How to Spend the Best 48 Hours in NYC | A Dash of Chels

How to Spend the Best 48 Hours in NYC

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July 08, 2019

You will never guess what I am doing as I write this post... traveling! I know, I know. If you know anything about me, you know that my husband and I LOVE to travel. We feel incredibly lucky to be able to do so. Flexibility has helped us to travel pretty affordably. We usually happen upon really great airline tickets, but I’ll save those tips for another post! With how much we travel, I thought why not help other people make the most of their trips? Specifically, in 48 hours.

First things first. What do you travel for? I ask this, because that usually decides what you want to see and do the most. Do you live for seeing major landmarks and tourist attractions? Are you a foodie who wants to hang with the locals? Do you love to shop and seek to find charming markets? Whatever the case may be, this definitely helps narrow down a more specific list for your trip! I'll list specific tips for each below!

For Chad and I, we love to eat! The first thing we do when planning a trip is make a list of unique and locally loved restaurants. (Tip: We share a Note on our iPhones, which makes keeping a list pretty handy!) And that's exactly what we did.We started by asking for recommendations from friends and family, but also just knew of some places we wanted to go. If all else fails, ask the locals! Most people are friendly enough to mention their favorite restaurant in the area. It is NYC, so you're bound to find great food on every block! Which brings me to our first stop in NYC: Please Don’t Tell.

It's a quaint restaurant front, but head to the phone booth and get on the line. You'll be pleasantly surprised what you hear (and find) on the other side! Try not to Google it and ruin the surprise, but even if you do I think you'll still want to go! Fun for both drinks and food. The food menu is not large, in fact, it's mainly gourmet hot dogs. (Which was fine by me because I love hot dogs ha!) The drink menu had a nice variety and prices were fair! I would say if you're on a time crunch, definitely at least go for a drink!

Next stop, Pietro NoLita, which in NYC jargon NoLita refers to the part of town called North of Little Italy! This was probably one of my favorite pit stops of the trip. All pink, everything pink restaurant/ bar? It has Chelsea written all over it! The inside is adorable and retro feeling, but is very small though. I would recommend trying to make a reservation or going during the day on a weekday! The drinks we had were delicious and I regret not eating a meal here! We stopped in a few little stores and a bakery beforehand, so this part of town is perfect for exploring with no set plans.


Sweet Moment, in the heart of Little Italy, has unique coffee, tea, and deserts! Most of their drinks are topped with adorable art too. Detective Pickachu had just come out in theaters, so my Thai coffee was embellished with an adorable Pikachu! (Or so that's what I like to think ha!) Like I said above, this part of town is perfect for strolling about and walking distance to Pietro NoLita. Quaint shops and great photo ops along the way.

Need to refuel, but don't want to sit down for long? Joe's Pizza is the perfect place! We stopped by the Times Square location, but I know there are multiple locations around the city. Chad and I both ate for under $10 and it was DELICIOUS. I wish I had hopped back in line for a second slice! The line was out the door when we arrived and I was weary to wait in it because we had a show to get to. So glad we did and the line went by crazy fast. I think we were in and out in less than 15 minutes. You know it's good pizza when even the locals are coming in and getting multiple boxes to go! There are tables to eat at inside, but it was so packed we ended up taking our pizza slices with us. Not a big deal, still tasted just as good outside! Make sure to take in all the photos of celebrities who have visited hanging on the wall!

Before I move on to activities, I want to mention a few fun bars we popped in to kill time! The Arlo Roof Top bar inside the A.R.T. NoMad in Manhattan was a treat. Enter the hotel and take the stairs to the elevators. (You may have to ask a server to take you up to the roof top.) While it is a breathtaking view of NYC in general, it's about as close as you can be to the Empire State Building which towers over. Part of the bar also has a glass bottom floor which was both frightening and fun! The drinks were fresh and top-notch, but a bit pricey. ($$$) Paid for great drinks with a great view! My favorite bar (also a restaurant) we found is called Dutch Fred's and is conveniently located in the Theater District. Perfect for stopping by for a preshow beverage. A very creative and impressive cocktail list resides at Dutch Fred's (I'm talking Harry Potter themed cocktail) and they're open until the wee hours of the morning!

If you're going to NYC to see a Broadway show, I have several tips that may help you score cheaper tickets! Chad and I ended up buying ours on Ticketmaster, but not before I did my research. First of all, most of the Broadway shows have "lotteries" you can enter. This will either score you free or dirt cheap tickets- if you win that is. I found this website most helpful for breaking down each show's lottery. Unfortunately none of us won any lotteries we entered, which was a bummer but it wasn't plan A anyway! If you're not on a time crunch, try stopping by one of the TKTS discount booths. They offer same day tickets at 50% off. You can also download the TodayTix app for discounted tickets- there are other apps out there, but I liked this one a lot. Standing room tickets are also an option and extremely cheap, but standing for 3 hours in the back wasn't really what we had in mind. Maybe if we were residents in NYC that would be a viable option, but when you're on vacation a real seat was 100% worth paying for! Depending how big of a fan you are, wait outside the theater until the actors come outside. There is usually a roped off bit of area for the actors/actresses to leave and when they do some of them will sign your playbill! I didn't know this until my second time seeing a show, but I thought it was pretty neat and worth mentioning!

Just like Broadway shows, popular live television shows also offer some form of a lottery ticket system. And even better, they're free! Of course popular shows fill up fast, like Saturday Night Live. (You'll want to enter that lottery as soon as the season starts basically.) But luckily for shows like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the lottery comes out just one month ahead of time! Make sure to get online and request tickets as soon as you can. They do have a wait list and or you can try to get standby tickets the day of as well. Groups larger than four people are not allowed and personal items bigger than a small purse are also not allowed. (We learned the hard way! The closest locker is about a block away if you forget.) I know this sounds silly, but do arrive on time. We cut it super close and almost left our friend behind so we wouldn't miss the show! (Sorry about that Woeppel...) I believe the earlier you arrive, the better your seat is as well. Overall, 11/10 experience and would do it again in a heartbeat!

Pop-up experiences in big cities have been around for awhile and NYC did NOT disappoint with their options! The Color Factory is an immersive, color-centric experience. With things you can eat, touch, and even take with you- this pop-up is truly for kids aged 1-99. Not to mention, they have cameras stationed throughout the entire factory and you receive all of them in an email once you're done! This pop-up moves around about once a year though, so even if you can't make it to NYC it may be in a city near you sooner than you think! Not sure where to find out what's going on while you're in town? This website is great for finding events, concerts, and festivals happening in NYC!

YES, we did do all of the above + more in about 48 hours. We scheduled a few of the important things like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, but for the most part we were flying by the seat of our pants. You'll notice that I didn't mention any of the major tourist attractions and that's because we like to take the road less traveled! I mentioned just a few of our favorite spots we discovered, but of course at the end of the day, I think you'll have the most fun uncovering your own favorite places. I could go on and on about the Big Apple and how much I love this city. It's never the same experience and I think that's what I love most about it! So whether you're spending 48 hours or a full week there, you're bound to find exactly what you weren't looking for. That's kind of the point of visiting the city that never sleeps, isn't it?


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