I made a spontaneous trip to New York City! I went for a weekend, three days, in July and boy was it an adventure! I’m splitting up this trip into a three part series like I did with San Francisco a few months ago (check out day one of my trip here!). This is the first day of my trip to NYC.
I’ve been to New York City (NYC) before as a child on a school trip, but this was my first solo trip. Not going to lie – I was kind of nervous about traveling around NYC alone but I was fine the entire time. If you want to go to NYC alone but are worried about safety, just go! Be cautious, but don’t let fear prevent you from enjoying life.
My trip began at 4am. I had to wake up at that ungodly time in order to catch my early morning train to NYC. I parked my car at the Greenbelt, Maryland, metro station in the multi-day parking (it doesn’t cost extra to park there) and then rode the metro to Washington DC’s Union Station. I rode Amtrak all the way from DC to NYC, and it was the first time I’d ridden the train since I was a child and also my first solo trip. I now love traveling by train and it is probably my favorite mode of transportation. Round-trip tickets with Amtrak cost me $215, but I got my tickets late so it cost more. If I had gotten them earlier, it would have cost less than $150. Too little too late.
The train took me all up the coast to NYC. We stopped in Baltimore, Philadelphia, somewhere in Delaware and in Newark, New Jersey.
I arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan and rode the subway to Brooklyn. After a few train changes, I finally arrived at my stop an hour later. I can honestly say that I despise the subway system, but I’ll talk about that in a little bit.
I used AirBnB to find a room because it was cheapest. Staying at a hotel is super expensive and staying at a hostel was not an adventure that I was ready to do alone. My room was literally just a room in a lady’s apartment in Brooklyn, which was fine because it was a 5 minute walk to the subway. I stayed there Friday and Saturday, and checked out Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm. It cost about $115 for the two nights, which I didn’t think was too terrible considering it was NYC.
I know that this sounds incredibly lame, but the first thing I did in NYC was take a nap. To be fair, I had been up since 4am and I didn’t sleep on the train because I finished homework and took an exam on the train (work before play!).
After my nap I headed to Coney Island for a bit. It’s close to Brooklyn, easily accessible by subway, and I had never been before. Coney Island is very similar to Santa Monica in California, which I have been to several times since I lived in California growing up. At Coney Island, there are roller coasters and thrills for tourists to enjoy. Tourists and natives alike lounge at the beach and the shore is packed full of people, both in and out of the water. Nathan’s hot dogs originated in the area and there are plenty of food spots and restaurants to stop for lunch or dinner. In case you’re thinking about visiting Coney Island, I must warn you that when I was there, there were quite a few people smoking marijuana. I have pretty terrible allergies and sensitivities to smells, so I had a MASSIVE migraine after leaving Coney Island, which affected me until I had some fresh air at Central Park the next day. Of course, I mean no ill will to anyone who uses it, but this is my warning to anyone else who travels there. It is child-friendly place… except for that little detail.
When I got back to my AirBnB after Coney Island, I changed out of my tourist-y clothes and ventured into Manhattan via subway.
The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has free admission on Friday nights from 4-8pm and I was traveling on a budget in NYC, so I planned a visit to the museum – and so did hundreds of other people. It wasn’t terribly crowded, but it was packed. I have a minor appreciation for modern art (it’s not my favorite, but I still appreciate it), so I enjoyed my visit. MoMA has six (!!) stories of exhibits for visitors to enjoy, including a sculpture garden and a café. I spent about an hour and a half inside the museum and I know that there are sections that I missed.
After MoMA was one of, if not my top, favorite part of my trip to NYC – a Broadway show! I saw Phantom of the Opera for the second time, but this time on Broadway! Going to the theater is one of my all-time favorite pastimes and Phantom of the Opera is my favorite musical, so I was thrilled to watch it on my trip. The man who played the phantom was raised in Tucson, Arizona (my hometown!), and he graduated from my university, the University of Arizona. He was spectacular. Phantom of the Opera features pyrotechnics, a crashing chandelier, a stalker, a love story, and of course – opera. It has one of my favorite soundtracks, ever. During the opening number, I got chills all the way up my spine and through my fingertips, and the chills continued throughout the show. I know that Broadway and especially Phantom of the Opera isn’t for everyone, but I absolutely loved it. If a show like Phantom of the Opera isn’t your “jam,” Broadway has shows of all types for everyone. These are some of the other shows that were running on Broadway during my trip: Wicked, Lion King, Dear Evan Hansen, Waitress, Frozen, Cinderella, Anastasia, Kinky Boots, Kick Up Your Heels, Hello Dolly!, and others. I would have loved to see the Lion King or Dear Evan Hansen, but tickets were over $100 and as I mentioned before, I was traveling on a budget. My ticket for Phantom was $55 but cost me $75 after fees were applied.
My Broadway show ended at 10:30pm and I was still exhausted from my travels, so I decided to go home. I’m also not really a big partier and I didn’t feel comfortable going out alone. I did, however, make a pit stop at Times Square to see the lights at night. It was jam packed full of people (running theme in NYC) but at least it looked pretty.
It ended up taking me two hours to get home via the subway. Now is time for my thoughts on the NYC subway:
The NYC subway is miserable. There is half a million people using the subway system every single day, so people jam themselves into the cars to try to get to their destination because they don’t know when the next train will arrive. The trains are unreliable and things can change at a moment’s notice. It is hot and humid and stinky AS HECK at the stations; it feels like it is 95 degrees (Fahrenheit) with 80 percent humidity in the summertime. I dreaded having to ride the subway and going into the underground stations. On my trip into Manhattan the first day, some lady was PUKING on the train! When I tried to get home from my shows, it took two hours to get home. On my second day, as I was going into Manhattan again, some guy was peeing on the wall. Every time I rode the subway was an experience.
All of that being said, I think that every NYC visitor should ride the subway at least once – for the experience. Also, it’s only $2.75 per ride, but getting the card initially costs $1.00. The transportation department tried to make the stations look nice with beautiful tilework, but it has all fallen under disrepair and constant abuse from travelers. Do I recommend it? At least once. Would I advise you to walk places instead of using the subway? Absolutely.
On that note, my first day in NYC is done! Check back in soon for day two, and then day three will follow soon after.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever traveled to New York City, New York? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!