This spring we have been lucky enough to visit New York for a week while we had a break from work. We managed to visit a lot of places and so we are able to pick our favourite ones that made us fell in love with the city. Of course, the city is so big that there are so many more other locations worth the visit, but for first time visitors, like we were, the following ones can be a great start to help you plan your journey. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Liberty Island along with the Statue of Liberty
Liberty Island is the host of the Statue of Liberty and is located very close from the South of Manhattan. There are multiple ways to admire the statue from up close, either free or not, and depending on what you choose the views can be more or less beautiful. The free option would be getting the free ferry to Staten Island that goes by the Liberty Island, but the main disadvantage would be you cannot stop there to see the statue from a pedestrian point of view. The paid option, which was the one that we chose, is by getting a ticket to Statue Cruises. There are multiple tickets you can buy with different benefits on the island. We chose the one with access to the pedestal spot, but to be honest, it doesn’t offer you extra views than the rest of the Liberty Island. So you will be well enough with buying the reserve ticket. Tickets with the possibility to climb up to the crown are available but we were told you need to have a reservation a lot of time in advance, so no crown for us.
The trip with the ferry is a very nice one, giving you the opportunity to see both the statue and the Manhattan from different points of view. Once you get on the Liberty Island, you can either have some walks around the park or stay for a drink/lunch at the restaurant there. The statue is quite impressive and you can easily understand why is so emblematic to New York.
Tip 1: Even though the tickets from Statue Cruises make you do a reservation for a specific hour, that hour doesn’t matter and the ferry is taken by the rule of first in, first served. So be prepared to stay in queues which can be so long that people spend even hours there.
Tip 2: Don’t take too many things with you as there is an airport security checkpoint before getting into the ferry. So it might take you a long time to get through it or you might be asked to leave some of the things behind.
2. Houses in East Village
For ‘Sex and the City’ fans, houses that are shown in the tv series are portrayed to be from the Upper East Side. Well, looking for Carrie’s house from the show, we found out it was actually filmed in East Village neighbourhood in New York. So, off we went to find it. What we found was actually even more pleasant, as the neighbourhood along with its houses give such a vibe that make you feel far away from the crowding side of the city. See it for yourselves below. Bonus: we actually found the house where Carrie was writing her blog and collecting the shoes, yey!
Tip: If you are looking for Carrie Bradshaw’s house from the tv series ‘Sex and the City’, you can find it in East Village, on Perry Street 66.
3. Central Park
We wanted one of the days from the week we spent in New York to be more relaxed, with not so much tourist stuff on our todo list. So we chose to spend it in Central Park, because what can you do in park for so long, right? Well, Central Park is so big it could fit a whole city in it. And with a lot of activities you can do there too. We decided to just have a walk through it with no specific plan and if something would catch our eye we would do it. And let me tell you, at the and of the day, I think it was our least relaxing one in New York, but the most beautiful and fulfilling at the same time.
The first thing that made us enthusiastic was the lake where you can rent a boat to take to the water. We wanted to do that in Amsterdam (see in our previous post here), but we didn’t get the chance due to bad timing, so this place popping up seemed like a sign. Renting the boat for an hour is more than enough and if you catch a sunny day, like we did, makes it a wonderful activity. The fun part of it is that ducks and turtles (yes, big real turtles) are swimming with you along your boat so you can stop at times admire them.
After the boat trip, we stopped for a drink at one of the bars on the lake. From the various bars you can find in Central Park, we got lucky enough to find one where the bartender was Romanian, just like us. A few drinks and social conversations later, we went on with our park exploration.
Wanting to go to the same place we see in the movies, where you can see the skyline of the city across the water, we found out it was located approximately 1 mile away from where we were. And just like that, we understood why so many people were on a bike in the park and why the bike lanes were so numerous: it takes a lot of time to see the park by foot and until you get to one of your checkpoints you are already tired. So, with no further ado, we rented some bikes also. We did a tour of the whole park stopping several times to enjoy the views (and they are so many). After that, because we felt the day wasn’t over, we went to ride down the Hudson River, which was only a mile away from Central Park. This was other great decision for the day, as the views and the feeling you get from doing this is worth every second.
Tip 1: We recommend renting a bike if you want to see as much as possible of Central Park. There are a lot of renting places near it, as well as the City Bike spots, where you can self rent. Also, you can take the bike in the city if you want to explore more, as New York has bike lanes all over it.
Tip 2: In New York, you are not allowed to ride the bike on the pedestrian alleys. So when renting a bike, use on the map on your smartphone bike lane view, to be sure you are not stuck in an area where you cannot ride it. It will be much easier to get from one place to another without having to get off the bike too often.
4. 9/11 Memorial
Well, this is an overwhelming place. But you cannot go to New York and not see it. In the exact same spots where the two towers were, two enormous fountains are built having the names of all the victims all around them. The most emotional part, that will make you unable to hold your tears, is that for every person that would have had a birthday on that day, white roses would be placed on their name. And there were so many white roses.
In the same area, there is a 9/11 museum you can visit and also the One World Trade Centre tower you can admire from down below.
5. Top of the Rock Observatory
Top of the Rock was absolutely our favourite from the whole trip. It is an observatory at the 70th floor at Rockefeller Centre where you can see a 360 degree view over the skyline of New York city. The views are impressive and if you happen to be there during the sunset, the whole experience is quite breathtaking. Every building in the city can be admired from up top: Empire State building, Chrysler building, all the popular towers and even Central Park. So if you plan to visit New York, don’t leave without doing this, is worth every penny.
Tip 1: Make sure you buy the tickets online because the queue can become quite long and you already need to stay at the security queue.
Tip 2: Keep in mind you will have to pay more if you want to be there at sunset, so buy the ticket that includes this also if you don’t want to miss it.
Tip 3: In case you don’t have that much available time for this and want to skip the lines, there is a VIP ticket you can buy. And if you already wanted to see the sunset, which was more expensive than the day ticket, the VIP one doesn’t seem that higher priced anymore.
6. Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is not a landmark in itself, but the way it is built and decorated mades it so emblematic. We actually had to take the subway from there a few times, but just being there and watching the people, the clocks or the way trains are announced made us feel we are in one of the movies Grand Central was shown. You can find there a few shops, an Apple store (which Victor doesn’t miss one ever) and even a food court.
7. Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge is a well known landmark of New York and for sure you want to see it when visiting the city. You can either admire it from both Manhattan and Brooklyn, but we can say that the most beautiful shots we took are from the Brooklyn side of the city. To get there you can either walk the bridge, which is about 1 mile and a half walk, or you can take the subway. Once there, Brooklyn Bridge park offers you several spots where you can have a drink, lunch, relax on a bench watching the skyline of Manhattan or even have a picnic on the grass in the park.
8. The streets of New York
Well, maybe I am not fair with this choice, because the streets of New York are not exactly one location in the city, but for us is what made us love it even more. Even if you are having a walk, admiring a building, wait for a taxi, having lunch on some steps, getting hot dogs from the food trucks or getting lost in the crowds (yes, the streets being crowded is really like you see it in the movies), the chaos somehow makes it perfectly blending.
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