Get the most out of your trip to NYC: A guide filled with all the sightseeing, food, + fitness you can get in 3 days!
Lace up your walking shoes because this guide is waking intensive.
My friend, Sierra, & I took to the big apple for our first, & our last, ever college spring break. It was filled with lots of ‘oops’, ‘help’, but most importantly, fun! We knew that we wanted to sweat at all NYC’s biggest fitness studios (ahem: Soul Cycle, Y7, Imax Shift, Barrys Bootcamp…) + eat allll the food. One thing I have to say is, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, you name it, THERE IS AN OPTION FOR YOU at nearly every restaurant. They are fantastic about accommodating you + there was always a vegetarian option for us.
First things first… I highly recommend packing light. We learned the hard way but it makes traveling SO much easier. I also suggest bringing a bag that is small enough that it won’t be a hassle carrying around all day, but big enough that you can carry everything that you would need for an entire day out in the city. A water bottle is a must… It’s much easier, & cheaper, than buying a water bottle every few hours. + Almost all restaurants have a self-serve water tap so you can easily refill! Also, very important between fitness classes + trekking through the city to stay hydrated. I also brought along a little pack of face wipes, which were super convenient for post-sweat, when you’re not able to run back to your hotel to get cleaned up!
NYC can be so intimidating because it’s hard to know where to start or what’s good. Well the truth is… there are SO many good places + simply just walking through the city is an experience in itself. For planning purposes, we broke our days into: Downtown Manhattan, Midtown Manhattan, Uptown Manhattan + Brooklyn. However, we didn’t schedule any fitness classes before hand, which ended up working out just fine. We were able to get into all of the classes that we were interested in. + we didn’t make a formal itinerary, which also worked out just fine.
On our first day, we flew into Newark airport, bright + early. From there, we took the air train into Penn Station in Manhattan. We bought tickets at the train station, it was about a 30-minute ride, + it only cost $13 (much cheaper than Amtrak). It was very easy to navigate, as Penn Station was the last stop on the route. Once in the city, we Uber Pooled to our hotel, which was very conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan. (Uber Pool is an option if you’re looking to save money on your ride, but unfortunately it can take a little bit longer to get to your destination).
Fortunately, Grand Central Station was just down the street from our hotel so on the way to Downtown Manhattan, we stopped there for a photo-op. After getting oriented + almost buying a bus ticket instead of a subway ticket, we took the subway straight down to Wall Street.
We explored the financial district, went to the Wall Street Pier, which overlooks Brooklyn + is also where you can catch a Ferry over, saw the New York Stock Exchange, then stopped for an NY bagel (which is a must). We then made our way to the World Trade Center Memorial. The 9/11 Museum is right in that area as well, athugh we didn’t stop there. Right across the street is the Oculus structure at the World Trade Center Transportation hub, which will eventually connect New Jersey’s PATH trains & NYC’s subways. It was beautiful + resembled something between ribs + a bird taking flight.
From there, we walked + walked, & stumbled upon a small café in TriBeCa: Maman, which was so cute! In the front, they have a French coffee shop, serving up pastries + lavender hot chocolate (I mean!!!). Then in the back, they have a full sit down café. Although we didn’t eat there, the menu looked amazing + the décor of the entire place was adorable! Definitely recommend this spot for either lunch or to quickly grab a drink. With our drinks in hand, we walked to SoHo for some shopping. This was definitely one of the best areas to shop with almost every store I could think of.
After a long day of traveling + walking all over the city, we stopped for lunch at a vegan spot: By Chloe. I had heard great things about this restaurant so I wanted to check it out. It’s great either for to-go or to sit & eat. They offer everything ranging from sandwiches, to soups, to salads. I got a sweet potato veggie burger, topped with guac, corn salsa, + tortilla strips. They also make their own chipotle aioli + beet ketchup, which I unfortunately didn’t get to try. They serve juices, full coconuts that you can drink out of, + their fries looked amazing. This is a must-go for lunch!
After we ate, we explored NoLita, Little Italy, around Washington Square Park + a little bit of Chinatown before making our way to NoHo for our first ever Soul Cycle experience! I was so fortunate to be able to take the class with Jera(@workoutbean). If you haven’t already… GO check out her Instagram because this girl is bomb. I’ve followed her entire journey, as she became Soul Cycle instructor + I knew that I just had to take one of her classes. As an extra plus, we got to meet her & she is just the sweetest, most positive being. If you don’t know Jera… You’re missing out!
After our intense sweat sesh, we needed something good for dinner. We found this super cool place called: Urban Space in Midtown. Think: hip, urban food court. With a bunch of picnic tables in the middle, it was made up of a bunch of individual pop-up restaurants, each with their own style, ranging from sushi burrito, to lobster, to pizza, to a juicer or a coffee shop, to a Mediterranean place… + more! There was even a stand where you could buy a bottle of wine. We ended up getting the sushi burrito + it was great. It was a super happening place, highly recommend.
From there, we walked to Times Square, which wasn’t far at all. It was crazy busy, but always a must-see.
We were actually awarded tickets to see Good Morning America… Which is a little bit of a different process than the Today Show because you get to go into the studio! But you have to sign in by 6:45, so we decided against it…
Day numero 2 started with a hot hip-hop flow at the infamous Y7 yoga, which was just incredible. It was a little hot for my liking but the room was pitch black, with candles all around the edge of the room, which made for a super cool atmosphere. After the class, we spent the rest of the morning shopping in the Flatiron District, before making our way to the Chelsea area. We ate brunch/lunch at The Grey Dog. They have a few locations around the city but the atmosphere was casual + cozy. I got the veggie burger on an English muffin, which was good. Plus… They have unlimited coffee refills if you stay in the restaurant.
We then went to Chelsea Market which is in the Meatpacking District, very close to the Highline + the Hudson River. The building was the former National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) factory, where the Oreo was invented! The market houses more than 35 vendors, ranging from coffee, to souvenirs, to all different types of food + even dessert. We came upon Seed + Mill, which is an adorable little spot that sells halva… which is a mixture of tahini & sugar. We tasted a bunch of flavors + it was surprisingly delicious. It can be eaten by itself, on bread, crumbled on ice cream, with almost anything!
From just outside the market, the Highline is easily accessible, which spans almost 1.5 miles. Formerly an elevated section of the New York City Railroad, the Highline is now a beautiful trail that runs through the city & along the Hudson River. There are many different entrances + exits along the length of the path so you don’t have to commit to the entire thing! We decided to take on the entire length of the trail + at the end, we continued on to see the Empire State Building, Waldorf Astoria, the original Macy’s, Bloomingdales, amongst many other popular stores. We spent the rest of the day exploring the Midtown Area.
For dinner, we found a very cool vegetarian spot in Koreatown called Hangawi. You have to take your shoes off at the door, where you’re then escorted to your seat, which is on the floor. It was extremely comfortable, however, since there is a spot for your legs to hang.
The food was delicious… we started with the kale dumplings + the veggie pancakes. For our entrée, we both had a different rice dish in a hot stone bowl. They bring the bowl out to your table + mix the sauce right in front of you. The restaurant was a little bit pricey but it was definitely an experience. + They were awarded the Zagat 2015 Best Vegetarian Restaurant in New York City, & have served visitors such as Nicole Kidman + Barbara Walters.
For our third day, we actually woke up bright + early, & walked to Rockefeller Center for Ed Sheeran’s live performance on the Plaza. It’s completely free + you can get there as early as you’d like to increase your chances of being close to the stage. We got there about 7 since we didn’t need to be close to the stage + the performance doesn’t usually start until about 8. Some performers do rehearse in front of the crowd though! The security line was already wrapped around the block, but they don’t limit the number of people that they let in. We decided to walk behind the stage + actually found a viewing area that was almost empty! No security line + we were able to get front row right behind the stage. As long as you’re willing to watch from behind the stage, this is a very convenient option + you don’t have to arrive hours before the performance.
We stayed for a little bit but it started to drizzle so we decided to head to breakfast. We took the subway to downtown for breakfast at The Butchers Daughter. The atmosphere was adorable, but the food was even better. We both got the Rice Pancakes, topped with mixed berries. Ohhhhh my! It was amazing + I’ve been dreaming about that breakfast ever since. After breakfast, we walked through Chinatown to the Brooklyn Bridge. Along the way, we saw the NYPD headquarters. We entered the Brooklyn Bridge at the intersection of Tillary Street + Boerum Place & completed the 1.1 mile walk across with beautiful photo ops, a view of the Manhattan Bridge, + even the Statue of Liberty in the distance!
Once in Brooklyn, we explored Dumbo, Front Street, + Brooklyn Bridge Park… which had a little beach area + a beautiful view across the water to the Manhattan Sky Line.
After a brief visit, we decided to head back to Manhattan via subway. We got off at Central Park + walked through the park. If you have a sweet tooth… you must try Wafels & Dinges food truck. They serve “waffles” (if you can even call it that…), topped with so many different things: Nutella, whipped cream, bacon, peanut butter, strawberries… almost anything! They have a couple locations throughout the park. For lunch, we made our way to Fresh&Co., which also has locations allll over the city. They serve farm-fresh, seasonal food, with vegetarian, vegan, & gluten-free options + a selection from salads, sandwiches, soups, & I got a grain bowl… which was comprised of either quinoa or brown rice, kale + toppings. Great spot for a quick lunch!
From lunch, we walked down 5th avenue to Trump Tower + Sak’s Fifth Ave. This area is pretty wealthy + filled with many designer stores. St. Patricks Cathedral is also located on 5th avenue, around 50-51st.
For our last dinner in the city, we ate at Tenzan, which also has 5 locations throught the city. A very affordable, but amazingly fresh + delicious Japanese meal. I had the tofu + vegetable teriyaki + the tofu was so light & fluffy, it was some of the best I’ve ever had.
As our stay came to an end, we were both so sad to leave. Before heading back to the airport, we stopped for a quick breakfast at Irving Farms Coffee Roasters which is a coffee shop + café, offering their own homemade syrups, bagels, toasts, eggs… + I got the chili & thyme biscuit. It wasn’t hot (spicy) but rather just tasted like some spices & was better than most biscuits I’ve had in the south!
All in all, we really didn’t have a meal that we weren’t extremely satisfied with + averaging about 12 miles a day, we felt like we covered a lot of ground & saw as much of the city as we possible could have. I hope that if you’re venturing to the big apple sometime soon that you can use this guide as just that, a guide, + that you find some of your own fave spots! The city has SO much to offer & the locals are more than willing to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask. Most of all… Please share your favorite spots below so that future visitors can use your recommendations as well!
I’ve included a list of some highly recommended spots or sights to see that we unfortunately didn’t get to enjoy…
-Apply early to get tickets to your favorite shows! (Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, The View, Dr. Oz)
-TKTS offers discounts on same-day Broadway tickets up to 50% of
–Momofuku Milk Bar (Few locations all around Manhattan)
–Peacefood Cafe (Also have location downtown)
–Candle 79 (Vegan, organic)
–Levain Bakery (For their cookies)
–Un Deux Trois (Crepes, by Rockefeller Center)
–Union Fare (Looks super cool, many different eating options!)
–Franchia Vegan Café (Asian)
–Fig + Olive (Italian)
–Rays Pizza (2 locations)
–The Smith (Breakfast, lunch or dinner)
-Little Rascals (Lunch)
–Jacks Wife Freda (all-day bistro)
–Westville (Farm Fresh)
–Eataly (Downtown + Flatiron)
–Superiority Burger (Lower west, Vegetarian!)
–Dirt Candy (Lower west)
–Urban Vegan (Lower east)
–Taim (Falafel/Smoothie bar, Chef worked under Bobby Flay, 2 locations)
–Café Henrie (Very casual, lunch)
–Do (Cookie dough)
–Big Gay Ice Cream (Non-traditional flavors)
–Molly’s Cupcakes (Center filled cupcakes, create-your-own)
–La Colombe (Coffee, all around the city!)
–Bluestone Lane (all around the city)
–Pressed (Juices + Freeze, all around the city)
–Sweet Green (all around the city)
–Sarabeth’s (brunch, all around the city)
–Dough Doughnuts (Brooklyn)
-Ferry to Statue of Liberty
–Imax Shift (DUMBO)
-Run in Central Park (Routes)
–Lift Float (Meditation)
–Good Yoga (In Brooklyn… Rooftop Yoga, @ 8pm class you can watch the sun setting over Manhattan)