(This is the final post in my America series. If you missed the previous instalments, you can catch up on them here, here, here and here.)
If there's one thing that you must do before you die, it's visit the famous New York City.
Also known as the Concrete Jungle, Big Apple or just simply NYC, New York it’s a place where dreams are made. I’ve been a grand total of five times now and with each and every trip it has exceeded my expectations. There's nowhere quite like it anywhere else in the world and if anybody says otherwise then they're lying!
This time around, my sister and I were supposed to be there for three nights on the way home but a delayed flight from Boston meant that we arrived a whole 24 hours later. I was also still incredibly ill from my time in Boston, which unfortunately spoilt it a little for me. As I’d already been four times before though, I just re-visited some of the sights I’d already seen and tried to take it a little easier.
Here’s my top 10 must do’s when visiting the city for the first time:
1. Have a picnic in Central Park.
This one is obviously weather permitting as no one wants to sit on wet grass in the rain eating soggy sandwiches when they’re on holiday (or ever)! Central Park goes on for blocks and blocks so there’s quite a lot of ground to cover. It surrounds a lake and, in the summer, it’s rather nice to buy an ice-cream, set up camp in the sun and just people-watch the day away.
2. Sail past the Statue of Liberty.
A lot of tourists spend tons of dollars to go on the trip to Liberty Island; however, if you’re on a budget, you can just take the free Staten Island ferry. This sails right past the Statue of Liberty which allows you to get some amazing full length shots completely for free! Then you can simply hop on the next ferry back.
3. Visit the One World Trade Center and Twin Towers Memorial.
When I was a wee young girl (aged nine) on my first visit to NYC, I was lucky enough to ride the elevator to the top of one of the Twin Towers before the 9/11 tragedy occured. This meant that when I visited Ground Zero for the first time post-9/11, I was even more overwhelmed with sadness for what happened on that devastating day as I remembered it how it was previously. I’m not going to lie, visiting the memorial is heartbreaking. I haven’t actually been in the new Museum but I went in the temporary Museum while the One World Trade Center was being built and cried my eyes out. It’s unbelievably sad but worth going to pay your respects and learn more about what happened.
4. Shop until you drop in Soho.
The majority of the shops in Soho are all on one street and go on for about 26 blocks. Have fun but try not to spend all of your money! Also please learn from my past mistakes and always remember your suitcase space limitations. Having to panic pack and sit on your suitcase while your travel companion tries their best to zip it up a couple of hours before your flight is nobody’s idea of a fun time.
5. Take your camera to Seaport.
Seaport is a cute little shopping district at the most southern point of Manhattan (hence the name Seaport as it’s right on the sea). From here you can see both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges which means there’s some pretty awesome photo opportunities.
6. Go up the Rockefeller Centre.
Now, you might have heard that going up the Empire State Building is THE thing to do. A lot of people do it and thoroughly enjoy it; however my advice is to NOT go up the Empire State Building. Go up the Rockefeller Centre instead. By hitting the Top of the Rock, you get spectacular views of the city INCLUDING the Empire State Building. Also, if you’re strategic with your timing, you can get incredible photos of both the daytime view and sunset view, as well as seeing how pretty everything looks lit up in the dark. You’re welcome.
7. Stroll down Fifth Avenue.
Fifth Ave caters to all your shopping needs as it’s where all the tourists like to make their purchases. If you want the luxury market (a la Louis Vuitton), you can find it here. But if trashy souvenir shops are more your style, there’s plenty of them around too. Do me a favour and go in Trump Tower on the way down/up. It’s rather cool and they do nice coffee.
8. Explore Times Square.
Times Square is, undoubtedly, the best bit of the Big Apple (in my opinion). It’s the most visited place globally with over 360,000 pedestrians per day. The dazzling lights, skyscraper buildings and charged atmosphere are what the city's all about. You're very likely to stumble across the next big premiere or marketing event right in the middle of it, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled. When I visited Times Square for the fourth time, I walked right into the Transformers 3 premiere and got to see the cast and crew being interviewed on the red carpet.
9. Go see a Broadway show.
This is a pretty obvious one but I just thought I’d throw it in here in case some of you have been living under a rock for the last however-many years. The shows on Broadway are unbelievably amazing. I’ve seen Peter Pan, West Side Story, Chicago and The Lion King and loved each and every one (especially The Lion King as that’s one of my favourite films of all time)! It’s a bit pricey, so make sure you ask your hotel Concierge for deals. Or you can wander through Times Square where a lot of show reps will approach you with ticket opportunities. There’s also a ticket booth in Times Square where you can queue early in the day for discounted show tickets for the following night. Enjoy!
10. Have lunch at The Plaza.
Are there any Home Alone lovers out there? I ask as the hotel where Kevin McCallister stays when he gets lost in NYC in the movie is right next to the south entrance to Central Park. It’s a gorgeous building and a great place for lunch. It has a food hall in the bottom, a bit like the food hall in Harrods, and there are plenty of yummy choices on offer. Bon Appetit!
Whatever you do in NYC, try to make the most of your time there as the city is so fast-paced that you might blink and miss it. Then you’ll be home before you know it, chewing your friends’ ears off and reminiscing about your time in the Big Apple – just wishing you'll have a future opportunity to take another bite.
(Have you been to NYC before? What’s your favourite thing to do? Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)