I Went on Vacation by Myself, and I Loved Every Moment of It


When I found out in 2019 that Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster were going to be in a Broadway musical together, I knew I HAD to travel to New York City to see it. I’ve been a fan of Hugh Jackman for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, I saw him make his Broadway debut in The Boy From Oz. I have followed Sutton Foster’s career since she exploded onto the scene as Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002, but have never had the chance to see her live. The thought of seeing both Hugh and Sutton live together thrilled me to no end. 

So, I found a girlfriend to go with me (because my husband is NOT a musical theatre person), and we planned out our trip. I bought tickets for the show (Music Man) as soon as they went on sale, and planned out the rest of the trip around that. The show was pushed back multiple times due to COVID and ended up with an opening date of February 2022. This worked out well for me because of having a four-day weekend off of work in February for President’s Day. 

January 2022 rolls around and I get sad news from my girlfriend that she is no longer able to go on the trip with me. I was disappointed but still planned to go myself. I asked a couple of other friends if they would be able to go, but unfortunately, due to the strict vaccination rules in NYC, neither of them could. But there was no way I was going to miss this trip. So I decided to go by myself.

I know what you’re thinking … NYC by yourself?! But, I’ve been to NYC before, and feel completely comfortable walking around and exploring the city on my own. I’ve used the subway system there, know how to hail a taxi, and can understand the grid of streets. I am a city girl at heart and had no fear of going on my own.

So, I went. And I had the most amazing time. 


Since I’ve been to NYC before, I chose not to hit up all the typical tourist spots. That’s not what I wanted to do this time around. And, since I was by myself, I could literally do whatever I wanted without having to worry about what someone else wanted to do. So, that’s exactly what I did. 

I walked all over Manhattan (and I do mean ALL over), exploring areas I had never been to before. One such place was Morningside Park, which is between the Upper Westside and Harlem. It’s a beautiful park, and I was glad I got to spend time there. I also visited the Lego store (on 5th Ave in Rockefeller Plaza), which was so much fun! I took a ton of pictures there to send to my boys. And, I bought them Lego’s, of course. 

I also had a couple of happy accidents. On my way somewhere else, I happened to look to my right and see a Stranger Things store. I immediately went inside. It was as if I was inside an episode of Stranger Things, and it was fantastic! I also discovered that across from the theater where Hamilton plays, there is a whole Hamilton store. Even though I didn’t see Hamilton that weekend, I made it a point to go into the store to see what they had. And, yes, I did buy a few goodies. How could I not?

Ever since I watched Bake Squad on Netflix last year, and discovered Christina Tosi, I’ve wanted to visit Milk Bar. Milk Bar is a bakery Tosi created and owns, and it is like none other. Christina’s thing is that she uses cereal milk as an ingredient in her baked goods. You know, the sweet milk left in your cereal bowl after you’ve indulged in your favorite sweet cereal. Now imagine that sweet goodness as the base of a cookie, or cake, or ice cream. That’s Milk Bar! It was so good that I actually hit up two different locations in NYC. 


While I had a lot of fun exploring NYC, the main reason I went was to see Broadway musicals. As I mentioned earlier, I centered my entire trip around seeing Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in The Music Man. And boy, was it fantastic! I literally sat on the edge of my seat the entire two and a half hours. I never sat back and relaxed because I was so enraptured. And, who wouldn’t be on the edge of their seat while watching Hugh Jackman? 

In addition to seeing Music Man, I also saw MJ the musical (a show about Michael Jackson that features his music), and Six (a pop concert type show about the six wives of Henry VIII). Each show was magical in its own way, and I loved them all. I also made it a point to go to the stage door after each show in order to meet some of the actors. I had the privilege of meeting the actor who played MJ, Tony Award winner Phillip Boykin, and Hugh Jackman. Yep! I met Hugh Jackman!! 

I was totally giddy and trying not to completely lose it.

Since I love reading, and created and host a podcast about books, I also decided to make this a bookish trip. I hit up some spots in Manhattan that are featured in one of my favorite books. I also visited The Drama Bookshop, where I happily spent lots of money on new play scripts. Lastly, I took a trip to the independent children’s book store Books of Wonder.

Books of Wonder is one of the best children’s books stores I’ve ever been to. Not only do they sell new books, but they have a wonderful collection of old and rare books, which includes many first editions. Books of Wonder also has authors who come in the store to sign pre-orders of books. In fact, the day I was there, author John Patrick Green (author of the InvestiGATORS series) was in the store signing. I had the chance to meet him, and purchase his new book, which he signed and personalized for my son. 


I rounded off my trip by taking a long stroll through Central Park, where I fell in love with the beautiful Alice in Wonderland statue there, as well as the gorgeous city skyline views. I also explored inside Rockefeller Plaza (inside the building), Greenwich Village, and took a nice leisurely stroll down 5th Avenue. 

All in all, it was a wonderful trip! While I was disappointed that my friend couldn’t join me, it was still a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable time. I was able to sleep in, do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, explore areas of the city I hadn’t been before, eat foods I hadn’t eaten before, and just take in the beauty of the city. It was a refreshing time and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

Have you ever taken a vacation by yourself? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Leah Stuhler
Leah grew up in Western New York, lived in Chicago for 11 years, and now resides in South Carolina. She's very happy for the change in weather! Leah is happily married, and is a proud boy mom. She is a full time Middle School Theatre teacher. When she's not spending time with her family or working, Leah enjoys baking and reading. She is the creator and host of the podcast YA Book Chat, where she and her guests have fun chatting about their favorite books. Leah loves being a part of the Columbia Mom team, both as a contributing writer and Editor.


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