My wife and I were lucky to start our travels in the U.S with eight days in the ‘Big Apple’! New York City didn’t disappoint! There is always something, often too much, to see and do and even with time and lots of energy, it is difficult to scratch the surface of the city. We gave it a good go though! Below is our Top Ten for NYC:
1. Top of the Rock
The viewing platform of the Rockfeller Centre offers amazing views of the city. We were planning to go to the Empire State Building but a wise concierge suggested this as an alternative – much smaller queues (barely 20 minutes to get to the top) and stunning views of the entire city. Go there at sunset to get some shots of the city at dusk when the lights come out…
2. Ferry Rides
We tried to use as many ferries as possible to get around as it gives you a different perspective of New York City. You can connect from Brooklyn to Manhattan and cruise underneath the city’s famous bridges for $4. Much better than the subway!
3. The Statue of Liberty
Ferries leave regularly from Battery Park and will take you to Liberty Island to see the lady and then Ellis Island for the immigration museum. Unfortunately, Ellis Island was closed for our visit due to the damage sustained from Hurricane Sandy. If you want to climb up to the crown then book your tickets online early – there are only a few spots available each day.
4. Head to the High Line
A great place for a sunset stroll followed by sundowners in the many bars in Chelsea or the Meatpacking District. This restored old railway line is now a green, aerial pathway. It is a good way to check some of the older architecture New York and hosts various artworks amongst its gardens.
5. Bike the City
Rent a Citi Bike and “make like” New Yorkers, whizzing through the city. There are a range of outlets where tourists can rent bikes for the day but we found it much more exciting to rent from the Citi Bike network. Using a credit card, you can hire a bike for $10 for a period of 24 hours. The only catch is that journeys should not exceed 30 minutes (or you will incur an extra charge) but there are plenty of Citi Bike pick up spots. Cycling around the greenway bike path which loops around Manhattan is extremely easy, safe and fun!
To find awesome flights to New York go here.
6. Monumental City
Check out the myriad monuments around the city. There are hundreds of statues, plaques and memorials dotted through the city. Most of them you’ll just stumble upon but two which stood out for us were the newly opened 9/11 Memorial and the Irish Hunger Memorial in lower Manhattan. The Irish Hunger Memorial held special meaning for me as my father is Irish. An old, two-bedroom cottage from County Mayo has been transplanted from the ‘old country’ and is situated in a wild garden, surrounded by New York skyscrapers. Definitely worth checking out!
7. Central Park
Amble through Central Park on the weekend. A stroll in the city’s lungs is good any day of the week but the park really comes alive on the weekends when it is reserved for pedestrians only. Ride a bike, hire a paddle boat, listen to buskers in Strawberry Fields, an area of Central Park dedicated to the late John Lennon, who was killed there. Many of the city’s museums such as the Met or the Guggenheim are dotted along ‘Museum Mile’ on the perimeter of the park…
8. Hang out in Brooklyn
When you are ready to escape Manhattan, Brooklyn provides a great alternative with the old historic Brownstone buildings of Park Slopes or the hip Williamsburg eateries and bars. We spent Saturday morning at the Brooklyn Flea Market and strolling through the botanic gardens, before having a picnic in Prospect Park and sushi dinner at Samurai Mama in Williamsburg. A “low intensity” New York day, much needed after a week of sightseeing.
9. Coney Island
Although it is quite a long way out – expect to spend 45 minutes to an hour to get there from lower Manhattan – New York’s iconic amusement park, boardwalk and beach are a fun day out. Don’t miss a ride on the Cyclone, the park’s old rollercoaster which dates back to 1927 and is sure to give you a thrill! Also try out the famous hot dogs from Nathan’s…
10. Choose your own adventure…
Wander through the streets and find your own adventures. We had a few must do’s on our list but New York is a playground. Chat to people, get lost, try new things and take a minute to breathe. It can get quite manic so take it easy and enjoy!