Earlier this month, Katie, our Tour Coordinator for Target Tours Atlantic, headed to New York City on our New York City Theatre Tour. Check out what she has to say below!
This was my second time to New York City with Target Tours. The first time was in August of 2015 with a wonderful youth group from New Brunswick. This time I was able to experience it with my husband, Ryan during the NYC Theatre Tour in November. This was his first time in NYC and it most certainly did not disappoint either of us. I’ll review our accommodations first and then move on to the good stuff!
Hampton Inn Portsmouth – The Hampton Inn Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a great property for our guests. The lobby is the perfect place for your group or fellow travelers to meet in the evening to have a few laughs, order in some pizza or even to chat with your Tour Director to learn more about your tour destination. There are a few meal options located in walking distance including an Applebee’s Restaurant or Shaw’s Grocery Store but there is also a hotel shuttle so you can venture a little further out.
Cambria Times Square – The Cambria Times Square is located a hop, skip and a jump away from Time’s Square, the heart of Manhattan. The location of this hotel is perfect, especially for those who want to pop by the hotel for a rest in the afternoon or to drop off your shopping bags. Ryan and I took advantage of having the property so close to Time’s Square. Most days we would drop in to regroup and decide what we were going to do next. The hotel is modern, clean, and the staff are very helpful. They also have a great fitness facility located on the second floor, but I guarantee you will be getting all of your steps in walking the streets of NYC!
New York City Day One
We arrived in Time’s Square around 4:00 PM. Arrival times in New York are always subject to traffic, which can make it unpredictable, but this was a great time to check in. Once we were settled at the hotel, we headed out to explore and grab a bite to eat. Next door to the Cambria Hotel there is an Irish pub (https://stpatsbar.com/) where the food is delicious, and the service was top notch.
Later this evening we met the group in the lobby of the hotel to head to the musical “Come from Away”. I have no words on how to describe this musical other than it made me extremely proud to be Canadian. The musical opened my eyes even more to how accommodating the province of Newfoundland was to everyone aboard all those aircrafts over 17 years ago.
After the show Times Square was our next destination to visit a few of the shops like the Hersey Store, the M&M Store, and of course a personal favourite, the Disney Store. While the shops were still fairly busy after 10:00 PM in the evening they were not as packed as earlier in the day.
New York City Day Two
Today we visited the Empire State Building and experienced some great views of the city from above! We opted to purchase the VIP express pass to skip the lines for the top 102nd floor and main 86th floor. We showed up about a half hour after they opened in the morning and had no issues getting in quickly. The Empire State Building does house many restaurants and coffee shop options on the ground level, so we grabbed breakfast on the go to maximize our morning. I have to admit though that if I were visiting New York again and I had to choose between The Empire State Building or Top of the Rock Observatory, I would choose Top of the Rock. The reason for this is the location of Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Plaza) is easier to find and you get, what I feel, is better views of the city that actually include the Empire State Building and Central Park.
On Ryan’s bucket list was a tour of Madison Square Garden. I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive but boy was I wrong! This ended up being one of my top highlights from the tour. We had booked the tour online via Ticketmaster and chose a 1:30 PM start time. We hopped on the tour with approximately 25 other people. Our guide Andrew was informative, funny, and kept the group engaged for the duration of the tour. We visited the main public level, the VIP suites, the New York Rangers dressing room, and the New York Knicks dressing room, the ice/concert level and much more. We were also able to experience a virtual reality show about how they set up The Garden for hockey games, basketball games, and concerts. Billy Joel was playing later that day, so we were able to see his tour setting up his concert set. Did you know, Billy Joel plays at Madison Square Garden’s once a month and has played there approximately 103 times?
The rest of the afternoon consisted of exploring Greenwich Village, the Flatiron District, Times Square, and Rockefeller Plaza. We happened to stumble upon the fanciest Home Depot I have ever visited and learned that this is the only Home Depot in the world that does not stock lumber on site!
New York City Day Three
This morning we met up with other passengers from our tour and went to Café Europa for breakfast. Ryan and I each had a classic breakfast (eggs, potato, breakfast meat, and toast) for under $20.00 USD. Since breakfast isn’t included it’s great to know that there are so many inexpensive options close to the hotel.
After lunch, we headed to Central Park to meet up with two other passengers from the tour: Duncan (a Driver-Guide from our Target Tours Atlantic brand of the company) and his wife Linda. We joined them on a classic horse and carriage ride of Central Park. Our guide was very informative and kind. We had a few photo stops along the way at Cherry Hill Fountain and Strawberry Fields.
Next up we ventured to the New York Water Taxi pier for their 2nd last departure of the day. We stayed on the Water Taxi for the full 70 minutes and we received a lot of information about the city. There were some great photo opportunities of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Norwegian Escape departing the harbour.
Later, we visited Bryant Park for their Christmas pop-up shops. There were many food options, vendors, and an ice rink that certainly put us in the Christmas spirit. Located across the street from Bryant Park, there is a Whole Foods grocery store. I really wasn’t feeling a heavy restaurant meal so I popped into Whole Foods and grabbed soup and a salad for a quick and easy dinner from their deli section. It’s only a few blocks away from the hotel which is super convenient.
Snack Attack Suggestions
- Ryan and I decided to head up to Grand Central Station with a few others from the tour and boy are we glad we did! We picked up some doughnuts from Doughnut Plant (we both HIGHLY recommend finding this shop for their square, yes square, coconut cream doughnut or the peanut butter banana square doughnut).
- We also had the famous banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.
- One of my goals was to find Milk Bar Midtown. It was a pleasant search as along the way we were able to see Carnegie Hall, Trump Tower, and all the high end store fronts on 5th avenue. When we found the shop there was a bit of a wait (25 minutes) but it was totally worth it to try their famous snacks like their Cereal Milk soft serve, Compost cookie, Cornflake – Chocolate Chip – Marshmallow cookie, or Crack Pie.
You probably gathered that our days were jam packed with activities and more importantly food. What I didn’t list up there is how many times we consumed pizza (it was at least once a day). The great thing about our trips to NYC is the free time. You can pack as much or as little into your days as you want. I was so happy with the flexibility that was provided as it made our visit hassle-free and easy to enjoy!
Check out our upcoming tours to NYC by clicking HERE.