Weekend Girls Trip to New York City!
There's nothing better than a weekend girl's trip to New York City. It's not exactly R&R, but it's a break from the weariness of the work week nonetheless! Our primary purpose for going was the see Natasha and Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (see below for a picture with the talented Josh Groban!) while the original cast was still on Broadway, but we packed in a whole lot more than just the show.
Here is a quick snapshot of our itinerary:
- Took the 11:30 am Bolt Bus from Union Station to
- Checked into our Airbnb in Gramercy Park
- Went for a quick snack at Joe's Pizza
- Dinner at Bubby's in Tribeca
- Cookie dough confections from Cookie Do near Washington Square Park
- Brunch at Tipsy Parson's in Chelsea
- Walked the High Line Park
- Took the Subway to The Met
- Magnolia Bakery (Banana pudding!!)
- Top of the Rock
- Dinner at the Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien hotel
- Natasha and Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
- Rainbow Bagels from Bagel Boss (no, it's not the original, but we were short on time)
- Back on the 9:30 am bus to D.C.!
Bubby's is a fun Americana restaurant located in the heart of Tribeca. We shared the spinach artichoke dip, chicken pot pie, and cauliflower. All three I would recommend. Although we did not order it, I have it on good authority that their homemade pies are excellent.
Joe's Pizza is a NYC classic that can't be missed. Big slices of New York style pizza, served on paper plates in a small store front. It's true New York though, so have cash on hand and be ready to order quickly.
Cookie Do is the latest dessert craze in New York. I'm not gonna lie, I think it's overrated. Sure, the concept is novel, but I don't know that it's worth spending an hour or more in line when you could probably make better tasting cookie dough at home. (Perhaps I'm a little sour because the oatmeal dough had M&M's and chocolate chips, and I'm an oatmeal raisin purist.) But honestly, there are better desserts elsewhere in the city that are actually worth waiting in line for. We got there around 8:30 pm on a Friday night and spent about a half hour in line before we got into the store. The line forms across the street by the park. Once you reach the front of the line you are given a ticket that gets you in the doors, and then you wait in line to go through and order. It's fun, but if you're pressed for time, you won't miss anything by skipping it and going somewhere else.
Tipsy Parson is a darling little restaurant in Chelsea. We got there around 10 am and had no trouble getting a seat. although we did end up at the high top tables in the bar because the regular tables were already full. Three of us ordered the Biscuit Bomb with Country Gravy and Scrambled Eggs. It's a very rich meal (I couldn't finish), but it's absolutely delicious, even for non-biscuit and gravy lovers like myself. One girl in our group ordered the Shrimp and Grits, which I did not try but she said were very good. The other girl ordered the BBQ Pork Spoonbread, which I did try and would order again myself on another visit. The dishes ran about $17-$20 a plate, but they come with plenty of food. If you're looking for a fun brunch spot, this is a good one to put on your list.
Magnolia Bakery, unlike Cookie Do, is one bakery I would highly recommend. They are famous for their banana pudding, and trust me - it lives up to the hype. There's a reason this place is still around. I ordered the small pudding and it was the perfect size to satisfy my taste buds. It's packed with rich banana flavor and crushed vanilla wafers. Two girls in our group also ordered red velvet cupcakes. I tried a bite and was not as impressed. The cake was a little dry and the frosting was a greasy buttercream (generally I prefer cream cheese). I had also ordered a Cinnamon Sugar muffin and loved it (but not quite as much as I loved the banana pudding). I would definitely put this on my list of places to visit whenever I'm in town.
Burger Joint is a fun little place located in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien hotel near Times Square. A curtain surrounding the exterior is the only marker, with the exception of an unassuming neon sign tucked back into the hallway by the entrance of the actual restaurant. Once you get inside, it's basically a grill with a few tables and lots of old posters and writing on the wall. It's got a fun kind of speakeasy/Park City grill sort of vibe to it. They have a limited menu of burgers, fries, drinks, and a couple of desserts. The food is cheap too (relative to most New York joints) - you can order a burger, fries, and a soda for about $16. It won't be the most gourmet meal you eat in NYC, but the burgers have that great smoky grill flavor to them and they give you a ton of fries with your meal.
Bagel Boss made it onto our list primarily because we could buy rainbow bagels without having to go all the way to Brooklyn to get them. The original rainbow bagel was made by a place called The Bagel Store in Brooklyn. Copycats have now sprung up, but (unverified) rumor has it The Bagel Store didn't mind because they were so overwhelmed with demand for their psychedelic creations. Rainbow bagels are just like any other bagel, but they are made with dough that has been died different colors and woven together to create a rainbow. I'm not gonna lie - they're kind of trippy to eat. You expect flavor because of the bright colors, but it's a bagel just like any other. This is one trendy craze I do think is actually worthwhile, just because they're so fun to eat.
Tourist Site Reviews
High Line Park has long been on my list of things to do in NYC. Located in Chelsea, it goes from Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing district to West 34th Street. I thought it was going to be just an elevated park, and it was, but not the parks that I'm used to. The High Line used to be an old railway that has since turned into a walkway with plants alongside it. It goes between buildings in true New York form, but it's fun to leisurely stroll with the other pedestrians in a city that doesn't stroll. If you have time, this is a fun way to make your way uptown.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is one of New York's most famous museums. Located on the west side of Central Park, it's got a little bit of everything - Ancient Egypt, European masters, American artists, Asian and Oceanic art. One note - the admission prices are suggestions, so you actually pay whatever you want. The suggested admission price for an adult is $25; student prices are $12.
Top of the Rock. Everybody goes to the Empire State Building, but I think Top of the Rock is better. It gives you an incredible view of the Empire State Building, but you also get a killer view of Central Park that is unobstructed by any other tall buildings. We got there just in time for sunset, which was magical. We fought our way through the crowds to the railings and watched the sun go down and the lights on the Empire State Building come on. Pure New York City magic.
This was the main reason we went up to New York. After missing out on seeing the original cast of Hamilton, I decided that I didn't want to miss out on another original cast, particularly when that cast includes Josh Groban (who I've loved forever). If you have a chance to see this play (especially before Josh leaves), go!
A couple of tips to understanding the show - Natasha & Pierre is based on Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. If you've ever read a Russian novel, you'll know they are long and complicated, and each character has several names and is related to all the others. The play does a great job of helping you keep up through the songs and the playbill, but it'll take some effort at first. There's also a definite Great Gatsby vibe in the occasional modern music styles or lighting (a la strobe lights) to help the audience understand the cultural equivalence of what was happening in 19th century Russia.
Also, the stage is not like your traditional stage, with actors up front and audience watching. There are several seats on stage, and the cast members frequently interact with the audience members sitting in those seats. The actors also come out into the theater to sing and dance and interact. And not just in the orchestra level - they go all the up to the very top and everywhere in between. Throughout the play they hand out Russian dumplings or noise shakers to audience members, so it's much more interactive than any other Broadway show I've been to. But that much more fun for it.
Overall, the music is great, the characters are a treat, and of course Josh Groban steals the show anytime he sings (which actually isn't very often - it's certainly not the Josh Groban show). Absolutely go, if you have a chance.
Bolt Bus. Buses to New York are what they are. Bolt Bus is a pretty bare bones bus. It runs, but there really isn't any WiFi and the plugs (which only exist in the front of the buses) also don't often work. Get on as early as you can and try as many plugs as you can to find one that works. Bolt Bus (unlike other buses) also doesn't stop along the way, so make your bathroom stops before you get on if you don't want to be using the one on board.