Five Days of Summer in New York
I’ve visited New York many times, at different stages in my life – but all pre-kid. So when I finally decided I was comfortable enough to leave my daughter for a few days with my parents to take a “Me-Cation“, the plan was to catch up with old friends. As nice as it is to have social media to connect, I prefer face-to-face conversations over anything else. Besides, so much has changed in our individual lives, what better way to reconnect than over a delicious meal in a fun city? During my visit, I tried new places and revisited old favorites. I spent most of my time in Lower Manhattan, Long Island City, and even took a trip up north to Westchester County! Here are some highlights of my five-day me-cation:
Twin Reflecting Pools 911 Memorial
These twin reflecting pools mark the places where the Twin Towers originally stood and are nearly one acre each. They are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed in the bronze panels outlining the pools. It’s a very powerful and moving tribute, and a good place to take a moment and reflect.
The Oculus is the uniquely designed building by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, whose style leans towards white lines and curves, a transportation hub and high end shopping center in the World Trade Center neighborhood. The interior is just as impressive as the exterior, so be sure to check out the inside as well.
Irish Hunger Memorial
I stumbled upon this beautiful memorial near Rockefeller Park. It represents a rural Irish landscape, making it a a stark contrast to the surrounding high-rise buildings. is a reminder of the Great Famine which took place in Ireland from 1845-1849. In addition, it’s a reminder that starvation still exists in the world today.
Murals – Street Art
This New York Times article features commissioned artists – Brolga, Todd Gray, Stickymonger, Chinon Maria and Sebastian Mitre, Boogie Rez, and Hektad – and their work on the corrugated metal sheds near the World Trade Center. It’s a must-see for art lovers and Instagrammers alike.
Catch a Broadway Show
I downloaded the TKTS App which helped me see in real-time which shows were available at discount at booths across New York. I ended up buying heavily discounted tickets to A Bronx Tale, which was pretty good.
My friend Lauren, who lives in New York City and watches a lot of theatre told me about TodayTix. It is similar to TKTS in the sense where you can get discounted tickets, but with the ability to purchase from the app.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition
I am a big fan of the now-concluded television series Downton Abbey. I enjoyed the limited engagement exhibit, which I reviewed here.
High Line Park
I didn’t spend a lot of time here because I ran out of time. I love the design and re-use of the former industrial railway. It’s become a very popular tourist destination, but also a beautiful space to relax and unwind. There is a lot of new construction in this area, so it will be even busier in the upcoming months. I look forward to returning.
Strawberry Fields John Lennon Memorial – Central Park
Definitely worth a visit if you are a Beatles fan.
Two Hands Cafe – TriBeCa
There are two locations – Nolita and Tribeca. I ate at the Tribeca one. Food and latte presentation at this Australian-owned restaurant (one of the owners being my friend’s husband) is on point and they taste as good as they look. I strayed away from my usual avocado toast and opted for their mushroom toast. OMG! Pesto and the oozing egg on top make it perfection. I met up with my friend Tara Roberts (aka M. Tara Crowl), author of Disney-Hyperion Books’ Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape there for lunch. She and her husband recently launched the website of their Northern Catskills-based holistic farm, Sweet Judy Blues Farm – check it out!
Casa Enrique – Long Island City
Casa Enrique is a one Michelin Star rated restaurant that serves pretty damn good Mexican food. As an Angelino, I eat a LOT of Mexican food – different styles and various price points. I was pretty impressed with Casa Enrique and their gourmet-sized portions and presentation. My friend Christine and I shared their addictive guacamole with homemade tortilla chips, and I ordered the crab tostada appetizer as my meal. Casa Enrique is going on my must-revisit list!
Sweet Chick – Long Island City
I’m so thankful there is a location in Los Angeles, because this Brooklyn-originated, Southern-style restaurant known for it’s chicken and waffles blew me away. I’ve had the “original” chicken and waffles at L.A.’s Roscoe’s and other restaurants’ versions over the years, but Sweet Chick has won my heart. If there is an East Coast/West Coast chicken and waffles rivalry, I’ll have to say New York has got L.A. beat…but since they were nice enough to create a location for us, Angelenos can’t be too mad.
ABC Kitchen – Union Square
My foodie friend Jon always knows the best spots to eat in NYC. It was my first visit to this beautifully decorated restaurant, adjacent to the home furnishings store of the same name. The food was as tasty as it was beautiful. Our party of three enjoyed catching up over tapas-style dining. I will definitely return…and make a reservation in advance to secure a table at this in-demand, trendy restaurant!
Dominique Ansel Kitchen – West Village
I have to admit. I #diditforthegram. I saw this watermelon soft serve ice cream on Instagram and spent the $10+ to get this watermelon-on-watermelon accented with chocolate “seeds” photogenic dessert. #worthit
Café Henri – Long Island City
Café Henri is an old favorite of mine, introduced to me from the early days of visiting my friend Christine, who lived in LIC way before it became a destination for Manhattanites. It’s a great and very popular brunch spot, so make sure you arrive early to get a table. Get the crepes.
Milk Bar Bakery – various locations
I love the cookies from this bakery, brought to you by Chef’s Table-featured Christina Tosi. I think I waited about 20 minutes in line at the Midtown location. You’d think the lines wouldn’t be so long, especially with nine locations scattered throughout New York, but this is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. Get the Compost Cookie.
Joe’s Shanghai – locations in Midtown, Chinatown, Flushing
I first tried Joe’s Shanghai famous soup dumplings one cold, snowy day in New York over 6 years ago, visiting my friend Elaine when she lived and worked in NYC. Call it a result of exposure to the elements, but I never forgot how delicious those dumplings were, and I vowed to have them again. They were still delicious. Get the seafood soup dumplings.
Mt. Kisco Diner – Westchester County
If you venture up north like I did, you definitely have to try a burger from Mt. Kisco Diner. Their burgers are thick and juicy and the fries are nice and crisp. If your’e not a burger person, there are plenty of other options on their extensive menu. From fried mac and cheese to chicken matzoh ball soup, there’s definitely something for even the pickiest eaters. I didn’t try one, but their milkshakes look instagram-worthy.
Good Behavior – Rooftop Lounge at MADE HOTEL – Midtown
This was my first stop after arriving to New York from the Amtrak at Penn Station. I met up with a friend who works for this hotel, which I’m so glad I now know about because it’s a really cool spot I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. The rooftop bar is small, but cozy, and there is a great view of The Empire State Building.
Gutter Bar LIC – Long Island City
I really liked this Brooklyn-originated bowling alley/bar. I visited on a weeknight and really dug the vibe of this place. It’s tucked away and easy to miss, so I advise taking a Lyft. The bar is well-stocked and the staff is friendly and good about giving drink suggestions. I didn’t bring socks, so I didn’t bowl this time around but did play some mean pinball.
For more photos from my trip, peep my Instagram feed at: instagram.com/westsidemommy/
Thank you to my friends who hosted me or met up with me during my visit. You know who you are.