New York, New York it’s a wonderful town… Well actually, it is a rather busy city, but still a rather wonderful city at that.
New York is possibly one of my favourite cities, only behind Vancouver. From historical buildings we can all recognise, top spots for shopping and dining, and plenty of open green spaces to get away from the hectic city life. There really is something for everyone on a city break to the city that never sleeps.
G E T T I N G T O N Y C
Flights to New York are not always the cheapest, thus the best option for us was to book a package through British Airways. For return flights, and a three night stay at The Gallivant right in the heart of Times Square, equated to around £600 per person. If you want to get the most out of your trip, try and get an early flight out. We left London Heathrow at 8:30am, meaning when you take into the account the time difference, we had arrived at our hotel at around 1pm New York time. This gave as ample time in the afternoon to explore the area, and take a stroll to Central Park.
Tip: Taxi’s from JFK to Manhattan charge a fix rate of $65 (+tip), much cheaper that pre booked transport from a tour operator, and you don’t have to wait around for other travellers.
G E T T I N G A R O U N D N Y C
I always believe that the best way to see a city is to walk. However, if attractions, shops, and restaurants are quite a distance apart, walking is not always the most convenient option.
The New York metro (or subway) is actually super easy to use. You can buy a pass for $11, or $30 for a five day pass, and each journey (no matter where you are travelling to) only costs $2.75, which really isn’t bad. Plus, if you are visiting in the summer months, subway trains are fitted with air con, something that maybe London should think of investing in.
Tip: Use maps on your phone before starting your journey. The maps at metro stations look confusing, and putting in your end destination on your phone will tell you what train to get on, where the train is going, how long it will take, and what station you get on and off at.
Alternatively, the sight seeing bus is always a great way to get around a city, plus you get a guided audio tour, perfect if it is your first time in the city. On my first trip to New York, I brought the three day pass, however only used the bus once to get down to the financial district from Times Square. However, be warned, in the main tourist attractions staff from the bus companies are constantly targeting tourists, which can be off putting and slightly annoying. Albeit, at the end of the day, they are only trying to make a living.
W H E R E T O S T A Y
Staying in the Times Square area is not for everyone. Having staying at Staybridge Suites Times Square on 40th Street in 2016, and The Gallivant on 48th Street this time around, times square is a central location for basically everything. With transportation links to downtown, Brooklyn, Coney Island, Queens, and uptown towards the Bronx, it really is easy to get to where you want to go. Plus in walking distance to central park (around 30 minutes from 48th street), Fifth Avenue, The Rockefeller Building, and the Empire State Building. Times Square also provides the opportunity for all the night time entertainment in terms of Broadway shows. However, Times Square is not for everyone. In fact, I know I will probably never stay in the Times Square area again, simply because it is too touristy and busy. For me, Soho or Brooklyn would be my preferred destinations to stay next time.
W H E R E T O E A T
Breakfast & Bruch
New Yorkers like to Brunch, so you really are spoilt for choice in terms of your breakfast destination.
The Butcher’s Daughter – 19 Kenmare Street, Nolita
After previously visiting ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ in LA for lunch last year, the location was first on my list for brunch. The vegan waffle was incredible, and the poached eggs look amazing as well. With outdoor seating, to enjoy your brunch in the morning sun and taking in the city, the atmosphere was relaxed. The coffee was also great, and if you are not a coffee drinker, they also do tea, which went down a treat with my mother.
Tip: Get there early (around 8:30/9am) on a Saturday morning, before the locals and other tourists wake up, meaning you won’t have wait for a table.
Gotan – W 46th Street
Just a six minute walk (thanks Google Maps) from Times Square. Brunch on a Saturday / Sunday is only $14 and includes a main breakfast item, orange juice, and a coffee. Considering how close to Times Square you are, where most breakfast’s are over $20 per person, it really is quite affordable.
Jack’s Wife Freda – 8th Avenue
Another spot, similar to ‘The Butcher’s Daughter’ that I have seen people rave about on Instagram and Youtube. With three locations, we choose the restaurant opposite Google and about 15 minutes walk from The High Line. Going on a Monday, meant getting a table was easy. Again, the breakfast was delicious, and lived up to its expectations. Yet again, I went for the waffle and a coffee.
Lunch & Dinner
Hard Rock Cafe – Broadway
I am not the biggest fan of chain restaurant, but sometimes you are hungry and have no where else to eat. With live music on the stage, and a range of cocktails, there really is a great atmosphere. However, if you are a vegetarian, then you will probably struggle, with the only vegetarian option being the veggie fajitas (basically just green beans, mushrooms and peppers for $20).
Grimaldi’s Pizza – Front Street, Brooklyn
Can you really go to New York and not have pizza? The answer is no. Head to Brooklyn and try Grimaldi’s, for a small pizza (easily a Dominos medium / large) for two people at $18 (plus extra for toppins of your choice). Just be prepared to wait in line outside.
Bond 45 – 46th Street
If you are looking for an Italian restaurant in the heart of Times Square, then Bond 45 is the place to go. Almost like a getaway for the noise of Times Square, head down to table clothed tables and all the pasta and pizza you could imagine. Also the cheesecake is incredible, but share it, as it is a meal in itself.
Heartland Brewery – 34th Street
Just outside of the Empire State Building, and the perfect place for a beer and a pulled pork burger.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner – 51st Street
Now I’m not the biggest fan of the food, but let’s face it, we all head to Ellen’s for the singing waiters belting out all the musical numbers that you could wish for. Remember, you will have to queue to get it.
W H E R E T O E X P L O R E / V I S I T
The Tourist ‘Must-See’s’
Empire State – Think Elf. Think views of the city.
Top of the Rock – Personally, Top of the Rock is so much better than the Empire State. Plus you actually get views of the Empire State, so actually you will be winning for the instagram photos.
Central Park – It’s free. It’s huge. It can’t be missed. The boating lake is always a favourite, and the Alice in Wonderland monument is fund to find as well. If you are heading to the MET, walk through the park first, especially in the morning before most of the main areas of interest get busy.
Times Square – A larger, and busier Picadilly Circus, mixed with Leicester Square. It comes alive at night, but be prepared to hardly move.
9/11 Memorial & Museum – We all know what happened on that September morning in 2001, but the museum really puts the events of that tragic day into perspective. Truly moving.
Fifth Avenue – Shopping did you say? From your high street favourites, to the designer shops, and a Cathedral. It has it all. However, Soho is probably better for shopping.
Brooklyn Bridge – If there is one thing you do, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, get your photos for instagram on the way over, and on the way back take in the views of the Manhattan skyline and remember what an incredible city you are in.
To See a Different Side of New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Can the MET really be missed, especially if you are a Gossip Girl fan and need to pretend to be Blair Wardorf for five minutes? Then the answer is no, no the MET can’t be missed. The galleries inside are equally as attractive to pretending to be B as well. My personal favourite was the modern and contemporary galleries. At the time of my visit a special exhibition was on dedicated to the MET Ball on the theme of ‘Camp’.
The High Line – The old rail road track really does have some great views of the city skyline. What also can’t be missed is Chelsea Market, with it’s independent shops and cafes.
Soho & the West Village – If you are a friends fan, then the West Village can’t be missed. Soho is also great for shopping and eating, without all the tourists.
Dumbo & Brooklyn – Think vintage shops, Times Out Market, views of Manhattan, Pizza, independent shops. The Brooklyn Bridge park is also caters for a very enjoyable wonder.
There you have it, my mini guide to New York City!