A Day Downtown Staycation in NYC

There are so many great areas in New York City, but Downtown holds a special place in my heart. It’s where I first landed as a single person moving to the big apple, and now it’s where my family resides. Often times I still can’t believe I …..actually live here! Of course this past year has looked a little different, but after our recent “A Day Downtown Staycation”  we are thrilled to welcome back all the places we love to visit!

Thank you to  Downtown Alliance  for partnering with GothamLove to remind us of all the reasons why we love living downtown. For starters, there’s no other area in Manhattan where you can actually be surrounded on 3 sides by water. I don’t know about you, but anytime I see water views it instantly lifts my mood and gives me a feeling of renewed purpose and drive. As a family, we love taking long walks to the historic seaport district and walking along the piers. Through the years, there’s been constant change and growth with new stores, restaurants and art installations. There is always something new to see and it’s no surprise that downtown is one of the most popular places for people to visit.

Due to the COVID pandemic, this the the first time in my life I’ve seen foot traffic slow down,  but I’m happy to report things are starting to “safely” pick up again! Over the summer I took long runs along the Battery and marveled at how beautiful lower Manhattan is. The public gardens and parks are meticulously maintained and the water views with Lady Liberty in the background is a sight I never take for granted!

When I mentioned to my family  we were going on a “staycation”, I got a few weird looks, followed by my girls immediately packing their bags! My family loves to go on trips and see different sights and experience activities, so I knew they would be up to doing some fun things in our own backyard! Our first stop was to check into our Hotel which was an easy 14 min walk door to door. We are lucky to already live downtown but if I were to recommend a hotel to tourists or anyone else considering a downtown Staycation, the Conrad New York Downtown was a dream! We’ve always loved this hotel for the beautiful atrium and stunning architecture inside. It’s modern approach is refreshing and makes you feel like “you’ve arrived”. I have friends from TX who visit NYC annually and they will only stay at the Conrad New York Downtown. It’s convenience to all the must-see sights makes it the perfect hotel choice.

The Conrad New York Downtown has taken every cautious measure to ensure their guests and staff remain safe during this time of COVID recovery. The Conrad is following the Hilton Clean Stay program which made us feel very safe. We were welcomed to our room which had a seal of sanitation on the door. Once inside, it was clear everything was visibly clean and we even had extra face masks, hands wipes, sanitizers and gloves in a welcome packet. The TV remote was labeled as “sanitized” which really made us feel at ease. We also had a special surprise waiting in the room. Thank you!

As we know, when on vacation and in our case a “staycation”, there’s never much time to spend relaxing, so our first stop was to grab a quick bite at Brookfield Place’s, Hudson Eats (our fav!)  which was located across the street from the Conrad Hotel. Since opening, Brookfield Place has been our family’s oasis and home away from home. We eat here, play here, and have missed it terribly during the peak of the pandemic. Now that it’s re-opened, we’re beyond thrilled to once again walk over and enjoy this beautiful space. Safety remains a priority and if you plan to eat at Hudson Eats, expect temperature checks, socially distanced  seating, and personal information must be given for potential virus tracking.

Brookfield Place is a must visit destination for anyone but especially for New Yorkers who already live here. There’s amazing shopping and dining options and you can find many exclusive boutiques all in one place. There’s typically a cool art installation and the ice skating rink is now open! We often walk through the connecting Westfield World Trade Center to avoid any unpleasant weather or simply just to walk around and be completely indoors. It’s the one place I can let my kids run ahead and have fun. It truly is the best place for families.

Our first attraction was to visit One World Observatory. My girls were little when we went before so this was an entirely new experience for them. This is something special for the whole family and out of all the “skyline views” I’ve seen in NYC, this one remains the best. Upon entry after temperature checks, guests are added to the registry of 10 million visitors and climbing. This data is presented on the largest curved LED screen in the world.. wow!

Once inside our private sky pod, we climbed 102 stories in 47 seconds all while watching the cityscape change before our eyes as the years flip past. This was an incredible ride and even my 5 year old was speechless for once! After our short journey to the top, the real fun begins when we have the grand reveal and 360 degree views of our city. We had fun going around and picking out different buildings, which included our kids school and even our apartment building. The view sure looks different from way up here!

If you live in NYC, odds are you have visited the Statue of Liberty, but funny enough sometimes the locals are the people who have never partaken in the “touristy” things. Now is the perfect time to get out and see the city and there is so much to do downtown. We took the scenic route along the Hudson River to make our way to see Lady Liberty. On a nice day you can find runners, bikers, walkers and New Yorkers in every size enjoying the outdoors. The stunning promenade is the perfect place to be as active as you choose to be.

The iconic Bull of Wall Street is always on everyone’s list and I realized our family has never taken a photo with it. Well, there’s a first time for everything, thanks to our downtown staycation! We waited in line like any other tourist and got our photo!

Did you know that Statue Cruises is the ONLY tour company you can purchase tickets from that will actually take you to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island? You can purchase tickets at statue cruises.com or in person at Castle Clinton National Monument which is the Statue of Liberty box office.  There are many other competing tour companies, but unfortunately they will only ride around Lady Liberty and not stop.

This was the first time we have visited The Statue of Liberty all together as a family. Access inside the Statue is currently closed, but we had a great time just being so close to her. The museum is now open and it was my son’s first time seeing the original torch which is on display. Heading back to NYC at sunset on Statue Cruises was unforgettable and for the reasonably priced tickets, I would recommend all New Yorker’s hop on  a cruise and be a tourist for the day!

With so many restaurants open again, there’s no shortage of amazing cuisine downtown. Whatever you’re in the mood for it’s easy to find. We opted to stay near our hotel but trust me, didn’t sacrifice anything. Seamore’s at Brookfield Place is not only insta-worthy with it’s beach vibe, but delicious too! We had our temperatures taken and enjoyed every bite of the freshest seafood.

Our staycation kind of seemed like a normal day for us since we are lucky enough to enjoy this area all the time….but it was so EXTRA! After having the best breakfast ever at The Conrad New York Downtown, we walked over to the Oculus and explored some stores and made our way to one of our favorite Italian destination, Eataly Downtown.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always wondered around Eataly not knowing what I should buy or eat. The setting can be intimidating for a novice cook (that’s me!) and not knowing can often lead to coming out empty handed. Sure, I have zero problem eating the food they prepare for me at the restaurant, but I needed some encouragement to buy and make some Italian food on my own.

Problem solved! Thank you to the team at Eataly for taking our family around the store and telling us so many interesting facts and information about Eataly! The high standards they hold for the quality of their food is unsurpassed. For instance, Pasta is flown in daily from Italy, along with seafood, meat, and even cheeses. Little goodies like delicious chocolate treats are also flown over to ensure customers have a true Italian experience. The pasta is made daily and I can’t emphasize enough how super fresh the food is at Eataly. The  employees at Eataly are true artisans of their craft and it’s clear to see as we walked around. They also have a pre-made section to pop in the oven for us busy New Yorker’s.  This is not your typical prepared dish….. it’s complely next level!

We finished our time at Eataly with lunch at La Pizza & La Pasta. If you are looking for an authentic and special meal, you can never go wrong here! It’s the perfect spot for any occasion with kids or without. I can’t resist their pizza and my girls opted for the heart pizza on the kids menu. Tables are spaced out nicely and the large windows give guests the ultimate dining experience with downtown views.

Holiday shopping is a little different this year as well and Eataly is prepared. They have just started to roll out their holiday selections which can be purchased in store or online. They have prepared exceptional Italian gift baskets with everything you need for the perfect Italian meal including pasta, sauce, olive oil and more.

My favorite holiday selection is the holiday panettone. This is the quintessential classic Italian dessert and makes for the perfect gift for anyone (or yourself!) They have so many to choose from including the classic one from Muzzi to a more elevated adult version from Galup soaked in Moscato wine … yes please!

After lunch we spent the day wondering around the Oculus. My son loves the notebooks from Moleskin and my daughter found a neck pillow she’s randomly been asking for. If you need it, you can find it here! I do most of my shopping here as well. I love &other Stories, Kiehls, H&M,  and so many more stores..

As I mentioned before there is no shortage of dining downtown. You can find so many hot spots currently open for outdoor and limited seating indoor. We had a fabulous dinner at Brooklyn Chophouse. This is one of my husband’s favorite places with the iconic signature “dumplings”, classic steak, and specialty cocktail menu. The french onion soup dumplings are not to be missed! This is a restaurant that’s figured out what their customers love and we keep coming back for more! Be sure to save some room for dessert because they are incredible.

Thank you to the Downtown Alliance for showing us how much fun Downtown can be! It’s so exciting to see lower Manhattan becoming vibrant once again with people out and about exploring the sights. Be sure to check out downtownny.com for a full list of exciting shopping, dining, special events and more!

Happy Holidays,