Welcome to New York City! Get your bearings by heading out on a tour of the city. There’s plenty on offer from free walking tours to those stopping at the best places for food. I opted for On Location’s NYC Tv and Movie Tour, visiting where Suits, Sex and The City, Friends and Ghostbusters were filmed to name a few. It was a fantastic way to see the city I had seen on screen so many times in person.
You’ll probably be hungry after touring the city, so grab a sandwich at one of the iconic delis to take to Central Park. Enjoy watching the world go by whilst tucking into your picnic lunch. Then you can take a gentle stroll around the park, stopping at Strawberry Fields: the tribute to John Lennon.
There’s plenty of dinner options for when you get hungry again. I suggest heading to the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood for dinner. My favourite is El Centro, a small but lively Mexican restaurant that is packed with both locals and tourists every night of the week.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner was recommended to me by so many people and is probably the coolest place I’ve eaten. Singing waitstaff belt out Broadway tunes whilst keying in your drinks order without missing a beat. The food is nothing special but it’s a really fun experience. We went for brunch to avoid the big queues that form throughout the day.
You can’t visit New York City without a spot of shopping on Fifth Avenue. The Tiffany & Co flagship store is great to pop into if you love anything sparkly. Saks Fifth Avenue is another iconic store worth visiting as well as Macy’s. Honestly, I didn’t buy that much as everything is pretty pricy but it’s fun to window shop and pretend you can afford the glamorous Gossip Girl lifestyle.
The Rockefeller Center, Guggenheim Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art are just some of the other attractions on Fifth Avenue, so a good option for anyone wanting to avoid the shops.
If you need a sugar boost after all that shopping, or need to sweeten up anyone you’ve dragged into every store on Fifth Avenue, head to Sprinkles for a cupcake. They have a range of classic flavours as well as specials on different days of the week. There’s even a cupcake ATM at the Upper East Side location.
Of course, you can’t forget the Empire State Building when you’re visiting New York, let alone Fifth Avenue. We went in the evening to get a view of the bright city lights. Be prepared for long queues and a huge number of people on the viewing deck. At least there’s free wifi to pass the time whilst you’re waiting to reach the top! I’ve heard good things about the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at The Rockefeller Center if you’re looking for a slightly shorter queue and similar views.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the glamour of New York City. Take some time to remember that the city has struggled through adversity too and visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is a chilling, emotional experience but well worth a few hours of your time.
If you want to check off a must eat item during your visit, head to Chinatown for some General Tso’s chicken, and maybe sample a few other things from the menu whilst you’re there…
Broadway is pretty much synonymous with New York City. You can buy cheaper tickets on the day of the show under the steps in Times Square. Be prepared to queue for a few hours though. We found the tickets are still quite pricy and I ended up purchasing tickets for Matilda through the TodayTix app. I was a bit worried about how legit this was but the reviews were reassuring and it turned out great! No waiting around and we met someone in person outside the theatre to collect our tickets just before the musical began.
Feeling peckish after experiencing the wonders of Broadway? Head to Junior’s for some cheesecake. Their Broadway restaurant is usually busy but they also offer takeout.
Escape the city and spend the day at Coney Island – just hop on the subway and it’s about a 45 minute journey. Coney Island has a really cool carnival/British seaside pier feel to it. Check out some of the rides, chill on the beach or visit some of the beachy shops. It can get seriously hot in the middle of summer so if you need a break from the sun, head to the aquarium for a bit of A/C or grab an ice-cream.
Visit the original Nathan’s for a famous hotdog whilst you’re on the boardwalk. On your way back to downtown, stop off in Dumbo for great views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge. Brooklyn Bridge Park has a fantastic view across to the city, especially if you’re there at sunset.
Make the most of your final day in New York with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Even with booking in advance, expect fairly long queues. The ferry ride to the island is really nice with good views of the city. We booked tickets for the pedestal which includes entry to both the Statue of Liberty Museum, the pedestal (part way up the statue) and the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum.
In the afternoon, head to the Fairmont if you want to see the fountain that inspired the opening credits of Friends. Alternatively, Grand Central Station is worth a quick visit even if you’re not hopping on a train. Lovely architecture and such an iconic building that you’ll have definitely seen featured in a film or two.
Complete your trip with a visit to John’s Pizzeria in Times Square. Signature thin crust pizzas in an old church that can seat up to 500 people. Go for a pizza every time and you won’t be disappointed – the pasta is nowhere near as good.
And that’s a wrap! There’s so much to see and do in New York but I hope this gives you an idea of where to start when planning your own trip. Enjoy your adventures in New York City!
What to Read Next: Ten Travel Essentials You Should Never Leave Home Without
What to Watch Next: Chapter Two – New York