YAY New York City!!
I was just there in at the end of November (2014) , New York is the city of my dreams, my soul mate. There is a certain special atmosphere when your in New York that is surreal, I almost need to pinch myself. I am sure so many people feel this way , which is why people continue to holiday there year after year, (and when they’re not there they are craving going back!) I have written up some suggestions for those new explorers embarking on what will no doubt be an amazing experience.
Walk, walk and walk. This is the best way to gather your bearings and sense of direction. First thing you should ask your concierge in the hotel is for a street map. I used OffMaps 2 app on my phone to navigate where we wanted to go, but found that using the street map was a little easier when trying to figure out East – West directions.
FYI 5th avenue is the dividing line between east and west. West side 6th – onwards up to 10th Ave, and the opposite of 5th down to 1st etc.
Villages: Lower west village is awesome, its where all the affluent young New Yorkers reside, its not exactly a secret, but its not often on the tourists radar. I loved staying and walking through this area because the West Village manages to preserve a low-key, everyone-knows-everyone feel and picturesque charm that remind you of Sex and the City.
The lower west side basically begins from 30th downward, headed along 8th, 9th, It is prime dining and shopping territory, headed through Chelsea , Meatpacking district and downwards. Chelsea Market is amazing for food, 75th 9th Avenue. I had to try traditional Jewish Matzo Ball soup so headed to Friedman’s in the market and whilst there also ate one of the best salads of my life! Defiantly recommend this café/ restaurant. If you have a sweet tooth DO not go past the raspberry lollies in The Chelsea exchange (their equivalent to a supermarket) they look like actual raspberries and blackberries and cost a measly $2.50. Get them!
Also as you cant miss it; check out the High line, which runs parallel to the Hudson River. It’s so beautiful and it also is a fast way to walk down or uptown as it skips the traffic lights at each block. If you are interested in privately run galleries featuring the most up and coming artists then check out the galleries that run adjacent to the High Line, they offer some really interesting spaces, most notable is Pace and Gagosian who show some of the worlds most famous artists. Picasso and the Camera is featuring at the Gagosian until the end of January and it’s truly inspiring. Free entry – so lucky!
Also whilst you are in Chelsea, check out Empire Diner (210 10th Ave.) This place is an iconic landmark and serves amazing food . Think traditional malt thick shakes and pumpkin cream pie. (We just had deserts but I imagine their mains are equally as amazing.)
Whilst you are down this end of town, head across to 8th Ave, you will eventually get to Bleeker street. This is my favourite street in Manhattan. Its home to 5 (of his 6) Manhattan Marc Jacobs stores, (book Marc, beauty Marc, baby Marc etc.) Other beautiful shops, cafes, bars and clubs (famous Magnolia cupcake bakery) are all down this gorgeous tree lined street filled with garden beds planted with ornamental purple cabbages. There’s quite a lot of nightlife down the bottom end if that’s what your after although I cant specifically recommend anywhere as the only club I went to is Tarra Blues for a blues session – which was great, no food for sale inside but you can bring in a pizza bought across the road. Five Guys Burgers (269 Bleeker st) is down here also and in my opinion better than Shake Shack, although equally as popular, less touristy. Great hangover cure!
East Village: Grand street Soho is the central area to visit, beautiful architecture, and amazing fashion – i.e. Acne and Alexander Wang flagships stores – (heaven)
China town– Walk up and down Canal st (bottom of Soho) all street vendors selling fake Rolex and Louis Vuitton, super crowded.
Down this end is not far to my favourite gallery, The New Museum on the Bowery. It’s a must. Even if the exhibition showing isn’t to your taste, the building itself is spectacular and one of a kind. The roof top view is very Wow. Once you have left there, walk up towards East Houston (pronounced How-Sten). – For BEST Mexican – TACOMBI (267 Elizabeth St Nolita), amazing tacos and a great vibe. All the stores in this area are worth checking out even if you are just window-shopping. The Lower East end of Broadway is great for shopping for all the chain stores. If you walk all the way up Broadway it will take you back to the heart of Manhattan.
Also in the area:
Egg Shōp (151 Elizabeth St) is great for breakfast. It’s a great street to wander through.
A fancy night out head to Beauty & Essex (146 Essex St) amazing cocktails and food.
Russ & Daughters (179 E Houston st) best Jewish food (bagels, a million cream cheeses, rugeleh, herring), there’s nowhere to sit inside but there’s benches and playgrounds nearby, closed Sat.
Freemans(191 Chrystie Street ) at the end of a hidden alley downtown freeman’s alley, taxidermy coolness. Lovely brunch spot, feels like a lunch/brunch place in a quiet Melbourne suburb.
The Plaza Hotel , Food Hall (768 5th Avenue); the entrance is just to the left and down an escalator before the main red carpeted stairs to the hotel. The food here is amazing! Lobster rolls, chocolatiers, thousand layer cakes, and my favourite – Vive la Crepe, where the Fromage, et Jambon Crepe tastes just as good if not better than in Paris. If you are near the Central Park entrance as it’s only across the road.
If you like Japanese then join the New Yorkers lining up for their biggest food craze Raman noodle soup. Tried a few places, Toto Raman was really good (264 W51st St – hells kitchen) but there are others all around midtown (and the rest of Manhattan). It tends to get VERY busy so in case there are huge waits, try Raman Sanshiro ( 249 E49th St). You can purchase a Raman city restaurant guide for $9 in Urban Outfitters. Raman is basically life for New Yorkers! 4 W 51st Street (Off 10th Ave)
Must sees of NYC touristy – Central park –Hire a bike!! There are a lot of street side peddlers offering to hire bikes so walk around and suss it out. We made the mistake of hiring a Citibank bike, which were fine, but if you want to ride up to 70th Ave and visit the Met and Guggenheim (like we had planned) then don’t hire these. There are no drop off points at all in this upper east side area and you will end up costing yourself a fortune as the bikes need to be checked in to their ‘doc’s every 30 mins. Id suggest hiring a private bike where they supply a bike lock. Central park is SO huge, it’s the most time efficient way to see everything, as it’s so enormous, to ride around the whole park is about 18kms. Nice to be able to see so much at your own pace and give your feet a rest from all the walking! FYI if you are visiting any of these major NYC Guggenheim , Met, MOMA) galleries they have free entry and late openings on Fridays, trick is to get there right on 4pm to get your ticket before the queue’s get huge.
Whilst your in midtown after seeing all the touristy lights of Times Square and needing a stiff drink to recover, the rooftop bar at the Midtown Hyatt Bar 54 (134 W 45th St). It’s the second highest rooftop bar in Manhattan and offers some creative (and strong!) cocktails, – night-time views of the city are incredible.
Diamond district – 47th between 7th and 9th. Fun to take a look to see some incredibly HUGE diamonds that will blow your mind!
Shopping– if you are looking for a good pair of jeans – you can’t beat Urban Outfitters, great quality, prices, great fits and styles! Also amazing for funky beauty products that are stocked no-where else! The biggest Urban Outfitters is at Herald Square (1333 Broadway). It’s a MUST – trust me (have worn a pair purchased there 5 years ago to death and they are still going strong!) Also if you are a Victoria Secret fan there their flag ship 3 level store is across the road.
Pizza– Slice & Co (corner 6th and 14th Ave) – Pepperoni pizza – YES.
Also recommended from a few people was Grimmaldi’s pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge, wood fire oven yumminess – (1 Front Ave, Brooklyn).
Hells kitchen – Room Service (690 9th Ave) for cheap delicious Thai in a fancy interior. Their signature Pad Thai wrapped in an omelette is pretty spesh.
Brooklyn : Take the L train which takes maybe 15 minutes? Jump on at subway on 8th & 14th across to Morgan avenue Stop in Bushwick . Bushwick, Greenpoint and East Williamsburg are the places to visit in Brooklyn for some funky hipster vibes and to see the new bourgeois generation.
The tv show Girls’ is based in Greenpoint. The neighbourhood is an immigrant enclave. Vintage clothes – Fox & Fawn and Seven Wonders – Manhatten Ave (around 570 Manhattan Ave). Stocked with vintage Chanel, and lots of other high end second hand designer brands hidden amongst racks waiting for you to find it). SO amazing!
Food in Brooklyn – Bedford Ave – lots of gorgeous looking cafes. Try the Meatball Shop (170 Bedford Ave) which is deliciously cosy and a perfect winters meal
Peter Pan bakery (727 Manhattan Ave) was recommended by a friend, and it supplies the tastiest cutest donuts I have ever tasted (even for a non-donut eater these were fab). Also if you continue up Manhattan Ave towards Metropolitan Ave and head to your right towards Borough Park you will end up in the ultra Orthodox Jewish area, which apparently is home to one of the largest group of Syrian Hasidic Jews outside of Israel and is a amazing and interesting cultural experience.
Brooklyn Winter & Holiday Flea Market (1000 Dean St ) a serious MUST if you love markets. This place has actual vintage items for sale no tacky imported junk. Like Camberwell market in Melbourne, go early to avoid crowds and to score the good stuff, open sat & Sun.
Williamsburg flea– (50 Kent st)
After writing this all down, I am starting to realise our time consisted of a lot of eating, New york food is too good so I hope you have your comfortable / yet stylish shoes on (who wants to look daggy in NYC honestly?) to walk off all the eating that will be going on!