Adventures in the Big Apple

Last week I went for a long weekend in New York with my manfriend. It’s been about ten years since I was there last, and I absolutely loved it. I realized just how different I am as as a person from back then, and how different my experience of the city was on this trip. It was as simple as the feelings I had as I walked through the streets, seeing all the different people from all over the world, hearing the sounds of the city, soaking it all in.

Here are my favorite things from our trip {and some that didn’t make it onto our itinerary but are on the to-do list for next time}!

Lady Liberty and Ellis Island

lady liberty & ellis.jpg

It might seem lame, totally predictable, and the most touristy thing ever, and it’s really never been high on my New York must see list before recently, but now it’s right up at the top. Especially given everything that’s going on in our country right now, I think these two places are a great reminder that every single one of us comes from people who took the biggest leap of faith to come to the U.S., most likely through that island. For some of us our ancesters came here many generations ago, and for others the journey has just started, which is something I find fascination and beautiful about this country.  There is so much to learn about the experiences people had, and how our country has treated different immigrants and groups from different country’s over time, for better or worse.

Tenement Tour

tenement pics

I didn’t include this in my list of Museums, because I really don’t consider it a ‘museum’… it’s more like a time capsule, a living history in an of itself, a real peek inside the lives of people from 100 or more years ago. Even if you aren’t an Architect, this place is so fascinating. My manfriend can attest to it, I think at first he was just there to be a good sport and sit through it because I wanted to go, but he totally dug it, and this was definitely one of my favorite things of the trip… and maybe in the city.

New York City was home to tenement housing in the late 19th century and into the mid 1900’s. These buildings have a reputation for being horrible living conditions for New York’s poor, but when they first came into existence they were considered middle-class housing. They are fascinating both from an Architectural and Anthropological perspective. {modern day building codes came as a result of conditions that people in big cities lived and worked in during that time as well…}

You can tour a preserved tenement building, where they have restored apartments and have researched stories of the tenants who lived there who were from different countries, all with their own unique story, and learn about all different aspects of life from that time. It was completely fascinating. They have a lot of different tours so this is on my list for every visit for the foreseeable future.


Walk around the City

I love walking in New York. It’s so easy to walk everywhere, and the city is so dense, and built at such a great pedestrian scale, that before you even know it you’ve walked a couple of miles, or halfway across town. You can really see and experience so much different city life and discover so many hole in the wall places this way {amazing NY pizza spots, and the tiny bodegas that sell amazing lunch!}, it’s one of my favorite ways to experience it. Just give yourself an afternoon, or a few hours in the early morning to explore, depending on the part of town or time of day, you will have a completely different experience, it’s spectacular. Here are just a few of my favorite pics from my walking around on this trip {yes, it’s mostly buildings, what can I say, I’m a mystery}.

New York pics.jpg

Central Park 

Central Park is huge! Have you ever been in one park that is this big, that isn’t just being in the woods or something? It’s pretty impressive. Go for a walk or go bike riding through the park, or just grab some lunch if the weather is nice and go have a picnic. For such a huge metropolis, it really is kind of amazing that this massive green space is there, right in the heart of the city. And it’s a great contrast to the fast pace of the dense urban environment that surrounds it.

central park.jpg

Eat Great Food

I have to admit, I didn’t have my most amazing food experience ever on this trip, but I think I need to do a little more research next time to find places in advance {also, Chicago is pretty stiff competition for amazing restaurants}. I did have some standouts though that I’m sharing here. I love eating out, I love amazing food, and when I’m in a new place I want to eat at great ~ non touristy ~ restaurants. Here are my favs from this trip.

|Big Gay Ice Cream Shop|

omg. stop what you are doing and go to this place before you go anywhere else. I grew up in the country in Virginia, and we had a down and dirty Tastee Treat that had soft serve ice cream. It was pretty amazing. And then forever you couldn’t find it anywhere, but it’s making a comeback and this is the best soft serve ice cream I’ve had in my entire life {yes, bold statement I know}. We went twice. So good.

big gay ice cream shop.jpg


We randomly found this place while we were walking to Big Gay Ice Cream after dinner… it’s an open lot, filled with all kinds of different food tents, where you can get unicorn rainbow ice cream cookies, or indian style tacos. What a great way to try a bunch of different foods when you’re visiting a new city {or heck, even in your own hometown!}. Also, how is there a huge empty lot just sitting in the middle of Tribeca?! Check out this list of eight other awesome outdoor food markets if you’re still hungry.

|Smith & Mills|

This place is maybe the coolest restaurant I’ve ever been. It’s absolutely tiny, definitely the smallest restaurant I’ve ever been to, maybe the smallest one ever, it doesn’t even have a kitchen! The guys behind the bar make everything on the menu ~ on a hot plate! Seriously, it’s impressive to say the least. The space looks and feels like you step off the sidewalk and back in time to a tiny cafe in France. It’s a must see.

Smith and Mills.jpg

Hit up some Museums

Most Americans don’t live in huge cities with a bunch of huge museums featuring priceless art and artifacts, so when you are in a city with amazing museums ~ make the time to go! There are so many museums in New York, you’ll never run out of art to see. I’m only going to list a few here, our {my} must see this time around was a special exhibit at the MoMA, but the best thing about museums in any big city is that they have their normal collections but are always doing something special, so there’s always something new to see. Here is a short list of museums and great exhibits going on now.


There is currently a special exhibit celebrating the 150th birthday of  Frank Lloyd Wright. I know I know, he’s not an Architect the cool design kids go crazy for anymore, but he’s a legend in his own right, and he was someone who’s work transformed Architecture, building, and how we think about and experience space. There’s no way I was going to miss it. I mean, just look at this model, and those gorgeous drawings… all done by hand!


And of course there is all the modern art, which is super fun to look at… and get confused by… is this cardboard box really art? I have to say, I think if I put together these road signs myself no-one would offer to put it in the MoMA, just sayin’… ;)

MoMA_modern art.jpg

|MoMA PS1|

MoMA has a second location, the best feature of which is that every year they hold an Architecture competition for a work that will be built in their front courtyard to be used by people all summer. It’s a super fun interactive way to experience art and Architecture.  they also have a bunch of other great looking exhibits right now, take your pic!

PS1 installation.jpg

|The Whitney|

The Whitney has an exhibit all about protest art that I’m dying to see. It examines how artists have responded to political and social issues of their time, from the 1940’s to present day.

There’s also an amazing looking Calder exhibit until October, looks like I’ll need to go back sooner than I was expecting {!!}

|Museum of American Finance|

You guys, I’m totally fascinated by so many things, and finance is one of them {if there were a Museum all about law I would hit that one up too}. There are exhibits on everything ranging from the history of U.S. currency, to the stock market, to the history and role of banks in our economy. Anyone who earns money should be into this place.

1880 hundred dollar bill

|Museum of Sex|

Sex {although completely natural} is still in many ways pretty taboo in our culture. There are so many fascinating exhibits happening here. From one that provides a look into life and culture around sex in the 70’s disco era, to an exhibit featuring the work of 25 female artists and their perspective on the female experience in a culture… a world… that is filled with images reflective of male’s perspectives on sexuality and desire. So let yourself be a little ‘naughty’ and check this place out while your in town, and help clear away the taboo.

museum of sex

I’m already planning my next trip!



One Comment

  1. Great post! I’ve only been to New York twice before, but if I get the chance to go again, I’ll definitely check out these food spots and museums – especially The Whitney!

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