The summer heat, the smell that NYC always has in the warmer weather…
Metro North was quiet on the warm Saturday morning of May 26th. Normally the train is crowded with men and women in suit jackets and pencil skirts half asleep on their way to work. Today, it was almost empty, the seats being occupied by visitors and tourists wanting to make the most out of the (finally) good weather. With a strong cup of coffee in one hand and our tickets in the other we ambled into a four-seater and settled in for the hour and fifteen journey into Grand Central.
Three things greeted us when we got off the train. The summer heat, the smell that NYC always has in the warmer weather, and the dull roar of hundreds of people admiring one of the most well known buildings in the city. Thankfully our hotel, the Grand Hyatt New York, is attached to Grand Central so we didn’t have far to walk with our stuff. We dropped our bags off in storage since it was still too early to check in, and headed back into Grand Central to the subways.
Side note: While you might normally think a hotel that close to an iconic city landmark would be “too touristy,” it actually ended up being perfect for our weekend trip. Having it connected to the train terminal gave us access to trains in and out of the city, a popular taxi and uber pickup spot, and the subway, which can take you anywhere. It was super convenient for any kind of transportation you needed, and considering the location, the price was great.
Our first stop of the day was the food festival Smorgasburg. Every Saturday and Sunday during the summer, you’ll find this amazing open air food market in Brooklyn. It has everything you could ever want, from spaghetti donuts to grilled lobster. Since we went on a Saturday the market was on the East River State Park in Williamsburg, which is right on the water and has great views of the city. Be prepared for huge crowds, so going as close to opening time as possible will allow you the shortest lines. It also gets really, REALLY hot, between there not being any shade in the area and the amount of people in the semi-small space. You’re going to want to have a constant stash of water, but they don’t allow plastic bottles inside the park so either bring your own reusable one or be prepared to buy some. A lot of the stalls only take cash as well, so plan accordingly.
Williamsburg is also home to the Brooklyn Brewery, so after stuffing ourselves with as much crazy delicious food as we could, we headed there. Unfortunately they were under construction so the tasting room and brewery tour was closed, but it had been worth a shot. They have now reopened so it’s definitely something you should check out if you’re in the area. We also thought about going to City Winery for a tour and tasting, so if wine is more your forte that’s also a great option.
With more time on our hands than we had originally planned, we headed back into Manhattan. We checked to see if either of us had won the lottery for Hamilton or Shakespeare in the Park (we hadn’t), and decided to make the most out of the beautiful day and head to Central Park. We took a lovely walk down to The Loeb Boathouse and rented a rowboat for an hour. Even if you’ve never picked up an oar in your life, this is something anyone can do. It offers beautiful views of both the park and the tips of the city skyline, and it’s a great way to goof off with friends.
By the time we finished we had the beginnings of sunburns, and that exhaustion that overcomes you when you’ve been out in the sun all day had begun to wash over us. We headed back to the hotel to change, take a quick cat nap and get ready for whatever the city that never sleeps had in store for us. Our three dinner options were Speedy Romeo, which has some of the best pizza in the city, The Ainsworth, a classy sports bar, and Obicà Mozzarella Bar. We ended up going to Obica since that had actually been one of our favorite restaurants when we had been studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Highly recommend the wild boar ragu. It might seem a bit eclectic but it tastes amazing.
After the delicious food, and even better wine, we were ready to see where the night would take us. After much deliberation we decided to skip the bars (Magic Hour and 230 Fifth were our top contenders) and made our way to Chelsea Piers. Chelsea Piers has everything from rock climbing, to bowling, to batting cages. We decided to head to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls. The thing that sets this driving range apart is 1. It’s three floors and they have automatic ball tee’s, and 2. you feel as though you are hitting balls out into the river. I would definitely recommend doing this at night when everything is lit up and it’s quieter so you can hear the waves lapping at the docks.
The next morning we stopped at Zucker’s Bagels for some hand-rolled, New York style bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. We grabbed a coffee at Cafe Grumpy, then proceeded to the MUJI store on Fifth Ave because they have everything you could ever want when it comes to bullet journaling and stationary. (I have a office supply obsession and yes I need help). As the time of our check out came we hoisted our bags onto our shoulders, pocketed all the memories we had made (and the new office supplies), and hopped on a train back to the 203.
Mackenzie is a Connecticut native who loves finding the next big adventure. She enjoys cooking, dogs, and relaxing on a beach with a great book. If you want her heart, you find it on top of the Duomo in Florence.