NYC

Manhattan; city of dreams, hangovers, and an endless list of things to do, places to eat, and boroughs to explore. Armed with 3 of my closest girlfriends, I made it my mission to cram as much of it as I could into 3 days during my bachelorette party.

I arrived Thursday afternoon after an uneventful flight and was immediately assaulted by the cold as I exited JFK. Shit, I thought as I jammed my hands in to the depths of my pockets, how am I going to do this weekend? My breathe was visible and my body shaking until I finally got into my Lyft.

$50 and 50 minutes later I was at The Ace. I stayed at The Ace last November when I went to Chicago and decided it’s funky little vibe was perfect for a girls weekend in the city.

I knew my friend Melissa was already there but I wasn’t fully expecting to walk into a room decorated with all things bachelorette. There was champagne, a flower grown that had a veil attached to it, streamers with tiny unmentionables dangling from the walls, and more.

Melissa and I caught up while we got ready for dinner and waited for my other friend Morgan to arrive. As a side note, getting ready with your friends is probably my favorite part of being a girl. So.much.bonding happens!

We ate dinner at abcV, which I am going to say is equal parts amazing and perplexing. I guess it is a carpet store, but there are also two restaurants there? It’s like Anthropology and Urban Outfitters had a love child, then decided to add trendy AF restaurants to the equation. Essentially every girl’s dream.

When we sat down we were instantly greeted with glasses of bubbly (cute!) (because my friends are the best and called the restaurant ahead with word of my LastFlingBeforeTheRing). Of course abcV was tapas style (#trendyAF). We ordered veggies and hummus, avo lettuce cups, fried artichokes, and the tofu. After our plates were cleared and our stomachs (almost) full (are tapas ever really enough food tho?) we were delighted with a complimentary matcha creme brûlée dessert. Yum like, woah.

Next up? Cocktails! We wondered over to Dear Irving but there was a wait. The hostesses recommended we pop into the bar directly downstairs until she had a table ready for us. So there the three of us went, to sit in a dark, cozy, deliciously-New-York-feeling bar drinking Manhattans. As you do.

On Friday morning we woke up with one collective thought: bagels. We hit up Black Seed Bagels, which has a nom poppyseed bagel. After carbing up, we went to Chillhouse for coffee and manis. What a gem of a place! It looks pretty unassuming from the outside but it is cute inside. Coffee was necessary at that point and in between strokes of nail polish, we sipped our java and marveled at how great Chillhouse was.

I can see this place getting packed on the weekends, which would decidedly make it a little less chill, but we were lucky to go on a Friday morning and were basically the only ones there.

With fresh nails, we calculated that we had just enough time to walk down Broadway to Wall Street before Lauren arrived at the hotel that afternoon. We dodged 1.5 miles of busy New York sidewalks to see the Charging Bull and The Fearless Girl statue. The latter felt particularly special as it was International Women’s Day.

After some pictures with both statues, the cold and being outside for around 2 hours was wearing on us. We went back to the hotel to get ready and wait for Lauren to arrive for our 5:30pm drink reservations at The Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Plaza, which has gorgeous views of the city and Central Park. We sat at a table facing the park and shared a bottle of wine and a few appetizers. It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend with everyone finally there!

After, we walked to dinner at Fig & Olive, which might have been my favorite eatery of the weekend. We started with the burrata, goat cheese, and prosciutto crostinis, and then spilt the sea bass, lobster ravioli, and risotto. Once dinner was a wrap, we went back to the hotel for a outfit change 😉 and the hunt for another perfect NYC bar. After a few tries, we finally nailed it with Oscar Wilde. This place was everything I wanted on a Friday in New York; it was trendy with good drinks and music. Plus we scored a table in the middle of it all.

We ended the night with french fries, vodka sodas, and some classic mirror pix back at our hotel.

Saturday started with coffee at the cutest cafe Melissa knew about called Felix Roasting Co. This place is coffee lovers oasis. Plus, they have their own house made nut milk on tap! We were running behind to make a 11:45am walking tour at The High Line so hopped in a cab to get there on time. (Shout out to Lauren for hailing it like a champ.) For the next 2 hours we walked suspended above Manhattan’s meat Packing district, learning the ins and outs of the old railroad turned city park.

Luckily the weather wasn’t too bad, even somewhat nice if we were lucky enough to steal a few minutes in a spot of sun. The walking tour was a highlight of the weekend for me. Our guide had a lot of great information and insider stories that he shared with us. The High Line is also just beautiful. There is something special about being somewhere tranquil in the middle of city madness.

We went to The Park for lunch, which was another gem of a find. Unfortunately though, I got a salad that left me feeling nauseaus. Not fun! I was bummed because we were in Greenwich, my favorite part of the city, and I just couldn’t rally… So many cute streets and bars left unvisited! Lauren, Morgan, and Melissa were saints and took me back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap in the middle of our last day there. I felt pretty bad that we had to go back but the rest could have been good for us all, and the fuel we needed to party that night.

I woke up feeling better and ready to hit the city again. We had dinner reservations at 8:30pm, which is absurdly late for this west coast chica, but right par for the course in New York. I love visiting Manhattan but could never live there partly because of the constant hussle and late night social scene that pluses through the streets and avenues. On a typical night, when New Yorkers are just starting their evening, I am ready to start calling it a night. Ha.

Of course being that I was on vacation with 3 of my girls, I was all in for a late night out. After dinner at Acme (which was delicious and definitely recommended), we walked to Whiskey Town, a dark little bar in Greenwich Village.

So this is what I’ve learned about going out when you’re a little bit older and in a relationship: the places that are actually fun to dance at are fewer and farer in-between. Look, I know I’m not even 30 yet but I still don’t want to spend my night with a whole bunch of kids who just become of legal age to drink. I was one of those annoying early 20 years olds once, I don’t need to relive it by proxy.

Prior to the trip, when we were trying to figure out where to go on Saturday night, my one request to my friend Lauren was that is was like this bar/club, Razzoo’s, we went to for her bachelorette party in New Orleans last summer. We wanted good music and no sloppy drinkers. Whiskey Town basically fit this bill! …Which meant, we stayed there all night.

Some, more adventurous souls, may have wondered to another bar in search of other scenes or people to meet, but not me. I was content holding down our spot – right by the DJ with barstools (for our coats) and a ledge (for our drinks) in close proximity all night. We took turns buying rounds and running to the bathroom (“breaking the seal” is as real as it was when I was 21;). We danced and shouted (both lyrics to songs and in an effort to communicate).

I wore my flower crown veil and fielded inquires about the wedding. As well as the general “are you getting married?!” question you get a million times when you go out in public wearing a veil to a bar.

And when it was all said and done, it was time for …pizza. Late night, after the bar, huge New York slices of za.

Melissa was the first to leave on Sunday, on an early flight back home to Toronto. I gave her a messy, sleepy hug and got back into bed until 11am when the rest of us had collectively set our alarms. Initially we had brunch reservations for 10am but when we got back to our hotel at 5am, it was without a question that we canceled them to sleep in instead.

When we were finally up, showered, and packed, we had just enough time to walk a few blocks to Scarpetta, a divine little spot located in the NoMad hotel. The twinkle lights and live jazz music make Scarpetta feel like a fairy tale. …A fairy tale with good coffee and avo toast. (Which, in my opinion, is better than being saved a prince!)

Despite the cold weather that weekend, New York was a blast. A huge shout out to my ladiiies for such an incredible trip. Next up? The wedding!

New York, NY

11949405_10155941507080414_7614260174292724889_nAs  mentioned in my post about our weekend in Washington, I came home less impressed with the food when I traveled to New York City over the summer.

Towards the end of August, my mom, grandma and I took a girls’ trip to the Big Apple. We flew east on a Wednesday and came home that Sunday. My mom and I went to New York a few years ago but it was a short trip so I was excited to be there longer and to show my grandma around.

As to be expected, the food at SFO and on the flight to New York weren’t anything to write home (or blog!) about. We arrived at our hotel in Tribeca around 11pmET and, being that we were in New York (the city that supposedly never sleeps!), I didn’t think it would be much trouble to find a place to eat so late. Sadly, I was mistaken. After a walk around the block we realized there weren’t many eateries in the area. We also had a suspicion that our hotel wasn’t located in best neighborhood and it was probably better to stay in for the night* – however, despite the sketchy location, our hotel was actually really nice. We had access to the VIP lounge, which was conveniently located right across the hall from us. The lounge had rooftop access, snazzy chairs and tables to dine (or social media lurk) at, free snacks, waters and sodas throughout the day, plus complimentary breakfast in the morning and fresh baked cookies in the afternoon.

On our first night, since we couldn’t find anywhere to eat, we ended up ordering room service and eating it right there in the lounge. In theory, I can end this post here because this was actually (disappointingly!) the best meal we had in NYC. We ordered a salad and spaghetti to split 3 ways with a side of bread. Full, but mildly disappointed in our first night of the trip, we went to bed right after in anticipation of the next day ahead.

On Thursday we woke up early, grabbed a quick breakfast at the lounge (again nothing worth blogging about!) and headed out into the crowded, congested, annoying, amazing streets of New York City.

Our first stop was Gramercy Park but it was too hot and humid not to hit up a Starbucks on the way for iced teas. We walked to Chelsea Market after for some exploring (and more iced tea!) and then to Tortilla Flats for lunch. All three of us love Mexican food so I thought Tortilla Flats would be a hit. The restaurant was cool and I’m glad we went but I think living in California and having access to  authentic Mexican food sets a standard that the east coast just can’t compete with. I got the cheese enchiladas with rice and beans; it was too greasy for my taste and lacked flavor but we chatted with the owner and got free shots of tequila so, an overall acceptable lunch.

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Outside of Gramercy Park

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All of the shops in Chelsea Market

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Tortilla Flats!

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Free shots of tequilaaaa

Next we did a bunch of touristy stuff including finding Carrie Bradshaw’s “apartment” and the Friends building. Then, it was time for a cupcake at Magnolia’s Bakery, as featured on Sex in the City.  I’ve been to NYC three times and every time**, I’ve gotten a cupcake here! Though this time I opted for a mini because I was still full from lunch.

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The “Friends” building

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Magnolia’s

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Outside Carrie Bradshaw’s

After enjoying our cupcakes in a nearby park, we stopped at The Spotted Pig for a drink. Our drinks were insanely overpriced (as to be expected in New York) and, in my opinion, horrible (!) but we were still in Greenwich Village, which is by far my favorite NYC neighborhood so the location (location, location, location!) made up for it.

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Girls’ (walking) tour of Greenwich Village!

After lunch, cupcakes and drinks it was time for a walk to work off all of those calories. We walked the 1.5 miles back to our hotel where we relaxed for a while before going to a Broadway show. We saw BEAUTIFUL The Carole King Musical and it was ah-mazing! Before the show we split a margarita pizza in Times Square (which was surprisingly good despite it’s touristy location) and after, we met the star of the show, Chilina Kennedy.

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Meet and greet with the cast

The next day we had a carriage ride through central park scheduled first thing in the morning, so after a quick breakfast at the hotel we were on our way. The carriage ride was (also) expensive but I think worth doing if you’re in New York City. We explored Central Park  after, seeing the memorial for John Lennon and a few other things while walking to the upper east side for lunch. Word to the wise, do NOT go to Madison Avenue hungry and without a designated eating spot. We ended up at a place called EAT  and I should have Yelped it before because all of the one star reviews are spot on. I ended up ordering a $20 Cesar salad that came with romaine lettuce and dressing. That’s it! Not even a single crouton or sliver of parm…

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Us and our horse, Cody

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At EAT

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Redic prices!

Unimpressed with lunch, we moved on to the museums. We explored the Metropolitan Museum and The Guggenheim (and when I say “explored” I mean walk by and take a few pictures) with more iced beverages in hand! It was so hot, having something to drink was a necessity while walking around. I splurged for an iced mocha (usually sticking with iced coffee) while my grandma and mom got lemonades. We also bought a few bags of those famous NYC roasted nuts to snack on while walking and, let me just say, they are famous for a reason! Well worth the $9 (and the guy gave us a “bargain!”) spent.

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Exploring Central Park and neighboring areas

I had made reservations at Serendipity months before our trip for dinner on Friday night and regretted it! The food was sub par and their legendary frozen hot chocolate wasn’t anything special. Beyond that, the restaurant is tacky (in my opinion) and the service was terrible.

Day two turned out to be another disappointing day, food wise. (If you don’t count the roasted nuts!)

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HUGE menus

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The “famous” frozen hot chocolate

On our final day in New York, we had essentially done everything we planned to do so, last minute, decided to take a harbor tour. (I had previously taken this same tour when I went to New York years ago with my best friend, Leslie, but we boarded the boat after a red-eye flight and ended up falling asleep  half way around the island.)

My mom, grandma and I woke up, had breakfast at the hotel, and got on the subway to Times Square with the intention to walk to the harbor from there to catch the 12pm tour. We were doing great on timing until I realized I had accidentally lead us in the exact opposite direction of where we needed to be going. We could have quickly turned around and hustled to the harbor but there was another tour leaving at 2pm so we took our time righting the wrong.

Which turned out to be a good decision because we were able to visit the New York City Public Library, something that I wanted to see but didn’t want to go out of the way for it (on purpose). The library is as beautiful and grand as you expect. The security guard gave us a map (a map of the library!) and pointed out where Carrie B. was supposed to get married in the SATC movie (can you tell I’m a fan?). Interesting side note: he also had to check my backpack and my grandma’s purse as we were leaving to be sure we didn’t take any books! I guess there is a demand for NYC library books online… who would have thought?

After exploring the library we walked to the harbor where we had a quick lunch before the tour. I didn’t expect this meal to be anything special, which could be why it didn’t disappoint. (Expectations! …they’ll get ya every time.) We ate at a small concession stand nearby that basically sold “theme park food;” burgers, chicken tenders, fries, etc. You know? unhealthy fried stuff. I ordered a veggie burger (because I much rather not know where my soy beans are coming from than my meat!) and split an order of fries with my grandma and mom. As mentioned, my burger wasn’t that bad and kept me full during the 3 hour harbor tour.

The tour was a great last day activity for us. It was nice to get a history of Manhattan and see the Statue of Liberty – plus some other cool sights that we likely wouldn’t have seen – all the while sitting down and enjoying the breeze! We walked back to Times Square to get on the subway to go to the hotel but, by this point, we were hungry again. Having had bad luck with NYC eateries so far, we decided to eat dinner at Chevy’s in Time Square. Typically I much rather dine at a hole in the wall than a chain restaurant, especially when traveling, but honestly, I just wanted something I knew I was going to like at that point. So, another round of cheese enchiladas it was!

We got back to our hotel and a friend from college met me for a drink on the rooftop of our hotel (#NYCmoment or what!?). It was so good to see her and another great thing about traveling; having the opportunity to see old friends and make new memories.

Overall, our trip was great but not because of the food! It was so much fun to experience New York City again with my mom and grandma. I truly do love that city and recommend going if you ever get the chance to, just don’t expect every meal to be as amazing as the city.

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

*Later, my friend who lives in NYC confirmed that we definitely should not have been walking around that area late at night.

1930629_67472515413_382_n**For your viewing pleasure, a picture of the first time I visited New York/Magnolia’s …Back when bleached blonde hair, fake nails, and dangling earrings were all.the.range.