So it turns out the Green Eyed Monster has come to visit! I hate him. He always raises his big, fat, ugly head when friends and family tell me about their upcoming travel plans.
Both my Brother-in-Law and work colleague/friend have booked trips to the States this coming May. Both are jumping on a plane and making the 7 hour journey across the pond and are starting in the Big Apple, neither has been before. Both are currently in the research phase of their trip. Both only have a limited time in New York therefore want to make the most of it whilst there and see the major attractions/sights. Both have asked me for tips and advice as I have been before, albeit quite a while ago. So thinking back to the times I have spent in this iconic city I have complied my Top 5 for first time visitors……..
Top 5 New York
- Statue of Liberty – The statue is of a robed female figure representing Liberates, the Roman goddess of freedom which was given to the United States as gift from France in the 19th century. There are many ways in which you can see this iconic little (she’s smaller than you imagine, only 46 meters tall) lady depending on your budget.
- You could simply go to Battery Park which is at the southernmost point of Manhattan and look across the Hudson River at her in the distance, providing it is a clear day.
- Another option would be to hop on the FREE Staten Island ferry from the Whitehall Terminal, 4 South Street, Manhattan over to St George Terminal, 1 Bay Street, Staten Island. This journey takes around 25 and runs frequently with plans for it to run every 30 minutes 24/7 from 1/5/15. The views and photo opportunities are supposed to be good, that is if you can stand the smell of urine in the terminals!
- A pricey option, but something I am glad we did, was a helicopter ride over her (and other iconic sites). Ok you don’t get up close and personal with her but you do get to see her from a fantastic viewpoint.
- Probably the most popular and something I’m glad we took the time out to do. We jumped on the Little Miss New York boat, one of many that make the journey over to Liberty Island (and Ellis Island) on a daily basis from Battery Park. This gave us chance to not only to be close to her but also provided a great opportunity to take selfies with the most famous skyline in the world behind us. Queues can be long so maybe book tickets in advance?
- Times Square – this place is surreal. Be honest how many films have you seen where this place is the backdrop for all the action? Too many to list I’m sure. The neon lights, the buzz of people, the New York City Police Department building, the shops, restaurants. This is the entertainment hub of New York and considered to be the centre of the world’s entertainment industry (we even caught a glimpse of Nicolas Cage!). You will find it at the junction of Broadway and 7th. This area is now pedestrianised; unlike the first time I visited New York, which now makes it one of the busiest pedestrianised intersections in the world. Why not experience a show on Broadway (I saw Wicked – it’s A-MAZ-ING, I cried with joy TWICE!) then grab a bite to eat? Maybe at the Hard Rock Café, a favourite of mine, my glassware cupboard is full of Hard Rock Café souvenir glasses from all over the world – what can I say, their cocktails are quite delicious. Or why not just be in Times Square? Just wander around or simply stand there and take it all in and next time you watch a film based there you can shout and point at the screen (like I often do) ‘I’VE BEEN THERE!’
- Central Park – another freebie in Manhattan. Central park is massive, well 843 acres. It is quite a sight to see. A beautiful urban park slap back in the middle of numerous skyscrapers and concrete tower blocks. Obviously the park was here before the buildings and it’s nice to see nature can sit hand in hand with construction. We didn’t spend that much time in Central Park last time my husband and I visited and that is a regret. I advise grabbing a hot dog from a local street vendor and taking a leisurely stroll around, especially on a lovely summer’s day. Or go for a jog if that floats your boat. Central Park is also home to a zoo, restaurants, carousel, the Swedish Cottage Marionettes Theatre and in summer a number of music concerts (all payable locally or in advance). Again a helicopter ride will give you an aerial view of the park if your budget can stretch to it. Also, if you are an Alice in Wonderland fan don’t miss the wonderful sculpture that stands eleven feet tall and is located at East 74th Central Park.
- Empire State Building – do you know anyone who got engaged at the top? I personally know 3 couples. So if you are thinking of popping the question – this could be a contender for location? This beautiful art deco building stands proudly at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street and within walking distance of Times Square and other central attractions. Standing (from base to tip) at 1454ft. She held the title of tallest in the world from 1931 to 1970. She is now the 4th tallest skyscraper in America and the 25th in the world (as at February 2015). The building itself is home to offices of some of the country and world’s leading businesses, therefore not open to the public. The Main Deck (86th floor) is home to the observatory which gives you breath taking views across Manhattan and the wider New York area. Tickets cost $29 per person (approx. £19) or you can purchase an express ticket which allows you to bypass any queue for $50 per person (approx. £32.50) so which ticket you decide to buy would entirely depend on your budget and how much time you have. If you do decide to go for the cheaper option the foyer is beautiful so there are worse places to wait.
- Rockefeller Centre – many people believe that the Rockefeller Centre is one skyscraper, it is in fact 19 art deco commercial buildings based on the same site spanning 5th and 6th Avenue in the heard of Midtown Manhattan.. The tallest building (270,000 m2) which many consider the ‘Rockefeller Centre’ is in fact 30 Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock), the headquarters of NBC which was built in 1930. Here you will find Top of the Rock which boasts an observation decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors which offers 360 degree views over the city. In my opinion I preferred Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building as it is slap bang in between the Empire State Building and Central Park therefore you get great views of both. Here we took advantage of the Sun and Stars package on offer which allowed us to visit the observation decks twice, once in the day and once at night. This allowed us to see the city by daylight and lit up at night – highly recommended! This costs $42 per person (aprox. £27.50) which is great value for two visits especially because you can spend as long as you like up there. Top of the Rock is open 7 days a week with the first lift going up at 8.00am and the last at 11.00pm (opening times may vary on national holidays).
You’re probably thinking ‘tell me something I don’t know’. True they are all tourist hot spots but imagine going all the way to New York (especially from the UK) and not visiting them – you’d kick yourself! New York is like any other big commercial city, you’d need a long time (and a lot of cash) to see everything on offer. So why not visit the traditionally touristy places because they are the places that people ask you about when you come home. I love New York……I think 2016 will be the year I return!