New York City, Travel

Surprise Trip to New York-Pt.2

In the previous post I explained how I was surprised by winning the trip to New York City and our rough itinerary during our time there. Now I’ll share the nuts and bolts of the trip: planning, tips, and specifics.

First, part of the planning was to map out the sites that we wanted to see first and use that to clump sites together, so as not to waste too much time navigating traveling from place to place. I use Google Maps because it has a feature where you can create your own map and save locations on it. I like to use this feature so I can physically see where the sites are located in comparison to one another.  My wife and I enjoy walking around the places we visit because it gives you an opportunity to feel connected to your destination, so I tried to find places within walking distance of our initial sites. For example around the World Trade Center Memorial we walked to Trinity Church and Wall Street.

Next, it was time to get efficient! I like to buy passes and tickets before the trip to cut down on waiting in line and other issues. So while planning I go to each website for our destinations to get hours, prices, specials, and to see which ones offer preordered tickets. Going to the websites can often provide tips and specials to save money, so it’s always good to at least check before a trip.

During this search I also had to keep in mind that we may be in the city for only one day, so I should limit the places I ordered tickets. So I searched our main two stops, The Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center Memorial and ordered tickets. Both of those sites have scheduled tours, so you have to pick a specific time for your trip.

As for transport, because of our budget we would be relying strictly on the subway, so I took a trip over to the New York City Subway’s website to see about pass options. I prefer to purchase unlimited passes when using public transportation because it avoids the hassle of buying new cards and refilling them—efficiency. Unfortunately, only unlimited passes for 7 or more days were offered. Considering we may only be there for two days that seems like a stretch, so a normal pass it is. While I’m thinking about travel I look up some of the travel routes between destinations. Again, here Google Maps has a great feature where you can select public transport for directions, so I can figure out what train to take where. It is probably one of my most used items while on a trip using public transport.

As a first timer in New York, there is pretty much nothing in the city that I didn’t enjoy. I was a true tourist in the fact that I would just stop in the middle of the sidewalk and look around smiling at the skyscrapers. If I had to choose some of my favorite sites I would have to say The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and Top of the Rock were some of the most memorable.


The Statue of Liberty is iconic and just looking at it rising out of the harbor and thinking about the millions of people that looked at her as a beacon of hope is a very moving experience. Logs of original signatures, stories, and pictures filled the halls at Ellis Island. Each face in the photographs show a glimpse of a life, making this site incredibly memorable.


Central Park is such a unique experience because of its juxtaposition between the wide open green spaces in a sea of sprawling cityscape. While, it is not exactly one of the more peaceful parks I’ve been to in of its self; when you walk off the hustle and bustle of the sidewalks teaming with people, it provides a very unique refuge. My wife and I took a leisurely stroll around to recharge before we set out for more adventures.


Top of the Rock was an attraction that I was not even aware of before planning for the trip. I was looking at visiting the Empire State Building and going to the top to view the city from the tallest skyscraper. However, while I was searching for information I came across someone talking about Top of the Rock, which piqued my interest. Upon looking at the information on the Rock I came across a very good point that sold me on visiting it versus the Empire State Building. When you are at the top of the Empire State Building, while you can see the whole city you are missing one iconic building which would make the view more spectacular—the building you’re standing on! From Top of the Rock you get to see the city, but you also get a spectacular view of the Empire State Building rising higher than the rest of the tall giants surrounding it. So, while not usually discussed among the must-see attractions for the city it is one that I would highly recommend.

I enjoyed being presented with the unique challenge to use some of my planning techniques in one of the most visited cities in the world. The trip offered many highlights, some of them as simple as people watching on city streets and others as majestic as rising over an entire metropolis for a bird’s eye view. What about you, if you’ve been to New York City, what were your favorite destinations and if you hope to go someday what are you most looking forward to seeing?


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