The delicately carved stone bodies posing above the Grand Central Station entrance was the first New York scene I laid eyes on. Suitcases still in hand, I was already in awe of the trip that had barely begun…
I am a 16-year-old girl from Wisconsin craving to see the world. My mom and I have been longing to take a trip to the New York City for years now, and we finally did! Tip alert: Plan what you are going to try to see before you get to New York. Notice the word “try” – if you plan as much as we did you might have to skip stuff.
We arrived in Manhattan and went directly to the Grand Hyatt, home base, conveniently situated right above Grand Central Station.
We were both amazed at how safe we felt in the subways the entire trip, so feel free to use it! Luckily, my mom is an experienced traveler (having lived in Japan and visited Europe), and we navigated the NYC subways with minimal struggle. Our saving grace was the nifty NYC subway app we were smart enough to download on our phones before the trip. (My first subway ride!)
After the necessary luggage dump in our cozy room, we headed off to grab breakfast at a Fifth Avenue food cart…delicious and cheap! Expensive window-shopping brought us to Saks, Coach, and Prada. The Coach store was pleasant and upscale, but right next door, Prada was a disappointment. The store was gloomy, mirrors everywhere, flickering lights, and sleepy-looking employees. At Saks 5th Avenue, we tried on CLEARANCE rack shoes starting at $400!
After shopping, we explored the great Central Park. (Any “Friends” fans out there?! I wished Central Perk was a real place.) The park was beautiful, but SERIOUSLY lacked signage. None of the park-goers know where anything is, but the grounds keepers do! We weren’t even able to find the visitor’s center, pathetic right? Some landmarks worth visiting: the Great Lawn, the Conservatory Water – an adorable pond with electronic sailboats floating about, the Ramble, and the Conservatory Garden – a stunning collection of flowers and gardens, Central Park Guide. (If you can find them!)
Our next stop was John’s Pizzeria in the theater district; if I do say so myself, this pizza was the BEST I’ve ever had. We enjoyed a pizza with fresh basil and slices of mozzarella, not to mention the crispy crust (to die for)! The waitress seemed irritated when we arrived, but once we ordered she warmed up. This seemed to be a common theme among New York waiters during our trip.
At dusk, we headed to the Empire State building. Tip: if you go to an attraction, buy tickets in advance! Pre-purchased tickets allowed for almost no lines to the 86th floor to see miles of twinkling lights beyond compare. For an unobstructed view, don’t be afraid to nudge your way to the edge; it’s worth it! New York is a pedestrian’s world. Forget looking cute; if you care for your feet at all, wear the most comfortable shoes you own…I’m warning you, you will need them!
On our final morning, we stopped at a fantastic eatery called Cafe Jolie & Cocoa Bar at 630 Ninth Avenue. They specialize in carefully crafted crepes. You can get freshly juiced juice and watch the crepes being made right in front of you. I had the Serendipity crepe with chopped-on-the-spot bananas, mango, caramel, and sugar. I will never forget this trip, and my mom and I grew closer than ever, from sharing laughs to foot pain!
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.