Our Favourite 10 Things We Did In NYC

Sometimes you just need a weekend away with the girls! And that’s exactly what we did. A few weeks ago we headed to Manhattan with our three other friends Sam, Kristina, and Sarah, for a 4 day weekend in the big Apple! 4/5 of us had never been to New York so it was time to put on our tourist hats and get to exploring. Although we could go on and on about where we went and what we ate, who has time for that? So we picked our fav 10 things we did (and ate, mostly). Enjoy!

LEO'S BAGELS

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I’m sure there’s a million and one bagel spots in NYC that people claim are the best. And since this was the only one we tried, who are we to say? But let’s let the photos speak for themselves. We honestly weren’t even hungry when we went here because we just had a sandwich from Eataly, but who can say no to a bagel!? We both got our staples: poppy seed bagels with cream cheese and salmon for Syd and spicy cream cheese for Kait. They were sooooo big we could only finish half each but it was well worth the $13US! Honestly. 

CENTRAL PARK

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You can't go to New York and not go to Central Park! It is absolutely amazing to see the vastness of the park from an aerial view, shining as a beacon of green in a city of sky scrapers. But once you're in the park it almost feels like you're in any old park in a city. That is, until you look at Google Maps and realize you've only covered the tiniest corner of the park in the past hour! Feeling like tiny peas in a gigantic pod, we continued to explore through the winding paths, lush green trees (although we were hoping for some fall foliage, we couldn't complain about the beautiful weather for end of October) and various ponds, skating rinks, and photo ops. We were hoping to bike around the park on our last day so we could actually make a dent on exploring more of the park, but alas, we were too tired. The park was beautiful and if we had more time, we would have definitely posted up for a picnic, biked through the park, and taken WAY more photos. 

9/11 MEMORIAL

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We have very few words to describe the 9/11 memorial. This may be the only sight in New York City where the many other tourists didn't bother us. Everyone here was quieter than normal, and you could truly feel the sombreness of the sight in the atmosphere. This is definitely a must visit but we warn you, you may experience an extreme rush of emotion, as we did. The memories and thoughts of what happened on this location 16 years ago can truly be felt. That said, the architecture of the monument is absolutely stunning, and the running water is almost therapeutic as you become lost in your thoughts and in the moment. Again we can't stress this enough, a must see at some point in your life!

THE BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER

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Not going to lie, we came here because we saw Kristin Cavallari brunches here and thought, if she likes it, it must be good (and cool). We channeled our inner Laguna Beach/Hills personalities and braved the Sunday brunch line. For being quite a small place, we didn't have to wait very long. We got a great table on the patio and ordered, you guessed it, eggs benny on avo toast. Call us basic, but it just tastes so good, why would we get anything else... While the atmosphere was everything we were hoping for, the food was only good. That's not saying it was bad, but it was the kind of meal that while you're eating it you're thinking, 'I could have made this myself, and done a better job.' Despite not having the best eggs benny in the world, it was still a really cute little spot that we'd probably go back to. 

SMORGASURG (CHICKPEA AND OLIVE)

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One of our friends traveling with us was vegan and she had no shortage options at most of the places we went. The Smorgasbord Market in Brooklyn was definitely no exception. We got to the market with only one hour left, on the last day it was open all year... so we were a little late to the party (they were out of fries, gasp!). But there was a booth called Chickpea and Olive that was serving up some creative vegan options we’d never heard of with plenty left to try! We got a Pulled BBQ Jackfruit burger that was made with pulled jackfruit in BBQ sauce (duh) topped with Carolina slaw, bread & butter pickles, fried shallots, horseradish aioli, on a potato bun. It actually tasted like pulled pork - the similarity to the texture of pulled pork was insane! Since the Smorgasburg market isn't always on, we highly recommend checking out Chickpea and Olive for this burger, plus so many other delicious sounding 100% plant-based food options. 

ARTISTS & FLEAS

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As we were leaving the Smorgasburg market, we came across this sign reading "Artists & Fleas" and Katie joked that this is our spot - I'm the artist and she's the flea LOL. So not true, but so funny. We obviously had to go inside. It turned out to be this incredible artisan market with over 100 individual sellers. We were sucked into the trendy aesthetic, chill vibes, and beautifully curated goodies. And since we're probably the most indecisive group of girls, we spent forever browsing in here. We ended up finding some gems - I bought a really cool screen printed map collage, and Katie got a cute ring! Definitely go here if you're in Williamsburg and you're looking to bring home something other than a Statue of Liberty magnet and I  ♡ NY shot glass.

LA ESQUINA

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This Mexican restaurant is more than meets the eye. You’ll walk past it in Soho and not think twice about it. But once you know what’s behind the facade you’ll definitely want in. We made a reservation, arrived right at 6 and it was honestly like a secret society. The store front is very kitschy, appearing as though La Esquina is just a Mexican walk-up diner. But just behind a nondescript door is a trendy underground restaurant. The hostess found our name on her list, and we were led down a flight of stairs, through the kitchen, and into this cool medieval looking space. We shared some chips with this unreal cheese dip (not the cheese dip you're picturing that you get at the movies... this was some serious cheese melted and served in an iron cast pan), an assortment of different tacos, and water (we were SO TIRED - no more alcohol for us). If you're looking to feel a little bit special, and you're in need of some quality tacos, then you have to check out La Esquina.

TOP OF THE ROCK

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You know what they say... save the best for last! It was our last day in NYC (we were flying out later that night), and despite our exhaustion from walking 25,000+ steps each day and sleeping only 3-5 hrs a night, we ambitiously decided to adventure to the top of the Rockefeller Centre. The sights from the ground were exactly as anticipated (we were neither blown away nor disappointed), but the Rockefeller Centre was better than expected! The Top of the Rock Tour was quite interesting. It was great to learn about the history - both the politics and the construction surrounding the building, as well as seeing the incredible photos from it's creation. After you're taken through the history you take this trippy elevator up to the top! There were lights at the top of the elevator that made it feel as if you were flying through space (as you rapidly made make your way up 68 floors...). After recovering from the elevator ride, we got to take in the breath taking views, making it all worth it! The city-scape was incredible and the height really put the size of central park into perspective. It was incredible to see the hard line of development that abruptly stops at all sides of the park. If you are going to do something uber touristy in the city, we would recommend this! 

GOTAN

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On our first day we landed at 8:30am and were hungry to say the least. The Google gods were on our side and led us to this little gem called Gotan in midtown Manhattan near our hotel (Westin Grand Central). For five tired hungry health food addicts, this was exactly what we needed. The decor was all exposed brick and jungle greenery, with a little nook in the back with a table for 5. We got a mix of smoothie bowls, avocado toast, and lattes. And it didn’t break the bank. Our table even had a little charging station in the middle of it so we could make sure all our devices were ready for the touristing ahead.

TAO

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Tao was one of those places that people kept recommending. Even though we couldn’t get a reservation until 10:30pm, we figured we’d embrace the city that never sleeps and have a late dinner (followed by an even later night out). The place was bumpin’ at 10:30, with bougie families, birthday girls, and just regular New York folk. We waited for about 45 minutes to get our table, even with our reservation, so if you go here on a weekend definitely make a reservation. The bar/waiting area is comfy and cool so we didn’t mind waiting and having a few drinks. Once we were sat at a table on the second floor veranda, we kept the drinks coming and ordered a bunch of sharing plates. We could all agree that this was some of the best Thai food we’d ever had and we’d definitely go back! 

TIMES SQUARE (AT NIGHT)

Our hotel was right by Times Square so of course we went to see what all the fuss was about! Right after we arrived in New York and had brunch (duh) we headed to Times Square. This was in the middle of the day on a Friday and it was packed! It's basically Dundas Square on steroids. A lot of ads in your face, a lot of tourists, and you guessed it, a lot of photo opportunities. Other than that, I'm not really sure what you'd do here. We were a bit underwhelmed so on our last night in New York we decided to check it out at night. It was a lot cooler to see the hustle, bustle and bright lights of Times Square at night. We walked around more, took more photos, and fully embraced being tourists in NYC. 

Ps. We realize that this was 11 things, but it was hard to narrow down ok!? 

What's your favourite thing to do in NYC? We'd love to know! 

Kaitlyn Sydney