A Birthday Trip to the Big Apple

For those of you who don’t know, my birthday falls on the July 3rd, which is right around the July 4th Independence Day holiday in the U.S. This year, my friend and I decided to celebrate my birthday in NYC and explore even more places than my previous trip there!

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The LOVE sign in the High Line

Where Did I Stay?

I booked the Lexington Hotel in Midtown Manhattan which is about a 10-minute walk from the Rockefeller Center. It’s pretty nice and vintage with free water bottles to grab every day as the NYC tap water might not be the best to consume directly.

What Did I See?

Apart from some spots that I had previously been to, here are some new places that we visited:

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Despite its reputation as the concrete jungle, New York City has quite a few secret gardens and Greenacre Park is one of them. Nested in Turtle Bay, it’s a small garden with a man-made waterfall where you can peacefully sit and read a good book.


Greenacre Park

I had been to the top of the Empire State Building last year so we decided to go to the Top of the Rock this time. Honestly, I preferred seeing the Empire State Building from here, with downtown NYC in the background!

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View of the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is located on Fifth Avenue, right outside the Rockefeller Centre. While you can get a really good view of the cathedral from the outside, it’s even more alluring on the inside!

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

If you haven’t been to Times Square at night and spent some time there, you’re missing out! It’s a completely different vibe to be in the middle of Times Square later in the night amidst a huge crowd of people.

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Times Square at Night

Who DOES NOT want to see the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. apartment when you’re in NYC?! Although it wasn’t the actual apartment that was shown in the series, it’s one of those iconic spots you need to visit if you’re a F.R.I.E.N.D.S.’ fan!


F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Apartment

You must’ve seen some shots of Washington Square Park in Gossip Girl and When Harry Met Sally. Located just a little south of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. apartment, it’s a lively park dominated by the huge Washington Square Arch at the north side of the gateway and very close to NYU.

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The Washington Square Park

While you must already be aware that Brooklyn Promenade is a prime spot to view the
Brooklyn Bridge along with the Manhattan skyline at the back, the promenade is a huge space. Two of the prime spots that will give you excellent views of the bridge and the cityscape are the Brooklyn Bridge Lookout and Empire Fulton Ferry Park. My advice would be to go to both spots as you get to look at the backdrop from different perspectives.

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Brooklyn Bridge

The Vessel and the Shed are two fairly new structures in the city. The Vessel is a centerpiece of Hudson Yards that constitutes 154 interconnecting flights of stairs and looks magnificent! Unfortunately, we only got to see the Vessel from the outside as it was closed due to lightning and thunderstorms when we went there.

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The Vessel

The Shed is a cultural center in Hudson Yards that presents and produces performing arts, pop culture and visual arts for a fee of $5 per ticket if you book online and more if you book in-person or by calling them up.

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The Shed

The High Line is a 1.45-mile elevated park trail that starts in the Lower West Side of Manhattan and ends at Chelsea. There are multiple entry points to the High Line, so you don’t have to worry about going to those exact spots. It’s a unique concept of a park and you’ll get some good views of the city streets. It’s usually quite crowded and noisy throughout the day.

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The High Line

Restaurants You Must Visit

The Blue Box Café (727 5th Ave 4th Floor, New York, NY 10022)

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Blue Box Cafe

This iconic café was established by Tiffany & Co. in November 2017 in their flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York so you can have your “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” moment here. You can reserve a spot on Resy up to a month in advance!

Blue Bottle Coffee (Multiple locations)

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Blue Bottle Coffee

It’s one of the major players in third-wave coffee which means that they produce high-quality coffee and consider coffee as an artisanal food rather than a commodity.

Joe & The Juice (Multiple locations)


Joe & the Juice

A healthy chain that offers quick juices, sandwiches, and coffee.

Bird & Branch (359 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036)

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Bird & Branch

A cute little café with outdoor seating that serves direct trade coffee sustainably and

Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter 2 (156 E 64th St, New York, NY 10065)

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Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter 2

It’s a whimsical tea house that serves hundreds of teas, scones, and sandwiches.

Ladurée (398 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012)



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This is the ultimate spot for traditional French Macarons, pastries, coffee, chocolates, and more!

Levain Bakery (167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023)

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

A tiny shop in the Upper West Side that serves one of the best chocolate cookies you have
ever had! The best part? They donate unsold goods to charity.

Taiyaki (119 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013)

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Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake made from waffle batter and filled with a red bean paste, matcha, vanilla and any other flavor of soft serve. They not only taste amazing but will make your Instagram feed blow up!

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • We walked about 30 miles in four days and took the Subway for the rest of our travel. We found it to be the most efficient and the fastest way to get around the city!
  • If you plan to attend the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks, be prepared to stand for a long time in a very tightly crowded area where there isn’t much room to breathe fresh air. There were some instances of people passing out because of the lack of fresh air and claustrophobia.
  • It’s very tough to get a reservation at the Blue Box Café. Reservations start every
    morning at 9 am EST for a date a month later and all the slots sell out in 10 seconds. I got one after trying thrice on three different days! Create an account on Resy and enter your credit card details before you hop on to the site to get a reservation as it’ll save you some time.
  • The LOVE sign, which was previously in Manhattan does not exist there anymore. However, there is a HOPE sign (corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd Street) in the city and you’ll also find a smaller LOVE sign in the High Line Park.

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    The HOPE Sign

  • The tickets to the Vessel are FREE but they require you to arrive during your designated date and time slot that you previously chose, for entry.

You can never explore all of New York in one trip. This was my second trip and I still have a list of things to visit and restaurants and cafés to eat at! Let me know your favorite places in New York in the comments below! 🙂

4 Comments on “A Birthday Trip to the Big Apple

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