In February my sister and I traveled to New York City as Reading Week adventure. We did a lot of planning so that we could maximize our 3 days and because of our shared love of makeup, much of what we did was beauty-focused. I’m a big believer that travelling should be customized and I’m just not into touristy stuff, so on this trip (I know we’ll go back) we didn’t do much of the traditional tourist stuff.
As I’ve mentioned before, I live in Ontario Canada, so NYC is a bit of a trek. We wanted to save our money for shopping and activities so we decided to travel through Mega Bus. Mega buses are double decker coach style buses where the tickets start at $1. How this works is that the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets are. We didn’t get the $1 tickets, but I thought the cost was still reasonable. On the way there we sat upstairs and it definitely was not roomy by any means. From what we had seen, we figured there would be overhead compartments so we opted not to check our bags. On the way there and on the way back there were no compartments, so with my bag at my feet for the way there it was definitely a tight squeeze. Bearable, but tight. On the way back, there was a spot behind us to set our bags, so that was a little better, but we also sat across from 2 stranger so our personal bubbles were a tad stifled. We travelled both times at night, so I did sleep through some of the trip. I mean you’re not going to get 5 star sleep upright on a bus, but all things considered it was manageable. In all, including stops and crossing the Canada-USA border, the trip took about 12 hours from Toronto.
I would definitely consider taking Mega Bus again, it was clean and fairly organized, but next time I would make sure to purchase the tickets as early as possible and purchase an extra seat for a little extra room. The tickets are cheap enough that you can do this and it’s still affordable.
The hotel was another area that we were able to do extremely economically. My sister had Air Miles points to use so we put those towards the hotel and ended up paying $43 CAD for 2 nights, which is crazy. Now before you’re thinking, well what hole did they stay in? I’ll backtrack a little. We knew it would be insanely expensive to stay right in Manhattan, so we researched and decided to stay in Long Island City. We stayed at the Best Western Plaza, which although nothing fancy, was clean and had extremely friendly staff. This hotel is less than 5 minutes from a subway station that takes you directly into Manhattan (the F Train if you’re wondering).
Now that I’ve mentioned the subway, I’ll talk about how we got around. We had initially planned to use a mix of the subway and taxis, but ended up taking the subway for the whole trip. I highly recommend having access or a GPS or something because finding the subway stations that would take us where we needed to go, was definitely stressful. In Toronto you can pretty much go into any stop and eventually get to where you need to go, but in New York the stations are much more specific. We were able to purchase a Metro Card and travel for around $30 each.
Beauty Related Activities
Sephora Times Square
Definitely an amazing Sephora. If you don’t have access to Sephora regularly, this will be heaven for you. I didn’t buy much here because the dollar is terrible and most I could get at home but it was still impressive. Times Square overall is impressive. I have never been somewhere so lit up with artificial lights and screens before, it was definitely a must-see.
Bite Beauty Lip Lab
Prior to leaving for our trip, I was looking up NYC vlogs on Youtube (as you do) and discovered that Bite Beauty has a lip lab in Soho. As soon as I saw this, I knew we had to go. Basically, they have artists on hand and they help you develop a custom lipstick. Generally you book by appointment online, but they didn’t have any when I was looking. I called them and they told me that they leave room for drop ins so that’s what we did. We got there for around the time they open and they were able to take us right away. The artists were super kind, patient and helpful. We had an idea of what we wanted ahead of time and they brought our ideas to life. In terms of pricing, 1 custom lipstick is $45 or 2 (of the same shade) for $60. My sister and I each purchased 2 of our custom shade and then we just shared them, so we each got both of the shades we created. That seems expensive, but you’re paying for an experience. You get to not only develop the shade, but the finish, the scent and choose the shape of the cap. You give the artists an idea of the shade you’re looking for and they mix bases to develop options for you.
The base colours they use to mix custom shades
Samples of the scents/flavours you have to choose from
I asked for a pinky-brown shade and the artist created an option for me, which I liked but I wanted it to be more matte. She then made the same shade but with no finish and it was perfect. We wanted shades that were wearable so we both picked shades that we knew would wear often.
My sister asked for a pinky coral shade and also went with their most matte finish.
After you decide on a shade then they melt down the mixture and mold it for you. Once it’s cooled, they place it into the bullet and you have a custom lipstick. Pretty cool, right? They also sent us home with a card that had our formula/mix on it so if we wanted a second of either shade we could have it made in the future.
We also went to the MUFE freestanding store and the Macy’s impulse section (Herald Square) both of which I highly recommend.
The other thing we agreed that we wanted to do during our trip is eat. I really believe that that’s how you get to know a city and I really wanted to get to know NYC haha.
One thing that was on our list from the beginning was Black Tap. I’m sure basically everyone has seen those crazy milkshakes on Buzzfeed and from it taking over the internet back in January. We were definitely curious if these were worth the hype, so we decided to try it for ourselves. This turned out to be an all day affair, which we were not anticipating. I definitely wasn’t thinking that we weren’t going to wait- trust me I knew we were, but we waited way longer than either my sister or I planned for. 4 hours to be exact. We got there less than half an hour after they opened and that’s how long it took. Pretty insane. The Soho location has only 16 seats (all bar seating and standing) so that’s why it takes so long. We had a party of 5 in front of us in line so we had to wait until they made room for them, which prolonged the wait significantly. I’ll admit I wasn’t terribly impressed with how the restaurant handled the line. They didn’t really acknowledge how long people were waiting or have anyone to control the line. I could deal with that, but when they let a woman in who didn’t wait in any line, I was pretty mad. If you’re asking people to wait that long to eat, then anyone who wants to should be treated the same.
When we finally got in there, it was definitely a tight squeeze (a theme of New York, I’ve discovered). I ordered the Texan Burger and onion rings, which were both excellent but not worth a 4 hour wait.
Now for the star of the show: those milkshakes.
These were definitely the star of the show. These are definitely awesome, but maybe a 2 hour wait max, not 4. I got the sweet and salty, which was a peanut butter milkshake with m&ms and a pretzel rod. It was something I checked off my bucket list and I’m glad I did. They do have some more unique specialty flavours that you can call ahead for and next time I would definitely do that to try something different. This was massive and I didn’t finish nearly all of it, so I would suggest sharing.
Clinton Street Baking Company
On the last day we hit up the lower east side for brunch. My sister was recommended to go to this place from a friend of hers and I am so glad we went. This place is so freaking adorable and has amazing food. One huge bonus is that they use the NoWait app, so you can ‘check in’ in advance of your meal and it will call you when your table is ready and estimate the wait time. Definitely way better than waiting 4 hours+. I got the chicken and waffles, which was so freaking good. It came with maple butter, which was basically heavenly. My sister got chocolate chip pancakes also with maple butter and those looked amazing as well.
Note this place is cash only during the day if you’re heading there for breakfast, brunch or lunch.
There are some of the highlights of our first trip to NYC. I definitely want to go back and get to know more of the city. I fell in love with Soho and I just want endless time to explore that area.
Leave me a comment below about where you visited last and if you incorporate beauty into your travels!
Bye for now!