My Top 10 Tips for NYC
This month I visited New York for the first time. It was a long time coming and a birthday present to myself for my big Four-O. My OH and I were very excited and despite being absolutely exhausted managed to cram in a heap load of stuff in one week. At the end of the week I thought back on our experience and what I would recommend others to do when visiting NYC, so here are my top 10 tips.
1. Go for more than 3 or 4 days
In the taxi on the way to the airport our driver commented on how long we were going for. Apparently he found it unusual for someone to be going to NYC for a week. He had only ever encountered people going for three or four days. Many people will visit NYC for a long weekend, but we felt that it was so far to go and expensive that we wanted to get as much out of it as possible. There is so much to see and do that you couldn’t possibly do it all in a long weekend. We struggled to do it all in a week never mind a weekend. If you are on a budget and don’t want to pay hotel prices then try looking at airbnb for an apartment. There are many options for accommodation in New York so do your research before you make your plans.
2. Use your feet
On our first day we decided to walk from our hotel in Chelsea down to Ground Zero via Sixth Avenue. This was a great way to see the city, taking in the surroundings and atmosphere and marvelling at the sheer size of everything. We walked almost everywhere during our time there, covering over 100 miles in the week and only using the underground when our feet couldn’t take anymore. Take comfortable footwear and remember to look up! Many of the sites are above your head.
3. Avoid going in March
We decided to go at the end of March due to the closeness to my birthday. The week before we arrived, NYC had a snowstorm with approximately 4 to 6 inches of snow covering most of Manhattan. By the time we got there the storm had passed but the snow was still pilled at the side of the roads. The temperature was pretty low and it rained most days. We had one good day of sun which we used to visit Central Park and see the views from the Top of the Rock. If you do go in March take warm clothes and be prepared to get wet.
4. Visit Greenwich Village and SoHo
Greenwich Village is an area on the west side of Lower Manhattan. It feels like an area where the locals hang out, probably because there are many students from both NYU and the New School which are located in this area. Its also well known for its art, often being referred to as an artists haven. SoHo is another area in Lower Manhattan and named due to it being South of Houston. This is a good area for shopping with its trendy boutiques and larger outlets. My advice would be to sit down and do some people watching in these areas, its amazing what you can spot.
5. Visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum
I have seen many pictures of the 9/11 memorial outside the museum but they do not in any way prepare you for what you see and feel when it is right in front of you. Looking up, there is a huge gap in the sky where the Twin Towers should be and you start to imagine what it must of been like on that fateful day. The museum itself is surreal, set in the leftover foundations of the original buildings. It gives a sense of the impact with many pictures and sound clips from that day. Be prepared for an emotional experience.
6. Go to the Top of the Rock
This is the observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Centre. The views are incredible and allow you to see for miles over the city. I would recommend Top of the Rock as it gives you the opportunity to see the Empire State building which you obviously can’t see if you go to the observation deck there. It was a clear day when we went here and you could clearly see Central Park, Empire State Building, One World Trade Centre and in the distance you could even make out the Statue of Liberty. When you get in the lift to go to the top make sure you look up as the lift roof is glass and you can see the lift shaft colourfully lit as you speed up. There are three observation floors, visit them all and take plenty of pictures. You will be amazed at the view.
7. Madison Square Gardens
We decided to check out a Basketball game while in NYC. Neither of us particularly follow the game but we wanted to experience a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Gardens. I would highly recommend it. The atmosphere is crazy and you get drawn in to the whole camaraderie of it all. We had such a giggle this night, with our huge foam fingers cheering on a team we new nothing about. The tickets are expensive, even the “cheap” seats and although they are pretty high up you get a good view of the court and the whole stadium.
8. Visit Woodbury Common Outlet Mall
We intentionally travelled with half empty suit cases so we could do a bit of discounted shopping while in NYC. Although the exchange rate wasn’t great, we managed to get a lot of good bargains at the Woodbury Common Outlet Mall. This mall has over 220 stores ranging from high end designer stores to well known high street stores. A shuttle bus runs from Penn Street bus station costing around $40 return. If you go, take an empty suitcase with you, unless you plan to buy one there. This helps when you get back on the bus as all your purchases can go in the suitcase and be placed in the hold of the bus meaning you don’t have to fight with your hundreds of bags trying to get on the bus.
9. Don’t be afraid to use the underground
The underground felt very safe during the day and at night, we never encountered any trouble in our whole time. We did get lost a couple of times but managed to laugh this off and put it down to experience. Purchase a metro card which can be topped up and used many times over. We shared the one card, handing it to the other as we went through the turnstiles. If you can manage to work out where each line goes then it is worth trying it out for the experience, even if you can’t figure it out just give it a go.
10. Visit Central Park
Central Park is a National Historic Landmark. It is 843 acres, 2.5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide. It has 6 miles of drives used by joggers, walkers, skateboarders and inline skaters. There are many lakes and ponds and a huge billion-gallon reservoir. Basketball courts and baseball pitches are scattered throughout the park and always seem to be busy. It’s a strange experience to be in such a green area when in a major city. If it weren’t for the massive skyscrapers it would be easy to forget you were in NYC. We decided to walk most of the park but a good way to see it would be to hire push bikes and cycle the many pathways.
There are many other attractions to New York which we didn’t manage to fit in. Our time there was magical and it has now become my favourite city in the world. We will definitely be returning sometime soon.