New York City. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. A Concrete Jungle where dreams are made of.
No matter the reason, the season or the budget, New York City is always a good idea.
No other city in the world has as many alter egos and tag lines as New York City. It is one of the biggest metropolises on earth and a city which captivates, polarises and mesmerises its visitors and residents. New York City is truly a global city and one that has something for everyone. From the arts, food, booze, fashion, finance, sport, technology, parks, skyscrapers, hipsters, soul and citizens of the world. New York has it all.
One of the most redeeming features of New York as a city is that it is what you make it. It is a choose your own adventure city and it offers a chance for you to experience it in your own way, based on what you want to do. And your New York City experience can be completely different to anyone else. The changing seasons also play a role in how you experience the city. People who go at Christmas are spell bound by the holiday spirit, the snow and ice skating. Go in the summer and feel the heat all around you, sit in the stands at Yankee Stadium and eat hot dogs and drink beer while you watch the Yankees. Visit in the fall and stroll through Central Park and watch the leaves turn brown before a visit to one of the many galleries and shows on offer. Spring in the city is often the favourite of many visitors as everyone is happy and upbeat as the big cold disappears and the weather turns perfect. That said, it can be an overwhelming place due to its sheer size and multitude of things on offer.
There is no shortage of travel articles, blogs and websites dedicated to the city. Everyone has their opinion on the best and worst that New York City.
To help you out we have compiled a list of some of our favourite things that city has to offer:
Areas to Stay
Manhattan, the main island or borough on which New York City is based, is home to almost 2 million people and is just 21 km long and 3km wide. Manhattan is where much of the action happens and the majority of people will stay. The borough is broken up in to pockets, almost mini suburbs or villages and often named or nicknamed according to geography or neighbouring streets. There is the Upper West Side, East Village, SoHo (south of Houston st), West Village, Mid-Town, Meatpacking District and it goes on.
Mid-town is where the mayhem happens, home to Time Square, Grand Central Station and many other major tourist attractions, with price tags to match.
If you are looking to escape the tourist traps a little and experience New York like a local. It’s hard to go past downtown Manhattan. The East Village and Lower East Side (LES) offer a chance to immerse yourself in the buzz, the grit, the hum of the city. There is a plethora of sidewalk cafes, speakeasy bars, hole in the wall food offerings, fashion, gyms, boutiques and something for everyone.
From the East Village or LES, walking and the subway are your best way to explore all the city has to offer.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle slightly and experience New York outside of Manhattan than Brooklyn, Williamsburg and surrounds offer a completely different experience. With distinct neighbourhoods full of social, cultural and ethnic diversity, the pace of life is just a tiny bit slower but just as interesting. They need an article all to themselves such is the goodness on offer. Back to the City for now.
Eating and Drinking
The number of eating and drinking choices on offer in New York City will blow your mind. Thankfully there are some good tools available at your fingertips. Yelp is a great app to use and have loaded on your phone when you arrive in NYC. It allows you to search by location or whatever you feel like. You can punch in ‘tacos’, ‘cocktails’, ‘sports bar’ and it will bring up all your options within a few blocks of your location. You can then click on a result and check out menus, reviews, photos and it will help narrow down the 1000's of offerings.
A few of our favourites are:
Bluestone Lane – Good simple breakfast and coffee is hard to find in New York. A couple of Aussies have opened up a winner. Bluestone Lane has spread like wildfire around the city and if you’re looking for avo smash, flat whites and the good stuff which is hard to find, get yourself along to Bluestone Lane.
Rosies – Sidewalk Café offering up first class Mexican, glory tacos and margaritas - 29 E 2nd St
Barro Chino – Little Mexican place that does unreal tacos and strong margaritas, doesn’t hold many so be prepared to have a drink around the corner and put your name down.
Might Quinns BBQ – Think smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs and proper American BBQ plus tap beer. In both East/West Village, like most good places in the city, gets busy, but the line moves quick and is worth the wait
Westville – A few different locations on offer across the city, check it out on Yelp/google. Perfect for brunch
Graffiti Food and Wine - amazing tapas style food/drinks, another tiny whole in the wall bar, again very NYC and worth the wait if required.
Ippudo - banging Japanese Ramen Noodles and was a buzzing place , gets busy so go early
Miss Lilys (West and East Village) Jamaican bar and restaurant, offering up red stripe lager, jerk chicken and plenty of reggae and cool vibes, some of the best food you will find in New York City and a very cool place.
Wholefoods – If you’re on the move all day and keen for something to grab and go, Wholefoods is your place. The offer an endless variety of buffet spreads and make your own salad bars, a great way to eat healthy/cheap/light, when you are out and about exploring.
Things to See and Do:
How you see and do New York City will depend on your hobbies and interests, the time of the year and the budget you are on. No matter what the answers are to the above there is a massive range of amazing experiences on offer.
We have captured a few of our favourites below and these won’t break the bank;
Comedy Cellar – One of the best experiences we have had in New York. So good, that many people end up going back for more. The comedy cellar is an institution and has just added a second location around the corner. Some of comedy’s biggest names have cut their teeth here. Robin Williams, Jon Steward, Chris Rock, Ray Romano just to name a few. Get on their website and book tickets a couple of days before. Intimate basement venue and genuinely hilarious! Tickets cost about $15
9/11 Memorial and Museum – The site of the original Twin Towers downtown has been developed into an engaging and very moving memorial and museum
Top of the Rock – has a slightly better view than the Empire State, go 30 minutes before sunset for the best photos and book tickets online the day before you want to go and skip the lines
One World Observatory – Just opened and worth doing the same day you do 9/11 Museum, will give you some context on the scale and density of New York and for best use of your time book tickets online again.
Central Park – Walk, run, lie in the park, throw a baseball or football, do whatever you fancy, just enjoy some respite from the chaos that surrounds you.
The Highline – An abandoned railway line which has been regenerated into an urban park and walking track. Best way to experience it is to walk some sections, stop at the Standard Hotel rooftop for a drink, or Chelsea market for some food.
Batting Cages at Chelsea Pier – Get in there, put your helmet on and smash some baseballs in the batting cages.
Brooklyn - Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and have a wander around Brooklyn or Williamsburg
Sport - Go and see sport – New Yorkers love their sport and are passionate about their team. Depending on the time of year there is baseball, basketball, icehockey and NFL Football. Get on Stubhub and see what is on the dates you are in NYC then find some tickets to your chosen event. The NY Knicks at Madison Square Garden or the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. Yankees and Mets for baseball, Giants and Jets for NFL and Rangers and Devils for Icehockey. One thing that is absolute must if are going to sport however, buy some Team Merchandise and get involved!
Embrace the chaos
Above is just a tiny scratch on the surface of what New York has to offer.
It is busy, it is loud, it has soul. Best advice we can give is to embrace the chaos and immerse yourself in all the city has to offer.
You won’t regret it, New York is always a good idea.