Length of stay: 3 days
Visited: July 2019
There is so much to see and do in New York City. With towering skyscrapers, iconic landmarks, and an incredible arts, entertainment, food, fashion and nightlife scene, you could easily spend weeks, months, years (or even a lifetime) exploring the city. Even though we’ve been twice before, when we were invited to a wedding in Brooklyn, we didn’t hesitate to book our plane tickets.
Day 1: Books and Baseball
We started our day off at the New York Public Library to get our book learning on. The library offers free one-hour tours of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, which is the main branch of the New York Public Library. We snagged the last two tickets for the first tour of the day at the reception desk in Astor Hall and waited about 10 minutes or so for the tour to start.
The New York Public Library is one of the largest libraries in the world and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building alone contains an estimated 2.5 million books in its world-renowned collection in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. It has also been prominently featured in many tv shows and films, including Ghostbusters, Breakfast at Tiffany’s the Day After Tomorrow and Sex in the City.
Our guide showed us the main sections of the library and took us through the history and highlights of the building, including the iconic Rose Main Reading Room.
After the tour, we headed over to the Children’s Center, which showcases the actual stuffed animals that inspired Christopher Robin’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
From the library we walked to the west side of Manhattan to the High Line, an elevated trail through a park created on a former railway. The park spans across 2.3km and has various access points along the trail. We picked up lunch along the walk to the High Line and ate it at one of the many benches along the trail. We started at the north entrance and walked along the entire stretch.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is conveniently located at the south entrance of the High Line. So after finishing our walk through the park, we headed over to the Whitney, which focuses on the 20th-century and contemporary American art. The building also features a large patio, providing sweeping views of the Hudson River.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat after the museum and hopped on the subway to Citi Field, located all the way up in Queen’s, to catch a baseball game. After entering into the stadium, we were handed a free (one-size fits all, XL) Mets jersey. I donned it like a snuggie and sat back and watched the game. The Mets ended up winning 6-3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Day 2: The Best of Brooklyn (and a Wedding)
We woke up bright and early as we planned to spend the day walking around Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. After eating some breakfast at our AirBnB, we hopped on the subway to Lower Manhattan to get to the Brooklyn Bridge. This iconic suspension bridge was opened in 1883 to link Manhattan to Brooklyn. It has an elevated promenade in the centre of the bridge, above the car lanes, where pedestrians and cyclists can walk across.
There isn’t much shelter from the sweltering sun on the Brooklyn Bridge, which is why we figured we’d walk along it first thing in the morning. Plus, there’s also less people out and about at that time.
Once we crossed over the bridge and made it Brooklyn, we walked along the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which offers lovely views of all the skyscrapers along Manhattan. It is also well shaded in the morning, providing nice relief from the sun. This was a good opportunity to cling to the shadows, take a water break and apply more sunscreen.
After stopping for some lunch on a nice shaded patio, we walked back to Lower Manhattan along the Manhattan Bridge. This bridge provided great views of the Brooklyn Bridge and was considerably less busy compared to when we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Once we crossed back over to Manhattan, we walked south, checking out other sites along the way. We first stopped by the 9/11 Memorial, which was built as a tribute of remembrance of the people who were killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, as well as the people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993. The memorial consists of two pools located in the spot where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of the victims of the attacks are inscribed on the parapets surrounding the two memorials.
We then visited the Trinity Church, located around the corner from the 9/11 Memorial. Trinity Church is a historic church that was once the tallest building in the city. It was also featured in the film National Treasure. There was a long line to get into the tower of the church, so in the interest of time, we explored the burial grounds instead.
Since we had Phil and Yukiha’s wedding to attend later in the evening, we hopped back on the subway and returned to our accommodations to get ready. We then set back out again to Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
By this time it was starting to cool off and was quite pleasant (in the shade). The ceremony itself was held out on the grounds and was followed by a reception in the Picnic House. It was all very charming.
We left just before midnight with our bellies full of food (and so much ice cream) and hearts full of love.
Day 3: The Cloisters
Based on a recommendation from the couple we sat with during the reception yesterday, we spent our final day in New York City at the Met Cloisters. The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and features a large collection of architecture, art and sculptures of medieval Europe. The building was built on a steep hill and is surrounded by medieval gardens and a series of chapels and themed galleries.
We were able to check in our bags at the front desk. We were then handed an audio guide to learn more about the history and artwork of the building at our own pace.
After finishing up at the Cloisters, we grabbed some lunch. We then wandered through the Inwood Hill Park located just north of the Cloisters. This was probably not the greatest idea as we had our bags with us, it was hot, and there was the word “hill” in the name of the park.
As soon as we found an exit out of the park, we located the nearest subway and hopped on. We then headed south to Penn Station in Mid Manhattan. We still had a couple of hours to kill before our train to Newark, so we strolled through the city soaking in the views while trying to dodge the crowds. It was no easy task.
Even though we’ve been to New York City twice before, there was no shortage of new areas around the city to explore. This trip was also much more relaxing as we’ve seen many of the highlights before, so there is less pressure to try to fit everything in.