If you have an extra 24 hours and no plans, make the most of it and travel. Flying jetBlue to NYC via Laguardia helps maximize your time in the city without the headaches of train or bus travel. Check out my favorite places to eat, things to do, and where to stay in this quick guide.
Fly Boston to LGA on the new nonstop service on jetBlue. Laguardia is the closest airport to Manhattan and only about a 30 minute Uber ride (Pool made the cost reasonable, about $30) With 6 flights each day, you can choose to get up and go early like I did on the 8:40am flight, or touch down by dinner time with the 5:10pm flight. Regardless each flight gives you free inflight wifi, a television with DirectTV at each seat, unlimited snacks, drinks, and my favorite, Dunkin Donuts coffee. If you opt for an afternoon or evening flight, Harpoon Beer is available on board. I’m going to be honest here… I drank a Harpoon White UFO at 9am. Sorry/not sorry.
For the max NYC experience in a short amount of time, stay in SoHo and concentrate your time to the lower part of Manhattan. SoHo and Tribeca are two of my favorite parts of the city with tons of shops, restaurants, cafes, and street vendors. It also gets you close to Chinatown and Little Italy to broaden your cultural horizons. This area of Manhattan is a bit more laid back and quieter than midtown where the noise and tourists of Time Square feel like they’re always closing in.
One of my favorite stores, Lands’ End, has a pop-up shop on Broadway in Soho. I snagged a great pair of dark selvedge denim for only $30 (you'll see them in a pic below). They’re destined to become my favorite pair of jeans, I just know it. Beyond men’s denim the store offers a woman’s cashmere bar, personalized on-site shopping, Lands End Home section, and free wifi and charging stations throughout the store. Perfect for the blogger on the go. I’ve been a long time fan on Lands’ End and was thrilled to experience the pop-up shop first hand.
Lunch: Black Tap SOHO is a tiny little burger bar with a line around the block most weekends. On a Monday around noon, I only waited about 15 minutes to enjoy a burger and shake at the 12 seat counter. I ordered the prime steak au poivre burger with blue cheese & green peppercorn sauce. To say it was deep and rich and juicy and umami would be an understatement. Truthfully it was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long, long time. As if the burger isn’t enough, Black Tap is also serves up some of the most outrageous milk shakes you’ve ever seen. As a cookie and ice cream freak, I opted for The Cookie shake which included a frosting filled chocolate chip cookie and was topped with an ice cream cookie sandwich. It was the perfect balance for the burger. It’s not cheap; $16 for the burger and $15 for the shake, but it well, well worth it.
Dinner: Turn it up a notch for dinner at Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s tribeca neighborhood restaurant, Forgione. This spot is laid back, comfortable, and absolutely delicious. I was lucky enough to dine with a friend who frequents the spot and knows the menu well. A ‘must’ on the menu is the Kampachi Tartare with avocado and pinenut starter. Served with a Sechuan Button that acts as a palate cleanser, alongside saratoga chips, it’s a unique dish to say the least. The cocktails are also fabulous and since I’m a sucker for an cocktail with bubbles, I ordered (several of) the “Forge’s” Original Cooler which is a concoction of Gin, Cucumber, Muddled Lime, and bubbles.
Contrary to how it may appear, I’m not a hotel snob by any means. When I travel on my own dollar, I always chose a reasonably priced hotel at a large chain. The Hampton Inn SoHo fits the bill for a quick overnight stay, and then some. Located on the edge of SoHo near Chinatown and Tribeca, the hotel features 19 floors, a roof terrace, hotel bar, and complimentary hot breakfast. It’s a real breakfast too with waffles, oatmeal, omelets, and all the other breakfast favorites. All day long, the Hampton Inn SoHo provides free coffee and tea in the lobby. Perfect for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. I was able to book directly through Hampton.com and secured a rate of $125 including all taxes and fees. A steal in any city, but especially NYC.
Rise & Grind
Never in a million years did I think I’d be the guy who exercised while traveling. Turns out I still hate to exercise, but I love spin class. About a 10 minute walk into Tribeca from The Hampton Inn SoHo is one of the many NYC locations of the ultra-trendy Flywheel Sports. I chose a 7:00am class taught by my buddy Kenneth Ferrer and was joined by friends Dan and Spencer. During the 45 minute Flywheel Ride, riders can chose to have their user names displayed on the TorqBoard and see how they rank with other riders. While I’m not a fan of competitive workouts, I did get a good laugh from of Kenneth entering our user names as MuffinTop1, MuffinTop2, and MuffinTop3 all in good fun. I embrace my body, my size, and due to my love of muffins, it’s staying just how it is.
After spin, I headed back to The Hampton for a hot breakfast, jumped in the shower, and caught up on some work on the 19th floor terrace before my bff Chelsea met me for lunch.
There’s no way I could be so close to Little Italy and not enjoy a meal alfresco. Chelsea and I stumbled on Gelso & Grand at the corner of Mulberry and Grand street. A perfect little italian eatery, we ate lunch on the patio and soaked in the autumn sun. Lunch consisted of a spicy kale caesar salad, ricotta and honey bruschetta, and a margarita pizza. Oh, I can’t forget the 2 rounds of Mulberry Spritz, Gelso & Grand’s take on the classic Aperol Spritz. For a Tuesday afternoon, the patio and restaurant were surprisingly full of trendy locals, tourists, and the in-betweens like Chelsea and me.
The connotation of Broadway is the midtown area that runs through Times Square packed with shows, tourists, and creep characters. However follow Broadway downtown to SoHo and you’ll hit great local shops and large national stores. The centerpiece of Broadway in SoHo is the iconic 7 story Bloomingdale's department store. With a mix of high end fashion and modern designer lines for men and women, it’s worth a stop. Also, if cosmetics are your thing, Bloomingdales SoHo boasts an impressive makeup counter.
After our jaunt through SoHo I headed back to the Hampton Inn to collect my bags and uber back to Laguardia for my flight home. Even in afternoon traffic, the drive only took about 45 minutes from start to finish. There are lots of options to get from Boston to New York City including the train, and the dreaded bus. Each has its own set of pros and cons, but I’ve found that flying, especially on jetBlue to Laguardia, allows you to maximize your time for full enjoyment. It also alleviates the headaches of traffic, or a long ride with a seatmate. My flight back to Boston was at 5:20p,. Perfect timing to head back home and be on the couch for my nightly routine of watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy with Dave.
jetBlue provided airfare for this trip. Thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.