New York City – Sightseeing
It’s hard to summarize our sightseeing in NYC into just one post. We saw so many things our heads practically burst from the input, we ate so much good food the elastic pants had to come out, and we walked so much we put holes in 3 pairs of socks. Each of our little outings could be a blog post all it’s own, but if I’m to survive I’ll have to condense and sort. And our outings were kind of like that too.
In all we had ~5 days or so to sightsee, in between cat stuff, and we had limited time every time we went out. We never leave the pets alone for too long and in this case we had radioactive kitty pee to watch out for too. So we had to be choosy, real choosy.
For sightseeing we decided to hit just a few key attractions. Bucket-list type of stuff we knew we really wanted to see. And the rest of the time we just wandered around from place to place enjoying the area.
For food we had no other goal than to find a few smaller hole-in-the-wall kinda spots with good-looking local grub. Mostly we ate street food at the many awesome food trucks around town, but we did enjoy a few sit-down meals including a great Indian spot (Aahar Indian), a superb speakeasy-type pizza place (Bar Cyrk) and a couple of places in Jersey (see #7 below). For all our spots we let Yelp narrow down the choice, but we let atmosphere guide us to the final bite. If it was tight and packed with locals then we knew it was going to be good.
So in a mere 2000 words or so, here’s what little we experienced in the City That Never Sleeps:
1/ 9/11 Memorial Plaza & Museum
One of the very first things we both wanted to see when we came to NYC was the 9/11 memorial and museum. As anyone who lived through that period knows, it was a time that changed us forever.
I’ll never forget the moment I found out that the first plane had hit. I was up in Canada (finalizing my Green Card actually), while Paul was on an airplane in San Francisco on the runway (he never took off). I saw the news and I initially thought I was watching some kind of movie. I simply couldn’t comprehend it. For the next 2 hours I sat stunned and immobile in my hotel room watching the horror unfold. It’s a moment that has stayed with me forever.
The very day we arrived in NYC we took the ferry to Manhattan and walked over to see the twin reflecting pools at the Memorial Plaza and go through the Memorial Museum. It’s hard to describe what it was like and I honestly think it’s different for everyone. For us it was sad, moving, beautiful and deeply emotional. I spent a lot of time in the tribute room absorbing the pictures of all the victims and reading/hearing their stories (I thought the room was very nicely done) and I stood in silence and awe in front of the remains of twisted steel and box columns in the main hall. It was the hardest visit we did in NYC, but also the most meaningful. I’m very glad we went.
Visit Tips: From the RV Park you can either take the PATH from Grove Street to the World Trade Center (puts you right there) or take the ferry from Warren Street (10 mins walk on each side). The Museum costs $24/person to visit and is open 9AM to 8/9PM (last admission 2 hours before closing). You can bring doggie to see the pools at the Memorial Plaza, but cannot bring him/her into the Museum.
2/ Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
To me there’s nothing that says “New York City” quite like the Statue Of Liberty.
Originally a gift of friendship from the people of France in 1886, she’s the very embodiment of freedom and democracy. Form 1892 to from 1954 over 12 million immigrants came past her torch on their passage to Ellis Island and into the New World, and I can only imagine the elation they felt must have felt seeing her for the very first time after months at sea.
Her allure has not faded either. When Paul and I first saw her (out of our RV window from the park no less) we both gasped and giggled like little kids. Plus, being an immigrant myself I wanted to learn more about the history of the many people that populated this country. It’s such a tourist thing to do, but we HAD to go!
We rode our bicycles from the RV Park to the ferry terminal on Liberty State Park, caught the ferry over and explored both spots in one go. The museum on Ellis Island is fabulously done and not only takes you through the history of the people that passed through it’s doors, but also traces the entire history of immigration to the US, which is fascinating in and of itself. And the Lady herself is even more beautiful up close than she is from afar. We didn’t get into the crown (you have to book months ahead to get that), but we enjoyed roaming around her lower levels. She’s definitely worth the visit!
Visit Tips: The ferry from Jersey Side is waaaay less full than the ferry from New York side (it’s seriously crazy from NYC), so if you’re planning to visit definitely do it from the RV Park side. If you want to visit the crown you need to book well ahead, but otherwise you can buy tickets directly at the ferry for $18/person (Ellis Island plus Statue of Liberty). No dogs allowed on either Ellis Island or at The Statue of Liberty National Monument.
3/ Brooklyn Bridge
Is there anything more romantic than walking on the Brooklyn Bridge? Well, some might say it’s a tad less romantic now that you can no longer legally put a lover’s lock on it. And some might also say it’s a smidgen less lovey-dovey with 2,000 or so other people around, which is the typical number of tourists on the bridge at any given moment (well actually I made that number up, but it honestly felt that packed).
Still it’s the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridges in the US and an iconic feature of the NYC skyline since 1883. Plus if you catch it at sunrise (or sunset) it’s a pretty sweet view. Just crop out the masses and you’ll have captured a bonafide piece of NYC history 🙂
Visit Tips: It’s an easy PATH ride from the Grove St Station near the RV Park to the World Trade Center which will put you literally minutes walk from the Bridge Pedestrian Walkway, and that’s exactly how we did it. The Walkway is free to visit and allows both dogs & bikes. Great views, awesome architecture and a walk worth doing even if you’ve got to dodge a few folks.
4/ The Highline Walk
Imagine a serene, green oasis high above the craziness of the street and you’ve just pictured The Highline. Walk through a tunnel of Aspens, admire modern art and old architecture, have an Italian gelato, sunbathe on a reclining chair and take your shoes off to soak your weary feet in a flowing stream. Yeah, it’s literally ALL THAT and more!
This awesome attraction was only just completed in 2014. Originally an industrial train path that carried goods to and from Manhattan’s largest industrial district from 1934-1980, it was left derelict and scheduled for demolition until a few locals started campaigning for it’s preservation and reuse as a public space. Friends Of The Highline was founded in 1999 and the rest is history. Today this fabulous park is a glorious green respite from the hustle and bustle of the streets. It’s an AWESOME spot to relax and rejuvenate, as well as to see the city from a different perspective. Thank you to my friend Jil for pushing us to discover this 🙂
Visit Tips: We walked The Highline several times while we were in the city, starting at 14th Street right up to it’s end point. From the RV Park you can either take the PATH directly to 14th Street or take the ferry and rent a CitiBike to the starting point. It’s a lovely bike ride along the waterfront! Sadly, no dogs allowed on the Highline.
5/ Time Square & Broadway
Anyone who’s ever seen the New Year’s Eve ball drop in NYC on TV has seen Times Square. It jam packed with lights, humongous flashing LED screens, the famous scrolling electronic marquees, folks in crazy costumes (posing for money) aaaand people. Masses and masses of people!
Honestly we went just to see it and to walk back through Broadway and gawk at some of the many fabulous theaters and shows. For someone who dabbled in Amateur Theater for many years, being on Broadway is like swimming in magic. It doesn’t get any better than this. I was bummed we didn’t get to actually see a show, but our time ran out. When we come back to NYC this is one of the very first things we’re going to do.
Visit Tips: We took the PATH from Grove Street (by RV Park) to 33rd and then walked to Times Square, but you can get closer if you take a Subway too. On the way home we walked/biked back and took the ferry. For those wanting to catch a last-minute theater show there are plenty of options for getting decent-priced tickets. Click THIS link to learn more.
6/ Wall Street
We had to go to Wall Street, of course we did. This place embodies the beating core of everything Paul has done for the past many years, and it was a pilgrimage we just HAD to make. We snapped a shot of the Raging Bulll (which was mobbed!), visited Alexander Hamilton’s Grave, went by the NYSE and snapped a selfie at the Federal Reserve. Plus there’s TONS of awesome street food all around here. We geeked out and we had a total blast. Totally worth it!
Visit Tips: The NY Waterway Ferry goes directly from the RV Park to Wall Street during commuter hours. You can also take the PATH/subway to get here.
7/ Jersey City & Environs
I honestly never thought we’d end up loving Jersey City like we did, but we did. Our RV Park was in the BEST spot not only to get into NYC but also to enjoy all the little gems we found right next door. Plus it’s SO DOG friendly!!
We walked doggie over the pedestrian pathway into Liberty State Park (miles of hiking here!), found an “unofficial” off-leash dog park just down the waterway at Morris Canal Park, took doggie for a tasty breakfast Mocha & Bagel at Legal Grounds Coffee (great coffee plus awesome paw-friendly outdoor seating around the back), and enjoyed a brew at dog-friendly Departed Soles Brewery (their Nuggy Monster Rye Saison rocks!) just down the street. Without doggie we also enjoyed a dinner at White Star (awesome burgers) and had a very romantic meal at Skinners Loft. We walked everywhere we went and literally had SO MUCH fun here.
8/ Sandy Hook & Navesink Twin Lights
Although not technically in the city (well, actually about an hour south) we couldn’t leave New Jersey without seeing two historic lighthouses.
Sandy Hook is the oldest working lighthouse structure in the US and has lit the path into NY since 1764. Plus she still has her original barrel Fresnel lens (from 1856). She’s got some serious history in her brick walls and is a “must see” for any lighthouse enthusiast.
A few miles away is probably the most unusual and ornate lighthouse you will ever see. Constructed in 1862 the Navesink Twin Lights tower 246 feet (75 m) above sea level with two non-identical towers that look almost exactly like a Medieval Castle. This light also has some significant history. She was the first American lighthouse to test a Fresnel lens and became the first electrically powered lighthouse in 1898. Plus she was the site of a demonstration by Marconi of the wireless telegraph in 1899. Seriously cool stuff all around.
For this trip we loaded Polly into the car and drove down to see both lighthouses in one trip. Plus, since it was after Sept 15th (beaches are closed to dogs before this), Polly got to play on the beach and dip her paws in the Atlantic too. An awesome day-trip!
Visit Notes: At Sandy Hook Lighthouse tours are free and offered daily every 1/2 hour from 1-4:30PM on a sign-up basis. The lighthouse grounds are dog-friendly, and after Sept 15th you can take dogs on the beach too. At Twin Lights the lighthouse itself is open for visitation Wed-Sun 10-12 and 1-4PM. The grounds are also dog-friendly and free to visit.
Well that wraps up out stay in the Big Apple, at least for this time around. There’s much we missed and no doubt we’ll be back for more. NYC is the kind of place that grows on you and when it does it’s hard to shake. Until next time, my beautiful city.