Empire State of Mind: Adventures in New York

Things to Do in New York City

After spending most of my life in a state where the leaves never change colors, I decided to experience autumn in New York. It was my first time visiting NYC as an adult. This time, I’d have full control of my itinerary and truly have the chance to explore.

Although the trip was unseasonably warm, it was a much-needed escape. That weekend, I was able to cover a lot of ground, and enjoyed exploring the city that never sleeps. I stayed with one of my best friends in Hamilton Heights, a neighborhood I loved getting to know.

For those planning a visit to New York City, check out my suggested itinerary items!

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Places We Visited: The Highlights

Bryant Park

I started my first day at Bryant Park, a beautiful park in Midtown not far from the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. Between the pop-up shops and the life-sized statue of Gertrude Stein, this little park offers beautiful views and plenty of people-watching. With a café and food kiosks, Bryant Park hosts events and ice skating at different points in the year.

Federal Hall

Located on Wall Street, Federal Hall is known as the birthplace of American government. This is the site of George Washington’s inauguration and the home of our first Congress and Supreme Court. Federal Hall is free to visit and a must-see for anyone interested in American history.

9/11 Memorial

I paid my respects at the 9/11 Memorial on my first day in New York. Visiting the twin memorial pools and seeing the names of those who died was a sobering experience, but also a powerful one. I plan to spend a day at the museum the next time I visit.

Storm King Art Center

For my second day in town, we decided to spend the morning and afternoon upstate. Storm King Art Center had been a bucket list item for me for a while, and our visit did not disappoint. Being surrounded by abstract sculptures in the rolling hills was the perfect way to spend a fall day! For those visiting for the first time, I suggest taking a tram ride around the entire park so you can choose which sculptures you’d like to return to.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

This was my first time at The Met, but it quickly became one of my favorite museums. From George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware to the Egyptian collections, there was so much to see. We spent an entire Sunday wandering around the museum and still weren’t able to do it all!

The Little Red Lighthouse

As one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City, The Little Red Lighthouse was worth the dangerous trek off the beaten paths we took to get there! 🙂 The lighthouse is located under the George Washington Bridge and has become the inspiration for a sweet little story called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.

Things To Do in NYC: Storm King

What We Ate

Il Cortile Ristorante

For my first night in New York City, my college roommates and I reunited in Little Italy to catch up over wine (!) and delicious Italian food. Il Cortile featured live music and served an amazing pumpkin gnocchi to match the season. If you’re looking for a good Italian restaurant, Il Cortile is one to try!

Barney Greengrass

I couldn’t visit New York and not have a bagel at some point. Barney Greengrass is known for their bagels (and their cinnamon raisin was fantastic!), but also offers sandwiches, smoked fish platters, and so much more.

Hamilton’s Bakery

We enjoyed a delicious (and Instagram-worthy) Sunday brunch at Hamilton’s Bakery. Located in Hamilton Heights, Hamilton’s Bakery serves breakfast bowls (I enjoyed the Angelica bowl!), along with sandwiches, avocado toasts, bakery items, and more. They also offer bottomless mimosas and sangria, if you’re looking to imbibe!

The Chipped Cup

This little café in Hamilton Heights quickly became my favorite coffee shop in New York. With uplifting notes on the chalkboard outside, The Chipped Cup is a cozy, relaxing place to stop before a busy day of travel. My pick? The iced blueberry tea. Check them out!

What are your favorite stops in New York? Share in the comments section below!

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