Welcome to the second installment of my new blog series, “48 Hours in New York City Solo.” It is my firm belief that all of you should experience solo travel at least once in your life. Some cities offer greater opportunities than others for exploring on your own using public transportation. I put together this latest two-day itinerary to help you take the guesswork out of your next solo trip to NYC. Time waits for no one and neither you should you. Head out to these cool, New York City spots off the beaten path!
Day 1 – 48 Hours in New York City Solo
I cannot stress enough that New York City is more than just Manhattan. There are five boroughs which have their own rich history. Yet, most people never venture beyond
midtown Manhattan and that is sad. That is why you should begin the first day of your 48 Hours in New York City in the Bronx which is the borough north of Manhattan. Get up in the morning and head to New York Botanical Garden for some peace, beauty and art exhibits.
How to get there: This historic garden dates back to 1891 and you can reach it easily by taking the B, D, or 4 trains to Bedford Park (transfer to the B26 bus) or take the 2 train to Allerton Ave. and walk west a few blocks. – 2900 Southern Blvd.
What to do there: There are many different tours to take including an historic overview, birdwatching in the forest, the Orchid Show in March 2018 and the Georgia O’Keefe Show which runs from May – October 2018. Check out the poetry walk and some live music calendar or grab a bite to eat at the Pine Tree Cafe or the stunning Hudson Grill restaurant.
After you’ve enjoyed a patch of peace at the New York Botanical Garden, head back south to Yankee Stadium. Even if you are not a Yankees fan, you can soak up the history baseball’s most iconic team.
How to get there: Take the 4, D or B trains to 161st St. – 1 E. 161st. St.
What to do there: If you can snag a ticket to a Yankees home game, do it. There is nothing like sitting in the upper deck behind first or third base (my personal favorite). However, even if you don’t get tickets to see the “Bronx Bombers,” take one of the available stadium tours. The “Hands On History” tour may be the coolest because you can actually hold many Yankee Stadium artifacts such as bats used by Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter’s jersey, and several trophies and rings from Yankees’ wins at the World Series.
In the evening, check out Katz’s Deli on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
How to get there: Take the F train to 2nd Avenue and walk east on Houston to Ludlow. – 205 E. Houston St. (pronounced “HOUSE-ton”)
What to do there: Order the corned beef (aged for 30 days!) or pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup, pickles, egg creams and more. In case you hadn’t heard, this historic deli has been serving New Yorkers since 1888. It is still just as beloved today by locals and visitors alike. Film buffs know Katz’s Deli for the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally. – “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Now that you’re fat and happy, go listen to some of New York City’s best live music at Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village.
How to get there: Take the F train from 2nd Ave. to W. 4th St. – 115 MacDougal St. (Corner of Minetta Lane)
What to do there: Cafe Wha? has been around since the beatnik days. It has seen the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Lenny Bruce and many more artists. The house bands are great and you never know what famous musician might walk in or take the stage. Don’t worry about going solo because there is so much to entertain you here. Contrary to popular myth, New Yorkers are very friendly.
Pro Tip: Never be afraid or self-conscious to go to a show alone. I do it all the time. Here’s a list of awesome concerts I went to solo recently in Chicago.
Day 2 – 48 Hours in New York City Solo
Queens is the most ethnically diverse borough in New York City and it has only gotten more popular and rich with culture. While Long Island is known for its beaches in the Hamptons and Montauk, Rockaway Beach is accessible via the subway and a newly added ferry. I grew up there and I have so many fond memories of this treasured beach town on the southernmost tip of Queens.
How to get there: 1. Taking the A train to Broad Channel and transferring to the S train down to 116th St. is quicker. 2. The more scenic route is definitely the NYC Ferry Hornblower from Wall St. to Beach 108th St. in Rockaway.
What to do there: First and foremost, hit the sand and surf. Rockaway Beach is the only New York City beach where surfing is allowed if that is your thing. If not, you can simply enjoy some fun in the sun. Later, take a walk along the famous boardwalk (newly built since Hurricane Sandy) to the Surf Shop (177 B. 116th St.) This haven for surfboards, bathing suits, and cool beach gear has been in business for more than forty years. When you’re ready for a drink or a bite to eat, check out The Wharf Bar & Grill. I practically grew up in this cool, laid-back spot which overlooks Manhattan and the Marine Park bridge to Brooklyn. The Wharf, located on Jamaica Bay, is one of the most iconic bars you’ll find in Rockaway Beach. It’s hidden behind a gas station on B. 116th St. off of Beach Channel Drive. When you’re finished you can either take the ferry from 108th St. back to Manhattan or the S train from 116th St.
If you’re into fish tacos and more of an upbeat vibe, go to Tacoway Beach (302 B. 87th St.). It’s a healthy walk along the boardwalk from 116th. Alternatively, you can take the S train from B. 116th St. to 90th St. Then walk 3 blocks south for tacos and cocktails!
Top off your 48 hours in New York City by having a relaxing dinner at Barbetta near Times Square and the Theater District. – 321 W. 46th St.
How to get there: Take the A or E trains to the 50th St. and walk south and west.
What to do there: Barbetta is the oldest restaurant in New York City owned by its founding family (1906). It is also the oldest Italian restaurant in NYC and the oldest restaurant in the Theatre District. Barbetta specializes in Northern Italian cuisine from the Piedmont region of Italy and the room is stunning. If possible, I suggest you make a reservation in advance for dinner in the garden. New York has many hidden gardens and courtyards that are off the beaten path and this is one you should not miss.
I hope you enjoyed this itinerary for spending 48 Hours in New York City Solo.
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.