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, that it’s actually impossible to see everything in a day. Yet that is exactly what a couple of friends and I attempted to do a few weekends ago.
It was fun, magical and felt ever so adventurous. So, I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you here. Who knows… you may get some inspiration for your own trip too.
If anything, I’m willing to bet there is a place or two on the list you may not have come across yet. Do feel free to share your own ideas and experiences in the comments below too 🙂
Morning madness – clothes & shoe shopping in New York City
Ah yes, what would a trip to New York be without a good old shopping spree?
Lucky (or unlucky?) for us, Juliane and I arrive in New York City on a dreary Friday night. There was an epic rainstorm that night, leaving us with wet shoes, even wetter clothes and no replacements at hand. Therefore, the next morning we had a solid excuse to check out what New York’s shopping districts had to offer.
A budget junkie at heart, I certainly wasn’t going to be buying anything from 5th Avenue anytime soon. However, a limited budget did give myself and Juliane the opportunity to check out what was on offer outside the main shopping strips.
We found three gems in particular, that I feel are worth mentioning. Click and expand the button below to take a look!
Meeting the stars at Madame Tussauds
Following on from the successful shopping spree Juliane and I decided to escape the wind and the rain. Our new friend Chris in tow, we decided to explore the glamorous interiors of Madame Tussauds. Renowned for its amazingly life like wax figures.
I went to visit Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam last year, so it was not my first time. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the wax figures in New York were in fact almost entirely different!
There were also a good 6+ floors to explore, which was exciting. Oh and they had a 4D cinema experience there too. That was something new and different indeed!
Getting through the exhibit took a little longer than we thought due to the queues for the 4D cinema. However, overall we had a great time and many laughs on the way.
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 US history at Ground Zero
The first time I came to New York was in 2001. I was 14 years old at the time and the twin towers had only just fallen a few months prior. Ground Zero was still being cleared back then, and the shock and devastation the collapse of the twin towers caused, was tangible.
14 years later, I was standing on the spot where the tragic events of 9/11 took almost 3,000 lives. It was beautiful to see the new ground zero commemoration to those lost. However, I must admit it was a rather chilling experience at the same time.
It definitely reminded me not to take anything for granted. Especially the fact that I am living, breathing and experiencing this inspiring world today.
Taking a peek at the Statue of Liberty
Not wanting to miss out on the iconic symbol that is the Status of Liberty, Juliane, Chris and I headed for the Staten Island Ferry. Since we were too cheap the pay $20+ for the ferry to visit the Liberty and Ellis Islands this proved a great alternative.
Running 24/7 (check out the schedules here) at no cost, it was a cheap and cheerful mode of transport. It definitely was quite crowded though.
We headed out on to the deck above to feel the wind and rain in our faces. Then we took 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. We had places to be, after all! Instead, we walked right back on to another ferry headed back to New York the minute we landed at Staten Island.
Given less time constraints, we would definitely consider exploring the island next time though!
Directions on how to get to the ferry can be found here.
Eating neighbourhood cuisine at ABV
Having the luxury of a native guide really makes all the difference when visiting a place you don’t know. They always end up knowing the best places to eat. As a big foodie, I can appreciate that!
Luckily, Juliane and I had Chris there to suggest a quirky little restaurant for dinner in the Upper East Side. We were headed up that way to meet another old friend of mine anyways.
The restaurant was called ABV and was a charming mix of a restaurant and a bar serving an intriguing menu.
They had all sorts of unusual dishes including Eggplant and Burrata, Hand-rolled Gnocchi, Elysian Fields Lamb Burgers and Milk Chocolate Mousse for dessert. What a treat!
Address: 1504 Lexington Avenue (97th St), New York, NY 10029 Phone: +1 212-722-8959
Visiting 5th Avenue and the Central Park Carriage Ride
As we left the restaurant and walked our way down from the Upper East Side. We trundled along 5th Avenue and a thought came to mind. Specifically, 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. However, as we rounded a corner and saw a row of horse and carriages waiting, we decided to do something a little bit different. We decided to stop and take a ride.
We chose a beautiful white pony to take us around the park for about 20 minutes $50 (~£34). 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.
That’s definitely one item checked off my bucket list!
Hablas tú español ? – Socarrat Paella Bar
I’ll admit that the Socarrat Paella Bar was a bit of a random choice. The idea to visit was 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 the Sangria stocks depleted and thus we ended up Googling where to find a decent Sangria. We started walking towards a place using Google Maps.
After a while, tired of searching, we made an executive decision. We agreed 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. It let guests sit at communal tables and enjoy a classic Spanish menu of Paella, Tapas, Sangria and wine.
Having arrived well fed just before 10pm, on this occasion, we only tasted the Sangria. It was absolutely delicious though!
The interior design, atmosphere and service also provided a great backdrop to a fun, entertaining and delightfully refreshing evening. What a great end to a wonderful day!
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. We had 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. However, it was a beautiful day that will long be remembered.
If you do get the chance to stop in New York, I must say I would definitely recommend it. Even if it’s just for the day – take a chance and use it fully. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it!