New York has been a dream trip since I can remember. I wanted to see the bird lady from Home Alone 2 (yes, I know she’s fictional, but thought she might be based around a real person), peer across the water at the Statue of Liberty, walk the bustling streets filled with yellow cabs, eat huge burgers at diners, and see THE bridge (You know I’m on about Brooklyn). At the beginning of this month, my dream finally came alive..OK, I didn’t see a bird lady, although we did see a man sat on a bench with little birds perched on him, feeding from his hand. And I didn’t actually eat any massive burgers…there was so much other food, I didn’t even think about wanting one. But we did the rest and SO much more…
I went with Katy – an awesome travel buddy. We spent five days in the Big Apple, and it was the most relaxed week of wandering, snapping photos, seeing the sights, eating and drinking. It really was dreamy. Ok, we did walk approximately 30,000 steps a day. Desperate not to miss a thing. Fully submerge ourselves. Our feet were throbbing by the end. And It was totally worth it. Although seriously laid back, we also fitted in so much.
So here’s the lowdown of the top things to see/do in New York (food/drink/coffee coming next week – it deserved a whole post of its own. You’ll see why…)
Where to wander…
This area is one of the prettiest in my opinion. You can literally weave in and out, up and down the grid system of streets to admire the magnificent houses fronted with foliage, shops (including one or two book shops) and quaint restaurants. Its such a beautiful area.
Its also home to Gay Street – a popular Instagram spot.
It’s pretty central in Manhattan, so close to numerous food and drink stops too, and other places to explore, so you can tie it in around lunch/dinner. Or make an afternoon of it, like we did.
Central Park is massive. I don’t think even from looking at a map before I went I quite realised. It’s beautiful to take a stroll around, and definitely worth a trip.
Coming in from the lower east side, make sure you head up to the lake. Walking through the Bethesda Terrace, towards the fountain is stunning. When we went it was busy and bustling, with a band playing, plenty of fashion photo shoots taking place, as well as a wedding shoot and an engagement shoot. Definitely a popular spot.
It’s a fab place to sit for a moment and watch the world go by. I’d also recommend taking a detour to see the pond, which is a cute and quiet location too.
Williamsburg in Brooklyn is like the Shoreditch or Hackney of London. Its cool and edgy. Plenty of street art. Renovated warehouse spaces.
We didn’t spend enough time here, both wandering or eating and drinking, and it’s something I’d definitely do if I was ever lucky enough to go back.
This is one place you do want to get the subway to (having walked ourselves from Brooklyn Bridge through the not so glamorous areas). Go for a wander. Admire the art. Pop to the cutest plant shop. Stop for a drink at The Hoxton (appearing in next week’s post). And make sure you see the view of Manhattan from the river bank.
If you have extra room in your baggage to take a treat or two back, Chelsea Market is a great place to visit and wander – I enjoyed a bit of window shopping on our visit.
There were lots of cute things I wanted to buy, and there’s also plenty of food too. I’d highly recommend going early – lunchtime sees this spot get packed out!
The one thing to book…
The view from Top of the Rock
This is a must. The views from the Rockafella Center are truly incredible. Mouth-dropping. Ones that could quite potentially make you speechless.
You get an amazing 360 view of the New York skyline, including the Empire State building, and the Chrysler building. As long as it’s not too hazy (it was a little at 9.30am at the beginning of October), you can see far and wide too – including a fantastic view of Central Park!
Its only roughly $39, or £30, (dependent on time of visit – sunset is a little more) and worth every penny. The thing to book.
It’s obviously a great photo spot too.
What to see…
Grand Central Station
This is one romantic spot. Not just because it’s where Dylan (Justin Timberlake) organised a flash mob for Jamie (Mila Kunis) in Friends with Benefits. The whole station is a piece of art. The architecture, the murals, the twinkle spotlights on the ceiling representing stars, every detail. The platforms themselves look pretty old school, as do the train boards…giving it that authentic, traditional feel.
It really is a stunner to be seen!
Statue of Liberty
I was planning on doing Staten Island Ferry to see the lady herself closeup. It’s free and apparently you get a great view – dependent on which side of the boat you’re sat. But realistically, you get a pretty good view from the river bank. I didn’t feel the need to spend an hour on the water to get closer. I could still admire and get more time to discover other beauties too. Like the walk up along Battery Park- it’s definitely the way I’d suggest going after. The Battery Park City Esplanade feels a lot like a fancier St. Catherine’s Docks…it was buzzy, classy and relaxed.
Just look at that view over to New Jersey!
Ok this one is a tad overwhelming. But totally worth a visit still. It’s vibrant, towering and one of the busiest spots – packed with others wanting to catch a glimpse of the famous location too. You only need to walk through to experience, and I’d definitely recommend doing so early if possible. Although New York does feel pretty buzzy at all times of day.
Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge
I was dying to walk Brooklyn Bridge. I’d heard so many talk about the famous structure which crosses the East River. One on a chat show recently saying she’s only ever got halfway – and then gone back again. I now don’t understand this concept at all.
The length of Brooklyn bridge is easily walkable. Ok, it does take about 30 mins. And if you’re not actually wanting to stay in Brooklyn then you have to walk back again. Or get the subway. But there are some cute spots just the other side which are perfect for having a stop off.
As for the bridge itself, it is pretty impressive! The architecture is magnificent and the views are fab too!
But if you’re looking for the pretty blue one. You know, “the one from Instagram”, taken from the side street.. well that’s Manhattan Bridge. And yes it is just as gorgeous in real life.
Where to Stay
We stayed in such a fab location, at The Hudson, right by Central Park. It can be pricey, but I’d highly recommend the area. The streets are always filled with people, feels super safe even if coming back into the evening, and very well connected, as well as within walking distance of many of these places. Ok, a little further for some, but you’d be surprised how quick a walk can feel with a coffee in hand, and your surroundings to get lost in.
The standard rooms are large enough, especially when you’re spending each day out exploring, hardly in to use the space. They had everything you really needed, including iron, toiletries (so no need to pack the shampoo or shower gel in your hand luggage, taking up valuable space) and hair dryer.
The rooms were a little more conducive to sleeping than getting ready (a little dark in the mornings as we had an inward facing room), but we managed ok. It also meant a good night’s sleep most nights – and yes the bed was comfy, which helped too.
Service wasn’t the most friendly however, but things still got sorted in the end and we did have a good stay.
And there you have it.
The first of my posts on my dream New York trip. If it’s on your list, I’d highly recommend making it a reality, and taking it chilled. The best trip I’ve done so far! Food and drink recommendations are coming next week – keep your eyes peeled!
Where should be on my list for next – big or small?!