I suffered with a huge amount of 'holiday anxiety' ahead of my trip to New York. I had been there two times before. Once for 'fat camp' in the Adirondacks, and the other, a mere one day spell at the end of my three week cross-country road trip. I now had seven days to see it all - See it like I saw it in the movies growing up. I travelled there with my brother and we made ourselves an itinerary, which didn't look like much on paper... until we got there. While I had a completely dazzling time in New York over Thanksgiving week, I am still recovering from my fatigue. I tried so desperately to account for my 'big tourist trip', complete with high expenses (Thank you CityPass for helping up save as much as we could!), that we crammed in too much - which resulted in beginning each day with tired eyes and ending with sore, aching feet.
To avoid similar exhaustion, I have compiled a list of things you must do and see while in New York, and others you can forego. Honestly, taking it easy is the best way to maximise your trip in the beautiful chaos that is the Big Apple.
Top Of The Rock and The Empire State are the ultimate viewpoints for looking out over New York's dazzling, dizzying and famous skyline. Top Of The Rock was the first place we visited upon arrival, and while it was buzzing with tourists, there was still plenty of opportunities for us get some amazing pictures. We visited The Empire State on Thanksgiving evening - which also happened to be one of the coldest days of the year so far. The winds at the top were stronger than what I had experienced while I climbing Mount Snowdon earlier this year. I couldn't stay outside for too long, and the struggle to get a nice picture was near to impossible. But with the city lit up in lights - the 'wow' factor was undeniable.
|Top Of The Rock|
|Empire State Building|
Times Square was smaller than what my brother had expected - but he was truly astonished at the bright lights and the hypnotising digital billboards. The place is no let down... and it's no joke. We went on a Monday night and managed to enjoy it in the way it should. However, there were many other nights we would walk through Times Square, and my anxiety spiralled out of control. Definitely consider the best time to go for maximum fulfilment, but on the whole, Times Square is best enjoyed amongst others.
9/11 Museum and Memorial was my absolute highlight. I knew it would be emotional, but I didn't realise how choked up I would get. The museum is executed in such a clever, thought-provoking and hard-hitting manner that really showcases the true horrors of September 11th, 2001. The magnitude of the tragedy and loss of life continued to hit me from start to finish. This is something you cannot rush and need to set aside 2-3 hours for. The memorial commemorating the people who had lost their lives was just beautiful and touching. The only thing which made me uncomfortable was people taking selfies at the memorial. I truly don't think it's the place for it.
The Met and American Museum of Natural History were two museums which really blew my mind. They offered endless rooms of exhibitions, artefacts, historical and geographical presentations from around the world. You could really spend a whole day at each museum. It's a great place to go for solo travellers as well. Another museum which deserves an honourable mention is the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum - which is of course, a niche offering.
Central Park is simply perfect. Miles and miles of lush greenery, with historical landmarks and magical picture spots. We hired bikes to beat the tourist crowds at the entrance and made our way around the park in the crisp, clean air. My first bit of peace and serenity while being in New York.
|The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|American Museum of Natural History|
|Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum|
Statue of Liberty is one of those things that just needs to be done if you're coming to New York for the first time. You can book your ferry in advance. We didn't, and had to queue two hours in the big freeze - but it was worth it. Don't feel obliged to stop off at Liberty Island, as the short ride over gives you ample time to get those iconic snaps of Lady Liberty.
Brooklyn is one area of New York which I wanted to explore more - but our time was cut short. For a fleeting visit to the popular borough, definitely walk the length of the Brooklyn Bridge during the afternoon, hit up the iconic Dumbo neighbourhood during sunset, and then reward yourself with the best pizza you'll ever have in your life - at Grimaldi's.
Honourable mentions: Definitely try to fit in an NBA game. Even if you're not a sports fan, I can guarantee you'll love it. Also, take in a Broadway show. We saw School Of Rock and it was epic! Speaking of Broadway, make sure to eat at Ellen's Stardust Diner, where there are singing waitstaff who are aspiring stage stars.
SKIP IF YOU DON'T HAVE TIME!
New York Public Library and Grand Central are usually absolute musts for any tourist. The library is just grandeur, class and elegance at it's finest, while the train station puts my usual London Victoria to shame. However, due to the general 'in, take one quick snap and get out' aspect to these two places, I wouldn't go out of my way to cater for them. If you're pressed for time, maybe visit one over the other.
|New York Public Library|
|Grand Central Station|
While the Guggenheim Museum is an incredible piece of architecture, going inside didn't really serve me any real purpose. This is a museum for art buffs, who want to stop and admire each offering. It wasn't for me. I found The Museum Of Modern Art of the same ilk, nothing really tickled my fancy - and I deemed other museums more exciting. Another niche offering is the Museum Of Sex. Unless you have a burning desire to learn about the history of sexual revolution, I would most definitely give this one a miss. If you want that cheeky chuckle (like I did), it's probably best to stick with Pornhub.
|Museum Of Sex|
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES IN NEW YORK?