I have returned from my long awaited trip to New York and I’m happy to say that I had the best time ever. My sleeping pattern is refusing to get back to normal so in between naps I’ve been looking into my next trip as there is so much more of New York and America that I want to see and now that I’ve made the first leap into the country I feel much more confident about going back. But first things first I wanted to share some of my time away and share some tips to help you with your trip to New York as I know that it can seem quite daunting visiting the city that has so much going on.
We stayed at The Millennium Broadway hotel which is just off of Times Square and around 10 to 15-minute walk from Macy’s and the Empire State Building. There are soo many hotels to choose from when it comes to New York, I’m quite thankful I booked via a travel agent and they pretty much picked the accommodation for us. We had a standard room that includes two double beds. The rooms were clean and fairly modern and we had a great city view with a glimpse of Time Square. The rooms were cleaned every day to a high standard. There was a large television with a Netflix button which you could sign into. This was great as I need something on in the background to fall asleep too, especially away from home. There is free Wifi with the option to pay for faster internet. I found the free option to work perfectly. The only thing that could make the room better is a kettle (for me it’s not an issue as I’m not a tea or coffee drinker but I can imagine it’s something many would want). The staff were also super friendly and willing to help whenever it was needed. I would definitely stay again.
From JFK we took a yellow cab from the taxi rank which was a flat rate of $68 plus tip to Times Square – if there is a group of you this is really a great no-fuss way of getting to your hotel. Our cab had a glass roof so it was perfect for getting our first glimpse of the city. Make sure to go to the taxi rank and not to accept a ride from drivers in the exit area of the airport they will charge you extortionate prices.
Although walking to each destination is a great way to the see the city it can also be very tiring we bought a 7-day weekly pass for $33 for the subway a great way to get to things quickly – the people I was with were a bit reluctant to use this mode of transport but for the most part I found the stations clean and safe.
If you have done your research on New York you’ll know that there are a number of attraction passes that will save you money – the only thing is that it’s sometimes hard to choose which pass is right for you. We didn’t decide on ours until two days before we left. We decided on the City Pass that gets you into 6 attractions for £94 – We felt for our first trip this was a realistic number which also gave us a plan of what to prioritize – It also included the top things we wanted to visit so for this first trip it seemed like the right option – The pass is valid for 9 days after you activate (visit the first attraction) – with other passes you need to use the pass in consecutive days which could be more costly (3 or 5 day pass). You also get to do the attractions in any order.
We used our pass to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art once inside the museum we were able to redeem our ticket at one of the self-serve kiosks which were quick and easy. We were lucky that in the 5 days that were in NY that it rained for one morning which is the morning we visited the Met so it fit into our trip really well.
The Museum is very grand and large so would take more than a morning to do the whole thing but what we saw was very impressive the artwork was incredible.
With the City pass, you get admission to the Empire State Building and a bonus return for the evening so you get a chance to see the city from both times of the day – this was another deciding factor on choosing this option. We didn’t have to wait long to get the lift up to the observatory on both occasions and we didn’t need to redeem our tickets our pass was simply scanned.
The views are magnificent and if you are planning to do multiple skyscraper observation decks I would recommend doing the Empire State first as it gives you such a great first look at the city. When we returned for our evening viewing (we went after 10pm), the deck was so quiet and despite the heavy wind, it felt so cool being that high up and looking out onto the lights of all the buildings that surrounded us and knowing how awake the city was below us.
With the City Pass you have the option to choose between visiting the 9/11 memorial or the Intrepid Museum – we chose the 9/11 where we also visited the memorial pools. I didn’t take any photos of my trip here out of respect but I highly recommend visiting. Although it is tainted with much sadness the museum has been put together very well with photographs and remains of the buildings along with rescue vehicles. To enter the museum there is a queue to buy tickets and a separate line for City Pass holders which when we were there the queue was empty.
Another thing on our list was to see the Statue of Liberty and the City Pass gives you a couple of options to do so. You can do the Liberty and Ellis Island tour which I believe allows you to get off onto the island or the Circle Line Sightseeing tour which doesn’t stop but gives you great views of Lady Liberty herself. We chose to go with the latter option as getting off wasn’t high on our priority list. The boat ride was fantastic and gave us great views of the city and the bridges as well as a great tour guide!
The final attraction we visited from the pass (yep we didn’t do all 6) was Top of The Rock which was another one of the things we really wanted to do. As I said before I’m glad that I did Empire State Building first because although the views are great the views from Top Of The Rock are far superior with the reason being you get the view of the Empire State Building, therefore if you were to ask me which one I’d choose to do it would be Top Of The Rock. Next time I visit I’ll do the One World Observatory. Another thing I liked about TOTR was that there were seats inside which I felt Empire State Building missed. After lots of walking a wee bench would have been nice.
We were able to redeem our tickets from a self-serve kiosk and were able to book a timeslot for straight away.
Another thing we added to our trip was a Baseball game at Yankee Stadium something that my brother really wanted to do, I don’t really know much (aka I know nothing) about the sport but I was excited about the experience and to eat a hot dog and buy a foam finger which I’m happy to say I did – $11 dollars for a foam finger that I’ll likely never use again…. but it was worth it. It was such a cool atmosphere there is so much going on so surprisingly didn’t find myself getting bored. We took the D train to 161st/ Yankee stadium station… it’s literally a 5-minute walk no chance of getting lost.
One of my favourite things about New York is everywhere was so familiar because of how much the city is used in television and film and there were a few buildings from films that we wanted to see! On the first day, my brother took us on a major jaunt to find the Shandor building which was the building that Dana and Louis lived in Ghostbusters – My brother felt all the emotions as GB is one of his favourite childhood films. It’s located at 550 Central Park West right next to a lovely little church. Conveniently Central Park was right beside us so we were able to have our first glimpse of the iconic park – We walked along to Strawberry Fields where we stopped by the Imagine mosaic where a lovely busker nearby by sang both Beatles and John Lennon songs – it was such a lovely day that we sat for a break just enjoying the music and watching many tourists visit the site. I do wish we got to see more of Central Park but time stopped us from doing so, I’m glad we got to see some of the park on such a beautiful day too.
Apart from going up the Empire State Building and seeing it from Top Of The Rock, we walked along to see it lit up the colours of the Scottish flag for Tartan week, and 5 minutes from there is Macy’s and a whole host of shops. Macy’s is the biggest store in the world and whilst we were there the windows and inside were decorated with the most beautiful flowers for a Flower Show… It was pretty impressive.
It took us around half an hour from Macy’s to walk to the Flatiron building – I really enjoyed the walk to it the area where the Flatiron is situated is really beautiful especially on a bright sunny day. If you like cool architecture this building is one not to be missed. Keep your eyes peeled for the wedge-shaped building if you’re going up Empire State Building you get a great vantage point of it there.
Another Ghost Busters movie location we wanted to check out was the firehouse which also has the Ghostbusters sign on the ground. The station is situated in Tribeca on 14th North Moore Street, right opposite Franklin Subway station. When we were there they had some scaffolding up so I didn’t bother getting a photo but the logo on the ground was pretty cool. Tribeca seemed like a cool place much quieter than the city centre.
Obviously, Times Square is a place that is on many peoples itinerary when they visit NY, as we were staying right next to it it became very familiar to us but I love the buzz of the place – It can be very busy and there are a lot of Characters walking around for photo opportunities, this is their job so they will expect money and they have been known to be quite stubborn. Thankfully I didn’t have any trouble but I knew not to give them any attention. There are also many people trying to sell Hop On Hop Off bus offers and they can also be quite stubborn and once you get stopped other companies will try and outsell them. The best advice I can give if you don’t want to be bothered is just to say no thanks and keep walking. I didn’t have any trouble thankfully. Times Square at night is pretty cool I loved it.
We ventured into Greenwich Village one afternoon to try and find the “Friend’s” Building – but as soon as I stepped out the subway into Greenwich I knew I was in love, it is so chilled with the cutest little buildings and little roads. The building is located at 100 Bedford St in the West Village we got off at St Christopher Street, you’ll probably spot the building by the random people on the street corner taking photos. I reluctantly left the street corner – I felt such familiarity with a place I had never been before. Just across from the St Christopher Street subway is Milk the cutest little ice cream/ milkshake shop after having a little wander around West Village we stopped by to try one of their Milkshakes – I chose Birthday Cake which is every sweet-tooth person’s dream! It was delicious I’d walk back to Greenwich for another one of those bad boys (Kinda a Friends reference… kinda not). The shop only takes cards so if you’re going to visit be prepared that they don’t accept cash.
Whilst walking to the Empire State Building one evening we stumbled across The New York City Library, it was lit with lots of candles and classical music playing peacefully through speakers, as it turns out Dolce and Gabbana were hosting a fashion show so that explained why the building was all dressed up. Without it all though, the building is really beautiful with the big Lion statues guarding the library. I would have loved to went inside.
Outside the Rockefeller centre is the iconic Ice Rink which is soo cute, despite how cold it was I was surprised to see that the rink was still there – in the courtyard next to it there was also a very beautiful and colourful Spring/Easter display, it was quite strange seeing the ice rink which I connect with Christmas time and turning around to see the very Spring display. Across the road is Saks 5th Avenue which had a very cool window display – I had to cross the road for a photograph. In fact, the whole area was just very cool, I spent a long time taking photos of everything.
Right next to Saks is the incredible St Patricks Cathedral, this building was on my list of things to see but we actually unknowingly stumbled across it so when we turned the corner to see it standing there I was pretty blown away. It looks rather out of place but in a really cool way. It didn’t occur to us to go inside annoyingly but the exterior was something else.
At the very end of the road across from the cathedral is Radio City, I didn’t get to see it in the evening where I think it looks it’s best but it’s such an iconic building
There are so many shows to go see when in New York, however, that wasn’t on the agenda for this trip but it was fun walking past all the venues to see how they were decorated… A very obvious tip is not to walk down the street where Frozen and Harry Potter: The Cursed Child is playing at finishing time because it is chaos. Took me ages to get some pizza from my favourite Familiga. On the last morning, I took a walk along to the Walter Kerr Theatre to see Springsteen on Broadway – I wish I was more organised and booked tickets to see the actual show but I didn’t realise it would still be on when I was there! Missed opportunities!
I think we have finally reached the end of my New York trip roundup! I wanted to share my trip whilst also sharing some tips, but keep in mind this is just my first trip to
the big apple New York so they may not be the best but it’s what I did and I had an incredible time. It’s been over a week since I’ve been home but I have serious NYC blues, I’m still spamming my Instagram account with photos (I’m starting to get a little bit embarrassed with it now) – the city certainly didn’t disappoint. I’d also like to add that my experience with New Yorkers couldn’t have been better, everyone was so helpful and polite – whenever we asked for help whoever we asked whether it was a worker or just someone on the street they went out their way to make sure we got all the info we needed.
There are a few things I didn’t get to do but it just means I need to go back! As soon as possible!
I hope I covered everything if you have any questions please do ask! 🙂