It’s called the Big Apple for a reason.
Visiting New York is literally like stepping into a film. There is so much to see and do in this buzzing city that never sleeps.
No two parts of NYC are the same, you can shop ’til you drop in the upscale Manhatten or do it for the culture in Harlem. Whatever you do will be filled with vibrancy.
I’ve been wanting to visit NYC for years, but all of my friends had already been. I was super excited when my bestie Melissa decided to visit for her birthday.
How I booked:
Package deal via British Airways – Flights and hotel were included in the price.
Need To Know:
Local currency – $$$ US Dollars
Language – English
Adapter – 2 flat pin
Transport – Uber, Lyft, Subway, yellow taxis (which are notoriously difficult to flag down), and the Bus if you’re brave.
Where to Stay
This is a tricky one and depends on how you are as a person. Some like the peace and quiet, whereas some might like the hustle and bustle.
If you’re a first timer to NYC, like me, I would recommend staying in Times Square. Yes, staying in Times Square is the equivalent to staying in Trafalgar Square – it is noisy and loud. But it’s the essence of New York – the perfect tourist hub and central to many locations. You can wake up at 3 am and get a slice of pizza or cheesecake – there is never a dull moment.
I stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Times Square West. The hotel was our stop and go and the only time we were in the hotel was spent sleeping or eating the (on-demand) warm chocolate chip cookies.
The bathroom was very nice and the standard room was absolutely tiny, which is the norm in NYC. The Hotel was clean, cosy and in a very central location.
Oh, the foodddd! NYC is foodie paradise. Whether it’s fine dining in upscale restaurants, fast food or roadside eats, NYC has it all.
When planning my trip I booked a restaurant for every night but only ended up visiting three of them. Instead, we would get stuffed on all sorts of delicious roadside food from Pizza to Popeyes and end up being too full to go out for dinner.
Some of the places we tried were:
Tao had buzzing reviews and I can see why. The restaurant itself had sultry vibes and the food was amazing.
It was restaurant week when we were in NYC and TAO offered a 3-course dinner for $46. To start, I had the crispy rice with spicy tuna (to die for!) and my main was the prawn pad thai which was sadly disappointing, the dish had way too many nuts and was not flavoursome enough.
Dessert was sorbet with fresh fruit which was delicious and freshened the palate.
We ordered different dishes so that we could share everything. The other main was the sushi platter and dessert was melt-in-the-middle chocolate molten cake with ice cream.
I am very hard to please with sushi but it was delicious and the chocolate cake was a dream.
I had seen pictures of the mac & cheese spring rolls before visiting and they didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, the rest of the food didn’t live up to expectations. We had chicken and waffles and it was basic. I wouldn’t order again.
If you do go to Cafeteria, try the mac and cheese spring rolls – they were the bomb. They also serve really good biscuits with your meal.
Sylvia’s Queen of Soulfood
Wow. Sylvia’s was my favourite restaurant in NYC by far. I’ll be honest and say that soul food has never really interested me, but almost every recommendation that I got for NYC included Sylvia’s and I was curious to try it.
The food was incredible. We wanted to try everything and so ordered oxtail, garlic mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, collard greens and candied yams.
My favourite was the oxtail, potatoes and mac & cheese. The food may not look classy and cute, but trust me when I say the taste was everything. I totally understand why people travel far and wide to dine here. I’m annoyed that I went on my last day so I couldn’t visit twice.
FYI the fruit punch is soo good!
Hot n Juicy Crawfish
Anything seafood is good with me and crab is one of my favourite dishes. Hot n Juicy serve seafood in a bag drenched in their signature seasoning. I ordered 1/2 a pound of crab which was delicious. Side dishes were fries, hawaiian rolls and corn fritters – the side dishes left a lot to be desired.
Some places that I had on my list and I didn’t get to try were:
- Milk and Cream
- Sugar factory
- Junior’s Cafe
What to do
There’s so much to do in NYC, I don’t even know where to start. All you need to do is take a walk around and I guarantee you will find things to do. Some of the things I did were:
We took the Grayline Bus Tour which has two routes; Downtown and Uptown. The tour also included a ferry around the Statue of Liberty.
Big tip – try to avoid paying for activities at your hotel. Our hotel was charging $59 but we negotiated with street salespeople to $49. And if we pushed we probably could have gotten it for cheaper.
I had wanted to ice-skate in central park, but we spontaneously ended up at the Rockefeller rink. It was super cute and we had the best time. It was definitely one of my favourite activities even if it made me realise that I don’t know how to skate anymore.
Horse and Carriage ride in Central Park
Super touristy but so worth it. Riding around Central Park with a guide to tell you all the fun facts and point out where all your favourite movies were filmed. Central Park is huge so we preferred the carriage ride over walking, but if you visit in summer then walking might be your preference!
Watch a sporting event
You can get in the New Yorker spirit by watching a game of football, basketball or ice hockey. We watched the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden which was such an experience. I bought our tickets at stubhub.com and they were reasonably priced.
The bridge connects Manhatten and Brooklyn. Take in the amazing architecture and get some cute pics. If you start in Manhatten you can explore Brooklyn afterwards.
There are so many other things to do in NYC, some suggestions are:
- Fifth Avenue for the glitz and glam
- Top of the Rock to see views of New York
- Empire State Building
- Woodbury for discounted shopping
- Ground Zero
Dumbo House / SoHo House
Sorry but you gotta be a member or know a member to get into Dumbo House. The views are amazing, both inside and outside on the rooftop, and they have really good drinks.
We didn’t go out much as we had dinner late every day and were exhausted from full days of sightseeing and shopping. I’d love to return to NYC in the summertime and I would definitely be going out more, especially to the rooftops which are world renowned. Some recommendations I got were:
- Restoration Hardware Rooftop
- 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
Whatever you do in this buzzing city, you’re bound to have a great time!
If you’ve been to New York, drop a suggestion in the comments! And as always, feel free to ask any questions.