As many of you know, I live in the Washington, DC area. We are blessed with dozens of events happening in the city each weekend. And although we love taking advantage of doing exciting things around our neighborhood, sometimes is fun to getaway and enjoy a different city. My husband and I packaged our bags and took the bus to NY City for a foodie’s weekend getaway.
There are a few options (for every budget) to get to NYC from Washington DC. According to the website Rome 2 Rio (one of my absolute favorites) the cost of flying from DC to NYC costs anywhere between $80-$320 and takes 3 hours of travel time. Amtrak train can cost anywhere from $35-$200, depending how far in advance you purchase your ticket. Driving to NYC is an option, but tolls and parking can really add up quickly, depending on traffic it will take about 4 hours driving time. Also, there is the option to take the bus. Multiple bus companies travel from DC to NYC and costs anywhere from $10-$50 each way. We did not want to deal with TSA or driving in traffic, and since the bus was cheaper than the train, we took the bus. We paid $57.50 for round trip bus tickets for two, using Ourbus. The ride was 4 hours 15 minutes, ideal to catch up on some sleep.
Our bus departed Union Station in DC at 6:30 am and arrived at NY City’s Port Authority at 10:45 AM. Arriving in NY City is such a fun and exhilarating experience. It’s a combination of the crowds, the yellow taxis, the billboards, and the amazing skyscrapers. We took a taxi to the Lexington Hotel, our home for our first night. It was an excellent choice, we loved this property and highly recommend it for anyone wanting to stay in Midtown Manhattan. The Lexington had professional and helpful staff, 24-hour free coffee, tea, sparking and still water. I loved their comfortable beds and exquisite design and architecture. Did you know that in the 1950’s this property was home to Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio? Marilyn is all over this property. The lobby is spacious, with well appointed artwork and a lounge that offers excellent crafted cocktails.
We dropped off our bags and walked a few blocks to the nearest .99 Cents Fresh Pizza location (these are all over NY City) and ordered the $2.75 special of 2 slices and a bottle of water or soda can. Slices are .99 cents, and the pizza is delicious.
After our pizza we visited Grand Central Terminal, the architecture is truly amazing, and I highly recommend a visit.
We walked to the New York Public Library. Unfortunately, it was closed, and we could not visit inside, but sat in their gardens and enjoyed the exterior of this beautiful building.
Then we walked to Sacks Fifth Avenue, window shopped and used their clean restroom.
Our next stop was next door, at St. Patrick Cathedral, this Neo-Gothic style building in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, should not be missed. It has breathtaking stained-glass work and imposing iron doors. The massive columns are beautiful. I have to say I was saddened by the disrespect I witnessed by visitors. When you visit, please conduct yourself appropriate, be respectful of those attending mass or praying.
By this time, we had built an appetite, so we walked a few blocks to Halal Guy’s street cart. We love Halal Guys and try to visit each time we go to NY City. We ordered a platter of chicken and beef, served with rice, salad, pita, and their amazing white sauce. It was hot outside, so we crossed the street and had our take-out lunch at the lobby of the Hilton Hotel across the street (clean restrooms at this location).
After lunch we went to our hotel, took a nap and then hit the town in the evening. We stopped for cocktails at Henry’s Rooftop Bar, they had amazing views of the city, and awesome cocktails. The bartenders were extremely friendly and provided us with great tips around the city.
After cocktails, we had an amazing dinner at Smith & Wollensky. Day one was wonderful, we walked everywhere, as all the locations we visited were in Midtown Manhattan and within walking distance to our hotel.
We started day 2 with a wonderful free breakfast at the Lexington Hotel. I am a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member and get free breakfast at most Marriott Hotels. I highly suggest picking one hotel chain and staying with the same chain each time you travel. Points add quickly and the benefits are truly money savers.
After breakfast, we took a yellow cab to our next hotel in the Chinatown neighborhood. We checked in at the Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Manhattan/Downtown East. You may be asking why we changed hotels each night of our trip? Well, that’s the way I planned it. I wanted to experience different hotel properties around NY City and I also wanted to pick hotels in different neighborhoods, concentrate our visit in that neighborhood and walk everywhere we could. I think NY City is experienced best when you walk its streets and interact with its people. The location of this property was ideal, if offered wonderful views of the Manhattan bridge and walking distance to Chinatown, and Little Italy neighborhoods. The hotel staff was wonderful, they even allowed us in their rooftop to take photos of the Manhattan bridge.
We dropped our bags and walked to Vanessa’s Dumpling House. This Chinatown gem offers handmade dumplings ($2), noodle soups ($5), buns ($2), and amazing sesame pancake sandwiches ($2.75). The prices are inexpensive, and the food is delicious. We had their pork dumplings and sesame roasted duck pancakes.
We continued exploring Chinatown and Stopped at Pho Bar. Pho Bar was priority on our list of places to visit, it was our fist visit, and we have to say that we are so glad we had them on our list. We had their papaya salad, surf and turf pho, and Thai iced tea. The broth of their pho was rich and delicious, staff was friendly, and the restaurant very inviting. It is a cash only restaurant, so please bring cash.
We went to Mei Lai Wah Bakery for char siu bao, roasted pork buns. The buns were freshly off the oven and delicious, we really loved this tiny bakery.
Walking around Chinatown, we bumped into Columbus Park, sat in a bench and enjoyed listening to live traditional Chinese music.
The shops around the park offer excellent options to purchase souvenirs.
There are fresh fruit stands in every corner, offering ample selections of Asian fruit not found at most supermarkets.
We then paid our respects at the 9/11 Memorial.
Stopped at McSorley’s Old Ale House, NY City’s oldest continuously operated saloon. When visiting, you will step back in time, thankfully after 1970, women can visit, and have a beer or two.
We started our day by visiting Russ & Daughters Café for breakfast. This was the highlight of our trip. We absolutely loved this place, and highly recommend when visiting NY City. They served the freshest salmon and herring we have ever had. Their bagels were delectable. We ordered egg benedicts, latkes, and their cocktails were delicious and refreshing. No future visit to NY will be complete, unless I visit Russ & Daughters.
After our breakfast we checked in at Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Manhattan/Times Square South. Our third neighborhood to explore was the Times Square area. After that big breakfast at Russ & Daughters we needed a nap.
After our nap, we headed over to Iron Chef Morimoto’s NY City Restaurant in the Chelsea Market area. Chef Morimoto is one of my husband’s favorites Chefs, he really enjoyed the visit. The food was fresh, minimalist, but not simple. The restaurant’s decor was elegant, and the restrooms were truly unique and must not be missed when visiting the restaurant.
After our elegant diner, we headed over to Winnie’s Jazz Bar to enjoy cocktails and live jazz. We recommend Winnie’s. There is no cover, they have an ample bar and lounge area. The performer was amazing, we really enjoyed our night listening to great music. After Winnie’s we walked the Times Square area, the best time to see Times Square is when the night has fallen, and all the lights come to life. It is very touristy, and often crowded but it must be experienced at least once.
We slept in and had the hotel’s free breakfast. Then headed over to the bus stop to ride the bus and get home.
We had an amazing time and got to enjoy many cuisines, including Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysian, Israeli, Japanese, and American. NY City is truly magical and for those who live a bus ride away, it should not be missed. I encourage you to take the bus to NY City and explore. Concentrate in one neighborhood at a time, walk, and take in all the sights. A NY City getaway does not have to break the bank. NY City can be enjoyed at any budget.