No other place has quite pulled at my heart like New York. My love for the sprawling, impossible city started with a key chain.
Dad had just returned from a business trip; it was lucky, really, because I was still at that age where I selfishly expected gifts from my parents when they traveled without us. When we arrived at the airport, Dad handed me a keychain shaped like the Manhattan skyline. It was just for me, and I proudly clipped the tiny golden city to my backpack. Like so many other dreamers, I made myself a promise: one day, I would see New York City.
The keychain is long gone, but I kept my promise. I visited New York for the first time when I was fifteen, and have been fortunate enough to see it again. In 2017, I was in New York twice for work; last week, though, I took a trip just for fun.
Our good friend R.T. invited Drew and I to come to New York with him and his wife, Holly. Drew had never been to New York, and I’m never going to turn down a travel opportunity–so we accepted the invite and booked our flights a few weeks later.
We stayed in an Airbnb in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is famous for its community of artists. On every corner, we saw beautiful and delightfully quirky street art.
We made ourselves at home in Brooklyn, but our first order of business was Broadway.
We all attended the matinee showing of Mean Girls–and it was a dream come true. As a die-hard fan of the film (I mean, who isn’t?), I had extremely high expectations. The musical captured the original story’s hilarity as well as its heart, and the audience cheered during some of the most iconic lines.
Drew also ordered us cocktails: “Burn Book” and “Is Butter A Carb?” We even got to keep the cups!
And yes, we wore pink. I mean, come on. It was a Wednesday, and we had to look fetch.
After dinner (and, let’s be honest, a few beers), it was time for our second musical: Avenue Q! The show is off-Broadway now, but that shouldn’t stop you. It’s freakin’ hilarious and probably one of the best commentaries on adulthood that I have ever seen. Don’t bring your kids, though. It will be really, really awkward. Trust me.
The next day, we had one goal: food. R.T. was determined to get some Joe’s Pizza.
While we were eating, a local New Yorker overheard us discussing pizza. You know. Like you do in New York. He recommended several places, including one down the street, and as soon as we finished Joe’s, we headed down Bleecker St. to Fiore’s. This was my favorite of the pizzas, but Drew and R.T. remain loyal to Joe’s.
But it was all delicious. So much pizza. So much happiness.
Then, something truly magical happened. “Don’t freak out,” R.T. said, “But there’s a cookie dough place across the street.”
Well, we freaked out, and had to grab some cookie dough soon as we finished our pizza. World’s Best Cookie Dough offers freshly baked cookies, raw cookie dough, and milkshakes. We became BFFs with one of the employees and Drew discovered his new favorite cookie. The only downside is now every kind of cookie dough is slightly disappointing. And I’ll never have a milkshake that good ever again.
Even though we decided to skip a few classic tourist spots, like the Empire State Building, we had fun exploring Times Square (The Disney Store is top-notch!) and Central Park. We also made a day trip to see Statue of Liberty! I had never seen it up close, and the trip was definitely worth it. If you decide to visit Liberty Island, beware of scammers–there is only one official ticket vendor.
Later that night, we decided to have dinner at Lips. This was by far one of my favorite parts of the whole trip: drag queens put on a show while you eat and enjoy cocktails. We probably enjoyed too many cocktails–if there is such a thing at a drag show.
We were there for diva night, which meant the queens performed as Cher, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Joan Rivers, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. They were all incredible. If you’re jealous, don’t worry–there are several locations throughout the US. Just don’t forget to make reservations, and bring cash so you can give the queens tips. Performing is still work!
On our last day, we headed for Coney Island. Holly and I had both been dying to go, and we weren’t disappointed. It’s so delightfully weird, with just enough circus creepiness to make the whole park an adventure.
The subway ride to Coney Island is no joke, so we were starving by the time we arrived. Drew and I ate more pizza, and then we stood in line at the famous Nathan’s Hot Dogs. As the sole vegetarian of the group, I skipped the hot dog and got a beer instead. I know. Poor me (#sarcasm). We also rode the legendary Wheel of Wonder and their roller coaster, the Cyclone. If you love theme park rides, they’re both worth the cost ($8 and $10, respectively). Drew and Holly weren’t fans of the Wheel of Wonder, but we all agreed the Cyclone was a blast.
Coney Island is definitely one of my new favorite places, and I hope that one day I get to go for the Mermaid Parade!
As always, New York was absolutely wonderful. No trip is ever the same, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again. There are still a lot of pizza places and cookie dough flavors to try. ❤️