New York City is one of the world’s greatest cities, if not the greatest. New York City is the city by which all cities are measured against and both those who have visited and those who haven’t, have a universal love and fondness for it. Even the staunchest of city haters will most likely find something near and dear to their heart from New York City, be it the glory of a sports event or a scene from a movie or TV show. Surprisingly, New York City is one of those places we’ve never been together and recently, we had the chance to spend 36 hours there and we’ll share our details of our visit in this post and a few tips to help you plan your visit.
Create Your Own Adventure:
New York City can be overwhelming in the sense that there is so much to see and do, and you know you won’t get to experience it all. On my first visit, I ended up visiting Time Square, China Town, Central Park, the 9/11 Memorial, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and tried to get on the ferry to go see the Statue of Liberty and since we had limited time, we knew we couldn’t get to all of that and that Jason wasn’t all that interested in those things so we planned a different itinerary.
Much like we enjoy wandering through forests for long hikes, we knew we’d enjoy exploring the vast expanses the New York City area offers and ended up walking 25 kilometers on Saturday. We got to visit places we found through research, places recommended to us by Fleming from Ware on the Globe, and stumbled upon things we didn’t know about.
From the treats we got to eat, the people watching, architecture and street art, it was a great trip that despite being tiring was also refreshing. The visit was nostalgia inducing and left us wanting to see and do more, including going to watch a movie at the IFC Centre and to experience “Havana on the Hudson” in Union City in New Jersey where our friends live. Thank you to Fleming and Dan from Ware on the Globe for meeting with us at Other Half in Brooklyn to enjoy beers and good conversation!
We got to checkout craft breweries and meet locals, experienced a German beerhall, had the best Arabic ice cream we’ve ever had, relived the Malaysian coffee house experience, had NY style cheesecake in NYC, visited the most interested store dedicated to all things pickled, and had really good tacos. For a list of the places we visited, check out our interactive map below with links and reviews.
Where we stayed – The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel:
Finding a place to stay on a budget can be difficult in New York City and the surrounding area. Since we had such limited time, staying somewhere central was high on our priority list and booking last minute made it even more difficult. Since this was a mileage run, we also tried to incorporate a mattress run to earn a night and points towards our Marriott Platinum Status but the cheapest Marriott brand hotel available was $400USD. Thankfully, Booking.com had a flash sale and we booked The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel for about $150 cheaper than staying at the cheapest Marriott property. For one night, losing a stay towards our Platinum status isn’t that big of a deal but we will miss the points we could have earned (about 4,000 points).
Located near the Brooklyn Bridge, The Beekman was a good choice for convenience and we were really interested in staying there due to the history of the building. Initially known as Temple Court when it was built in the 19th century, The Beekman Hotel is housed in one of New York City’s first skyscrapers. Located in the New York City’s financial hub, the building has had an interesting history and for 15 years after 9/11, it was vacant. The centerpiece of the building is this original atrium that’s survived the last 135 years to having recently been restored. Interestingly, the view is best observed on grey days when the colors are accentuated by the contrast of the light. If you’re not staying at the hotel, you can view the atrium by visit temple Court for a drink and/or meal.
It’s hard to explain why and maybe it’s the lack of sleep and jetlag but the whole place, including our room with the funky art had a Wes Anderson movie set vibe. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, you might enjoy staying here.
Transportation – MTA and AirTrain:
We flew into JFK – John F Kennedy International Airport on Alaska Airlines, which operates out of Terminal 7. Since we flew in on the red-eye and had extra time, we took the AirTrain to Jamaica Station and the MTA into Manhattan from there. The AirTran costs $500 and the MTA costs $2.75 plus you pay a $1 new card fee. So in total, it cost us $17.50USD ($8.75USD per person) to get to Manhattan. We also chose to take the subway back to the airport from Brooklyn which cost us $15.50 USD ($7.75). For return travel to and from the airport, it cost us $33USD vs an estimated $100+ to take an Uber or taxi. This website has more information about public transportation to and from JFK Airport.
Tip: Make sure to have cash as a back-up because the machines accepted our credit cards half of the time.
Tip: They were doing construction on the Jamaica line so trains were only running every 16 minutes. If you can, access an MTA line from Howard Beach.
The Airport – Terminal 7 at JFK:
If you’re traveling during a peak time, make sure to plan extra time to go through security even with TSA PreCheck. At the current time, there is no dedicated TSA PreCheck line but if you show your boarding pass, they won’t make you take your shoes off.
Since we had about 30 minutes prior to boarding, we headed to the Alaska Lounge for some snacks and a drink. When we arrived to the lounge, we realized we wouldn’t be able to use our Priority Pass for access as they were not allowing members into the lounge at this time. Thankfully, we had a few MVP 75K lounge passes to use and so we were granted lounge access. Upon entering the lounge, we were surprised to see it empty as there were maybe 6 other people there. We grabbed a seat by the window to watch the airplanes as I enjoyed a glass of brut and Jason an IPA from a local brewery. As for snacks, there wasn’t much other than pretzels, buns, cookies, mixed greens, chickpeas, soup, and the pancake machine. Like the Alaska Lounge in LAX, they offer meals for purchase, hence the limited food options.
Regardless of what you do and where you go, visiting New York City is a surreal experience. Maybe it’s because you feel as though you know the city but you will that magic if you’re open to it. One of these magical moments that will stand out was when we were across the Williamsburg Bridge back into Manhattan as the sun was setting and we had a view of the city scape ahead. As I think of our visit to New York City, I’m reminded of a quote by Leonard Cohen: “I cannot understand why my arm is not a lilac tree”.
Have you been to New York City? Do you have any “magical memories” from when you visited?