guide to new york city

Last month, Eric and I visited The Big Apple to spend time with friends and explore the city for his first visit! While I had been multiple times, it was exciting to see everything through fresh eyes with E.

It’s no secret that we have a constant case of the travel bug (ex: Jamaica, San Francisco, London, Madison), so visiting some of my NYC favorites while finding new ones together was lots of fun.

Below is the guide to New York City I pulled together in hopes that it comes handy if you’ve got a trip in your future!

Times Square (Night + Day) // This famous spot is a spectacle at any time of day, but I honestly prefer it at night! We got in late and ended up walking through Times Square around 11:30 pm, when it was a little less busy than evening primetime right before and after broadway shows. Seeing all the lights and different people gathered to Oooo and Aww is truly something else!

guide to new york city

To that point though, it’s worth seeing during the day too! Since it gets so crowded and tourist heavy, I’ve never stayed for too long at once. If you’ve gone, when’s  your favorite time to see it?

PIZZA // You know how they say dolla make me holla? Well that’s true here. I was told anytime I see a sign for dollar pizza, do it – and I’ll tell you the same thing. I actually prefer NYC style pizza (large, hand tossed thin-crust) to Chicago deep dish (shhhh, don’t tell!). There’s various spots for it all around Manhattan, especially around the Times Square area.

guide to new york city

E and I straight up walked to two $1.00 locations for dinner one night. We’re so fancy, I know. Keep in mind, quality varies of course, and for even just a few bucks you can get a slice with more toppings.

All I’m saying is tasty pizza for cheap? SOLD.

Empire State Building // Probably my favorite touristy thing on my guide to New York City! Nothing beats these views from the middle of Manhattan, giving you a breathtaking sights on all sides. In addition to the views, the history throughout the tour is fun to learn about – especially for engineers like E!

guide to new york city

Dress (blog post) | Jacket

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

I’d recommend buying your tickets before hand and going earlier in the morning. Eric and I showed up around 9:00 am on a Friday with no major waits.

Statue of Liberty // If you’ve only got time for a couple famous attractions, this is the other I’d recommend in addition to the Empire State! You get two for one – the Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island – with your ticket and the cruise out to the islands includes spectacular views of the NYC skyline that people pay way more for elsewhere. Lady Liberty is just so iconic, it was a classic E had to see without hesitation!

Cruise time slots book up ahead of time, so I’d recommend buying tickets a few weeks out. Tip: Time on your ticket is when you arrive to go through security, not when your cruise takes off!

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

Thanks to my resident photographer + husband at Benavides Photography for most of the snaps you’ll see in this post!

The Shop at NBC Studios (Rockefeller Center) // If you are a major fan of any NBC shows (think Friends, Parks & Rec, The Office, SNL, etc.), then you have to stop at this store inside Rockefeller Center – another famous building and plaza to at least walk by in itself! The NBC store has memorabilia for every show out the wazoo. Did you guys hear E and I are the new Today show hosts?

guide to new york city

E’s Married AF shirt (I have one too, it’s our fave!)

guide to new york city

Central Park // It’s huge and it’s beautiful! Give yourself a couple hours to walk around and get lost, but don’t plan on covering the whole thing. Keep a look out for some cool rocky spots where you can get great photos of the city behind you and the Imagine Mosaic in honor of John Lennon.

guide to new york city

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guide to new york city

guide to new york city

Levain Bakery // While your by Central Park, you have to stop by this little bakery and get the BEST COOKIES EVER! Seriously, the only explanation for these treats is magic. Just kidding, but maybe. Don’t let the line fool you, it went by fairly fast when we were there and the chocolate chips are waiting.

guide to new york city

Brooklyn // I highly recommend carving out time in your trip to visit Brooklyn! Just walking around you’ll find lots of unique shops and restaurants (ex: Walter’s cute brunch, Bittersweet coffee). If nothing else, you should at least walk across the bridge for some beautiful views – was and still remains one of my favorite things in the city!

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

On the Brooklyn side of the bridge, you’ll find Le Bagel Delight in Dumbo (omg delicious at these breakfast bagel, you guys) and this famous spot at Washington and Water Streets! A photographer’s (aka E’s) heaven.

guide to new york city

Laduree // This macaroon shop that originated in Paris is the real deal and has two locations in NYC. We swung by the Soho location to sample a tasty treat! You can also sit in their beautiful garden patio for some champagne. Perfect if you’ve been walking around all day and need a boost!

guide to new york city

Broadway // You can’t go to NYC for the first time (or anytime in my book) without seeing a show on Broadway! From timeless classics (Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, or Lion King) to more recent hits (Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Dear Evan Hansen), I feel like there’s something for everyone.

E and I love Broadway shows and wanted to see something new for us both. We ended up at Cats, which was veryyy interesting. The costumes and dancing were amazing, and while it’s a classic, we did both find it a little odd, so it wouldn’t be my first recommendation haha. I would, without a doubt, suggest one of those I mentioned above!

guide to new york city

Tip: If you aren’t set on one show, save money by showing up at one of TKTS booths around the city (we always go to the Times Square location) and purchasing discounted same-day theatre tickets!

Other Spots To Consider:

Grand Central Station // This is such a pretty New York spot. From details like the starry ceiling to the antique feeling departure counters, it’s worth checking out if you’ve got a thing for buildings with character.

guide to new york city

Thanks Rach for this pic! 

9/11 Memorial // This if of course a special place to honor those our country lost on this terrible day. It is beautifully done and emanates sweet feelings of hope and love.

guide to new york city

Wall St. // A famous spot to check off your business savvy person’s checklist – or if you’re all about that woman power and want a pic with the Fearless Girl.

guide to new york city

Now I want to hear from you! Been before and have other good spots I should add to my list next time? Tell me in the comments!

Days By Day

 

P.S. A special announcement related to E’s photography coming soon. 🙂 Sharing a couple black & white behind-the-scenes favorites from his NYC snaps in the meantime!

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

the murder mystery company

When it comes to date night, Eric and I are always down to hit up one of our favorite spots, but we’re also big on changing it up and trying something totally new.

That was definitely the case when we attended a dinner and show in town by The Murder Mystery Company!

Neither of us had ever attended a murder mystery show before, so I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant when the Murder Mystery Co. reached out with the opportunity to attend since I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. That being said, you know E and I are always down adventure and we figured this would be fun to check out!

We were totally right.

At The Murder Mystery Co., the theatre troupe serves up a three course meal, along with two hours of interactive, Clue style mystery and intrigue. From the moment we arrived, there was mixing and mingling with interesting characters and fellow attendees turned suspects.

the murder mystery company

Our show was titled ‘Til Death Do Us Part – focused on a wedding day nightmare in which a member of the wedding party was murdered. With a bridezilla, unenthused groom, and slew of mix matched wedding guests (some of which were selected audience members), the plot unfolded as the search began to discover the killer.

We enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner at Salvatore’s in Lincoln Park, where the show took place. This real-life wedding venue turned murder mystery setting for the night has an antique feel, complete with pretty chandeliers, huge mirrors, and a wooden bar with character.

As we enjoyed our food, the actors engaged audience members in brief interrogations, including E! I thought he might get arrested for sneaking in some poison and I’d be headed home without him. Thankfully, he was cleared.

Throughout the show, audience members have opportunities to engage with suspects, gather clues, and work with our dinner table of team members to crack the case. In the end, the killer was revealed and awards were given to the night’s best audience actors.

If you are outgoing, engaging, and down to go with the flow, then an experience with the Murder Mystery Company is one you’d enjoy! It also seems like a popular choice for larger parties celebrating birthdays. Couples who are down to try something new and have a fun loving, easy going attitude will also have a great time.

the murder mystery company

Thanks again to the wonderful cast for having us! If you’re interested in a show by The Murder Mystery Company, learn more here!

perú

Eeek, you guys, E and I leave in less than ONE week for our trip to South America. Back in February, I announced our big international adventure for 2017 was going to be a trip to Perú to hike Machu Picchu, and now I can’t believe it’s almost here!

It is no secret that I strongly dislike packing, like very much dislike it. Packing is my enemy.

Poor E usually has to deal with my incredible indecisiveness and dance party breaks into the wee hours of the night before we leave for a trip, but I’m determined to be ready wayyy ahead of schedule this time.

perú

Me to my responsibilities as a packing llama: New phone, who dis? 

We fly out next Thursday, but I’m going to aim to have a majority of my packing done this weekend. *claps for self*

We’ll see. Wish me luck.

Regardless of what happens, I think I deserve brownie points, because we’re packing everything up in our Kelty Redwing 44 backpacks.

I looove this bag! Highly recommend it if you’re traveling abroad and want something that’s compact enough for international airlines (we had no problems using them as carry-ons), but spacious enough to fit all you’ll need.

After E and I graduated, we took these babies on a month long trip across Europe. I repeat, 30 DAYS – and they worked like a gem.

perú

They’re such good quality, and available for a solid price online right now. We just bought one as a gift for my sister. It’s truly a symbol of adventure to me.

All that being said, these bags bring back all sorts of happy memories (did you know we got engaged on that Europe trip??), and I’m excited to break them out again!

Two little items I’m excited to be packing this time…my new stackable wedding bands from Qalo! These flexible, fun alternatives have been perfect to wear when staying active on the beach or at the gym.

I love that they’ll be perfect for our hike – no worry of banging up my real bands or anything happening to it while traveling. E got one too!

kelty

My last piece of news to share is that there are a ridiculous amount of adorable llama pics on the internet, FYI. Would you guys believe that when we were booking our hike with Alpaca Expeditions, I live chatted them to confirm we’d see llamas/alpacas on our trek because our hike description didn’t mention them, while others did…?

The answer was of course, yes. Hehe. I’m sure the person replying to me super enjoyed that. But hey, this is going to be my Emperor’s New Groove childhood dream come true!!

via Buzzfeed

Well, time I go back to googling packing lists in between my animal photo searches. Happy weekend, friends!

If you’ve got any Perú packing tips, comment away!

Days By Day

san francisco travel guide

If we’re friends over on Insta (and we totally should be!), then you might know Eric and I recently spent a long weekend in San Francisco visiting some of our best friends. We’d both been before, so it was fun to spend time at some amazing local spots since we had visited the more touristy ones!

On that note though – SF has some incredible touristy spots, and I highly reco them if you’re going for your first time! More on that later.

The trip was so wonderful, I just had to pull together a San Francisco travel guide to share all the local spots and delicious eats we hit up over three days!

san francisco travel guide

Ooo most of the b-e-a-utiful photos you’ll see throughout this post were snapped by my man! Eric has been playing around more and more with photography, and I think he’s got quite the knack for it.

{Getting Around}

Those hills will get to ya, but walking around is so worth it! We stayed with a friend in Lower Haight, and definitely ubered when we were headed to a neighborhood on the other side of the city, like The Marina or North Beach. Other than that, once you’re in an area, it’s great to walk around and take in all in!

If it’s your first time to SF, I of course recommend taking a trolley ride! There’s also a bus and train system if you want other ways to get around.

san francisco travel guide

{Day One}

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse // ALERT THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is real life croissant heaven. Apparently, there’s normally a line out the door on weekends, so go in the morning on a week day if possible. You must try the California Roll (think sushi inside a croissant instead of rice, soy sauce included) and the Cruffin (croissant + muffin, aka GOLD).

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

Blue Bottle Coffee + Phil’z Coffee // Two different shops to check out if you are coffee addicts like us – both big deals in SF. The inside of the Blue Bottle we visited in the Financial District was beautiful. This stuff is strong! Phil’z is a laid back environment that serves drip coffee only. The iced mint mojito is a local fave!

Lombard Street // The crookedest street in the world. A SF must in the Russian Hill neighborhood that’s always fun to walk through.

san francisco travel guide

Coit Tower // This 210 foot tower is a recognizable part of the San Fran skyline and complete with an observation deck on top. Even if you don’t pay to go up, you can see pretty views from the area just outside!

Chinatown // We loved walking through here! Fun fact: it’s the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. Popping into the crazy shops is fun, and you can’t leave without some Dim Sum.

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

Side note – it rained all day on Friday, and drizzled the rest of the weekend…so you’ll notice my hair is forever a bun, but my point is rain ain’t got nothing on your fun!!

Tony’s Pizza // Our friends raved about this being known as the best pizza in the city and we 100% believe them. It was AMAZING. The menu offers a variety of pizza styles, from NY to Sicilian. Be prepared to wait a couple hours – we hung out at a nearby bar and played cards!

san francisco travel guide

Tupelo // A lively, yet chill bar with live music every night! Tony’s Pizza and Tupelo are both in the North Beach neighborhood, so this is an easy place to walk to after dinner.

{Day Two}

The Mill // This goldmine serves up gourmet toast and amazing coffee in Lower Haight. To top it off, they have the most beautiful table wear and the interior design is straight out of my dream home! Everything tasted so fresh. The Mill even has pizza night. A must for any local or visitor!

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

The Painted Ladies // You’ll easily recognize these beauties! This popular row of pretty houses was a quick walk from The Mill. A tourist must.

san francisco travel guide

Lands End // This park was about a 30 minute uber from SF, but not expensive at all when split between friends. You get gorgeous views of the famous Golden Gate bridge and a whole lotta fresh air. We began at a lookout point and then walked along the water towards downtown. Part of the route somehow took us through a shwanky neighborhood, where we swooned over the magnificent homes. At the end of it all, we took another uber to The Mission.

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

La Taqueria // This spot in SF’s Mission neighborhood claims to have the best the best tacos and burritos in the whole world. I can confidently say it’s one of the best I’ve ever had…and this Texas girl has had a lot of tacos in her life. Completely worth the wait.

san francisco travel guide

Clarion Alley // An easy walk from La Taqueria, this street is full of unique graffiti murals and is actually apart of a protected public art project. It’s a great spot to soak in the culture, and of course snap a pretty Insta.

san francisco travel guide

Bi-Rite Creamery //  The perfect spot for an afternoon treat! They’ve got unique flavors, along with plenty of classics, all full of local and organic ingredients. This ice cream shop is tied to SF’s Bi-Rite Market, which has been around since the 1940s.

Delores Park // This spot is one of the city’s most popular destinations – and full of picnics, pups, and pretty skyline views. We went on a day that was a little breezy and cloudy, but on a sunny day the park is poppin’ and you can even buy a rum-filled coconut off a local vendor!

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

Panchitas // I learned what a pupusa was on this trip and they are YUM. We grabbed Panchitas in The Mission for an inexpensive, high-quality dinner. Interested in authentic Salvadorian food? This is your spot.

san francisco travel guide

Blondie’s Bar // Where we spent the majority of Saturday night dancing away and sipping giant martinis! Seriously giant. The DJ was awesome. I would’ve dragged everyone back for a second night if we weren’t flying home. Tip: Cash only, bring $5 for cover. And go! That’s my other tip.

{Day Three}

El Techo // This rooftop spot serves up delicious upscale versions of classic Mexican breakfast dishes. The setting is beautiful, and they had heaters that kept us warm on the chilly morning! You must try the buñuelos.

san francisco travel guide

san francisco travel guide

Tartine Bakery // Tartine is a cute bakery and cafe with lots of tasty treats. There’s a line out the door to back up any hype you might hear. The morning bun and banana cream tart were our favorites!

The Marina // We loved walking around this pretty area. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and local shops to pop into, and great views of the Bay.

san francisco travel guide

Remember I mentioned we would come back to some touristy spots later? Some good ones in this area you should consider if it’s your first SF trip: Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39, and the Palace of Fine Arts.

Waraku // We finished off our weekend with a walk through Japantown (much smaller than Chinatown) and a bowl of delicious ramen at Waraku. This spot is ranked to have some of the best ramen in the city and the staff was wonderful! A great space for both, a large group or just a couple.

san francisco travel guide

Of course, I can’t go without mentioning the Golden Gate Bridge. The first time my family visited San Fran, we biked across and spent the afternoon at the cute town Sausalito on the other side. Whether you walk, run, or bike – it is an SF must!

Needless to say, E and I had an incredible time on this trip (thanks Mel, Theo, & Rach!).

san francisco travel guide

Hope this San Francisco travel guide is helpful in any upcoming visit you might be planning! Got spots we need to check out next time? Please share!

Days By Day

machu picchu

Eric and I have our big international trip locked in for 2017…we’re going to Peru to hike Machu Picchu in July!

I’m super excited. We’ve heard nothing but amazing things from every person we know who has done this same trek, and it’s actually a good amount of people!

I’m also a little nervous, because I’ve never really done an intense hiking or camping trip like this before. Going 0 to 100 real quick, y’all.

From those same people though, and all our research, I know we’ll be able to do it!

The first thing we booked were our spots for the Classic Inca Trail Trek through Alpaca Expeditions. We read up on lots of great companies, but landed on Alpaca Expeditions after reading all the awesome reviews and awards they’ve received. They have been stellar on customer service already, too!

We learned booking your trek 6 – 7 months in advance is recommended since there’s only a limited amount of permits for the Inca Trail allowed daily.

machu picchu

(via)

The hike is four days and three nights. We’ll actually have individual porters who will carry our bags with the majority of our belongings, as well as our tents and sleeping bags. They’ll also help set up camp each night. Most trek companies have porters included or available for hire.

It’s clear tourism is an amazing source of jobs within the communities of Peru. Our trip is months away and I’m already so appreciative of these incredible men and women who will help us along the way!

Round trip flights to Lima have been booked. From there, we’ll travel to and from Cusco, where we’ll start and end the hike. *Cue Kuzco’s theme song from the Emperor’s New Groove. Anyone else??*

machu picchu

(via)

Aside from the four day hike, we’ll also have a day in Lima and a couple in Cusco to explore! It’ll be our first time in South America.

So now, I’d love to hear from YOU. Have you been to Peru, or hiked Machu Picchu before?? Have you done a long, adventurous trek that’s similar?

What are must-bring items? Are there things you wish you had known or brought?

On our list so far – hiking boots, hiking pants, and a trip to the doctor for altitude medicine they say to have handy! We’re spending the recommended days in the city in advance of the trip to adjust, but I’m all about being safe than sorry.

Machu Picchu

Do you have a favorite hostel, Airbnb, or bed and breakfast you stayed at? Things to do in Cusco or Lima we must see?

I want to know it all! Please shoot me an email (contact info here) or comment below.

We can’t wait for this adventure. Happy Wednesday, friends!

Days By Day

 

P.S. We just got back from San Francisco…food guide to some yummy local spots coming soon! Want to see some photos in the meantime? Would love for you to follow along on Insta here!