Summer Vacation Travel Diary

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I just got back from a mini vacation to New York City with a couple of my best friends from high school. My friend, Mitch, had never been, I had been twice, and Nina had visited last summer. It was a fun trip in a few different aspects. 1) We stayed at an Air BnB for our first time, 2) We are all 21 now and 3) We did a mix of touristy things and also found some local gems that we wouldn’t have been able to find without the help of social media.

We stayed in Brooklyn – which ended up being a bit of a hike to get to Manhattan (about a mile walk to the subway, then a 20-45 minute train ride depending on what part of Manhattan you get off at), but saving money to stay in Brooklyn was definitely worth it. I would recommend dealing with the commute to save a ton of money that you would be paying for a hotel.

Below are a few things that we did and what I recommend doing for people who have or have not been to New York City before.

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WHAT TO DO: 

Brooklyn Bridge | Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY / Talk about a way to see the city. The bridge is about 1.135 miles long and about 30 minutes to walk, give or take (and if you’re constantly stopping to take pictures like I was). This is a great way to commute from Brooklyn to the city and is most definitely a spot for tourists, despite the number of bikers yelling at us to get out of their way. This was one of my favorite things that we did and I would recommend it to anyone. While this sort of attraction could in fact cost money for people to visit, it’s free to the public and a great way to see Manhattan. A tip: visit Brooklyn Bridge park! We didn’t get the chance to go, but it’s a great spot for photos and has a ton of murals and some pieces of art.

Top of the Rock | 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020 / Despite it being the ultimate tourist destination, the crowds are worth the amazing views. Go up 70 floors in a span of 45 seconds on a lightning fast elevator to see Manhattan from Rockefeller Center. There are breathtaking views of the Empire State Building as well as Central Park. If you look closely, you’ll see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. A tip: buy your tickets in advance. It will be crowded at any point in the day, so it’s best to show up at the time you select while purchasing tickets beforehand for the process to go smoothly.

Museum of Modern Art |11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019 / Probably one of my favorite activities we did was visiting the MoMa. There are six floors of art located in this museum and it’s definitely a time consuming task to visit all the different areas, but definitely worth it. We were in there for nearly three hours. There are a TON of famous pieces of art, and THE Starry Night is one of them. There were hoards of people surrounding it as if it was a celebrity – be patient while waiting to catch a glimpse: it’s worth it. A tip: I did some digging and discovered that Uniqlo sponsors free times to get into the MoMa every Friday night: we got in for free! All we did was reserve tickets to get in at a specific time and we got to beat the line that was nearly a thousand people waiting to get in for free.

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EAT & DRINK 

Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar | 102 North End Ave, New York, NY 10282 / One of the bars we visited was a small rooftop bar on top of the Conrad Hotel in Lower Manhattan. After seeing a friend post a photo of a drink with a popsicle in it, I knew I had to try it. The drinks are prosecco with your choice of popsicle. Mine was peach flavored! These drinks are a little pricey ($23), but it was one of those “When in New York” type of occasions. Plus, you get an amazing view of the New Jersey skyline just across the water. A tip: be prepared for a large crowd – we were there a little over an hour on a Wednesday night and never managed to find a seat.

Ralph’s Coffee | 711 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022 / I’m missing this coffeeshop as I drink a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee while writing this post. Tucked away on the second floor of a Ralph Lauren flagship store on 5th ave, Ralph’s Coffee is the perfect spot for a quick cup of coffee during a shopping break. After a few friends had visited and other friends had told me about it, I knew I wanted to give it a shot on our way to Central Park. The spot was most definitely Instagrammable and the coffee was decent enough for me to go back again. There is also a ton of apparel that is surprisingly cute and not too expensive, despite it being affiliated with Ralph Lauren. A tip: even if you don’t consider yourself preppy or particularly like Ralph Lauren’s designs (or can afford them), take a walk through this store. It’s huge and has a nice vibe. The employees were very friendly, also!

Cha Cha Matcha | 373 Broome St. New York, NY / Alright, I have to admit that I was a little reluctant to try matcha, but I did and it was delicious. For those who don’t know (I didn’t know beforehand), matcha is essentially green tea with over 100 times as many antioxidants as normal tea. I tried the matcha lemonade and it was honestly one of the best drinks I have ever had. Cha Cha Matcha is located on Broome Street just north of Little Italy and is definitely a hole in the wall that is on the rise. I would recommend visiting! A tip: this place is filled with millennials ready to post their drinks to Instagram. Nothing wrong with that – but be aware that it is most likely going to be crowded at any given time of the day. The workers also like having the front door open and didn’t seem to have air conditioning on when I was inside, so grab and go may be the best option.

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WHERE TO SHOP

SoHo | (South of Houston Street) / This is a no brainer for anyone who likes to shop: SoHo is the place to go. This is definitely one of my favorite areas of New York because of the architecture and cute restaurants. We didn’t spend too much time here because shopping wasn’t the main focus  of our trip, but we went into a few stores like TopShop, H&M and Zara. SoHo is also home to Supreme, which has less than ten locations around the world. A tip: Taylor Swift lives about half a mile from this area – I visited her apartment.

Mulberry & Grand | 168 Mulberry Street, New York, NY, 10013 / You know how much I love boutiques – this one may be my favorite. Located in the heart of Little Italy, Mulberry & Grand is like a (more) affordable Francesca’s, with clothing, sunglasses, accessories and more. I purchased this pouch that I’m going to use as a makeup bag. They had a variety of designs and the best part is that if you purchase this pouch, 100% of the proceeds go to help displaced Syrian Refugee Children. Visit their website here. A tip: they have a ton of cute sunglasses for $24 or two for $40. Not a bad deal!

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New Jersey from Battery Park

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Little Italy

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The steps of Taylor Swift’s apartment in Tribeca.

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Artwork in Little Italy

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Strawberry Fields in Central Park

I hope you enjoyed the highlights of my trip as much as I did! If you have any NYC recommendations, leave them in a comment below! Don’t forget, you can subscribe to my blog to be notified every time I post something new.

– Kristin

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