New York, the city of dreams, the big apple, the city that never sleeps! Bright lights, sky high buildings, yellow taxis, enormous portions of food, we just adore it. My husband Dan and I have just returned from an amazing trip to New York and Boston over the course of 7 days. We visited NYC before 6 years ago and saw all of the incredible sights, however found it difficult finding real ‘New Yorker’ spots to eat, so opted for chain restaurants like TGI Friday’s instead, not knowing where to go.
Luckily, this time round two of my friends live and have recently lived in the big apple so were very helpful giving us recommendations of where to eat and drink like locals, so we thought we’d share them with you. Whether you’re getting married, eloping, or just visiting this incredible city make sure you make the most of it and experience it like a New Yorker!
Hotels and where to stay
First things first, where should you stay? We stayed at Hotel Pennsylvania, an extremely central located, dated but clean hotel located central in New York, opposite Madison Square Gardens. I love staying here and we stayed here before last time. We managed to get a really cheap package deal on Expedia and booked 3 months in advance. Personally, I feel you don’t spend enough time in your room to spend thousands of pounds on a trip but this is totally up to you. The beds were extremely comfy and the room gets cleaned every day so for us, this is perfect! Yes at nighttime you can hear the taxis beeping their horns but bring some ear plugs and there will be be no issue, or if you’re as tired as we were it won’t be a problem! We love how easy is it to get to from Newark airport (one free monorail and a $13.00 ticket to Pennsylvania station), which is below the hotel. It’s a five-minute walk to Times Square and Empire State Building, so you really can’t get a more central location.
On the other hand, staying in the middle of Manhattan may be far too busy and noisy for you. If you’re looking for an area slightly quieter and beautiful, opt for Chelsea, Greenwich Village or West Village. Check out Sky Scanner, Air bnb and Expedia for best deals.
How long to stay
New York City can be seen in four jam packed days, however if you can stay a little longer for 5 nights then do. There is so much to take in and you will never run out for things to do. Please remember to bring comfy shoes like walking boots or trainers, as you’ll be doing so much walking!
Travel cards & getting about
Getting about New York is super easy. A lot of the time you can walk (we walked 67 miles in one week), however sometimes it’s best to take the subway. You can buy a weekly travel card or simply keep adding money to your Metro card (each ride costs $2.75), so this may be a cheaper option. The last day the weather was so bad (hello beast from the east!) that we caught a few Ubers and used the pool option, which made it cheaper as you share with fellow travellers.
I made a rough timeline on Excel before we arrived just so we knew what plans we’d have to fit in each day. This of course can change with weather permitting, but gives a rough guide. Time flies when you’re having fun, so don’t let time be against you! I thought it would be best to give you an outline of what we did each day, and what food and drink we had in that area to avoid travelling back and fourth which can be quite time consuming. See and experience as many things as possible.
SATURDAY – ARRIVAL
Check out your local area as soon as you’re in your new home and have freshened up. For us, this meant Times Square, Broadway, Empire State Building for incredible views, Macy’s, Grand Central Station (make sure you try out the whispering wall) and general walking around feeling like we were in a movie set. We then met up with friends for dinner at Hill Country BBQ, which was amazing if you’re a meat lover. The meat is seriously tasty and you can pick how much you want as they weigh it buy the pound.
Usually I would say avoid eating around Times Square for over priced chain food restaurants, however the $0.99 Delicious Pizza slices were gorgeous and one of the best we tried all week, so pick up a couple of these if you’re in the area and feeling peckish!
If you’re at Penn station, visit Magnolia bakery and try the banana pudding (share a large or buy a small each), it’s absolutely delicious!
SUNDAY – CENTRAL PARK, PLAZA HOTEL AREA & MUSEUMS
It was slightly drizzling with rain on Sunday, however we decided to stick to the plan and visit beautiful Central park with a massive umbrella we picked up, then visited the museums to keep us dry! Central Park is so big, it’s impossible to see it all at once, but you can walk a lot of it and see the most famous parts in a day.
Right by the lower east of the park explore the famous Plaza Hotel from Home Alone and the toy shop from the film Big, yes, you can dance and play the human sized piano! Directly left of the front doors of the Plaza, there is another entrance which leads you to escalators downstairs to an impressive food hall. It’s certainly not just any food hall: it’s an amazing food hall. From salads to caviar, lobster rolls to cupcakes, this expensive but impressive food hall is an experience you must see.
After walking around the magical looking park in the mist, we walked to the Met and Natural History Museum, where we spent hours enjoying and taking in the surroundings.
For a late lunch, we then headed to Jacobs Pickles, a must if you love your food! We were so impressed with this place and agreed it was our favourite food stop. Reservations can be made in advance online, but if you didn’t book like us it’s so popular, expect a wait. We put our name down and waited 2 hours (sounds horrendous but cross the road and have a couple of drinks at Fred’s). It was totally worth the wait. The food was outstanding, with giant portions which we couldn’t finish. Try the strawberry infused gin jam jar drink and poutine fries, you won’t be disappointed.
On the way home if you have enough room for pudding, make sure you pick up a cookie from Levain, it’s safe to safe it was the best cookie we’ve ever had. I recommend the walnut and milk chocolate, yum!
As a present, I had booked ice hockey tickets for my husband at MSG for Sunday evening. It was so much fun and an experience you can’t get in England. Check out what bands or sport clubs are playing while you visit, watch the nicks play basketball or the Rangers play ice hockey, it’s a great evening out.
For evening drinks with a spectacular view in this area, make sure you check out Refinery Rooftop. You have to book online and wait for your reservation to be accepted which can take up to 24 hours. With a covered outdoors, indoor fairy lights and a glass roof with sensational views of the Empire State Building, you need to see this spot.
MONDAY – TOP OF THE ROCK, CHELSEA, EAST AND WEST VILLAGE
My favourite day! We started at The Top of the Rock for outstanding views of the city. Make sure you check the weather before leaving your hotel, choose a clear day and enjoy every moment! The view is simply stunning, you can see both the Empire State Building and central park at 850-foot high. Tickets cost $39.00 so a top tip if you want to see the view on a budget, is wait until 5pm and take a trip to the Rockafella Bar SixtyFive, for a free view on the balcony! Enjoy a cocktail whilst taking in spectacular views.
After this, we headed to Chelsea/Meat Packing District for a walk across the Highline. This is a must see! Start the walk from 30th street 10th avenue and take in the gorgeous art work, views and plants on this unique derelict train line. When you get to the glass view point with wooden seats, walk down the stairs and head to Artichoke pizza. We had 2 delicious slices each, try the artichoke and crab flavour, just amazing!
After lunch (or your one of many pizza snack stops), head back down and take a wonder in the Chelsea Market, full of beautiful homeware stores and gorgeous food and drink places to explore. Make sure you walk all the way through the market as it can be quite hidden!
We spent the rest of the day exploring by foot charming West Village and Greenwich Village. Make sure you visit Washington Square Park, Perry Street (Carries apartment from Sex in the City), the famous friends building and the gorgeous cafes and shops a long the way.
Whilst you’re in this area, grab a cronut from Dominique Ansel and visit Petrosino Square in Soho to discover loads of amazing spots for lunch. Try Jack Wife’s Frieda for a hipster lunch, La Esquina for taco’s, and Eileen’s Cheesecake for the tastiest cheesecake you’ll have!
A place you must visit in this area is Mr Purple rooftop bar, located at the top of Indigo Hotel. It has a relaxed, chilled out vibe with amazing views over Manhattan. We spent the whole evening here enjoying the views and atmosphere. At one point we had the whole rooftop to ourselves, the sun was shining down on us and it was just glorious.
Literally one minute down the road from this brilliant gem is Katz deli pastrami sandwich bar, an amazing Jewish meat deli stop since 1888 – make sure you share your sandwich as its so big one is enough for two people! Ask for the best seller a pastrami, and be prepared to be amazed!
TUESDAY TO WEDNESDAY – TRAIN TRIP TO BOSTON
A family member told us to do this, and I’m so glad we did. We took an early morning train at 6.00am from Penn Station and started our 3 and a half hour train journey to Boston with Amtrack. The trains had both Wi-Fi and USB cables which made it great to keep busy, although the views out of the window were so stunning, internet wasn’t really needed and we really enjoyed the ride on the comfortable seats.
Boston is a beautiful, clean, quiet and calm city which we loved exploring by foot and didn’t spend much whilst we were there. We checked in at 463 Beacon Street Guest House Back Bay for one night and spent 2 days exploring all Boston had to offer. The Freedom walk is a free tour which takes you through the city with a red line you must follow on the pavement.
For delicious food, head to Trident Book Store and Café, who have an outstanding menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You also cannot miss the amazing Faneul Hall Marketplace, a long hall selling every food you can imagine. Head upstairs and sit amongst the beautiful fairy lights and old fashioned signs on the wall whislt enjoying your food.
As well as Back Bay, Copley Square and the gorgeous shops, Boston Common is beautiful and in the sunshine you can easily wonder around here for hours.
We headed back to NYC AT 6pm the next day, which gave us more than enough time to see all the sights. We fell in love with Boston and really recommend that you look into doing this, the train fair cost us £100.00 each (which we booked in England before hand) and the bed and breakfast in Back Bay was only $70. We had a great time and it was a fantastic break from the bustling city.
THURSDAY – GROUND ZERO, BATTERY PARK, STATEN ISLAND FERRY & BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Thursday morning was a morning to remember. Last time we were in New York we visited ground zero and the two beautiful fountains, however the memorial museum hadn’t been made yet so we wanted to experience it this time round. It was extremely emotional to say the least, however I recommended everybody to visit this tragic part of history. Book in advance online to avoid queuing, doors open at 11am.
After we headed to Battery Park and the Staten Island ferry, a free ferry service which drops you off at Staten Island and back to New York again. On the journey you get a great view of lady Liberty and time to explore Staten Island. There isn’t much to do there, however if you jump on a bus you can visit a couple beaches when the weather is nice. Make sure you grab a tasty ice cream at the Dairy Queen shop for your journey back! Try to time your Staten Island ferry for sunset and get amazing photos of the statue of Liberty.
After you get off the ferry and are back in NY, this is a brilliant opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Bridge which is a twenty minute walk. It is 1.1 miles long; so if you’re planning on walking over the whole bridge, make sure you have water and comfy shoes! It’s a stunning view over Manhattan and the bridge itself is just incredible and even more pretty at night time all lit up.
FRIDAY – BROOKLYN & WILLIAMSBURG
Brooklyn and Williamsburg have so much to offer, quirky street art, charming café’s and sweet shops. Try and explore New York outside Manhattan and see as many neighbourhoods as possible. Hang out at Dumbo area and get another sensational view of Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattans skyline. If you want to escape the city for a few hours, explore the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which is located right next to the Brooklyn Museum.
After a day of walking and exploring, chill out and enjoy a drink at the Velo Bar.
Of course, you can never fit everything into one trip! There were plenty of places we didn’t get the chance to go to. Here are a list of recommended food and bar spots, make sure you put them into your google map before you leave England, so that when you’re travelling around the city you can see what you’re close to as and when you’re hungry!
Have you got an upcoming trip planned? Let us know!
– The Delancey – 168 Delancey St
– Hotel Chantelle – 92 Ludlow St
– Mr Purple – 180 Orchard St
– Experimental Cocktail Club – 191 Chrystie St
– Sel Rrose – 1 Delancy Street
– Ottos Shrunken Head – 538 E 14th st
– Monarch roof top bar – 71 W 35th St
– Turtle Bay Pub/bar – 987 2nd Ave
– Cocktails 67 Orange Street on Frederick Douglass – 2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd
– Broadway dive – 2662, New York City, NY 10025
– Katzs delicatessen – 205 E Houston St
– Veniero’s cake shop – 342 E 11th St
– Nom Wah Tea Parlour – Chinese dim sum, really cool spot delicious dumplings! Dates back to the 1920’s – 13 Doyer St
– Aunt Jakes – Italian Mulberry street
– Obica – 928 fifth AV
– The Chess Forum – Thompson St
– The Petite cocotte – Thompson St
– Topaz Thai – 127 w 56th St
– East side of Broadway- Flor da Mia – Peruvian
– Big Booty Bread Co – 261 W 23rd St
– Hanamizuki – 29th 7th Ave
– Urban Space Vanderbilt – 230 park Ave
– Corner Bistro – 331 West 4th St West Village
– Mission Chinese food – 171 East Broadway
– Amber – sushi – Christopher St (West 4th Station)
– Cafe select – Lafayette St
– Southern Hospitality – 645 9th Ave
– Lido – Harlem (brunch)
– Caliente cab – 7th and Bleecker St
– Penelope’s – Lexington AV – Amazing for brunch! You can’t book so turn up early
– Archie’s Bar & Pizza – Bushwick, Brooklyn
– Dominique Ansel Bakery – 189 Spring St
– The Smith 55 Third Avenue – great food and photo booth downstairs
– Mama’s Food Shop – 200 E 3rd St (between Avenue A & Avenue B) // Manhattan
– Crif Dogs – 113 Saint Marks Pl // Manhattan Best for: gourmet hot dogs. Try the Chihuahua, a bacon-wrapped hot dog with avocado, sour cream & salsa. There is also a secret bar in here, enter the telephone box and find out for yourself!
– The Spotted Pig – 314 W 11th St, New York City, NY 10014-2369