Okay, so your checking account is pretty much empty, you only have two days off and summer is almost over. A weekend getaway in New York City is totally out of the question, right?
Whether you’re a flight attendant or just a travel aficionado, New York City is a staple for any wanderer’s bucket list. But to get the real New York experience, you have to think like a New Yorker…
First things first. How to get there? Unless you’re cool with shelling out $50 or more for a cab from the airport into downtown Manhattan, do NOT fly into Laguardia. John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens (JFK) in your best option to fly into, or New Jersey’s Newark airport (EWR) will do in a pinch. Both airports are conveniently located on public transportation lines, and believe me, you will soon learn to love the extensive train system in this city.
Let’s talk coffee. The average New Yorker probably prefers Dunkin Donuts over Starbucks, and you know you’re a native if you are clutching one of the infamous little Greek coffee cups while reading the trashy New York Post magazine on the J train at 7 in the morning.
Once you’ve successfully boarded the train with your coffee, we’re ready to brunch. And New Yorkers brunch like there’s no tomorrow. Egg in Williamsburg, B&H Diner in the East Village and Enid’s in Greenpoint are some of my favorite spots.
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Not all of the Big Apple is eating and drinking. While you’re here, you have to make the trip up to Central Park and hit up the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum. Plan on getting to the museums early, and map out what exhibits you want to see.
In good weather, this city is great for wandering. Pick out a neighborhood to explore: like the West Village, Washington Square Park or Chinatown. If you have time, take the free Staten Island Ferry and glide past Lady Liberty herself while the skyline retreats behind you.
There are no shortage of hip bars and colorful watering holes in New York. Picking a few to bounce around between is tough. I like to start at Beauty Bar in the East Village for their Happy Hour Cocktail ‘n’ Manicure deal. For $10, you get a martini and a fresh coat on your nails!
Once the sun starts to set all the cool kids head to Brooklyn. Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk, or grab a ride on the J Train across the East River.
After crossing over to Brooklyn, hit up Five Leaves in the Greenpoint neighborhood for a meal of steamed mussels in white wine, truffle fries and grilled pineapple burgers. It’s eclectic and cozy, but my absolute favorite dinner spot in Brooklyn.
Next, I hit up Night of Joy bar for a rooftop margarita, Union Pool‘s backyard patio (complete with a taco truck!), Pete’s Candy Store for artsy poetry readings and shows, and Barcade. Because its a bar, and an arcade. Done and done.
This is the city that never sleeps, but you will need to get some shut-eye eventually. The Jane Hotel in the West Village is a gem of a boutique hotel, still fairly cheap for the city. Websites like AirBnB.com and Couchsurfing.com are amazing resources for independent travelers on a budget. But my all-time favorite cheap hotel is called my friend’s couch.