I recently visited New York for the first time. A group of friends and I had a mini road trip up to the Big Apple. Being from Northern Virginia, I thought Arlington was a good-sized city. Nope. Arlington is tiny compared to NYC. Prior to our little day trip, I had heard a lot of negative comments about the city. People warned me about everything from the high prices and hectic lifestyle to the smothering amounts of people and their impersonal personas. But they failed to mention the beauty of Manhattan, which has gorgeous cafes, boutiques, restaurants, and other buildings. Plenty of Instagrammable places and fashionable people line the streets. Granted, there were a few sketchier areas which I assume can be expected in a big city, but we didn’t stay in those places for long.
We left early Saturday morning, like 6am early, and were able to see all the major stops on our makeshift tourist list and make it back home a little before midnight. We parked in Liberty State Park, which overlooks the Statue of Liberty. The park is actually in New Jersey, so we hopped on a ferry that took us right across to NYC. From there, we began our long trek all the way to Central Park. The temperature that day was in the high 90s, and we were outside for most of the day. Saying that we were a little sweaty would be an understatement. My friends and I started complaining about the heat not even 10 minutes after leaving our car.
Our first and closest destination was the 9/11 memorial. The pools of this memorial are in the footprints of the Twin Towers. The water cascades from the perimeter then down a deep hole in the center. It goes so far down, you can’t even see the bottom. The memorial is so large, I can’t imagine what it would have looked like if the World Trade Center was still standing.
For lunch, we ate at Pronto Pizza. I had heard some negative reviews about this place, but to me the food was pretty good. The environment wasn’t very pretty, but the pizza slices were huge and relatively inexpensive. Overall it was yummy and offered a nice air-conditioned break from the heat.
We took the subway to Madison Square Garden and continued our walk to Central Park. The New York Subway stations were a lot bigger than I expected. I’m glad I wasn’t alone because I did not get good vibes down there, and I would have gotten lost in an instant. With the complex maps and the maze-like tunnels, it took us forever to figure out what train we needed to be on.
We made sure to see iconic places like Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the Freedom Tower. We also made a stop inside Macy’s to see the wooden escalators. For some reason we were all fascinated with the idea of functional wooden escalators.
One of my favorite spots on our journey was Central Park. It was absolutely massive, and it’s everything a good park should be. Playgrounds were everywhere, and there were a ton of huge rocks that we ended up reclining on with some ice cream. Various events and runs were taking place at different points deeper in the park, but we just stayed along the perimeter. Fortunately, we stumbled upon a carousel. It was three dollars and worth every penny. The atmosphere of Central Park was fun, exciting, and full of families. It was such a beautiful place to be, I wanted to stay there even longer.
Well, my first trip to New York was fantastic! I wish we would have stayed there longer because there is just so much to do. It's impossible to see everything in one day. I could probably stay there for weeks and still find new things to see. I can't wait for the next time I get to see this beautiful city.