Gah, this is a hard one to write.
I’ve just sat and flicked through all the holiday snaps lodged in my iPhoto and it’s given me all the feels. New York does that to you every damn time, it suffocates you with holiday blues so that you HAVE to go back. You have to. Your life depends on it. It’s vital.
It also means you’ll give anyone who goes to NYC death stares every time they upload to Instagram. But y’know, like mental death stares via your phone because obvs you’re not living the wild dream of being in the Big Apple the way they are. Sob. All the sobs.
Anyway, after much deliberation, here are the things you absolutely have to do in New York City…
This is a hidious but incedible drink I discovered in Utah with a certain sassy little DizzyBrunette3, and it is EVERYWHERE in New York. In every drugstore, and there’s like a drugstore on every corner, so you get the picture.
It’s sort of like beer and mango margarita combined. And there’s other flavours too, like lime and strawberry and raspberry (these were the very reason we got so very, very drunk on that night in Moab, the one where we tried to order an Uber to Vegas…) but basically, you just have to witness them. Buy one and drink it in your hotel room whilst getting ready to paaaartay.
2. HELL’S KITCHEN
We stayed at CitizenM which was just to the west of Times Square and often after a full day of exploring could not be flapped with riding down to the Meatpacking District or East village or whatevs for dinner, and so we’d mosy on west and find ourselves in Hell’s Kitchen AND I LOVED IT.
It’s like the lesser acknowledged cuter sister of places like MPD and EV. It has great places to eat, some fun bars and it’s not over saturated with people cooler than you. It’s effortlessly cool. We walked into one bar and grabbed a couple of pints of cider and watched a girl, about 18 or 19, singing with her dad on guitar, and she was seriously good and gave me all the feels and I felt a *bit* like I was in Tric in One Tree Hill, so there’s that.
My point is, if you’re based in Midtown, it’s an easy place to get to for decent food, drinks and vibe without heading south.
3. 9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM
It’s eerie, yes, but oh so worth it. I kind of silences you as you go into this deep state of reflection and mourning – it’s a weird state of mind to describe. The memorial itself is mostly underground and is beautifully done – it’s got a tonne of artifacts from the terrorist attacks including parts of the planes, a fire engine caught up in the drama, and the actual metal pillar that was hit by a plane. You can’t come to NYC without immersing yourself in that day that you vaguely remember from being a kid. Just, y’know, treat yourself to cake afterwards like we did, you’ll need it.
Chris said it had the nicest toilets he witnessed on the entire trip, so there’s that.
4. RAY’S PIZZA
There’s a bazillion variations of Ray’s Pizza in New York, but they’re not a chain, they’re mostly independent and just all playing up to one name, weirdos.
We ended up getting giant pepporoni slices for lunch twice because it was right next to our hotel and cost like $2.50 and was so greasy and happy and perfect. One of my favourite nights was the night we got a whole pizza and chicken wings to takeout and then munched through it all whilst sat in bed in our pants watching the National Geographic channel. We live the high life, we really do. Don’t be jealous.
5. TICK TOCK DINER
It’s a classic. Serves seriously sassy pancakes and French toast, and is located near Penn Station, Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden. I’ve been there 3 times and I’m not even slightly ashamed.
6. WEEKLY SUBWAY PASS
For the equivelant of about £20 for a week’s worth of Subway rides it’s a no-brainer right? We used the subway to get to and from the airport too because we’re a bit thrifty like that, and this was included in the same ticket which left me with more moneyz for the Victoria’s Secret sale.
7. CENTRAL PARK ROCK
I’ll be honest, Central Park isn’t my favourite – but maybe that’s because when it’s 30 degrees, you’re dehydrated and your legs are chaffing, the last thing you want is to explore woodland, sigh. I think the thing that makes Central Park in the summer difficult for tourists is the lack of picnic blankets and the lack of knowledge about where the nearest place to grab a drink and a sandwich is in a OMG IT’S BEEN 53 MINUTES SINCE MY LAST ICED COFFEE emergency.
For me it was all about getting off the Subway at 72nd street and entering the park here, you’re a short walk from the outskirts of the lake and there’s some rocks to sit on and catch an amazing view of the city. We ended up here on our last day and it just made us reflect back on our amazing week. OH GOD TAKE ME BACK NOW PLZ.
American TV is summin pretty special and weird, anyway (we watched a 30-minute advert about a fat-free cooking device, like WHAT?), so is definitely worth chain watching in bed for a few hours if only out of curiosity.
But definitely take your iPad or tablet or whatever to binge watch a bit of Netlfix when jet lag gets the better of you or you’re just totally over walking until your feet go numb, it’s SO much better than UK Netflix and has actual good stuff on it like Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill.
9. LITTLE ITALY
We loved the vibe of Little Italy and it was somewhere that I’d never properly ventured to. Maybe it was because of the glorious weather, but everyone just sits outside and it honestly feels like you are somewhere like Italy, it has such a beach holiday vibe but obvs you’re in a city.
Food and wine was pretty sassy too, and we made friends with a waiter who’d been stationed in Esher and loved Box Hill whilst he was serving in the marines or summin, so that was nice.
I got lost trying to find Little Italy once, so just an FYI, the party’s really happening on Mulberry Street, not so much the others.
10. HIGH LINE
We actually walked the High Line twice because it’s just such a peaceful escape from the city in the evenings. It’s an old railway line (I watched a documentary on the plane that said it was built because kids used to get hit by trains all the time when it was on ground level which is a bit sad and that, yikes) that’s been turned into a dreamy garden complete with water fountains, benches and pop-up stalls to buy ice lollies and cakes.
It’s 1.45 miles long, and starts not far from Penn Station and ends in the Meatpacking District which is just bustling with a hive of good bars and restaurants which you’ll already know if you’ve read any NYC guide ever in your life. So yeah, either walk off your dinner or reward yourself with cocktails after sauntering down.
11. TOP OF THE ROCK
Even on a beautifully bright Sunday (it had been a bit hazy on the previous days) the top of the Rockefeller Centre had no queue or wait time and took us all of about 5 minutes to get to the top, which, just FYI is much faster than the Empire State.
The view is incredible, there’s three different observation levels and it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly claustrophobic. And you’ve got Anthropologie and Nintendo World right by it, so there’s that.
12. SHAKE SHACK IN MADISON SQUARE PARK
I think approximately 472835674 different people told me I HAD to visit this exact branch of Shake Shack, and so, well, we did. Everyone also told us to go at like 10.30am to avoid the queues, and I know I’m a bit of a creature when it comes to anything greasy and covered in cheese, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat a monster size burger at that time of day, so we rocked up at 1pm and braved the queues.
It WAS about a 30-45 minute wait, but it’s fine because we got to watch a lot of squirrels, so there’s that. The burgers and cheese fries were as sublime as ever and made me carry around a rather large gunt for the rest of the day, bless ’em.
13. EMPIRE STATE AT NIGHT
The view from any of the observation levels in NYC during the day are pretty spectacular, but by night? Effing heck, they’re EVERYTHING. I’m not one to have my breath taken away (a lot of the National Parks in Utah/Arizona made me all a bit like ‘what am I looking at? Another rock?), but this glittering view of dotted lights is just superb and magnificent and totally dreamboatin’.
14. JACK’S WIFE FREDA
We were recommended to head to this West Village brunch spot by a couple of people and it was ALL the scrumminess (especially the watermelon juice which we’re now copying and making at home, uh huh). Turns out Chris already followed them on Insta, and one of the owners is basically the best dressed person I’ve ever seen and it makes me mega jels.
The food has a Mediterranean twist and the decor has Pinterest written all over it, plus it was pretty reasonably priced. Just go follow them on Instagram if you take one thing from this post @jackswifefreda
We splurged out $114 each before we’d even left for the airport (about £70) on CityPASSes, but they saved us so much money overall.
For that we got 9/11 memorial entry, Empire State entry, Top Of The Rock entry, Natural History Museum (we ran out of time for this one…), Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island boat tour, and The Met entry but we err, ran out of time for that one too. We’re such uncultured beasts.
16. BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Take the subway down, wear your comfiest shoes and pack a drink. Any trip to NYC involves a flip of a lot of walking (we were doing between 20,000-30,000 a day), so the last thing you reaaaaaally want is to do another walk for funsises, but this is a free attraction and is full of Instagram porn.
The view of Manhattan from the bridge was all sorts of spectacular and totally worth it, but be careful of cyclists. They have a separate lane but tourists think it’s really cool and cute to stand in their lane to take better photos and it makes the cyclists maaaaaad.
17. PIES N THIGHS
Essentially, really damn good fried chicken.
There’s one in Brooklyn although one’s recently opened up on the Lower East Side and it’s basically empty, me and Chris nearly missed it. Maybe no-one else got the memo?
I ordered chicken, waffles, cinnamon butter, syrup and strawberries and nearly died from sheer happiness (and a sugar-induced coma).