The main reason for our weekend trip to New York City was to see Swan Lake at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, but visits to National Parks in New York City rounded out our weekend trip plans. Though it was not planned, the Swan Lake tickets that best fit our schedule happened to fall on Valentine’s Day weekend!

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Let’s dive into all the fun National Parks we visited and the restaurants where we ate!

Castle Clinton National Monument | National Parks in New York

After a slow wake-up and some hotel breakfast for me, the first visit of the day was to a National Park: Castle Clinton National Monument. Though we would have loved to buy tickets for the Statue of Liberty, we figured there would be long lines and wait times since it was Valentine’s Day weekend; we were right!

Still, Castle Clinton was still an amazing National Park to visit during our New York City weekend trip. Though it was quite cold and windy, the weather meant we had some great sights from the point!

Yasmin at Castle Clinton.

It was very interesting to read about the history and transformation of Castle Clinton. Did you know that the Castle Clinton space has gone from an entertainment space to an immigrant processing space to an aquarium?!

A lot has happened at this National Park and it was amazing to look around and try to imagine all the events that had been hosted there and all the changes that have since occurred.

I also caught this pigeon having a fun sunbathing time. I swear it started modeling/posing for the camera at one point. I have way too many pictures of this pigeon on my camera!

P.S. Want to know more about the photography gear I took with me?
Visit my resources page!

African Burial Ground National Monument | National Parks in New York

After Castle Clinton, we headed to what has to be my favorite National Park site we’ve visited so far, the African Burial Ground National Monument. It’s such a well-done National Park!!! I can’t even express how overwhelming (in a good way) it was to learn about all the things they found during the excavation for a new building, and then all the new scholarship and civic engagement that came about because of this rediscovery!

The following pictures show my favorite part of the space. I truly wish I could transport you to the space because the pictures do not do this exhibit justice. The figures are beautifully depicted, with so much emotion and detail that I thought they were actors standing still at first glance.

Though you can’t truly see it below, the exhibit “extends” beyond the main group of people through the use of pictures and artwork to really create the environment and moment that these people were going through. It was the first time I’ve seen this type of set-up and it was spectacular to see.

Picture of the African Burial Ground National Monument Wax figures, with a mom and child in the center and further from the camera, with two adult men with heads to the back of the camera and closer to the camera. National Parks in New York City - New York Weekend Trip Travel Guide
Picture of the African Burial Ground National Monument Wax figures, with a mom and child in the center and further from the camera, with two adult men with heads to the back of the camera and closer to the camera. National Parks in New York City - New York Weekend Trip Travel Guide

Related: Check out more posts about National Parks here!

If you want to see more pictures of the exhibits at the National Park, then be sure to visit the African Burial Ground National Monument website!

As always, we brought our National Parks Passport book with us to get the cancellation (stamp) in our book! You can see Kyle adding the cancellation (stamp) to our book below. It’s been one of our favorite things to do together!

Hand is stamping into a National Park Passport Book in front of a Passport Stamp Station

Get your Passport Book to track your National Park visits and collect stickers during your travels!

Buy the Passport Book

Buy the Extender Pack

P.S. I would recommend you go ahead and get the extender pack while you’re purchasing the National Parks Passport Book. You’ll need it soon enough since parks are getting added every so often.

Swan Lake Ballet Performance at the Lincoln Center

After getting our stamp for the African Burial Ground National Monument, we headed toward the Lincoln Center. We arrived *just* in time for the Swan Lake performance. I’m pretty sure it was my first ballet performance and it was amazing!

My favorite part has to be the absolute dead silence on stage…except for the shoes! There was music coming out of the orchestra pit throughout the performance but to only hear the shoes as the ballerinas move across the stage?! Stunning.

Seats and stage view of the Lincoln Center for the Swan Lake ballet performance - Visiting National Parks in New York - Weekend trip to New York City | Sincerely Yasmin
Lincoln Center lobby featuring artwork of the staff at the Lincoln Center - Visiting National Parks in New York - Weekend trip to New York City | Sincerely Yasmin

I was also so happy that the timing of our New York City weekend trip coincided with the art show about all of the behind-the-scenes people that bring the ballet shows to life.

I’d read an article by The Cut about the art show long before we thought about planning a weekend trip to New York City so when Kyle told me the trip was happening, I looked for the article again to see if the art show would still be up…and it was!

Yasmin standing in the Lincoln Center lobby with people behind her - Weekend Trip to New York City | Sincerely Yasmin

The show was well-presented and I could’ve stayed there for hours reading all of the different stories about the staff and instructors. I had never realized quite how many people are involved in the making of a ballet show, from recruitment to training to lights to health and safety to construction and maintenance. So many people are constantly working together to make sure the show flows as flawlessly as possible and it was great to see the artwork reflect all the participants involved.

Gregory’s Coffee Shop

After the Swan Lake performance, Kyle took me around some of the nearby neighborhoods so I would have some location reference points of the places and neighborhoods people talk about in all of the New York City movies I like to watch.

Soon, we were both getting hungry but it wasn’t yet time for our dinner reservation so we decided to kill some time at Gregory’s Coffee Shop. The person who wrote on our cups had some amazing handwriting skills!

And then…all of a sudden…it was dinner time! Thank goodness because I was so hungry by that point. I think the wait was worth it though because the food was scrumptious.

GupShup Restaurant in New York City

We made reservations at GupShup for our fancy Valentine’s Day dinner. The location was beautiful, the food tasted heavenly, and we will most definitely be back, with or without a special occasion!

All of the plates were equally yummy but the crispy eggplant chips with hummus are my new favorite appetizer! I highly recommend visiting GupShup if you’re in the area because the food and atmosphere were unbelievable.

Honestly, I could’ve just eaten all their naan bread and chutney as my dinner because they were both so delicious! Thankfully, I held myself back (a bit) and left some space for the actual dinner.

One of my favorite parts of the restaurant was the painting that was right behind Kyle. It was this traditional-looking painting that had been redone with over-the-top modern touches.

Related: More food and restaurant posts this way!

Visiting the Charging Bull during our weekend trip to New York City

Our bellies were stuffed with yummy food and we were feeling the sleepiness coming over us but we had to make a quick stop at a tourist spot I hadn’t yet visited: the Charging Bull!

We went late at night so there were absolutely zero crowds to deal with. It was honestly a quick stop since there wasn’t much else to look at. The buildings around the Charging Bull were gorgeous though!

Insomnia Cookies

I had made Kyle promise to stop by the Insomnia Cookies location that was literally *around the corner* from our hotel. So that’s where we headed after visiting the Charging Bull.

If you haven’t heard about Insomnia Cookies before, it’s a business that was created in 2003 with the idea of serving late-night college students. They deliver cookies until 3 AM!

When Kyle and I were in a long-distance relationship, I ordered him some Insomnia Cookies (and they were warm when delivered!) but I had never had a chance to try them before. So when I saw there was one near us during our weekend trip to New York City, I knew we had to stop by and get a few!

New York City has always been a place I’ve wanted to visit. Let’s be honest, I’ve always wanted to live there but that’s not quite in the cards right now so visiting is the second-best option!

This weekend trip to New York City was such a fun time! From attending my first ballet performance to visiting all the National Parks and getting the stamps in our National Parks Passport Book, it was a very well-rounded weekend trip to New York City.

I have one more day from our New York City weekend trip to share, but I’m already thinking about another excuse to visit New York again!

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Swan Lake Performance during Our Weekend Trip to New York City.

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