The best things to do in New York
America. When I heard about it, as a little girl, I could not understand who and what it was. After a few years, I realized that it was a continent, a nation and a country. I was still confused, so confused that, until my adolescence, I continued to confuse America with the UK. I believe that my ideas are – finally – in order after I took a geography exam in college 🙂.
Jokes aside. America, I read loads of articles and books, I looked at countless photos and I imagined myself, over and over again, among those endless skyscrapers.
My own version of the American dream.
Then I met him: my life partner, my colleague, my photographer and my travel companion. And from there … it was all downhill. Our desire to travel and discover new horizons had no limits.
America, let’s go to America. Our destination was New York.
In this article, I will talk about all the things you must absolutely do in the Big Apple.
1) PICK A HOTEL NEAR A SUBWAY STATION
New York is one of the largest cities in the world but getting around isn’t difficult because of the public transport network. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find an accommodation near the attractions, you’ll be able to get anywhere using the subway (or metro).
We stayed at the Belnord Hotel (209 West 87th Street), just a few meters from Broadway and the subway station. Its strategic position was fundamental in the choice of our hotel.
It was fairly cheap, we paid around €140/night for a standard double room. Adding taxes, which are calculated at the time of check-in, it was about €150/night.
Breakfast isn’t usually included, at least not at medium-to-budget hotels. Every morning, we would either stop by Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts – both a stone’s throw from the hotel – and enjoy some American delicacies. Nothing exceptional, but the original American cookies from Starbucks were really good.
Once we checked-in, we left our bags and started exploring the city.
Without expectations. Without false hopes. We were two blank books looking for stories to fill our pages.
2) GET YOUR METROCARD®
3) PURCHASE THE NEW YORK PASS
It’s not compulsory, mind you, but if it is your first time in New York and you want to visit the city’s main attractions, I strongly recommend you buy the New York City Pass. For about €100 euros per person (as of June 2014), you get skip-the-line access to many monuments and sights. You’ll certainly save money and you won’t waste time waiting in line.
4) VISIT TIME SQUARE, WHERE CHAOS IS NORMAL
This time it was me, not some actress on TV, crossing the street, with the billboards in the background. What a thrill! I can’t even put into words, they should invent a new word for the feeling of elation at such moments.
I only remember that I stood among the people that hurried along the pavement, among other tourists like me, the yellow taxis and the skyscrapers behind me and just like that, my dreams had finally become reality.
5) GO TO STATEN ISLAND AND STATUE OF LIBERTY
The monument symbol of New York and the entire United States of America, possibly one of the most important and well-known in the world.
We could not get inside the statue because we should have bought tickets at least 2 months before. If you, like us, can’t get tickets for the day you planned your visit on, don’t worry! You can get a better bird’s eye view from the many skyscrapers in Manhattan.
Among other things, the island of Staten Island is really beautiful and you can enjoy a wonderful view of Manhattan and the whole New York skyline without spending a dime.
6) THE BEST CHEESCAKE IN NEW YORK
A premise: cheesecake is my favorite dessert, ever. There is not a single restaurant in which I have not tasted it and I could not go to its homeland without having a slice!
Before I left for New York, I did my research and drew up a list of places bloggers recommended.
While Eileen’s Special Cheesecake gets a mention on many a guide, it never makes it to the top, but I disagree. The cheesecake here was the best ever and exceeded – by far – the taste of those sold at the infamous Carlo’s Bake Shop, Buddy’s pastry shop of TV fame.
The best thing is that shops usually sell samples (like those you see in the picture) for about $2-3 depending on the flavor, so you get the opportunity to try different varieties. I personally tried 4: classic + sour cherries, chocolate + cookies, peach + avocado and Nutella + white chocolate.
It was a tough choice, but I somehow managed it! 🙂
Ah, of course, I also tried their cookies: phenomenal!
7) THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK: WALKING THE BROOKLIN BRIDGE
Absolutely not to be missed! The iconic Brooklyn bridge has a pedestrian crossing above the car lane and connects this borough to Manhattan.
I think it’s better to cross it coming from Brooklyn so you get a beautiful view of Manhattan’s skyline.
Get the subway to Brooklyn and return to Manhattan on foot via the bridge. This way you’ll also get to stop at one of New York’s most beautiful areas, but more on this in the next section!
8) RELAX AT BROOKLIN BRIDGE PARK
A terrace on the Hudson River with the most beautiful view of the Big Apple. I loved this place so much so that I wrote an article all about it: Brooklyn Bridge Park, where New York stands still.
Do you know the déjà vu feeling you get when you’re in a place you’ve never visited before but it still feels so familiar to you? Well, that’s what happened to me at Brooklin Bridge Park: a large green park where you can see the entire New York skyline.
I was simply awestruck. It’s a place without any frills or any particular monuments but it offesr a view that takes your breath away.
9) VISIT YOUR FAVOURITE MUSEUMS
Do you prefer ancient or modern culture? Do you like contemporary or abstract works? In New York, you can satisfy any thirst for knowledge.
The Museum of Modern Art, also known as MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, Ellis Island, Carnegie Hall. These are just some of the hundreds of museums that you can find in New York.
Allow me, however, to give you some advice: fall in love with all this beauty!
10) GET LOST
Yes, you read that right: get lost!
This is why we love traveling. We don’t plan down to every last detail, because we know that some of the best experiences are the spontaneous, unplanned ones. One day, during our stay in New York, we just decided to go where our heart would take us and I assure you it was one of the most beautiful days during the trip.
Getting lost in the streets of New York is like drawing with your eyes closed. You do not know what can come out of it but you are sure that your scribbles have been guided by your heart. And what can be more beautiful than that? We walked down alleys and busy roads no guide would recommend you to go to. And yet we stumbled upon incredible surprises like big churches hidden behind the little door of a bar, amusement parks for dogs, amazing shops, the best cupcake store in NY and many more.
And what about the strange machines, the nicest cheesecake in New York and the flea markets in every single borough of the city?
New York it’s like this, incredible, crazy, sensational, alternative, iconic. In one word: magical!