My husband planned a surprise trip to New York City for my 25th birthday! Most definitely the best present I could have received. I am all about experiences for presents, so this really was the perfect 25th birthday gift!
I had a handful of people reach out wondering what New York City is like right now (with current restrictions) and what they can expect if they travel there soon. So I thought I would put all my answers here on the blog! (Full recap at the end)
Although many “lock downs” are lifted, there are still a few restrictions in place around New York City to help protect against the possibility of another lock down. First and foremost the most important item you could have for this trip is your proof of vaccination card. 95% of everything we did during our 4 days in New York required that we show our vaccinations cards for entrance. This came as a surprise to us at first!
New York City is only about 4 hours from our home in Maryland. Public transportation is a lot more popular and accessible out here in Maryland than Utah. So Ryan planned for us to take a passenger train from Maryland to DC then to New York! Taking the passenger train was something we had talked about wanting to do for some time so I was excited. We honestly loved using the train, we watched Netflix for the duration of our travel time and we were in New York in no time! We then took a subway ride to our hotel next to the 9/11 memorial. Once we settled into our hotel we decided to take a walk around the 9/11 memorial. It was very surreal to be there the week of the 20th anniversary of the attack. There were photos and flowers all around from a few days previous. We then of course set out to find some New York style Pizza! You never can go wrong with that as a lunch choice. The closest place to us was called Joes Pizza and it was fantastic. $3.50 for a large slice of pizza and the fun atmosphere were all worth it. Not to mention the restaurants walls were full of celebrities’ that had ate at Joe’s Pizza, it was fun to look around and see who had been there! After ventured over to Times Square! I was wanting to try and get some good pictures before it got too dark! Times square is a classic thing to do while you visit. Walking around and taking in the atmosphere is all part of the fun.
As part of my birthday trip Ryan planned for us to go to a Broadway play “Waitress” on the night of my birthday. As we came up to the theatre we saw the signs about needing your vaccination cards and IDs ready to enter the play. This is when I started to panic. I already knew I had no picture of my vaccination card and we did not bring ours with us. (a mistake we wont make again) I started frantically looking for any proof in my photos or emails that I had received my 2 doses of the vaccine. Its worth adding that my phone was at 15%, so that was adding to the stress. I was so worried it was going to die and I would not be able to get in! The people at the entrance of the Broadway play told me they could let me in if I quickly walked across Times Square and got a rapid test and if it was negative they could let me in. So we ran across Times Square to where they were supposedly doing these rapid tests. But of course I was then told they stopped testing at 5pm and it was 6:45pm at this point (with our play beginning at 7pm) They then sent us upstairs to see if they could look up my vaccine in their system. Which we learned very quickly that was not going to be an option since I did not receive my vaccine in New York. At this point I had found one picture I took of my card but only after I had received my first dose, not the second. Those at this center for testing believed that is all I needed to get in. So we go running back to the theater entrance, I now have someone from New York City on my phone who is confirming that I should only need one dose to enter. I am now talking to a manager who is trying to work with us. I hand my phone to him and after they talk it is determined that Broadway is its own business and they can require whatever they want, separate from the city and that I can not enter with just proof of one vaccine. All while this is going on Ryan and I both are frantically looking through my emails trying to find anything. I finally found a screen shot I had taken on my phone from when I got my second dose, not what they were looking for but it said on the top “thanks for receiving the covid vaccine” I’m sure it was because I was on the verge of throwing a fit ha but the manager finally let us in with only 3 minutes to spare! It took a while for me to calm down once we were seated but luckily for us that was all the drama that occurred on this trip. (If you are not vaccinated, you can get a rapid test done and if it comes back negative, it is good for 72 hours and can act as your “ticket” into places that require vaccination. Although I am not sure the extent of that)
For our second day we began it by taking the ferry to see the statue of Liberty! It was the perfect way to start the morning with the ferry dock only being a 5 minute walking distance from our hotel (we stayed at the Fairview Marriot). Although it was cloudy most of our second day it helped keep it cool, which was a lot more enjoyable. After Lady Liberty we took the Ferry to Ellis Island. There is so much to see and read there you could spend hours. I have always loved history, American history specifically, so I really enjoyed reading about Ellis Island and the stores of so many who immigrated to the United States. After the Island we got on the subway back to Times Square and decided to stop and eat at Olive Garden, one of my all time favs! This is where we learned that you also need proof of vaccination for most, if not all restaurants, luckily at this point we found my records online and we had no further issues. This Olive Garden was so fun because we were able to look over Times Square from where our table sat. We then got on the subway again to stop by the Manhattan New York temple and grab a dessert from Magnolias Bakery. They are best known for their banana pudding and it is definitely worth trying! Next up on our list of to dos was visit central park, we took our desserts and found a bench that had an incredible view of the New York skyline. We relaxed there for a bit to rest our feet and eat our desserts. After some more exploring of central park we headed back to our hotel and of course on the way we stopped for another slice of New York Style pizza!
We decided to start our third day off at the 9/11 museum. We spent an easy 2 hours there (again need vaccination cards to enter) It is fascinating all that really went on, on 9/11. If you have not been to this museum I would highly recommend. After the museum we set out for a place to have lunch. If you can not tell by now Italian food is my favorite (hence why that’s all we really ate our whole trip) so we took a subway to little Italy! We were super surprised to learn that there was some kind of festival going on and the streets were fully decorated and packed with people! We walked for a block or two and then decided on a restaurant called Benito One. We both loved it! An Italian band even stopped by the restaurant and played two songs making the whole environment fun. We then of course set out on a cannoli hunt, can not go to little Italy without cannoli or gelato! Next up, was a visit to the iconic Brooklyn bridge. This was actually mine (and Ryans) second time to New York. I went with my family for my senior trip back in 2015 and I am not sure if I do not remember right but all of the iconic stuff, like Brooklyn bridge were packed! I do not remember them that way 6 years ago! But of course we got some of the popular pictures and then traveled down to the rocky beach and enjoyed the view of the city on the water as we again rested our legs. We are very go, go, go type of travelers but like I wrote in my in a pervious blog post here, it is important to actually enjoy the vacation and slow down so we took our own advice and headed in to our hotel early to get some actual rest.
For our fourth day we were pretty open to do and see about anything. So we headed to grand central station. We mostly just walked around and saw what there is to see. We then decided to head to the MET. I would highly recommend buying tickets online for this one! And again you guessed it… proof of vaccination needed to enter. While walking through the MET we were surprised to see that there was a fashion exhibit going on as well. We stood in a 40 minute line to see the exhibit. Although it was smaller than I had anticipated it was still really fun to see all the designs and descriptions of each piece from the designers. After the MET we headed to the Washington Square Arch. With it being a Sunday this place was very alive. Tons of performers and people selling things. We sat and had lunch, walked around the area for a while until we realized that we needed to head back to our hotel to get our things to head home.
Day one: Passenger train into New York, 9/11 memorial, classic New York style pizza, walk around Times Square, Broadway play (Waitress)
Day two: Visit to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Temple, Magnolia Bakery, central park, Pizza again!
Day three: 9/11 museum, visit/ eat in little Italy, Brooklyn bridge.
Day four: Grand Central station, the MET, Washington Square Arch, travel home!
Since Ryan and I have been married I have wanted to visit New York with him and I am so grateful that he planned this trip to make that dream come true! Let me know if you have any other New York travel questions in the comments! Thanks for reading!