While I’m lucky enough to have been to NYC quite a few times now, this time my fiancée and I were with my parents who hadn’t been for about 30 years! So I more or less acted as tour guide while we were there, and I wanted to make sure they had a good time and saw some of the sights that we’re all familiar with. They were staying on for a few more days after us (sadly we had to get back to work) so we didn’t have to cram absolutely everything in, but I still think we got quite a bit done in our time together. If you want to see my earlier posts about New York you can find them here and here.
As I mentioned in my Havana post, there was an issue with the shutter of my camera (I was only shooting 35mm on this trip) so I lost quite a few photos so this post feels a bit lean to me compared to my memories of it, but hopefully no one minds too much!
This time around we stayed in the East Village, which is a beautiful and very centrally-located neighbourhood. It’s definitely not in most people’s price range (I usually stay in Brooklyn when I visit NYC) but it was a special occasion for all of us and we wanted to make the most of our time there. We stayed right near Thompkins Square Park, which was usually packed with people enjoying the sunshine, and we were a short walk to the 1st Ave subway, as well as a slightly longer walk to Soho/Noho/Nolita which are all great areas packed with shops and restaurants.
I knew my parents wanted to see the One World Trade Centre Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, so I formulated a day plan for Lower Manhattan that allowed us to cover a lot of ground in one day. On our first full day we started off at Two Hands in Tribeca for breakfast, which is an Aussie café (I thought my parents would appreciate the coffee). Mark and I both had an incredible mushroom toast with pesto and cashew cream, but be warned – their Nolita location has a smaller menu that doesn’t include this, which is a terrible mistake on their part, because it was incredible.
After breakfast we wandered down to the memorial, and passed the Charging Bull monument (which was kind of cool for my dad since he worked at the Stock Exchange in Sydney for a long time). We also wandered through Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, and decided rather than line up and spend the rest of our day seeing the Statue of Liberty that we would just take the (free) Staten Island ferry which goes past the statue on its way over.
Obviously it’s not the same as going to Liberty Island and seeing it up close (which I have done before anyway), but if you don’t care one way or the other, the public ferry is an easy way to do it that doesn’t take too long. Admittedly it gets pretty crowded since a lot of other people have the same idea, but it’s still a nice experience. We didn’t really spend any time on Staten Island but we were all glad we did it (and by that time were happy just to be sitting down with a nice breeze blowing). FYI the ferry gets closer on the way over to Staten Island so you’re better off taking your photos then and relaxing on the way back.
On our way home for the afternoon we stopped off at Mark’s favourite doughnut place in the world, Dun-Well Doughnuts. They have a location in the East Village (which we went to more than once) and their peanut butter & jelly doughnut is still the best one around, and it's vegan to boot!
The following day we started off at Chelsea Market, which my mum really enjoyed, before walking along the High Line. Unfortunately it was raining a bit, but at least it wasn’t as crowded as it probably would have been on a sunnier day. I think Mark was pretty indifferent to the idea of the High Line, but after actually experiencing it he said it was much cooler than he thought it would be. Sadly I only salvaged one (pretty average) photo from the High Line, so you’ll have to use your imagination, or hopefully visit yourself one day!
My parents and I are all huge Leonard Cohen fans, so I made sure we took a special trip to the Chelsea Hotel. Unfortunately most of it is covered in scaffolding (even more than the last time I visited in 2014) but it was still nice to show them the plaque that’s displayed there for him. One of the first songs my dad showed me when he got me into Leonard Cohen all those years ago was Chelsea Hotel #2, so it was really nice to be able to go there with my parents.
For lunch we went to a nearby byCHLOE location, which is quick service vegan burgers and salads and the like. While I would say there are other vegan places that I recommend more highly, this place is still a great option if you’re exhausted and just want to eat NOW and don’t want to deal with the back & forth of a table-service restaurant.
Afterwards we walked to the nearby Flatiron Building before heading home for a rest. Mark took my dad to his first baseball game that night, so my mum and I had a girls night and went for dinner at Mother of Pearl. We found it just by walking past and I thought the decor was really cute, and it just so happened to be plant-based too. We're lucky that my parents were very cool about eating at vegan places (we tried to take find places that would cater for everyone as they both eat meat, but often we ended up at all vegan places because they were happy to do it).
On the day we initially planned to go to the Empire State Building it was raining, so we put it off until the following day. Although this was my fourth time in NYC, I had never actually been to the top of the Empire State before. I never particularly wanted to deal with the lines or the expense, and I thought it probably wouldn’t be as good as everyone hyped it up to be. Let me tell you, I was wrong. As much as we’ve all seen this view of New York in movies and TV shows and photos, it really is pretty incredible to actually see it for yourself. I know Mark wasn’t expecting all that much either, but we were all really glad my mum insisted on doing it, because it really was something special.
After the Empire State we wandered over to the Rockerfeller Centre, before mum and I went shopping in Soho. If you’re into designers then you’d probably be more excited about 5th Ave and Madison Ave and the like, but Soho is the area I like best for shopping.
There’s the obvious ones like Topshop & Zara of course, but there are also some much harder to find stores (at least for Aussies/Canadians) that are worth a look if you’ve set aside some time for browsing. For clothes there’s & Other Stories, Everlane, Madewell, Reformation and my new favourite, Sezanne. If my entire life could look like a Sezanne shop I would be a very happy woman.
For beauty there’s obviously Glossier and Sephora, as well as standalone Diptyque and Byredo stores, and a Birchbox shop where you can build your own box of minis. Aside from all the ones I knew I wanted to go to, there are a tonne of independent boutiques whose names I didn't know. It really can feel overwhelming, but luckily Soho borders Nolita which it absolutely packed with places to stop for something to eat or drink if you need to recharge.
One last restaurant we went to that deserves a mention is VSPOT which describes itself as Latin vegan comfort food, so if that sounds like your sort of thing then it's definitely worth putting on the list. They have one location in the East Village and another in Brooklyn and I have a feeling we'll be going back next time Mark and I are in NYC in October.