July 3rd, 2022
After a blissful sleep and breakfast at the hotel, we set off around 9 am for our 1st stop of the day. The Holiday Inn Express offered a continental breakfast as well as drinks, water, and snacks to take on your adventures for the day. These came in handy whenever we got thirsty or hungry during the day and were a nice touch from the hotel which avoided us having to constantly buy water in the 30-degree heat!
The plan for today was to really take things easy. We usually pack SO much into our New York trips they completely destroy us so the plan today was just to take it easy and do what we wanted, not what we needed to do… We also knew we had a manic day tomorrow.
The best-laid plans of mice and men
9/11 Memorial Museum
We arrived at the 9/11 Memorial museum around 9 am. The museum didn’t open until 10 am but as we were using GO CITY EXPLORER PASS, we did not have pre-booked tickets and wanted to ensure we got tickets for an early time slot. When we visited NYC in December, we had missed out on going to the Memorial Museum as by the time we had been to the Statue of Liberty first thing, we were told there were no more tickets available for GO CITY users at the 9/11 museum.
We wanted to make sure we wouldn’t miss out this time as it had been a few years since our last visit to the Museum. We did stand in the queue for a long time but we were at the front of the queue and before long, it was reaching around the reflecting pools and only grew longer as we approached the ticket office opening time. Once they opened the ticket office at 9:45 we got tickets for the 10 am slot. We joined the entry queue, went through security and we were in.
We have visited the Memorial Museum before but as 2021 was the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks we wanted to pay our respects again, especially since we had missed out in December. Even though the museum can be considered a sightseeing attraction for New York, it is ultimately a memorial to all those lost on 9/11. It is a quiet, somber place to pay respects and remember the events of the day. 20 years on and what happened still seems unthinkable and the unfolding events after are a reminder of how this day deeply affected America and the rest of the world.
There are some really hard exhibits within the walls and while the museum is an incredible spectacle it really is hard going. Some of the artifacts and displays really tear your cuts out as they bring back the true horror of that day.
After we had spent time in the Museum, we headed out to the reflecting pools to pay our respects there before getting on the Subway to our next stop for the day.
Little Island and The Highline
We got the subway down to Chelsea markets to walk over to the Little Island at Pier 55. Little Island is a man-made free public park that opened in May 2021 which we visited in December. However, we wanted to see this new park in all its summer glory so braved the heat to amble around the beautiful greenery.
The park itself is a photographer’s visual dream, along with stunning views of both Downtown New York, the Freedom Tower, and if you look in the other direction: midtown and the Empire State Building. For obvious reasons, the Park was more popular and busy than in December but not too crowded. The heat was clearly affecting not just us un-climatized Brits but everyone as every shady spot had people trying to cool down. We joined them, had some water, and applied more sunscreen before walking up to the Highline.
As with the Little Island, we had visited the Highline many times but we have mainly walked it in November or December. The Highline was 100% busier than those colder months with many people walking up and down in both directions. We also noticed many more stalls with food and drink vendors that we had not seen there in the winter season.
We walked all along the Highline in the direction of Hudson Yards. It was lovely to see the walkways full of greenery, plants, and flowers that are usually dormant or bare on our visits. So many photo opportunity spots to get images of the iconic NYC skyline. Again, the heat was clearly affecting people, with every shady spot filled with wilting tourists trying to get a rest bite from the unforgiving sun. There was an artificial pool of water in which children had discarded shoes and happily played, while adults only looked on in envy!
The new renovation of Hudson’s Yard is a stunning terminal for the Highline walk. We ambled around, taking pictures of the Vessel and The Edge from below. We visited The Edge back in December so despite it being one of the attractions included in the GO CITY EXPLORER PASS, we chose not to do this particular attraction this time. We had been wanting to do a River Cruise for a while so we started walking towards the Circle Line Tour at Pier 83.
Circle Line Boat Tour
Due to the near Arctic weather we usually experience on our visits to NYC, one thing we have not done before is a river cruise along the Hudson (we have just about managed the boat to the Statue of Liberty twice in 6 years). The Circle Line Boat Tour is included in the GO CITY EXPLORER PASS and we booked the 1.5-hour Landmarks Tour for 3:15 pm. We had time before boarding the boat so we saught out cold drinks and shade at Hook’d on the Hudson just across from the Fountain and Splash Pad trying to work out how quick our clothes would dry realistically if we ran through it! ( we didn’t try it if you are wondering LOL)
We boarded the Circle Line boat just before 3 pm and got spaces up on the top deck… in the sunshine. We figured the boat would be breezy once moving so we withstood the heat and added more suncream! We were right, and once moving we were more than comfortable and had 360 views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long island as we moved down the Hudson. A Tour guide ran commentary throughout the trip pointing out notable landmarks and informing us of their history. We sat on the left side of the boat and had a view of Manhattan all the way down before we headed back up the Hudson after circling around Lady Liberty herself. Whichever side of the boat you sit on, you will end up with a good view of both sides of the river.
The Cruise does not include any drinks but there is a Bar available. While the prices were pretty offensive, $14 for a large Bud or cocktail it was the queue that really put us off, over 30mins to get a drink, so we just stuck with the water we had brought along.
Top of the Rock
After the river cruise, we got an Uber to Rockefeller Centre to use the GO CITY EXPLORER PASS one more time that day to go up Top of the Rock. Again, a sightseeing tower was something we had not done in the warmth for a while, and thanks to the breeze, it was more than comfortable at the top of the tower.
As we walked around taking photos of the ever-changing NYC skyline, we realized we were hungry and had not eaten since breakfast! A quick google later and we had reservations in an hour at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. A good steak is a must for our visits to NY. We made our way down the Top of the Rock and walked to the restaurant via the Rockefeller Center as we had never seen it without the ice rink (and quite often, the Christmas Tree too!) It was busy, but definitely not as busy as December! We were pleased to see that the Ice Rink was simply replaced with a rollerblading rink in the summer and we were able to actually stand in front of the Rockefeller Statue as it is usually cut off by barriers to protect the tree.
Once we had our pictures we headed over to the Restaurant. We were pretty tired at this point and in need of sustenance and water! We had been on the go for nearly 12 hours so appreciated the rest. We usually go for the Tomahawk to share when visiting good steakhouses in the city but unfortunately they did not have one available.
They did have a 42oz Porterhouse with crab legs and Truffle butter available which we happily ordered to share once we heard the words Truffle Butter! We don’t usually have anything on our steak, preferring to enjoy the meat so finely cooked on its own but the Truffle butter did not disappoint!
Central Park at Sunset
Now full and hydrated once again we began our walk to Central Park. Again, somewhere we had never seen in the Summer months. We headed into the park just adjacent to The Plaza (still having construction btw), past the famous ice rink (also a roller skate rink in summer), and walked down the Mall under the trees so green and leafy, offering the still much-needed shade (this heat does not quit!).
The mall was bursting with life and activity, with street bands playing music, artists drawing pictures, and singers and dancers providing entertainment to the many tourists enjoying the park on a sunny Sunday evening. We enjoyed the entertainment from afar on Bethesda Terrace taking photos and then making our way down the steps to the fountain. Dancers, Singers, and people with giant snakes (yes, they were very real!) were entertaining the masses but for us, we had come to see one thing. The fountain. With water in it.
This Might sound silly, but on all our winter trips the fountain had been empty so it was a sight for us to see LOL. The lake behind it was full of fish and other wildlife such as Terrapins that we also hadn’t seen previously.
Really feeling tired now and the sun starting to set we headed out of the park, only to find Fireflys in the bushes beginning to glow as the sky got darker. This was a bucket list moment for Steve as he had always wanted to see fireflies but we never expected to see them here!
Steve – I had high hopes we would find Fire Flies on some part of this trip and was really ready to try and photograph them, but I just never thought we would see a display like this in Central Park in the middle of the City! With hindsight and a bit of Googling, I really should have, but this spectacle just slipped by me. Unfortunately, this meant I was not prepared to Shoot them!
The best way to capture them on film is with a long exposure, but I had not brought my tripod so was stuck shooting handheld in very dark and challenging conditions. The above shot was actually 40 images shot in burst and then stacked afterward with a little Photoshop Magic.
After ending the day on such a high, we made our way back to the hotel to get much-needed sleep before waking up on the 4th of July.
Go City New York Explorer Pass
Whenever we visit New York we use some kind of City Pass as it’s simply the best way to save a heap of cash while actually doing and seeing more. For this trip, we decided on the Explorer Pass as we wanted to split up our time in New York so the All-Inclusive Day Passes would not work for this trip.
We have a full review of the Go City Explorer Pass here
And here is our full breakdown of which Pass is best for New York. Different Passes suit different types of trips.
We Purchased a 5 attractions Pass and used 3 of the attractions on the first day. We would be using the Luna Park Attraction tomorrow and intended to use the last attraction on the Empire State Building when we got back to New York after our Epic impending Road Trip. This is why we chose the Explorer as we knew we only had limited time in New York but could use the pass again once we got back. Here is how the Pass broke down:
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum – $28
- Top Of The Rock – $44
- Landmark Cruise – $37
- Luna Park Wristband Coney Island – $69
- Empire State Building – $48
- Pass Price – $132
- Attractions Price – $196
- Saving – $64 per person!
As you can see we saved $64 per person or $128 in total which is just about enough to cover our amazing Steak Dinner at Del Frisco’s! We look at the pros and cons of using a pass in our review but overall on this trip, the pass worked flawlessly, as it usually does!
Walking Total – 24456 Steps – 12.3 Miles
At the start of this article, we mentioned that we planned an easy day…a little light sightseeing. In the end, we hiked over 12 miles around the burning streets of Manhattan. When we got back to the hotel over 12 hours after leaving it, our feet were burning and we were dripping in sweat. This is one of our biggest days ever!
It seems what we want to do, is tear around the City seeing everything! As we crawled into bed we were acutely aware tomorrow was going to be even more manic…and we were underestimating it at that!