At eighteen years old my older sister flew me out to New York City so I could experience the Big Apple before I started college a few weeks later. It was one of my favorite trips EVER especially at 18 years old with no passport and few vacations under my belt. Fast forward another eighteen years, and my sister suggested that we meet up in New York City for the Stranger Things Experience. Y’all know if I have airline points and my PTO lines up, it is hard for me to say no to a trip! So I said yes, and we planned a Weekend in New York City. Please note that we did not do the type of planning that we should have beforehand so much of this trip was playing it by ear, but it ended up being SO much fun.
Where We Ate
Listen, I was not super intentional with my eating on this trip. I didn’t do my Black restaurant research. I was not really sure what was near my hotel. Did not have any reservations planned beforehand. So unlike me! However, despite my lack of effort upfront we did stumble upon some great restaurants.
We found this restaurant while looking for something to eat near Central Park. For dinner, I ordered the house made lasagna and gotta say I inhaled it! It was so good. It was a simple neighborhood restaurant with no wait, so it was perfect for a dinner stop.
Don’t shame me, but this was my first visit to Magnolia Bakery! We stopped by for cupcakes and banana pudding, then walked down to the docks to enjoy our snacks and people watch. I do feel like their treats live up to the hype. If you enjoy banana pudding with whipped cream, like me, you’ll love this one too.
Before heading out for our Sunday adventures, we stopped for brunch at the Consulate. It was a cute neighborhood restaurant that did not have much of a crowd which I personally appreciated. I ordered the steak and eggs (hold the eggs) which I enjoyed. Cooked well with a great chimichurri sauce. My sister ordered the fluffy pancakes, but thought they were a bit dry.
For Houstonians, you will recognize the chef (Chef Richard Sandoval) as the name behind Toro Toro! Among his many restaurants, he recently added Jalao, a Dominican restaurant located in the Radio Hotel in Washington Heights. Since it was in my hotel, it was the perfect stop for our late night arrival. This is another plus for staying at this hotel.
As far as the food goes, keep in mind I had just visited the Dominican Republic before dining at Jalao and the food was hands down better than anything I ate at the resort. We enjoyed the drinks, appetizers, entrees and desserts. Everything was great as was the service. Definitely add it to the list.
Where We Stayed
We found a fairly new hotel in Washington Heights called Radio Hotel. It’s near LaGuardia Airport which is great when your flight gets cancelled and you have run to the airport to catch another flight (ask me how I know!). Now, there isn’t much over there in terms of major attractions, but for the price and quality you may find it worth it as well.
The hotel is under $200 a night and still smells new. There are a few design flaws like the shelf over the sink makes it really hard to use the sink, but other than that it is a nice modern hotel.
What We Did
I’ve been to New York several times since my first trip eighteen years ago, as such we did not really stick with a whole bunch of the typical tourist things, but did enjoy some unique limited time experiences.
Stranger Things Experience
We came to NYC for the Stranger Things experience over in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. For about $70 bucks the creators of the show walk you through an experience that simulates you being a resident of Hawkins. You end in an area they call the Mixtape which is modeled after the Season 3 mall with noticeable stores like the ice cream shop that Steve worked at, the pizza place from Season 4 and Will’s living room from Season 1. The attention to detail throughout and the special effects are really well done. If you are a Stranger Things fan, highly recommend! Check out my IG Reel from Stranger Things here.
On day one we found out that there was a 70s themed skate park in Central Park. We knew we had to go. Tickets for the night time party where folks like Madonna have showed up are a little pricey, we went with the daytime skate which was a bit cheaper. I cannot remember the last time I put on a pair of skates. It took me a bit, but I was able to show the skills I learned from my weekly trips to the skating rink as a kid! It was so much fun and made me want to grab a pair of skates of my own. Check out my IG reel from DiscOasis here.
Walk through Central Park
Central Park is massive and while I have visited the park before I clearly missed some key stops. This go around we had my sister’s cousin as a guide and he took us through all of the popular spots like where the boats and turtles are, the literary walk and over some of the popular bridges. We also made a stop over at Seneca Village. An area where freed Black people built a community before being forced out with the development of the park. These stories are far too common in American history!
NYC is always fun and each visit looks so different!
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