My Weekend In NYC Playing Tourist In My Own Town


With friends and family in town--I shared the city I love and had a blast!

With NYC spring weather in full swing, my guest list of incoming friends and family has been a long one! Everyone is so excited to enjoy the beautiful warm weather and get a taste of city life.

Looking south to the Freedom Tower from the observation deck of the Empire State Building

I’ve been getting to do some tourist friendly activities that I haven't done in ages--activities that as a city veteran of 25 years I’ve come to take for granted. I recall doing many of these things as a wide-eyed 21 year old college student coming from the Midwest to the city for the first time. I was thrilled about coming to NYC to study fashion design and enamored by the sheer scale and scope of what NYC had to offer. Many of these iconic NY sights and scenes are the things that instilled even stronger feelings for coming here and starting my career in the fashion industry.

Tina on the Empire State Building

Tina on the Empire State Building

As time has flown by from those early days of youthful excitement about coming to the big city, and I’ve gotten very used to my weekday work routine, I just don’t take the time to enjoy these things anymore. My Monday through Friday schedule in the city look something like this…an early morning drive to make a ferry boat across the Hudson River. And then a shuttle bus for a cross-town ride that drops me off in Times Square close to my office. Then a long hectic work day, and if I’m lucky, I can maybe make a cardio class after work, and then the exact same reverse commute out of the city and back to suburbia. With all that effort put in from Monday to Friday, I’m not really excited about the thought of spending my relaxing weekend anywhere near the big city.

The soaring height of the Freedom Tower redefining the modern NYC skyline

But right now, with everyone in town, I’ve signed on to be the NYC adventure tour guide and I have to say, it’s been fun (tiring but fun). It’s always intriguing to see the city through the eyes of people who have never been here or are not typically exposed to the exteme levels of activity in the city. Everything is overwhelming to them—from maneuvering through crowds, the busy street traffic, the loud sounds, the intense smells, finding their way around town and that’s the normal everyday stuff!

Compared to when I first came to the city in 1992, it is so much easier than ever to get around with our handheld digital devices that can map out daily routes, inform you about hours of operation, and help to purchase tickets to events on the fly. It makes it easy to enjoy the city even if you don’t have your own personal tour guide.

It’s hard to believe the Reflection Pools are the actual World Trade Center buildings’ footprints. A solemn reminder to all of what we lost as a country and that we can never forget our past.

The beginning of our adventure started on Friday with a visit to the Freedom Tower and the Reflection Pools. This is actually something I’ve done a few times since these structures have been completed. Ever since the tragic events of 9/11, I don’t think any New Yorker thought life could ever feel normal or safe. Visiting the Freedom Tower really shows the resilience of the city and the memorial pools are a reminder for us to never forget what and whom we lost that day. For me, viewing those reflection pools is a difficult thing to see. I always have a wave of emotions—goose bumps, tears, a haunting feel of loss, but I know it’s part of our history and it’s important to experience those feelings.

From here, a jaunt through midtown’s Bryant Park to stop and smell the flowers, some lunch and then off to the top of the Empire State Building. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect, clear day to get a gorgeous 360 degree view of the city and our timing was just right with the beginning of sunset starting to magically light up the city. I absolutely remember doing this when I was 21 years old. It was stunning then and I’m not surprised that it still holds that awesome effect over me. I will say the lines can get a bit crazy so it does pay to “express” ticket it to get to the top fast and enjoy that spectacular view!

The flowers in high bloom at Bryant Park!

Our approach across 34th Street to get to the majestic art deco Empire State Building

Those views go on forever!! Looking northeast at the Chrysler Building.

Saturday was a tour of Little Italy, Chinatown, Soho ---a perfect day to enjoy some of these neighborhoods that have their own unique vibe. And after plenty of walking, we landed in GreenwichVillage to pop into the ever popular string of bars on Bleeker St., some that originated the music scene of NY—The Red Lion, The Bitter End as well as Terra Blues and Le Poisson Rouge

Taking a break on Bleeker St. to make some hard decisions about where to dine and hydrate.

From here, we head back down to Times Square for an evening show of Phantom of the Opera! Everyone should enjoy seeing a classic Broadway musical at least once in their life and POTO does not disappoint!

The busy midtown-Times Square area on a Saturday night

On Easter Sunday, we woke up to an even more sunny gorgeous day with the forecast calling for 80 degrees by the afternoon! So it was the perfect day to visit Central Park and all of the green spaces that NYC has to offer.

A rowboat on the lake in Central Park is the perfect place to “get away” from the city

My visitors really wanted to visit Strawberry Fields in Central Park and see the memorial mosaic plaque dedicated to the life of John Lennon. It is in a tranquil spot surrounded by tulips, daffodils and benches to meditate and enjoy a quiet moment.

Imagine—a beautiful tribute to the life of John Lennon

Gorgeous tulips at the park’s exit at 72nd St.

From here, I decided that we really needed to enjoy more outdoor time with some gorgeous scenery so we walked over to the West Side Highway and took a tunnel underneath the busy street to take us to a fun spot called The Boat Basin. It’s a bit of a hidden gem of a place to view sunsets in the city.

Here we go through the tunnel to come out right on the Hudson River with an incredible spot to view the sunset

Late day rays at The Boat Basin marina.

Some food and drinks with family and friends to toast an incredible visit to NYC. It’s moments like these with family and friends in my city sharing these amazing views and places that really create some of the best memories. And not only that, but this weekend served as a reminder to myself of my early days in the city with my whole life ahead of me and no idea of where I would be at this moment in time—would I like it enough to be here on my own, would I be able to find a job in the fashion industry, would I be able to support myself, would I find a partner in life---so many unknowns. The excitement of stepping out of a small Midwest town and making the leap to be in NY was more powerful than any of my anxiety about the unknowns.

I still feel like I have that same drive and passion about my life and career—although with a lot less energy than a 21 year old. And there are just new “unknowns” in my life, but that’s what keeps life interesting—new opportunities and challenges. It is nice to be able to reflect back on where I started and how lucky I am that I had such supportive parents who pushed me to pursue my path to become a designer. It can’t have been easy for them to cut me loose to move to NY on my own but here I am today—a very lucky woman with wonderful family and friends to share it all with.