A few weeks ago, I took Offner for a weekend birthday trip to Williamsburg. Though we’ve both been going to NYC quite a bit lately, we tried checking out a bunch of new places on this trip.
We flew with Porter Airlines, which is always the most convenient when coming from downtown Toronto. There is never a line up at customs when you arrive in Newark and it’s conveniently located by a train station that brings you directly to Penn Station. For $13, you can get from the airport to downtown NYC using the free terminal airlink train and NJ Transit. The train comes every 15 minutes and even more often if traveling during rush hour. It’s only a three-stop ride. By using the train, you will avoid all traffic and paying tolls to get into the city.
From Penn Station, we took the J train all the way to Williamsburg where we were staying for this trip. I had rented a cosy little apartment on South 8th Street through airbnb. Not only was the place super well located, the apartment was very affordable, more than any hotel we could have gotten in the area. So far, I’ve only had really positive experiences with airbnb and it’s really changed the way I travel. Though we didn’t make use of it on this trip, having a kitchen or even a patio is always fun when you’re staying somewhere for a longer period of time!
We spent lot’s of time walking around Williamsburg during the weekend. Here are a few of our discoveries:
– East River Ferry: this is a super fun way to get from Williamsburg to Manhattan. The ferry comes approximately each half an hour and can take you to midtown or downtown. Not only is it pretty quick, it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful skyline and sights of Manhattan, Williamsburg bridge, Brooklyn, etc. A one-way ticket is $4 and a day pass is $12.
– Free outdoor shows: while strolling around Williamsburg, we found a super huge outdoor stage right by the water and at the Williamsburg park. Though the concert series is over for the rest of the year, there’s no doubt that it will be back next spring. So many amazing acts were playing this year including: The Shins, Odd Future, New Order, HIM & a ton more! This wasn’t the only free show going on that weekend, there was also a free metal and beer festival happening by the waterfront and a Noisey/VICE Bonfire Session show.
– Kristophe: on Saturday morning we were looking for a place to have brunch and like we sometimes do, we walked around to find a spot that looked cool. We found Kristophe, which had a super neat interior – looked like an old wine cave and a very cute back patio. Being out there, you couldn’t imagine that you’re just a few minutes from Manhattan because it was so quiet and luscious. They started by offering us a complimentary mimosa glass. They had a varied menu with gluten free and vegetarian options. I opted for one of their crepes that was filled with fresh market cheese and homemade jam. The atmosphere was quaint and the food was super filling. The perfect way to start the day!
– Williamsburg Antique Mall: we found this great antique flea shop in what looked like an old garage while on our morning stroll. Though the place is a total mess, they had so many neat vintage pieces. We brought back two American collector jars at $3 a pop – one with Apollo 14 (as a kid, i met Edgar Mitchell, one of the astronauts on Apollo 14!) and the other of John F Kennedy.
– Patrizia’s Pizza & Pasta: for our last meal of the weekend, we found a family-run Italian restaurant that served the biggest pasta and pizza plates I’ve ever seen. The restaurant was loud and festive, packed with families, just as you’d imagine a family dinner at your nona’s house would be. The thing that stood out from the restaurant was that everyone seemed to be having the best time! I opted for a house salad and homemade pizza and Offner got some shrimp. The food was very comforting and tasty.
We also spent some time in Manhattan. We went to visit his cousin at Spin, the ultra-hip ping pong club located on East 23rd Street, a club that is partly owned by Susan Sarandon. As expected the place was packed and they were holding their usual Friday night tournaments, which are always fun to watch.
Though we didn’t have nearly as much time as we wanted to walk around everywhere, here are some of our favorite things from the island:
– Gallow Green: I took Offner there as part of his gift for his birthday. I chose the spot because it was rated the most romantic restaurant in the city. The restaurant is located on the beautiful McKittrick Hotel rooftop on the west side. The rooftop is decorated with many plants, flowers, flag and little lights. All the staff is dressed as if they’re working on farms back in the day. The night we went, they also had a jazz band playing. We got there a little early so we took at custom drink at the bar. The bar menu was really delicious and original. We then were given a table right in front of the jazz band. The menu consisted in a whole bunch of fresh, organic and delectable plates to share. I opted for a cheese platter, marinated vegetables and a quiche while Offner had a plate of different meats. The food was absolute perfection and surprisingly not as costly as I had imagined.
– The Highline: We walked on the Highline to get to Gallow Green. It was my first time taking a walk on this beautiful structure. What a great idea to put a passageway above the city and fill it with plants and trees. I loved the architecture of it, the idea of putting benches and grass around everywhere. The view of the city was spectacular! Though we only did it at night, I’m sure the view is just as fascinating during the day.
– VEDA: They’re a really small boutique company from New York City that make all sorts of rad leather products. They recently collaborated with Pamela Love on a series of colorful and unique leather jackets. They also have some of the best leather pants. VEDA just opened up their first shop on Mercer St. in Soho. Their shop is small but super quaint.
– Modern Vice: the first day we got to NYC, we stopped by the Modern Vice factory to meet the brand’s founder Jordan and his girlfriend, blogger/model Natalie Suarez (check out her super cool fashion blog here) and to also get a pair of Modern Vice’s dreamy boots. They graciously took the time to show us around their factory. So impressive to see everyone working so hard, making handmade boots. I had never really seen that before. The phone kept ringing every few seconds but Jordan and Natalie made sure we were well taken care of! So excited to have gotten a pair of Camo Jetts. Can’t wait to receive them!!
–Apotheke: Located in a small nook in Chinatown, this super trendy basement bar definitely has the coolest concept. Apparently the place used to be an old pharmacy so they retained that concept and serve “prescriptions” instead of drinks while wearing white lab coats. All of their “prescriptions” are made from local, organic produce picked from local markets or straight from their rooftop herb garden. Their drink menu is perfection! Every drink was so creative and uber tasty! (photo credit: Apotheke’s website)
We had a super early flight back at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. If it hadn’t been so early we would have opted for the train route but we decided to see how long it would take by cab. The disadvantage of staying in Williamsburg and flying out of Newark is that it is far. A closer airport would have definitely been LaGuardia but because everything else is so convenient when flying with Porter, we still thought it was worth it in end. The money we saved by not taking a cab to and from Pearson Airport, we were able to get a cab from Williamsburg at 4am. Note that the cab ride from Williamsburg to EWR should cost you around $72 US. I recommend calling in advance and making sure you have a fixed price and calling a Williamsburg-based cab company. The cab drivers also prefer cash.
Another fun weekend getaway in the books! We’re thinking of doing a museum-themed weekend next time we go. There are just so many different museums to see and we always get caught up in other things so we never actually make the time to go. Can’t wait to go back! 🙂