I went with my family to New York for my Thanksgiving break this year, and it could not have been more fun. Although we only had four days, we jam packed so many fun touristy and non-touristy things in as we could. When we usually travel, we do it with the extended family and have a bigger budget, but this time it was just us! So I’m going to give some recommendations on how to minimize spending while there, and on the spots we enjoyed the most! My biggest tip for saving money would be taking the subway everywhere you can. We took a taxi or an uber just twice, and it was as much as it cost to buy one person a subway ticket for a week. You can walk anywhere from a subway station- they are literally everywhere.
The first night, we got into JFK pretty late, so we only had time for dinner. We went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which I was skeptical about. We had to stand in line for a while, which I am never a fan of, but it was totally worth the wait. The diner is a place where aspiring Broadway performers serve as the waitstaff, and are constantly performing musical numbers as you eat your meal. The singing was super fun, and the food was actually way better than I expected. We got the fried mac and cheese bites which were heavenly, and 10/10 would order the salted caramel shake again.
The next morning, we went to the “Top of the Rock”, which had the most unbelievable view. It is an observational deck at the Rockefeller center, and we ascended to the 67th floor. My siblings and I were shocked when we saw the views… words do not do it justice so I put some of my favorite pictures below. This was probably my favorite thing we did, and I would hugely recommend doing it. It did start raining at the end though, so make sure you go on a clear day!
After this, we went to lunch at a delicious little Italian place called Nino’s 46. It was fairly good, but not the best place we ate at while there. I do have to say, though, that the server was overly nice and made the experience better. We then walked around Rockefeller center and saw the cute shops and ice skating rink, and since it was holiday time, there were lots of really fun decorations and sculptures/trees. Next, we went to see the Rockettes! Even if you are a boy and think you would hate this show, I would also 10/10 recommend. My dad, who falls asleep in every show he ever goes to, stayed awake the whole time and loved it. If you don’t know, they are a group of line dancers and are so talented. The Christmas show is a really cool experience.
For dinner, we went to a super nice Pan-Asian restaurant called Tao Uptown. It was honestly amazing. We got sushi, fried rice, and things like that, and the vibe of the restaurant was very chill. The lights are dimmed and the music is good, and you feel like a VIP. It was expensive though, so don’t go if you are trying to save money. I did really like the area it was in, too- the Trump Tower and lots of designer stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton were next door which are always fun to walk by.
Day 3 (Thanksgiving) :
The Macy’s Day Parade was happening, but we decided to avoid all the congestion and just do our own thing. I have heard from many people that a parade in New York in the winter is not worth the cold, and just to watch on TV. We planned to go to Union Square and shop around the Holiday Market, but it was closed! We were pretty disappointed that a holiday market would be closed on a holiday. So we went on to our Thanksgiving ‘dinner’ (lunch) at Jane, a cute little restaurant on Houston. I really liked how they had their menu- there were starter options, entree options, and dessert options, and you pick one from each category. Safe to say we were stuffed. After that, we still wanted to do some Holiday market shopping, so we went to Bryant Park instead. They had the cutest little booths and I ended up buying some posters which I’m sure you will see later (Home tour blog post?). We walked around Times Square for a while, which is always really cool to see, day or night.
We started out this day with my new favorite place (call me basic), Central Park. It was so refreshing seeing a gorgeous park full of colorful trees when the rest of the city is so urban and developed. We walked around for about an hour, and even took our family pictures! The fall colors were beautiful and y’all who know us well will see the picture on our Christmas Card.
For lunch, we ate at a restaurant called Carmine’s that was probably my favorite of all of the ones we went to. It was an Italian ‘family-style’ restaurant in Times Square, and had some of the best Italian food I’ve had. All of their plates come out huge and can feed 3-4 people. We totally underestimated this, so if you go, UNDER ORDER! We had way too much food at most meals, especially this one. We got the Penne Alla Vodka and Chicken Scallopini, which were heaven on earth.
After that, we walked to an unknown destination (thanks, mom) and did not know what to expect. We walked by a theater which was showing Wicked, and my troll of a dad joked about wishing we could afford tickets. It was at the Gershwin theater, and we walked in!! I was totally shocked, but we had tickets to be third row to one of my all time favorite musicals. Major shoutout to my grandparents for hooking us up. The cast was unbelievably talented, and seeing their faces for once really made it special. For dinner, we had reservations, but didn’t end up liking the place or being hungry. So (it was black Friday, after all) we did some shopping! We ended up eating dinner at a hole in the wall Japanese place. Those are always perfect, and the sushi we got was so fresh. Sadly, this was our last night.
I hope this was helpful to anyone traveling to New York soon, and to everyone else who is dreaming of the city that never sleeps! Let me know in the comments if y’all have other places to see and things to eat that the people need to know about!