New Year's In New York

When I told people that my boyfriend and I would be ringing in 2016 in New York City, I was met with one of two responses. Non-New Yorkers would exclaim, "Wow, that's amazing! You'll never forget it." Anyone from New York, or who lives there, would say, "Good luck. You'll never forget it."

Okay, so maybe celebrating New Year's in one of the world's most iconic cities was a little bit ambitious. At least, that's what I thought when I was planning the trip almost completely at the last minute. In the end, though, I found that despite what native New Yorker's warned us of, visiting the big city over just two days was far more manageable than I had initially thought it would be.

So, before I get into the highlights of the trip I thought I would share a few things that I've learned about traveling during busy times of the year in big cities:

Firstly, give yourself time- more time than you need- to move from place to place. You never know what could happen on the subway, and even if you're walking with your GPS glued to your hand you could easily make a wrong turn. This also allows you to take some diversions along the way without sacrificing your plan.

As convenient as public transit can be, try to walk as much as you can. It'll save you a boatload of money. Only take the subway when you really need to- for example, when you're wearing four inch heels and don't want to mess up your perfect hair. When you ration your transportation costs, you'll realize how much it can add up.

Don't pay an arm and a leg for accommodation- instead, try a hostel. We stayed with Hostelling International at their modern (and quite frankly, huge) hostel in the Upper West Side. The UWS is one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York, as it is a lot quieter and less hectic than the rest of the city. The HI hostel provided the perfect escape from the busier parts areas, while still retaining that big-city hotel feel.

And most importantly, be flexible. I'm not the most "chill" person when it comes to traveling. That is to say, I attempt to plan out every minute of every day and stress out if things don't go according to plan. But because we planned this trip so quickly, I learned to let go and just let things happen.

Now, onto the fun part- photos!

We opted out of taking the subway and decided to take a walk through Central Park on the way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Even in the winter, Central Park is majorly impressive in its sheer size and beauty.  There are so many little paths to explore!

There's also an amazing view of the city from the park's reservoir.  

Much like everything in New York, the Met was absolutely huge. As much as I love Renaissance artwork, I think my favorite part of the museum was the section with older French furniture. It was a bit quieter than the main parts of the building, so it provided some much needed relief from the crowds. Also, apparently taking a photo sitting on the steps of the Met is a thing because of Gossip Girl. Who knew?

I just had to take at least one suggestion from my friend who goes to university in New York during this trip. And of course the recommendation was the one about the "best cookies in the City" from Levain Bakery. And let me tell you- these were the most crazy delicious cookies I had ever had, and they were well worth the wait.

Of course, we had to go to an edgy restaurant for our New Year's dinner. At least, a restaurant that was "edgy" by our standards. Dim lighting and an innovative yet unpretentious menu made The Milling Room the perfect dinner spot for a special night.

The night was topped off with a stunning fireworks display in Central Park. It was truly a night to remember.

The next morning, we hopped on the Staten Island Ferry (which is free, in case you broke college students were wondering) and took in the city sites from the warmth of a boat. When we docked on Staten Island, a lot of people just turned around and went back to Manhattan on the next boat. We, however, decided to stick around. And it's a good thing we did because the absolute best views of the city can be seen from the Island. 

The 9/11 First Responder's Memorial was another one of the many reasons why you should stick around on Staten Island.

As this was my boyfriend's first time in New York City (as well as America), we just had to do the touristy thing and visit Time's Square- I swear it was his idea! But I'll be honest- visiting the M&M Store was mine.

Grand Central was a last minute addition to our itinerary, but was definitely one of my favorite parts. It's so strange to think that a place that is so beautiful and iconic can be something that commuter's just pass through on a daily basis. 

I think it's worth mentioning that before we left the city, we managed to snag an invite to an exclusive New York house party. Just kidding- it was just my brother's friend's birthday party. But it was on the Upper West Side and there were lots of artsy musicians there! And, most importantly, there were endless piles of bagels. 

Despite any anxieties and preconceived ideas I had about visiting New York at New Year's, the trip ended up being one of the best short vacations I've had in quite a while. Everyone was right- it's something I'll truly never forget.   

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