When we booked our trip in May we knew that because New York had so much to offer, the best way to make sure we didn’t miss anything would be to make ourselves a guide. Once we had a rough idea we used a program called Batch Geo that allowed us to pin point each location and work out how best to use our time. After doing a little research, and due to the fact we wanted to visit a lot of the tourist spots, we decided it would be worthwhile purchasing The New York Pass. As the passes are pretty pricey and we would be partially travelling two of those days, we opted for a five day pass rather than a seven. You can purchase the passes here: The New York Pass
After gathering our luggage at customs Jack decided to grab us an Uber, we don’t really use Uber very much at home but whenever we venture into London the app comes in handy and therefore decided instead of grabbing a New York cab we would do the same here. Our Uber cost us around $40 to get to us to our hotel in Lower Manhattan. After arriving and settling down we heading to the nearest subway station; prior to our trip we looked into the best ways to get around the city, and for us the most cost effective way would be to get MTA Cards, these are purchases in any subway station and if you opt for a seven day pass it allows you unlimited travel on the subway and buses. The cards were $32 dollars each.
Tip: If you are planning on using the subway be aware that there are different entrances and exits above ground depending on where you are planning on going.
Stop 1: Friends Building
I am a huge Friends fan and couldn’t head all the way to New York without checking out the building itself. A little tricky to find at first but it was worth the wait! The building is located at 90 Bedford Street at the corner of Grove Street. Though on the ground level, rather than Central Perk Coffee House, you will find in its place a restaurant called The Little Owl.
Stop 2: Times Square
Times Square is such a vibrant location in New York; we knew it had to be one of the first places we checked out. Times Square is filled with a mix of crowds, shops, restaurants, and street performers and worth seeing both day and night. Once we arrived we wondered around for a while taking in the atmosphere before heading into M&M World to shamelessly indulge in some American treats before venturing over to the Times Square Steps.
Stop 3: Little Italy
Popping back to our hotel to freshen up we soon headed out on foot in search of Little Italy. Jack had done a some research beforehand and found out Americas first Pizzeria was based in New York. A small Pizzeria based in Little Italy called Lombardi’s. Founded in 1905 and still using the original coal-fired oven from when they first opened. Lombardi’s is very quaint with paper plates and plastic cups but do not under estimate them, the food is simple delicious. Many celebrities have also visited the pizzeria over the years; the walls are lined with pictures of the owner and the celebrity visitors including the likes of Mike Tyson.
Stop 1: Empire State Building Observatory
As this was our first full day in New York I was determined to get up early! As the Empire State Building Observatory opens at 8:00 am I thought it would be the perfect place to start. The views certainly did not disappoint. One of the perks of going early was that it actually allowed us time to walk around all the displays reading the history of the building itself without feeling under pressure!
Stop 2: Madison Square Garden All Access Tour
Next we headed over to Madison Square Garden for the All Access Tour. The tour is done on a first come, first serve basis so I do suggest you get there in plenty of time. The tours do run on a regular basis so even if you miss the one you initially planned, no sweat they will book you straight onto the next tour. The stadium has plenty for you to see while you wait and the tour is very fascinating. Jack and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Stop 3: Grand Central Terminal
Walking through Grand Central Terminal is like taking a step back in time, its iconic beauty is captivating. Located in Midtown, Grand Central Terminal is known as, a universal symbol between New York City’s past and present. The terminal is buzzing with tourists and day-to-day New Yorkers. If you do want to learn more about the history of the terminal itself, a walking tour is available; although on this occasion we opted for taking a little wonder ourselves.
Stop 4: Union Square Christmas Markets
Heading over to Union Square really got us both in the Christmas Spirit. The market was surprisingly larger than I thought and not at-all like the Christmas Markets we have in England. Each stool was filled with festive trinkets and a variety of foods, all from independent sellers. We even picked up a couple of presents while we were there and also a few of little bits for ourselves.
Stop 5: Red Lobster
We had heard lots of people talk about Red Lobster before we headed to the States and decided we, couldn’t not see what all the fuss was about. Oh wow, the portion sizes are huge! Me and Jack were casually looking through the menu and everything was a “platter”, and now to us Brits a platter is something to share; so that’s what we decided to do. The waiter looked at us a little funny but took our order anyway. Turns out, a platter out in the States is for a single person. We would never of been able to finish a whole one to ourselves we barely got through the one we shared. Something you have to try is the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, kind of like English scones but they are literally so tasty.
Stop 1: Grand Central Food Hall
Heading back to Grand Central bright and early to check out their Food Hall, and I must say it was one of the best breakfast’s we had on our trip. We both have different tastes and it was a perfect way for us both to have something delicious for breakfast with no compromise on where we went.
Stop 2: Yankee Stadium Tours
As the subway took us through to the Bronx we were surprised at just how different Manhattan actually was in comparison to other areas of New York. We thought it was important that on our trip to experience not just Manhattan but all areas of New York. Sitting in the centre of the Bronx is Yankee Stadium. It’s about a 20-minute subway journey but it’s worth the wait. An impressive structure with an incredible history; you cannot pre-book the tours, they do although run on a regular basis, but I would suggest getting there early as the ticket office is a little walk away from the entrance of where the tour runs.
Stop 3: American Museum of Natural History
We pretty much spent all afternoon in The Natural History Museum, taking in everything it had to offer whilst also looking out for the artefacts that were used in the movie “Night at The Museum”. After a lot of wondering round we headed outside and grabbed a chilli dog and chilli fries from one of the vendors and sat on the steps watching the world go by.
Stop 4: Met Steps
Being a fan of Gossip Girl I couldn’t head to New York without checking out the iconic Met Steps. Jack was a little confused at my request but went along with it anyway. We were on a bit of a schedule that day so we didn’t get a chance to check out what The Met had to offer but it was worth a cheeky visit anyway.
Stop 5: Carlo’s Bakery
Anyone that has watched Cake Boss will know exactly where we headed to next, Carlo’s Bakery. Although the original bakery is located in Hoboken, New Jersey you can now experience their scrumptious pastries in the heart of New York, based in Times Square on the corner of 42nd Street. If you’re after a recommendation, I would suggest trying the cannoli.
Stop 6: Broadway Show
Finishing off our day, we headed over to New York’s Broadway. Prior to our trip we booked tickets to see Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at the Lunt Fontaine Theatre. We missed out on seeing the performance when there base was in London so for me it was the perfect excuse to experience Broadway. I must say, the tickets on New York’s Broadway are much more expensive than London’s Theatre District but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the candy stand in the theatre was on point. We may have indulged a little too much on candy that evening.
Stop 1: Bubby’s
On the corner of 120 Hudson Street in Tribeca is Bubby’s. A family run restaurant with warm decor and a cosy atmosphere. We got there a little after they opened at 8:00 am and were surprised at just how busy they already were, we even had to wait a few minutes before we were seated. It didn’t bother us but I have noted since they do take reservations, so to save disappointment if you fancy checking out Bubby’s you could always book in advance. I can guarantee the food is totally worth it.
Stop 2: Statue of Liberty
There are several ways that you can head out to see Lady Liberty herself, if you have decided not to get The New York Pass there is a free way for you to get a closer view by jumping on the Staten Island Ferry. We decided on the Circle Line Downtown Cruise, which also included a tour speaker making the cruise very informative. There are several cruises scheduled each day but they are on a first come first serve basis, they run at the following time: 10:00 am, 11:15 am, 12:30 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm.
Stop 3: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Next we headed to the Intrepid, we started by exploring the USS Growler (SS-215) Submarine before heading onto Aircraft Carrier Intrepid. You can explore several levels of the aircraft including the accommodation levels. On the top deck are several of the aircraft’s that regularly used by the Intrepid as their base. On the flight deck you can also see the Space Shuttle Pavilion, which showcases the space shuttle Enterprise, the prototype developed by NASA, which paved the way for the space shuttle program. The Intrepid is located at Pier 86 at 46th Street.
Stop 4: New York Knicks, Madison Square Gardens
If you get a chance to book a sports game while you are visiting New York I would recommend it. We booked tickets for a New York Knicks Game at Madison Square Gardens and the atmosphere was incredible and very different from a sporting event back in England. Its very uncommon for an English sports game to have things like t-shirt cannons or even cheerleaders. They were kind of our favourite bits! Neither of us knew much about basketball but we picked up the rules pretty quickly. The food is a little pricey in the stadium but I couldn’t resist trying out my first pretzel.
Stop 1: Top of The Rock
Entrance to the Top of The Rock is located on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Located on the 70th floor is the Observation Deck with a breath-taking 360 views! This is one of the main perks for heading up the Top of The Rock. Its incredibility fascinating seeing the structure of New York, especially when you see Central Park.
Tip: Last Elevator is at 11:00 pm
Stop 2: Rockefeller Centre Tour
We actually almost skipped the tour and were pleasantly surprised at just how interesting we found it. The tour was jam packed full of history and art. As a reference there are no tours at 2:30 pm, 5:20 pm and 6:00 pm.
Stop 3: Bloomingdale’s
A good comparison to a British brand would be Selfridges but on a much larger scale. There are actually three Bloomingdale’s in New York, which surprised me, one is an outlet and the other two are main stores. We headed to Bloomingdale’s on the Lowest East Side on 59th Street, the second store is located in Soho and the outlet is based on the Upper West Side. An interesting fact and something I didn’t know before heading to New York is that Bloomingdale’s is actually owned by Macy’s. Macy’s merged with Bloomingdale’s in 1949.
Stop 4: Dylan’s Candy Bar
Opposite Bloomingdale’s you will find the famous Dylan’s Candy Bar, two floors laid out like a modern day Willy Wonka factory with oversized lollipop tree’s, candy cane columns and so much more. What’s even more fun is their world famous celebrity wall called “Famous Favourites”. A wall lined with celebrity fans such as, Michelle Obama, David Beckham, Steven Spielberg, Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise and even Kim Kardashian.
Stop 5: Bubby’s
Not going to lie, we totally headed back to Bubby’s. After our breakfast experience I wanted to check out what else they had to offer. Besides the food they also have a wide variety of cocktails, pretty expensive compared to England but the French 75 was worth the $14, in fact I actually had two! We did find it much quieter in the evening so depending on what you are looking for its worth visiting for either breakfast or dinner. A must try is the Apple Pie!
Stop 1: 9/11 Memorial Fountains & 9/11 Museum
Upon arriving at the grounds of 9/11 the atmosphere differs from the rest of New York. The surroundings are very peaceful, and everyone was being very respectful. The experience of visiting such a significant American memorial is very heart warming as well as being an incredibility sensitive location.
Stop 2: Wall Street
We spent the morning strolling through Wall Street; it’s surprisingly a quieter part of New York but worth a good wonder around. Before we headed to Wall Street, we were both under the impression the National Debt Clock would be located there. Its not, it’s actually located at One Bryant Park, west of Sixth Avenue. We found it eventually.
Stop 2: Museum of Modern Art
The inside is spectacular and boosts an incredible variety of art, especially the likes of Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh. A hidden gem, tucked away on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Stop 3: A Little Retail Therapy
We spent the rest of the afternoon doing a little bit of retail therapy, heading over to 5th Avenue to visit, Tiffany’s, Trump Tower and The Nike Store. Note, if you want to head into Trump Tower upon the entrance you do have to walk through a body scanner and they will request to do a bag search. Next we headed over to Macy’s; make sure you check the window displays they are pretty impressive!
Stop 4: Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
I must say, Eileen’s Special Cheesecake has to be one of the best cheesecakes I think I have ever had. We stumbled across Eileen’s Special Cheesecake wondering back to our hotel and thought we would get ourselves some evening treats. We each choose a flavour and shared them between us, Jack choose strawberry and I went for lemon. If you fancy checking them out, they are located in Lower Manhattan at 17 Cleveland Place.
Stop 1: Central Park
Finishing off our week we headed over to Central Park for a morning stroll. I don’t think we even got a quarter of a way through the park and we had already been wondering for over an hour. We also stopped off at the Central Park Christmas Markets.
Stop 2: Brooklyn Bridge
Our last stop was Brooklyn Bridge; we took the subway from Central Park across to the bridge. We stopped at the pier, grabbed a milk shake and walked back over the bridge to Manhattan before heading back to our hotel to grab our bags before we needed to leave for the airport. As mentioned in my previous post, visiting Brooklyn Bridge was one of our favourite places and we both wished we had more time to spend exploring Brooklyn. For now, this will have to wait until we visit again!