Okay, I am FOLLOWING THROUGH ON THIS MISSION. It helped that last week was my birthday, and I had a five day weekend, and an appetite to celebrate my birth as much as possible.
We begin in Asbury Park. Okay, so, this is not technically New York. It is very much New Jersey. It’s a 2 hour train ride into New Jersey, that’s how much New Jersey it is. But, hey, we can focus on the greater Tri-State Area sometimes, right? Look, this is my blog, stop telling me where I can and cannot visit.
My experience with the New Jersey shore is pretty limited to Brigantine and Ocean City. Both wonderful places! But I wanted to know what the Boss was singing about*, so we hopped on the train to find out.
* Full disclosure – I did not know this was a place the Boss sang about.
It turns out, Asbury Park is actually pretty great. I’m not sure what I was expecting, exactly. I knew there was a beach and a boardwalk – which is all I really need to be happy – but the downtown area is pretty cute. Trendy restaurants, cafes, and shops galore. 10/10 will visit again. (I won’t be rating everything like this, I promise.)
Next up on my list was a day of thrifting. I would prefer to buy all of my clothes this way. And I’ve also recently developed a wacky sunglasses habit. To the East Village!
I had success at the East Village Thrift Store and Buffalo Exchange, stopping at No Relation Vintage and the Cure Thrift Shop along the way. There is a whole world of thrifting to be found in this city, I barely scraped the surface. But it got late and I wanted a hot dog, so, what are you gonna do?
Quick quiz: What is the oldest house in Manhattan? It might feel like the creaky pre-war apartment building that you live in, but it is actually the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of it either until about a month ago. Nestled in Washington Heights, it’s worth a trip to check out. If you want to feel trendy and relevant, you can tell everyone you visited Aaron Burr’s former residence, and the spot where Lin Manuel-Miranda wrote two songs for Hamilton. Though really, if you just walk around shouting “Hamilton!” in the middle of conversations, people will think you’re cultered af.
Anyway, the evening before my birthday, the Morris-Jumel Mansion hosted my favorite summer activity: an outdoor movie! More importantly, they showed my favorite movie, Moulin Rouge! This was a night designed specifically for me.
So, under the stars that night, we ate popcorn and cupcakes, and watched Ewan McGregor singing and dancing. This is definitely a dream I’d had before.
On the day of my birth, I was instructed to seek out an ice cream treat, and I always follow instructions. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on my calories consumption on any given day) I’ve been following the Instagram account CheatDayNYC, which led me to Eggloo in Chinatown. Here I found a waffle ice cream extravaganza. The waffle is a Hong Kong street food called Gai Daan Jai (“little eggs” in Chinese). It is made with an egg based batter to create a hexagon consisting of thirty individual spherical units which can be ripped and eaten individually. They put that inside a cone, fill it with ice cream, and then whatever toppings your heart desires. It’s safe to say that this was maybe the greatest thing to happen to my mouth.
If you know anything about me, you know that I love boats. Love ’em. If I could be on a boat every day, life would be perfect. If I could live on a house boat ala Sleepless in Seattle, that would be heaven. As it turns out, there is a multitude of boat cruise options in NYC that I’ve never really taken advantage of. Enter: City Harbor Line! For my birthday eve, the great celebration, the entrance into my 29th year on earth, we sailed around Manhattan on a sailboat called America 2.0. (America didn’t sink, we asked.)
I can’t even begin to recommend this enough. I don’t care if you’ve lived in the city for 20 years – it is worth it to grab some discount tickets on Goldstar and book yourself a sailboat cruise. We opted for the 7pm cruise – just in time to see the sunset, and then catch the sparkling city lights on the way back in. It was sold out, but never felt overcrowded. Our tickets came to about $99 for the two of us, and it includes 3 drinks per person. The views were stunning.
It was a really lovely way to spend my birthday, and I would gladly jump on another boat tonight. Seriously, guys, do this thing.
Do you think I’ve over-celebrated by this point? Well, shut up. There’s more.
Saturday brought the final day of Summer Streets – an event every summer in Manhattan where for 3 Saturdays in August, they shut down a portion of Park Avenue from 7am – 1pm and host a multitude of activities, and give pedestrians free rein to walk in the middle of the street without getting hit by a cab. (A bike, however, is almost guaranteed.) Up until now, I’ve never gotten myself out of the apartment and motivated to explore. But this year, not only did I do that, I (and some peeps) registered for the GIANT WATERSLIDE.
The great news is, as we were waiting in line, we got caught in a torrential downpour. But we were getting wet anyway, right? At least, that’s what we told ourselves.
Once we changed and dried off, a group of us headed over on the ferry to Governor’s Island for some birthday picnic-ing. This is one of my favorite spots that I do not visit nearly enough. I visit so infrequently that I didn’t even know they started charging $2 to ride the ferry. BACK IN MY DAY, IT WAS FREE!
I feel like it should go without saying that if you live in New York, you should get on that $2 ferry and visit this island. There are arts and crafts, slides, hills, old houses, food trucks, hammocks, swings – legitimately something for everyone.
This was jumbled and lacked a narrative arc – but the point is, I saw a lot of NYC last week. I’m doing my duty. So much so, that I’m pretty sure I have the leeway to lie in bed on Saturday and watch TV. (Just kidding. Mostly. Sort of. Like, 40/60 kidding/serious).