I always wanted to visit New York. It never happened. Until last June 20th. The day that Reinier and I celebrated our 12½ year anniversary.
We jumped on the plane and tadaa!!! Below you will find the 10 best and most fun things that we did in a few days. The order of the list is random. In one word, New York is amazing. I’m not really a city girl, but once in New York I fell in love with the city. New York – My top 10 things to do……for everyone who wants to visit the city (again).
1 – Buying a Metro Card
First best thing of my top 10 things to do when you arrive in New York, buy a Metro Card! Valid for several days. Available at any tube station. Just ask at the information kiosk. It will save you so much time, despite the fact that some NY highlights are within walking distance. Get yourself a Subway map and be one of those shameless tourists pointing and staring at the map while changing trains haha. Well, the system is not that difficult, within a day you will get the hang of it.
2 – Climbing Rockefeller building
With so many skyscrapers around, you just have to climb at least one. Not literally, well, that would be something, so the elevator will be an excellent choice. Our American friends recommended to climb the Rockefeller building instead of the Empire State building. Apparently because of a better view at the city. I can’t compare, but it is definitely nice to have the Empire State Building itself in your panorama pictures. Before going up, staff will lure you into posing for a picture in front of a green screen. The result will be you (and your company) sitting on the famous steel construction beam dangling in the air. The idea is actually not so bad, but if you consider buying such a photo ($$), make sure your feet are somehow dangling or lie down on the bench to make the picture look genuine.
3 – Shopping in Williamsburg
Shop till you drop, well it almost happened to me haha. On Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue you can find all the big brands, warehouses and high-end fashion stores. But, if you are after unique brands, vintage clothing, small boutiques and little art markets, Williamsburg is the place to be. Take the L line (tube) to Bedford Avenue, which is the busiest street. Then roam the side streets and streets running parallel to Bedford Avenue. Check the weekend Artist and Flea market on N 7th Street between Kent and Wythe Ave. Mini Jake on 178 N 9th Street is a cool children’s and baby store. Or visit Red Pearl on 200 Bedford Ave, a lovely boutique selling clothes, books, postcards and gifts. It is just a small selections, there are too many shops to mention.
4 – Staring at the Flatiron building
Wow, this is one of the most incredible buildings I have ever seen. The optical illusion when you are standing at the left side of the building is amazing. The picture speaks for itself. Don’t forget to look up when you are on the corner of 5th Avenue and 23rd Street.
5 – Visiting Ground Zero memorial
What can I say…it is impressive and surreal to be at this place. Who can’t remember the moment where you were when you heard about the 9/11 attacks? Even after almost 17 years, the images are still very vivid to me. At the exact location of the North and South tower a fountain pool has been constructed. So there are two massive squares with water falling down the edges into the ground. In the middle there is small square hole. Again the water falls down, but this time you can’t see the bottom anymore, so it feels like the water is falling into infinity. It is solemn and peaceful.
6 – Wandering through MoMA
If I had more time, I would have visited the Guggenheim and the Met as well. The Museum of Modern Art was recommended to us by several local friends. This museum does not disappoint. Well, you will have to appreciate modern art of course. Although not everything is to my likening (red rectangle with two vertical white stripes…ehhh). The museum has a similar look and feel as the Tate Modern in London but is slightly smaller. Luckily not as huge as The Louvre, where you enter the museum and slightly panic, like where the..beep..do I start?? At MoMa, work your way down from the top floor I would say and enjoy the art!
7 – Sailing the free ferry along the Statue of Liberty
We normally book our holidays last minute, let’s say 1 or 2 weeks before departure, so I thought I had enough time to prepare our trip to New York having two whole months…..whep whep.…If you want to visit the Statue of Liberty including the crown, tickets are sold out for about 2 to 3 months. However tickets for the grounds and Ellis Island are normally available on the day, but those trips will take up to 5 hours. We chose to sail with the orange free ferry to Staten Island. Make sure you embark on the right side of the ferry and sit outside when departing from Manhattan. From this side you will have an excellent view on the Statue of Liberty. On Staten Island, you will have to disembark and wait 20 minutes for the next ferry back to Manhattan.
8 – Walking through Central Park
You can’t miss Central Park if you visit New York, pretty much a no-brainer. It is true that you can’t hear the noise of the city when you are more or less in the middle. The park is a nice place to back down from the crazy city buzz. It is very clean and in a way romantic haha. Racoons and turtles can be spotted by the water.
9 – Watching a Broadway Musical
Even if you are not a big musical enthusiast you can’t actually miss the chance to see one on Broadway. Of course there are other pieces of entertainment available, but I would recommend to buy tickets for my all time favourite, The Book of Mormon. I watched this show in London and therefore I had hoped to be able to purchase tickets for Hamilton or Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but….sniff…cry…these tickets are hot, so the cheap seats were already sold out. Available tickets were almost as expensive as the whole New York city trip itself. So, if you have a goose laying golden eggs, go for it. For me, myself and other losers…one tip of the day, if you really want to watch these shows, book months in advance.
If you are not that lucky to get tickets upfront….two more tips! Most productions offer in person or online lottery tickets. These tickets are very cheap, but you will need a fair bit of luck. Reinier once won tickets through a lottery, so it is definitely worth a try.
Well, what we did….there is a very small ticket booth close to Wall street in lower Manhattan (at the corner of Front Street and John Street, opposite the Seaport museum). They offer tickets with 40-50% discount. We bought tickets (US$ 82 each) for the musical Chicago. Absolutely loved it!!! Oh and one more thing, I ran around through New York on sneakers and I bothered to carry some fancy shoes in my bag (and I was wearing a dress, which is pretty special in itself). Well, don’t bother I would say (unless you really want to). I think that 90% of the people visiting the theatre are tourists who didn’t dress specifically for the occasion.
10 – Checking Chelsea Market
What a lovely place this is. So many little shops and places to eat within this indoor market. Apparently it used to be an old cookie factory. There are two floors to explore. It is a Walhalla for foodies and a great place to stop by for a tasteful lunch and ohhhh the doughnuts…..well in my next blog I will write more about my best places to eat in New York!
With many thanks to John, Joe and Philipp! And for those less fortunate to rely on local tips&tricks, the Lonely Planet will be my best pick. Find below via Amazon:
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