I visited New York City in the summer of 2015 and vowed to never do it again. That is until this 2022, this girls’ trip, planned at the very last minute and executed less than a month after I returned from South Africa.
It was interesting to say the least.
Did you know that in 2019, New York City welcomed over 66 million tourists? And that in 2022, the city is expected to welcome 56 million – just a little under the pre-pandemic level?Source: Office of the New York State Comptroller and New York Times
The company was decent, but the temperatures were punishing. There’s a reason I avoid travelling in the summer and dear lord, I should have known better. Aside from the crowds (it really felt like tourism has completely recovered in New York!) the smells of the city can make even the most dedicated traveller think twice about walking around town in the searing early-summer temperature (think 30C or higher every single day) with the crowds.
New York City 2022 Trip Itinerary
What planning? Hah! For a planner like myself, I can tell you there was very little planning that happened ahead of the trip. Fortunately, I have been to New York several times before and even though the last time I was here was more than 6 years ago, I felt there’s enough experiences around to “wing it”.
I’ve written fairly extensively around the many things to do in New York City (Tips: this list is not only family- and children-friendly but also excellent for first-timers in the city!)
What are the 3 airports in New York: Getting from the Airport to Manhattan
I’ve flown into all three main airports in and around the city. Fortunately New York city is served by 3 airports which gives you a few options to choose from flight-wise:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, NY (JFK)
- Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, NY (EWR)
- LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY (LGA)
In my New York City Layover Guide, I written extensively on how to get around and various transportation options to choose from when flying into New York City. There are options from subway/metro’s, shuttles, Uber/Lyft/rideshare, and taxis, which makes going from the airport to Manhattan a breeze.
For this trip, I saw Swoop Airlines (a new Canadian discount airline) was doing a promo back in April and the YYZ-JFK flight looked to be a good deal. I have fond memories of the JFK airport vs. LGA or EWR mostly because I associate the first with various long-haul “first” trips. The base fare worked out to be $16.53, (all figures in CAD$) but of course, because it’s a discount airline, you pay for every centimeter on the plane.
Read More: Where to Eat in New York City.
The added “Seat and Checked Bag” fees were $90 (yes, we could have done without the seat fee but the checked/carry-on seemed necessary since we’re not animals), and “Taxes, Fees, & Charges” added up to another $131.81. All in all, the fare worked out to around CAD$240, a fairly standard rate to fly round-trip to New York from Toronto. The best fare I’ve found was back in 2016, when my siblings and I flew to LaGuardia (WestJet) for CAD$165 per person.
Side note, I probably would not fly Swoop again unless there’s a heavily discounted fare. Although we were able to check-in online, we couldn’t get the boarding pass on the inbound and outbound trip. This meant that every single passenger, whether you’re flying with no luggage, only a carry-on or a checked-baggage, had to line-up at the Swoop counter at both airports to get our boarding pass.
Read More: Layover City Guide | New York.
There were only 2 agents working and the line took 2 hours to clear. By the time we cleared security and US Customs/Immigration, we were only 15 aways from boarding. On the return home, the plane was only filled at 75% (the Purser was trying to upsell passengers to the front seat in-flight!) and 2 flight delays meant doing the baggage check wasn’t too stressful.
With the current airport delays around the world (in particular, the infamous Toronto Pearson Airport as reported by New York Times, currently ranking the worst globally for delays and cancellations), despite arriving 3 hours early (normally, I would arrive only 2 hours ahead of my flight since flying into the US is almost like flying domestically), we only had 15 minutes to spare before boarding (enough time to grab coffee/breakfast, go to the washroom and fill up our water bottles)
Where we Stayed in New York City (Midtown Manhattan) 2022
We opted to stay in the Chelsea neighbourhood – plenty of place within walking distance and you’re in the Midtown area. I’ve always found accommodation to be the most costly part of any New York trip so the opportunity to split said cost, is always welcomed. If you’re looking for a budget place to stay for solo or two people travelling, I recommend the POD Hotel which offers a single-bed and double-bed rooms and shared baths for travellers not looking to splurge on their accommodation.
Read More: POD51 Hotel | Best Budget Manhattan Hotel.
New York is also home to the Yotel Hotel at Times Square. I’ve stayed and visited various Yotel Airport hotel and the same “capsule hotel” concept applies here. I’ve linked my review from my London Heathrow stay so you can check out what it looks like and what you can expect.
What We did During the New York City 2022 Trip
Much of what we did in New York was walking around, shopping or eating. Ok, that last part was mostly me since I’m a “grazer” – I like and prefer to eat a little bit of everything so I want bite-sized food in front of me at all times. We did a few drinks but I had a bit of an unpleasant experience half-way through the tip so we didn’t really spend as much time bar-hopping in the city.
Day 1: Hudson’s Yard + The Vessel, Chelsea Market, and The High Line
I visited Hudson’s Yard and The Vessel on the first day and it was a great photo opportunity; the area is a much calmer place to walk around with lots of seating and options to get drinks. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hudson’s Yard as a shopping destination as I’ve been to bigger and more impressive malls including Galleries Lafayette in Paris, Takashimaya in Singapore and Dubai Mall in Dubai.
Day 2: Central Park and Shopping
We ended up walking around Central Park which is one of my favourite spots when not too crowded. The park is massive enough that you can have almost quiet walks and picnics away from the crowd. I’ve visited New York coming up to 7-8 times now (including 2 work trips) and I’ve barely seen 25% of Central Park so I’m sure there will be more visits in the future.
Afterwards, we walked along the High Line and explored a little bit of Chelsea Market and the “Artists and Fleas”. I always like finding these hole-in-the-wall spots, and there’s something about losing yourself in the various stalls.
The shopping was one that I was disappointed in myself for. I promised myself – “experiences over material things!” but visits to TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, and Sephora/Ulta, I ended up walking away with a little bit of this and that. The beauty purchases were planned (stocking up on The Ordinary bits that aren’t accessible here in Toronto) but the clothing haul was a disappointment for me since I work mostly from home these days.
Day 3: Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, and (more) Shopping
Washington Square Park is one of my favourite spots in the city (when not crowded) and I always associate that park with Will Smith’s “I am Legend” movie, a favourite. Greenwich Village is easily my go-to destination when I don’t know what I want to do for the day. Lots of charming little shops, cafe’s and restaurants making it the perfect place for a relaxing walk. In the middle of the summer though, best to come knowing where you want to go so you’re not overheating during your walks.
All the Foods We Are During the New York City 2022 Trip
New York truly is about food for me – from the fusion cooking, cafe’s, and top-rated spots, I know it’s the place to splurge on food. Sadly, I’m no foodie so I can’t even tell you if the expensive food is worth it or not so I’ll tell you everything we ate, share some pictures and give my brief thoughts on them.
Read More: Where to Eat in New York | Part 2.
Levain Bakery NoHo (Dessert)
5/5 | 340 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012, United States
Yes – only because a) the shop is owned by 2 boss ladies, and b) I’m a dessert junkie, so I love all kinds of desserts. The cookies aren’t really doable in one-sitting (if you managed it, kudos to you!) as my two cookies lasted 2 days each. If served warm, it would have definitely been much more pleasant but room temperature tasted okay too and the chocolate chips were sufficiently gooey/melted.
Here is a picture of the delicious, fall-apart Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie. I also tried the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie which tasted more like a brownie. I’d recommend the first over the latter if you’re only going to go for one.
Two Hands NoHo (Brunch)
5/5 | 74 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012, United States
There are several locations, the one on 74 Bleecker St is conveniently a 4-minute walk away from the aforementioned Levain Bakery which is why I’d recommend it. Good selection of brunch food and was probably the healthiest meal I had during the entire trip.
The Salmon Green Goddess bowl served over a bed of kale and farro along with a flat white for a 2PM lunch was definitely will keep you satiated even if you’ve had nothing since waking up at 4:30am. There’s a whole chunk of (massive) avocado and a generous serving of grilled salmon.
On the left picture above, we have the Salmon Green Goddess Bowl ($18.50) and a delicious flat white ($4.50) on the right.
Dominique Ansel Bakery SoHo (Dessert)
3.5/5 | 189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012, United States
Too crowded, and they ran out of the cronut, so that was disappointing. The garden is a great place to sit in for a bit to relax and I enjoyed the cookie shot and canele which were delicious as one might expect. Sadly, it is a tourist trap so I took off 1.5 stars for the lack of crowd-control and general lack of cleanliness in the shop. Also, it is more of a dessert shop than it is a bakery.
I must say, the cookie shot was a nice experience – the server (really, the cashier) make a show of pouring the milk into the cookie, and serving it to you. The milk doesn’t leak through the cookie beacuse the inside is coated with dark chocolate. The show itself is nothing too fancy though. The canele was nothing to write home about – it’s a two-biter that didn’t leave any lasting impression and you can probably skip.
Norikoh Chelsea (Sushi/Japanese)
3/5 | 43 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010, United States
Sushi is one of my all-time favourite food and I always make a beeline for good sushi. We saw a highly-rated sushi place near where we’re staying. I normally go for hole-in-the-wall, family-run sushi place, where you get great salmon lover sushi for $10-15. We splurged on this high-end restaurant and I have to say it was disappointing. Maybe I expected more, but the cilantro and jalapeno combination with the salmon and tuna were simply unacceptable. On their own, I like cilantro, and jalapeno, but combined, definitely a pass. And for USD$23, I’ve definitely had better.
Don Giovanni (Pizza)
3/5 | Chelsea | 214 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011, United States
Supposedly the best wood-brick oven pizza in town – we split a thin crust White Pizza topped with ricotta, mozzarella, pepperoni & fresh arugula. I’m an arugula fan and it definitely made me feel better about having pizza. It’s a step up from my usual chain-order pizza (Domino’s or Scaddabush) but definitely not something I’d pay full-price for.
Eat Here Now (Diner)
4/5 | Lenox Hill | 839 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10065, United States
This place is another highly-rated diner offering breakfast, lunch and dinner all day. The diner has this classic old-school diner vibe about it and a wide variety of food. I opted for a gyro but I wished I tried their fried chicken. Deep-fried food for brunch felt too heavy that day so the gyro with an iced coffee felt like a good substitute. It seemed popular with locals and regular though.
Remote View Cocktail Bar at the High Line Hotel (Drinks)
4/5 | Chelsea | 180 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011, United States
We walked by this spot on our way to the pizza spot and it is the most instagram-friendly spot with its rose-covered entry arch. The cocktail bar is known by a few names (I see “Pinhook” on Google Maps, “Daisy Cocktail Bar” on UberEats and “Remote View Cocktail Bar” on my receipt) but has a lovely outdoor spot to enjoy your cocktail. I opted for the aperol spritz and all their drinks come with a mini rubber ducky.
It’s a fantastic place to relax with friends and there are a lot of seating. I find it odd to have the seating area right in front of the hotel rooms (you can peer into the rooms as we saw one with suitcases by the window) as I imagine it would get quite loud in the evening. The rubber ducky came home with me – funny how it looks like it’s drowning in this picture.
Sticky Finger Joint (Bar Food)
5/5 | 362 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001, United States
I don’t have a picture of my meals but saw it featured on UberEats BOGO – I opted to get their ranch BLT, and chicken fingers to satisfy my fried chicken cravings. I can tell you, not only was it really good sandwich and the chipotle aioli and vampire aioli were simply to die for. I would gladly come back and enjoy their bar food more leisurely next time but everything I had from their place were delicious (though unless you’re really bad at frying food, you can’t really mess up fried chicken strips!)
Getting Around New York City
Unlike previous trips, I didn’t take the public transit at all; we Uber-ed everywhere and although it was costly (seriously, I was shocked by how expensive Uber rides in NYC was compared to Toronto and it was a sticker shock compared to what I paid in South Africa, where rides averaged $5-8 per trip), I welcomed it especially on the hotter days. By the second day we were there, we ended up walking more, clocking over 15K of steps each per day.
As difficult as it was to walk in the heat and with the crowds, on top of wearing an N95 mask as I was walking, Uber rides take so much longer because of how congested the city streets. It was necessary for some trips, but I found walking more ended up saving time and walked off all the desserts and food I consumed.
Returning to Toronto from New York
Returning home was another adventure – of course, this is to be expected when flying discount airlines. Fortunately, I had lounge access at JFK which meant I was able to wait out the 2 flight delays (moved our flight from 10:50AM to around 12:30PM) in comfort. Unlike some of the delays and associated horror stories I’ve heard, I’m thankful the delays were under 3 hours and got me home early enough in the day that I had time to do unpack, do laundry, clean and prepare for the week.
New York City 2022 Trip Bottom Line
I find New York mostly unchanged, and this trip made me realize that my travel preference has changed a great deal after the pandemic. I certainly prefer being outdoor and being active over being in the city and in crowded spaces. I find myself more exhausted upon returning from this 4-day trip versus my 2-week trip in South Africa and not as refreshed so I wished I didn’t go on this trip.
Personal feelings aside, New York has a great deal to offer and there’s a reason a lot of people have it as their bucket list destination! The shopping and varieties available make any New York trip worthwhile for any big spending you’re planning to do.
Have you started travelling again? Where have you travelled to or plan to travel next?
- Here is my list of the best Things to Do Anytime of the Year (mostly unchanged after 7 visits in the last 9 years!)
- There’s no shortage of lists showing Where to Eat in New York City.
- So here’s another one: Where to Eat in New York | Part 2.
- Despite how intimidating it looks, New York City is a great destination for first-time solo travellers!
- See other New York city posts from the archive!