Tag: New York City

The Un-Planner’s Guide To: New York City (Day 2)

Hello, wonderful person! If you’ve made it here, that means you’ve made it to the second and final part of  Un-Planner’s Guide to New York City.

I hope my itinerary, and I use that term VERY loosely, for Day 1 serves you well. Now, let’s get the show on the road for Day 2, we don’t have much time to waste.

Day 2:

Herald Square


  • Plan to meet up with family for breakfast, but start your day off a little bit earlier so you have time to wander.
  • Realize that you’re a block from Herald Square and its Macy’s of Miracle on 34th Street fame. Use store as a landmark to return to because it’s impossible to miss, considering it takes up an ENTIRE city block.
  • Pick a completely random direction to go in and enjoy strolling at your own leisure while watching sleepy businesses open and traffic buzz by.



  • Be lucky that Koreatown is close enough to Herald Square that you can stumble upon it by accident.
  • See a street sign for Korea Way. Follow the sign.
  • Decide that Korean food would be an AMAZING breakfast. Meet up with your people and tell them so.
  • Find that there’s an abundance of Korean (surprise, surprise) places to eat that you know nothing about.
    • We interrupt this guide for the Un-Planner’s Mini-Guide to: Selecting a Restaurant (A guide within a guide. Guide-ception.)
      1. Yelp it.
      2. Be indecisive.
      3. Walk up and down the street looking at menus.
      4. Wonder how you ever make any decisions in your life.
      5. Say “to heck with it” and just walk into a random place.
  • Fortune smiles upon you and the restaurant you’ve chosen is New Wonjo, a popular Korean BBQ eatery that also happens to serve a really dope breakfast.

This beef and kimchi soup was as delicious as it was enormous. Pictured in the background are all our side dishes or banchan, plus some excellent fried veggie dumplings.

  • Be thoroughly stuffed, but it’s fine, because you’ll need all those calories for all the walking you’re about to do.

American Museum of Natural History

  • Take your first subway trip of the day.

For this iconic blurry subway train picture, I stood just a little too close to the platform edge and got the breath sucked out of me as it went by extremely quickly.  100% DO NOT RECOMMEND. Seriously, take your blurry photo from a distance.



  • Buy the Super Saver pass because you want to do all the things and then realize you may have made a mistake because you have roughly three hours and 5 floors of museum. TRY TO DO IT ALL ANYWAY.
  • Run around from floor to floor ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ at things, but mostly getting lost because seriously, how is this place so large.
  • Pause to watch a planetarium show about the universe. Or more accurately, watch two minutes of the show and fall asleep because the chairs are comfy, the planetarium is just the right amount of dark and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s voice is really soothing.
  • Spend the rest of your time enjoying the dinosaur exhibit the most because they are GREAT.


Central Park

  • Morning has somehow quickly bled into afternoon. Head over to Central Park, which happens to be just across the street.
  • Walk through Central Park while thinking, “I think I’ve seen that in a movie.”

I can’t tell you what part of Central Park this is, but you’ve probably seen it in a movie.

  • Keep walking a find yourself amidst a lot of hubbub you don’t understand. Tourists are standing in a circle and taking photos of the ground (and of themselves and the ground).
  • Make it to a break in the circle and it suddenly all makes sense. You wandered into Strawberry Fields, an area paying tribute to late Beatles member, John Lennon.

Imagine all the people… trying to take a photo with this mosaic. It was a lot.

Chelsea Market

  • It’s time to regroup with the rest of the family, so back to the subway you go.
  • Really experience the ride. People watch. Read the poetry that the MTA has put up in the cars, or the other fascinating literature other passengers have left behind.

Uh, where exactly is this train going, again?

  • Decide on Chelsea Market because your group cannot agree on dinner. Thankfully, the market is a block long and chock full of a variety of restaurants and shops.
  • Let the smell of french fries take you to the Creamline for a burger and fries that you practically inhale. Then for dessert, the mini-donuts that your brilliant father has gotten from the Doughnuttery.
  • Roll out of Chelsea Market.
  • Struggle to find the right train station with machines to refill your metro card.
  • Arrive at correct station.
  • Zombie walk to hotel because you’re full of a combination of sun, food and exhaustion.
  • And finally, sleep.

That’s all she wrote, folks. Thanks for joining me for this brief and devil-may-care tour of NYC!

Happy Un-Planning,


The Un-Planner’s Guide To: New York City (Day 1)

Welcome to the first installment of the Un-Planner’s Guide, a wholly un-serious and unusual approach to travel itineraries.

I’m Katie, and I’ll be your host through approximately one-and-a-half days of New York City, NY.


Yes, this hat is part of our required tour guide uniform.

 Trip Pre-work:

  • Know about the trip, in my case, AT LEAST a year in advance.
  • Book your flight accordingly, apparently for domestic flights the magic number is 54 days for cheapest fares.
  • Have ample time to pack and let that dwindle down to months, weeks, days and mere hours before your trip.
  • Go out to dinner with friends and/or family the night before your flight.
  • Struggle to pack within the window of 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Stop mid-packing to justify your procrastination.)
  • Sleep for 2 hours.
  • Wake up to leave for airport and hate yourself a little bit.

Day 1 (or Day 1/2):

Getting There

  • Be at airport.
  • Go through security rigamarole.
  • Fly.


  • Land and realize you lost half your day because of time changes. Curse.
  • Rideshare from the airport to your hotel and get stuck in traffic. Learn your lesson and take the subway for the rest of the trip.

Ice Cream Break


It has to be soft serve. From a truck. No exceptions.

  • Wrangle large group of Filipinos (who are your family so it’s okay) and proceed.

Oculus – World Trade Center Transportation Hub

  • Take subway to get to the Oculus, which is the World Trade Center’s transportation hub.
  • Exit train and enter Oculus. Be impressed. Take a moment to admire the architecture.

The structure of the Oculus was like being inside the skeleton of great beast.

National September 11 Memorial

  • Cross the Oculus, meaning just walk straight across it and up a flight of stairs, and you’ll find yourself back at street-level and able to walk right over to the National September 11 Memorial. There’s a museum there, as well.
  • Visiting the memorial, as you would imagine, is a truly sombering experience. But beautifully moving, too, if you take in not only the construction of the memorial but the fact that they place white roses next to the names of the people being remembered on their birthdays.

The day we visited, there were two birthdays.

One World Observatory

  • Check out One World Observatory. It’s just a short trip across the street. The building itself if stunning, but it also offers you 360-degree views of the city from 100 stories up.
  • The trip up to the observatory does require admission, so expect to pay about $30+ for a single person.



If you were to ask me what part of the city this way or what any  of those buildings were, I couldn’t tell you. They had these tablet thingies for purchase that you could point out at the city, like a virtual tour guide, but I was more keen on just looking.

Chinatown (And Little Italy, Sort Of)

  • Find that after all the subway riding and walking you are famished, as one ice cream alone cannot hold you down.
  • Fumble through the subway with your herd and somehow make it to Canal Street.


  • Arrive late enough that most of the shops are closed, but just in time for the restaurants to be bustling with business.
  • Let your dad pick the place, though his relationship with Google is tentative at best, and then let him lead the way (???).
  • Walk into an unfamiliar neighborhood almost to the point of concern until you reach Shanghai Asian Manor. Note that this restaurant only accepts American Express or cash.

Eat delicious food and not realize until later that this is actually a really popular place.

  • Leave and enjoy the light sprinkles of rain as you walk. Let your family make ill-advised hat purchases at a souvenir shop about to close.

Pass up Little Italy (sad-face) because majority rules to go to Times Square.

Times Square

  • Arrive in Times Square and be baffled by the fact that the city is still buzzing at 11:00 p.m. on a Wednesday. Assume that maybe all the huge electronic billboards are making people think it’s still daylight.


  • Be horrified by the discount store-looking nightmares that are parading around as notable characters. Pull your unsuspecting aunts away from a particularly disturbing Minnie Mouse and Woody.
  • Decide you’ve had enough of these shenanigans and decide to turn in so you can get up early for more exploring tomorrow.

Well, that’s it for the first part of The Un-Planner’s Guide to NYC! Come back next week for part deux.

Your Humble Host,



First Impressions of New York City

While I enjoyed having the opportunity to visit New York City, and I cherished spending time there with my brother, I was actually pretty underwhelmed by the place. First, as I hope that my blog illustrates, I am primarily interested in traveling to experience the natural world. Of course, big cities are great destinations as well, but for me, there has to be a balance between culture/historical attractions and the relative artificial nature of the city. I really love Chicago and DC, but New York didn’t strike up the same balance of elements for me, it just felt like miles and miles of unadulterated urban landscape. There wasn’t enough open sky, and it seemed like even the animals I am used to seeing around humans were scarce. Not only that, but I found the people to be surprisingly rude.


(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

That being said, I loved the fact that there was interesting and delicious food to be had around every corner. I had some yummy sushi, Mediterranean food, French fare, and of course, tons of wonderful American classics like hamburgers and pizza. Traveling without a car was also amazingly easy, and once you get a handle on the subway system, it really opens up the city for exploration. It goes without saying that there are also tons of cultural and historic attractions that I really enjoyed checking out, and due to the short nature of my trip, my brother and I opted to get the New York Citypass to help us structure our time. This includes tickets to the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Top of the Rock or Guggenheim Museum, and the Statue of Liberty or a Cruise Line Cruise. I have used the Citypass before in Chicago, and I didn’t regret getting it again in New York, although I wasn’t too interested in a couple of the attractions.

I have heard some bad things about the lines when visiting the Statue of Liberty, but I am a MAJOR national park buff, and I really couldn’t miss the opportunity to see this landmark for myself. Luckily, the harsh winter cold seemed to keep a lot of the crowds away when I was there. It was surreal to see this iconic statue in the flesh, and while I wasn’t able to go up into the statue as the tickets were sold out, seeing it from the ground was not at all disappointing, even in the biting cold. Ellis Island, which was the second half of my Statue of Liberty visit, was also a pretty surreal experience. It is hard to imagine what people went through there, including my own family, and exploring its halls made me feel an experiential connection to my ancestors. Besides exploring the museum, I also spent the extra money to use Ellis Island’s resources to do some family research, and ended up taking home my one and only souvenir from their print shop. To cap off our New York City national park experience, I also stopped by Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace, where I caught a free tour of the house. The tour was a little on the long side, but I think anyone interested in American history or Theodore would have enjoyed seeing the house and hearing the stories of the Roosevelt family- I certainly did.

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

In terms of museums, the Met was my favorite, which was somewhat surprising. While I am fairly artistic, I tend to find art museums boring. The Met was unlike any art museum that I have been to, however. Along with the paintings and sculptures that I have come to expect in similar places there were artifacts from all over the world, and large sections of the museum were highly immersive. I particularly enjoyed the recreation of French and English rooms, and the Egyptian section. The American Museum of Natural History was also pretty enjoyable, but was much more traditional than the natural history museum in Chicago. There weren’t as many immersive aspects to the museum as the Met or the Field Museum, and I was reminded of Tucson’s International Wildlife Museum, which features hundreds of taxidermied animals from all over the world. Finally, I was not impressed by the Museum of Modern Art. First, the entrance to the museum was hard to find, as was the line to have our tickets checked. By the time that we got to the point that we were going to enter the museum with our tickets, we were then told that we couldn’t have our bags and would have to check them. This turned out to be a major inconvenience, as the bag check area was just as disorganized as the rest of the museum. The art on display was interesting, but I was turned off by the hassle of getting in, and I can’t say that I am particularly fond of the weirdness exhibited by modern art.


(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

Finally, while I am not a big theater connoisseur, a show or two is not something to be missed in New York, and in retrospect I would have liked to have seen at least one more show while in the city. I did go to Radio City to see the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular, and it was a great experience. Radio City was a beautiful theater, and the show was the first time since I was little that I have really enjoyed hearing Christmas songs.

And if you have any questions about my experience in New York City or my travels feel free to leave me a comment. 🙂

My next update will be on January 15th, and I am actually not sure where I will write about next.

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