There’s just something about New York City (NYC) that draws millions of people to it year after year. Maybe it’s the thrill of seeing big city lights or the amount of diversity reflected by both the people and the architecture. For me, it’s knowing that this concrete jungle offers me the chance to discover something new every day and I’d like to share some of those experiences with y’all.
Deciding on a Manhattan hotel is a difficult task, because not only are you choosing between one of the many lodging options, you’re choosing a neighborhood in which to immerse yourself. Dream Downtown, in between the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, is by far one of the most well-situated hotels. Its neighbors include, but are not limited to, the famous Chelsea Market right across the road, Soho a mile away–for all of you serious shoppers out there–and the city’s latest must-see attraction, The High Line, is just two blocks away. Its unique outer block-like structure, made from semi-reflective metal and lined with portal windows, has everyone wondering what’s going on inside.
Follow along with me as I take you through my two day adventure in the concrete jungle; noting both tourist destinations and local hotspots.
Up and ready to go at 8 a.m. sharp, I welcomed the breezy 60 degree weather as I ventured down the road to the nearest Starbucks for a much anticipated Vanilla Chi Tea Latte before taking the subway to the Tribeca area to walk the famous Brooklyn Bridge.
I would highly recommend to anyone planning on using the subway system as their main form of transportation to download Google Maps on their smartphone. What’s nice about this app, as opposed to the iPhone Maps, is that it gives you a subway option; telling you which car you need to take, how long the ride will be and how frequently each car stops at each station.
Making my way down the wooden path, latte in hand, and taking in the assorted groups of people surrounding me, I couldn’t help but picture the scene from “Sex in the City” when Miranda and Steve meet in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, declaring their love for one another. Others have also used the Brooklyn Bridge as a site for declarations of love by mimicking the love locks trend that began with the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a must. Simply just approaching the area gave me chills as I recounted the chaos seen on television 14 years ago in the very spot I was standing. Tickets range from $15-$25, with the exception of free admission Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to close. The Ground Zero viewing platform recently opened and provides visitors with a bird’s eye view of the two waterfalls and reflecting pools set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers.
I made my way over to the Lower East Side for lunch at Spitzer’s Corner, an American gastropub serving gourmet bar food and beer. Sitting alongside others on one of the long wooden farm tables, I enjoyed The Truffle Mac & Cheese and a pint of Weihenstephan Hefeweisse.
After lunch, I walked down my favorite street in all of NYC: Mulberry Street. If you’re starting from the Lower East Side, Mulberry will take you through Chinatown, Little Italy and NoLIta; each a neighborhood within Manhattan, but worlds of their own as you make your way through them. If you’re a shopper who loves a bargain, stop at the NoLIta Market for one of a kind finds. Every time I shop here, I leave with a bagful of handmade jewelry and custom sunglasses from two vendors who never disappoint each time I visit.
I decided to hang around the Lower East Side for dinner and see if a Mexican cantina I had passed earlier could hold its own here on the East Coast. I admit, Texas is by far one of the best places to get authentic Mexican meals, but Los Feliz is the best place to try true Mexican eats in the city. I felt right at home with my Ceviches flight and classic Tres Leches for dessert.
I made my way back to my hotel to meet up with a friend so we could journey down below to the hotel’s underground lounge called The Electric Room. With wood-paneled walls, gothic chandeliers and Union Jack graffiti couches, The Electric Room screams of Britain’s rock & roll scene.
Up and at ‘em at 6 a.m.–yes, that’s correct! Normally, when you’re on vacation, waking up this early would make anyone want to cry, but I had nothing to be sad about. I brewed a cup of Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend with my complimentary Keurig and rushed downstairs to hail a cab.
Every morning, I make my cup of joe and turn the television to “Live with Kelly and Michael,” so I decided to take my routine one step further by watching them live! They truly are a dynamic duo, making both their talented guests and audiences feel welcome. I was lucky enough to visit on a day when they had multiple guest interviews to pre-tape, so I saw Elizabeth Banks, Darren Criss, Reese Witherspoon, Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer.
I walked off the excitement from my star-studded morning with a stroll through Central Park. So much beauty situated in one place, it’s nearly impossible to see all this urban park has within it in just a few hours, but I certainly tried.
I had planned having lunch at Chelsea Market the day I decided to plan my trip to NYC and it worked out perfectly that it was just steps away from my hotel. The market is made up of one seemingly endless corridor with restaurants and shops of all kinds branching off from it. I went up and down it at least three times debating what I wanted more, seafood or an Australian meat pie. As always, I ended my meal with a sweet, this time from the Doughnuttery.
I walked off my lunch at The High Line, one of the latest trending attractions for both locals and tourists alike. What was once an elevated section of an unused New York Central Railroad spur has now transformed into a 1.45 mile long linear urban park where attractions of all sorts have made their home. Enjoy park features like the reclined wooden lounge chairs overlooking the water or the amphitheater seating overlooking 10th Avenue Square where traffic disappears right beneath your seat.
After working up quite a sweat, I headed back to my hotel and took a dip in the 50-foot heated glass bottom pool before dinner. What’s so unique about Dream Downtown’s pool is that it’s positioned directly above the hotel lobby and allows swimmers to peer down at guests just arriving and vice versa.
The mood lighting in the dining room at Bodega Negra, located in Dream Downtown, provides an intimate setting for dinner guests seeking delicious Mexican fare. I was enticed by all aspects of the restaurant’s design, from the wall made of antique tequila barrels to the Spanish guitars placed about. The soft shell crabs paired with a Bodega Margarita made for the perfect final meal.
By Paxton Kelly
Photo Credits: Paxton Kelly/Dream Hotels