If there’s any city I could move to in a heartbeat, that’d be New York. I lived there for 6 months and have been a few times since, so am always happy to share tips and memories!
New York is fantastic any time of the year but the best to visit is usually in April-June and again in September, when the weather is still warm and pleasant.
Here are my classics for your first time in the Big Apple:
- Walk on the Highline (a leafy park built on the old railroad), go to the Chelsea Market, pass by the Flatiron Building and go down to Washington Square park
- Times square is hell, just go one evening. Despite being hell, it still is quite impressive to be surrounded by tall buildings and giant screens full of ads. It truly represents the American craziness!
- Walk from Brooklyn back to Manhattan on the Brooklyn bridge at sunset, the lights are usually reflected on buildings, it’s beautiful! (see further in my post, for a nice eatery in Bk)
- After going to the 9/11 monument, go to Battery Park, you have a nice view on the Statue of Liberty
- American Museum of Natural History: one of my favourite museums in the world, go there on a rainy day as you can stay there for quite a while. They also have an interesting anthropology department with history about Native Americans. The building itself is impressive and it has been featured in many movies such as Night at the Museum or The Nanny Diaries (one of my guilty pleasures when I miss New York!)
- Visit the MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art is free on Fridays from 4 to 8pm, go there early as the queue can be quite long. I love art but the ticket can be quite expensive.
- Pop to the NY library (free entry), the building is again impressive but unfortunately, the main room is being restored until end 2017.
- For one day every June, NY holds the Museum Mile Festival with many events on Fifth Avenue between 82–110th Streets.
- Go to Grand Central Station and observe people, the view is particularly nice from the Apple store
- Go to a gospel concert in Harlem on a Sunday. Many churches will accept tourists, try not to follow groups if you see one going in as the experience will be less unique. Bear in mind that you might be asked for a small donation.
- Spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon at Coney Island: it is an amusement park with a nice boardwalk. In June, they also have the Mermaid Parade, where everyone dresses up as…you guessed it: Mermaids! You can also have lunch at Nathan’s, an institution with hot dogs (they even have a hot dog eating contest, it cannot get more American!) and crinkle-cut French fries.
- Top of the Rock: again, go for sunset for the best views. It is cheaper than going to the Empire State Building and it means that you actually face…the Empire State Building, ha!If you go when the weather is warmer, get off at Columbus circle, buy food at Whole Foods (their salad bar is amazing!) and have a picnic in Central Park. You can also rent bikes at the main entrance.
- If you have the time/ it’s sunny, go to Fire Island from Penn Station: you will also have to take a ferry after, you can see the huge houses from the Hamptons and the beach is fine
- In the summer, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra usually holds concerts in Central Park. Last time I went, we were just looking for a spot to sit down and enjoy the music when a crew member kindly gave us free tickets for the VIP section, an amazing experience, even more exciting because of the amazing sunset that day! Year round, they also release 100 free tickets for 13-26 years old so if you like music, check their website! There are also the “Good Morning America” concert series, check their website, I sneaked in the VIP section for a Lady Gaga concert a few years back, another fun memory!
- Again in the summer, many parks show movies all around the city. Just grab some snacks, wine, a blanket and you’re good to go! TimeOut New York is also a great source for free events and exhibition, check it out during your trip!
- Walk in Williamsburg, and on Bedford avenue in Brooklyn: it is funny to see the frontier between hipsters and conservative Jews. When you go though, you might receive some nasty looks if you are wearing shorts or a short skirt…
New York is also home to many lovely restaurants, here are my faves:
- Two Hands NYC: my favourite place for brunch. They serve açai bowls, a Brazilian berry that is now big in the US (see my article on Santa Barbara) but also very nice coffee. It is close to Bowery/ Canal street stations, which are full of shops and not far from Chinatown so you can walk in the neighbourhood.
- Little cupcake bakeshop: if you’re into sweet stuff, they have tasty (but crazily heavy!) cakes, they have three shops in NY and Brooklyn
- Brooklyn Crab: located in the middle of nowhere in Brooklyn BUT they serve the best clam chowder, good lobster / crab rolls and $1 oysters. It is so good that last time, we went twice in three days! After lunch, you can walk in the neighbourhood, which is full of cool graffiti and cute houses. Once done, you can take the IKEA ferry back to Manhattan, you’ll have a nice few of the Statue of Liberty. Get off at Southstreet seaport and you can then walk in the Walt Street area.
- Spoon table and bar: also really good for breakfast, located between 5th and 6th avenue, on 17 West 20th Street
- Brazen Fox Kitchen & Craft beer: again, they serve a good lobster roll. Located next to Union Square, they sometimes show TV shows in the evening and there’s a cool atmosphere.
- The Standard Hotel: the perfect place for a cheeky cocktail and observe people.
The best way to visit New York is simply to wander around, it is simply mesmerising to look up surrounded by all the skyscrapers. Make sure you wear comfy shoes and the 20 km per day are all yours!