Ask anyone and I’m pretty sure they’d say the same: New York is the best city in the world. Last August, my sister and I ventured over the pond to lose our USA virginity and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I finally understood why everyone from Sinatra to Jay-Z sang about this beautiful concrete jungle (ah, all the clichés). We managed to cram as much in to our four day trip as humanly possible. Here are just a few reasons why New York is my favourite place. I’m hoping (praying!) to go back this year so if you have any tips, let me know!
- Fifth Avenue
Could I afford anything in the stores? Hell no – but it didn’t matter to me. Walking down Fifth is surreal and there are shops for anyone: from the iconic Saks flagship to the huge Apple store. You don’t have to spend a penny (or a dime!) to window shop and soak in the hustle bustle of this shopaholic’s paradise.
- You feel like you’re walking in a movie scene
The entire time I was in New York, I felt like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever – maybe minus the flares. Everywhere you turn, you can’t believe you’re not seeing it through a screen. Is there a city that’s had so many recognisable shots? Obviously, it’s all down the iconic buildings and beautiful streets but it was nice to feel like a movie star for a moment…
- Coney Island
On the night we arrived, we went to Coney Island which is situated in southwest Brooklyn. It’s a retro beach resort with a classic 50’s style fair. There was cotton candy, hot-dogs, illuminated rides and fireworks; a quintessential American affair and a great inital insight into New York. When we were riding the subway to Coney Island, we made friends with a few locals who were coincidentally heading there too. We spent the evening with them and still message now – that makes my memories of my first experience in New York even nicer. Whilst my new-found friends aren’t a reason for you to visit, generally everyone in New York was friendly and welcoming. It’s such a diverse city and everyone seemed more than happy to help a bewildered tourist like me.
- Central Park
Referred to as New York’s backyard, Central Park is unmissable, iconic and brimming with activity. Situated in the centre of Manhattan, there’s a lot crammed into the huge 842 acres. Strawberry Fields, the famous Great Lawn, the Diana Ross Playground – there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re people-watching, picnicking, strolling around the the Conservatory Garden or even roller skating, Central Park doesn’t disappoint. A highlight for me was watching the little turtles that swim around the Lake alongside the rowboats (that you can hire for something like $15). Picturesque and beautiful – you need to visit now!
- The Brooklyn Bridge
We timed our walk across the Bridge perfectly; it was sunset and we stayed for an hour to watch the iconic skyline fade to twinkling lights. It was potentially my favourite thing of the whole trip and I can’t put into words how breath-taking the view is. I would definitely recommend going in the evening to get the best pictures and see New York light up before your very eyes!
There are a multitude of ways you can admire New York from a bird’s-eye perspective. We decided to ascend the Empire State Building, although I’ve heard the Rockefeller’s top floor is equally as breathtaking. To get a 360 degree view and gaze over the immense city, it cost $34 – this takes you to the 84th floor and out on to the observation deck that snakes around the building. There’s also loads of interactive displays regarding the history of the Empire State including an app! It’s $20 more to go to the top, however I think the 86th floor is still an incredible experience with a jaw-dropping view and a lower price.
- Broadway McDonald’s
Now for a dose of low culture – visiting this McDonald’s was like visiting a holy shrine.It was all singing, all dancing (well it is on Broadway after all) and the best one I’ve tasted to date. The menu was so much better than England’s and the all-day hashbrown was music to my ears. Obviously it’s completely subjective to how much grease you’re willing to endure but there’s no denying they pulled out all the stops with the dazzling sign.. and yes, that picture is up on my wall.
- Time Square
Street performers, preachers and tourists unite; Time Square is an unexplainable melting pot that attacks all the senses. We visited twice to see the billboard brimmed hotspot by day and night – both times were equally as busy. If you’re in New York, you simply have to visit Time Square! If its iconic status doesn’t convince you, there’s also a lot of attractions such as the famous Good Morning America studios and that iconic clock. There’s also the TKTS booth “under the red stairs” where you can get great discounts for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and every kind of shop imaginable, including a Hershey’s World incase you aren’t full after your McDonald’s…
- High Line
Once a disused rail track and now an elevated urban oasis, the High Line is the perfect place to unwind, take a stroll or have a picnic. It’s a mile and half long linear park lined with trees, gardens, benches and artwork with a really interesting history. Restored from a derelict state in the early noughties, it’s a relaxing environment with a sense of calm; this is quite a change from the hurried crowds of the City. Snaking down from the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, there are eleven entrances up to the park throughout the route. From the High Line you can gaze over the Hudson River, the streets of Chelsea and the really interesting surrounding architecture – all for free!
- Staten Island Ferry
Whilst originally the Staten Island Ferry service was for commuters, it’s now a tourist attraction as it’s a great way to see the Statue of Liberty for free! Granted it’s not an up-close and personal experience but it’s a lot cheaper and quicker than getting a boat out to Ellis Island and paying to see the Statue. The ferry is a 24/7 service connecting Staten Island to Manhattan and doesn’t cost a thing. It’s also a great way of seeing New York from a different angle and made for a fun afternoon in the late August heat.
To say I love New York would be an understatement. These are just a handful of reasons why the city is so great and whilst I’m reading over, I feel like there’s still so much to mention: Grand Central, Williamsburg, Little Italy, China Town, Macy’s – seriously, the list is endless. Not only did I make lifelong memories, but friends too! Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed my musings and find time to visit this beautiful city, if you haven’t already.