It took me 32 years to visit but alas, here we are! This trip was a special one, we were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary and it would be the last big trip without children for awhile. Because we were travelling without children, we took the opportunity to go somewhere that wasn’t very child friendly. A big city, with restaurants that didn’t just serve chicken nuggets, a place where we could be adults again. New York seem to fit the bill.
Despite its rats, piles of garbage, and the occasional wafts of urine, there was something so special about New York. Its tall skyscrapers, yellow cabs, cobblestone streets, and bricked town homes are what my dreams are made of. The constant energy, hustle and bustle, its cool vibes are intoxicating and infectious. I cannot wait to be back! Until then, here are some highlights of our trip and our New York City travel guide!
If you’re looking for our New York Eats, click here. We ate so much, it warrants its own post.
– Tips on visiting Attractions –
Purchasing an attractions pass can save you some money if you plan on seeing a lot. There are several official options such as the New York CityPass, New York Pass and many others. Do your research and find which option suits your travel needs. We bought the New York CityPass; a booklet which included 6 attractions and expires within 9 days. This was perfect for our weeklong trip. We didn’t feel rushed and could take our time spanning the sites over the course of the week.
A note on the CityPass Booklet
When these Discount Pass companies say you can bypass all the lines and skip the wait, it’s not necessarily true.
– The lines that we were able to “bypass” or were “fast tracked” were: Empire state building, we bypassed the long ticket line, they scanned our booklet directly right before entry. Bypass lines are also available for 9/11 Museum as they also scan the book directly.
– For Top of the Rock and Statue of Liberty, we had to wait in the regular ticket line to transfer our booklet coupons into official tickets before entering the attraction.
– At The Met, we skipped the line and went to the round info desk. They changed my ticket quickly and got me into the museum without the wait.
We loved the Top of the Rock and preferred it over the Empire State. Top of the Rock had better views that weren’t obstructed with a concrete wall (I’m short). Also, from the Top of The Rock, you can see the Empire State building which made for a better skyline.
I also really enjoyed the Statue of Liberty. Its as touristy as it gets but really worth the trip for first timers. If you want to save money, you can take the Staten Island Ferry and go around the Statue.
I also enjoyed The Met. If you are really into museums, this one is amazing and HUGE. Plan your day around your visit and even then, you won’t see everything.
I could’ve skipped the Empire State Building, it was older, busier, and as I mentioned above, the views at Top of the Rock were better. There were long lines and wait times for the elevator. However, we did go around sunset peak time. We went to this attraction to use up our CityPass booklet.
Out of all the attractions we visited, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was my favourite. It was an eye opening journey. Not being American and a bit weary of the whole ”MERICA IS THE BEST!” subculture; I had a preconceived notion that this place would of been very biased and very Pro-America. And to my surprise, it wasn’t the case. The museum had a wonderful flow, carefully curated and you can feel the thoughtfulness that went into preserving and memorializing such a horrible time in history. It was subjective, insightful, instructive, and incredibly sad. It is a solemn place, filled with so much memory and loss. It made me respect New York so much more. I can’t say enough about this memorial, the stories I read, the videos I watched, it was so well done and well worth the visit. And revisit.
– A Note on Transportation –
The most cost effective way to get around NYC is their Subway system. It is super intimidating to look at on a map but once you get the hang of it, it’s generally easy to use. Note to travellers: the train you’re taking will designate uptown or downtown, this is not reference to a geographical location like “downtown” or “chinatown”, it means you are going North (uptown) or South (downtown) from PRECISELY the location you are. Never go by the color of the train on a map, go by the letter and number of the train. Another good thing to remember: there can be separate entrances to the subway designating uptown or downtown, if you go down the wrong entrance, you’ll be on the wrong train.
Downside to the subway? You see many uh…interesting…people. And by interesting, I mean crazy. So crazy.
Uber or Car Hailing Companies
Initially, we were intimidated by the subway system so our main mode of transportation was Uber. The app is very convenient. I liked how it showed our route and had the full fare posted. It was convenient to pay and tip with the app. It was also nice that we weren’t running on a meter which made New York traffic more bearable. TIP: There are many of these hailing companies available in NYC and for some of them, first rides are free. It’s also cheaper to “share” rides, so your driver will do pick ups and drop offs along your route. This is a good option for longer, more expensive rides.
We personally used Uber and not once got in a iconic yellow taxi, but hailing a cab from the street is incredibly easy.
Arguably, the best way to see New York is to walk it. We planned our trip to certain sections of the city per day. Once we got to our general area we just walked everywhere. Bring comfortable shoes and turn that FitBit on! You’re gonna get some city miles on ya!
I find it very useful to see other travellers itinerary. It helps me get a feel of how long things will take, how people separate their week to make the most of their time in certain places. It also gives me an idea of what to see and what to do. I’m including our very loose guide. We split Manhattan up into sections and our time revolved around what we planned on eating (true story, we love to eat). We also diverged from our schedule to see other things along the way. But I hope this helps those planning a trip to The Big Apple!
Note: Steve had food poisoning for the first two days and kind of slowed our plans down slightly. We crammed a lot into our last day. I wouldn’t suggest doing all of that on one day but we did manage it!
– 6 Nights in NYC –
Wednesday/Day 1: Land, Uber to hotel. Dinner at at Totto Ramen, walk Time’s Sqaure at night.
Thursday/Day 2: Top of the Rock, Rockafeller centre, Byrant Park, New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, Shake Shack
Friday/Day 3: Anniversary Date, Walk Central Park, Loeb Boathouse Lunch (Resos needed), The Met Museum, back to Hotel, change and get ready for early dinner at Daniel.
Saturaday/Day4: Explore Lower Manhattan, Dominique Ansel Bakery (cronuts!), Little Italy, Chinatown. Soho shopping, Greenwhich. Grab subway uptown to Yankee Stadium, ball game. Back to Midtown, dinner in Koreatown.
Sunday/Day 5: Flatiron, Eataly, Chelsea Market, Meatpacking District, Highline. Back to Midtown. Go to Empire State Building. Hotel, change and get ready for Broadway show. Book of Mormon at Eugene O’Neil Theatre. Walk around broadway and theatre district.
Monday/Day 6: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, 9/11 memorial and museum, Brooklyn bridge and explore Dumbo, Brooklyn. I wouldn’t do all three of these things in one day, you’ll feel a little rushed, I would allot around 3 hours for the 9/11 museum and a whole morning for Statue of Liberty.
That concludes our trip! What a wonderful way to celebrate our 5 years of marriage, happy anniversary Steve, how lucky and I to be doing life with you! xx