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My mom and sister wanted to visit me for my birthday. My mom was flying from India and my sister was visiting from Australia, so what better place to meet (for them!) than in NYC!
I always enjoy visiting New York City, and had a few work meetings, so I was thrilled that I could combine work and family time. I was able to take in a Broadway show, try new foods, and see historic landmarks, like the Brooklyn Bridge and Rockefeller Center.
Some travelers prefer to stay away from touristy destinations like Manhattan, but I had a blast. Perhaps because it was my first time being a tourist in NYC! New York City is filled with an energy unique to anywhere else I’ve been.
That said, I now want to discover Queens and eat in every ethnic restaurant there! 🙂
Trip to New York City Index
Part 1 – Airbnb & Rockefeller Center
I met my mom and sister in New York City for a mini-family reunion. We were very excited to see each other. I didn’t know how much I missed them until I saw them again!
We each had our own mental checklists of what we wanted to see and do, but we first had to check-in to our Airbnb apartment.
For this trip, I decided to forego the fancy hotel rooms and stay at an Airbnb located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
It’s nearly impossible to find a standard hotel around the Upper East Side for under $200. I wanted to stay with my family, and didn’t feel like using mountain of points to spring for a hotel suite. Also, there was a kitchen in the Airbnb! 🙂
I filtered my Airbnb results to display only full apartments, so my family would have plenty of living space.
The apartment was well decorated and very clean. It was cheaper than paying for 2 separate hotel rooms! I could also use my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard to pay for the part of the bill.
And fortunately for an NYC apartment, there were 2 bathrooms, so I didn’t have to wait in a long time for the bathroom.
We unpacked, and I called an Uber to begin our exploration. We decided not to rent a car, because parking is usually expensive (if not impossible!) around New York City.
On my birthday, I wanted to go EAT! So we went to the Chelsea food Market, where the Oreo cookie was invented!
I LOVE food, and I especially love trying new foods. So exploring a giant food warehouse is my idea of birthday fun!
The ground floor of the Chelsea market was filled with food booths and small restaurants. I also saw a bookstore and a couple of clothing stores. The market was a bit too crowded for me, but I liked sampling the many victuals on offer.
On the way out, we noticed the High Line right above us! We decided that would be our next stop.
The High Line
Walking the High Line is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s a ~1.5 mile long man-made park created along an old, unused railroad above the city!
The High Line was beautiful, but I was just fascinated with the way the city recycled an obsolete area that would otherwise have been an eyesore.
We saw beautiful trees and flowers, and we could even see the Hudson River at one point!
The road came to an abrupt end.
I definitely recommend the High Line to anyone visiting New York City! It was quite peaceful, despite the large crowds and occasional noises from surrounding construction sites.
The High Line is NOT a circular path. If you drive a car to the park, you’ll have to retrace 1.5 miles worth of steps.
I decided to accompany my mom, sister, and their friends for a shopping trip. What was I thinking! I would pace around the shops until finally they decided to eat at the Rock Center Cafe. This wasn’t my first choice to eat (too touristy and expensive, but I decided to give it a try).
I was curious to check out the celebrity sculpture!
I had recently transitioned into a vegetarian diet, so there wasn’t a lot on the menu for me.
I had various Mediterranean garden dips with pita bread, and they were surprisingly good! We were 5,000 miles away from the Mediterranean, after all.
Rockefeller Center was only ~2 miles from our Airbnb, so I decided to walk back home.
My mom and sister wanted to visit Broadway, so I treated them to Fiddler on the Roof because they insisted that I didn’t follow them around while they were shopping!
Tickets can be VERY expensive. But I was able to get a discount using the TodayTix app!
I really enjoyed trying out the app. After you buy, you need to show up half an hour before the play begins and grab your ticket from the TodayTix employees wearing red shirts.
Take Your Own Trip to New York!
Want to visit New York? It’s easy to use your miles & points to do it on the cheap! Here are a few ideas:
- United Airlines – United Airlines miles are easy to earn. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to transfer partners like United Airlines. Check out my post on how to use United Airlines miles.
- Southwest – Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest, too! Plus, if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, a friend can fly with you for (almost) free!
- British Airways – If you’re a short flight away from New York, you can save miles by using British Airways Avios points to book an award flight on American Airlines. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, and Starwood points to British Airways.
I stayed at an Airbnb, but New York is FULL of hotels you can book with points. For example, there are ~30 Starwood hotels and 12 Hyatt hotels around New York City! That said, I preferred the AirBnB because it felt like I wasn’t traveling and able to share moments with my mom and sister which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible in a hotel.
One of my favorites is the Andaz 5th Avenue. The big plus of this hotel is its proximity to major attractions, like Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square. It can be reserved for 25,000 Hyatt points. This is a great hotel to stay at if you want to use the 2 free nights that come with the Chase Hyatt card. Or stay 4 nights with the sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Reserve!
See my next post for my review of some New York vegetarian restaurants!