New York City is separated into several different areas, each with their own unique atmosphere and culture.
How long to go for
I could honestly spend weeks in New York without getting bored. I guess it is fairly similar to where I live now in London. I think you’ll always find something new and cool to do! But realistically if you want to see all the “must see” sights and a few hidden gems I would go for at least four days. If you don’t want to rush then I would suggest that five or six days would be even better. I can promise you, you will not get bored of New York City!Another quick thing worth pointing out: If you have even more time to spend, then venture out of the City and spend some time in New York state! There is even more to do here, and some beautiful scenery to take in - unfortunately I did not have the time in this trip.
How to get around
Subway: the cheapest way to get around in New York City is the subway. A single ride costs you $2.75. Depending on how long you’re staying and if you’re planning to use the Subway a lot you might want to buy a weekly unlimited MetroCard, the cost is around $33.Comparable to London (although not during my trip) I believe they even accept contactless payment now too, making it even easier to hop on board!
Uber/Cab: Uber is definitely the cheaper option compared to New York cabs. If you have a lot of luggage when travelling from or to the airport I can recommend taking an Uber as the Subway can get very crowded especially during rush hour.
The good thing about New York is that a lot of the typical “must see” sights are within walking distance to each other. It’s always great to walk through the streets as you can find a lot of hidden gems in this beautiful city!
What to see
As I said, there is so much to see and do in NYC, that I could not possibly fit it in to one article, so here are just a handful of ideas to get you started, especially if it is your first time in the “big apple”
The Statue of Liberty - Of course this has to be on the list as a must see location. Yes it is touristy, yes we’ve all seen it before, but there is nothing like the majesty of Lady Liberty in person. To get to Liberty Island you can either depart from Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan or Liberty State Park in Jersey City - from both locations you can take the free Statue Cruises. To be on the safe side, you should always book your tickets in advance as sometimes you won’t be able to get a ticket on the same day. Definitely try to get a ticket in the morning rather than afternoon as it can get very busy during the day.
Flatiron building - Also known as the Fuller Building – known as one of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers, and as a national landmark, you have definitely seen this in either print or media before! Not much to do here other than take a photo and marvel at the architecture in person.
Times Square - Probably the busiest place you’ll ever see but in my opinion a place you should definitely visit when in New York City, especially if it is your first time.Again, yes a tourist trap for sure, but for good reason! Whether you want to get a unique caricature of yourself from a street artist, see an iconic theatre show at Times Square's Broadway District, see the World in Miniature at Gulliver's Gate or just watch tourists walk by and soak it in - Times Square has got everything covered. 90% of the people you will find there are tourists so if you want to shoot some cool photos without the crowds, come super early in the morning to avoid tourists crushing your photos!
Rockefeller Center - the best and most popular view of the city you will get from “Top of the Rock.” It has three decks with a 360-degree view of New York. The Rockefeller Center has more to offer than the viewing platform though. If you fancy a cocktail with a view, Bar SixtyFive will definitely not disappoint! If you happen tovisit in winter you can also go for a skate at the ice rink, which is majestic at night!
Central Park - sandwiched in the heart of New York, another must see on your trip! If you visit in winter, you might be lucky enough to get to see Central Park covered in snow. Another really fun thing to do in the winter months is to go ice skating - the Wollman Rink is open from late October until early April. It costs around $12-$20 for an adult depending on the day. Anothergreat option if you are an animal lover or if you visit with children is the New York Zoo which is located right in Central Park. If you want to see the whole park I can recommend taking the subway until 110 Street Station Central Park North. You can, of course, simply take a stroll around the park and enjoy (perhaps a much needed) break from the hustle and bustle, whilst still having the amazing skyline as a backdrop.
Brooklyn Bridge - The Brooklyn Bridge crosses the East River between the boroughs of Manhattan and of course, Brooklyn. It was the world’s first major steel suspension bridge, and a NYC landmark. The bridge is for sure one of the Instagram hotspots in New York so if you want a shot without the crowd, better go early.
Brooklyn Flea market - Right under Manhattan bridgeyou’ll find Brooklyn's largest flea market for vintage, design, antiques, collectibles, and food. It’s such a great urban cultural experience in New York! The market is open every Saturday and Sunday – so if you are staying over a weekend, it would be worth checking out.
Grand Central station - the busiest station in New York, if not the world, and definitely worth a look! The stationwas first opened in 1913 and is one of the world's ten most visited tourist attractions. The architecture inside and out is world famous looks simply majestic. Worth maybe avoiding rush hour as it is a train station serving thousands of travellers a day.
9-11 Memorial & Museum – The atrocities of 9-11 are known by everyone around the world. Whether you are coming to pay respects or to simply learn more, both the memorial and the museum are touching and fascinating.
Coney Island - Coney Island is a residential Brooklyn neighbourhood that morphs into a relaxation and entertainment destination each summer. You’ll find locals and tourists at the beach, the Wonder Wheel and Luna Park, an amusement park featuring the famed Cyclone roller coaster.
American Museum of Natural History - If you have watched the film night at the museum you might find a few exhibits that seem familiar. Packed with over 34 million specimens, 45 exhibition halls and plenty of ever changing exhibitions, it is a must see for kids or adults alike. Admission to the museum is on a donation, “Pay What You Wish” basis, so hours of fun won’t even break the bank!
Where to stay
We stayed in Hudson New York - The hotel is located in the heart of New York City, which was a major deciding point. It is just a stone’s throw from Central Park, Columbus Circle and the theatre district. For our trip, all we needed is somewhere accessible to put our head down and relax after a long day out, and this ticked all the boxes! The design is NY chic and clean modern and we found the room to be very well kept. The staff were all incredibly attentive and accommodating and pricing suits anywhere from budget to luxury.
Where to eat
There are so many great places to eat in New York City! To really find somewhere that you will love, I would say to get a recommendation from either a local or perhaps the hotel. There are truly so many hidden gems that only they will know! Such a large and fast paced City that new and exciting places will come around all the time! Instead, I will give a few of my favourite suggestions:
Pizza, Pizza, Pizza – Of course, a trip to NYC wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of its finest. I have three recommendations for you to get one of the best slices. Bleecker Street Pizza in West Village is a good option, that you may have heard of, offering thin crust Tuscan style pizza. Another great example, offering original pizza by the slice is Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop in Greenpoint. Finally, another classic is Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village. All offer amazing pizza that nobody can disagree with.
Hot dogs! Get your Hot Dogs! – Okay, yes I know this might be a questionable choice for some, but again, what would a trip to NYC be without having a good ole street dog! You’ll find these everywhere and can customise to your own tastes!
Smorgasburg Street Food Festival - a large open air street food market in Brooklyn. With over 100 local vendors covering so many different cuisines, you can find everything your stomach desires and it is not expensive an expensive affair at all!
Ace bar - if you are looking for a cool bar to spend your evening and like vintage vibes then this is the right place for you! Also a hit with the locals - you can enjoy a beer or even cocktails whilst shooting pool and chilling out!
Marthas Country Baker - if you want some delicious baked goods and coffee you should visit this little bakery located in Whilliamsburg. Offering everything from cakes to muffins, strudel to cookies - their mission statement is to provide their customers with an exceptional bakery experience, and they sure don’t disappoint!
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