The big apple. It’s a destination at the top of so many bucket lists, and for good reason. When I first stepped out of the yellow taxi and onto the streets of Manhatten I was instantly hit by how much it feels like New York. This is not a city that will let you down; all the stereotypes are true.
The taxis never stop honking their horns, the buildings are sky high in every direction, people hurry around everywhere, and hot dog carts grace every street corner.
There is so much to do in this gargantuan city that I will only be able to scrape the surface in this blog. I hope it gives you some ideas for when you visit and inspires you to book a trip soon. It really is a completely unique city.
- Spend the day in Central Park. It’s so easy to spend an age exploring among the greenery. Grab some bikes and cycle around on the bike trails, then ditch them and climb up the beautiful rock formations for a great view. If you’re a fan of the Disney film Enchanted, you’ll find lots of recognisable bridges around. So many films have been shot in the park, so see how many spots you can notice.
- Go to the top of a tall building. One World Trade Centre, the Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building are popular choices. You can’t step outside at the top of the World Trade Centre, but it is the tallest building in the city. I recommend picking just one otherwise you’ll blow a lot of your budget on elevator rides into the sky. It is worth it for the mind-blowing views, though.
- Go across the river. It’s really easy to stay in Manhattan when there is so much to do on the island, but for the best views of the city you have to travel across the river. We caught a double decker bus to Brooklyn as the sun was setting. Looking back at the city lit up by the glow of hundreds of skyscrapers truly took my breath away. If you go to NYC, it’s one thing you absolutely have to see.
- Watch a broadway show. The prices may be more expensive than the West End, but (and it pains me to say this as a Londoner) the standard is also higher. If you don’t get tickets before you go, try the TKTS official booth in Times Square. They have big signs listing the discounted tickets they have available for the day. It’s worth arriving and getting in line before they open in the morning for the best availability. If you know what you want to see, you may have more luck going directly to the theatre box office.
- Have a stroll down the High Line. I mostly wanted to go to this converted subway track because it reminded me of a scene in 2004’s Spiderman 2 where Peter Parker stops the subway train using his web powers. Yeah. But it’s far more than a tenuous link to a fairly old superhero movie. In a city without a huge amount of green space away from Central Park, it’s a little oasis above street level.
- Be wary of renting an apartment. It’s illegal for many apartments to be rented out, so you could be caught in a tricky situation if you’re spotted with suitcases outside an apartment block. Be aware, check before booking, and stay somewhere else if you’re in doubt.
- Use the subway. It looks a bit confusing at first, but you’ll quickly figure it out. By utilising the express trains, you can get from one end of Manhattan to the other really easily.
- We bought tickets to the Natural History Museum by Central Park, and I don’t recommend it. The entry fee was pricey and the exhibits weren’t as good as in London in my opinion.
- I know it’s such a cliche tourist thing to do, but we bought bus tour tickets and enjoyed it. The guides were nearly always good fun and it was a good way to see the city without having to go below ground for the subway. Plus, we didn’t have to guess what things were like we would on a regular city bus.
- Rather than paying for the expensive tourist boats to go to and from Ellis Island to see the statue of liberty, get the free Staten Island ferry. It goes in the same direction and you can get some great photos of the city and lady liberty for free.
Pop into Amy’s Bread for incredible breakfast pastries. My family went to their Hell’s Kitchen store most mornings during out 2012 trip and we still talk about the incredible chocolate twists today. The smell is incredible. It’s a quick and easy stop to make in the morning before you set off to explore the city.
Another amazing breakfast place, as well as a lunch and dinner restaurant, is the Westway Diner. It’s very popular thanks to the great food and fun atmosphere. You’ll often see NYC Cops enjoying an American breakfast before getting back into their cruisers and patrolling the streets. The breakfasts are just how you expect a proper American to start their day. Yum!
Have you been to NYC or are you planning to go? What did you enjoy doing or seeing the most?