new york, you have a piece of my heart……
I seem to talk about it A LOT on here! I make no secret of the fact that the bustling, busy city has somehow managed to insert itself into a corner of my heart. And as I said in my last post there is much to like about the Big Apple (and some things to dislike, as in any city).
Anyhow, having had the distinct privilege to travel there twice now (hopefully more in the future!) I thought I would share my favourite things to do in New York, as well as a few little tips and secrets.
The city is quite large and with so much to do and see around every corner I have barely scratched the surface of NY! So this list below is based on the knowledge I do have of the city. I definitely hope to add to this list (or make a New York part 2 list) in the future!
So let’s begin!
1. Central Park
This beautiful sanctuary in the middle of the hustle has to be my most favourite park of New York. Though there are always many people in the park it is mostly quiet, a good place to enjoy nature. Central Park is stunning in Winter and Autumn as well as the warmer months I’m sure.
Check out the Bow Bridge (as seen in Gossip Girl), the Bethesda Fountain, see if you can find the mini castle and the Alice in Wonderland statues.
- Special notes – near the Bethesda Fountain there are some stairs and underneath the stairs is an arched entrance way. Sometimes if you go through the arches there is a man there playing a little guitar; an Italian or Viennese tune. Close your eyes and just listen, soak it in (and I like to pretend that I am on a street in Vienna).
2. Sprinkles Cupcakes
Ok, ok, I KNOW that I’m slightly obsessed with the delectable goodness that is Sprinkles. I’d say I’m sorry for always talking about these cupcakes, but I’m not sorry. Because they really are so good! When you’re in New York head to their store on Lexington Ave and pop in to select your goodies OR (and this is my favourite) use the cupcake ATM! Though it’s almost a kitsch thing there’s something quite novel about withdrawing some delicious cupcakes from a bright pink ATM machine.
- Special notes – while in store pick up a copy of the Sprinkles cookbook! Then when you return home you can continue to enjoy the deliciousness of your favourite cupcake flavours (though nothing beats the original) as well as other desserts from the book.
I never have photos of the cupcakes because they’re eaten too fast!
3. Times Square
Visiting this section of New York goes without saying really. It’s such an iconic part of the city and full of loads to look at. Times Square is always lit up like daylight with its constantly flashing billboards and giant signs. There’s good shopping (Express, H&M, LOFT and Forever 21 being some favourites), the M&M and Reese’s chocolate ‘factory’ shops, LIDS (if you’re into authentic sports team merch), The Disney Store, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum and Madame Tussauds museum.
- Special notes – underneath the Times Square stairs is a ticket booth. Head here around 4/5pm to get broadway show tickets on sale! You’ll definitely want to see as many shows as possible whilst in New York. Aladdin, Cirque du Soleil shows and more recently Anastasia, are must sees!
4. Bryant Park
I’ve spoken of Bryant Park in a previous post so I shan’t repeat myself too much! I do recommend making a visit here, especially if you find yourself in New York in the Winter. Bryant Park has a beautiful Winter village during the cooler months (complete with an iceskating rink) which is worth checking out.
- Special notes – Bryant Park is right next to the New York Public Library, so if you’re a bit of a nerd (like me) you’ll probably want to head in there to peruse the texts. Or just take in the general awesomeness of the building.
A beautiful, multi-level HUGE shopping complex filled with so many clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, shoes (did I say that already?) that it boggles the mind! One could easily spend the better part of a day in here (I know I did….) Good thing there is a Starbucks in there for when you need to regenerate with a hot drink or treat.
The thing I love about Macy’s are the ‘vignettes’ set up all around the entire store – mannequins in repose wearing the latest fashions in store or little tables with interesting shoe and accessory displays. I take pictures of particularly inspirational outfits and scenes.
- Special notes – throughout the Macy’s store you’ll find that the original wooden escalators are still in use. From an historical view point its really awesome that they’ve chosen to keep this part of the store intact. When you come across one have a ride (it works the same as modern day ones but, hey, still quite cool in my book!)
6. O’Lunney’s Irish Pub
This pub is on the list because a) it is awesome! and b) if you want decent vegetables in New York head to an Irish pub (maybe it was just me and my ignorance, but I found it quite hard to find somewhere that didn’t just classify a bowl of lettuce and dressing as a vegetable serving).
O’Lunney’s obviously has Irish food but with a big dose of American influence. Early evening is when it’s the quietest so head there at that time if you want to be seated straightaway or don’t feel like having to shout to be heard (hard when you’re trying to enjoy your shepherd’s pie).
Whilst in the city this pub was my most frequented establishment and everything I tried on the menu was absolutely delicious. Really warming, hearty dishes for those very cold New York nights!
- Special notes – try the authentic Irish soda bread slathered in some proper butter. It’s absolutely to die for! If you can, save a bit of the soda bread for your main meal – it compliments all the dishes on the menu in my opinion! Yum!
7. The Plaza Hotel
One of my goals in life is to stay in this gorgeous and iconic hotel. The exterior and interior are magnificent! It commands the top end of 5th Avenue/W59th and overlooks Central Park. This is also a huge part of New York’s history and quite an icon (anyone seen Bride Wars?)
Non patrons of the hotel have access to several parts of the building – the Palm Court (enjoy a high tea there), boutique shops, the ‘Eloise At The Plaza‘ store and a fabulous selection of food venues on the lower level. There’s a particularly good frozen yoghurt shop that I love down there!
- Special notes – each time I’ve been to the Plaza Hotel I’ve taken the Eloise High Tea in the Palm Court. It’s expensive but so very worth it! The tea is based on the popular book Eloise at the Plaza, which is a childhood favourite. The high tea for me is nostalgic. And delicious of course! Be sure to bring a big appetite and dress up a little – it is the Plaza Hotel after all.
8. American Museum of Natural History & New York Historical Society
Both of these museums are an absolute must, especially if you love history.
The Museum of Natural History is large with many floors of detailed natural history – the animal displays are quite something as all of them feature life-size and life-like species in their natural habitat (I don’t know if they were once real animals or if they’re replicas but either way very amazing).
The Historical Society was probably my favourite out of these two museums only because I personally find the history of people and places very interesting. The stories of individual people fascinate me; after all, those people shaped much of how New York is today.
These museums are next door to each other on the Upper West Side/Manhattan end of Central park. There are gorgeous townhouses around this area so if you’re not adverse to it, walking to the museums is worth it to look at the lovely houses!
- Special notes – depending on what day you go the Museums can be quite busy so if you don’t like long lines either pre-book your tickets or go earlier in the morning when the Museums open (9am). That way you have more time to enjoy them too!
- 5th Avenue – start from Midtown end and work your way up. There are so many iconic shops (most high end) to check out, Saks 5th Avenue, Trump Tower (if you’re interested) and as I mentioned above, the Plaza Hotel!
- Whole Foods Market – located at 226 East 57th come here if you, like me, are looking for healthy food options. There’s a large variety of products that cater for different dietary requirements (vegan, veg, soy free, nut free, etc) as well as a ready-made meal section (handy if you’re starving after lots of walking and need food NOW).
- Bloomingdales – one of the oldest shopping malls it houses mostly high end brands but the thing I love most in there is the Magnolia Bakery tucked out the back on the first floor. It’s a little slice of country chic amidst all the Gucci and Dior!
- Old Navy – I absolutely love this store! Head here to stock up on wardrobe basics as well as find a few special items. Everything is VERY well priced (did someone say $15 winter coat!!)
- Radio City Music Hall – another icon in New York worth checking out. I haven’t seen a show or movie there yet though! Radio City is also across from the Rockefeller Center. Head to the top of Rockefeller to get those awesome New York City photos you see all over Pinterest!
Well, I hope that you’ve maybe gained a few ideas for your own trip to New York! Like mentioned above, this is only a very small selection of what New York has to offer. There is a lot I still haven’t seen or done myself. Visiting New York again is high up on my to-do list so I can see more of this city that has strangely captured me.
What about you? If you’ve been to New York before (or maybe you live there) what were/are your favourite things to do? I’d love to know! Maybe I can add a few to my list. Let me know in the comment section below!
And don’t forget to check out my Disney World favourites too.