I suggest you grab a cup of tea before you start reading this post. How very English of me. As my favourite city in the whole entire world, I expect it is going to be a long one. I’m going to try and focus this post on the city as a whole, combing content from the last few trips I have taken.
Fun fact for you all, if you have read my “Who Me?” page, you would have seen I mentioned staying in a few hostels back in my travelling days. The YMCA Hostel in New York was one of them, and I mean not that I have many to compare it to, but it was actually pretty nice. This my first ever night in the city back in 2011 and I still get the same fuzzy feeling when I arrive in the City (13 times later). I still get absolutely blown away by the vast size of everything, and I swear I spend 99% of my time still looking up not being able to take in how tall everything actually is?!
Booking your next trip to New York doesn’t have to be as tricky as you think. With over 31 direct flights each and every day from London, not to mention further direct flights from Manchester, Birmingham and Scotland, getting there is super easy, and I’m sure you will find something to fit all sorts of budgets. I personally have flown into both JFK and Newark airports, in Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class, the flight on average takes around 7 hours 50 minutes from London, so it doesn’t really matter what cabin you chose to fly in, as the journey does tend to be on the quicker end of the long haul scale.
The one bit of advice I would give people looking to do a city break is to always try and factor in the weekend to avoid “business traveller costs”, and always look at booking flights/hotels together as a lot of airlines will offer package deals.
My Top 10 Must See’s/Do’s
I know I’m going to find this difficult, but I know just HOW bloody intimidating New York planning can be. So I am attempting to break it down into my top 10 must see’s and do’s for your first trip to the Big Apple.
- See a Broadway show.
Don’t be fooled by all the expensive musical tickets that seem to be everywhere and anywhere online and in NYC itself. Yes you can get a good bargain if you are open to what show you see, and also willing to queue up all day at the TKTS booth in Times Square. My best tip is to ALWAYS check what shows are playing “Off Broadway”. They are Broadway quality, some who have just had their time on the main stage but still sell well, usually in smaller theatres and usually a lot more intimate than a grand Broadway Theatre. I’ve seen the likes of Hair, RENT and most recently Ordinary Days all Off Broadway. My favourite app to look at ticket prices is Today TIX (I also use this for London Shows too).
2. Find and have a photo with the famous NY Love Sign. IF you can find it.
I am not even being dramatic when I say it has taken me 13 visits to NYC to actually find this bastard! Scuse my French. But I am pretty sure they move it, just for fun. So people can’t find it. My last trip to the City was with my mum in November 2018, and when we turned the corner walking to Central Park one morning I actually SCREAMED when I saw it, and gave the poor woman a heart attack! If you want to know the official address of the location is: W 55th St &, 6th Ave, New York, NY 10019, United States
3. Find some nice places to Eat!
America is famed for its fast food options, fries with everything, deep deep fried everything and full fat coke. The first few times I went I took full advantage of this kind of food, and anyone that knew me back in 2011-2015 days will now understand why I was the size I was. It is so easy when staying in a big city to slip into the “chained” restaurants surrounding Times Square and around Midtown purely aimed at us tourists, but if you do your research you really can find some beautiful eats, right on your doorstep. Make sure to check out my Top Restaurant Picks below.
4. Find your favourite TV/Movie locations and take thousands of photos!
I still get so excited when I turn the corner and think “OMG, that is where Blair and Serena read that letter!” or “It is literally the Friends Building HI MONICA, HI RACHEL!” So make sure you do your research and plan your route so you’re not doubling back on yourself. But of course there are tours you can book to make sure you see the best of the best.
5. Visit the 9/11 Memorial.
Of course, this isn’t going to be the happiest part of your trip. But I honestly don’t see how you can go to New York, especially for the first time, without seeing this incredible memorial to all the amazing lives we lost on 9/11. It really isn’t a place, I feel, for posing for photos or taking selfies. But it really is the most incredible sight, along with the 9/11 museum. This is a must do.
6. Bike Ride In Central Park.
There were other people in the City this day, I promise. The best way to see the 843 acres of Park Life is of course, on a bike. Its 2019, you don’t even have to do all the pedalling yourself these days, you can get a fancy pants electric bike (which this was not, and after 15 minutes I was pooped!) We picked these bikes up just across the road from one of the many park entrances, and you will find that bike rental is included in a lot of City Passes you can buy so be sure to look out for that.
7. Top of the Rockefeller VS Empire State Building.
If you have never been to New York before, and you have the time, of course do both. But I’m here to advise. Personally I think if you are short on time, and can only pick one observation deck, I would pick Top Of The Rock. Why? Purely for the fact you actually get to see the Empire State Building, and the views are a lot less restricted (Meaning much better photos for the Gram!)
8. One World Trade Centre Observation Deck.
Okay Okay ignore everything I said about the Top Of The Rock. If you can ONLY do one observation deck, make it the Observatory at the top of the new One World Tower. I mean just look at that view!! There is also a bar and restaurant at the top too, which you do need to pre-book for food. But it is unreal. The first time I went up, we were greeted with this insane view, had some lovely wine (a few too many) and then watched the sunset over Manhattan. Wonderful. So when I took my mum back there last year, I told her we MUST go up for lunch or dinner. So I went and pre-booked an early dinner on the last day of our trip to finish it with a bang. On that day, New York decided to have a blizzard and the tower is SO tall, we were literally surrounded by clouds, and there was absolutely zero visibility when we went up. So check the weather kids!!
9. Hail And Ride in a Yellow Taxi.
Did you even go to New York though if you don’t get a photo of a Yellow Taxi, stood next to a Yellow Taxi, walking across a crossing with a Yellow Taxi in the background… you’ve all seen the Insta’s! This one is kind of a given. Hail a taxi, tell him to drive to Brooklyn and relive your very own Macaulay Culkin moment! (If you know, you know!)
10. Ride the Subway (It’s easier than London I swear!)
I say it is easier than London, this photo was actually taken because I was sulking that I made me and mum get on the wrong Subway Train. HOWEVER once I messed up this one time, I nailed it. Riding the subway is SO much cheaper than Taxi’s and UBER’s, you also get to the places so much quicker due to the amount of road traffic. The best deal, I find, is to buy a 7 day pass which is around $33 and that gives you unlimited access to all Subway routes across New York. Great for those who love to ride that rail! (I had to get a Friends quote in somewhere!!)
So there you have it, my ten must see’s and do’s when in the best city in America. I’m sat here at Ten Points and I’m thinking ooo but there are a few more that I really want to mention, so here are a few bonus points for good behaviour! Eat a giant pretzel, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, have drinks at a rooftop bar.
AND if you plan your trip well… PLAY IN CENTRAL PARK IN THE SNOW. IT REALLY IS A DREAM COME TRUE.
Eat and Drink Hidden Gems
I find choosing places to eat and drink the hardest, especially when in a large city. So i’m going to end with listing some of my favourite spots below, these range from quick, easy bites, to luxurious three course high end meals. So I hope it helps.
Quick Bites/Casual Dining
Buffalo Wild Wings
Address: 253 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036, USA
Ellen’s Stardust Diner
Address: 1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, USA
Virgil’s Real BBQ
Address: 152 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036, USA
Address: 625 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018, USA
Address: 1515 Broadway, W 45th St, New York, NY 10019, United States
High End/Fine Dining
Address: 92 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
Beauty & Essex
Address: 146 Essex St, New York, NY 10002, USA
Address: 26 Little W 12th St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Address: 5 Beekman St, New York, NY 10038, USA