I love New York. It is one of the few cities we have returned to multiple times, and will visit again. Here are my tried and tested New York tips.
Museums & Art Galleries
American Museum of Natural History – An excellent museum best known for its dinosaurs and dioramas but also including the Rose Centre for Earth and Space, IMAX theatres and Hayden Planetarium This is the museum which the move ‘Night at the Museum’ was based upon:
Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) – A huge permanent collection including Egyptian, European, Greek, Roman and medieval galleries and a renaissance wing.
MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) – Features Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Monet’s Water Lilies and Dali’s The Persistence of Memory along with an eclectic collection including Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Pollock, de Kooning and Marcel Duchamp.
The Guggenheim Museum – An ever changing collection of contemporary and modern art housed in a Frank Lloyd Wright designed building. See Clive Owen in a gunfight in the Guggenheim in the movie ‘The International’.
Museum of the City of New York chronicles the art and history of New York City.
The 9-11 Memorial and Museum is sobering and moving. The Memorial is twin reflecting pools each nearly an acre in size which feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints of the Twin Towers. The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools. The Museum tells the story of 9/11 through interactive technology, archives, narratives and a collection of artefacts.
The Memorial and Museum are right by the One World Observatory and near Tribeca sailing/ferries to The Statue of Liberty at Battery Park (see below).
Central Park– Has something for everyone. Go for a stroll, hire a bike, go boating or rock climbing. Check out the Wildlife Centre or Belvedere Castle.
The High Line – a 1.45-mile-long linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side. Stop off to browse the Chelsea Market gourmet food hall.
Top of the Rock –The 70th floor observatory deck of Rockefeller Centre provides amazing views and photos of the New York that include the Empire State Building. Rockefeller Centre is also home to the iconic Prometheus overlooking the ice-skating risk, Atlas Carrying the World on Fifth Avenue and Radio City Music Hall, home of the Rockettes.
The Empire State Building – Look for it each night to see what colour it is floodlit, this is often to commemorate a holiday or event e.g. green for St Patrick’s Day. The 86th floor is the main deck, open-air Observatory which you’ll recognise from movies such as Sleepless in Seattle. There is also a 102nd floor enclosed top deck for the highest vantage point in the building.
I’d recommend Top of the Rock by day then Empire State by night to see night and day and avoid the crowds at Empire State.
One World Observatory – The 100th and 102nd floor of One World Trade Center in the Northwest corner of the World Trade Center site. Excellent views from the south end of Manhattan. This is right next to the 9-11 Memorial and Museum and near Tribeca sailing/ferries to The Statue of Liberty at Battery Park.
Statue of Liberty
You get a good view of the Statue of Liberty if you go sailing with Tribeca sailing, or you can do a free 30min ride on the Staten Island Ferry. However for the ultimate Statue of Liberty experience book ahead to climb up to the crown.
I love seeing any show on Broadway in New York. Try this website to see what’s on.
I highly recommend Book of Morman – expensive but hilarious. The hot new show is called Hamilton, but it’s near impossible to get tickets.
Upright Citizens Brigade – Two locations, Chelsea and East Village. Live comedy, improv, sketch and stand-up every night, tickets up to $12.
Art, TV and Movies:
- How about a Street Art Tour? We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and explored Brooklyn before taking a fascinating Street Art Walk tour of Brunswick. I’m looking forward to taking their Williamsburg tour next time. Tours are Saturdays 11:30-13:30 and Sunday 14:30-16:30, $25.
- Seinfeld fans will love Kenny Kramer’s Reality Tour which runs on Saturday at noon (3h duration) starting at The Producer’s Club Theatre andboarding a bus to The Original Soup Man for lunch before taking in various Seinfeld spots around town.
- For fans of TV and movies in general, try the NYC TV & Movie Tour which runs daily at 10am (3h duration) and covers over 60 locations from shows such as Friends, Sex and the City, Veep and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and ends at McGee’s Pub, the inspiration for MacLaren’s in How I Met Your Mother.
Some fascinating buildings are accessible to the public via tours:
- The New York Public Library – The only way to access some areas of the Library including the Rose Main Reading Room and the Library’s exhibitions. Free one-hour tours run at 11am and 2pm Mon-Sat, and at 2pm on Sundays. Tours meet at the reception desk in Astor Hall. Tours are available on a first come basis and are limited to 25 people.
- The United Nations (weekdays, book ahead and read all the requirements). Learn about the UN as you visit the General Assembly Hall, the Security Council Chamber, the Trusteeship Council Chamber, and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber.
- The free Federal Reserve Museum and Gold Vault Tour (Mon-Fri at 1pm and 2pm, 1h duration ,book ahead). You actually descend into the gold vault and see real gold bars. Great for anyone planning a heist.
We really enjoyed seeing New York from the air on a helicopter joyflight, there are many companies but we went with Heli NY.
We also enjoyed a Tribeca Sailing trip around NY Harbour at sunset aboard the Tara with Captain David at the helm. The boat departs from North Cove Marina and sails past Freedom Tower, Governors and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
We’ve seen the Rangers play ice hockey at Madison Square Garden. Depending on what’s on you could also see Gridiron, baseball, basketball or even roller derby!
My foodie friends have provided me with an extensive file of bars and restaurant recommendations which I am working through trip by trip. Here are places we’ve been and loved:
- We had a ball at Dylan’s Candy Bar where a box of boogers (Halloween candy) came up on the register as “box of buggers”
- m&m’s World in Times Square shop is also fun. Get an assortment of pretzel, almond and peanut butter m&ms, like a pick’n’mix to nibble as you walk the streets of New York.
- Sex in the City fans will want to stop for cupcakes at Mangolia Bakery.
- Definitely have a street-side hotdog with everything. I have one a day during our trips.
Go to Katz’s Delicatessen for their famous meats including corned beef, pastrami, brisket on a sandwich with pickles and Katz’s ice tea. The table from ‘When Harry met Sally’ is clearly marked and the staff hardly roll their eyes at all if you say ‘I’ll have what she’d having’.
Afternoon Tea at The Plaza Palm Court is a traditional high tea experience with tea, sandwiches and scones, pastries and sweets. The Plaza also has a food hall and three bars; The Champagne Bar, The Oak Room and Bar and The Rose Club at which I had a very memorable Bloody Mary which was perfectly balanced and garnished with a jumbo shrimp.
Great places for a cocktail:
- Campbell Apartment, a slightly hidden bar in Grand Central station.
- Broadway Lounge, Marriott 8F Bar overlooking Times Square.
- Flute Champagne Bar.
- The Standard Rooftop Bar in all its AstroTurf glory.
- Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar at the Conrad hotel. Home of the Prosecco & Ice Pop cocktail, a fruity People’s Pop ice block topped with chilled Prosecco or Rose.
- The Met Roof Garden Bar, lovely at sunset.
For an excellent meal try one of the following
LÁrtusi – West Village Italian small plates from Gabe Thompson, complemented by Joe Campanale’s extensive mostly Italian wine list.
Morimoto – Chelsea Market restaurant and lounge serving Iron Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto’s excellent Japanese cuisine.
Babbo – One Michelin Star Greenwich Village restaurant serving high-end Italian fare from chef Mario Batali. I am still dreaming of their pumpkin ravioli.
Le Bernandin – 3 Michelin Star Midtown Manhattan French restaurant offering chef Eric Ripert’s refined seafood with impeccable service.
Gunter Seeger – One Michelin Star Meatpacking District/West Village restaurant offering daily changing tasting menus based around the days produce.
Other things I have on my to try list are:
- Coney Island – teacup ride!
- Being in the studio audience for a TV show taping.
- A Duelling Piano bar – e.g. Shake Rattle and Roll.
You can Uber in New York, but catch at least one NYC Taxi for the experience.
Take all your laundry to a laundromat near the end of your trip, you pay a couple of dollars a pound and it comes back, clean, folded and plastic wrapped for you to pop straight in your suitcase – magic!