Ahhhhh I am so far behind in the blog, sorry sorry sorrrrrrryyyyyyy. So we have to take it way back to Presidents’ Day Weekend – three whole days of weekend to enjoy in the dead of winter. While currently unemployed, I am still subject to the weekday grind in my household (I know, major buzzkill) so the promise of a three day weekend was welcome news.
We have been in New York for a few months now but between moving in, getting settled, tons of traveling, interviews and new jobs, we haven’t had much time to get out and explore the city so it seemed appropriate (and fiscally responsible) to stay put for a weekend and see the sites in the city we now call home. As you may have guessed, yes, I made an itinerary.
Saturday – Harlem, Brunch and Central Park
Saturday morning is a sacred time in our household… no alarms are set and there is no rushing out of the door for anything other than a coveted brunch reservation. We leisurely made our way up to Harlem via the subway from our place on the east side and wandered through Harlem on our way to brunch in Morningside Heights. It was sunny and in the 60s – the perfect spring day… in February. I picked out a local comfort-food favorite to try for brunch and it definitely hit the spot – Kitchenette Uptown is the perfect little diner-esque spot for all sorts of brunch faves: cheesy grits bowl, biscuits with homemade gravy, sweet potato waffles. They also have an insane selection of mini pies, tartes, cupcakes and other baked goods when you walk in the door – the overwhelming options meant we had to take a mini peanut butter pie and cupcake for the road.
Since we were all the way on the Upper West Side and it was such a glorious day, we decided to walk home (a solid 80/90 minutes) through Central Park.
Not gonna lie – our Central Park day blew up my FitBit stats – over 26,000 steps in less than 9 hours. And Sunday was already planned, booked and ready to go so there was no rest for the wicked on NYC staycation weekend.
Sunday – Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Sunday was supposed to be a beautiful, early Spring day so it was the perfect day for a ferry ride from Battery Park over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We booked tickets a few days in advance through the Statue of Liberty website – reservations are required and booking for crown tickets (i.e., you get to go up into the SOL crown) are done months in advance – so we weren’t able to go up into the crown but the pedestal was sufficient for purpose.
We started at Battery Park to wait in long security lines before getting on the ferry – I was so thankful we were doing it (1) not during the sweltering NYC summer; and (2) not when tourist season was in full swing.
The tickets included the ferry from Battery Park to the Statue, from the Statue to Ellis Island, and back again to Battery Park. You have to get your day started pretty early if you want to do it all in one go – ferries are every half an hour or so, there are long lines for each one and the last ferry leaving Ellis Island is at 5pm (and it takes about 90 mins to go through the museum and exhibits there).
We started out at the Statue of Liberty – audio tour extravaganza (as always).
There was a replica of Lady Liberty’s foot that was subsequently created in 1986 in the same method and style as the original Statue – it involved so much work (casting and re-casting copper sheets over iron and wood structures, molds of cement and wood, etc). I didn’t quite appreciate the level of time, energy and physical labor required to create what we all know as the Statue of Liberty.
Ellis Island is an impressive grouping of boarded up and dilapidated buildings – not necessarily a result of the passage of time, but rather the effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which hit Ellis Island extremely hard. They have been rebuilding and restoring since that time but even four (+) years later, the effects are still very much apparent.
The museum and temporary exhibits at Ellis Island were fascinating and well-done. In addition to a comprehensive audio tour, there were also interactive exhibits, including immigration maps showing how many immigrants from every different country are living in the US and video quizzes to determine whether or not you could pass the citizenship tests necessary to become an American.
Monday – Day Trip to Beacon, NY
I have a long list of places outside of NYC that I want to visit over the course of my time living in the city and I have (obviously and neurotically) categorized them by best season. There are more summer/spring/fall options than winter ones but one of the wintery ones was Beacon, NY – a small town in the Hudson River Valley – on the train line to Poughkeepsie.
Beacon used to be a small, middle-of-nowhere type of town… until they set up a giant modern art museum in an empty Nabisco box factory. Dia:Beacon is a world-renowned modern art museum, with sister operations in various cities around the globe. This one, in particular, is special because the art is placed according to both the size/immensity of the warehouse space as well as the lighting in the space – the only lighting is natural lighting through skylights and windows (or the lighting of the actual art).
It was an interesting experience that gave us both lots to laugh about – modern art is definitely something special and we had a lot of fun exploring the little town. There is a artsy vibe to the main street (within walking distance of the train station and the museum) with cute little art galleries, craft stores and independent cafes/restaurants. Apparently they have a lot of art-related events and activities year-round thanks to the museum.
It was a fun escape and I am definitely looking forward to planning more weekend adventures in the coming months as the weather gets warmer!