For anyone who has been mildly interested in sit coms, a visit to. New York, New York very quickly becomes essential viewing. It offers so much for so many different types of travellers and tourists alike.
I was no different, I have visited New York twice now and despite being one of the most visited cities in the world, it’s big enough that it doesn’t feel like it. For the places that will undoubtedly always be flooded with tourists, there are quite a number of ways to reduce the impact they have in your trip.
I stayed 4 nights and this is how I navigated the crowd.
Got time for a quick pin? Just hover.
Yes, I call this Day zero because we arrived in the afternoon and didn’t really see a lot. However, it is worth mentioning because if you are like me and are silly enough to have a hire car when you visit New York then I have a suggestion.
Park in Brooklyn.
Parking in Manhattan is outrageous. Even if you can find a spot the tariff is not likely to be reasonable. Brooklyn is not really that difficult to get to and from and the neighbourhood parking is free. We found a residential street near a subway station, packed a smaller bag with enough gear for a few nights and caught the subway to our hotel and probably saved ourselves a few hundred in parking (either rates or fines).
Naturally the first thing we did after checking into our hotel was hit up Times Square. It’s fairly central to most things and was only about 10 blocks from our hotel near Madison Square Garden.
Times Square is a strange one, it would have to be the highest concentration of ads per square metre and yet we all flock there to photograph it. Incredible.
Or if you’d prefer to visit New York without being an epic tourist, The World Pursuit has some great ideas on seeing a side of New York many visitors overlook.
New York is synonymous with the Statue of Liberty so my friends and I got the first ferry to Liberty Island. There is a very good reason for this: on approaching the island every bastard has their camera in the air trying to capture “the one”. It’s hard enough to get a good photo of Lady Liberty as it is, let alone get one with me in it with Lady Liberty in the background and without Johnny Tourist in my background.
Once docked at the island everyone, and I mean everyone but us got off the ferry to explore the island. We were either idiots or geniuses. Because it was the first ferry of the day there were no passengers to pick up from the island so we had the entire top deck to ourselves with plenty of space for some selfies with the Copper Princess.
Tell someone you went to New York and they’ll ask “did you see a Broadway show?”
I wanted to be able to say “yes” so after returning from the ferry we found a Tix4tonite vendor. There are plenty around the city. A quick google search will tell you where. If there is a particular show you want to see and it frequently sells out, you might be best to book in advance. But for us, as we were more concerned with the experience, last minute discounted tickets were sufficient.
Read more on how to score cheap Broadway tickets from DIY Travel HQ.
After getting the tickets, we walked up through Wall Street, through Times Square to the Rockefeller Centre and bought our tickets for an NBC Studios tour for tomorrow.
Nearby is 5th Avenue, where you’ll find many large retailers have flagship stores. Apple is naturally the most impressive, taking their “less is more” approach to life to the extreme. They’ve cleared an entire block and have just one glass cube only a few stories high with their apple logo. You walk in and everything is underground, it’s very surreal and completely Apple.
We walked slowly down 5th going into some of the more expensive and niche shops on your way. And if you like tacky souvenir shops, well, you are in for a treat!
The Broadway show we bought tickets to earlier was Avenue Q, which if I’m being honest was actually off-Broadway, but I maintain, it was an excellent show. Hilarious, witty, and non-PC – just how I like it. If you can get past the fact you are essentially at a puppet show I highly recommend seeing it.
Since we bought tickets to NBC Studios we thought it’s only right that we use them. Personally, I am a big 30 Rock fan. It’s such a ridiculous show. So having a tour of the NBC studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza was a must, I kept expecting Tina Fey to walk by or for our tour to be taken over by Kenneth the Paige, but I was sadly disappointed. Even if you’re not a fan of the show though, if you have even the slightly interest in television and seeing how it is made, I highly recommend the tour. We saw the Dr Oz studio and the SNL studio as well as a few others and it’s great just to see a little bit behind the scenes. With some forward planning I’m sure you’d be able to arrange to be a crowd member for any NBC Show.
Just like anyone with a slight interest in television should do the NBC studios tour, anyone with a slight interest in politics or international relations should do a tour of the UN headquarters. It’s a fascinating tour and we were really lucky because we were able to see both the Security Council assembly hall and the General Assembly hall. Most tours don’t get to do either because it’s likely at least one of them is in session. I don’t believe you can plan for this as the meeting times are not published.
After dinner we opted to go up the Empire State Building for some night time views. This is the perfect time to do this as there was no queue – we went straight up. During the day in peak times this way can often be hours.
Day 3 – New York sit-com tour
Our third day was a beautiful day so we headed straight to Central Park, hired some bikes and went riding. I tell you, skinny jeans are not the right attire for cycling on a warm October morning. Although the park is quite big, it is surprisingly quick to ride around.
We hired the bikes for 2 hours and this was not quite enough. Take your time, stop for a snack, buy a hot dog in the park and if you are a Seinfeld fan as I am, make sure you continue riding north past the exit to the park to the corner of 112th and Broadway and get your photo taken at Tom’s Restaurant, otherwise known as Monk’s in the sit com.
As I said, 2 hours was not enough and our time was running out so we hightailed it back to return the bikes, which was made very easy with some lovely hills. I didn’t notice these on the way out.
We returned the bikes and and continued the tv tour by stopping by ‘the Original Soup Man’, the location of ‘The Soup Nazi’ on Seinfeld. Interestingly, in the same street is McGees pub, which is apparently the bar that McLarens was based on in How I Met Your Mother. We walked in but it actually looked nothing like the show so we didn’t really understand.
Lunch was at Shake Shack which is apparently in a lot of movies, nevertheless it was delicious. I’d say eating Shake Shack at least once in NY is a must.
After lunch we caught the subway down south and walked to the first pillar of the Brooklyn bridge, there were an absurd amount of street vendors selling crap souvenirs so of course I bought the obligatory skyline posters. (They’re actually pretty cool). They obviously don’t update their stock real often, there were still plenty of posters available with the Twin Towers dominating the skyline – 10 years after 9/11.
We didn’t feel the need to walk all way way so after taking the obligatory photos we did a spot of shopping at Century 21, an incredible discount store selling designer stuff at really good prices. I wish I could go back to New York just to shop there again.
Century 21 is right near the 9/11 Memorial so we thought we see that just after. Unfortunately we ran out of time and it closed before we got there… At least the Tommy Hilfiger underwear I bought that I am still wearing 4 years later. However, my friend Simone at The Aussie Flashpacker was able to suspend the shopping urges and wrote a great post on her experience here.
Dinner was a kebab from a street vendor, who I maintain made me throw up later that night…yes also after many drinks but it was definitely the kebab.
Needless to say the, uh, food poisoning from the kebab made us all feel rather average the next Morning so it did take a while making our appearance outside. We all had showers then went out for a bit of shopping on our own. I actually wanted to hit Century 21 again but I figured that since I’d be in Vegas (outlets) soon I could wait.
By now it was time to catch our subway back out to Brooklyn and continue our road trip.
Kenton de Jong has a great post on Top 10 list of things to see in New York – and I actually only covered a few of them here so be sure to check that out as well.
And Danielle from While I’m Young and Skinny has put together a personal NY bucket list, but one I think anyone can use.
Lastly, since there are probably hundreds of coffee shops in NY, Natasha at The World Pursuit has put together a list of 5 of the best here.
What are some other must sees of New York? I saw some of the pretty big attractions but I know I missed some. Let me know in the comments what I definitely need to hit next time I go back.
Heading to New York soon? Use Booking.com because they have free cancellation on most rooms. I’ve cancelled stuff before and it was really easy and cost me nothing.
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