Recently I surprised my husband with tickets to see his favorite Pro basketball team, the NY Knicks, play at home at Madison Square Garden. It was his dream! Also- it doesn’t hurt that I LOVE NYC! We invited some great friends, and several of our group were NYC first-timers. I definitely wanted to put in some good effort in planning our days so that we weren’t sitting around a hotel room staring at each other saying, “UMMMMM what do you want to do now??” So, I got advice from several good friends and family members who were experienced NYC experts, and away we went. We left super early on a Friday, and came home in the evening on Sunday so we had 3 full days. It was my favorite trip we’ve taken in a long time, and the schedule ended up being perfect. We were busy, and packed a LOT in, but we were never rushed. Here is our itinerary, with notes in parenthesis, travel directions in italics, and some tips at the end. This will be most helpful to you if you want a quick weekend getaway, and want to see most of the big tourist locations of NYC. Or, if you’d just like to see the “behind the scenes” and some photos of our trip, keep reading. Enjoy!
Leave for airport at 4:45AM
(We flew from Chattanooga>Atlanta>LaGuardia in NYC)
Breakfast: Something quick in ATL airport
Flight lands at 10:51 at LGA
Take a cab to hotel– Hilton Garden Inn/West 35th St NY, NY, 212-594-3310 (We really enjoyed this hotel. The rooms were nice, it was affordable, and we were near MSG, Times Square, Broadway, and Harold Square Station. I would recommend staying somewhere like this, instead of directly in Times Square to avoid the massive crowds. We also didn’t want to spend a lot of our budget on a fancy hotel, because we weren’t planning on spending too much time there.)
Noon— leave bags at hotel
(The photo bomb in that second photo tho LOL)
1:30— Top of the Rock Observation Deck— D train at Herald Sq to Rockefeller Center (This is a really cool view of NYC. Unfortunately, it was rainy and foggy so we didn’t get to enjoy it, but walking through Rockefeller Center is a must. Great shopping, cool history, and see where they do the lighting of the Christmas tree!)
3:30- head back to hotel– D train Rockefeller Center to 34th st Herald Sq
5:30— leave for Dinner at Takashi, 456 Hudson St- West Village— Take D train at HSq to West 4th St Wash Sq, then 8 min walk (Takashi was out of our comfort zone, but ended up being AMAZING! My cousin lives there in the West Village, and he took us here! It’s a Japanese BBQ where you cook everything on a grill right in front of you. It’s also in a really cool part of the West Village near Washington Square Park and NYU’s campus.)
Take Train back to the hotel
Go to 9/11 Museum, 180 Greenwich St NY, NY— Harold Sq- R train to Cortlandt St
9am- 11am Explore Museum (Definitely do 9/11 museum! It’s HUGE, and takes awhile, especially if it’s crowded. So map out enough time for this one morning! It’s a “heavy” experience, so definitely find something fun to do after. It’s sooooo worth it though!)
11:40— Eat at Juniors (Juniors is a staple. They have literally the best cheesecake we’ve ever eaten. And it’s totes instagram worthy. There are several locations in the city. We went to the one near Times Square so we could be in the crowd for a bit.)
Afternoon Free (explore Times Square/5th ave, shop— The Met/Natural History Museum)
Get back to hotel around 5
6:00— leave hotel for Madison Square Garden– 5 min walk
Eat at the Garden
7:30-11— Knicks game (We sat on the Chase Bridge, which was a really cool experience in MSG. It’s almost as if you’re floating over the arena, plus very limited crowds for the restaurants! If you’re planning to attend an event there, I recommend it!)
11:30— 86th floor observatory of the Empire State Building– 5 min walk, Open until 2AM (This was amazing. I would definitely recommend doing Empire State Building late one night. Coolest view I’ve ever seen! Plus no crowd!)
Leave Hotel at 8AM
12:00- Take train to Pier 83. For circle Line cruises- Liberty Cruise, 83 Pier W 42nd St
1:30-2:45— Circle Line Liberty Cruise (We loved this! Got up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Great pictures too!)
Take cab to hotel to get bags
5:00– Take Uber to JFK
7:48pm- Flight leaves to CHA
-Taking a cab to your hotel from the airport is usually the cheapest and easiest. Make sure when taking cabs, you actually take a NYC yellow cab. They will try to sucker you into car services that are double the price. Also, if you don’t want to take a cab, the Uber app is really simple. Check with your hotel because they may have a flat rate shuttle to and from the airport, but you’ll have to schedule that. (Flat rate because in addition to cab fares, you’ll have to pay tolls with cabs and Uber.)
-When you take a cab in NYC, it’s much easier to give them a “block” that you’re going to instead of an address. Our hotel was on 35th, and we said to our driver to take us to 35th and 6th. Because that’s the intersection it was closest to. A cab driver gave us that advice!
-We loved all the places we ate. Literally not one bad experience. Most of them were recommendations from my cousin that lives there!
-Take the Subway as much as you can! It’s absolutely the easiest and cheapest way to get around. It’s safe, and mostly clean. (I kept wet wipes in my bag.) You can never “learn” the trains in just a few days so rely on your google maps on your phone. When you click the transit button on the top it will tell you exactly which train to take and what stops to get off on. Your google maps also gives you walking directions. You’ll walk a LOT (I actually loved it!) so wear comfy shoes.
-We bought a City Pass. It was $122 a person and it gave us tickets to all the big ‘touristy’ things we did. You end up saving about 45% on tickets when you buy it all together! With the CityPass we got tickets to 9/11 museum, Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, the Liberty Cruise, the Met, and the Natural History museum. We didn’t get to do the last 2, but it still ended up being cheaper than buying everything individually. Plus you get to skip all the lines because you already have tickets! It was definitely the way to go for us! I highly recommend it if you want to see any of those sights.
-Do a broadway show! They are so much fun! We chose to do a Knicks game at the Garden over Broadway this trip, but my last trip to the city we did two!
Stay tuned for more posts like How To Pack for your Weekend Getaway, and What To Have in Your Bag for a Day in the City, etc. Let me know if you have any questions or if this was helpful. Happy Traveling!