It took me approximately three hours to fall in love with New York. Fantastic public transport, coffee shops (with good coffee) popping up all over the place, quirky suburbs scattered around every few blocks, and the array of cuisines available to you. New York reminded me of Melbourne but multiplied in size by about ten times (stat unproven).
I can keep coming back to New York over and over and never getting bored. In fact, this is a city I would love to live in for a year just to get a proper taste of it all. But the reality is, we had six days to get all the touristy things ticked off and still get a feel of what it’s like to live here. Here are a few of my favourites.
My love for a city is directly proportional to the number of good dumpling places it has. It takes about a week before my cravings kick in place for some seriously good chinese food – which is quite fitting since Melbourne has some fantastic chinese restaurants.
Now Melbourne is great but our chinatown comprises of Little Bourke Street and a handful of chinese restraurants (abet fantastic restaurants but a handful none the less). New York’s chinatown is a whole suburb, a mini china filled with great food joints and bargain shops. I don’t take a chance on food and so had already looked up a place to visit but on our way there we did some souvenir shopping and then saw a bunch of people lined behind a lectern. Time to run an errand! We had a watch where the hand had just stopped working – a fifteen minute detour and a total of $5 the guy behind the lectern had worked his magic and replaced the parts. Now we were off to satisfy our dumplings cravings. Spicy Village specializes in cooking of Henan and so it was only fair to try their specialty of Hu mei hand pulled braised noodles (with a side of dumplings of course). Capacity to only seat no more than fifteen or so people in the small space we waited around half hour for a table. This was easily one of my favourite places to eat in New York and at under $20 for a filling dinner – we were happy customers.
Cross the bridge and explore Brooklyn
Unfortunately given the short amount of time we had in New York, we could only dedicate a day to Brooklyn. Nonetheless, make sure you do the following:
- Walk across the Brooklyn bridge but make sure you stay in the pedestrian zone otherwise you will hear cyclists yell at you now and then.
- Get some seriously good coffee in Williamsburg (Cafe Beit does a neat flat white and has a small courtyard to bask in the sun)
- Stroll through Brooklyn Heights and along the promenande for a beautiful view of Manhattan
- Explore the cobblestone streets of Dumbo and look across to get that famous view of the Manhattan bridge peaking from behind the buildings (cue Gossip Girl fans!)
Cycle through Central Park
Walk down fifth avenue and window shop your way from Bergdorf Goodman and Harry Winston before making your way to Central Park. The only way to explore Central Park in a short space of time would be by hiring a few bicycles. Make sure you get that famous Friends photo!
Explore the Art Scene
You cannot go to New York and not go to a Broadway show. We went to see School of Rock and although not a huge fan of musicals, nor music, we really enjoyed the show! The energy and atmosphere is unmatched and you leave in awe of the talented actors. It is a fantastic way to start a night.
New York has so many great museums it is important that you pick the one that interests you and spend a good amount of time there. We took advantage of the UNIQLO free Friday nights at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and spent a good few hours soaking it all in. Make sure you get an free audio guide to get a better understanding of the art.
Jazz is integral to New York so if you get a chance explore some jazz clubs (book ahead because gigs sell out as we unfortunately found out).
Spend a night out without a concrete plan
If you know me, this is the last sentence you would expect to come out of my mouth. However, an unplanned night* in New York is most likely going to turn out pretty great anyway. From tasting beers at a pub near times square, to getting a taste of Japan in Hells Kitchen, to a rooftop bar with the view of the Empire State Building. It really felt like we were locals having a Saturday night out.
*unplanned in my dictionary is having a few places you’d like to go but not fussed on when and if you get there.
Tick off the touristy things
A lot of people focus on going to a place and being sure to stay away from the touristy things or trying to make their holiday unique.. The fact of the matter is – touristy things are touristy things for a reason. Here is a list of my to-do and not-to-do.
- Don’t buy the ellis island tickets. Do take the free staten island ferry to get a view of the statue of liberty.
- Don’t go up the empire state building. Do go top of the rock – you get a much better view of the city, and you get to see the empire state building!
- Do try a bagel from a coffee cart
- Don’t go to Ellen’s Diner. It’s not worth the hour wait in my opinion but if you’re really into singing waiters it may be your cup of tea.
- Do go to a live recording show. We went to Late Night with Seth Meyers and it was fascinating to see NBC studios and how the show is recorded. It’s best to request tickets a few months before you go but I believe you can wait in line for some standby tickets in the morning of a show. Be ready for red hands from all the cue clapping.
- Do go to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. We took the guided tour of the museum and would highly recommend it to everyone.
- Do go to the Chelsea markets and walk the high line on a Saturday morning.
- Do walk Wall Street. See the charging bull but more importantly admire the fearless girl! There is a Tissot outlet store here which always has great deals on.
- Do take the subway!