26 March 2012

Day Tripper - New York State of Mind

One of the many perks of living in Philadelphia is its proximity to so many snazzy places. Philadelphians are within a two or three hour drive of the mountains, the ocean, and some of the coolest and most important cities in the world. With that in mind, the What is proud to present Day Tripper, our guide to the numerous fun trips you can take in and around the Philadelphia region.

New York State of Mind

Taking a day trip up to New York City is always a great time. Last time Day Tripper visited the Big Apple, we kept it touristy and stuck around Times Square. Now it's time to move on and check out another part of NYC. I had been itching to check out the Brooklyn Bridge and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum for awhile, and decided to combine the two for a nice walking tour with my pops. What we found along with the two main attractions led to a fantastic day trip.

Subway Serenade
The day began early, as I met my Dad at 30th Street Station around 8:30AM. Making the trip with someone who was just as interested in walking the legen-(wait for it)-dary Brooklyn Bridge and visiting the Tenement Museum definitely added to the fun. We hopped on SEPTA's Trenton line, departing at 8:49 and rolling into the Trenton Transportation Center around 9:30. From there, we hopped on a New Jersey Transit line headed into Penn Station in Manhattan, arriving around 11AM. One short ride on the A train took us to High Street in the heart of Brooklyn Heights.

Welcome to Brooklyn
Luckily, upon emerging from the Subway in Brooklyn, I began walking in the wrong direction. Not knowing that destination #1, the Brooklyn Bridge, was at our backs, we strolled along Henry Street, admiring the variety of cool shops and eateries along the way. Once we hit Montague Street, we decided to hang a right, as the architecture in that direction seemed interesting and we saw helicopters hovering over the water at the end of the road. What we found was the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with stunning homes on the right and the water on the left. Ahead of us was a fantastic view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Several minutes and several photos later, we had reached our first destination.

Bridge Over Troubled Water
The Brooklyn Bridge is an engineering marvel that needs to be seen up close. Photographs, no matter how good, do not do it justice. We were treated to several great photo-ops with the bridge along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and while weaving through the neighborhood to the bridge. One such photo spot that I highly recommend is from the intersection of Middagh and Columbia Heights, near the dog park. We found our way to a staircase leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade and were treated a quite a view of the Manhattan skyline, some great art deco buildings in Brooklyn, and, of course, the bridge itself. The Brooklyn side of the bridge was looking pretty snazzy, unfortunately construction on the Manhattan side was covering up a significant portion of the bridge's beauty on that side.

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
Once we found ourselves in Manhattan, we meandered past City Hall and through Chinatown before making our way to the Lower East Side. We picked up our tour tickets at the Tenement Museum and got a tip on where to get a decent slice of pizza. The woman at the museum shop recommended a slice of mushroom at Rosario's, and her recommendation was spot on. After our late lunch, we were disappointed by the lack of bars near Orchard and Delancey. We decided to try our luck south of Delancey when we stumbled upon Top Hops. Located at 94 Orchard Street, directly across from the front stoop of the tenement we would eventually tour, this brand-new beer haven has the look of sitting inside a cask. The stellar design is only part of the experience. These guys really know (and love) their beer. Dad and I each got a flight of beer that included an Irish Stout, a Quadruple, a German Pilsener, and a Belgian White. Upon hearing that we were in town from Philly, the guy running the place had a beer with us, telling us about his idea for Top Hops and the incredible blackboard behind the bar. This blackboard lists each beer on tap and everything you could ever want to know about it, from when it was tapped to the IBU to the last time that particular keg line was cleaned. The attention to detail and clear appreciation for quality brews makes me wish Top Hops was in Philadelphia.

Tenement Symphony
After enjoying some delicious New York pizza and four tasty beers, we made our way across the street for the Tenement Museum's Irish Outsiders tour. Our knowledgeable and entertaining guide, Dave, gave us great information about the building itself and how the city was different when the building was first erected in the 1800's. Dave would go on to take us to the fourth floor, showing us several apartments including one furnished to resemble the home of an Irish family struggling to make it in what was a predominantly German neighborhood. The tour, using a combination of lecture, props, music, and projections, seemed to fly by although it actually lasted for an hour. Following the tour, we perused the shop, loaded with a great selection of books and other goods, and had an informative chat with several staff members there. The entire experience at the museum was a great insight to how working-class immigrants struggled to make it in the New World, and I look forward to returning to take one of the several other tours offered by the folks at the Tenement Museum.

The Start of Your Ending
Overall, this was my favorite trip to NYC to date. Having previously spent most of my time in Bay Ridge or Times Square, hanging out in Brooklyn Heights and the Lower East Side was a refreshing change of pace. This trip is a full day, and can be done for right around $100 per person (including travel, food, drink, tips, and museum admission). Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and the overcast and chilly day wasn't the best for all of the walking we did. That being said, we are already looking forward to a repeat visit on a nicer day, and you should consider doing the same!



  1. I need to do a NY trip; Rob and I keep intending on going, but so far that hasn't happened.

  2. It's always fun! You should get up there later in the Spring on a sunny day for some photography and sightseeing.


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