Concrete jungle where dreams are made of – New York travel guide
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The devil wears Prada, Sex and the City, all movies that depict a place where everything is possible and where life on the Upper East Side is everything you have dreamed of. Buildings that take you to insane heights, billboards that light up the night’s sky, chaotic traffic, and of course Broadway. New York City was a childhood dream of mine and actually the first city I visited in the U.S.A.
Today we are going to discover together what this amazing city has to offer. New York is so versatile and has something for everyone, but it can be overwhelming sometimes: the crazy traffic, the noise, the little living spaces, the subway, it can be a lot for someone, especially if you come from a small town. So, in order to make the most of your NYC trip, here’s what I learned:
First of all, let’s discuss about New York’s neighborhoods. New York has 5 big areas you need to know: Queens, The Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.
Manhattan is the New York you’d imagine or saw in the movies. There you can find the most major attractions as Times Square, Grand Central Station, The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Wall Street, One World Trade Center, etc. I’m not saying that other districts aren’t worth a visit, but these are the most popular ones.
When you think of New York you see The Statue of Liberty – the iconic symbol of the USA.
From Battery Park, you can purchase tickets and board the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The islands are worth a visit since you’ll get the greatest view of the city and of the Statue. If you want to climb up to the Crown of Lady Liberty, I recommend buying the tickets in advance…like 3 months before your trip.
Later, we headed to the 9/11 Memorial.
Needless to say a moving experience and a must-see sight. It features two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers, surrounded by 400 oak trees.
Somewhere in between the 2 memorials, you will find the “Survivor Tree”, which was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged and then it was removed from the rubble and placed into care. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010.
Near the Memorial, you’ll find the One World Trade Center – the tallest building in the United States, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world. From up there you can admire the financial district of Manhattan and the breathtaking skyline.
Up next, if you are ready to take a break, stop by Economy Candy – a tiny shop, with all types of candy, nuts & dried fruit from floor-to-ceiling – and then head to Washington Square Park where you can admire the famous Arch featured in a lot of movies.
If Economy Candy didn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, stop by Magnolia Bakery. They have one of the best cupcakes in town. From here, if you are ready to see people dressed up as superheroes, music, a lot of billboards, lots of people walking, dancing, singing and the smell of hot dogs in the air, Times Square is just the spot. You can find a place to sit and just enjoy the atmosphere or go shopping in any of the huge stores available.
A 10 min. walk from Times Square will take you to the Rockefeller Center, a historic landmark and popular for dining and shopping. It’s beautiful every season but it’s mesmerizing during Christmas time. I recommend climbing up to see the views over Central Park and downtown Manhattan, they are breathtakingly beautiful! Also, a great location to take a photo of the Empire State building.
New York has a lot of new buildings and skyscrapers, so you will not find so many historical spots compared with European countries such as Italy or France. But, nearby the Rockefeller Center, you’ll find an example of a Gothic Revival – St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The church has massive bronze doors, white marble facade, 330-foot spires, the Great Organ, rose window, bronze baldachin, 2,400 seating capacity, and the statue of Pieta at the side of the Lady Chapel. It’s a very popular spot amongst tourists and I recommend checking it out.
Next place is also very popular and always crowded, but what in New York isn’t – the Empire State Building.
Prepare yourself for a long waiting line, especially at the elevator, but the reward is a spectacular 360-degree view of Manhattan. There are binoculars, so don’t forget to bring some change with you. Here are some tips:
– usually, the lines are shorter in the morning or during the week
– buy your tickets online, always
My favorite experience during our New York stay was seeing a Broadway Show. “The Book of Mormon” is a hilarious musical with tuneful songs and splendid jokes. We had such a great time but make sure to book your seats in advance. If you aren’t picky about seating, the last-minute tickets are a great option and reasonably priced. You can book tickets for Broadway shows here.
One thing that makes Manhattan less of a concrete jungle is Central Park, found in the heart of Manhattan, it’s a great place to take a break and admire the nature. This is one of my favorite places in New York, so gorgeous and peaceful. Central Park is a great place if you are tired of the cityscape, it holds so much history, theatrical scenery, free life and amazing visual impressions that will leave you feeling as though you have just played your role in a romantic comedy.
If you have extra time, I would suggest you check out the New York Public Library New Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, on 5th Ave. I’m a big book lover, but even if you’re not into books, the architecture is absolutely stunning and the amount of details carved in marble and into the ceiling are absolutely breathtaking. At the library, you can also find a wonderful shop with beautiful editions of famous books, and unique souvenirs of New York.
Nearby Central Park you’ll find MoMa museum, short for The Museum of Modern Art – the most famous museum in the world, home to a lot of famous paintings. If you are an art lover, you can’t miss this place. Here you’ll find an impressive collection of modernist and impressionist art. For those on a budget, Friday nights are free, and you don’t need to do anything in advance, just show up between 4-8 pm.
One of the best free things to do in New York, is to relax at High Line Park. The park is built on an old elevated rail on top of the abandoned tracks. The uniqueness of this place is its location – high above the city streets providing a uniquely relaxing stroll and view of the street and Hudson River.
New York has the most iconic skylines in the world. To admire the incredible view of Manhattan you have to go to Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you ever have seen the amazing postcard photos of Manhattan at night, they were taken there. The view is quite impressive but during the night when the lights go on, the scene is spectacular.
For the fans of The Wolf of Wall Street, the financial district of Manhattan is a must. There you’ll find the famous Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange and New York Mercantile Exchange. If you’re not into the stock market, like me, nearby you’ll find the impressive Trinity Church, Federal Hall and Charging Bull.
Last but not least, and very important, where to eat?
For the best pizza in the city go to Di Fara Pizza, an old-school establishment where the waiting line will be completely worth it. Dom opened the restaurant in 1965 and each slice of pizza is to this day made by him. A delicious pizza with history, 54 years in the making.
For a fine dining experience go to Daniel Restaurant on 65th Street near Central Park. This is a Michelin star restaurant with a great selection of wine and delicious food. It’s pretty pricey but worth it for a special occasion, so dress up and enjoy.
For some of the best tacos in the city, Los Tacos No. 1 is the spot. This restaurant is located in the middle of Times Square and was established by 3 close friends who wanted to bring authentic Mexican flavor into the New York scene.
For delicious cookies go to 167 W 74th St where you’ll find Levain Bakery. The cookies are enormous and with lots of chocolate. The story behind it is that the owners created the cookies as high-calorie fuel after a hard workout – they began a passionate dialog about creating the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie and so they did. The line there is usually very long but is worth waiting.
Near Levain Bakery you’ll find Alice’s Tea Cup, on 102 W, 73rd St. They have a very unique range of teas and a very cozy and friendly atmosphere.
New York in one of the most famous cities in the world and it can be a lot to take in, but I enjoyed the time spent here. All I can say is don’t rent a car and walk as much as you can to avoid sitting in traffic. If you like travel related articles check out the ones below and subscribe to our newsletter. ‘Till next time, stay brave & confident! XO