New York. Two words synonymous with high fashion, high rise office buildings, great food and even greater shows.
New York has such a diverse range of activities to offer that it’s actually impossible to see everything in a single day. Having said that, there’s nothing to say that you can’t give the city a run for its money.
I took a quick dash through the city with a couple of friends a few weekends ago and thought I’d share the fantastic experiences we managed to fit into one day for inspiration. Do let me know if you have had any other ideas or experiences yourself!
Morning Madness – Clothes & Shoe Shopping
Ah yes, what would a trip to New York be without a good old shopping spree?
Given the fact Juliane and I arrived in New York City on a Friday night to an epic rain storm, soaked leather work shoes, clothes and no replacements at hand we had valid reasons to get up and check out first hand what a shopper’s delight New York can be.
A budget junkie at heart, I certainly wasn’t going to be buying anything from 5th Avenue anytime soon, but that did give myself and Juliane the opportunity to check out what else was out there. We found three gems in particular worth mentioning, which you can expand and view below if you like.
1. OMG Jeans Store
If you’re coming from abroad where designer gear is ridiculously expensive and want the real thing for a change, this is the place to be. Real designer clothes at rock bottom prices even compared to some of the outlet stores on-line and off-line (I checked!).
I got a pair of perfectly fitting Levi’s jeans for $44 (~£30) and a US Polo Association puffer jacket for $49 (~£33).
Address: 38th Street and 8th Avenue.
A trendy little shop offering casual wear & accessories this was in a smaller shopping mall and made for a great time browsing. I’d never heard of the brand previously but got a nice deal on a thick hooded body warmer which was on sale for $35 (~24). Score!
Address: 22, 112 W 34th Street, New York.
This place wasn’t all that cheap, but I figured it needed a mention as the staff provided a lovely service. They weren’t out to sell you the most expensive item, but rather focussed on providing you with exactly what you wanted, which is key to customer satisfaction, wouldn’t you agree?
To give you an idea of prices, Ugg boots were reasonable under $200 (~£133) with a variety of kids options in larger sizes for cheaper prices. However, the Tretorn lined Wellington boots I ended up getting were normal price at $89 (~£60) so it really depended on what you were after whether you would get a bargain or not.
Address: W 33rd Street, 1282 Broadway
Meeting the Stars at Madame Tussauds
Following on from the successful shopping spree Juliane and I, accompanied by our new friend Chris, decided to escape the wind and rain and delve into the glamorous interiors of the renowned wax museum Madame Tussauds.
Having previously been to Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam last year it was pleasantly surprising to find that the wax figures in New York were in fact almost entirely different. There were a good 6+ floors to explore and a 4D cinema experience too, which was new.
Getting through the exhibit took a little longer due to the queues for the 4D cinema, but overall we had a great time. After all, it’s not every day you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Don Draper, E.T, Elvis and a bridge builder now, is it? 😉
Address: 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, United States
Respecting history – Ground Zero
The first time I came to New York was in 2001. I was 14 years old and the twin towers had only just fallen a few months prior. Ground Zero was still being cleared and the shock of the events that had happened was still strong.
14 years later I was standing on the same spot where all those years back the tragic events of 9/11 took almost 3,000 lives and while it was beautiful to see that the lost were not forgotten, it was also a chilling experience at the same time.
It definitely reminded me not to take for granted the fact that I am living, breathing and experiencing this world now.
Taking a peek at The Statue of Liberty
Not one to miss out on the iconic symbol that is the Statue of Liberty, but feeling too cheap to pay $20+ for a ferry to visit the Liberty and Ellis Islands, we decided that following on from Ground Zero we would head south and board the Staten Island Ferry instead.
Running 24/7 (check out the schedules here) at no cost, it was a cheap and cheerful mode of transport even if it was somewhat crowded. We headed out on to the deck above to feel the wind and rain in our faces and take some pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the New York cityscape. The trip took around 30 minutes one way.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to actually explore Staten Island itself and instead walked right back on to another ferry back to New York once we’d landed at Staten Island. Given less time constraints that would definitely be an idea for next time though!
Directions on how to get to the ferry can be found here.
Neighbourhood Cuisine at ABV
Having the luxury of a native guide really makes all the difference when visiting a place you don’t know as they always end up knowing the best places to eat.
Luckily, Juliane and I had Chris there to suggest a quirky little restaurant for dinner in the Upper East Side as we were headed up that way to meet another old friend of mine.
The restaurant was called ABV and was a charming mix of a restaurant and a bar serving an intriguing menu of unusual dishes including Eggplant and Burrata, Hand-rolled Gnocchi, Elysian Fields Lamb Burgers and Milk Chocolate Mousse for dessert.
Address: 1504 Lexington Avenue (97th St), New York, NY 10029 Phone: +1 212-722-8959
5th Avenue and the Central Park Carriage Ride
As we left the restaurant and walked our way down from the Upper East Side, trundling along 5th Avenue the thought came to mind that a trip to New York would not be complete without a classic Central Park adventure.
The sun having set by this point it wasn’t advisable to be walking across the park in pitch blackness, but as we rounded a corner and saw a row of horse and carriages waiting, we decided to do something a little bit different and take a ride.
We chose a beautiful white pony to take us around the park for about 20 minutes $50 (~£34) and even though we may not have seen quite as much as might have been the case in daylight, it was a serene and wonderful ride nonetheless.
hablas tú español ? – Socarrat Paella Bar
I’ll admit that the Socarrat Paella Bar was a bit of a random choice brought on by the fact that I hadn’t been able to get a much desired Sangria following our stint at ABV. The ABV happy hour had seen to the Sangria stocks being depleted and thus we ended up Googling where to find a decent Sangria. We started walking via Google Maps for a while and then tired of searching we made the decision to say we’d simply walk into the next place that looked like it would serve Sangria… and voila, Socarrat we found!
The restaurant-bar was based on the brilliant concept of creating a joint dining experience, letting guests sit at communal tables to enjoy a classically Spanish menu of Paella, Tapas, Sangria and wine.
Having arrived well fed just before 10pm, on this occasion we only had the opportunity to taste the Sangria they served up at the restaurant. It was absolutely delicious though and the interior design, atmosphere and service provided a great backdrop to a fun and entertaining end to the evening too.
Address: 953 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10022 (Midtown East Branch) Phone: +1 212-759-0101
Following our action packed day, Juliane and I made our way back towards Port Authority to catch a bus across to New Jersey where we had rented a super cheap AirBNB apartment.
It was a long day, it was a packed day and it was a tiring day, but it was a beautiful day that will long be remembered. I can, therefore, only recommend that if you do get the chance to stop in New York, even if it is just for a day, take that chance and use it fully. You definitely won’t regret it!