I lost my travel virginity to the North American continent in late November last year after a spontaneous ‘yolo’- esque decision by myself and two of my best friends to visit the infamous concrete jungle.
New York was unlike any other city I had ever visited. Every street corner, the people, the food, the shopping, it was all so fantastic. And just, buzzing. Alive. (Note: As an added bonus, American men are not afraid to stop you on the street and drop a line ala ‘damn mama you look fine’, which, I mean, is pretty nice for the self esteem).
I fell in love. We only had a short 10 day trip to the city but we were able to jam pack a lot of activities, eating, shopping, and weaving our way through the majority of Manhattan Island!
Pop on some Alicia Keys ‘Empire State of Mind’, T Swizz’s ‘Welcome to New York’ or some old school Sinatra ‘New York New York’ to get yourself in the mood, and read up on 10 things you absolutely must do next time you get the chance to visit the Big Apple
1. Central Park
This one goes without saying. I mean, how many other cities have a giant park in the middle of it? I would grab myself a tall mocha (or mow-ca as the American’s pronounce it) from the corner of East 96th & Madison, and head for a walk around Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis with my bestie, linked arm in arm to keep warm and discussing our plans for the day. Escaping that hustle and bustle momentarily. There are so many great photo opportunities, and recognizable frequented film locations (boat house from 27 dresses, setting for Chuck & Blair’s wedding opposite the Bethesda fountain) , cute little places to sit, freelance performers, artists selling work, and food carts. And of course, super cute but rather overfamiliar and entitled squirrels!
2. Shake Shack
What originally started as a cart selling delicious burgers and shakes in Madison Square, has now expanded to become a coveted food chain all over the country, with queues at all times of day. And it is not difficult to see why people are lining up to fill up on this amazing American menu. I am an absolute sucker for their Shroom Burgers, just a big fat juicy Portobello mushroom deep fried and stuffed with melted cheese. So forego the golden arches and get some gourmet fast food into your thankful belly!
3. Visit a rooftop bar
I don’t know about you, but for me, after numerous Gossip Girl episodes in high school, I just had to check out a rooftop in NY and sip on some drink whilst soaking up that incredible view. A recommendation from a wonderful makeup artist at Sephora on E 86thand a long walk later, we made it to the top of 230 on 5th Avenue. Perchance at sunset. And my gosh, what a view. We were handed these red robes (which made us look like naked moleskin rats), but kept us warm atop the building, with a full frontal of Empire State and views out to Staten Island. Take your pick from their selection of cocktails or grab a hot chocolate or warm cider. Incredible photo oppurtunities. Dress warm!
4. Have high tea at the Plaza
An iconic hotel of New York associated with ritz and glamour over the centuries, The Plaza has continued to hold it’s appeal in the modern world and remains host to the exclusive VIP and celebrities of today. Thankfully it is still accessible to mere mortals like yourself and I, and the Palm Court on the entry level plays host to some delicious high tea in a luxe setting. We indulged ourselves to the most basic on the menu, the Eloise High Tea, and could not finish it! All sorts of savoury and sweet delights and of course, the finest tea or pink lemonade.
5, Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the symbolic structures of New York, and who knew an old school cable bridge could look so hip and funky. It is a nice relaxing walk across to Brooklyn with views of the island en route and some fabulous photo ops with the famous cable and wooden background.
6. Top of the Rock
A trip to New York is not complete without a visit to the top of one of it’s highest buildings to take in the panoramic views of Manhattan both East toward Central Park, and West towards the One World Tower and Staten Island. Personally, I think a trip to the Top of the Rock is better than that of the Empire State as you can see the Empire State from the top which makes for better photos! Make sure to buy your tickets online and show up on time as they are strict on time aliquots with only a certain number of people allowed through at a time.
7. Brunch in Soho
Soho is the hipster corner of New York, clashing colours, a more youthful crowd, little boutiques and cute cafes and restaurants. We decided to visit this restaurant listed in a Vogue featurette on ‘places to visit for brunch in NY’. It houses beautiful décor, green vines, crystal chandeliers and sleek black in all the right places. Surprisingly not overpriced food and great table service. I grabbed myself a little pizza which was just enough. Cute spot to check out if you want a nice setting for brunch whilst checking out Soho.
8. Le Bain
Located in the famous Meatpacker district of New York, home to some of the most exclusive clubs, Le Bain is a night club perched atop the Standard Hotel with some sweet DJs playing discotheque, amazing cocktails and quality EtOH, and views to admire with your double vision! In the summer, the rooftop is open with a pool which either means trouble or bucket loads of fun.
9. Grand Central
Grand Central does not get it’s name for being any mediocre station. It is massive and gorgeous. American flags hanging around, army personnel all around. Perhaps my fascination with good transport comes from the fact Sydney’s train system is frequently nicknamed ‘shitty-rail’. But the subway was so easy to navigate and got us from point A to B in no time at all. Reliable and quick! You can purchase a temporary travel card for 7 days with unlimited rides for USD 31 rather than purchasing point to point tickets each time you use it to save money!
10. Broadway Musical
Throw it back old school, dress nice and take yourself to one of the many theatre shows in New York’s Broadway scene. Some things never change and the little girl inside me picked Cinderella to go watch and whilst I was sitting next to a 5 year old girl in a Cinderella costume and tiara, the show was beautiful, the entire theatrical experience, the acting, the theatre itself, were all wonderful. And these shows often sell out.
New York really is that concrete jungle where dreams are made of. A city that never sleeps. Of course there are more sites to see, things to do, places to go, but these were my favourite 10 from my time in the city.