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  • Kayla Brock

New York State of Mind

This was probably my third or fourth time in New York and it amazes me how every time my experience is completely different. New York is so limitless and I always I find new things to do and new places to explore. It was a trip of many firsts.


I usually travel somewhere for my birthday. It has been kind of a tradition I started since I was in college. I had it all planned…I would take days off from work since my birthday landed on a Saturday and I had originally planned on going home to Chicago. Except when I saw that a New York flight was actually cheaper. I decided to go there instead (sorry family).


I didn’t have an agenda, I just wanted to have fun and see some friends I hadn't seen in a few years. So there I was packing and hopping onto a flight to the east coast.

What made it even better is that my mom decided to come to New York as well and spend some time with me, which I will always remember.


Here’s what I got up to in New York:


The first night I landed, I saw there was an event for the brand Travel Noire, a black-owned travel company and also black travel community, held at the Angels of Harlem. It was a night to network and just meet fellow travelers. I basically spent the night chatting with random people and fighting off jetlag (shout out to my friend Ben for hanging with me lol).


The second day was my first full day in the city and I had a looooot planned. Now, when I travel I normally make a list of food spots that I want to visit so we started the morning at The Edge of Harlem. It was a cute space with a huge circular bar and a group of tables toward the back. It was honestly the best food I had during my trip. The restaurant fuses Jamaican, European and American food. I had their pancakes with rum infused whipped cream and it was heaven in my mouth.


Whenever I go to New York it really isn’t a vacation because I’m out and about from morning until evening and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I ended the night before my birthday at a bar in Midtown counting down the minutes until I was 24 and I loved how simple it was. When I got to my hotel my mom even had a birthday banner and balloons around the room and it's small things like that where I appreciate my mom so much.


The morning of my birthday, my family and I went to Sweet Chick (they also have locations in LA) for their famous chicken and waffles and then spent the day shopping.

Later that day, my mom got us tickets to take an hour boat cruise on the Hudson River. It was my first time on the river and it was also my first time seeing the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. If you ever want cheap tickets to go on this cruise, check Groupon first!


That evening I had saved this one restaurant, especially for my birthday. The restaurant was in Koreatown called bb.q Olive Chicken and they have this dish called Bulgogi Poutine and if you know me then you know I looooovveee Bulgogi beef. It’s my favorite to have with any Korean dish. This dish was made with French fries, bulgogi ribeye, kimchi, four different kinds of cheese and a sunny side up egg and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted! It is also huge and basically a full meal.


During my time in New York, I got invited to show my artwork at a bar in Brooklyn called Freehold that was having an art show so I spent a lot of my time trying to figure out what I wanted to show off and a place that would print it super last minute. It felt really surreal as I never really thought about showing my work other than on Instagram and my website and it just all felt so new to me.


It was also my first time in Brooklyn…Manhattan I knew pretty well so it was cool to experience the other side of it. My friend took me to North 5th Street Pier and Park and I would recommend this to EVERYONE! You get a view of the entire island of Manhattan and it is so gorgeous. It makes you see how big the city really is. We also went during sunset and to see the light of the sun reflect off these huge buildings is so pretty to see.


My last day in New York was spent with my mom as we went to see the taping of the View and Trevor Noah. It was a long day of waiting and sitting around but it was cool to be in the audience of a live taping as someone who works in broadcasting. I got a glimpse of how a bigger network operates. My mom also surprised me with a massage so she’s the real MVP.


Now, what’s the best way to end the night in the city?? The answer…pizza! We got slices at Joe's Pizza which is a famous pizza place near Times Square that was opened in 1975 and their slices were soooo good especially their spinach slice they had that day.





There are so many other things I did but those were just the highlights. Some honorable food mentions, however, was a Filipino place in Greenwich called Flip Sigis and a Hawaiian poke place called Poketeria.




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