I promised to check in today with highlights from our recent trip to the Big Apple, and I’m here to deliver. Better late than never, right? The truth is I’ve been working on this post all day in between errands, appointments, and work. It is what it is.
If you have been following the blog for a hot minute, then you can probably guess what this trip was all about. While Scott and I have been to New York City to visit and work before, this was the first time we actually went to scope out realistic opportunities for us and the future.
That said, we were on a mission to hang with friends, get comfortable with the city (and public transportation!), and see what’s out there. There weren’t any shows or big to-dos on the agenda this go around, and our four day trip turned into the perfect blend of productive and fun.
We planned to stay with my best friend all the way back from middle school, Lauren. She lives in Astoria, but invited us to stay with her while she apartment and dog sat right in the heart of the city on 52nd Street. It was neat to be within walking distance of so many different things!
New York City Trip Highlights
• Cyc Fitness
Lauren gave me the heads up that we would be taking a spinning class shortly after we landed, so Scott and I both grabbed coffees, metro passes, and buckled up for the ride soon after we arrived at her apartment via bus and subway.
Once we settled in, it was time to change and take a couple of trains over to David Barton Gym on Astor Place. I’d never seen anything like that type of gym environment!
The website describes the design as a “landscape for the senses, carved out of imagination and built to get your heart racing before you ever step onto the treadmill,” and I’d say that’s dead on. Everything was so artsy and unique!
Cyc Fitness is located in the lowest level of the gym, and I knew that we were in for a treat when Lauren mentioned our friend, Eric, was teaching class. He’s a party of a personality, that’s for sure! She met him fifteen years ago at a dance convention and introduced me to him in Orlando a few years after that. It was so great to see him!
I’ve taken several spinning classes in the past, but this was my first real “cycling” class that required cycling shoes. The studio provided them as a rental (included with a class purchase), and I was pumped to get inside the studio and get my sweat on.
The Cyc Method combines calorie burning endurance intervals with a mix of weighted exercises. Each bike came armed with two light weights and a sweat towel, and I was expecting the class to be a good mix of challenging and fun. That is was!
The 45-minute cycling class had me pedaling and sweating like a madwoman. I loved the dark environment with accent lighting (the teacher controls and changes throughout the class) and incorporation of arm strength training with weights and kickboxing moves. Every now and then the teacher hops off of the bike to pump up the class by banging on a drum up front. It was so much fun!
You can find Cyc classes in New York, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, and Madison. Prices range anywhere from $21-$28 a class, depending on the city and location. I can totally see myself purchasing a monthly membership down the road, if the opportunity presented itself. Even though I was working extremely hard in this class, I didn’t stop smiling the entire time.
Thanks so much for having us, Eric!
• Stanton Social & Back Room Speakeasy
Later that night, Lauren had plans to take a dance class so we met up with our friend, Erin, from Orlando. She’s been living in Manhattan for three and a half years now, and moved up to New York just a few weeks before we moved up to Michigan.
We decided on Stanton Social on the Lower East Side for dinner and had reservations for 8 p.m. It’s a small plates (tapas) restaurant that serves high-end cocktails with cool music and a very upscale, eclectic city vibe.
The three of us ordered a variety of plates to share, alongside a round of specialty drinks. (The Strawberry Fields cocktail is ridiculously delicious.)
Hand Pulled Chicken Arepas, Old School Meatballs, French Onion Soup Dumplings, ‘Chicken n’ Waffles’, and Social Mac & Cheese
We weren’t highly impressed with the Chicken n’ Waffles, but the French Onion Soup Dumplings are a must. We all became full after dessert (a Movie Theater Sundae), and walked a few blocks over to our next stop, The Back Room.
Back Room is a legit speakeasy with a Prohibition-esque vibe, known for serving cocktails in teacups and beer in paper bags.
The entrance is labeled “Lower East Side Toy Company” and takes you down through a alley to the front doors. The inside is dimly lit and filled with bronze, dark wood, and interesting art work. There is a DJ working music (dressed in period attire), and enough space to stand or crowd around a couch and fireplace, if you’re lucky.
Prices were pretty up there, which was to be expected, but overall we loved it. We didn’t find out about the “real” backroom, however, until a few days later. If you ever get the chance to visit, look for a secret bookcase wall that opens to reveal another hidden room in the back. (Cool, right?)
We said our goodbyes to Erin after a drink and met back up with Lauren and friends at Café Select. It was a late night!
We didn’t set alarms for the next morning, and this was a great thing. Scott and I woke up to the awesome breakfast you see below and enjoyed a morning of lounging and movie-watching.
Lauren had an afternoon voice lesson in Brooklyn, so we tagged along and walked around Williamsburg while she did her thing. I had never been to Brooklyn before, but I’ve heard wonderful things about the area being very up-and-coming.
Looking to warm up, we found a coffee shop called Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters on North 6th Street. It was surprisingly loud inside, and almost every seat was taken.
We found a couple of stools near the window, and I sipped on a flat white coffee while Scott had his normal chai tea latte.
We killed some time chatting by the window and talked about our trip so far. Before long, it was time to walk back to the subway and hop on the train to meet our friends, Shawn and Hillary, at Backyard in the Park Slope area.
I didn’t snap any photos, but we absolutely love that area. It’s clean, spacious, drivable, and very family friendly. It was (quite literally) a breath of fresh air after all of the city hustle and bustle. We ended up going back to their apartment to catch up for a few more hours and then headed back on the train to the city for the night.
Next time, we’d love to visit during daylight and see Prospect Park. I hear it’s beautiful!
• Tourists in the city
Saturday was our first full day to really explore the city. Both Scott and I have visited New York City a handful of times, and we love taking the subway and walking to and fro wherever it takes us, usually aimlessly.
Since we were staying right in the heart of the city this time, we made the twenty minute walk across town to some of the must-see spots. The first stop was Radio City Music Hall.
It’s always been a dream of mine to dance in the city in the famous Rockettes shows. It’s crazy how life works out … because that’s exactly what Lauren does! I went up to see her dance on broadway in the show Wicked years ago, and she currently spends all of her holiday season dancing at Radio City! I’m so, so proud.
After Radio City, we made the quick walk over to Rockefeller Center.
I still have yet to make it up to the Top Rock Observation Deck … maybe one day. Until then, pretending that we’re going to go ice skating works for me.
Soon after, we walked the short distance over to Times Square and found a very talented street artist on the way.
I don’t normally stop for things like this, but there was something really cool about this guy. Scott had seen him before and wanted to see what he could do in person. We asked him to create us a one-of-a-kind black and white Star Wars themed piece and were amazed at how quickly he busted it out!
Wet painted picture in hand, we finally made it over to Times Square and … oh my gosh. It was so crowded. But, that was to be expected.
We never really stay there for long. We pretty much come to see all the lights and people and then get the heck out.
There was a new (to us) mirror sculpture that was pretty neat. Please note the little girl on the right … hilarious. As soon as I snapped this picture, I got word to head back to the apartment and onto the next adventure, and off we were.
• Brunch at The Smith & Lumberjack Party
After Lauren’s friend, Christie, met us at her place, we walked over to The Smith for a late brunch. Gosh, that menu was great.
I ordered the Ranchero Scramble which was phenomenal. Breakfast orders came with a side of cheese grits and fruit, and we all shared a little bit of everything. We were plenty full!
Just a few hours later, it was time to get back out and about, Lumberjack style. There was a birthday to celebrate, and plaid on plain on plaid was the style to beat at Wood and Ales.
We cabbed over to the venue and had a fun night pretending to be cool with fake axes.
What a fun party idea!
• Hillsong NYC
Our Sunday started with a train ride over to Union Square.
Scott and I made plans to attend a church service at Hillsong and decided on the Irving Plaza location in hopes of hearing Carl Lentz speak. We arrived thirty minutes early to stand in line to get in and just missed the cut off for sitting on the main floor downstairs. The venue is a concert hall, so we went upstairs and found seats in what would most likely be a “VIP” area. To keep our seats, we had to watch the service on a television screen, but it was still cool to be there and see what a Hillsong church service is like.
As it turns out, Carl Lentz was speaking over at the Times Square location, so we watched a live stream of the sermon for that part of the service. We would have loved to been able to see him in person, but it was still neat to experience.
We would love to return again!
The service lasted close to two hours long, so we headed back to the apartment to be able to hang with Lauren a bit before dinner plans.
• Catching up with friends
While we were in the city, we found a free night to meet up with our friends Lindsey and Darnell, who live in New Jersey. They trained over for the night and we hung at the apartment for a bit before venturing out for food and a chill night out.
We agreed on authentic Ramen from Hide-Chan Ramen on 52nd Street. It was really, really good and decently priced for the area! Full, we all cabbed over to Fat Cat in the West Village. It’s a very casual spot that is always open late, offers live music, pool, Ping-Pong, board games, and cheap beverages.
We played a few rounds of each and called it a night by 11 p.m. It was an action-packed, busy trip and ended on a great note!
Our time in New York City was certainly fun. We came, we saw, and we left with a little bit of optimism and excitement for future visits. We owe a huge thank you to Lauren (and her furry buddy, Meatball) for hosting us!
(Isn’t he cute?)
We’ll be back, that’s for sure!
Previous New York travels:
• Surprise 30th Birthday in New York City (April 2015)
• Queen of the Night & New York City Shows (April 2015)
• Brooklyn Bagels, Spa Castle & Southern Hospitality (April 2015)
• Cafe Mogador & Eileen’s Cheesecake (April 2015)
• Hello New York City! (March 2014)
• Fairmont Fit + New York-ing It (March 2014)
• New York, New York (February 2012)
Questions of the Day
• Have you ever dreamed of living in a big city like New York City?
• Where is (are) your favorite area(s) to walk or roam?