NYC in January: what we did, ate, and saw!

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Justin and I took a quick trip to NYC recently for what is now our 2nd annual “beginning of the year trip to recap the year prior and make plans for the new year” trip. I got this idea from my friend Ashlee and loved the concept of having an intentional time to discuss specific topics while also enjoying some kid-free time as a couple!

Last year we went to Lake Tahoe, which was fun and beautiful, but this year we wanted to stay in the same time zone and make the traveling part a little easier, so we went to NYC! This is our third trip to NYC together and we always have a lot of fun.

The Hilton Garden Inn New York/West 35th Street hosted our stay, which was a welcome gift! The location was perfect because it was close to Times Square without being in the thick of all the people/madness. Plus there was a subway stop just steps outside the hotel doors, which made it very easy to hop on and off.

I’ve stayed at several different hotels around different parts of the city, but this was honestly the most spacious room I’ve stayed in yet. The rooms were newly renovated, with views of the Empire State Building, and the bathroom had a sink with actual space on them for your toiletries, and the showers were equally spacious and nice.

Next time I’m visiting, I will absolutely look at this hotel for availability and would highly recommend it if you are visiting anytime soon!

I’ll breakdown the trip into a few sections, so let’s start with what we ate!

What we ate:

Tender – our only “splurge” meal and the first thing we ate in the city. It was possibly the best steak I’ve ever had. Absolutely delicious, great side options, and even offered a few different sauces to try with your steak as well. I’d love to go back there next time I’m in the city.

Grey Dog Cafe – We chose this spot for breakfast on a whim and it was great. It’s near NYU campus so it catered to a slightly younger crowd, but it wasn’t noisy or anything. You order at the counter and then a waiter brings your food to your table. The service is minimal (you have to get your own water and cutlery, for example) but the food was great. It was a hearty breakfast for a typical NYC price tag.

Doughnuttery – We were still stuffed from Grey Dog Cafe so we just grabbed a few doughnuts to eat before heading to a movie in the middle of the day. These are tiny freshly fried doughnuts, and you must try them when you visit!

Joe’s Pizza in Times Square – This was a last minute grab before seeing Hamilton. I had actually gotten sick earlier in the afternoon, but after a reprieve and nap in the room, I was feeling up for doing something again. We grabbed a slice here on the walk to the show.

Spoon Table & Bar – This was a really cute breakfast spot near our hotel. The food was really great, and Justin was happy to find biscuits and gravy on the menu. I’d certainly return here for breakfast!

Rare View – Rooftop bar at the Hilton New York Fashion District just blocks from our hotel. We grabbed drinks here and hoped to have time to grab appetizers but we ended up running out of time before going to Pizza School.The staff was very friendly and the rooftop was really cool. This would be a great spot to visit in the warmer months!

Pizza School – After we learned to make pizzas, we were able to eat the ones we made for dinner. And DANG they were good, if I may say so myself.

Andrews Coffee Shop – Justin found this breakfast spot, also near our hotel, the morning we flew out. It was really popular, and the prices were great for the amount of food you got. Would definitely return here!

Where we stayed:

Hilton Garden Inn on 35th street, only a few blocks south of Times Square.

What we saw/did:

We only had 2 things planned during this trip. The first was seeing The Lion King and the second was a surprise trip for Justin to Pizza School on Friday night. I fully admit that going to a pizza cooking class is more my speed than Justin’s, but based on the reviews of Pizza School I thought it could be something that he would also enjoy! He loves pizza as much as I do, and it seemed like a fun, relaxed, casual place to learn and be entertained as well. As it turns out, it was even more fun than we both imagined, and I’ll write more about that below.

I saw The Lion King when I was in NYC last time for work, and wanted Justin to see it. I think he enjoyed it, but halfway through the show he admitted that he didn’t even really know the storyline of The Lion King, so it wasn’t as nostalgic for him as it was for me. The costumes and dancing are the real stars of that show, and I loved seeing it again.

The following evening, we didn’t have plans and I actually got a little sick that afternoon. During my nap, Justin found 2 tickets to that evening’s show of Hamilton. We decide to “yolo” it, grab a piece of pizza on the way, and race over to the show. My only regret was not listening to the music beforehand, because I think I would have followed a few details of the storyline better, but it was a great, great show. Fantastic music, great acting, and very entertaining. I learned a bit of history too! I would most definitely see it again, and would say it’s worth seeing if you are going to be in NYC soon.

During the daytime, we took our time at breakfast, wandered around different parts of Manhattan, and took it slowly. It’s so rare for us to not be on a rigid schedule, so the simplicity of just wandering and deciding what to do on the fly was a treat. We considered going to a museum, but we weren’t feeling it so we opted to go see The Post on the one of the colder days of the trip. That movie was good, although a bit slow. I love Tom Hanks, but I would have to say this is more of a rent-at-home versus pay-to-see in the theater kind of movie.

During our last full day, after a short break from all of the walking around the city (we walked nearly 7 miles each day!), we stopped by Rare View for drinks before heading to Pizza School. After I ordered a Coke, the waitress offered to get me a virgin cocktail. As it turns out, margaritas are just not the same without tequila but I really appreciated their effort to make me something special to drink!

After drinks, we hopped in an Uber and went all the way down to the bottom of Manhattan for Pizza School. This was the highlight of the trip for me. Not only were the 3 guys there running the place very entertaining and likable, but I also learned so much from Dano, the head teacher. I mean, I’ve been doing pizza crust wrong for YEARS and now I cannot wait to test out my new skills at home. A hotter oven would surely help, but Dano gave me some suggestions for the best way to make the most of my home oven.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you with confidence that the entire evening was worth every penny. I thought 4 hours was going to feel a bit long, but one of the first times I actually checked the clock I noticed it was already 9:15, and we had been there for 2.5 hours already.

The next morning we grabbed a big breakfast before heading over to LaGuardia Airport for our flight. I’ve never in my LIFE gotten out of LaGuardia on time but we managed it this time. It helped that it was Saturday, so the airport was basically empty, and it was also a beautiful and unseasonably warm day as well!

Getting home was great because I’m always anxious to see the boys. My sister and her husband Mike stepped in at the very last minute to watch the kids, since my original plan of sending them to my parents’ home in South Carolina was foiled by the flu! It was so kind and generous of them to drop everything in Virigina and come stay at my house with the boys. We happened to get over 6 inches of snow the day that Justin and I flew out, so not only were they there to watch the boys but they were snowed IN as well! Mike had to head home for school in the middle of their stay, so the majority of the time with the kids was just my sister, and she fell into the routine easily. I mean, I came home to clean sheets (on my bed, the guest bed, and David’s bed) and an organized fridge, all while she was “mothering” my two boys during a snowstorm. Impressed doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt when I got back!

I’d love to answer any questions you have about visiting the city, things to do, etc. Feel free to leave those in the comments below and I’ll check back to answer them when I can! 

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Comments (59)

  1. kelly says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    you mentioned you loved these boots on instagram, do you have a link for them? Thanks Kate!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      They are Sam Edelman penny boots!

  2. Amber says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    I’d love to read a post about the hints you learned at the pizza making school. And a post of what you wore to stay warm being out and about in the cold.

    • Andrea says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      My husband’s family is from NY, now live in AZ and owned a pizzeria. My husband makes amazing pizza. Here are a few tips:

      1. buy 00 flour. Whole Foods has it and so does Amazon. Makes such a difference.

      2. You need your stone SO hot. We have one that goes on our grill. We turn the burner all on and let it heat up for an hour. If we use our stone in the oven, it’s the same thing.

      3. My husband makes his dough, it rises then leaves it in the fridge for 3 days. Comes out with perfect dough!!

      4. Use a little cornmeal under your crust, put some on your pizza peel while you are stretching out your dough…it helps to not stick and gives it a nice crunch.

      Hope this helps!!!

  3. Posted January 24, 2018

    So, so, so jealous of you, Katie! New York is one of my dream destinations and I’d love to visit one day! ❤️

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  4. Danielle says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    Pizza School is so great!! We went on a girls trip and made pizzas!! Highly recommend!!!

  5. Posted January 24, 2018

    What was your absolute favorite part of visiting NYC?

    The pictures are adorable, and I think it would be so fun to visit NYC someday! You guys look like you had a great time 🙂 Thanks for sharing your trip! I know it can be tough to keep up with documenting everything, but it is appreciated!!

    thespiritsong.wordpress.com

  6. Jenny says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    I did a girls trip to NYC this fall and on a whim, we ate at Spoon as well. I will definitely add Pizza School on my next trip to the city.

  7. Callie says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    ok what is this building in the background on the highline?! we visited in November and it’s so huge/beautiful! So glad ya’ll had fun!! 🙂

  8. Jen says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    Thanks for all the tips. I’m heading to nyc in April and I’m def gonna check out the pizza school.

    Did you buy anything nice while you were away?

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      Nope, we didn’t do any shopping! 🙂

  9. Darby Falb says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    We went to NY last June and stayed at that exact hotel! Loved it just as much as you did 🙂 Strangely, I got a little sick when we were there too. Thankfully they had full boxes of saltines down in the lobby for purchase! So glad you guys had a great time!

  10. Michelle says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    Your trip sounds fantastic! This is not trip related but I can’t figure out where to ask you…You recently mentioned that your eyelashes fell out on your right eye (during your trip – so this is sort of trip related :)). Do you think this has anything to do with getting lash lifts? I’m thinking about getting a lash lift but I’m nervous!

  11. Andrea says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    Sounds like a nice getaway, although a bit disappointing that a bunch of readers provided a ton of feedback on what to see/do/eat in New York for your trip and not much of it (if anything at all?) seemed to be used 🙁

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      I took notes of all of it, and there were a few factors that played into not being able to plan as well before the trip that I’m not sharing.

  12. Posted January 24, 2018

    What a fun trip! You two certainly covered a lot of ground! Such a treat to see Hamilton while in the city!
    X
    Samantha
    http://www.thenewyorkblonde.com

  13. Laura says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    We stayed at the same hotel last year and it was great! The location was awesome, and the rooms were clean and modern. It took us a few days to realize the subway entrance was literally around the corner. We were walking to Penn Station to catch it and we finally spotted the entrance on our last day.

  14. Linda says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    Listening to the Hamilton soundtrack before you saw the show would have helped (I listened to mine for about 3 months before the first time I saw the show), but as you could tell….not all the lyrics are kid-friendly, so it might have been tricky to do unless you were out in the car alone. So happy you enjoyed it, though….and hey…next time you’re in Chicago, check for tickets…you could see it there!

    I stayed in the tiniest hotel room in NYC years ago…up around 57th and 7th, I think. I will have to check out this Hilton Garden…sounds like a great place to stay.

    • Michele says
      Posted January 24, 2018

      Whoops, I totally listen to the Hamilton album in the car with my infant and 2 year old…it’s theater, so it can be classified as culturing my kids, right???

      They’ve also been exposed to The Lion King, because it’s amazing. You guys should have a nostalgic movie night and watch the original so Justin can experience the greatness🙂

  15. Laurie Robertson says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    I need your sister to come stay at my place! Haha! New York sounds like a great time. I would love to go someday to see the 9/11 Memorial. My husband had been and he says it is so awesome to see.

  16. Amanda says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    Would you recommend the hotel you stayed in for a family trip – children of 10/11 yrs?

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      absolutely!

  17. Bessie says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    No compelling museums? Lol, wut?

    • Nadine says
      Posted January 24, 2018

      I thought the same thing. I have been to NYC many times and still haven’t been to all the museums I want to visit there! A movie can be seen in any town in America. What a waste.

      • Lynn says
        Posted January 24, 2018

        Haha, I so agree!

      • shandra says
        Posted January 25, 2018

        YES.
        I feel like NYC wasn’t really experienced. Pizza class, movies, target. Like you can do all those things back in Raleigh…..

        • Kate says
          Posted January 25, 2018

          I think one of the great things about NYC is the amount of things to do, and it’s pretty unfair to critique someone else visit because it doesn’t line up with your own ideas of fun.

      • Kate says
        Posted January 25, 2018

        You are entitled to your own opinion but as parents of little kids who love seeing movies, we welcomed the chance to see something. We walked several miles a day, and I needed an activity that worked with sitting because I’m pregnant.

  18. Jill says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    It’s good to hear you had a nice getaway. I’m surprised, though, that you couldn’t find a museum in NYC that appealed to you. That had to be disappointing!

    • Lynn says
      Posted January 24, 2018

      I agree! The Met! The Natural History museum! The 9-11 tribute museum! The Guggenheim! MOMA! And they went to a movie???

      • Andrea says
        Posted January 25, 2018

        I thought the same thing! I recently finished reading The Nightingale and it made me SO wish I lived or had plans to go to NY and experience the art that she describes in the book. Whenever we’ve been to NY we are usually out east, which is nice, but man I would KILL to go to any of the museums there.

  19. Robin says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    Also would love to know the brand/name of the boots. They look like extended calf. Trip sounds wonderful. I’ve been in October and at Christmas. Nothing compares to the city at Christmas. Planning to go again soon and will check some of your recommendations.

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      Sam Edelman Penny boots!

  20. Rebecca F. says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    How did you get from the airport to your hotel? Did you rent a car?

    • Lynn says
      Posted January 24, 2018

      Taxis are the way to go. No way should one attempt to drive in NYC,

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      Uber

  21. Angie says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    I heard the ticket prices are outrageous. Would you share how much your tickets for the Lion King and Hamilton were?

  22. Allie says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    That cooking class looks so fun! And how awesome you got to see Hamilton! So glad you had such a great trip! xAllie http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

  23. Posted January 24, 2018
  24. Lynn says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    I have stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn on W 35th the past 2 years, in fact, I recommended it to you because of its location, cleanliness, steps from the subway, friendly employees. So you get to stay for free and I get no thank you. In fact, I notice that you rarely comment back or thank your readers, unlike many bloggers I read (even your sister comments back!). I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. You should have gone to the 9-11 museum, it’s certainly one worth your time.

    • Lynn says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      Ha! And once again, no comment, no thanks for the suggestion.

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      Lynn, I apologize that I have not replied to you. I happened to miss the comment of your recommendation of this hotel. Our stay at this hotel was set into motion many weeks ago, before I asked for any suggestions of what to do in the city. It was a great place to stay and I’ll certainly stay there again next time I’m visiting.
      I have been to the 9-11 museum. I went a year or so ago.
      Regarding responding to comments, there are a lot of moving parts that go into running this blog and I’ve had to make some difficult decisions to prioritize what I spend my time on. Responding to comments is on my list, but sometimes other tasks have to come before that. Specifically today, as I can see that you have paid attention to my response to some comments, I was going through this feed until I needed to take my son to the doctor. Hope you can understand that.

    • Leslie says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      Lynn, do you ever step back, read your own comments, and put a little self realization in play on how you come across, like a nasty B? Cause you do. Comments like this are so unwarranted and not appreciated. Just makes you look like a very, very small person.

      • Ruth says
        Posted January 25, 2018

        I have to sympathize with Lynn. We are the women that keep Kate’s blog up and running; reading, clicking her links, buying her recommendations. But it would seem that she rarely replies to comments. I’ve left tons of upbeat and positive comments over the years, praising her work, and every once in awhile I have a clarification to ask about a something, and I’ve never got a reply. Ever. While it’s fine and great that Kate needs to prioritize her time, I think sometimes she forgets how she makes her living, and who is supporting her. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  25. Lorena says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    I love this post! Getting ready to go to NYC next week, and I would love to know where it was the first picture of this post. I remember you talking about this walk on your stories.

  26. Sarah says
    Posted January 24, 2018

    please share how to use a pizza cutter the right way!! 🙂

    • lona says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      Definitely not the way she was doing it in the picture.

      • Kate says
        Posted January 25, 2018

        I was doing it exactly how the teacher showed us how to do it. . .

  27. Joice says
    Posted January 25, 2018

    Aw, I love new york and look like you have a wonderful time over there! xoxo

    http://www.cantiquejoice.com

  28. Michelle says
    Posted January 25, 2018

    Wow, looks like you’re getting a lot of criticism for what you chose to do with your free time. Shame on these comments – you know the old saying about if you don’t have anything nice to say? As a mom to three littles, I can’t imagine walking 7 miles a day in the city while pregnant. I’m impressed! You could go to the city many many times and have vastly different trips each time. I’m glad you had fun!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      I kind of can’t understand it?! I can’t imagine telling someone that they did a “bad job” on a trip they planned?? Seems odd.

      • Sarah says
        Posted January 25, 2018

        You are right in the regard that you can do what you want on your own trip, however I think the issue is how you said there weren’t any compelling museums to go to. It comes off as very arrogant and somewhat ignorant. If you don’t want to walk because you’re tired say just that. I too have also been pregnant and I had cankles from swelling so walking around wouldn’t be at the top of my list. I would have said just that, not that museums weren’t compelling enough for me.

        • Kate says
          Posted January 25, 2018

          It was simply that we just weren’t feeling it. Perhaps I could have worded it differently and will consider that next time.

  29. Natalie says
    Posted January 25, 2018

    Hi Kate! It seems like you had a fun trip, the pizza class sounds really fun! I’ve been wanting to go back to NYC, so I’ll definitely keep these suggestions in mind 🙂 Sorry you have to deal with these annoying comments…they don’t really seem necessary? Have a great day, I hope Luke feels better soon!

  30. Lauren StG says
    Posted January 25, 2018

    Hi Kate,
    Was your ticket to Pizza school for two individuals or for a couple? Planning a trip for hubby & I!

    Thanks for all you do – I’ve been following along since 2013 and love your blog!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 25, 2018

      we did a duo ticket

  31. Sarah says
    Posted January 25, 2018

    I’m baffled that you said you couldn’t find any compelling museums in NYC. Was that a joke?

  32. Erin says
    Posted January 25, 2018

    I love NYC! Based on your review, I’ll be looking up that hotel on our next stay!

  33. chichi says
    Posted January 25, 2018

    What a great idea to take a trip to consider plans!
    http://www.thestyletune.com

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