As you probably know, this month is the 25th anniversary of the premier of greatest TV show of all time, FRIENDS! Back at the beginning of August I came across an announcement about a Friends pop-up event coming to New York City and I thought I have to make this work somehow! I immediately thought of the two biggest Friends fans I know – my husband and my sister. We figured out quickly that it would probably cost too much if David and I both went (double the cost of everything) plus we would need child care for the entire weekend.
So I asked my sister, Kayla Beth, if she would want to go. David was all on-board for me going on a girls’ trip with my sister. We’ve never got to do anything like this before, so we both knew this was a special opportunity that we couldn’t pass up! We found some cheap flights out of Nashville (half the cost of flying from Huntsville + it was direct!) and an affordable and stylish Air BNB just north of Central Park. I hopped on to get tickets to the pop-up event the exact minute they went on sale. I figured they’d sell out fast, but I didn’t know how in demand it would be! I entered the queue right at 9:00 and didn’t get in to actually buy them until about 9:20. The tickets were sold out by noon! We booked everything else that day and waited impatiently for the day to get here.
Kayla Beth and I have both visited New York before, so we didn’t feel the need to do all the super touristy things such as the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building. We decided that we would use this trip to explore parts of the city that you miss when you’re hopping from attraction to attraction. I’m so glad that we did it this way because New York City is absolutely beautiful. Around every turn we were saying “look at that building! It’s so pretty!” Unfortunately, the photos don’t do the city justice. You can’t see all the beautiful details in a photo like you can in person. If you ever have a chance to explore the city like this, I highly recommend it! Just stroll around the different neighborhoods and villages and see what you come across.
New York City Day 1
Our flight out of Nashville departed at 7:12 in the morning, which meant we hit the road about 3:45. It felt really odd in the airport at that time. We did not expect that many people to be going through security at 5:45 in the morning, but it was surprisingly very crowded. It gave us the feeling of it being much later in the morning than it was.
Thankfully our flight departed and landed on time without any issues with the left phalange. (You’ll probably see some Friends references thrown in throughout this post, so if you don’t watch the show, just ignore them 😉 ) We grabbed an Uber to take us to our Air BNB apartment where our host, Stacia, greeted us and graciously let us check in early. When looking for Air BNB’s we quickly noticed that most apartments in NYC were shared apartments with people who actually lived there. This thought was a little odd at first, so we made sure to find one that was hosted by a female or a married couple, rather than just a male. You can’t be too safe.
Stacia and her husband Nathan were amazing. They were very hospitable, made sure we were comfortable and had our privacy if we wanted it. They were also eager to make suggestions on things to do in the city or chit-chat if we were up for that as well. Their apartment is north of Central Park, so a little further north than we were hoping, but we found it was very easy to hop on the subway and get to where we needed to go. They were only a couple blocks from several different subway stations. I would highly suggest their apartment if you’re looking to travel to New York!
We quickly changed clothes and decided to stroll through Central Park. This is something that neither of us had ever done on previous trips, so this seemed like the perfect way to start out, especially being so close to the park already. Central park is massive, so there’s no way that we could have seen all of it, but I think we did a good job hitting the high points!
When you’re in the park, you don’t feel like you’re in the city at all. It’s so beautiful in there. All the bridges, the ponds, the hiking trails, the fountains, the peek of the city skyline. So much fun. We probably spent about three hours strolling through Central Park! We made our way from the very north side to Bethesda Fountain. We stopped and ate a hot dog from a street vendor for lunch, before heading out to explore some more. We walked through the North Woods, past the Revine, down to the Reservoir (huge body of water with a beautiful view of the skyline behind), down to Belvedere Castle where we met a nice old man who suggested we walk the Ramble, a bunch of winding pathways that make you feel as if you’re not in the city at all. So we walked the Ramble until we made it to Bow Bridge. We saw the Cherry Hill fountain, walked over the the Strawberry Fields, then back to Bethesda Terrace (so pretty!), before we decided to call it quits on Central Park for the day.
After we’d walked a majority of Central Park, we made our way over to LaDuree in the Upper East Side. We went to LaDuree when we were in Los Angeles a couple years ago, and their macarons and tea are to die for! The macarons are perfectly soft and the tea has floral tones that are delightful.
We had made early afternoon reservations at Serra by Birreria, a rooftop restaurant at Eataly right next to Madison Square Park and the Flatiron building. Eataly is such a neat little market. On the main floor when you come in you’ll see a huge farmer’s market-like set up. There are vendors selling fruits and veggies, cheese, olive oil, wine, and all kinds of Italian goods. There are several different restaurants and bars right in the middle of all of it. You’ll also find Italian desserts such as cannolis and tiramisu, a coffee stand, and of course, gelato.
Serra by Berriria was on the top floor of Eataly. We came across it through Pinterest and knew we had to make it up there and I’m glad we did. It is absolutely stunning! They change the scenery based on the season, and it’s all decked out for fall right now. Photos don’t do this place justice, but hopefully you’ll still be able to get a sense of its beauty.
We decided to just get cider and an appetizer since it was early for dinner and we weren’t thrilled about a lot of the stuff on the menu.
We decided to stroll around a little more before heading to dinner. We parked it by Union Square Park for a few minutes to Facetime with the girls. They were excited to see a little bit of New York through the phone. Raley was a little jealous I was going without her. They love the movie The Secret Life of Pets so she wanted to come to New York too. I promised to bring her someday.
We walked through The Village, through parts of the NYU campus (which is so pretty!), and through Washington Square Park.
We made our way to dinner at San Marzano Pasta Fresca in the East Village. On the way we saw this restaurant so I had to snap a picture!
San Marzano’s make their pasta and their sauces fresh daily and it is hands down the best pasta I’ve ever had! The sauce I got was a tomato sauce with oregano and cream and fresh mozzarella. This is the best AND the cheapest meal we had all weekend. My bill was $11!
After dinner we decided to find some dessert. We agreed that Junior’s cheesecake was a must, so we hopped on the subway and made our way to Times Square. BTW, an unlimited 7-day Metro card is the way to go if you’re in New York for more than just a couple days. It’s $33 for 7 days unlimited or $3 per ride. We definitely rode more than 11 times in the 3 days we were there and it was convenient to not have to pay each time you need to ride. Just a thought!
After enjoying the best cheesecake on earth, we roamed through the Disney Store, picked up some souvenirs for the girls, then made our way back to the apartment. We’d been going for over 15 hours at this point and we were ready to pass out!
New York City Day 2
The day we’d been waiting for is finally here! Could we BE any more excited?! Our ticket time for the Friends pop-up was at 11:10, so we decided to get up and head down to Soho for breakfast before the pop-up. We roamed around until we found The Grey Dog, a cute little breakfast spot and coffee shop. It was very good and a cute little place to eat.
One of the baristas noticed our Central Perk shirts on the way out and let us know that the building they used for the outside shots of the Friends apartment was just down the street. We had time, so we walked to the Friends apartment building to check it out! We tried to decide which one would be Monica and Rachel’s and which would be Joey and Chandlers. You’d have to be able to see Ugly Naked Guy from Monica and Rachel’s and Joey’s window would back up to another building so he could sing with the “Morning’s Here” guy. We may be a little obsessed.
When we finally made it into the Friends pop-up, it was so much more than we expected! We both agreed that we were hoping it was all it was hyped up to be, but we didn’t really know what to expect. We knew we’d sit in Central Perk and we’d see Joey and Chandler’s apartment, but that was about it. It was so much more! they had huge posters, lots of photo spots inspired by the show, and tons of relics such as Ross’s comic book “Science Boy,” the Spudnik helmet, Rachel’s letter to Ross (18 pages, FRONT AND BACK), Joey’s original wedding speech (“a love based on having and giving and sharing and receiving”), Phoebe’s doll house she creates when Monica won’t let her play with hers, the red sweater that they know is the father of Rachel’s baby and they think it’s Tag’s but it’s really Ross’s….and so much more!!
Seriously so worth it! After we were finished with the pop-up tour, we decided to eat at Black Tap, which is just down the road in Soho (I loved Soho, btw). They noticed our shirts and made sure we knew about a special “crazy shake” they had on the menu for Friends anniversary month. We decided to share a burger and share a shake, and I’m so glad we did because we were stuffed!
We decided to walk the High Line before heading back up to stroll the rest of Central Park.
We walked the rest of Central Park that we didn’t get to see the day before – mostly the southern part of the park. We, of course, didn’t see everything there is to see in the park because it’s so huge, but I think we saw enough of it! We made our way around to Columbus Circle and took a train back to the apartment to rest and get washed up before heading out to a Yankees game.
We both were not feeling all that great on the trip – we had sinus and upper respiratory issues going on – but we pushed through and made the most of it! That probably didn’t do us good in the long run, but there was no way we were going to let a trip like this go to waste by “resting.” We lived off of cold and flu medicine and made the most of it.
We are a baseball family, and KB is a Yankees fan, so of course we had to go to a game! We have a love for baseball that comes from our Daddy, which means we’ll sit at a ball park any night, no matter who’s on the field. We didn’t get tickets ahead of time because we figured it would be cheaper to get them at the box office. We were surprised at how many people showed up to the game right at game time. We thought most people would get to the game early, but there was a crazy line to get in right at and after game time! We finally made it, found our seats, grabbed some Philly cheese steaks, and enjoyed the game.
New York City Day 3
One thing on our to-do list was to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and wander around Brooklyn. We decided to get up early on our last full day there and make our way down to lower Manhattan to walk across the bridge before it got super crowded. The City Hall area of Manhattan is beautiful!
I’m so glad we made the decision to go when we did because the bridge was not crowded at all. It was SUPER hot though! We had been wishing and hoping for cool fall weather while we were there, but unfortunately it still felt like summer, especially on the bridge where there’s no shade. The architecture of the arches and the cables on the bridge is beautiful and so is the view of the Manhattan skyline.
When we made it across the bridge, we first walked over to the DUMBO area (this stands for “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass”). We wanted a photo of this iconic spot. I love the cobble stone streets throughout the city!
We had plans of eating lunch in Brooklyn so we decided to stroll some neighborhoods until that time. We walked past a park and the beautiful Brooklyn Borough Hall, where there was a farmer’s market taking place out in the courtyard. We grabbed some apple cider donuts from one of the vendors, which was delicious. If we weren’t planning on walking all day, we probably would have grabbed more goodies!
We decided that if we were ever to move to New York, that Brooklyn is where we’d want to live. The neighborhoods are beautiful with the iconic brownstones, tree lined streets, cobble stone walkways, and adorable shops and restaurants. It gives off a different kind of city feel.
We walked through the Brooklyn Heights and the Cobble Hill neighborhoods and stumbled upon Alice’s Tea Cup, an Alice in Wonderland inspired tea and coffee shop/bakery. We grabbed some iced tea, sat down and cooled off for a minute, before heading to lunch. One thing we noticed about a lot of the stores and restaurants in New York is that they’re not super air conditioned. We’d want to step inside a place to cool down, and it would be just as warm as it was outside. I’m not sure why that is, but that last day we were struggling a bit to cool off, and it didn’t help that we couldn’t breath all that well with our sinus issues.
We had decided before going on our trip that lunch at Grimaldi’s was a must. We were both Gossip Girl fans, and this was one that was talked about a lot on the show. It was delicious and absolutely worth it. We had both been to John’s Pizza before, another well known NY pizza place, so we were glad we tried something different this time. The fresh mozzarella on the pizza made it different and the brick oven crust was so good!
There were a couple of dessert shops we wanted to visit on our trip, but we didn’t end up making it to all of them, mostly because they were spread out around the city, but also we just didn’t feel like hunting them all down, nor did we have the stomach to eat a ton of dessert (boo!) We did, however, make it to Do, a delicious cookie dough place in The Village. It was so sweet and rich we couldn’t eat it all, but I wish we could have taken some home with us! So so good!
On our first day in New York, a nice British man gave us two tickets to The Met. He said that they were flying back to England and they weren’t going to get to use them so he gave them to us, which was so sweet! We decided to make our way toward The Met after grabbing some coffee as a much needed pick-me-up midday. We explored a few of the exhibits in The Met that we were most interested in, then made our way back to the apartment to rest a bit before dinner.
We had planned on going to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for dinner in Times Square, but when we got there, there was a long line outside waiting to get in and the people at the front of the line said they had been waiting for an hour. We decided we weren’t very interested in waiting an hour outside in the heat, so we looked around for another place to eat in the area. We landed on Pasta Lovers because it had good reviews and everything looked super cheesy. It was good, but my taste was a tad off because of the stuffy nose.
After dinner we wondered over to Rockefeller Plaza and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is breathtaking.
We did a little shopping before heading back to the apartment to call it a night.
Our flight was at 8:40 am from LaGuardia airport, so we set our alarms for 5:30 and grabbed a Lyft around 6:00 am. There was a hold up at security because until nearly 7:00 there was only one security lane open! Finally the rest of the TSA staff showed up and everything moved much quicker. We grabbed some coffee and read a book until it was time for boarding. Everything went smoothly, we landed on time, made our way back to the car, and made the drive home. We had lunch with David, the girls and our parents when we got back, then I went home and rested the rest of the day (we were exhausted!)
If you ever have a chance to take a girls trip like this and get away, I highly recommend it. We had the best time chatting and catching up. We live 3 hours apart and don’t see each other that often so this time together was awesome!
Have you ever been to New York? Do you enjoy the tourist attractions or would you rather explore areas “off the beaten path”? What is your favorite thing to do there?