The best part I found about being a tourist in New York City is that there are thousands of us all wandering around like chickens with our heads cut off with no regards to what we are doing and unknowingly pissing off the locals.
After getting settled in to our hotel Monday afternoon, Cindy and I set off for Times Square, about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. The closer we got, the more touristy it became. It was quite an overwhelming sight with all of the large LED screens shining bright and street performers ripping off tourists. It was everything I had expected it to be, looking just like it appeared on TV all these years I’ve been watching Good Morning America.
There is plenty of shopping to do in Times Square, although the only places we went into were Sephora and Forever 21.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and walked to Central Park, about a 10 minute walk and 3 blocks north of our hotel. It was a chilly 36* that morning and we had the park to ourselves. We wandered around what seemed like forever and I know we only covered a very small portion of the 843 acre park.
After wandering through the park, we took a taxi over to 5th Avenue to view all of the world class shopping (and find a piece of the Berlin Wall, but we couldn’t ever find it). We didn’t go in any of the stores, but you better believe Bergdorf Goodman was calling my name! Along the way, we went over to Madison Avenue and caught a glimpse of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which opened its doors in 1879.
Later that day, we had tickets to the 86th floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building (Located on 5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets). You do not have to reserve a particular date or time slot to go up to the top. Your tickets are good for one year from the day of purchase. For $32 per person, you can go up to the 86th floor and tour their small museum. But, be prepared to wait in line. A express ticket is offered for $55 per person (adult) which allows you to skip the lines and go straight to the top. You can buy your Empire State Building tickets here.
After touring the Empire State Building, we took a subway over to Greenwich Village in hopes of finding Carrie Bradshaw’s house from Sex and the City (64 Perry Street). It took us about 15 minutes to walk from the subway to where here house was, which is roped off. You’re not allowed on the steps to go up to the door, but pictures are still welcome. It was after this that we ate dinner at Oaxaca Taqueria and got lost on the subway trying to get back to our hotel. You can read more about that here.
The next day was a jam-packed schedule with both the Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial and Museum on our agenda. That morning, we took the subway down to Battery Park and hopped aboard a ferry bound for the Statue of Liberty. Although our ticket was for 10:30, the people scanning the tickets don’t seem to care if you are on time or not. After having our tickets scanned, we had to go through airport-style security before boarding the ferry. It was about a 15 minute ride to Liberty Island (for the best pictures, I would suggest standing on the top level of the ferry at the back) in which we proceeded to de-boat if you will, and explore the park. Our tickets allowed us access to the Reserve (grounds) and Pedestal and were $18 for adults. You can purchase these tickets here. Should you decide you want to go all the way up to the Crown, you must book these tickets at least 3 months in advance.
Once inside the pedestal, we went through another airport screening process and then were free to tour the museum before making our way up to the actual pedestal. This particular day the elevators were not working and we had to climb some 170 stairs up to the pedestal. It was a cool experience, although the view wasn’t any better. But, for the same price as just having access to the grounds (Reserve), you can buy a ticket for both the Reserve and Pedestal – worth it in my books. We stayed on Liberty Island for probably an hour and a half before we decided to board the ferry back to Battery Park. The ferry stops at Ellis Island and you have the option to get off here as it is included in your ticket, or you can stay on the ferry to go back to Manhattan.
Once back in Manhattan, we had several hours to kill before our 9/11 Museum tour at 5. We walked up to Wall Street and saw the New York Stock Exchange, then walked over to the 9/11 Memorial (open to the public – no ticket needed). The two huge reflection pools where the Twin Towers once sat were surrounded with people paying their respects and taking in the sight of One World Trade Center. On May 29, 2015, visitors will be able to purchase a ticket which takes them up to the 102nd floor observation deck of One World Trade Center. Tickets will be $32 (adult). You can read more about it here.
At 4:30, we walked over to the 9/11 Museum and were able to enter. Once again, we went through airport style screening which took about 5 minutes. I do not want to talk about the Museum, but it was an experience I will never forget. Unfortunately, we were not able to make it through the whole museum. At 7:30, museum staff came through and said the doors were closing at 8 and we needed to proceed to the exits. There were still 2 huge rooms we did not get to go through. My word of advice is the earlier you can go, the better. We were there for 3 hours and missed out on a lot more artifacts and stories. Tickets can be purchased here for $24 (adult – self guided).
In all honesty, I did everything I wanted to in the time we were there (just 3 days). We crammed a lot in, but we were never once rushing to get somewhere we needed to be. In my opinion, this was the perfect itinerary for a 3 day trip to the city!