3 days in New York City
The last stop of our 5-week America tour was New York City. Alex was highly anticipating NYC because it's probably the most popular city in America and it's really hyped up to foreigners. I lived in New York City for three months when I was 21 so I am pretty familiar with the city and was excited to show Alex around. I also have two friends in the New York area who I got to see, which was awesome! We packed in so many classic NYC activities in only three days that by the time we left we were completely worn out. Here is our insane, three-day, NYC itinerary.
|Lion Hunt by Vasily Kandinsky|
I really liked the Gug (as it shall be henceforth be known). I normally get bored in modern art museums but the Gug was well organized and easy to take in. The spiral structure of the museum made it easy to follow and you didn't feel like you were missing anything. Even Alex enjoyed it and I was worried he would struggle. Tickets are $25 with discounts available.
Explore Chinatown and Little Italy
My friend, Cathy, took us to explore Chinatown and Little Italy. They are bordering neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan. We walked around the little trinket shops, bought some cherries from a food stand, and ate lunch at a family-owned Italian restaurant (you know it's legit when all the restaurant patrons are speaking Italian). Cathy also took us to her favorite dessert place in Little Italy, Ferrara Bakery & Cafe. We had a sampling platter of gelato, tarts, chocolate cakes, tiramisu, and cheesecake. Delicious.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is my favorite park in Manhattan. When I lived in NYC, I lived in a building overlooking the park. It was so nice showing Alex around the place I spent so much time. I loved to take a book and blanket and read on the grass or stalk the dogs who were playing in the dog park (no humans allowed in unless they have a dog haha).
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is one of those iconic NYC landmarks and it's instantly recognizable from movies and TV shows. We met my friend, Leigh, there as she got off her train from Upstate. We got coffee and black and white cookies (a must in NYC), sat in the dining concourse, and caught up on life.
Walk along the High Line
The High Line is a 1.45 mile long elevated train track that was turned into a beautiful walking path. This is a seriously gorgeous walk, especially at sunset. There are gardens, viewpoints, and plenty of photo ops. The High Line runs through Chelsea and Greenwich Village.
One World Trade Center
|Can you see the fear on my face? Heights are no joke haha.|
In 2013, the newly built One World Trade Center opened to the public. Remember when I said our trip to the States was full of tall buildings? Well, One World Trade Center is currently the tallest building in North America. For $35 you can ride to the top of the building and look out over Manhattan, New Jersey, Brooklyn, and more. There is even a bar/restaurant at the top!
9/11 Memorial (+ Museum)
At the base of One World Trade Center is the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Museum. The memorial was built in the footprints of the fallen Twin Towers and features an in-ground waterfall - the largest manmade waterfall in North America. Etched along the rim of the memorial are the names of those who died in the 9/11 attacks. It's a truly emotional experience. Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to visit the 9/11 Museum because it was too crowded. However, it's definitely something I want to do next time I am in NYC. The memorial is free but tickets to the museum range from $15-$26.
Ride the Staten Island Ferry
If you are short on cash but want to see the New York City skyline, I highly recommend the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry travels between Manhattan and Staten Island every half an hour and is completely free. From the ferry, you can see the NYC skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and more. The ride takes about 25 minutes but you have to disembark on the other side and re-board the ferry before heading back.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is another iconic (and free) New York City landmark. It connects Manhattan and Brooklyn and offers stunning views of the skyline. The walking path runs through the center of the bridge but above the cars. The bridge is 1.3 miles long so it doesn't take too long to cross (depending on how often you stop for pictures). Underneath the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side is the Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is a great place to sit and relax with an ice cream cone and watch boats pass by.
Visit Times Square at Night
You can't go to New York City without venturing into Times Square. With the lights, billboards, tourists, street performers, and people dressed up as famous cartoon characters and action figures, it's quite an experience. Times Square is home to some famous shops like Hershey's Chocolate World and M&M's World, and larger than life versions of your favorite stores and restaurants. Just watch out for pickpockets.
There is so much to do in Central Park, like riding bikes, boat rentals, the Central Park Zoo, ice skating, Bethesda Terrace, and restaurants. Alex and I chose to take a relaxing stroll through the park and enjoy some quiet time sitting on the large boulders looking out over the city. We also walked through Columbus Circle and admired the view.
Empire State Building
The last stop of our New York City adventure was the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building is famous for being King Kong's preferred perch and it's the only skyscraper in New York City with an outdoor walkway. It's was awesome overlooking NYC without feeling like you're stuck in a box. Tickets cost $38.
Where to eat?
By the end of our 5 weeks in America, Alex and I were running low on funds so we tried to eat as inexpensive as possible. Food trucks were our best friends. You can get just about anything from the food trucks in New York City. Our favorites were bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, smoothie food trucks for lunch, falafel for dinner, and of course, the soft-serve ice cream food trucks for dessert.
When we did venture out for dinner, my friend, Leigh, took us to Artichoke Basille's Pizza. They are famous for their, you guessed it, artichoke pizza, which was delicious.
Ferrera Bakery and Cafe
As I mentioned above, Ferrera Bakery and Cafe is in Little Italy and has delicious desserts and pastries.
Blue Bottle Coffee
Leigh also took us to Blue Bottle Coffee for a morning pick me up. The cafe was very hipster (so kinda expensive) but had great iced coffee.
Where to stay?
As you may know from reading my other blog posts, I am a huge fan of staying at backpackers or hostels. They are inexpensive and a great way to meet fellow travelers. I have had amazing experiences in backpackers in Southern Africa. However, be prepared to sleep in a dorm room with shared bathrooms, or pay a bit more for a private room. I would love to recommend a hostel in New York City, but our stay at Jazz on the Park was awful. The hostel did not match the description provided on the website and it did not have any of the amenities listed. Also, cockroaches... need I say more? Next time I go to NYC, I will definitely use Hotwire to find an inexpensive hotel.
When to visit?
I feel like a broken record at this point, but if you've read any of my other blog posts from this trip to America, you will already know what I am going to say... It was hot, humid, and crowded. Traveling to the States in July isn't the best, but we didn't have any other option. I think New York City in the fall or spring would be fantastic, or even in the winter to see all the Christmas lights, but summer is a bit brutal. However, we made the best of it, embraced our sweaty selves, and had a blast!
What's your favorite thing to do in NYC? Let me know in the comments!