Having just got back from an awesome week in New York seeing my parents and hanging out with Al, I was thinking about the ten things I would rave about to anyone planning a trip. As this was my eighth holiday there (and you don’t need anyone else telling you to go up the Empire State) here are my thoughts on cool things to do. Anymore recommendations? I’d love to know your top ten.
1 – Cycle Central Park.
NYC has finally caught up and hit themselves with some Boris Bikes (or Citi Bikes, whatevs). I am nowhere near brave enough to bike down Fifth Ave but there is a cycle path going all around Central Park and it is a gorgeous way to see the park with different parts opening up to you on every turn. Just remember that the top bit near Harlem is pretty hilly and also that you have to cycle in an anti-clockwise direction.
2 – Get tipsy in the Brooklyn Brewery
The Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg does tours throughout the week (which you can get a ticket for from here) but head over on a Sunday for free tours at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm and get five beer tokens for $20. The brewery serves drafts of beers that you can’t get anywhere else and there is a chilled, Sunday atmosphere – you can even order in your own pizza. And legendary vintage shop Beacon’s Closet is just across the road.
Ok, this goes without saying but seriously, deactivate My Fitness Pal and hit Sweet Chick in Williamsburg for the best fried chicken of your life served with fluffy, buttery waffles. Sounds crazy but it works. Oh and their Bloody Mary has home-cured bacon in it. Amazing.
4 – Chelsea Market for great eats
Chelsea Market is like a fancy Borough market with loads of artisan food vendors (including the cute Eleni’s Cookies for tasty gifts) and an hour or two can easily fly by here. There is also a cute outpost of gorgeous jewelry makers Brooklyn Charm here too if you’re after a custom necklace.
5 – Walk the High Line
When you’re done with Chelsea Market, climb the stairs around the corner to get on the High Line. What was once a disused railtrack has been turned into a pedestrian walkway with art installations along the way (East London’s finest Gilbert & George were on display there at the time). Weaving in between the apartment buildings is a cool and different way to see the west side of Manhattan.
6 – Tour the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is gorgeous and free to visit (rare in NYC) and is full of beautiful artworks. The ceiling of the Rose Reading Room is incredible and on our visit we saw a fascinating exhibition on the importance of children’s literature. The actual original Winnie the Pooh and friends were there! I almost cried. A must see.
7 – Walk the Brooklyn Bridge at night
Of course, walking across Brooklyn Bridge is on everyone’s list but do it at night! Get the subway across to Brooklyn, have dinner somewhere cute and then walk towards Manhattan with everything lit up.
8 – Bar crawl in Greenwich Village
Last summer, my brother, his girlfriend and me went for (what turned into) a boozy night out in Greenwich Village. After dinner, wander from bar to bar to hear jazz and blues bands playing for tips and a two drink minimum. There are the big clubs like the Blue Note but these are a lot pricier. Plus the down-at-heel bar we went to was entirely decorated with shrines to Obama and Christmas lights, and who doesn’t love that?
9 – Avoid regular chain stores
I don’t really get why people travel to the other side of a major ocean to go to shops that exist in England. Also, I’m gonna throw this out there, NYC is nowhere near as good for shopping as London as the Americans just don’t really get the concept of high street (and the Brits are the best at it). My only go-to store in New York (other than certain vintage/thrift shops) is anyone of the numerous Sephora shops there which are the best for makeup and nail varnish – including brands you don’t get in England – and the service is really good. And the amazing Fifth Avenue Christmas windows (above) are always worth seeing.
10 – Take it easy in Bryant Park
I love Bryant Park. In the summer you can lounge around in the sun while in the winter time there is a gorgeous Christmas tree and a lovely market. You can even play ping pong there. What’s not to love? Also, the public toilets there are incredible! I’m talking classic music, fresh flowers, marble….I never thought I would rave about a public loo but it’s rather impressive.
Photos by myself or Al. Greenwich bar shot from Rachel.