For a while now I’ve been meaning to write about New York and create the ultimate destination guide for any of you visiting or planning a trip. New York isn’t a place that I’ve been to just once, but feels like somewhere I’m fairly familiar with. I’m lucky enough to have been 3 times in the last 7 years – on a budget as a student, with Pete and then most recently on a proper girls holiday with Jess. I also had family there and while I was growing up we visited regularly. So I feel fairly confident I have some decent tips to share. When I started writing this turned into a rather mammoth posts so I’ve broken it down and today we’re going to start with things to see and do, then I’ll move onto where to eat and drink next time.
Although New York is mammoth (and I’m simply referring to Manhattan here, or what I and the majority of visitors think of as New York proper) it is totally walk-able. I’m not saying it’s the least tiring way to get around, but it is do-able. In the interests of your feet and not crippling you with exhaustion, my suggestion would be to break the main areas/sights down into 3 chunks, then combine them with general meandering, which also means you can see and do a lot in a long weekend.
Geographically, let’s start at the bottom (although all of these routes can be done in reverse of course.) Take the subway to the southern tip of Manhattan and come out amongst the sky scrapers of the financial district. From here you can easily take in a ton of iconic sites.
View Staten and Skyscrapers in a larger map
Skyscrapers, Staten and Sorrow
Start on the Staten Island Ferry, it’s competely free, just jump on, ride out to Staten Island, disembark then turn around, get back on and come back. You get fabulous views of the Manhattan skyline for your holiday album and really close to the Statue of Liberty for more snaps.
If it’s a nice day, spend some time wandering round the garden next door (Battery Gardens) and see The Sphere, previously on display in the space between the 2 towers of the World Trade Centre, a symbol of peace and now bearing the scars of the tragedy.
Visiting Ground Zero isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and there’s no denying it is both melancholy and heart breaking but I feel compelled to go everytime I’m in New York, having visited the towers as a kid on more than one occasion. When I last went the memorial was still being built and there was a small museum that was sobering but life affirming when you read about the acts of bravery people committed there to help their fellow New Yorkers. Definitely worth a trip.
Next take yourself for a brisk walk across to Wall street, via the Charging Bull, and then across town to The South Street Seaport. Grab some lunch or a cocktail here and sit in the sun. There are some shops although nothing spectacular, it’s just a nice area to stop at. One notable exception is the Abercrombie and Fitch store (on Fulton Street) which makes for a much more pleasurable shopping experince than visiting the 5th Avenue flagship store, as it’s usually really quiet.
Walk off your lunch with a stroll over the Brooklyn bridge for more iconic views then congratulate yourself for doing so much!
So much of New York is familiar whether you have visited or not and when people are visiting my advice is always to walk, walk, walk. You can’t turn a corner without recognising something or somewhere from the movies
View Midtown in a larger map
Midtown is often described as the heart of Manhattan and it’s great for walking around and getting a feel, but not much else. How you take in these sights depends very much on how you want to see the view and where from – I’d recommend starting or finishing with a city view at The Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock. I think the views are best early on and later in the day rather than in the middle, it’s great to see the light changing and if you time it right, you can get shots of the view at sunset then at night. The other place on this list that you should always do at night is Times Square and Radio City Music hall, (the latter only really a stop for a picture in front of the legendary sign.) Both look amazing with the brightly lit billboards making it seem almost like day light!
The map is pretty self explanatory and each place is worth a stop. The Public Library is where Carrie was jilted by Big and the set for the film The Day after Tomorrow, Grand Central station is iconic for its architecture and ambience, The Rockerfeller centre is best at Christmas, to see the ice rink and huge tree, and Macys is ridiculously close to the Empire state building along with lots of shops around Herald square and 34th street between the two, or on Fifth Avenue.
Central Park and around
Central Park is a must see when in New York and the rest of the recommendations on here are really for culture vultures. Even if museums aren’t your thing, a lot of them do a free hour and a half before they close or one afternoon a week. Check the guidebooks.
The Natural History Museum has dinosaurs (Night at the Museum) the Met has incredible art and the Guggenheim is for modern art lovers. Of course these are only a selection of what New York has to offer culturally.
View Central Park and around in a larger map
You’re also at the top end of 5th Avenue here and the area south of Central Park is home to all the elite jewellers, including the legend that is Tiffany’s (5 floors of diamonds and they are completely used to people popping in to gawk so don’t feel shy!) Saks Fith Avenue is just a few doors down and tons of other fab shops. Go on. Have a browse (if you can stop yourself actually shopping!) A little more out of the way but on the map here is Bloomingdales, another New York Icon – the biggest in the city is at 59th and Lexington Avenue. There’s also a very fancy Apple store on the corner of Central Park opposite The Plaza.
Ok, so that’s your lot! I do have a little more to share in the way of another walking tour, but it fits really well within the eating and drinking run down so I’m going to save that until next time
Now it’s your turn, do give me a shout if you’re headed off there and will be using this as a guide, or if you have any places to go that I have missed, please add them in the comments below! (Save your eating and drinking recommendations for next time!)