24 Hours in Manhattan

Los Adventures is notorious for over-planning our adventures.

We lay out every meal, hike and activity in meticulously color-coded Google Docs. We have printable checklists for packing. But, on our recent trip to New York, we wanted to try this thing called ‘winging it’.

Here’s how we did a day in Manhattan with on-the-fly decision making. Bonus, you could probably count this as a “hike”, as by the end of the day, we walked 12.5 miles.

See fall color in Prospect Park and Central Park

After 5 hours of binge-watching “Drunk History” on our flight, it was a welcome sight to see endless forest in shades of red, orange and yellow as we flew into New Jersey. To get our fill of fall, we wandered through the two big parks. In Prospect Park, we watched locals and their dogs run around open fields, as we tagged along on our friend’s Saturday morning walk with the kids. The bases of the oaks and maples were piled with their fallen leaves. To the displeasure of their mom, I showed the kids how to throw big handfuls of leaves at each other. #sorrynotsorry

In Central Park, we tried the impossible task of ‘avoiding the crowds’, made even more impossible in the peak of autumn when it’s arguably at its most gorgeous. We found The Ramble to be the most people-free area. In fact, the biggest crowd we saw while walking through The Ramble was a dozen kindergarteners being led by a park ranger. She taught them the names of the local flora; we took selfies over a burbling creek and eavesdropped. I can distinguish a red oak leaf from a white oak leaf from a summer internship at an arboretum, but didn’t know that no living mammals can eat osage oranges, only prehistoric animals like mastodons. Who knew?

The Ramble empties out at the Boathouse on The Lake. Taking a boat out is only $15, which seems like a pretty good deal considering it’s New York, but we both had colds. We wanted to have a drink rather than exercise.

Have a boozy lunch—Australian style—at Dudley’s Cafe

When in New York, you brunch, apparently (even on a Tuesday). After our walk in the woods, we grabbed bar seats at the packed Aussie cafe, Dudleys in the old tenement section of the Lower East Side. It’s a perfect New York-meets-Melbourne spot: tiny, well-adorned interior, friendly staff, artisanal cocktails, perfect cortados and of course, avocado toast. Graduate from a mimosa; instead opt for the “Moon Door” cocktail, a play on the French 75 with creme de violette instead of simple syrup.

We swear we did no prior research – just yelp “avocado toast”, it’s the first result for a reason 🙂

Instagram your heart out below 14th Street

At this point, we had enough liquid courage to start taking touristy photos of Soho and the Village. We ambled down the middle of the cobblestone streets. We admired the old brick row-houses in the historic part of the West Village. We posed in front of graffiti-covered walls. The last stop before napping at the hotel was for cappuccinos to-go at the trendy Happy Bones NYC. Besides sore legs, think we nailed it. ▲

At this point, we had enough liquid courage to start taking touristy photos of the West Village and Greenwich.

More Adventures:

  • 5 Swimming Holes in Sequoia National Park

    5 Swimming Holes in Sequoia National Park

    Giant sequoias, granite peaks and tons of swimming holes - could Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park get any better. Here are picks for the best places to swim in and around Sequoia National Park.

  • Monterey: A Love Story

    Monterey: A Love Story

    Across the street from the bitter-cold waters in Monterey Bay is the only hotel we've ever stayed at twice. In fact, we've made Lover's Point Inn our home-base for our annual new year's trips for the past 4 years. It's 80 bucks a night, overlooks the ocean and, most importantly, is in one of our favorite places in the world: Monterey, California.

  • 4 Ways to See Louisiana Swampland

    4 Ways to See Louisiana Swampland

    We were no less giddy the third time we took the pontoon out onto the Atchafalaya River. It was after dark. The best view of the milky way was up the river, away from the light of the wedding reception...

  • Samantha Lee

    I randomly found your guys’ site through a Modern Hiker comment and am so glad I did! Fellow Los Angelean with a love of travel. I was in NYC last spring when the cherry blossoms were blooming and the weather was a perfect 70 degrees, and it was EVERYTHING. NYC can really be so magical. So excited to following along with y’all’s travels and check out all your LA/Southern California posts! 🙂
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com