go up the Empire State Building. It felt like a queue for a ride at Disneyland… except there was no ride to look forward to at the end. Instead, we got up to the over crowded observatory deck where it was windy and we had to fight to get to the edge of the deck. Overall, we felt that Top of the Rock was definitely a better experience than the packed Empire State Building. Plus… You can’t see the most iconic building of the NYC skyline from the Empire State Building because you’re on it!
The following day we decided to sleep in, which meant we had roughly 3-4 hours to kill before we had to catch a cab to JFK. We decided to go back to one of our favorite stops… Central Park. It was nice to just walk around this time and not be worried about where to store the bicycles.
We used the app GETT, which is an uber-like service, to get from Midtown Manhattan to JFK. The driver was one of the most aggressive and dangerous drivers I’ve ever ridden in a car with. My wife and I both feared for our lives at time during that drive. He definitely got a bad review. Once we got to the airport, it took over an hour to get our bag checked in for our flight on American Airlines. This flight was an award flight booked with Avios. We somehow got priority access printed on our boarding passes, which meant we got to go through a shorter TSA line. It still took us about 35 minutes to get through security. If we had been stuck in the regular TSA line, I’m pretty sure it would have been closer to an hour. Lucky for us, we got to the airport two and a half hours early, which meant we arrived at our gate 10 minutes before the flight started boarding.
In conclusion, here are some of my thoughts/tips for New York City:
- Eat some NYC pizza
- Most hotels will hold your luggage for you if you can’t check in early. Don’t forget to tip the bellman though.
- Visit Top of the Rock > Empire State Building
- Book Broadway tickets early or try for day of tickets through TKTS
- Book Statue of Liberty Crown Tickets early
- Give yourself plenty of time to get through security at JFK
- Have lunch in Central Park