I realise I’ve written quite a few blog posts about visiting New York over the years, but when I went to read them back following my trip to the city earlier this autumn I was shook at just how outdated and er, crap they were.
So hello hello, here I am creating an updated list of all my fave things to do, eat, and see in what is very likely the best place in the world.
Don’t @ me, they have a Nintendo shop and a lot of doughnut places. What more could you ever want?
Let’s get crackin’.
1. Best budget(ish) hotels. Thanks to a 10 out of 10 shit exchange rate, New York hotels are more expensive than ever. Expect to spend at least £200 a night, if not more. If you want a prime location and clean but simple amenities, I’ve stayed at both Yotel and Citizen M in Midtown (just off Times Square) as well as the new Citizen M in Lower Manhattan. All do the job, have comfy beds AND fast WiFi.
2. Embrace the jet lag with 6am walks. I find that I always wake up early for the majority of my trip – because 6am is essentially 11am at home. Rather than roll around in the dark and pray I fall back to sleep, I usually try and get out and grab a coffee as the sun is coming out. It’s my fave time to explore the city as hardly anyone else is out – try walking Brooklyn Bridge or sauntering through areas that are usually heaving with all the annoying tourists (Times Square or Fifth Avenue).
3. Buy a 7-day MetroCard for the Subway. Unlike with the London Underground, the New York Subway has a flat fare wherever you travel – even if you stay on for an hour and head all the way to Coney Island. A week-long MetroCard is $32 (about £25) and will save you spending a lot of dollar on cabs and ensure you don’t get chub rub from walking 30,000+ steps a day.
4. Eat at food halls. We only really discovered these on our last trip and OH MY GOD GROUNDBREAKING. I know, late to the party. These are basically halls and markets which are dedicated to trendy and extra delicious foodie start-ups, but a great place to eat well without spending too much cash. You can get a decent lunch for under $15. Our fave was Dekalb in Brooklyn (the pierogi and bao buns were a strong 11 out of 10). There’s also Chelsea Market, Gansevoort Market and City Kitchen (near Times Square).
5. Carry a book and enjoy that feeling of sitting in a park whilst the city whirs on by around you. Again, another new discovery from our most recent trip, and maybe something I enjoyed more than I normally would because HELLO I AM CHILD FREE. We spent quite a few pockets of time just chilling in Bryant Park (again – this is near Times Square and Fifth Avenue) with books and coffee. There’s a lot of pressure to be GO GO GO whilst visiting NYC, but sometimes you need to rest your heavily blistered feet and just breathe. And this was just magical.
6. Try Egg Shop, Buvette and Clinton Street Baking Company for brunch. And maybe give The Butcher’s Daughter a miss, we weren’t wowed by it.
7. Use a CityPASS. If you want to hit up a good selection of museums and attractions, then this is a good way to save money. CityPASS costs from around £100, but givs you access to your choice of six tourist hot spots including the Natural History Museum, Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty. Buy online before you go.
8. Eat $2 pizza slices when you’re skint. The very best is from Joe’s Pizza (there’s a handful scattered across the city). Or do what we do and dedicate one night to go out and buy an entire pie to takeaway and eat in bed whilst watching shit American documentaries.
9. Jack’s Wife Freda for a slightly more vegetable based dinner. Lot’s of people recommend Jack’s Wife Freda for brunch, and it is pretty great. We actually ended up eating there on our last night and creating a bit of a meze from the ‘shares’ and ‘sides’ on the menu. We had salt and pepper aubergine, halloumi and grapes, roasted cauliflower, beetroot and feta dip and chips. A decent choice for when you feel like you might be 97% deep fried.
10. Rockefeller for views. Having done the observation levels at Rockefeller, One World Trade Center and The Empire State Building, I have come to the conclusion that Rockefeller is my fave. It’s probably the least crowded, you can actually go outside which equates to better photos and you have the view of Central Park at one side and downtown on the other. Although if you have a CityPASS and have free admission to The Empire State Building, it’s definitely worth going up at night and seeing the city lights. I found One World Trade Center too much of a hard sell, plus it’s all inside so not as fun or blustery.
11. Or even better, sightsee by helicopter. We were lucky enough to have a complimentary 20-minute helicopter tour a few years ago, and whilst pricey, it is INSANE. One of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had. Fucking terrifying yes, but also just beautiful.
12. Dough for coconut doughnuts. Admittedly I haven’t tried enough of the sweet treats on offer in New York, but I spend a lot of my time daydreaming about the coconut doughnuts from Dough, so yes, I highly recommend.
13. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unlike a lot of attractions in the States (sorry), I found this incredibly tastefully done. It wasn’t cheesy or gimmicky and they weren’t asking you to buy a photo and a t-shirt and a Christmas decoration on every corner. It was powerful and extraordinary, and really quite hard-hitting. Absolutely worth a couple of hours of your time.
14. Delicatessen for cheeseburger spring rolls. I mean, need I say more? Their macaroni cheese and truffle fries are also quite nice. Website here.
15. High Line for a stroll. This is basically a mile and a half of footpath, built on an old elevated railway line. There’s lots of trees and benches and even a little stall selling coffee. It is however becoming more and more popular, so worth going early in the morning or early evening before it closes at night fall. It’s situated on the West Side in Chelsea, so worth tying into visiting the Meatpacking District for food.
16. Drink In your hotel room. Alcohol is pricey in New York and you can’t drink in the park like you can here (we so classy huh?). It’s worth heading to either WholeFoods, Trader Joe’s or a drug store to find an alcohol section and picking up some beers or cider to keep in your fridge to have before you head out. If alcohol is your thang of course.
Admittedly these are predominately Manhattan suggestions over Brooklyn, Queens and beyond. And I’ll hold my hands up and admit I haven’t explored these areas as much as I would have liked to. Soz, lads.