I just returned from my latest adventure to the Empire State that is of course, New York. Where I had two full days to explore a city that I personally had never explored. Which at first thought, had me nervous as I had to jampack a boatload of things to see/go to into my small two-day itinerary. With some time to sit and plan/search pinterest for the best spots to visit via other blogs, I was able to plan the perfect two day itinerary. I searched tags such as, “best ig photo spots in nyc” and “best cheap eats in nyc” and of course “2 days in nyc”. I then downloaded the app, Visit A City. This app was my lifesaver. You’re able to choose your desired destination, how many days you’ll be there, and from there plug in where you want to go, and it will map out the best itinerary for you. It will even tell you how long it will take you to go from point A to B, and what the best transit to take is. It honestly doesn’t get any better when it comes to a travel app, seriously! Download it.
Once my husband and I chose the days we were planning on visiting, I booked our hotel, which was Moxy NYC Downtown. Which was such a trendy boutique style hotel. Very clean, fun, and was definitely for those looking for a good time. I have inserted some photos below to show you what the hotel looks like. Highly recommend. It is a hotel associated with Marriott, located right in Downtown NYC. Two blocks from the Freedom Tower & Ground Zero. Also plenty to eat and do in Downtown Manhattan. Staten Island Ferry, Wall St, Ground Zero, and only a fifteen minute walk to the Brooklyn Bridge. I was super happy we chose this hotel to explore NYC for the first time, as it was out of the extreme hustle/bustle of uptown near Times Square, yet was still centralized to everything we had on our itinerary.
New York City can be very intimidating to most. Which is why I wanted to share my two day itinerary. As it is possible to see most of what NYC has to offer in a short span of two days. Some of you may laugh at my statement just there, but hey, if you’re willing to put in some legwork, have fun, and really have the best NYC experience, then follow along as I share my exact two day itinerary. I don’t think I will ever get tired of visiting this city. After having experienced the mere two days, I am already craving more. Mostly because it is 20 degrees here in Portland Maine, and is almost 50 degrees 5 hours away in the city. Doesn’t sound like a big difference, but you can definitely feel the difference. So as I share my itinerary with you, I will try to include all of the things I learned, and try to share all the tips I was able to learn before venturing out into the city.
Before we arrived in the city. I’ll share with you how we got there. My husband and I thought it was best to take a bus from Portland Maine to New York, as it would cost a hefty amount to store our car we weren’t using in a garage. Also who wants to drive in the city? Definitely not me. The tickets weren’t too bad. We purchased them through Concord Coachlines. It was a 5 hour bus ride, but we made sure to stay busy with books/a movie/blogging. The drive went by faster than we thought.
Once we arrived to the big city, we retrieved our belongings and hailed our first city taxi. Which in my opinion, was not worth it. It cost us $10 just to round one block as everything in NYC is a one way.
We checked into our hotel, and it was only 3PM. We explored what it had to offer, and decided to explore the neighborhood before our official day one, the next day. We got to cross off many sites on our day one itinerary. Such as: Freedom Tower, Ground Zero, Wall St, Stone St (oldest st in NYC), Trinity Church, Charging Bull, Stock Exchange, and also got to enjoy our first slice of MY pizza at Justino’s. So by crossing off many of these sites, it left our day one packed with some of our day two plans. Freeing up day two quite a bit. But let’s get into it.
My husband and I woke around 6:30AM, got ready, and headed out the door by 8AM. We made sure to pack our phones, cameras, portable chargers, hats, mittens, while wearing the proper clothing. Which for me was comfortable clothing, yet chic of course. I have an Instagram feed to keep up with people. So with that, I also tried to wear the most appropriate footwear as we would be doing quite a bit of walking. Starting early will also optimize your daylight. It is so worth it to wake up early to see the city.
- Had our first New York bagel at Leo’s Bagels, which is located in downtown Manhattan. We decided to go here as, one: we needed to try a NY bagel at some point on our trip, and two: it was on our way to the Staten Island Ferry.
- We arrived at the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall terminal, which was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel, and only 5 minutes from the bagel shop. The ferry is one of the few free things to do in NYC. Also highly recommend taking a ride if you’re looking to view the Statue Of Liberty without actually going to it. As that does cost money to gain access to the island. You walk into the ferry terminal, and wait with the obvious crowd waiting the arrival of the next ferry. There is a new ferry every 10-15 minutes. This ferry once on, will take you to St George Island. Along the way, the ride will give you the most spectacular view of downtown Manhattan, as well as the Statue Of Liberty. When the ferry arrives to St George, you will then get off, (as they do not allow passengers to stay on), and you will just wait for the next ferry back to Manhattan, which takes no time at all, as they have ferry’s traveling back and forth so frequently. You will need no ticket to gain access to the Staten Island Ferry.
- Once we arrived back in downtown Manhattan, we walked from the ferry terminal, up to the Brooklyn Bridge. This walk was about 15 minutes. Also we used Google Maps to navigate our way around the city. Which is what most people will recommend you use, as it is the most accurate, even when it comes to the subway systems. Once we arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge, we walked on the center pathway through the middle of the bridge. This bridge is a must see. So beautiful! It took us about 15 minutes to walk across, including the time it took us to take photos along the way. It was not very crowded as it was February, which was perfect for pictures.
- Once we arrived on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, you will see a large message on the sidewalk saying, “Welcome To Brooklyn”, as you will then be in Brooklyn! From there we took a pathway right off the bridge to the left, leading us down some stairs bringing us to DUMBO. My husband told me an interesting fact that DUMBO stands for, Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The more you know! In DUMBO, you will see the most spectacular view of the Manhattan Bridge. Photos below. You will also see plenty of people traveling there just for this photo opportunity. There we stopped into Brooklyn Coffee Roasters located right on this street. They had one of the tastiest maples lattes, and my husbands mocha was also very delicious.
- We walked back over the Brooklyn Bridge, and made our way to Chinatown. This walk was about 20 minutes. We used Google Maps to make our way there, and it was very obvious when we were getting close, as all the buildings/decor resemble those in China. We made our way through the Chinatown neighborhood, and a lot of the people we passed were shop owners trying to sell us a watch or handbag. Each and every one. No joke. “Handbag Miss? Watch Miss?”. I politely declined, and we pressed on to our next destination.
- Little Italy. I didn’t find much to do in Chinatown or Little Italy, but they’re definitely cool neighborhoods to explore in my opinion. A lot of diverse people, and shops. Little Italy is also very close to Chinatown. About a 5 minute walk, so why not check it out right?
- From Little Italy, we walked about 10 minutes to SoHo. Fun fact: SoHo -for those who do not know- stands for “south of Houston St”. This neighborhood if googled is defined as a chic trendy neighborhood. It is stocked with all of my favorite shops, and the the architecture is simply beautiful. If I could afford to live anywhere in the city, it might be there. There I dragged my husband into a few stores, and we stopped to charge our phones in a Starbucks.
- Next Stop: Washington Square Park. From SoHo to here, it was about 15 minutes walking. Here there is a magnificent arch that was built in 1895. It’s a beautiful park to walk through, even in the winter with no greenery. It seemed like a hot spot for many to gather and have a good conversation with a friend, or go to while walking their furry friends. Also it being in Greenwich Village, we were able to find a marketplace,(Greenwich Social), where I would eat the best avocado toast.
- A 15 minute walk from Greenwich Village, brought us to the grand Flatiron Building. Now if you’re wondering why I chose most of the places I did for my itinerary, and if you maybe would have chosen something different to see whilst in NYC, before you question my itinerary let me explain. Not only did I research hot spots in NYC/tourist attractions, but being a sucker for a good Instagram photo, I sought out the best spots for photos as well. The flatiron definitely makes for one of those “wow” photos.
- The light started to fade towards 4PM. Daylight savings cant come soon enough! But up to Empire State Building we went. It being so close, we extended our day one itinerary into things I set for day two. It was only a 5 minute walk. We did not go into the Empire State, just peaked around the exterior. It’s incredible. Photos below. I do recommend though, if you’re looking for the best view in NYC, Top Of The Rock. This will not only give you a great view, but the Empire State will be in the view as well. Also at the top their is glass instead of fence which the Empire State has at their roof deck. This is what a majority of visitors have said anyways.
- Walking uptown another 5 minutes, we reached the New York Public Library. This place is no joke. You’re able to go inside at no cost, and the interior is so beautiful. Also had a fan girl moment as Carrie in Sex and the City movie #1, chooses to have her wedding there. “Where New York held all of it’s greatest love stories”. We explored a few rooms, and here they have a bathroom on the second floor, just as a tip.
- Another 5-10 minutes and we found ourselves in Grand Central Station. Another amazing IG photo opportunity. This place is more than just a train station. It’s a marketplace too. But watch out, as everyone here is definitely needing to be somewhere. That was by far the most chaotic place I experienced during my time in the city. This station has restaurants, bathrooms, shops, and even an apple store. The architecture is not so bad to look at too.
- Another stop into a Starbucks to charge our phones, and we were off to Times Square! I told my husband that I wanted to see Times Square twice on our trip. Once in the daytime, and once at the night. So this first day we were able to cross off seeing Times Square at night. It really is a spectacle. TVs the size of billboards -or larger- all around you. I don’t even want to google what the cost is to light this place up. While we were there, we grabbed pizza at Rays Famous Pizza, and checked out a few shops. The lights really are the best part. Not much else besides Broadway. We didn’t get the chance to see a show, but I would say that to experience New York fully, it doesn’t require you to see a Broadway show.
Day 1 complete! Our first day, and we walked a little over 20 miles! No exaggeration. The good part about the city is that everything seems so close together. So walking from point A to point B doesn’t seem all that long. Even after 20 miles. We could have easily taken Uber’s or a taxi, but to be honest, we thought it was fun to see or be able to stop into a shop we wouldn’t have known about had we taken an Uber/taxi. Also we’re stubborn and didn’t want to splurge on 20-30$ on every taxi/Uber. This was a definite way to save money on our trip. We could have also taken the Subway, but it was nice to walk. We were dedicated to maximizing our time. Also almost forgot to mention. After we visited our last stop on Day 1, after walking about 19 miles so far, we walked another 2ish miles all the way back downtown to our Hotel. Rough estimate: about 60 blocks. Yeah we’re badass.
At this point, we’re about a day 1/2 into our trip, and we’ve done quite a bit of walking. Our feet were beyond sore the morning of day two. My husband and I literally got out of bed, and were basically falling over. But that didn’t stop us. They wouldn’t have been so sore if we would have given in to the easier route, and ridden the subway more. So don’t think that if you visit the city, your feet will shrivel up like ours did.
- Got ready and started our Day 2 ventures around 8AM. We started by rounding the corner from our hotel, and going into Fulton Center. Here they had a few quick stops for breakfast/lunch/dinner. It doesn’t have much. It’s more used for the subway within it. We grabbed a bagel/coffee and researched what subway connection would take us to Central Park. We also had a bit of help/tips from the ladies working at the bagel shop. New York people aren’t all that mean. Everyone I encountered in NY was very nice to me. Much nicer than people in Maine to be honest.
- Next stop: Central Park! We boarded or train from Fulton Center, and it was about 25 minutes to go uptown to Central Park. We got off at 52nd St, which brought us right to the base of the park. This was actually our first subway ride ever. We bought our Metro Cards in Fulton Center,(which was super easy), and waited where the signs said to wait for our train. If you’ve ever ridden the T in Boston, it’s basically the same thing in NYC. Bumpy ride, always pretty busy. Never get into an empty car. It’s empt for a reason. Follow the NY’ers. They know what they’re doing. Once we were in the park we explored a few trails, and unfortunately stopped to use the bathroom. Do not recommend. It’s such a beautiful park, with so much to do, but bathrooms aren’t the cleanliest. You could spend a day walking around inside this park finding new statues, views, paths. It’s enormous. Which is why we decided to rent a citibike and ride around on the designated bike path. We were able to see it all so much faster, and all for like a 6$ bike rental. Travel experts.
- From Central Park, we visited the exterior of the MET. The largest art museum in the United States. We chose not to go into any museums this trip as we’re planning another trip to dedicate solely to museums. This trip was more for the “get to know the city”. Museums can take up quite a bit of time, and we needed all of the daylight we could get. The exterior was beautiful though.
- The husband and I were getting pretty hungry by this point. On our itinerary: get cupcakes from Sprinkles Cupcakes. The most delicious cupcakes ever. From the MET to Sprinkles, it took 20 minutes by foot. Once we were there, we sat and enjoyed a cupcake each, and got a few to go of course. I tried to not acquire much on our journey in the city as we would be walking and I didn’t want to carry a thousand bags, but who can complain about a bag full of cupcakes, am I right?
- Next stop was one my husband chose. Chick N’ Cone. It is an eatery where they put popcorn chicken dipped in your choice of sauce, into a waffle cone. Hands free eating for the win! This place was located in the Underground Market. It’s right near Columbus Circle, down stairs that look like stairs used for just a subway. But there were a few signs for underground market as well, so it wasn’t too hard to spot. It was such a fun marketplace. Similar to what an underground mall would look like. A ton of food stops, and impulse buy stores. While eating we met up with one of my husbands college friends. We chatted for about 45 minutes, and then parted ways.
- Once we were back to street level, we headed for Rockefeller Center, which took about 15 minutes. Here they had ice skating, and plenty of stores to window shop. I say window shop as it’s so close to fifth avenue that wherever you go into, chances are it will be a high end store. One of those beings Tiffany’s. Which of course I had to stop into. “Just a peek”, I said to my husband. Rockefeller Center is also where you can get to Top of the Rock. One of the best views of NYC. Unfortunately my husband has a deathly fear of heights, and so we chose to skip any and all heights. Day two mostly complete. We chose to head to the subway from Rockefeller Center, to get back to our hotel to rest our feet. Having knocked out a lot of the city’s “must sees” the first day, we didn’t mind kicking back until dinner time.
- We rested until dinner time, and did what any sane person would do, and chose to eat dessert before dinner by going to Milk Bar. Their are a few locations in the Manhattan, but we stopped at one that was along the way to the restaurant of our choice, Fraunces. If you haven’t heard of Milk Bar, it is a basically an ice cream place that serves cereal milk ice cream. It tastes as good as it sounds. Topped with your choice of cereal of course. My choice was fruity pebbles. They have other desserts as well. Very cute aesthetic too.
- Fraunces was the restaurant we chose to eat at for our last night in the city. It is one of the oldest taverns in New York. Once a place that housed our first President George Washington, and his drinking buddies. My husband is fascinated with history, and so this was a good send off for him. All I needed was a cosmo, and the best chicken pot pie to make me happy.
Knowing that there is still so much to experience in New York, I feel as though I was able to perfect our two day itinerary, and really experience most of what the city had to offer.
I am beyond excited to plan our next adventure, whether it be to NYC, or elsewhere. Also having my husband beside me as my travel/Instagram husband, is the absolute best. Thanks babe!
I definitely learned a few things about myself as well. I walk like a New Yorker. Always in a hurry, but not really, and crossing the street before the walk signal. Also that they have healthier food in the city. They don’t only eat cheesecake, bagels, and pizza.
Now what are you waiting for? Go to the city that never sleeps!
Our first nyc taxi ride.
The view from our hotel room. Fulton Center being round building I’m right bottom corner.
Hotel room details.
More room details.
More bathroom details.
Our shower had a Banksy painting secret window. For spying on each other naked. TMI?
Hotel bars neon “Come Together” sign on he ceiling reflecting on our table.
Hotel Bar details.
More hotel bar details. The bars name is Recreation. It’s open to public.
More hotel bar details.
And some more.
There was skee ball in our hotel.
Cool bar signage.
Distance between our hotel & Freedom Tower/ground zero.
This is my half smile, as I did not feel as though it was appropriate to smile at such a sad place. Rest In Peace to everyone that had to endure 9/11.
A white rose for each and every birthday at Ground Zero.
Freedom Tower at night.
Leo’s Bagels. Our first NY bagel.
Staten Island Ferry.
Just a couple of travelers.
Welcome To Brooklyn.
Empire State of mind.
New York Public Library.
NY Public Library details.
Grand Central details.
Fraunces Dinner. Last night.
First NYC cosmo.