I’ve wanted to visit the Big Apple for a while, and having recently turned 21 I thought, what a great excuse to celebrate…in New York! So in September 2017, my sister and I jetted off to spend six days seeing the sights and experiencing the city. There’s so much to see and do it can be hard working out how to cram it all in, but don’t worry, I’ve done all the hard work for you; here’s my guide to help you plan your own New York city break.
When we arrived, the time difference was five hours behind the UK, but the excitement of being there gave us so much adrenaline that it wasn’t a problem. The first thing I remember was the number of yellow taxi cabs driving around; they were everywhere! I was even excited about seeing the iconic American school buses, too.
On our first day, we explored most of Midtown, including Times Square, Broadway and Grand Central Station. We began the day with breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner; I ordered the pancakes, and the portion was huge, but they were so delicious that I finished them all! The staff at the diner are aspiring Broadway stars, and they’ll sing your favourite Broadway songs while they serve you (and yes, they take requests!). What a fantastic way to begin my journey in the Big Apple.
Times Square was amazing; I felt tiny as the buildings were so big and bright! There are so many different restaurants and tourist spots to see in Midtown, but a full day will give you plenty of time to explore it. We saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway while we were there; if you have time, I’d highly recommend this show, it was spectacular. Make sure you buy your tickets for any Broadway show from one of the TKTS booths, as you can get up to 50% off the face value. They’re located across the city including one in Times Square and at the Lincoln Centre (the booth in Times Square gets busy though, so make sure you get there early to save time queuing).
We really wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, so on day two, we went on the Staten Island ferry (which is free), as it cruises right past it. Not only could we see Lady Liberty herself, but we also had a perfect view of New York’s skyline as we left the port. After our ferry trip, we headed to Wall Street to have a wander around. As this is the business district there are a lot of corporate New Yorkers walking around; it was very busy but had a great buzz. Next on our list was the Brooklyn Bridge; we walked across it which took about 40 minutes, but you can cycle over it too. The bridge is beautiful, and you get more great views of the city (plus amazing selfie opportunities!). We stopped for a drink near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to really take in the sights.
On the third day, we walked along the Highline which is an amazing green space that used to be a railway track. It’s now a public park so you can walk and see Manhattan from high up; there are also art instalments along it and plenty of benches so you can take a seat and enjoy them. Along the Highline route is the indoor Chelsea market, and in the area there’s also Soho and Greenwich Village which are great for shopping and sightseeing; Greenwich Village is famous for having the apartment block used in ‘Friends’ and Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from ‘Sex and the City’. We took a walk around Little Italy and China Town, to experience the different New York neighbourhoods; we did a lot of walking that day, but it was so worth it.
The buildings in New York are amazing; they made me feel so small, and many gave us the opportunity to visit a viewing platform and take in views of the city. On day four, we headed up the One World Trade Center which is the tallest building in New York at 102 storeys high. We had an amazing view of the city skyline from the top; there’s also bar and restaurant up there so you can sit and take it all in. If you don’t want to trek downtown to The One World Trade Center, you should travel to Midtown and visit the Rockefeller Center; the ‘Top of The Rock’ has more amazing views of the city. The Center is home to the famous ice skating rink at Christmas time and is where they film famous US TV shows including ‘The Jimmy Kimmel Show’.
If you’re a big shopper then you must go to Woodbury Common, which is where we spent our fifth day in the city. It’s home to big outlet stores and you can buy designer items for really low prices, so make sure you have enough room in your suitcase. The outlet is about an hour out of New York by bus; it cost us $45 dollars each for the return journey. If you get up and go early as we did, you can be back in New York by 4pm to spend the evening in the city.
We saved the best until last and spent some time in Central Park on our final day. We booked a bike tour around the park which was led by an experienced guide who showed us the most famous and historical spots. I couldn’t believe how amazing the park was; it’s huge and really is a peaceful haven in the centre of a bustling city. The sun was shining and it was a warm day, so it was busy with tourists and locals eating picnics and just enjoying the peace together.
Over the six days we spent in New York, we walked a total of 52 miles which was the furthest I’d walked in a long time! If you plan on exploring by foot instead of taking a cab or the subway, I’d highly recommend taking a pair of comfortable shoes as you could be covering the mileage we did! I loved every minute of my city break in New York; it’s such a surreal atmosphere and so different to any other city break I’ve been on. I really can’t wait to go back.
Do you know anyone going on a city break to New York? Share this post with them or let me know the sights you’d explore in the comments below.