When you enter the city that never sleeps, there are endless things you need to tick off your bucket list: Times Square, New York street food, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge – on it goes. Each place is more wonderful than it looks on the big screen and each place has its unique sense of character. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we actually managed to see and here is a list that is far from comprehensive of things you should see, do and eat and, of course, places you should visit so as to give the plastic a workout.
Things to Do
High Line – Once the New York Central Railroad, the High Line is now a 2.3 kilometre-long linear park. Seeing the city from above, while walking past apartment windows, is a unique experience. Not only is it floral and dotted with a few ice-treats vendors, it is also a faster way to get to where you are going.
Statue of Liberty – Cliche, yes. Worth it, 100 percent yes. The ferry ride itself is an experience, as you see the city from different angles. We did not pay to head to the top of the statue as we had already seen the city from above, although I imagine there were nice views. Whatever you do, once you take your snaps and hold up Liberty’s flame, grab a lemonade. Without a doubt the best lemonade I had in New York (and I had a lot).
New York Public Library – Another Sex and the City reference, sorry. This was the iconic spot where Carrie and Big were meant to get married, “in the classic New York landmark that housed all the great love stories”. This spot is also beautiful for those who have no interest in Carrie and the girls, as it is a Beaux Arts architectural dream. The strange thing is that in the whole time I was here I saw more tourists than books.
Top of the Rock – The Rockefeller Centre offers you the best opportunity to get to the top, with three 360-degree viewing platforms. Do not get me wrong, the Empire State is an experience in itself and something that you cannot miss, but for the ultimate skyline view, the Top of the Rock is number one for one obvious reason – you can see the Empire State Building and the most incredible view overlooking Central Park. If you do this, I recommend going straight up to the top deck, as you are let in in groups, so you are more likely to have more space for all your New York selfies.
Times Square – If I had to pick one spot that showcased the electric energy of New York, this would be it. We were drawn back here almost every night, just to wander around the surrounding Broadway area and people watch. Just be aware of the dressed up people, the are not just there to make your holiday snaps more colourful – they all want tips.
Grand Central Station – For everyday commuters ,this is just the start or end of their day, but for tourists this is an architectural dream. The spot is also full of hidden gems, for instance, in front of the Oyster Bar and Restaurant is a whisper archway. Standing at diagonal arches, two people can hear each other’s whispers transmitted over the arch.
Culture Spots – MoMa, American Natural History Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art … the list goes on. Each spot will fill you with some new knowledge and give you a new appreciation for history. You will also develop an eye for what is considered art – I should have kept all those kindergarten finger paintings!
Brooklyn Bridge – Literally bridging the gap between the cosmopolitan and its edgy, diverse brownstone younger sister. Embrace the flock of tourists that are heading over and take the obvious ‘I walked the bridge’ photo. The hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge is one of the oldest bridges of either type in the US, so it is also another snippet of history.
Bryant Park – In the city aptly named the concrete jungle, it is hard to come by grass and spots to stretch out and enjoy the day. We happily stumbled upon this park, although it is not exactly hidden, and it is a close contender for my favourite spot, as it is full of people enjoying an after-work drink, people playing board games, reading supplied books and newspapers or playing Petanque. There are also plenty of spots to eat; might I suggest the turkey burger from the Southwest Porch?
Obviously, you can’t leave New York with a new suitcase…
Where to shop
What could be more cinematic than walking, shopping bags in hand, down Fifth Avenue? Here are some of the most iconic, albeit cliche, New York shopping hot-spots you need to add to your list.
Barneys New York – The Madison Avenue flagship store. If you share Carrie Bradshaw’s penchant for Manolos, or fancy a Charlotte York-esque Prada suit, this is the store to glide into. After all, you deserve to look fabulous. Madison Avenue is a shopping spot on its own and, I am certain, is the inspiration behind the idea of window shopping… just keep your credit card in your bag – you don’t want to have to go to shopaholics anonymous.
Macy’s 34th Street – This store is all about multi-fashion. From Guess and Kate Spade to MAC and Nike, Macy’s has a treat for every budget, so you don’t have to be the old lady who lived in her Manolo shoe. The store really has it all and, with a basement featuring food trucks, you don’t really need to leave.
SoHo Streets – Known as the mecca for creativity and dining, SoHo is a crowd-pleaser when it comes to shopping. Somewhat of an outside mall, the cobblestoned streets make this a pretty spot for your afternoon of shopping. Don’t miss Reformation, a brand that has eco-friendly pieces, or The Apartment by The Line, an airy, light-filled loft where every piece on display can be purchased.
Fifth Avenue – No list of New York shopping would be complete without a mention of the iconic and prestigious Fifth Avenue. This shopping strip has it all, whether you are after a little Louis in your life or a key ring for your mum. Just be sure not to forget the photo of you, your shopping bags and the Fifth Avenue sign.
Get an MTA 7-day, unlimited pass – This gives you limitless subway and local bus rides.
Purchase a CityPass – This not only gives you entry into six attractions that can’t be missed, but it also lets you skip the lengthy ticket lines.
Go up the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock – Both are incredible, but the Top of the Rock lets you see the view including the Empire State Building.
Sex and the City fans, this city is your oyster – If you are short on time, make your number one stop: Carrie’s Stoop at 66 Perry Street. You’ll notice this isn’t in the Upper East Side, rather, it is between Bleecker and West 4th.
Locals will never let you down – They were out in the sweltering heat selling water on the corner, trying to save the tourists from melting on the spot and at the first spot of rain they were tourist’s saviours, this time offering umbrellas.
Spend a minimum of a week in New York – With five boroughs and thousands of nooks and crannies to explore, you need the time to walk, get lost and find a hidden gem.
Be prepared for the heat if you visit during summer – By prepared, I mean take lots of lightweight tops and pack extra clothing for daily outfit changes, perfect for the fashion mecca.
Download metrO – It is free and it works without internet (do not ask me how!) This means when you are underground, lost, with no cell service you can find your way back home.