Our third day in NYC started with an early subway trip to Battery Park in order for us to catch the ferry. We had prepurchased tickets through Statue Cruises for a crown visit. The tickets were $21 each and included the ferry to Ellis Island. We had reserved the first ferry since early morning tends to have a shorter line than later in the day. We redeemed our tickets and then stood in line for about half an hour before boarding began. The trip across the river was very scenic and short. Within no time, we were at the base of one of the most recognizable symbols in the US. We explored the grounds for a few minutes and then headed inside to go up. Only cameras are admitted inside the statue, so we had to pay for a locker at the entrance for $2.
In order to reach the crown, we had to climb 162 steps on a tight staircase (similar to staircases in lighthouses). There were signs along the way to display how many steps we had climbed. When we reached the top, we had to wait a few minutes since they only allow a couple of people in the crown at one time. The area is a lot smaller and hotter than I expected, but it does have a great view of the skyline across the river.
After climbing back down, we explored the grounds some more and then took the ferry to Ellis Island. I was a little disappointed in the exhibits at Ellis Island since it was mostly signs to read (I like more object or interaction), but overall it was an unforgettable trip.
Back in Manhattan, we stopped at a food stand for a quick lunch, consisting of a pretty great gyro. We then hopped on the subway for our next stop at the Rockefeller Center. We had prepurchased (with credit card points) tickets for Top of the Rock, an observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center. We had to wait about half an hour, but not nearly as long as the wait at the Empire State Building. Once again, we had an amazing view. We could see Central Park perfectly and spent about twenty minutes just looking around at the city.
Back on the ground, we walked around for a couple of hours and then decided on dinner at Empanada Mama in Hell’s Kitchen. The food was reasonably priced and delicious, and the service was great. We had an evening tour (prebooked with credit card points) shortly after dinner and made our way to the starting point.
The tour was far better than I could have imagined. The guides were incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their home city, and the tour combined a bus ride, a walk, and a cruise. We visited Highline Park in Chelsea, which was interesting to me since I love the conversion of rail trails to parks. We drove around several neighborhoods and listed to history and interesting points about each. Then we hopped on the water taxi for our cruise down the river. We were taken by the Statue of Liberty and under the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge.
After the cruise, we returned to the bus for a visit to Washington Square Park. We walked through it and then stopped again at Grand Central Terminal. The station has beautiful architecture and even has a “whisper wall,” which was very cool to experience.
When the tour ended, we headed back to the hotel for the night. The next morning, our last full day in NYC, we had a Brooklyn Pizza Tour (prebooked with credit card points). Our first stop on the tour
was Brooklyn Bridge Park, which had a great view of the bridges and had a crime scene in the background (no idea what happened here – but it was taped off with police blocking it).
We continued to Grimaldi’s to have our first New York coal brick-oven baked pizza. It was absolutely delicious and probably the best pizza I have had to date (and I eat a lot of pizza). After returning to the bus, we were driven through neighborhoods of Brooklyn and told historical aspects about gangsters and celebrities. Our next stop was L&B, where we had some more delicious pizza and tried spumoni (also delicious).
Our next and final stop on the tour was Coney Island. We were let off the bus and given about an hour to roam the boardwalk and beach. I was surprised at how crowded the beach was. There was no room at all to spread out. It was very clean, though, and the boardwalk was filled with things to do, including a wooden rollercoaster I wanted to try but did not have time to stand in line (another thing for my next trip). It was great to see a different side to New York than just the skyscrapers of Manhattan.
After we returned to our starting spot, we met some family from upstate NY for dinner at a place called Trattoria Trecolori. For anyone who likes Italian food, this is a great choice. It is located in Times Square and has wonderful food and service. I tried the squid ink pasta and cannot wait to have it again one day.
We had an early flight back to reality the next morning. We absolutely loved our time in NYC and are now planning a return trip for late 2016.