30 Hours in New York City

Central Park from Top of the Rock

Last weekend we had a wedding in New Jersey so we combined it with a trip to New York City – why not??

New York is one of those cities that you have to visit at least once. So much happens here and you have to experience the pace of the city to understand why. Before I tell you about our trip, here are some fun facts about New York:

  • About 50 million people visit NYC every year with roughly 80% coming from the US. The UK and Canada are the next largest group of visitors at about a million each. (nycgo.com)
  • New York is referred to as the Big Apple.  This name originated in the 1920s when New York’s race tracks paid the highest prizes: something that was special or paid well was referred to as a big apple. (todayifoundout.com)
  • More hit movies have been filmed in NYC than any other city for every decade except the 1920s when Paris and London had more hits. (New York and Los Angeles: The Uncertain Future by David Halle and Andrew A. Beveridge)

One thing you should know is that we like to do a lot in a little bit of time. So there are a lot of stops listed here.  I hope you will find something that is new and something you will consider the next time you are in NYC.  Let me know what you think!

Here are the 5 sets of activities that what we did in the 30 hours.

1st Set of Activities: Top of the Rock, Burger Joint, Souvenir Shopping, Times Square, M&M’s World, Hershey’s Times Square

We arrived into LaGuardia Airport at 10am and were checked into our hotel at 52nd and 5th by 11am. Top of the Rock was our first stop. I had called the night before and they told me to arrive by 11am to avoid crowds. They were right! As soon as we purchased our tickets, there seemed to be lots of people behind us.

We read the walls about the history of Rockefeller Center, had our picture taken against a backdrop of the iconic ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ photo and watched a movie. Then we took the 43 second elevator ride to the top. What a view from the 70th floor! It is definitely worth getting the Premium package for at least one person in your group so you get a viewfinder of the buildings and a group photo. We spent about 45 minutes up there.

After Top of the Rock, we paused for some pictures in front of the flags in Rockefeller Plaza and headed over to 6th & 56th to Le Parker Meridien New York. My husband’s friend had recommended the Burger Joint for lunch. What an interesting place – you wait in line next to a red curtain to go into a windowless restaurant. We waited 45 minutes and it was worth it. My kids said that Percy Jackson in Rick Riordan’s books ate here, so we were cool parents for a bit. I got the grilled cheese, served in a hamburger bun, which was surprisingly delicious.

With lunch done, we walked down 7th Avenue towards Times Square. Lots of souvenir shops provided window shopping and a chance to buy our requisite Christmas ornament.

We then popped into M&M’s World and Hershey’s Times Square. We found the latter to be a more interesting and intimate store with all of the oversized candy bars and a Willy Wonka-esque feel. We checked out the crowds waiting in line at the TKTS Booth for discount Broadway tickets and then headed over to Madison Ave to ride the bus uptown.

2nd Set of Activities: Bus up Madison, Shake Shack, Neue Galerie, Metropolitan Museum Gift Shop

We all needed a break and so riding the M bus up Madison for about 30 blocks and checking out the storefronts was a good decision! We got off at 86th St and headed to the Shake Shack for (of course) a chocolate custard shake – yummy. It was then off to the Neue Galerie at 86th & 5th.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt at Neue Galerie

My daughter and I had seen the movie Woman in Gold in May. In 2006, Ronald Lauder, president and co-Founder of the Neue, purchased Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer from Maria Altmann, to whose family the painting belonged before World War II. It was so special to see the painting in real life after watching the emotional movie depicting Maria Altmann’s (successful) struggle to regain the painting from the Austrian government.

We then headed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for a photo op on the stairs before heading in to the gift shop briefly. Unfortunately we will have to wait for another trip to visit the museum. We hopped the M bus back down to Central Park South.

3rd Set of Activities: Central Park ride, FAO Schwartz, Tao Uptown

At the entrance to Central Park, we took a short park ride in a hansom cab, passing the amusement park, the Dairy, and the zoo entrance. FAO Schwartz was our next stop where one of us played the giant piano! We were sad to note that the store will be closing on July 15, 2015, in hopes of reopening elsewhere with more reasonable rent.

Central Park South

We ended the evening with dinner next door at Tao Uptown on 58th St.

4th Set of Activities: Lower East Side

Saturday morning we had reservations for the Sweatshop Workers Tour at The Tenement Museum. We took the F train down to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, an area that was bustling with immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. Today it is still home to many immigrant families as well as to hipsters! The tour was very well done and informative. You really got a feel for the squalid and cramped housing at that time. No photos were allowed inside the museum.

After our tour, we went to get bagels, salmon, and cream cheese at Russ & Daughters, another suggestion from a friend. Russ has two locations: one is a dine-in restaurant that doesn’t take reservations; the other location is counter service. We had to go for the latter location at 179 East Houston St. The wait was 30 minutes and, according to my husband, was completely worth it. He couldn’t stop talking about his Gaspe Nova smoked salmon sandwich for 4 subway stops!! The restaurant makes its own cream cheese and specializes in caviar, smoked fish and other deli foods.

Russ & Daughters Menu - check out the sandwich names!
Russ & Daughters Menu – check out the sandwich names!

5th Set of Activities: St Patrick’s, American Girl, Uniqlo

Our final stop in NYC was back in midtown at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The church is under renovation but is open to the public. We went in for a quick visit and then had to succumb to some retail therapy in the form of browsing only. American Girl was the first stop. I had to go to the salon and watch the girls taking their dolls to get their hair done. Yes, the doll’s hair done! Then, we went in to Uniqlo to see what we should expect in terms of affordable chic in Canada when Uniqlo opens two stores in Toronto in 2016.

After 30 hours in NYC, that passed in a New York minute, we were ready for some family time and wedding fun!

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2 thoughts on “30 Hours in New York City

  1. WOW. You covered a lot of territory. Great writeup. NYC is my favourite place in the world.

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