I WILL FINISH MY TRAVEL BLOG IN FULL EVEN THOUGH I STILL HAVE TWO MONTHS WORTH TO WRITE ABOUT AND I’VE BEEN BACK HOME FOR A MONTH BUT WHATEVERRR
ITS TIME FOR MY FAVOURITE CITY.
I really had to have a good hard think about how best to write my blog for New York. We spent over a week in the city, so a day by day breakdown would be long and tedious and boring for all involved, but I need to do my favourite city justice.
So I’ve decided I’m going to do my own beginners guide to NYC, in a neat and tidy 15 point list.
I would like to say I’m a pretend professional beginner of NYC as I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice now, and both times were v different. Here goes.
1. Subways are your best friend.
The subway system in the city is so good it’s almost a joke. You can get ANYWHERE you need to be at absolutely any time of the day or night, very quickly and cheaply. The subway timetable is also compatible on Google Maps. Just type in where you’re going, click the little train icon, and you’re on your way. We purchased a 7 day unlimited subway pass for $35US, which also works on the buses. Public buses scare me though so I didn’t catch any, you’re on your own there. A lot of New Yorkers will take cabs, but with the traffic in the city being never ending, I genuinely believe it’s cheaper and way more convenient to get the subway. Also, there’s always something entertaining going on down there.
Just note it can get HOT down on the platforms, so try and plan your trip to not be down there for too long. The trains are also gross and grimy (welcome to New York) so if you’re a germ freak pack hand sanitizer for all train rides.
2. Where to stay?
The first time I went to New York with one of my gal pals Eleana, we stayed at ‘Element Hotel’ right by Times Square. It was very cool for the first few nights but after a while you get kind of exhausted being in the hustle in the middle of the city. If you’re only able to visit for a few nights, Midtown is a great option because you’re super close to everything. If you’re staying a little longer, I would suggest somewhere like the Lower East Side.
Nick and I stayed in the LES this time around and it was amazing. SO so so many bars and restaurants around, and subways on every second block meant we had everything we needed on our doorstep. Wherever you stay, always check and see if you can snag a cheeky Airbnb deal. Personally, I’m now all about staying a little out of Midtown, and the next point explains why in more detail.
3. Times Square is an absolute nightmare… in a kind of good way.
Like. It’s crazy insane and fun, but also sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, when I stood in Times Square for the first time (when the giant Toys R Us was still a thing) I was so so overwhelmed. Myself and many others dream of visiting NYC, and when you’re standing there, in the middle of the busiest part of Manhattan, it’s impossible to not have some sort of emotional reaction and realise you finally made it. That lasts for about three minutes, then you realise what’s going on around you.
Firstly, there’s thousands of people rushing through there at any one time, which makes the simple act of walking difficult. There’s people walking around in FILTHY character costumes trying to get tips for photos. Fun fact; they’re not actually allowed to ask for tips, but they’ll chase you down the street for it if you take a photo with them, you’ve been warned. They also flip their heads off and 9/10 times it’s grimy men and idk it just really ruins the magic when Queen Elsa is NOT who you thought she was.
The shopping and restaurants in Times Square also charge a lot more for basic stuff. As soon as you leave Times Square it becomes more easy to breathe, and the shopping and sightseeing is endless. If you love crazy all the time, Midtown is for you. If you like it for a bit, then need some calm and quiet, stay elsewhere and pay Times Square a visit when you need the crazy. It’s an obvious must see.
4. Central Park is huge and can be done in about an hour or two by bike, but take the time to walk through it.
The first time I went to New York it was Christmas time, so bike hire stores were closed. I was determined to ride the park this time around as the weather was still beautiful and sunny. It’s a great way to get a grasp of the size of the park- the biggest man made park in the world, btw – but walking takes you to some beautiful spots. If you’re on foot, definitely check out ‘The Mall’. It’s an incredible, wide walkway where a LOT of movies have been filmed and holds some great people watching.
5. How long you should visit for is entirely up to you.
But I would recommend at least 5 nights to get a grasp of the city and see a whole bunch, without feeling rushed.
6. You can knock off quite a few tourist attractions in one day, thanks to the subways.
I made a list of all the places I wanted to see then worked out a plan according to their location in the city, so we weren’t going from one end of the island to the other in one day. Nick and I spent about three days seeing most of the tourist things, and the rest just enjoying the city, shopping, relaxing, going back to parts of the city we liked, and eating.
7. WholeFoods might just be the greatest supermarket to ever exist.
It’s expensive as hell but it’s full of healthy foods and sometimes all you want is a salad after 4 days of eating Shake Shack (can I get an amen for Shake Shack), street vendor hot dogs, copious amounts of lollies, donuts, waffles, bbq… Okay I’m hungry… but go to Whole Foods.
8. American Pharmacies are better than most.
Need a scarf? CVS. Need makeup? CVS. Need a beer? CVS. Need cereal? CVS. Need poster paper? CVS. Need actual strong medication? Get that shit from your doctor at home before you get to America cause all you’re getting in CVS is low-grade Strepsils.
Soho. Thrift shops. Fifth Avenue. Zara and H&M on every street. Best ever. Much joy. Goodbye money. No regrets.
10. New Yorkers probably don’t mean to be rude, they’re just in a rush, and you’re probably in their way.
This one took me a while to realise, my bad. But now I have a great appreciation for their hustle. YOU GET TO WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. SORRY FOR STOPPING TO TAKE A PHOTO OF THE 47TH STARBUCKS. ON YA.
11. Shake Shack.
Just giving it its own little point because burger goals.
See also: Five Guys.
12. Empire State Building vs Rockefeller centre.
Empire State is great for city views at night and Rockefeller is great for views of city including Central Park during the day/sunset. I mean I didn’t do Rockefeller cause more expensive, but this is what I’ve been told and it seems legit.
13. If you’re staying in Brooklyn, research the suburbs and choose accordingly.
I’m putting this in here cause we stuffed up MAJORLY with this one. Last time I stayed in Brooklyn at Christmas time, Eleana and I stayed by the Downtown area, in the NU hotel. Absolutely loved it. They made fresh choc chip cookies every night and won my heart.
This time around, Nick and I went more local and stayed near Prospect Park. It was hell. I literally never felt unsafe in New York until this moment. It was super shady, and we were stared at everywhere we went – like we just weren’t meant to be there. Lucky for us our Airbnb was really nice cause we didn’t really leave it for two whole days 🙂 if you’re doing accommodation in Brooklyn, stay near downtown. Williamsburg is meant to be nice as well. Just research the areas. It’s also cheaper than Manhattan.
14. New York at Christmas time.
So we weren’t there at Christmas this time around, but I was there in 2015 for it and picked up a few little tips that might be useful. The first tip is don’t think you’re guaranteed a white Christmas. We had a 22 degree (celsius) sunny day. Did NOT stop us from wearing our Christmas sweaters, thank you very much.
Do your ice skating in Central Park. Pre book Christmas lunch or dinner or cook a feast yourself. Smile at the people working retail and hospitality dealing with assholes all day every day and try and make their day a little brighter. Pack an extra jumper. Go to the light show and the displays at Rockefeller. Check out Christmas windows. Be present and enjoy the magical time in the magical city.
15. EAT. ALL. THE. FOOD.
Ending this list on a high. The food in New York is just superb. There’s everything. You can eat a hot dog at a street cart for $3, or get a phenomenal steak for $160 on 5th avenue. You do you. Just eat as much as you can and worry about the holiday weight later (or never, yolo). You can do street food tours that take you to the best carts in the city which I wish I did but never got around to. Definitely eat Shake Shack and Five Guys and decide which one you like better (the correct answer is Shake Shack) and go to MnM world for a bag of chocolate and then later on try the 99c pizza stall.
God I love New York.