Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend an event in New York City. I was so excited to visit NYC again, but I had one dilemma...my Dad and I would only have 24 hours to explore this wonderful destination. We wanted to do as much as possible in the amount of time we had, while spending as little money as possible. Well, I'm happy to say that it can be done and now I'm going to tell you what we did and how we did it!
We flew into JFK Airport, with our flight arriving at about 3:15 pm. Since we were on a budget we decided to take the subway into the city. First we made our way out of the airport to the Air Train, which took us to Jamaica Station, where we transferred to the E Train. We got off at the 34th St & Penn Station stop, since that was the closest to our hotel. The combined travel time was about an hour and cost $7.25 for each of us. After arriving at our subway station we only had to walk 3 blocks to get to our hotel.
Next, we checked into the Chelsea Star Hotel. If you are on a tight budget I highly recommend this hotel. I didn't know what to expect at first, because it was half the price of anything else I could find, but I was pleasantly surprised. We reserved a deluxe room with a private bath (part of the hotel is a hostel with shared rooms/bathrooms) and I'm so glad we did. I have no problem sharing a bathroom, but it was definitely more convenient to have our own. The room was clean, the beds were comfortable and there was WiFi throughout the hotel. What was the best part? The location! It was very close to the subway and it was within walking distance of popular tourist destinations, such as Times Square and the Empire State Building. It wasn't a luxury hotel and doesn't claim to be. However, if you are looking for clean, comfortable and affordable accommodations in the city, you should check out the Chelsea Star.
I was so happy to see that New York Pizza Suprema was right by our hotel. I ate here the last time I was in NYC and I loved it, so I knew I must eat here again! We walked on over and ate some delicious pizza for dinner. I got a slice of combination and a slice of "Upside Down Pizza". Both were super yummy, but my favorite was the combination. The two slices cost about $7, but I really should have just ordered one...my eyes were bigger than my stomach!
After filling our tummies, we went back to our room to change and get ready for the Red Dress Fashion Show. You can read more about the fashion show here. Luckily the event was only a few blocks away from our hotel, so we were able to walk there as well (although next time I would wear a pair of flats instead of my high heels). Since you most likely won't have a fashion show on your itinerary, you could fill this time with a Broadway show. NYC has so many incredible productions to choose from, I really wish I would have had time to see one...next time!
After the show, we decided to change back into our comfortable clothes and walk up to Times Square. It's definitely a very touristy spot, but all the lights and shops are fun to look at. The people watching is also pretty good! After we had our fill of Times Square we headed back to the hotel to get some rest.
We woke up at about 7 am, ate a donut, then headed out to explore the city. We took the Subway to Wall Street Station and took a quick look at the New York Stock Exchange building and glanced at a few other buildings before walking over to the Staten Island Ferry Station.
The Staten Island Ferry is completely free and takes you right past the Statue of Liberty! The ride takes about an hour round trip, but it's a nice ride and the views are great.
After we got back from the ferry ride, we took the subway over to Brooklyn and walked over to Grimaldi's Pizzeria for lunch. This place was so cute and the pizza was so good! The only thing I didn't love was the olives...they weren't the regular olives I am used too (I'm not sure what kind they were). But the crust was fantastic! I've decided I want to live in Brooklyn. It's close to Manhattan, but it has more of a neighborhood feel and the people are so nice. Maybe some day.
One of my favorite things we did on the trip was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a little over a mile long and there is a nice pathway in the middle of the bridge, with one side for walking and the other side for bicycles. The views from the bridge are amazing and it is just a nice, relaxing stroll. You can walk across from either direction, but the views are much better if you start walking from the Brooklyn side. I highly recommend adding this to your itinerary if you are planning a trip to NYC.
Once you reach the end of the bridge, you arrive at City Hall. If you walk just a few blocks North East you will find yourself in China Town. This neighborhood is home to Canal Street, which is the place to go if you are looking for a knock-off bag. I was not in the market for one of these, but it was definitely fun looking in all the shops and listening to all the haggling going on. I can't even count how many times I was asked if I was looking for Louis Vuitton or Prada! I did find a cute scarf for $5 though, so I didn't leave completely empty-handed.
After looking around China Town we walked through SoHo (which had tons of cute boutiques and shops, but we didn't have enough time to look inside), then hopped on the subway back to our hotel. By the time we got back it was time to grab our bags and head back to the JFK airport. Our flight departed at 5:45 pm. It was such a whirlwind trip, but we were actually able to see quite a bit of the city and we had such a blast! I ended up spending about $150 on this trip, which included the following: about $100 for hotel, $20 on subway fare, about $20 on food, around $10 in souvenirs and of course my flight didn't cost anything (the best part of my job). I think the experience was well worth it and I can't wait to go back to this incredible city!
Have you ever explored a city in an extremely short amount of time? I'll have to post about my 2 day trip to Paris sometime!