My sister and I go on an annual trip every year. Actually, we usually take 2-3 trips together a year, but one is always longer and more involved. A couple of years ago, we went to Greece and Italy and last year to Maui. This year, we planned to hit up five cities—NYC, London, Dublin, Florence, and Cinque Terre. First stop: sister’s trip to NYC! It always amazes me that credit card points and miles allow me to see so much of the world. (And my sister is VERY happy that I got involved in this!)
New York City is the perfect city to visit when you are positioning for a flight because it is a great jumping-off point. I had found ANA flights (on United) for 88K miles round-trip from EWR. Amazing redemption. We knew we wanted to make NYC part of our trip because my sister has never been to the Big Apple. I LOVE NYC, so I am happy to return when a fellow traveler wants to check it out! We could have made it our first or last destination, but we decided to tackle the city that never sleeps first.
My sister lives in Arizona, so we met at La Guardia and took an Uber to our first hotel. Yep, we hotel hopped in NYC to compare the Andaz 5th Avenue and the Thompson Central Park. We got to the Andaz 5th Avenue at about five o’clock, checked in quickly, and took off sightseeing.
The Andaz is located in Midtown, close to the New York City Public Library and Bryant Park. It is a great location to walk to Times Square and Grand Central Station.
Bryant Park is a small, very cute park, and on this Saturday evening it was jam packed full of fun. They had a picnic performance with a symphony and opera, and I could have stayed there for hours. I did notice the cutest children’s reading area as we left, with books and places for children to read. On Sunday, there was a children’s chess tournament taking place, and we grabbed a chair and people-watched. If you take your family to NYC, be sure to include a visit to Bryant Park.
Times Square is always bustling, and it’s the epitome of NYC. I think the hawkers for marijuana and the elderly topless cowgirl may have shocked my sister a little. But can you go to NYC and not visit it and get some pictures of the neon signs?
I love old train stations (Milan, Italy’s is amazing!) and Grand Central Station is a happening place. It is not simply a transportation hub but also a shopping and dining destination under the most beautiful roof. I can’t give you a great dining recommendation as we just went to Shake Shack there. But it was delicious!
Our day started out with breakfast (free for Globalists) at The Cellar. We could each order a hot item off the menu and a cold and hot beverage. It would have cost $90 with tip, and we paid nothing. In fact, our entire bill at the Andaz 5th Avenue was $0.
We walked less than a mile to Rockefeller Center and checked out the area, including a walk into FAO Schwarz (the Mecca for kid’s toys). We thought about going to the Top of the Rock for $40, but my sister hates heights (even more than me), and I had been there on my last trip, so we just walked into the building hoping to run into Jimmy Fallon. 😜 We then walked by Radio City Music Hall. St. Peter’s Cathedral was also on our path, and it is majestic!
We walked about a mile in the other direction to the Empire State Building. The cost to go to the top is $44 for the 86th floor and $79 for the 102nd floor. Personally, I prefer the view from the Top of the Rock best. My suggestion is to get the New York City Pass for $138 to go to several places. We then transferred to our second hotel, the Thompson Central Park.
I have difficulty going to NYC or London and not seeing a show. I mean, seriously, a sister’s trip to NYC MUST include a show! This time, my sister and I went to the Neil Diamond musical, A Beautiful Noise. We loved it! It was walkable from our hotel and so enjoyable. Afterward, we ate at Burger Joint in our hotel and walked around Central Park with an ice cream cone. Another great day!
We started the day with our Globalist breakfast served in the room—their crispy French toast with caramel sauce was delish, as was the savory plate of scrambled eggs, ham, and potatoes. We also had orange juice, and the entire cost (including gratuity) was wiped off our bill.
We bought a ticket to ride the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for $25/person. We didn’t get off at the Statue of Liberty but did the audio tour at Ellis Island, spending about an hour and a half there. The audio tour is great, and we loved the whole experience.
We then walked to Ground Zero and visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum. This time I took the tour they offer there and learned a ton. My sister really enjoyed it, too. We spent $47/each for the entry ticket and the tour. Again, I could have stayed longer. There is a LOT to digest and experience there.
We were just going to go to the one musical, but when in New York, why not do two? Wicked is such a fun musical with gorgeous costumes, tons of humor, and some of my favorite songs, that we decided to see it. It was less than a mile from our hotel which made it so convenient. On the way back, we ran into a bakery called Angelina with the BEST pastries! (Seriously, plan a stop there.)
We had a late check out at 4:00 pm before we had to get to Newark. We slept in, had room service breakfast again (I’m going to miss that French toast), and went over to check out Central Park some more.
Afterwards, we walked to Times Square because there is also a Los Tacos No. 1 location there! 💃 I was so excited! I had my fave carne asada tacos, guacamole and chips, and a coke—we didn’t get to Chelsea Market, and I thought I was going to miss out on them. So excited that there are several locations in NYC! My sister’s trip to NYC was now complete!
Our sister’s trip to NYC on points and miles was a rousing success! My sister never wanted to go there and ended up really loving it. We were constantly on the go, but had so much fun. Getting luxury hotel rooms and Globalist breakfasts for free really cut down on the costs. We spent most of our NYC costs on Uber rides—the subway would have been cheaper for transportation, and I’ve used it in the past. However you choose to do NYC, using credit card points and miles will make it much more affordable! What are your NYC travel hacking tips?
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