Travelling is by far one of my favourite things to do and for that reason, most people are surprised that I'd never visited New York City until just 4 weeks ago. With that said, I thought I'd put together a post full of tips for those of you that will be stepping into my boots and visiting The Big Apple for the first time. I'm no expert, but I know I would have found a few of these helpful when I was there!
One thing nobody ever tells you is how to pack for New York. Somehow they all manage to skip right over that subject somewhere in-between talking about The Empire State Building and shopping. Haha. Here are a few things to remember...
Footwear: IMPORTANT!!! You will be walking a hell of a lot. People laugh at you when you say you'll get a taxi here, there and everywhere because, guess what? You probably won't. Haha. We found walking to be the easiest way to get from place to place. I recommend it though, because you get to see more of the city. Most of the locations you'll want to visit are grouped into a small (well, small for New York) area. So, for that reason, you'll want to bring the most comfortable footwear you have! Don't fall into the trap that I did and take boots that you think are 'relatively' comfortable because you'll end up limping into a taxi to get back to the hotel as quick as possible because your boots have cut your feet to bits. TAKE COMFORTABLE SHOES!!
Hair Appliances: A very random tip. If, like me, you don't like to use straighteners because you ruined your hair with them in school and opt to use a hairdryer and brush to blow dry your hair instead, be aware that your adapter will cut the power of your hairdryer more or less in half. It will take 6 years (no exaggeration) to dry your hair. I'd suggest you use the hotel's hair dryer (if they have one) and deal with a pair of straighteners for a few days.
On that note: remember your adapters!
For your first trip to NYC, you'll want to try and get in all of the sights... well as many as you possibly can!
The Empire State Building: Oooooh, that view! It really is something else. I guarantee you, if it's your first time in NYC, you'll spend a lot of time looking from the ground up saying 'wow, that's a big building' (we did. haha), so seeing the view from the top is really special. We bought our tickets for the Empire State inside (not from the guys on the street). You'll have the option of going to the 88th Floor, or paying an extra $20 to go to the very top (102nd Floor). The view is no different but it's kinda cool to say you done it!
Times Square: A bit of a 'Marmite' place, you'll either love it or you'll hate it. It's busy.. very busy, full of lights and a lot smaller than I had imagined to be honest. Haha. It is, however, one of those places you'll have to visit at least once while you're there. I found early in the morning to be the least hectic time to visit!
Central Park: One of my favourite places in the city. If you're there on a Sunday, I highly recommend you go take a stroll around the park and go for brunch in the Boathouse Restaurant. It's a really lovely experience. You can sit and watch people take row boats out on the pond. But get there early as the queues for tables get long.
Fifth Avenue: A given. You've gotta visit Fifth Avenue. To be honest, I didn't do a lot of shopping in New York (I wanted to be the ultimate tourist and just see the city), but popping in and out of Tiffany & Co, Saks and Bloomingdales was really fun!
The Rockefeller Centre: We didn't actually go to the top (which you can do for $30) because we'd already been to the top of the Empire State but if you're there in the Winter time, make sure to pay it a visit. If you're peckish, check out the cafe downstairs. The food is excellent and you can watch the ice-skaters from inside!
The Statue Of Liberty & Ground Zero: I put these two together because they're close by each other but a little further away from everything else, so I'd suggest trying to visit this area of the city at the one time. Unfortunately the weather was too bad to actually go out to the Statue of Liberty when we were there (much wind and rain - we didn't feel safe on a boat. haha), so we had to view from afar. Again, much smaller than you'd imagine. While you're there, you must give Ground Zero a visit to see the beautiful 9/11 memorial and basically take in how large the area actually is. It's pretty surreal.
While you're in New York, take out one night to see a Broadway show... you have to, it's the law actually.
Tickets: We had no idea how to go about getting tickets for shows when we landed. We asked concierge at the hotel and got offered tickets for £200 each... No prizes for guessing we didn't take them up on that offer. Haha. I was completely lost until a few of my lovely snapchat followers (my username is grace.edenny) gave me this tip. You know the famous Red Steps in Times Square? Go directly to the back of them and there you will find a magical ticket booth with discounted tickets! Most people aren't too fussed with what they're going to see on Broadway (all the shows are fab anyway), so here you'll find a board with a list of shows that haven't sold out yet and for the most part the tickets 40% and 50% off. We managed to see two shows, Finding Neverland and School Of Rock. Two completely different shows but I would highly recommend both of them!
Other Things People Forget To Tell You About
Apart from the tourist attractions that I've mentioned above, there are a few other places to visit and things you should do while you're in NYC... and here they are:
Bryant Park: To be honest, we stumbled across this place by complete chance and again, it was one of my favourite places in the city. We visited in early November, so they had their Christmas Market and Ice Rink open. It is the perfect place to sit in the crisp Winter air with a warm cup of coffee (or tea) and people watch for awhile. You can also walk around the little shops and food stalls (which I wish we'd found earlier).
Waffles And Dinges: If you see a sign for this waffle stall, stop, get your wallet out and walk straight to it immediately. They serve the most amazing waffles (you know, the really sugary ones?) and because you're doing so much walking, it basically cancels the calories. Haha
Afternoon Tea At The Plaza Hotel: Possibly the thing I was most excited about doing when I found out I was going to New York. I was very lucky to have spent my 23rd birthday in the Big Apple and I knew that there was no better way to celebrate than to have afternoon tea in The Plaza. I absolutely adore the Eloise movies, so to enjoy the 'Eloise Tea' filled with Cotton Candy, PB&J Sandwiches, Funfetti Cupcakes & Brownies on my birthday with Brian was very special. The staff really go above and beyond to make your experience the best it can be and somehow they overheard it was my birthday and came out with lots of little macarons as a birthday cake! You should definitely put this on your list if you're celebrating a special occasion... or if you just want to feel like a princess for the day.
The Upper East Side: All my fellow Gossip Girl lovers, I got you covered. If you're a fan of the show, you'll definitely want to have a walk around the Upper East side. There are so many cute streets with the most amazing houses and cafe's. Honestly, I could have spent forever wandering around. (On a side note, you'll also want to visit the steps of The Met, The Bethesda Terrace in Central Park where Chuck & Blair got married and Grand Central Station).
So that post was a lot longer than I had anticipated. Haha. I think I've covered everything. So, there you have it, some tips and recommendations to help you on your first visit to New York City. If you're going soon, I hope you have the most amazing time!