Welcome to the Harri Travels Guide to New York. This post was written back in 2011 so is a little old, but check out my more recent posts on top eats in New York, living like a local in New York for a few weeks, and my review of The James hotel.
I spent 5 days in New York over the summer with friends and had a brilliant time diving into delis, watching shows on broadway, pounding the streets of manhattan with my camera and lazing in Central Park. Below is my guide to the concrete jungle.
EATING IN NEW YORK
There is a huge range of eating destinations and options to choose from, but here were a few of my favourite:
Delis: Delis – created by the god of lunchtime. They are amazing sandwich bar, salad bar, everything-you-could-ever-possibly-want-for-lunch things- where you can get paninis, wraps, huge sandwiches, pastas, pizza, hot food, cold food and more flavours of Snapples than any human could ever want for. Try one of the salads – you choose what kind of leaves you want then add ingredients and dressings of your choice. It. Is. So. Good. They toss it all up in front of you, and, voila!
Pizza places: Dotted about the entire city (there are millions of them around Times Square) are these pizza restaurants where you can get a slice of pizza the size of a fully grown man’s head for around $1. Try Famiglia, my favourite place.
Little Italy: I was so glad to have stumbled upon this area of town – Little Italy is situated on Mulberry Street, next to the Soho area of the city (and conveniently close to TOPSHOP), it is a wonderful place; an entire street lined with al fresco Italian dining, Italian people, good food and a great atmosphere. In summer the street was alive with twinkly lights, live music and the delicious smell of garlic bread wafting through the air.
Diners: We sampled a selection of diners on our whirlwind tour of the city. Most of them being much of a muchness – fries, burgers, milkshakes… you know what diners serve. But I can highly recommend the diner opposite Grand Central Station called Pershing Square. Order the Waffles or the Brioche French Toast!
BARS AND CLUBS IN NEW YORK
Empire Rooftop Club: If you want to live the ultimate Gossip Girl dream head on down to the Empire Hotel (aka Chuck Bass’s pad) on a Friday or Saturday night and party the night away sipping cocktails under the stars. The views are fantastic, the music is good, alright it’s all a bit glitz and glam but hey, when in Rome.
PLACES TO SEE
Central Park: This was my favourite place in the whole city. Spend a day people watching as locals saunter by with their perfectly groomed puppies and ridiculously cute babies. Lie next to the Bow Bridge in the centre of the park and watch couples drift past on the rowing boats. Families will be there having children’s birthday parties with rainbow coloured balloons and bubbles floating through the air, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch the handsome indie guy playing Wonderful World on his guitar.
The Metropolitan Museum: The museum is a wonderful place, architecturally stunning and of course filled with millions of interesting, beautiful pieces of art, sculpture and history. Outside the museum, artists line up to sell their handiwork by the flowing fountains.
Top of the Rock: I opted to go up the Rockefeller centre rather than the Empire State for two reasons: one, you get the Empire State in all your pictures and two, the Rockefeller lift has a see-through ceiling through which you can gaze as you fly up to the top floors – awesome!
THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK
Broadway: You can’t got to theatre land and not catch a show. It can be very expensive, but there are ways to get cheaper tickets: try the TKTS discount booths in the centre of Times Square for late bookings, cancellations and bargain prices. Also, head to your theatre of choice on the day (with a student card if you have one) and see if they have any cheap, on-the-day, tickets left. We managed to get 4 tickets to see Catch Me If You Can, the musical, for around $20 each.
Staten Island Ferry: This is a great way to get some snaps of the sky line and the Statue of Liberty, and best of all, its free! The ferry leaves from the port at the southern tip of Manhattan, you can take the subway down there from Times Square.
Tiffany, 5th Avenue: In this Tiffany, they actively encourage you to try on a $10,000 engagement ring. We were like kids in a sweet shop!
Soho shopping: TOPSHOP, Victoria’s Secret and much more – Soho is the place to go for all your shopping needs.
HOW TO GET AROUND NEW YORK
We used the subway all week and had absolutely no problems with it. If you’re travelling alone late at night, of course it is sensible to take a cab, but if your in a group its pretty safe. Manhattan is very easy to navigate- its all up and down, straight lines on the subway. If you get lost or confused just head for Times Square, you can get to pretty much everywhere in the city from there.
When coming from the airport you can also use the subway, although if you’re in a group a taxi would probably be easier. We paid $60 ish for a cab to the West Side from JFK. The only downside is that we had to queue for quite a while to get an airport cab.
So there it is: New York. Do it on a shoestring, do it with millions of pounds. It matters not. The Big Apple awaits!