All Posts By

Caroline Lloyd

Tickets to Top of the Rock New York

Why should you get tickets to Top of the Rock in New York? There are several observation decks in New York, but here are my reasons why that beautiful skyline is best seen from Top of the Rock.

The Area

You’re in the heart of midtown New York! If you have time to kill before or after, take a stroll past Radio City Music Hall, the ice skating rink, Magnolia Bakery, or Saks to see their infamous holiday windows. There certainly isn’t a lack of things to do around this area where the charm is always present. If you’re really intrigued with what midtown has to offer beyond Top of the Rock (and the history behind it all), consider a New York Midtown Walking Tour that includes your Top of the Rock ticket; It will help you learn about that concrete jungle you’ll be viewing from above.

The View

From 70 stories above the city and only a glass panel between you and the horizon, you’re sure to get crystal clear pictures without those metal grates that the Empire State Building offers you. Speaking of, you’ll probably want to get the most iconic building in NYC in your photo (which means being on it may not be the best strategy). Skip the Empire State Building and take a gander at it from an angle you can appreciate.

Timed Entry

This one is a biggie. Pretty much the equivalent to a Fast Pass at Disney World. Your ticket to Top of the Rock has a time for entry, come back from exploring New York at that time and take the next elevator up. It’s that easy. No lines, which is somewhat unheard of for general ticketed attractions in New York. You’re also able to stay on the deck for as long as you like although the typical stay is around 45 minutes. This is built into our Midtown Walking Tour, with entry time lining up right when the tour ends. Let us take care of the timing!

Ticket Info

The going rate for a non sunset Top of the Rock ticket is $39.20 ($36 + tax). For sunset hours marked on their ticketing page, the total is $50.08 ($46 + tax). There is also an option to upgrade to “sun & stars” which allows you to visit once during the day and return after sunset. With this option, the ticket is roughly $59.


Pro tip:

Sunset hours are clearly and more expensive, but worth it! Our midtown tours that end during sunset hours include a normal ticket price to Top of the Rock, so travel with one of our evening groups for a deal on your sunset ticket and a tour of the area!

New York is full of options for similar experiences, but for a view of the skyline you’ll want to get the absolute best. Be sure to pack your camera and your walking shoes if you’ll be joining us on a tour. Top of the Rock and Midtown are not to be missed when you visit New York!

Winter New York Packing List

You’ve done it. You’ve booked your ticket to a winter wonderland, where the city never sleeps and pizza is always acceptable to eat. But how to create a New York Packing List for Winter? Your picturesque NYC Rom Com is just one packing item away from being totally disastrous (and cold).

Whether you’re not used to the frigid temperature or you have general packing anxiety, here’s a packing list that will keep your Frozen experience in a Broadway theater and not on the New York City streets.

New York Packing List Item 1: Comfy Walking Shoes

On average New Yorkers walk about 6 miles a day, and that’s without going on a free walking tour to make sure they don’t miss any of the essential city sights. If you refuse to dress like a mom at Disney World, leave your sneakers at home and start your Winter New York packing list with some cute boots that will look good in photos. The secret is to make sure they give you arch support and a non-painful heel strike when you’re pounding the pavement. My go-to boots are my Clarks Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  – They’re cute with a dress/tights or jeans and I can wander for hours in them!

If you don’t want to buy new boots, consider an insole Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  that reduces your risk for shin splints. One hour on the concrete in your flat riding boots, and you’ll be quite a bit slower for your second day here!

CLARKS Women's Nevella Bell Boot, Dark Taupe Suede, 9.5 M US Price: $64.90 CLARKS Women's Nevella Bell Boot, Dark Taupe Suede, 9.5 M US Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 11/27/2018

New York Packing List Item 2: Waterproof Shoes

Check the weather right before you head to the Big Apple. Even if there is a small chance of rain, DO NOT forget waterproof shoes! In New York, there is no escaping the rain (or snow) if you’re caught in transit. Trust me, there is nothing worse than knowing you have a day full of walking in front of you + wet shoes. A space hog, but an essential packing list item!

To save room in your suitcase, and a bit of effort when walking around, you’ll want to have ankle rain boots as opposed to full ones. Asgard boots Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  are amazing, and you’ll fit right in with other New Yorkers wearing them! Don’t forget your umbrella Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  either!

New York Packing List Item 3: Oversized Scarf + Hat

I know that not everyone is a scarf and hat person. In New York, you will be out of necessity. These two items are crucial for keeping you nice and toasty to stay outside and get your NY bucket list accomplished. Here’s my strategy:

Hat: Choose a hat that’s a neutral color and can go with multiple outfits in your go-to Winter packing list. This way you can wear the hat all day with any of your outfits (because, beanie hair is real). The right beanie will keep you warm even if you’re wearing a tee shirt in the snow. Ear coverage is a game changer. My favorite is Eddie Bauer.

Eddie Bauer Womens Fairview Beanie, Lt Khaki Regular ONESZE Price: $16.50 Eddie Bauer Womens Fairview Beanie, Lt Khaki Regular ONESZE Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 11/27/2018

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Scarf: Two words – Blanket. Scarf. Go crazy with the colors here. To spruce up your Winter New York packing list, I prefer a nice plaid with some fall tones mixed in. The bigger the better, you’ll be thanking me long after your trip to New York. If you have a rough Saturday night, just throw on this puppy with a plain long sleeve (or literally anything), some big sunglasses, and a top knot – Boom. You look like a movie star with no hangover whatsoever. 

Life Hack – they’re warm too. Who said you have to be cold to look cute in those outdoor Central Park pictures? 

Bess Bridal Women's Plaid Blanket Winter Scarf Warm Cozy Tartan Wrap Oversized Shawl Cape (One Size, Camel) Price: $14.89 Bess Bridal Women's Plaid Blanket Winter Scarf Warm Cozy Tartan Wrap Oversized Shawl Cape (One Size, Camel) Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 11/27/2018

New York Packing List Item 4: A Mary Poppins Bag (with pocket on outside)

No, not a literal carpet bag (well maybe). You need a bag that you can tote whatever you need without being uncomfortable.

  • When the sun comes out and that blanket scarf may be a bit much, stuff it in the bag.
  • Carrying a water bottle Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. ? Stuff it in the bag.
  • Cliff bars so you don’t get hangry and start acting like Betty White pre-Snickers? (Also essential to your Winter New York Packing List) Stuff it in the bag.
  • Band Aids needed from ignoring my hint about comfy shoes? Stuff it in the bag.

Tip: Maybe bring a bag that has an easily accessible zipper pocket on the outside. You don’t have to go digging just to grab and swipe your subway metro card.

My suggestion is either a cross body bag or small backpack Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  so you can swing those arms and keep pace with New Yorkers’ walking speed. 

New vintage Women Real Genuine Leather Backpack Purse SchoolBag by Coolcy (Brown) Price: $69.98 New vintage Women Real Genuine Leather Backpack Purse SchoolBag by Coolcy (Brown) Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 10/22/2018

New York Packing List Item 5: A Winter coat that you won’t hate outdoor pictures in

It’s going to be cold, but you don’t want to look like this:

You can’t go wrong with a classic peacoat Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.  to pair with your hat and scarf. You’ll feel like a quintessential New Yorker in Winter. Get something that will dress up your park play-clothes, and only enhance your nicer dress for those Broadway shows.

Note: Be sure it’s actually warm, and you can fit a comfy sweater underneath. Things your mom always told you, but are actually useful! 

BGSD Women's 'Elizabeth' Wool Blend Walking Coat Price: 109.99 BGSD Women's 'Elizabeth' Wool Blend Walking Coat Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 10/22/2018

Those are the bare essentials in our Winter New York Packing List. Now I won’t tell you what clothes to wear under all of these recommended items; That’s entirely up to you and the activities you’ve planned. My overall New York aesthetic tends to be functionally cute. You can never go wrong with leggings and an oversized sweater! Be sure to go on as many free walking tours, take a ton of pictures, and live in the moment. Check out some of our other guides to see what to do when you get here!

The Best 5 Desserts on the Upper West Side, New York

best desserts on upper west side

Whether you’ve accidentally wandered too far north in Central Park, or live in the city and are just looking for new places to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Upper West Side (UWS) is a land of cute bakeries, shops, and adventures.

There are plenty of incredible options to get your sugar fix on the UWS, but we visited our top five favorite dessert locations even though we’ve been multiple times (just to be sure, you know?). Here were our thoughts on places you must visit:

Magnolia Bakery

magnolia bakery frosting cupcakes

Located at 69th and Columbus, this is only one of Magnolia’s locations (their original location is in West Village).

But don’t worry, it still holds it’s yummy quality and quaintness! Per their standard, you can always see their buttercream being made behind the counter and you are greeted by lovely, friendly bakers!

magnolia bakery banana bread pudding

Although their cupcakes have been featured on Sex and the City and other TV Shows/movies, their most popular dessert is the banana pudding. Amidst a whole bakery full of the most beautiful cakes, cookies, and cheesecakes, we had to take the recommendation of the public and went with the classic banana pudding.

Let’s just say there is a reason it’s the most popular.

If you’re looking for a dessert that still feels somewhat light, but has a complete richness equal to your grandmother’s pudding (and grandma was a top-notch baker), this is your dessert. And it’s banana based, how bad can it be for you?

 

Levain Bakery

Levain. Le sigh. I have dreams about these cookies at night.

best desserts on upper west sideWeighing in at 6 ounces each, Levain’s perfectly gooey cookies are a dessert that will be in your memory forever. To give a little context, the two owners of Levain Bakery perfected their recipe while training for a triathlon, so be sure to exercise a whole lot after eating one (OR just don’t google how many calories are in one). Chocolate Chip Walnut is classic, but you cannot go wrong with any of the cookie flavors.

Buy a few, send some to your friends (they ship), shout it from the rooftops – they’re amazing!

Located at W 74th and Amsterdam, it would be easy for you to overlook the tiny basement bakery if it weren’t for the line stretching down the block. Well worth the wait though, and if you deem that it’s not, there’s a second storefront right around the corner. You’re welcome.

 

Cafe Lalo

If you visit with a crimson rose and copy of Pride & Prejudice, you may just find love with other fans of You’ve Got Mail Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. .

Aside from being famous for the scene where Kathleen Kelly tells Joe Fox he’s similar to the generation of cocktail waitresses with only first names, their desserts are as high quality as this movie.

Located at W 83rd and Amsterdam, their twinkle lights, large french windows, and adorable cafe atmosphere will entice you to sit and stay a while. Grab a slice of their cheesecake (or anything from their full cabinet of goodies), and you won’t be disappointed. They do a full brunch, have a full bar with boozy milkshakes, and even live jazz on certain evenings.

Sit. Snack. Sip. This is what every cafe experience should be.

 

Milk Bar (UWS)

This place is every little kid’s sugar heaven. If you visit, make sure you watch the Chef’s table episode on Christina Tosi (and have some crack pie nearby in case of a dessert craving emergency).

We popped into the W 87th and Columbus location of Milk Bar for the necessary cereal milk ice cream (add the crunchy toppings, worth it). Seriously, I could eat endless amounts of this stuff. The flavor keeps every bite interesting and you don’t feel sick after eating too much – dangerous.

This location is close to Central Park West, so if you’re visiting the park and want some quality ice cream on a hot day, do yourself a favor, and walk a little further than the normal ice cream stands.

(Also try everything on the menu, because it’s a dream)

 

Silver Moon Bakery

This is not your run of the mill bakery. They are a small space with a lot of passion poured into their goodies. Their chocolate ganache cake will melt in your mouth, the loaves of bread are fresh, and the less likely goddess of their menu is the hot chocolate.

Located at W 105th and Broadway, you’ll be able to smell the loaves of bread at least three blocks away. If you’re grabbing something on the go before you start your walk in Riverside Park on a fall day, this will satisfy your sweet tooth and warm your belly. Pair with a cinnamon roll and heaven isn’t too far away.

If you’ve read this far, you can imagine how much pain we were in at this point. The things we do for you, active readers…

We know this isn’t every amazing dessert spot on the UWS, but we chose according to our palettes. Feel free to comment with your favorite! Happy sugar binging, and keep up that NYC walking speed to burn off the extra calories!

The Shitty Side of Traveling

how_to_poop_while_traveling

You see all these travel bloggers; Their beautiful adventures, perfectly angled, perfectly colored. They’re thin, beautiful, digging into some large exotic street food, enjoying a large brunch spread full of cheese, pastries, and lattes. WOWZA, you want that.

But I want to talk about what really happens on these trips, post-brunch. If you’ve been anywhere, even on vacation, you know what I’m talking about. Shitting… or lack thereof. How are there so many travel blogs out there without even the mention of it? Because for me, the inconsistency of pooping is the only consistent thing while traveling.

where to poop while travelingI embarked on my first long-term travel adventure last month, knowing full and well that even domestic travel put my sensitive digestive system at risk for constipation. Throw in a little jetlag and a whole world of new foods and I was set for complete catastrophe no matter how much water (or coffee) I drank.

drinking beer at ruin bars in budapestWhen you’re sightseeing, hiking, beaching, enjoying a beer in an authentic pub, or in no man’s land looking at the glories of the world, you don’t want to be thinking about the last time you spent a solid amount of time in the bathroom (or the last time it was solid). Wondering “how long can I go without shitting before I die” isn’t exactly what I want running through my head when I’m trying to look cute in travel pics. But it’s somewhat unavoidable, so let’s chat about it, shall we?

First of all, this is a completely natural occurrence.

In fact, it’s an evolutionary trait dating back to our hunter/gatherer days. When you’re a real nomad (not the cute, insta-famous ones), hunting for animals, you probably don’t want a predator tracking your scent during your journey. So as soon as your body recognizes that you’re in a new location, it shuts down all colon activity.

Cool, right?

Yeah, not so much when the bloating sets in after that lovely brunch spread.

Traveling is also stressful, and your tummy knows it.

Did you know that you have 100 million neurons in your gut? That’s more than in your spinal cord. So if you’re in a gross bathroom, stressed about missing your connecting flight, or overly exhausted from being in airports for 36 hours straight, your second brain in the gut is going to just say no.

Obviously, there are ways that you can keep on your merry loo schedule while you’re exploring.

A few tips (and reasons I failed – lesson learned):

Pre-Trip Prep

A few days before the trip, I normally start packing my diet with fiber. Kale salads for dinner, spinach smoothies for breakfast. Being on a super consistent schedule leading up to your trip gives your body routine, which will be easier to follow.

I failed at this. Packing up your apartment, quitting your job, and leaving for two months led me to some serious stress eating. Constipation – 1, Caroline – 0

 

Water, Water, Water

As soon as you head to the airport, drink a bottle. Through security? Drink a bottle. Just chug them as often as possible.

8-hour flight? Doomsday. They offer free wine on the plane, and I just couldn’t resist. Then I landed in Europe where water fountains are not a thing, and who wants to spend money on water bottles? Constipation – 2, Caroline – 0

 

Keep it Moving

Exercise. And this is where it gets tricky. Unless you’re able to maintain the same type of exercise as you’re used to, your body has to adjust. Yes, you may be walking 10+ miles a day when you’re exploring, but if you’re adapted to doing yoga every day, that’s a very different type of movement.

No, I’m not going to do yoga every day after wakeboarding and walking a marathon. Sorry. Constipation – 3, Caroline – 0

 

Diet

Fruits and veggies! And preferably fruits that have not been cooked into a jam, resting in the middle of strudel.

breakfast in bulgaria

avoid eating the whole plate of pastries

Ha. Ha. Ha. You think I’m not going to try every pastry on this side of the world? In my defense, the salad culture that I’m accustomed to isn’t quite as popular outside of NY. Sure, we’ll go with that. Constipation – 4, Caroline – 0

Fast forward to our second stop on the trip and I’m getting desperate. Panic poop mode, if you will. After chugging about 6 bottles of water, I start pulling out all the stops for things that are my go-to’s:

  1. Coffee: Ended up dehydrating me even more. Next.
  2. Soft Serve Ice Cream: Flickering memories of my childhood, but still nothing.
  3. Activia: If it works for Jamie Lee Curtis, why not me?
  4. Kale: Okay, you know it’s bad when Kale doesn’t work.

And right when I was about to order some Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears, I realized that I was past the point of no return and it was time to fold. My boyfriend and I started a 3-hour long venture to buy laxatives. Let me tell you, you know it’s love when a man asks the convenient store worker for laxatives in Hungarian after using google translate on every box in the store.

Travel Tip: Most laxatives can only be purchased in proper pharmacies, not your average Walgreens. But have no fear, either buy them and pack ahead of time or purchase there, you won’t need a prescription!

So here are my recommendations (to pack & and to buy in emergencies):

Metamucil (To pack)

A gift from the heavens! For those with potential to reach a desperate situation, but able to catch it early enough. The equivalent of 5 kale smoothies ready to hit your digestive system in the form of fiber pixie dust.

Pro Tip: Since it’s orange flavored, mix it with some Emergen-C to get the total travel package.

Metamucil Multi-Health Psyllium Fiber Supplement Sugar-Free Powder, Orange Flavored, 180 Servings Price: $25.44 Metamucil Multi-Health Psyllium Fiber Supplement Sugar-Free Powder, Orange Flavored, 180 Servings Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 11/27/2018

Colace (To pack)

This baby is technically a “stool-softener” but the sound of that title sends shivers to the insides of my colon. Let’s just say it loosens things up in a nice way without completely dehydrating you into a prune.

Pro-Pro Tip: Colace + Metamucil + Emergen-C Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . You. Will. Be. Invincible. Go climb Mt Everest.

Colace Regular Strength Stool Softener, 100 mg Capsules, 60 Count, Docusate Sodium Stool Softener for Gentle, Dependable Relief Price: $15.25 Colace Regular Strength Stool Softener, 100 mg Capsules, 60 Count, Docusate Sodium Stool Softener for Gentle, Dependable Relief Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 11/27/2018

Suppositories, Fleet or Equate (To buy or pack)

In short, these are not fun to talk about since they go in the opposite direction of how you want most bodily items to flow. But they work. I’ll let you decide how you feel about them. They aren’t for everyone.

Pro Tip:  I say that you can pack these, but I could easily see them not being the best to travel with. Google it. Proceed at your own risk.

Dulcolax (To buy, available in lots of countries)

For those of you with the desperation level of wishing a solid dose of food poisoning on yourself. The normal version says to take it before you go to bed and things will start rattling about 6-12 hours after you take it. Convenient. Have your morning coffee and take a seat, my friend. This puppy works.

Pro Tip: Drink SO SO SO much water after. Lax attacks pull all the water in your body to aid the process and leave you feeling like a raisin. So if you get a headache a few hours later, just chug.

Dulcolax Laxative Tablets, 100 Count, Gentle, Reliable Overnight Relief from Constipation, Hard, Dry, Painful Stools, and Irregular Bowel Movements, Stimulates Bowel to Encourage Movement Price: $13.57 Dulcolax Laxative Tablets, 100 Count, Gentle, Reliable Overnight Relief from Constipation, Hard, Dry, Painful Stools, and Irregular Bowel Movements, Stimulates Bowel to Encourage Movement Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 11/27/2018

To Sum It Up

That’s the shitty side of traveling. The moral of the story is that it’s bound to happen, so let’s not pretend that it doesn’t (even to those pretty little #wanderlustgirls). Here’s to many more trips where laxatives aren’t the necessary option for you, but if so, pack in preparation and cheers to flushing!