This is the second installment of “How to See New York City in Five Days.” Make sure you read here to see part one.
Day Three – Empire State Building, Central Park, Financial District, and Mets Baseball Game
- Because our Home Away had a full kitchen, we purchased some basics from a market down the street so that we could eat breakfast in the apartment. It saved us time and money. We got some cereal, bread, milk, peanut butter, and bananas. After breakfast, we went to the top of the Empire State Building.
- We arrived a little before 10am on a Saturday morning during the summer and were met with NO LINE. We didn’t have to wait at all. We walked straight through all the ropes (you can tell it gets super busy – the rope lines made it look like Disneyland!) and onto an elevator. I’m not sure when things get busy for the Empire State Building, but earlier is definitely better. The City Pass allows you to skip the ticket line, which would really help if there were a lot of people.
- The elevator ride is quick and smooth. They play a little construction animation that takes your attention away from the fact that you’re rising into the air 80 stories. I appreciated that.
- You first exit onto the 80th floor, which is an indoor observation deck. There’s all kinds of history and information about the building of the Empire State Building. You can walk around and get a 360-degree view of the city. Side note: There are plenty of bathrooms on all the observation levels and in the main lobby.
- You can take another elevator up to the 86th floor, which is an open observation deck. Again, you have 360-degree views of the city, only this time they aren’t blocked by glass.
- I expected it to be very disorienting, being up that high, but it wasn’t at all! You can purchase premium tickets that take you up to the 102 floor, but we didn’t pay for those. I assume it’s more of the same views.
- I made several loops around each observation level. I couldn’t get enough photos!
- From the Empire State Building, we took the subway to Central Park. We walked from the south-east corner, up to the fountain, and then out the east side of the park via the 86th traverse. The skyline views from the park are pretty incredible.
- After the park, we walked into the upper east side to have lunch at a diner called The New Amity Restaurant. It was pretty delicious. The place was super small, but they have one whole wall of mirrors, so at first, we thought the place was huge! It’s your typical diner. I ordered eggs florentine (one of my favorite meals). Refueled, we took the subway down to the financial district.
- We did a quick loop that included seeing the New York Stock Exchange, Trinity Church, and the small, one way streets associated with the financial district. We tried to see the Charging Bull and Fearless girl, but there were SO many people around them! It was absurdly crowded. I didn’t even get a photo.
- From the financial district, we headed back to the apartment in Queens. We stopped at Woodside Rainbow Bakery to grab some snacks. They’re a cute Asian bakery with a wide variety of pastries and drinks (including boba!). I got a matcha cake.
- We rested for about an hour, then Ryan and I headed to the Mets game. They were playing the Dodgers, which this California Native thought was awesome. Of course, the Dodgers won. We even saw Matt Kemp hit a grand slam! How cool. I mainly went to the game, though, for food. I got a Nathan’s hotdog with pretzel bites and an ice cream sandwich.
- After the game, we took the subway right back to our apartment. So easy! If you’re following this as an itinerary, you could plan something different for the evening time, if baseball isn’t your thing (or you went the previous night, like my brother!).
Day Four – Times Square and Brooklyn
- Sunday was supposed to be kind of a rest day, but it didn’t turn out that way! We left much earlier today (7am) to take Ryan to Penn Station. He was taking the train back to DC.
- Before Penn Station, we walked a few blocks north to Times Square. Again, we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds! I guess Times Square isn’t a popular place at 7am on a Sunday morning. It was pretty awesome though because it allowed me to get a bunch of photos.
- From Times Square, we walked back to Penn Station to drop Ryan off, then the three of us ate at Andrew’s Coffee. This is a pretty awesome breakfast diner, if you’re near Penn Station. Fuled by an incredible breakfast, we hit the subway again, this time bound for Brooklyn!
- We took the subway to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn bridge and walked the 1.1 miles across. It didn’t seem long at all. I think that’s because the views are incredible! It was pretty crowded with tourists taking selfies. I didn’t mind though, because I was also stopping every 5 feet to take photos.
- Once on the Brooklyn side, we walked down to the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. There are some pretty beautiful streets lined with historically preserved brownstones. There are plenty of cafes and cute places along the main streets to stop and grab a snack or coffee. As you walk towards the Promenade from Brooklyn Heights, there’s a pretty awesome pedestrian walkway.
- I highly recommend making the trek down to the Promenade because that’s where you’re going to get the best Manhattan skyline pictures.
- We walked along the Promenade to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for a midday snack.
- Feeling refreshed, we took the subway to the North side of Prospect Park. We walked about a mile and a half from the top of Prospect Park (entered by the Brooklyn Public Library) to Breeze Hill. Prospect Park is way bigger than I anticipated. And it’s extremely beautiful. If you didn’t want to walk that far, you could take the subway further down the east side of the park to the Prospect Park station.
- At Breeze Hill (near the Prospect Park subway station), we walked ate at Smorgasburg! Here’s what their website says about the amazing food festival:
Smorgasburg is the largest weekly open-air food market in America, attracting 20,000-30,000 people to Brooklyn each weekend to eat from 100 local vendors—Saturdays on the Williamsburg waterfront and Sundays in beautiful Prospect Park. It launched May 21, 2011, as a spinoff of Brooklyn Flea (founded in 2008), and has since launched dozens of small businesses and attracted millions of visitors. The New York Times dubbed Smorgasburg “The Woodstock of Eating.”
- I didn’t get any food, but I did get a delicious lavender matcha lemonade.
- We were totally exhausted after walking so much, so after Smorgasburg, we took the subway back up into Queens. We took the S train, to the C train, to the G train, to the 7 train. It was quite the trek, but it worked. It took us about an hour and 20 minutes. I looked at driving (taking an Uber) and it said 40 minutes with lots of traffic, and who knows how much that would have cost! So, we decided the subway was our best choice.
- We got back to Queens around 4, at which point I promptly fell asleep for 2 hours. If you’ve still got energy, you could plan in more evening activities, but we picked up some pizza from down the street and called it a night.
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