I’m going to start my blog off with a post about what I get asked for the most……New York top tips! I could talk about New York all day, its my favourite place in the world for so many reasons. I am lucky enough to go 3/4 times a month sometimes, I never tire of it, each time is different and I ALWAYS get excited to pack up and head to the ‘Big Apple”. I will admit I am not a pro on everything, Broadway shows aren’t really my thing and haven’t really gone out clubbing or partying as my job doesn’t really allow it due to rest time (and I’m quite boring & would rather read a book) but here are my top 10 tips for the city that never sleeps. I hope to go into more detail about certain things in separate posts soon and in no way does this even cover a tiny percentage of things to do but heres the low down…….
1. WEAR COMFY SHOES!!!!!!
Before I start talking about things to do, I need to stress the importance of comfy shoes. Carrie Bradshaw may strut around in her Manolo Blahnik’s in Sex And The City but thats so unrealistic. You’ll see female city office workers getting off buses and subways in the mornings in their Nike trainers with their heels tucked in their handbags ready for work, it might not make the best fashion statement but these girls have their heads screwed on.
You will be amazed at how much walking you will do every day, great for Fitbit addicts like me gathering steps but not so good for your poor feet! And sore feet WILL ruin your holiday. I love my trusty UGGs for cold days but believe me they are useless in the snow and take ages to dry out. NYC gets bucket loads of snow in the winter months so check the weather forecast before you go and pack your Hunter wellies if snow or rain is due. They might weigh loads in your suitcase but its so worth it. I went on holiday for my 30th in the mad heat of July and packed my old Converse that I trusted and had totally broken in but NO! I had blisters ontop of blisters from where my feet had swollen in the heat and ended up wearing my running Nikes. However, if you fancy going somewhere swanky for drinks, do pack heels as some places do have a dress code.
2. GETTING INTO THE CITY
I have travelled into Manhattan from JFK airport 2 ways, once by yellow cab, and once via trains, subways and a few blocks of walking with heavy cases in 90 degree heat. Can you tell which one I preferred?? So if you haven’t already booked transportation through your travel agent or sorted you UBER heres how…….The yellow cabs in the rank outside JFK are your best bet, they charge a flat rate of $52 to anywhere in Manhattan (not inc tips & tolls). Nice and easy and stress free although the traffic can be quite heavy at certain times of the day.
But the cheapest way is by train/subway. Get the AirTrain which is around $5 to Jamaica and then change onto the Long Island RailRoad (LIRR) to Penn Station. I bought my weekly subway ticket at the time which was around $30 2 years ago which covered the train ticket but a single fare to Penn Station is around $7.50 and then you will need to get to where your going in the city by subway with your cases etc and possibly walk a few blocks. After a long flight it can be quite a mission. So take my advice, if there’s 2 of you spend the extra $20 and get a cab!
3. GO FOR BREAKFAST
I LOVE going for breakfast when I am away. You’ll need lots of energy for walking round all day and its a great way to sit and plan out what your itinerary is for the day ahead.
There’s a Starbucks on the corner of every block if you’re not a big breakfast person and just fancy a coffee and a bagel. If you fancy something cheap, easy and American try Tick Tock Diner attached to the New Yorker hotel in Midtown near Madison Square Gardens.
Another great place is under the bridge in Pershing Square opposite the doors for Grand Central Station, its super famous though so does get very busy so go early and expect a queue. But my favourite is Bubbys! Situated opposite Gansevoort Market, its well known for its American comfort food classics such as eggs, pancakes and oatmeal. It’s also just opposite one of the main entrances for The Highline. Which brings me onto my next top tip…….
4. WALK THE HIGHLINE
I love grabbing a hot drink (or an iced tea if its summer) and strolling down The Highline.
It was once an old, derelict, elevated railway line thats been transformed into a lush green, peaceful, inner city walkway dotted with benches, chill out areas, trendy artwork and great views of The MeatPacking District, Chelsea, SoHo and across the Hudson River.
5. CENTRAL PARK
Central Park is a total escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. And it is HUGE. I could not believe the scale of it when I first went.
In spring the cherry blossom trees are out in beautiful force, in summer its a great place to have a picnic and in autumn the leaves are just spectacular. But my favourite season is winter. The ice skating rink is open (ps a great place to watch the future figure skating stars practicing their spins and jumps) and seeing the city backdrop from the park is just bucket list stuff!
A must see is John Lennon’s ‘IMAGINE’ memorial at Strawberry Fields and a must do in summer is hiring a rowing boat, great fun and really cheap! Also, another thing I love are all the amazing doggies being walked in the Park, some by their owners but some with dog walkers. I saw a Chow Chow the other day, it was ridiculous but SO New York! If I don’t have any plans I take my kindle and people watch on a bench and just let the world go by. Heaven.
6. PACK YOUR RUNNING KIT
Now, I understand this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if like me you like to “RunXplore” I can verify that New York City is the best place to do it. I plan to do a separate post on this but if your awake at the crack of dawn due to the -5 hour time difference from the UK, get your trainers on. Head to Central Park or the Hudson River Path on the West Side for a total run buzz! There are THOUSANDS of runners in the city and it has a huge running community due to the annual NYC Marathon every November which is part of the world marathon majors, so if you get lost they are quite friendly and will point you in the right direction!
7. GOING UP TOWERS
To get the best views, head upwards. The Empire State Building is the most iconic in Manhattan. Its great in the daytime and a must do, but it does get very congested with tourists so I’d recommend going up as soon as the doors open at 8am.
I much prefer the Rockefella Center for views – head up at twilight for an epic sunset on a clear night and stunning views of the Empire State Building lit up at night, Central Park and the whole city.
8. GROUND ZERO
I visited Ground Zero for the first time in 2007 when it was just a building site with diggers, cranes, a lot of noise and busy-ness. There were railings all around with pictures, stories and flowers for those lost, reading them made me incredibly sad and I stood and cried. Infact even now, almost 16 years on its hard to comprehend what happened there that day and the vast amount of people who lost their lives and the amount of destruction caused. Until you go and visit, you will never understand the sheer scale of the area that was wiped out.
Now the area in Downtown near Wall St has been transformed in to a huge open space filled with two enormous waterfall infinity pools simulating where both towers once stood. All the names of those lost in each tower are etched into the ledges around the water and surrounded by trees and greenery it really is a somber yet beautiful place for the loved ones of those who lost their lives to come and be with their thoughts. The observation deck at the top of the new Freedom Tower is now open as is the 9/11 museum. I’ve yet to visit either as the queues were huge and I was short on time so it may be worth pre booking. I really need to visit both soon though.
9. BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Whilst Downtown visiting Ground Zero, Wall St and Statue of Liberty, head across to Brooklyn via Brooklyn Bridge. One of the most iconic structures in the world, it boasts incredible views of Manhattan, is featured in so many films and TV shows and really is one of the highlights of any holiday to New York.
When you get across into Brooklyn, turn left for a sort walk and head to Washington St in DUMBO for cool photos of the Empire State Building through the metal beams of Manhattan Bridge. Theres also a Shake Shack on Brooklyn side of the bridge and the burgers there are lush!
Brooklyn itself is actually really trendy and nice for a wander around for the afternoon and its so easy to get the subway back across into the city.
10. DONT BE AFRAID OF THE SUBWAY
I find the subway in New York a lot easier to navigate than the London Underground. A weeklong subway pass is well worth getting even if your only there for 3/4 nights. It will save your weary legs, its actually super safe (even though you see some real local characters) and the stations are located practically on every other block.
There are so many other things to chat about with NYC – Statue of Liberty, Bryant Park, shopping, restaurants, Broadway shows etc but I don’t feel experienced enough in these to recommend as I haven’t really explored some of these, yet! (I’m totally fibbing about the shopping!) But, if your going to get a guidebook, order yourself a Lonely Planet one from Amazon, I’ve borrowed mine out to a few friends who’ve found it so handy. They are so good and detail different places to eat for different budgets which is great and so so much more.
Thanks for reading!