As I mentioned on Tuesday, Dave and I ended 2015 and kicked off 2016 with quite a bit of excitement: a two-week, 2018-mile road trip (how great would it have been if it was exactly 2016? Oh well :)) through nine states. It was so much fun! We’re both blessed to be able to work from home and have a bit of time off during the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, so we took advantage of it by spending the majority of the time with his family in upstate New York. We had toyed around with the idea of driving instead of flying, and when we decided that our Christmas gift to one another would be a day trip in New York City, we knew it was the way to go. Even better, we then received an invitation to a friend’s wedding just outside of Pittsburgh, and the timing lined up perfectly with our drive home! Partially for my own memories and partially because I’m super nosey about other people’s travels, I’d love to share a few photos from our winter trip today :)
Stop #1: New York City
We only had about 24 hours in NYC, but it was the perfect day trip, and a great way to break up the drive to Syracuse. We hit the road around 5 A.M. on Saturday morning, and arrived a little past lunch time, so we beelined to Shake Shack, which is possibly Dave’s favorite place in the world to eat. We ate Shake Shack in the airport the day after our wedding, so it feels a little sentimental, too :) After lunch, we grabbed coffee at the cutest place I’d been stalking on Instagram, Maman NYC–stay tuned for photos coming soon! We then walked around the Bryant Park Christmas Market a little bit before heading to the vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Dave went to grad school in NYC and used to stop at St. Patrick’s to pray every morning before class, so it’s an incredibly special place to him (he was even planning to propose there, but then I guessed it–whoops!). He hadn’t seen it since the renovations were completed, so it was a treat. After Mass, we did a lap around Saks to check out the Christmas decorations, and then headed to dinner at The Smith in Midtown. It came highly recommended by a handful of bloggers (Mackenzie, Carly, and Victoria), and though the brussels sprouts didn’t quite live up to the hype, in my opinion, it was a cozy spot that was just what we were looking for on such a cold night. I had the chicken pot pie and loved it, and Dave had cavatelli pasta with short rib ragu. We’re in a Moscow Mule phase, so we enjoyed a few of those as well :)
Sunday started early because I wanted plenty of time for a leisurely brunch at Lafayette! I read about it here and couldn’t wait to try their lemon pancakes. So good! We took our time chatting over coffee and breakfast, and then taxied over to Chelsea to walk around. Aimless wandering is my favorite thing to do in NYC, and on such a pretty day, it was so good to be outside, especially before getting back in the car for road trip #2!
Stop #2: Syracuse
It was such a joy to spend almost two whole weeks with Dave’s family! I was a little nervous about my first Christmas away from home, but I kept thinking about how lucky I am that I truly adore my in-laws–it would’ve been so much harder if we didn’t get along! A few highlights from our time in Dave’s hometown: homemade dinners by my mother-in-law, lots of snuggle time (and a Frozen movie night) with my cutie pie nieces, the best jelly doughnuts in the world, time with Dave’s siblings and their spouses (who are all so much fun!), midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, a sweet first married Christmas morning, my first Syracuse basketball game, and meals at two of our favorite Syracuse restaurants: Kitty Hoynes and Pastabilities.
Stop #3: Pittsburgh and Steubenville
After driving through a scary lake effect snowstorm, we made it safely to Pittsburgh. I shared a little bit about this on Instagram here, but I spent my junior year of college in Pittsburgh, and it was a really difficult year. The memories of my time there stung for a few years, but I’m truly thankful that now, I can see all the ways God was working in my life at that time, which makes the city really special. It was wonderful to be there for the first time since I moved away, this time, with my husband by my side! Our first night there, we had a fantastic dinner at Smoke BBQ Taqueria, as recommended by my sister, who went to the University of Pittsburgh for undergrad. She’s a foodie, so I knew it would be good, and goodness, was it ever! Whoever thought to serve tacos and macaroni and cheese at the same meal is alright by me :) On Saturday morning, we grabbed a big breakfast at Pamela’s, a Pittsburgh icon, and one of my favorite places from when I lived there. The chocolate chip banana hotcakes are decadent, but so worth it! We spent the rest of Saturday in nearby Steubenville, Ohio, where one of Dave’s good friends from college was getting married. Christen was a beautiful bride, as you can see above, and it was so sweet to spend time with some of Dave’s college friends who I don’t know very well. Between the ceremony and the reception, we had the chance to stop by Franciscan University, where I spent my first two years of college and Dave went for all of undergrad. It was so cool being there together because we have totally separate memories of the campus. It’s crazy to think of how many times we must have crossed paths at that tiny school with no idea that we were walking right by our future spouse!
And that was it! On Sunday afternoon, we hit the road back to Raleigh and had a beautiful drive through the mountains–how cool is this bridge in West Virginia? We saw signs for “scenic views” and Dave pulled over so we could check it out. I’m so glad he did!
How did you spend the holidays? I’d love to hear your highlights!
You certainly did the food right, my friend – Shake Shack, chicken pot pie, chocolate chip banana pancakes (my favorite!), AND mac + tacos! Wish I had been in your pocket!
If I might elaborate, the pancakes are more like thick crepes that are cooked in waaay too much butter, so the edges are super crispy! If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, they’re a must–you would love them! :)
I also love reading all about trips + itineraries, and I’m so glad you shared!! NYC at the holidays is magical, for sure! I was there at Thanksgiving for a week, and I love how the entire city is so festive and Christmas-y! We did many of the same things that you + Dave did (Bryant Park, St. Patrick’s, Chelsea, window shopping, Shake Shack), and I’m already taking notes for my next trip up there. My sister + brother in law, as well as the guy I’m dating, live in NYC, so I tend to get there fairly often!! ABC Kitchen, The Penrose, Tipsy Parson, and Palma are some other faves of mine.
Couldn’t agree more! I’ve never heard of The Penrose, so I’m adding that to my list for my next trip–and I’ll be keeping an eye out for your NYC itineraries too!
A day trip in NYC sounds so fun! One time my family and I drove from South Carolina all the way to Wisconsin for a wedding, it’s one of my favorite memories from my teenage years! This holiday, since most of my family lives in SC, we all drove up the road to my Uncle’s house and had a big, Ugly Christmas Sweater themed dinner!
That sounds amazing! What a fun theme for a family dinner!
I haven’t been to NYC during Christmastime since middle school. I’m thinking I’ll need to add it to the list. Looks like a wonderful trip! I love all the pictures! Those Kirk nieces are the cutest and Christen’s wedding looked beautiful.
You should, it was so much fun! :) P.S. We picked up some Dryel as soon as we got back–can’t wait to try it!
I am pretty sure I started the mac & cheese with tacos combination :)
I always made the mac & cheese for Kristen because she didn’t like tacos.
So happy you had such a good trip! We are looking forward to next year!!
I forgot about that–too funny! Excited for next year too! :) :)
This really looks like you had a wonderful Christmas break. How amazing that you got to fit so many fun things into just two weeks!
I got a three week break from school and split my time off between my parents home in the South of Germany and Berlin. Christmas with my family was great and NYE with friends in Berlin was simply amazing. I actually celebrated with friends from Raleigh, NC ;-)
How fun! Hope you’re getting settled well into your new semester schedule!
So much FOOD! Good food. I would love to sample every single thing you wrote about above my friend :) P.S. You and Dave are the sweetest together!
:) You’re so sweet! Thank you!
What fun! We missed you though :(