With more diverse culture and world-class attractions than you'll know what to do with, The Big Apple is known by many as the best city on the planet. Although you could spend a lifetime here and still not see everything, with 24 hours to spare you can still fit a lot in. I mean it is the most action-packed city on earth with hundreds of things to do including art galleries, historic sites, unique bars, great restaurants, nightclubs and Broadway shows, to name a few. 24 hours in New York is nowhere near enough, but if that's all the time you've got, you do what you have to do to make the most out of every New York minute.
The must-visit list for a one-day traveler is crazy and can be overwhelming. Most visitors are well aware of the major attractions: Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building and Central Park. If you're trying to maximize your time then staying at Hotel Elysée is the only way to go.
A romantic gem in the heart of Midtown the convenient location of Hotel Elysée, puts it within walking distance of many Manhattan attractions, including Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue shopping, Central Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral and The Museum of Modern Art. I knew the popular boutique property would be nice, but once you pull up to valet it really hits. You have now arrived and one should remember to take a minute to soak it all in. As the valet quickly opened my car door I notice right away the hotel is sleek with an old school luxurious appeal (think old money versus new money). This hotel was the perfect choice, particularly for those travelers, like us, who want to enjoy a bit of the see-and-be-seen crowd which makes us LA Travel Junkies feel right at home. This intimate hotel has been hosting the rich and fabulous since 1926. With affordable room rates (well for New York City) it's an easy way to transition from LA living to jump in to the hustle and bustle of New York City life.
The rooms at Hotel Elysée are spacious and bright; extra large for New York hotel room standards; shocking I know! As we entered the room, I instantly started to check out the amenities, it had a large flat screen television, a decent sized living area, a soft luxurious bed, intricate furnishings, and a bottle of wine with assorted chocolates awaited our arrival.
After unwinding a bit and a glass of wine compliments of the hotel we decided it was time to venture out and grab dinner. Growing up on the East Coast I have quite a few friends that live in the city so we invited a few to join us for an evening out on the town. For dinner we went with Hillstone, a steak house recommended by one of our friends. We were in and very familiar with the brand as the Hillstone Restaurant Group has also created many of our favorite SoCal restaurants like Bandera, Houston's and Gulfstream. The restaurant was a few short blocks from our hotel and upon arrival we were welcomed by one of the Chefs as we were waiting to be seated. Our meal was great and the conversation even better; it was a perfect choice for a group of friends that had a lot of catching up to do. We pretty much closed the place down.
The next morning after a solid night's sleep we headed downstairs to the hotel restaurant which featured a complimentary continental breakfast each morning for all hotel guests. After breakfast we hit the streets to do the tourist thing and had an amazing time exploring the city. With Central Park only a few blocks away it was the first stop on our list. By the time we finished taking photos at the Statue of Liberty we were famished. It was 12pm and we were ready to dive back in to the NYC dining scene. After careful consideration and checking out multiple reviews online we found a list of the top pizza restaurant recommendations in the city. It wouldn't be a true New York experience without pizza would it?
New Yorkers love to argue about the best pizza, with Grimaldi's, Di Fara's, and John's being among the primary contenders. We won't settle the score here, but if you only have 24 hours you can't go wrong with Lombardi's. Established in 1905, Lombardi's claims to be America's first full-fledged pizzeria. An old-style Italian atmosphere is apparent in this cozy space with checkered tablecloths and old black and white pictures hanging on painted brick walls. Their coal oven thin crust pizza is touted by many to be the best in the city which results in long lines on a daily basis to grab a table. Often waits can be an hour or more to sit down. Lucky for us we weren't picky and were open to sitting in the back room which turned our wait into a ten minute deal.
The first two things you should know about Lombardi's is that its cash only and you won't be able to order a slice here they serve whole pizzas only. Why? Because they say so. That's just the way most of these old-school pizza joints work.
The original Lombardi's started as an Italian grocery store back in the very late 1800's, after Gennaro Lombardi immigrated to New York City in 1895. Italian shop owners from Naples at that time began making and selling pizzas in their bakeries or groceries as a way to use up the day's excess dough. After a few years, Lombardi's pizza proved popular enough that he transformed his grocery store into a pizzeria, applying for and receiving the first pizzeria license in New York City and the nation in 1905.
After all that pizza we were craving some sugar. When craving sugar in NYC there is only one place to go, Dylan's Candy Bar! With so much candy under one roof it is hard to decide so head upstairs to the second level and go for the cupcakes. They are delicious and the best part about the store is all the photo opps! Stick your head in the Candyland wall to transform into a gummi bear or pose with the gumball filled bathtub!
Our last stop was the mecca, Times Square. To people watch of course! Times Square is the craziest part of New York City. A plethora of culture, flashing lights, street performers, shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, and back-to-back billboards. These days it is also a pedestrian-friendly zone, so you don't have to take your eyes off the excitement to watch where you're going.
As we packed up our bags we were already planning our next visit. The city has so much to offer every time we visit it is a truly memorable and different experience. We love this city and cannot wait to return.