I’m writing this at 6am, on board a plane on the way back from NYC. Dan is snoring away next to me and the most delightful child is kicking the back of my seat – I am 10 seconds from turning around and drop kicking a 10 year old, would you judge me, please don’t judge me – and I can’t sleep. I’m exhausted from back to back trips and the hecticness of NYC but I cannot bloody sleep so of course, I’ve whacked my laptop out to produce what will most likely be an incoherent blog post. Yay for you! But I thought that whilst I couldn’t get the concrete jungle where dreams are made of out of my mind – soz for the fact that you’re going to have Jay Z in your head for the rest of the day now – I may as well write down 10 things that I’d highly recommend you doing if you go to NYC and don’t know where to start.
Top of the rock – The rockefeller centre
I’m going in with the big guns and potentially my favourite because I really can’t rave about it enough. The top of the rock isn’t the tallest building, it isn’t the prettiest building, but my god does it have the best view. The empire state is babe’in but the problem is, you can’t see the empire state when you’re in it. The Top of the rock gives you the most incredible view of Central Park, the empire state, over to Brooklyn… everywhere. You really do feel like you can see for miles. It costs $32 but in my opinion is so worth it (put it this way, it’s the only tourist attraction that I went to twice and would go to every time). Plus, those photo opportunities are just [insert hand clapping emoji here].
Oh Central Park you big hunk of prettiness. This place really does have such a special place in my heart. It’s the first place I explored the first time I visited New York and it’s kinda become our tradition to go back on the first day of our trip every single time. It’s just magical, really f**king magical. Firstly, it’s absolutely huge, so if you want to explore the whole thing then block out a whole day… I would recommend entering through the South East entrance (I’m sure there’s a proper name but the one on the corner by the Apple store is my fave) and just stroll for a while. You’ll most likely pass gepstow bridge (a mega babe), see the beautiful skyscrapers from the serenity of the park (also a mega but most importantly, lol at how cringe af that sentence was)… basically just take in how peaceful and stunning it is.
Central Park is a bit of a two parter because yes, just strolling is the best thing ever, but I also highly recommend boating on the boat lake. I’m not sure if there are multiple places to boat from but we did it in turtle pond and I almost shed a weepy soppy tear over how beautiful it was. Best done with a man/someone strong/someone who doesn’t mind doing all of the hard work while you snap away like a crazy lady but either way, it is so worth it!
Oh, and then once you’re done, walk down to Serendipity for Frozen hot chocolate, promise you won’t regret it.
The 9/11 memorial museum
This was something that I’d had in mind to head to every time I’d been to New york and never got round to it and I can honestly say, it’s one of the things that I would urge you not to miss. There’s no doubt about it, it’s extremely sad, and devastating, and for me… really left a lasting impact (I stopped vlogging that day because prancing around all smiley after hearing people’s stories didn’t feel right). But it was genuinely so interesting and I felt so happy to have finally gone along to it. I don’t have many photo’s as you’re not allowed to take any in the main exhibition but I don’t think it would feel right to anyway. Go, soak it up, have a good cry, and then go about your day with a new perspective and sense of gratefulness.
Visit Brooklyn/walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Now, I have to say, I didn’t explore Brooklyn enough to give restaurant recommendations etc. because the few times we’ve been have mainly been to see the Brooklyn bridge and the view of Manhattan, but if you did want to hang around for a bit have a good google for some hidden gems. But honestly, even just walking over the bridge is an experience in itself so even if you get the subway to Brooklyn, check out the Dumbo area (you kinda have to find the spot of the manhattan bridge with the empire state poking through because OH MY GOD SO PERFECT) and then walk back over the bridge in awe of the Manhattan skyline, I promise you won’t regret it.
Oh coney. Coney Island is kinda like a mixture of Southend/Margate/[insert your own choice of fun but slightly tacky seaside town here] and New York all in one. It has the rides, it has the copious amounts of ice cream – I mean, my pistachio ice cream mainly ended up down my hands in the 30 degree heat but from what I did get… hubba hubba! – the beachside food, but what it does have that most seasides don’t, is the most incredible, untouched beach. Not a single bloody pebble in sight (lols, such a brit). But seriously, the beach itself was stunning and despite it being packed full of people, because the area is so vast, you never feel too overcrowded or like you don’t have enough space. For me, Coney isn’t somewhere I could stay all day, it’s the place that you go to for a few hours and then head back to the city for some mayhem. But those few hours are complete and utter tacky bliss!
Explore the West Village and Meatpacking district
Now, my tip for New york as a whole is a very basic bitch “go explore” but if there was two areas I would highly recommend, it has to be the West Village and the meatpacking district. I think it’s maybe because I usually stay midtown and have missed these areas before but I was absolutely blown away with how quickly I fell in love with both. We came across meatpacking after finishing the High line walk and it was like walking into Whitney Port’s “The City” (hands up who else remembers that and still fancies Olivia Palermo?) From the Headquarters of DVF and just about every fancy NYC brand that you could think of, to the coolest of cool restaurants… it’s the one place that I wished we’d discovered sooner.
The west village is just beauty personified. The brownstone houses make you feel sassy af, like you’re in some kind of movie (I mean, you actually kinda are if you wander down to the Carrie steps) and it’s just peaceful. And cool. And effortless. If you love your boutiques and individual brands, this is the place to be.
P.s I do also love the upper east side (err, hello, am I Blair waldorf yet?), Soho, Midtown etc. but these are the less obvious places that I wouldn’t want you to miss.
I feel like this is such a marmite kinda place but omg I am so on the love side. I mean, it’s like the busiest place you can imagine in London x10, you have people trying to sell you something on every corner and will most likely see naked girls with their boobs painted in american flags as well as all of the disney characters but I think you just have to see it, even once. If you want to feel like you’re in America/a film then this gal pal is your best bet!
The High line
When you only have a certain amount of time in NYC, there are always places on your list to visit that get shunned down to the bottom “maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow”, and that’s kinda what happened to me with the high line. I think it was more of a case of not 100% understanding what it is, but either way, I am so sad I put this off. In short, it is a park/walkway built on an unused New york train track that runs from the meatpacking district to West 34th street between 10th and 12th avenues. It’s one of those things that sound a bit nothingy but it actually so lovely, the views are incredible and you really do discover a new part of the city.
Walk, walk walk.
I know the subway is so easy and I know that the best parts of NYC are spread all over but honestly, you see the best of the city by walking as much as possible. The best thing is, sometimes we’d say “shall we walk a few blocks until we find a subway” and the next thing you know, you’ve spent so long gazing at everything that you’re already 15 blocks down. You just discover so many more hidden gems and places that you’ve probably seen and heard of a thousand times before, by walking everywhere.
If you go to NYC and intend on eating a balanced diet then girl bye. Please, like, please just forget all about your diet or healthy eating or 80:20 ratio and just eat like you’ve never eaten before. NYC has the best – I mean, most artery clogging and heart attack inducing but the best – food around and it would be a travesty to miss out. I wrote a whole post of my favourite gluten free restaurants in New York so feel free to go and check that out but one of my favourite things to do is just wander and rock up somewhere random. Either way, just eat everything, your waistline might be a little pissed but your heart and soul will be like “yeah, you did good, boo”
So that’s my top things to do in NYC. I feel like I’ve probably forgotten some vital points (just realised that the statue of liberty isn’t in there but it isn’t my favourite anyway) but I would highly recommend each and every single thing mentioned. If you haven’t been and are in two minds, just book the plane tickets, you will never ever regret going to New York!
I’d love to know if you have any recommendations yourself? You know, for the next inevitable trip 😉
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