The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. The City So Nice They Named It Twice. Gotham. Manhattan. The Five Boroughs. An Empire State of Mind. The City. NYC. Call it what you will, I think it’s impossible not to love New York. I first visited many years ago when still at uni for New Year: it was cold and festive and fabulous. More recently I spent just over a month living with my sister and also friends near Penn Station, in Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side.
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
BROOKLYN BRIDGE | my absolutely all time favourite thing to do in New York! I prefer to explore the Brooklyn side first (make sure you walk the Brooklyn Heights Promenade) and then walk back across to Manhattan soaking up the spectacular views. This will pop you out right by the sobering World Trade Centre memorial ground, as well as famous landmarks like Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. You could choose to walk down Broadway past the Charging Bull, or I prefer the slightly longer waterfront option via the South Street Seaport.
Also check out: Battery Park, and the Staten Island ferry for a close up of the green lady herself. Stand on the right hand side! Or if you’re staying in the area, Prospect Park in Brooklyn is beautiful and screens outdoor cinema in the summer.
THE HIGHLINE | first started construction in 2006, it is now an incredible elevated garden and public space, built on the foundations of the dis-used southern portion of the West Side railway line. Equally impressive at night and during the day – try to do it twice! – start by jumping on at W 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenue. You’ll get a birds-eye view of Chelsea, and end in the Meatpacking District just past lovely Chelsea Market.
GUGGENHEIM | I love this museum, right on Central Park near the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (think – where Charlotte goes jogging in SATC). Trying to get to all of the world-class galleries and museums would leave you exhausted, so I recommend this one for it’s gorgeous architecture, Upper East Side setting, and more contemporary focus. Also check out: if you do have the stamina, you’re right next-door to The Met – if nothing else pop in and see the roof top terrace.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
WILLIAMSBURG | I stayed here for a few weeks with my fabulous friend Amanda, and totally fell in love with the suburb. It’s less hectic than Manhattan, and oozes hipster cool: Bedford Avenue is the main strip crammed with flat whites, tattoos, and mac books a plenty. Also check out: McCarren Park for an outdoor pool swimming sesh.
Eating | The Saint Austere on Grand; brunch at The Station; Sage on Graham for Thai; Smorgasbord food market down on waterfront; Bozu for great Japanese; Sweet Chick – yep you guessed it, tasty fried chicken!
BROADWAY BACKBONE | this needs to be a walking day! There are so many compact neighbourhoods that are calling to be explored, and for me picking Broadway – or for example, staying south of Houston – as a street guide, makes life a little more manageable. From Times Square just head south and you’ll get a peek at Madison Square Garden on your right and Korea Town on your left; dissecting at 5th Avenue is personal fave the Flatiron Building; on to Union Square and Gramercy Park; down through Washington Square and in to the heart of Soho – I’m a big fan of Prince and Spring Streets.
Also check out: if your feet can keep on stomping, cut East through to Nolita (North of Little Italy), then down through Elizabeth and Mulberry to gorgeous Little Italy (it’s a highlight), ending in the Lower East Side – a great spot for drinks and dinner.
TOP OF THE ROCK | is in my opinion the best way to view the city, as you get to take in The Empire State building as well. If you’re there at Christmas and you’re a sad Home Alone fan like me, you’ll love The Rockefeller Centre even more when it has it’s huge Christmas Tree on display and there’s an ice-skating rink below.
Also check out: you’re right on 5th Avenue, so aside from the obvious shopping binge and a bit of fun at FAO Schwartz, be sure to walk a circle to cover the incredible Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
FORGETTING TO TIP | you’ll soon be out of favour with just about everyone if you forget that tipping comes as standard in the States. In New York, 20% is pretty common for all taxis, restaurants, beauty treatments, hotel staff, as well as at least $1 per drink at every bar. And with the phenomenal choice of great spots to try, you might hurt your wallet as well as your liver:
Dinner | Aesthetically gorgeous Beauty and Essex in LES; Kat’s Delicatessen for that famous When Harry Met Sally scene; Spice Market in Meat Packing District; Soho dinner at lovely Café Gitane; RedFarm for amazing Chinese and dim sum in West Village; The Spotted Pig does amazing devilled eggs; Wise Men for American fare in East Village; a boozy Sunday brunch at Yerba Buena; swankier dinner at Cafeteria in Chelsea – try the deep-fried Oreo desert
Drinks (these are mainly in and around LES) | Rooftop drink at 230 Fifth – bit naff, but great touristy views; novelty teacup drinks at Backroom Speakeasy; Employees Only is a retro looking prohibition style bar; Nurse Bettie’s cocktail bar; Dudleys does food and cocktails
Dive Bars | Lit Lounge has music downstairs and an art gallery in the back; underground music vibes at Home Sweet Home; Arlene’s Grocery is primarily a rock music bar; Pianos is brilliant place with live indie music or DJs; No Fun another hipster bar with a weird underground cave and glow sticks!; Welcome to the Johnson’s has an unpretentious beer vibe
THE CITY THAT DOES SLEEP | I’m always a little too keen to get up and make the most of the day when on holiday, but in NYC I often found myself alone as a result! Turns out New Yorkers are night owls and don’t really like to get up before noon. So instead lie in, ease in to the day, and be prepared to stay up in to the twilight hours.
SUMMER | New York can get STINKING hot. If you go in July and August, be prepared as the humidity can be intense, and it’s easy to see why many locals escape to The Hamptons or get on the road during this time. When I was there in July I spent a lot of time hunting out air con and drinking buckets of cheap ice coffee.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
FIRE ISLAND | is a great beach 2.5 hours from New York City via train then ferry, and somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit after seeing it on one of my favourite films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I imagine it to be a charming, isolated, beautiful place a million miles away from the pulse of The City. Also check out: Coney Island, which is a little closer and also full of old world fairground charm.
AND KNOW THIS: Annual location shoots on the streets of New York number 40,000 — including commercials, feature films, television shows and series, music videos and documentaries.
–> –> –> Next stop The Bay State | Massachusetts –> –> –> (post coming soon)