Despite it only being five months since our trip to New York, it feels like a lifetime ago and I’m more than ready to go back. We’d booked the trip back in June whilst in Bulgaria and I subsequently spent every second counting down the days. New York was one of those bucket list places that had definitely topped my list for as long as I could remember, and I was more than ready to go on a city break. Since moving away from London, it’s been hard to get my city fix and whilst Devon is beautiful, I miss the adrenaline that the rush of the city gave me, so I was more than ready to get going.
We went to New York to celebrate Harrison’s birthday which seemed a cute idea at the time. Although we would’ve missed the glistening Christmas lights, we also would have dodged the crowded streets. One thing, however, that we did not take into consideration was the weather. In the days before we were due to fly, the threat of snow was imminent, which added a whole new thing for me to worry about. Little did we know that England would be bloody baking in comparison to the -13 degrees that we were greeted with once we landed in JFK. Nothing will ever prepare you for that level of cold, ever, ever, ever.
I’m having a bit of FOMO as two of my friends have booked trips to go over the next couple of months and although we’re in the midst of planning our wedding, I would still love the opportunity to explore the city when it’s not experiencing sub-zero temperatures. There’s a list of things I would definitely make sure to do if the weather was warmer, as well as a few things I would 100% do again.
Harrison and I went for a week in January but have decided that a couple of days over the summer, perhaps as a layover, is definitely how we would the city the next time around. This is how I would spend a long weekend in New York.
One thing that we wouldn’t change about our trip last time was our accommodation, so we would most definitely book the Hotel Metro again. The location was perfect for us and our frequent trips to Target, the room was a perfect size and the bed was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. The Herald Square area had everything we needed and allowed us to get acquainted with the area. I absolutely loved the Urban Outfitters here, so a definite pitstop in here before heading further out would be on the list for day one.
Due to jet lag, we like to take it slow on the first day and thanks to the location, this means that we can cover Times Square and most of the Midtown area. In January, we opted to do Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building, so we would switch it up this time. Seeing the New York skyline from above really is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and the lifts aren’t quite as fear-inducing as I thought they would be!
Food would be top of my list of priorities for lunchtime and knowing that I’d tire early due to the flight, would dig into a hearty meal at this time. The menu at ABC Kitchen speaks to me on another level, so would try to get a reservation there. Fortunately, we went during Restaurant Week, which is something that NYCGo puts on in January, so lunch menus are available at discounted prices. If you’re there during this time, I would definitely recommend checking this out.
In the afternoon, a stroll down fifth avenue will allow you to walk off your lunch! We didn’t do much shopping last time, so I would make the most of it the next time around. Doing your shopping on the first day means that you’ve got the rest of your trip to explore.
Manhattan is bloody massive, and that’s without taking the other boroughs into account. The key for the first day is to start slow. Learn how to navigate the city and wander at your own pace on the first day so that you can make the most of your time there. I was going to write recommendations for food in this guide, but due to how cold it was, we didn’t get to try as many different places for food as we would’ve liked. If I’m honest, Harrison and I would just order Uber Eats and watch reruns of Parks and Rec at night which worked perfectly for us. I had an incredible feta and steak salad which I would choose again whereas I know for a fact McDonald’s would be on the cards for him.
Okay, so one thing that I would dedicate more time to is exploring the area around One World Trade centre. Standing at the memorials here was so touching and the view from the top of the building was definitely surreal given the significance of this location. It’s completely changed the landscape of the city and it really hits home whilst you’re here. Although I wouldn’t go in the building again, I would visit the memorial museum. This was an option on our New York Sightseeing Pass, so would love to wander around this museum.
I’m not going to lie to you, I have problematic feet which means that the second I walk anywhere, I get a blister. We made the walk from Midtown to Lower Manhattan in order to see more of the city, but that meant that once we were several miles away from our hotel, walking was verging on impossible. Instead of getting the subway (I was going to see as much of the city as possible, goddamn it, we made the slow walk back. However, hop onboard the ferry to see the statue of liberty, or the Staten Island ferry for a free option.
Although we had a sightseeing pass, there are loads of things to do in the city that are free. We loved walking along the High Line and would love to go again in a different season to see the city changing! Hop on the subway to the Chelsea district to take a look at the neighbourhood, before following the High Line path north.
There was something enchanting about Central Park that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it was the impressive backdrop of the towering buildings whilst surrounded by greenery or the fact that everything just seemed to slow down here. Within ten minutes of being in the park, we’d witnessed an engagement, although immediately afterwards we also spotted the photographer and the staged champagne which somewhat ruined the magic of it all, but the sentiment was sweet.
You could honestly spend a day in the park, discovering hidden corners, but if you’re only in the city for a couple of days, just the morning would be fine. We managed to cover quite a lot of ground in the park whilst on a brisk walk, heading up to the Met. We left the park here, choosing to walk through the Upper East Side on the way back down. Our unofficial Gossip Girl tour, led by me, could mark off some landmarks in this way.
I’m aware that this guide has primarily focussed on Manhattan but given the time restraints covering everywhere would be impossible. So, on the afternoon of your third day, grab the subway and head to the Brooklyn Bridge, which is undoubtedly a sight not to be missed. This is the perfect spot to take some photos of your trip (one thing I wish I’d done more of as a whole was take photos – maybe next time). Heading here for sunset means that you’ll have a beautiful view of the city, but the twinkle of the lights at night would be beautiful. It takes about 25 minutes to walk along this, so factor this in, along with your subway travel time!
If you’re heading to New York, having a bit of a game plan can come in so useful, especially as there’s so much to do. You’ll likely be covering a lot of ground, so take each day slowly to avoid burning out!