On our first full day in New York we went to the Public Library. It was very close to where we were staying and we walked over because I wanted to see it, but it was closed for the Fourth of July holiday. We went back on the Wednesday and it was open! But sadly the main reading room is closed for the summer which was disappointing on two levels - because we couldn't see it and also because as a result of the closure the library is doing a "read everywhere! outdoor reading room summer 2015!" campaign so the lions are holding these big "books" and I think they look kind of dumb. But I was happy to see the iconic lion guardians and the parts of the library we were able to see were beautiful.
I really liked the "Maps" room. It was full of globes and books including this huge old globe, and a big light-up globe that had New York smudged out from so many fingers pointing it out over the years.
That afternoon, after the library we saw our first Broadway show - The Lion King. It was so incredible. It was at the Minskoff Theatre and our seats were in the balcony but we had a really good view and we just loved the show. It was very highly recommended to us by family members who'd seen it in New York and Las Vegas and it lived up the high expectations we had.
The set and costumes were particularly impressive. We really enjoyed it. We booked our tickets online before we went and I would recommend doing that if you plan on seeing any shows because they sell out. We went to a Wednesday matinee and it was sold out so we were glad we had tickets in advance.
That night we went to the Comedy Cellar. I would recommend making a reservation online beforehand. There are multiple shows every night. We didn't book online ahead of time so we went early and put our name on the standby list. Then we explored Greenwich Village a little bit and went back just before 9:30 when the show started. We ended up getting in, luckily, and the show was hilarious. We didn't know any of the comics beforehand. One guy was from Last Comic Standing and one guy works on SNL but none of them were familiar to us. They were all funny and it was a really fun night.
The next day we went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is free on Tuesdays from 5-8pm but we had other plans on Tuesday so we went on Thursday. We saw the new tower. It is huge. It's called the "One World" tower.
We also saw the huge memorial fountains at the locations where the old towers stood. The names of the victims are engraved on the perimeter of each fountain and the fountains are massive. The water goes down, down, down, and cycles through.
Then we got our tickets and waited in line and went through security to go into the museum/memorial. It is both a museum and memorial which is strange. There are artifacts such as a stairwell survivors ran down, old parts of the frame of the buildings, part of an antenna from the top of one of the towers, and "the last column" seen below - a symbol of hope for first responders and recovery workers at Ground Zero. There is also an entire exhibit that walks you through the day chronologically and traces the events leading up to and following the attacks.
There were also memorials, like the art piece seen below, "Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on that September Morning," an art installation composed of 2,983 watercolor paintings from artists trying to remember the color of the sky on September 11, 2001. The number represents the victims of 9/11. There was also an entire exhibit with a photo of each of the victims, and a room where a little written biography shows on a screen while the person's name is read on a recording.
It was a very unique place. I've never been to a museum quite like that before.
That afternoon we went to the Staten Island Ferry port. This was near where we stood to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. Before the trip we decided we did not want to go to Ellis Island and climb the Statue of Liberty, we just wanted to see it. A ferry leaves from this port every half hour, or every 15 minutes during rush hour/commuting hours. It is free to ride, takes half an hour to get from Manhattan to Staten Island, and goes right past the Statue. Plus you get great views of Lower Manhattan. It was very cool.
When you get to Staten Island you have to get off but if it's not busy you will be able to get right back on and ride back. There are viewing decks with seats at the back and sides of the boat. It was really relaxing and fun to ride the boat and we got some amazing views and great photos.
We also checked out Macy's that day. It was right near our hotel. We walked past it every day and decided we should at least see what it was like. Signs outside claim it is "the world's biggest store" and I believe it. It is 9 floors of department store, so basically a mall. There were other stores inside it. We saw 2 different Starbucks (I'm sure there are more) and an entire store that only sold polo shirts by Ralph Lauren. It was crazy. We took escalators up, then walked the floor, but we only went up to the fifth or sixth floor before getting tired and leaving. It is an overwhelming place for sure.
That night we went to our second Broadway performance - Penn & Teller at the Marquis Theatre. As you can see, it is a limited run so we were lucky it was on while we were there. We loved the show. It's their first Broadway show in 20 years and comprises tricks from their whole career. They've worked together for 40 years. Some of the tricks they did were tricks they did before they even started working together, some were tricks from their Vegas show, and some were brand new. It was a really entertaining and thoughtful show and we loved it.
After the show they hung out in the lobby to meet the audience, take photos, and sign autographs. We got one of our playbills signed and told each of them how much we loved the show. It was very cool. They seem like very down to earth, awesome dudes. It was a great experience.
Check out my packing tutorial for advice about packing for New York in the summer, and some general tips.
Check out the rest of our NYC trip:Part 5