Djeez, where to begin. Maybe with awesome, epic, life changing. That pretty much sums it up how I feel about New York. I thought my first visit was already amazing, but this one… wow. Can we move there by the end of the month? (Job offer anyone? ^^) Coming back to Manhattan felt like coming home. It’s a city where you can bloom and be yourself without anyone judging. It’s just as much okay to stand out as to go along with the crowd. And best of all, life doesn’t stop once you’re back from work. Everything is still alive and kicking, and being part of the New York stream feels amazing. Getting take-out, shopping at night (yes even on a Sunday), grabbing a coffee, eating sushi, take a walk through one of the many great neighborhoods. Enough stuff to get you outside. (Let’s not forget the ice cream at Dunkin Donuts.)
Now, before I realize we’re heading home (I’m at the airport while I’m writing this) and start crying like a little kid that’s just not ready yet to leave Disneyland world, let’s get to some highlights, hotspots, must-sees, hidden treasures and practical tips.
SoHo | FAVORITE
One of my favorite neighborhoods to walk through is for sure SoHo (SOuth of HOuston). Think: beautiful large authentic buildings with these typical fire stairs, trees that create a little roof over some streets and awesome little coffee shops or bakeries. What’s not to like. Oh and all possible stores you can think off. Prada? Check! YSL? Check! Louis Vuitton. Check again!
If you wanna go for a walk, a great place to start is at the Singer building or Greene street. The first time around, we took a walk route we had from a guide-book called 100% New York, on our last day we had a couple of hours left before leaving towards the airport so we decided to just wander around a little more and walked up to West Broadway. If you’re looking for a designer/vintage bag, you’ll find it here for sure! And they don’t only have designer bags, limited edition and authentic stuff to the max!
This famous and marvelous bridge with steel cables connects beautiful Manhattan with Brooklyn via the East River. I can honestly say it’s one of the few bridges I freelingly wanted to cross. Twice. You can walk it, drive it, bike it or view it from a harbor cruise. We went for the second last option. Via our Explorer Card we could either choose for a Brooklyn bridge guided bike tour or rent the bikes for half a day. We missed the guided tour (oops) so headed out on our own. Don’t forget to drive over the Manhattan bridge as well. It gives a nice view over the Brooklyn bridge and it’s less crowdy.
Crazy fact: At least two dozen people died in the process of building this iconic bridge (including its original designer) and it took about 13 years to build this landmark.
Not sure about you, but I grew up with stories about that green long in a city of concrete. About 9,000 benches and more than 19,000 trees. Last time I saw it, it was covered with a blanket of snow. Wanted to see it bloom is the reason I’ve waited so long to go back. It had to be spring! I never expected to see so many New Yorkers working on their summer color in the park like we would do at the beach. Big contrast with the few people I saw last time in their big winter coats.
That being said, this urban park is so big, it’s hard not to get lost. (Not that that happened or anything. Ahum.) Between all the squirrels, benches with nice short descriptions (be warned, some can be really emotional), little roads up and down and people jogging (with or without stroller) you can easily forget where you actually are. From the Loeb Boathouse to Strawberry Fields to the Fountain or to the Turtle pond, all spots are worth visiting.
Tip: you can either take a 2 hour guided bike tour or rent bikes right in front of the park (South side at 59 street). Little detail, in most parts of the park you can’t actually ride your bike. We took the guided tour, meaning we ended up walking large parts with our bike in our hands. Seemed a little silly at times and not really worth the price we paid for it. It’s a good way to see popular stops at the outsides of the park. Not so much for when you really wanna go deeper in to discover more or the park.
This funny looking building sits on a triangular island-block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street. It was one of the first skyscrapers of Manhattan and even though it might be far by being the highest building, it’s definitely one of the most dramatic-looking ones with tons of New York swag.
Also the neighborhood around is really worth exploring. We discovered so many great little restaurants here, but more about that later on.
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
The Empire State Building, an art-deco architectural icon, is New York’s tallest and most well-known skyscraper. The views from the 86th-floor observation deck are breath-taking. If you want, you can even go up a little higher to the 102th floor. But be prepared to pay another $25 for it.
The Top of the Rock is a must-see for its views of landmarks such as the Chrysler Building and Central Park. The real highlight here though, is the view of the Empire State Building. It’s spectacular – especially at night when the Empire State lights up. Too bad our plan to do this one as well got cancelled because of the foggy weather.
Tip: Even if you take a skip the line ticket, it can still take you a long time to get to the top seeing how many people take this option. We didn’t and it took us a little over 15 minutes to get there. And that’s because it’s just a long walk to get to that damn elevator. Given, the elevator itself was super fast. If you are wondering when we went: on a Friday around 6PM. When we were back down (around 7.30PM), rows were already getting longer. Probably because these people wanted to see the view both on daytime and when getting dark.
CHELSEA MARKET | LITTLE PARADISE
Big fan of Oreo cookies? Well, this place is where they once were baked. Nowadays, it transformed to an underground looking market where you have some small shops and where you will have many big foodporn moments. New Yorker’s walking around while eating lobster will only surprise you for the first few steps. It’s the perfect getaway when it starts raining.
Tip: This place is close to The High Line. So feel free to take your food outside and enjoy it over there if the weather allows it.
THE HIGH LINE
I had a ‘only in New York’ kinda feeling at this place. How cool is the idea to transform a former train bridge into a park. High up, about 10 meters. Okay, not that high if you take NY standards in mind. An awesome mesmerizing place to hang out on a sunny day. We could easily hang around at this spot for a couple of hours.
That’s it for now sweets. I don’t wanna overwhelm you with tons of information. But pinky promise, part II will be up soon and includes some cool places to go for dinner (or cheesecake), more hotspots to check out, tips on how to easily get around and find your way in New York City and ways to save some bucks (to get some more of that cheesecake. Duuh!).
See you soon!