We recently took a trip to Brooklyn to visit a friend for a long weekend and got to experience New York like locals. I have been to Manhattan countless times throughout the years, since it was a short drive/ bus ride from where I grew up- but I’ve never ventured beyond the tourist attractions.
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I’ve gone to Times Square, The Big Apple Circus, experienced shows on Broadway, walked through Central & Bryant Parks and ventured to Flatiron but I’ve never stayed overnight or conquered more than one neighborhood in one trip. One thing that really intrigued me about New York on this trip, is how small it can actually seem when you have several days to spread out your trip over, especially if you learn the subway system! I’ve always tried to cram as much as possible into one trip based on location and vicinity to other attractions. This time, we stayed with a friend in Brooklyn for four days and really got to know different parts of the city and experience places we’ve never seen before. The best part was, I didn’t have to plan a thing! Before we arrived, I told our friend Dave that my only goal for this trip was to eat everything, drink everything and see everything he wanted to show us- and he did not disappoint!
Let me start by saying… NEVER TRAVEL WITH ME. I have THE WORST luck with flying. Seriously. Every flight gets delayed, some worse than others. The weather was so bad in Austin that this trip I read a book cover to cover and watched Bohemian Rhapsody BEFORE the plane even took off. We didn’t get to JFK until 3:00 a.m. but at least we got there! That being said, day one was more like day two- but we truly had such an awesome trip, not even a severely delayed flight could keep our spirits down!
We started off the morning in Brooklyn, walking through the neighborhood. I loved how each side of the street had a wide brick- paved sidewalk for walking, running and biking. It’s definitely so easy to get around on foot. We stopped for coffee at a local shop and drove into Manhattan for lunch.
One thing we are absolutely obsessed with is authentic Italian cuisine. We were thrilled when our friend took us to Gaia- this little hole in the wall, or should I say basement, of an Italian restaurant.
Normally, this charcuterie board would have been the highlight of my day… but wait until I tell you about the milkshake I had at the next stop! Something that has been on my list, but never convenient on any of the other trips to New York, is Black Tap- and we just so happened to walk right by it on our way to Gaia. Black Tap is the holy grail of milkshakes, they have several different flavors, it was so difficult to choose one! I got the Bam Bam Shake, its contents: vanilla ice cream, vanilla frosting, fruity peoples, Rice Krispy Treat, Laffy Taffy AND a Pop Tart. No, I didn’t finish it all, yes, I shared (some) of it.
After a short afternoon in Manhattan, we drove back across the Brooklyn bridge- it surprised me how easy it was to drive to and from Manhattan, a task that would have normally overwhelmed me. We walked the promenade in Brooklyn Heights and noticed a bar at the top of a really tall building in the distance and thought, ‘how do we get up there?!’
It turned out to be The Osprey located in 1 Brooklyn Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. The view from the top was amazing, especially through the haze in the air. We enjoyed our favorite go – to cocktail, an Aperol Spritz, as we took in the view of the Manhattan skyline.
Before returning to our friends neighborhood for the evening, we squeezed in a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s truly an architecturally interesting bridge to look at- no wonder why so many people take pictures of it, me included! For the rest of the night we were locals in Brooklyn, we grabbed a beer at Covenhoven, sang Karaoke at Montero and ended the night around 5:00 a.m. at Hops Hill.
I wish I could say that after going to bed at 5:00 a.m. we started our day in the afternoon… but much to my surprise, the Baptist Church across the street had a three hour concert at 7:00 a.m. for Sunday service. So, we got breakfast at Lula Bagel.
The weather wasn’t very cooperative for sight seeing outside in downtown Brooklyn, so instead we took the subway into Manhattan to see the new grounds at Hudson Yards. This “mall” is incredible, upwards of five stories with some very high end stores. We enjoyed having a slower paced day given the night before. We were able to see The Vessel and visit the newly opened Little Spain.
This place was so awesome and definitely a favorite, I wish we had something like this in Austin! Take the escalators to the bottom floor and be transported to Spain with a mix of vendors selling all kind of Spanish foods and beverages.This place was filled with meat, cheese and bakery options from all over Spain- we grabbed a seat at Bar Celona, sipped on Tempranillo Rosé and indulged in a hazelnut croissant.
We took the subway to Grand Central Station, its architecture is magnificent, I can’t believe how beautiful it was! I wish we had more stunning places like this in the U.S.
We decided to walk to Flatiron to eat dinner in one of my favorite places in New York, Eataly. This is the same concept as Little Spain, a market full of vendors with authentic Italian groceries. I’m so happy I got to share this place with Jon, I knew he would LOVE it as much as I do! (We learned one will be opening up in Dallas in 202 and have already contemplated moving there!)
Monday was a big day for us, we planned to catch up with family on Ellis Island. Before making our way to Batter Park, we stopped for breakfast at Bagel Pub- for one last original New York bagel sandwich of the trip!
I think we truly learned how to conquer the subway on this trip! We took the subway to Wall Street to check out the New York Stock Exchange before walking to the ferry! I remember taking a field trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as a kid, but honestly, I didn’t take advantage of it when I was there.
The history Ellis Island represents, not only for my family but for America as a nation is somewhat unfathomable. I loved learning about the history of the Statue of Liberty and what life as an immigrant entailed. I thought it was SO COOL to see my great grandmother, great aunt and great-great grandparents names on the wall of honor! It’s definitely a part of this trip that I will remember forever.
To finish up our last in Brooklyn, we ate dinner at yet another AMAZING Italian restaurant, Barboncino. We indulged in wine, pizza and several types of gelato!
On our final morning in Brooklyn we got coffee at Eleven 36 before taking off. It was one last adventure in Brooklyn before returning to Austin. Overall, looking back on this trip, we achieved exactly what we set out to do: spend time with friends, eat everything in sight, have more than a few drinks and create some awesome memories in New York. This trip was so much fun that we were already planning our next one before leaving. The hustle of New York is so inspiring and was just what we needed in our quick getaway! I hope this inspires you to not only check out New York, but to explore in a new way- learn the subway, travel between neighborhoods and eat all the things!! As always, if you have any comments, questions or recommendations- please leave them below!