Today I’m sharing my travel diary from my recent trip to New York! The trip was SUPER spontaneous (very unlike me) and ended up being so amazing. I was hesitant at first about not spending Christmas at home, but I think this was our most memorable Christmas yet!
The reason we went is because Dave’s cousins live in NYC and were going to be gone all month, and had asked if we wanted to stay at their apartment. We originally tabled the idea, but the week before Christmas we decided to just go for it! We went with my parents, and had a total blast. The apartment was incredible. It’s a gorgeous, spacious two bedroom with TONS of natural light, and it’s in an amazing location. We are so thankful they let us stay there.
This post is super long and a bit photo heavy (sorry about that!), but we did so much, I didn’t want to leave anything out!
We caught a red-eye on Thursday night, and after some coffee and a nap, we hit the ground running on Friday morning. The apartment was in Midtown East, which was great because we could walk to tons of places. For lunch, we had Shake Shack! It was my first time having it, so I was pumped. I know there’s a couple locations in San Diego that just opened, but I’m happy I got to have the real deal in NYC as my first Shake Shack experience. I have to say….I still think In-N-Out is the best. But, Shake Shack was really, really good. The burger is perfectly greasy, the sauce is amazing, and I loved the fries (I just really love crinkle cut fries!). It’s so hard comparing the two, though!
After filling up on burgers, we poked around Grand Central, since it was in the direction we were heading. My dad and Dave are obsessed with trains, so they were in heaven. I love Grand Central– the architecture is incredible, and it’s just so beautiful. Then we perused the Bryant Park Christmas Market and watched all the ice skaters. We all decided that we were officially in the Christmas spirit after that!
After Bryant Park, we headed to Rockefeller Center to see the famous Christmas tree (a total bucket list item for me!), and marveled at all the Christmas decorations on 5th Avenue. The decorations at Saks were insane! We ended up finding a cool dive bar and had a few drinks before heading back to the apartment to get ready for dinner.
That night, we had dinner at The Smile, which was the coziest little spot in Nolita that had been recommended by a few bloggers. It didn’t disappoint! The food was fresh and delicious. The goat cheese was to die for, as were my mussels! The red eye hit us pretty hard, so we went to bed early that night.
Dave had a pretty bad cold the day before, so he woke up feeling pretty crappy. I had brunch reservations for us all, but he decided to stay home that morning and just rest. I felt so bad, but he really needed the rest. My parents and I headed out to Tiny’s and The Bar Upstairs, which is the cutest place I’d seen on Instagram, and had come recommended by a few people. It was raining out, and it was the perfect place to spend a cozy morning. They had the fireplace going, we had bloody marys, and it was just pretty darn perfect. The food was to die for. I had a simple Gruyere and leek omelette that I’m still dreaming about. And their bacon. Drooling just thinking about it.
Since the restaurant was close to the World Trade Center memorial, we walked down to the memorial reflecting pools to pay our respects and take it all in. I hadn’t seen the pools yet, and they really did an incredible job designing them. They really are a powerful and moving tribute. We all got a little teary eyed as we walked around the pools.
Then we popped over to the Oculus building to warm up and get out of the rain. Eataly was on my to-do list, so we headed over and got lost in Italian food bliss for a while! Seriously, Eataly is what foodie dreams are made of. Walls of cheese, meat, pasta, olive oil, restaurants galore…I mean, it doesn’t get any better. It was such a great way to spend a rainy morning.
Dave met up with us in the afternoon at Washington Square Park, where we walked around and explored Greenwich Village. Greenwich stole my heart with its adorable homes and charming streets. Every single block, I kept saying, “I could live here!” We stopped for coffee and cannolis at a cute little Italian spot, and made our way down to Soho for some window shopping, then back up to Greenwich for a little bar hopping when it started raining again. We found a couple of really cool bars that we holed up in.
OH. Side story! I’m a HUGE fan of How I Met Your Mother. Guess who we saw on the street in Greenwich?! Ted Mosby (aka Josh Radnor)! He walked right by me, and I immediately recognized his voice. I looked up at him and did a total double take. He looked at me and smiled, like he knew that I knew. We had a moment, you guys. I didn’t stop him or anything because I wanted to play it cool, but I was basically freaking out.
That night we grabbed pizza at one of the famous NYC spots, John’s of Bleecker Street. For being one of the famous pizzerias in NYC, it didn’t disappoint. The pizza was thin, flavorful, and incredible!!
Our last full day was on Christmas Eve. The night before, my dad bought tickets for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, so on the morning of Christmas Eve we grabbed some coffees and walked over to Radio City Music Hall to get in line with 6,000 other people. You guys, the Rockettes are always my favorite part of the whole Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and it’s been a dream to see them, so seeing the show was SO cool. Honestly, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. New York really takes things to a whole new level. The production value was insane, and those girls are seriously incredible. I honestly don’t know how they do it! Seeing the show on Christmas Eve really put us in a festive mood, and was something we’ll all remember forever.
This day was one of the coldest of the trip, and after the show we walked around Central Park, swung by the Plaza Hotel, and walked around Midtown for a while before deciding we needed to put on more layers! After regrouping back at the apartment, Dave and I headed out again on the Subway back to Greenwich because we both loved it so much. We ended up in a bar with a really cool comedy show going on (on Christmas Eve…only in NYC!) so we had a few drinks and saw part of the comedy show before meeting up with my parents for dinner.
I had a Chinese spot picked out, but there was nearly a two hour wait when we got there (they didn’t take reservations), which we sort of expected since it was Christmas Eve. We were going to wait, but there was another Chinese place on the same block that looked good, so we just ended up eating there. It was just your average Chinese place, but the food and service were great. It ended up being perfect! After dinner, we walked outside and it was snowing!! It didn’t stick or anything, but it was really magical to see the snow falling on Christmas Eve. We stopped by a bar near the apartment for an after dinner drink and ended up staying until they closed at 11:30! It was a super cozy spot and we just hung out, listened to Christmas carols and drank hot toddies. It was one to remember.
On the first day of the trip, my mom suggested we do a little Secret Santa while we were there so we would each have something to open on Christmas day. On Christmas morning, we sat around the couch and opened our little gifts, which was so much fun. My dad had me, and he got me the coolest mug and bag from Eataly!
I thought it would be fun to get bagels on Christmas morning, and I really wanted to get a good New York bagel on the trip, so after presents we set off in search of bagels. I knew there was a famous spot, Ess-A-Bagel, that happened to only be a few blocks away from the apartment. The line was around the block, but we were game to wait. Long story short, the place was run pretty darn inefficiently which is why the line was so long. But, it was worth the wait. The bagels were insanely good!!
After the bagel fiasco, we headed back to the apartment to snap some photos on their epic rooftop, clean up, and get ready for our flight.
It was such an amazing trip, and made me really fall in love with NYC!