NYC Explorer: 6 Days in Manhattan

Over the next several weeks we’ll be exploring the best of NYC on American Nomad from museums, to living history to Central Park this is going to be a fun adventure.

I wanted to start off our virtual blog tour with a recap of my own NYC adventure.

When I’m not writing about travel, art and history I work in technology sales. Unfortunately my position was eliminated in January 2023 and during the ‘gap’ between my next job I decided to travel with my mom to NYC.

Why NYC?

  • I am a classically trained vocalist and grew up dreaming of Broadway – while I’ve seen lots of top touring productions and shows on West End in London I’ve never actually seen a Broadway show on Broadway.
  • I am an artist and art history expert with a passion for museums (#museumexplorer) and have wanted to see The Metropolitan Museum of Art since middle school.
  • I haven’t been to NYC since a high school youth group trip in 2000. The trip was amazing – we volunteered at homeless shelters and helped those in need in the morning and in the afternoon toured The Intrepid Museum, UN, Times Square and The Guggenheim. Seeing Cezanne’s work at The Guggenheim deeply influenced me – I love his use of color and perspective. My cat is named after Cezanne.

Planning the Trip:

  • Unemployed (for now) I knew budget was important. I was blessed to have received a gift card towards travel over Christmas which I used towards the trip.
  • NYC has tons of reasonably priced hotels throughout the city. We originally wanted to stay closer to Central Park but decided to take a chance on Chelsea. The price was more affordable and close to several subway stations. I recommend searching on or Expedia for a good deal. Hotwire is great too, but usually you have to pay upfront.
  • The Holiday Inn Express included a great buffet breakfast and was on a quiet street (29th) near a few great restaurants. It was a twenty minute walk from Times Square and only ten minutes from the original Macy’s on 34th Street (remember the Christmas classic The Miracle on 34th Street?)
  • Raleigh has a number of direct flights to NYC. Fortunately my airline miles covered the flights, which were around $100 each
  • NYC has several airport options: JFK, La Guardia and Newark (NJ). JFK is known for international flights and is a bit further away than La Guardia. On this trip we flew into JFK and out of La Guardia. La Guardia was recently remodeled as is one of the prettiest airports I’ve visited.

Getting around:

  • I recommend investing in a convenient location (near a subway and within walking distance to restaurants). I don’t mind navigating the Subway, but many of the museums required a taxi ride for ease of use.
  • Taxi/Uber: We used Uber most of the trip as the rate is locked once a driver commits and it is super easy. That being said, the traditional Yellow Taxis are great too.
    • If you take a Yellow Cab you can prebook with the ‘Curb’ app, which like Uber locks the trip rate
    • If you need to hail a cab off the street you will pay a set mileage fee depending on miles/time.
  • From the airport: DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT use a cab that is waiting at the airport unless they charge a flat fee. We got duped into thinking we were getting an ‘Uber’ because they had a sign that said ‘need an Uber’ – the fee was ridiculously expensive. Instead use your phone app or a yellow cab. As of Feb. 2023 the rates are around $80 (less or more depending on your location/time of day) to and from JFK or La Guardia.
  • Walking – NYC is a very walkable city. The city is built on a grid and is easy to navigate if you have a street map. Google Maps is not reliable when walking and I recommend keeping a pocket map just as a cross reference. (And I love Google Maps but also realize walking app isn’t their strong suit)
  • Subway – there are miles of subway lines. You can learn about the subway and bus routes here. The only downside with the subway is it is dirty and old. I don’t say this lightly as I’m one to ignore crud in pursuit of an adventure but it is pretty grim. The good thing about the subway is it saves you money on cabs and is an adventure straight out of a Seinfeld episode.

Our itinerary:

Day 1:Wednesday, February 8th 2023:

  • Left RDU at 7:10 a.m. for a 1.5 hour flight to JFK
  • Took a cab into the city and checked into The Holiday Inn Express in Chelsea
    • The hotel staff was AMAZING and let us check in several hours early!
  • We then took an Uber to The American Museum of Natural History
  • We spent several hours exploring the dioramas and scientific exhibits from dinosaurs to minerals, to the Serengeti and beyond.
  • I’ll be writing a blog specifically about the AMNH soon!
  • We decided to relax at the hotel and order in from Gino’s Gluten Free Pizza. The margherita pizza with pepperoni felt like Roma!

Day 2: Thursday, February 9th 2023:

  • After a hearty breakfast at The Holiday Inn Express, we took a cab to The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Met is the second largest art museum in the world with over 5,000 years of art history.
  • The Met is so large we decided to break it up into two days. We spent seven hours at The Met on Thursday, starting off in the Egyptian Galleries and ending up with their AMAZING Impressionist Collection.
    • The highlights of museum for me were:
      • Thomas Moran’s painting of The Grand Tetons (he is a favorite painter of mine given his ties to Yellowstone)
      • George Washington Crossing the Delaware by Leutze
      • Madame X by Sargeant
      • Claude Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and Cezanne paintings
      • The Vermeer paintings
  • After returning to the hotel, we walked to the nearby Triple Crown pub – a neighborhood favorite on 7th avenue and 29th street. They had a delicious mulled spiked cider and the NY Cheesecake made the Big Apple proud.
  • Pro Tip: NYC food costs are exorbitant even compared to the prices in Raleigh, which are not cheap. Expect to pay at least $20 for a burger, $15.00 for a drink…even affordable fast food places are not cheap. You will spend most of your travel budget on food! The good news is NYC is a foodie capital so at least your money goes to good eats.

Day 3: Friday, February 10th, 2023

We took the subway to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). This trip was a pilgrimmage to as many of NYC’s art museums as possible. I love to study the art to improve my own painting style and find peace in the uniqueness of each painting or sculpture.

  • The MOMA is home to one of the most famous works of art in the world – Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Seeing it in person felt surreal, like a dream.
  • Pro tip: When you go to The MOMA don’t just rush to see Starry Night and leave. The museum includes some of the finest works of modern art in the world that are equally as breathtaking including works by Cezanee, Monet’s waterlilies, Matisse, Picasso and more.
  • After several hours exploring the museum, we grabbed a quick lunch at The MOMA cafe.
  • We then walked two blocks to nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral – one of the most stunning churches in the US and the world.
  • We only planned to spend twenty minutes in St. Patrick’s but it blew me away. My mom and I were there nearly three hours – taking in the glorious architecture and praying before the Blessed Sacrament
    • St. Patricks is free to visitors of all faiths and a perfect spot to pray and light a candle. Donations are welcome to help cover building and outreach costs.
  • We walked to Central Park near The Plaza Hotel, enjoying the ducks and tranquility of the park.
  • I’m a huge fan of Home Alone 2 and it has always been a dream of mine to go into The Plaza. Hungry for dinner, we decided to splurge and eat at The Plaza bar – it was one of the best meals we had in NYC and a good value for a steak and salad (NYC budget anyway).
    • Pro tip: If you cannot budget for a top-star hotel – you can still stop by for a cocktail or dessert. Enjoy the ambiance and a good drink without draining your budget.
  • We closed out our day with a trip to Lincoln Center for a wonderful show by the New York City Ballet.
    • The show included selections from Bob Fosse and more!

Day 4: Saturday, February 11th 2023

We started our day back at The Met…I am a huge fan of Italian Renaissance art and hoped to see their Duccio and Botticelli. Unfortunately due to remodeling efforts the majority of Renaissance art was not on display. Instead a wonderful set of volunteers gave us a ‘mini tour’ of the Venetian and English Rooms.

  • After leaving The Met, we walked several blocks to The Frick on Madison. The Frick is one of the most renowned museums in New York – known for it’s collection of European art. Usually The Frick is housed in the historic Frick Mansion, but due to repairs the highlights of the collection are currently being shown on Madison Avenue in another building until 2024.
  • The Frick is AMAZING with a wonderful collection of Van Dycks, Frans Hals, Rembrandt to Van Eyck as well as Monet, Degas, Fragonard and more…we’ll dig into the collection in more detail soon.
  • The Frick on Madison has a wonderful coffee shop and cafe that is known for it’s cocunut cold brew #destinationcoffee
  • We finished our day back at The Met for another glance at The Impressionism Wing as well as exploring The Greek and Byzantine Art.

Who says Art History isn’t fun – the stories behind the paints include scandal, redemption, war and love, loss and renewal…

Day 5: Sunday, February 12th, 2023

  • We caught the wonderful, magical carpet ride of Aladdin on Broadway. I grew up with the original animated film, but this was A Whole New World. The cast was fantastic, especially The Genie, Frank Viveros
  • Off the cuff we decided to see the evening performance of The Lion King. I’d seen it in Nashville at The TPAC during college and it is one of my favorites. We were lucky to get a small discount on tickets (Today Tix) given it was The Super Bowl and more empty seats that evening.
  • We enjoyed a pre-dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe…mostly for convenience (Right near the theatre), but the food was great and the music had us rocking.

Day 6: Monday, February 13th, 2023

  • Our last day in NYC! We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before checking out.
  • Pro tip: Many hotels will allow you to leave your luggage at the hotel if your flight is not until that evening
  • We took a cab to The Guggenheim where we were introduced to an amazing artist Alex Katz (more on him and The Guggenheim in a future post). Other highlights at The Guggenheim included:
    • The incredible Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and spiral walkway through the galleries
    • The collection of Monet, Degas, Manet, Picasso, Braque, Pissarro, Cezanne and other masters
      • The Guggenheim is famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s own structure in NYC
  • After a few hours at The Guggenheim we walked to the nearby Neue Gallerie
    • The Neue Gallerie features one of the best collections of Austrian art including the famed Woman in Gold by Klimt of Adele Bloch-Bauer (I can’t help but love her as my name is also Adele). This painting was stolen by the Nazis and only recovered by the heirs in the early 2000s before making its permanent home in NYC’s Neue Gallerie
  • We enjoyed a late lunch at Serafina’s off Madison Avenue. This popular Italian restaurant has several locations throughout NYC. I enjoyed my Aperol Spritz (proscecco and aperol mixer) just like I was in Italy
  • After gathering our luggage we took an Uber to La Guardia and flew home.

The trip was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to dig in deeper on what I experienced and provide some additional travel tips as we tour NYC in the coming weeks.

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Purpose of American Nomad: To share my love of travel, history and museums with others. Follow American Nomad on facebook here.

About: American Nomad is written by Adele Lassiter, a travel enthusiast with a background in history, art and technology sales. In addition to running American Nomad, Adele is an artist and published author of cozy romances. Check out her cozy romance novel, Solitude Lake on Amazon (Adele Darcy)

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