I’ve had the privilege of visiting this amazing city twice now and every time I come back with a deeper desire to go again for longer and longer each time. When I was younger I always dreamed of living in New York and having a fancy job at a magazine, hailing down cabs like a pro to take me to my fabulous meetings and lunches and generally being fab. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but I suppose there’s still time yet…
My first visit was in 2010 on a family holiday and again when I was travelling in 2014. Both experiences were completely different; the first with my family in a fancy Hilton on Lexington and the second with Laura and Leigh, skint and staying in a hostel in Brooklyn surviving on free donuts and Dominoes. All in all I’ve spent about a week in the city and still haven’t seen everything – seriously, how is it so busy and so manic? Some of my tourist favourites are Lady Liberty (of course – she’s my gal), Top of the Rock and Grand Central station. Special shout out to Brooklyn too. Brooklyn reminds me of Karl Pilkington (bet you didn’t expect that), as he once said ‘Why would you want to stay in the wonder, when you can stay across from it and look at it?’ Manhattan skyline is one of the best in the world, why would you not want to take every opportunity to stare at it?
New York City is not to be missed. No way. It’s actually not as expensive as you would think – but by no means am I saying it’s a cheap trip. From England you can get flights for around £500 and sometimes you can get a deal (on places like Expedia) where you get flights and hotel accommodation for around £700/800. Luckily for us English changing your pounds into dollars is like you’re making money! (If you’re American then sorry, you lose out). For your lonely old pound you get $1.50, so less spending money needed. Like any place – if you want to go you’ll make it work with whatever budget you have.
Okay, down to the nitty gritty… how to maximise whatever time you have in this endless city! So you can’t do it all, we know that. But what’s not to miss and what is missable? (Forgive me spell check I know that is not a real word).
Things to make sure to do:
Of course there are the obvious choices…
- Visiting Tiffany’s on 5th – which was actually a little underwhelming as you would think inside it would be more grand, but on closer inspection it is just perfect.
- Speaking of 5th avenue, the road itself is a sight in itself. I got excited just seeing the road sign (told you I was NYC obsessed).
- Central Park – it boggles my mind that this amazing, huge park is in the middle of the busiest Cities in the world. But it is like a little slice of heaven. It may well take you all day to walk from one side to the other, but it is so jammed packed and vibrant it’s not to be missed out on.
- Statue of Liberty – an absolute must see! Travel to the very tip of the island to Battery Park to see Lady Liberty but it’s best to get the best up close and personal! Do the boat tour which takes you over to the island she stands upon, complete with a headset tour, which is really interesting (I would of course say that, but other non fans have said the same).
- 9/11 memorial – a must see for obvious reasons. The memorial itself is beautiful and profound but is nothing compared to the emotion attached with this place. I didn’t do it, but you can go on guided tours with people who were involved closely with 9/1 and see it from their point of view. I’m not sure how you do it, but it’s definitely worth a Google – I wish I knew of it.
- Grand Central Terminal – for me, this is as iconic as the Empire State or a NY hot dog from a vendor. Unlike the rest of America the station has history and I do love me some history. It was built in the 1870’s and you could spend all day walking round looking at the secrets and iconic favourites of the station. My favourite is the ceiling (too beautiful and intricate for a station!), the whispering walls and Shake Shack underneath the concourse. Just because it’s Shake Shack. Look up some interesting facts before you go it makes it much more interesting! For example did you know the in the northwest corner, you’ll see a little square black patch. That was the colour all the way across the ceiling before it was restores in the 1990’s. If you’re wondering what the horrible patch is, it’s the result of decades of smoking in the terminal. Yep! It’s tobacco and nicotine residue and just shows how massive the restoration was.
Now for the not so obvious…
- Visit Magnolia Bakery and have your own Sex and the City moment (there’s quite a few of these around the City, but my favourite is the one near Rockefeller). The brownie is an absolute treat.
- Toms – now this is a trek if your in Manhattan but if you’re around the area in Brooklyn (782 Washington Avenue) make sure you make a trip! It’s exactly what you would expect of a New York diner/restaurant – pancakes (with 3 different types of butter OMG), eggs and bagels in abundance. Perfection.
- China Town and Little Itlay – maybe these were your top things to see, but if you hadn’t thought of a stroll around these 2 neighbourhoods – do it! There are quite a few China Towns in America, and a couple of others I have visited (DC and San Fran) but NY’s is as good if not better. And if you’re up for some pasta, make sure you stop in Little Itlay. Duh.
Things to not worry about missing out on?
- Strawberry Fields – it’s a beautiful tribute, but to be honest for the amount of people shoving and fighting you have to do to actually get to see it – it is just a mosaic on the floor.
- Wall Street Bull – if you get to see it, then great. But I wouldn’t be making out a special route to go see it.
And even these aren’t exactly awful sights – they’re still great as they’re in the best city on Earth. Well, to me.