My boyfriend and I travelled to New York way back in March. We gathered all our research and the places we wanted to visit from TripAdvisor, so we figured it might be handy to discuss everything we did and offer some tips to help future travellers who are planning their holiday :)
First of all then - Thursday - Day 1!
We arrived at JFK from London Heathrow at about 11:00am. We had booked ourselves an airport transfer to our hotel using a company called Groundlink. (http://www.groundlink.com/) We booked and paid for our return transfers online a month or so in advance, it cost about $70 (I think) but we were only interested in getting into Manhattan as quickly as possible to start sightseeing, rather than saving pennies and this price was in the same ball park as other transfer companies we'd looked at.
We made quick time into Manhattan and arrived at The Hotel Wellington on 7th. We arrived before check in time, but the hotel offered to look after our bags for us so we could go exploring.
Our priority was sorting out our phones, because we had planned to use them to navigate our way around, rather than using a map.
We'd done our research before leaving and found that T-Mobile offered the best deal for what we needed. We bought a pay as you go sim each and stuck $30 dollars on each and set up an American number on Skype so we could occasionally call home. The sim card also allowed for internet usage which was included in the $30 charge – just a tip in case anyone wants to do something similar.
We had also ordered ourselves a New York pass each online before we left, which entitles you to free entry and fast track at various attractions around the city - definitely worth doing - so we made our way to Planet Hollywood in Times Square to collect our passes.
Back at the hotel, we checked in, where we were offered a free room upgrade to a suite. All the staff were lovely and very attentive. Our room was a good size, very clean and ample storage space. Throughout the whole of our time we never had a single complaint about our hotel. The location was also absolutely perfect, I cannot recommend it enough - I wrote a review if you'd like to know more: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d99…
We then headed down to Times Square, about a 5 – 10 minute walk, as it was just starting to get dark. We had a little explore, before heading to The Olive Garden in Times Square. Faultless is all I have to say. We loved it here! We had a window seat overlooking Times Square, staff were friendly and the food was delicious. Review here: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d61…
We continued nosing around Times Square after dinner and sat on top of the TKTS booth to really appreciate it and take it all in. We headed back to the hotel at about 10:00pm as all the travelling and excitement was starting to catch up with us.
Friday - Day 2
Great nights sleep, we felt refreshed for our first full day in the city. We had originally planned to catch the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, but it was quite overcast and so we decided it would be more worthwhile to do it on a clear day.
Instead we decided to hit 5th avenue, also about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. Shops don't open until 10:00am, so we sat in Trump Tower on 5th (opposite Abercrombie) and grabbed a hot chocolate from the Starbucks inside while we waited for places to open and planned our day.
Our first stop was the Apple store, which is open 24 hours a day I believe, on the corner of Central Park and opposite the Home Alone 2 Hotel (Grand Plaza). If you're a 'Friends' fan, you'll also notice it's right by the building where Chandler works.
We had a nose inside the Grand Plaza, reliving a bit of the film, but didn't nose inside for long. The rest of the day consisted of much shopping and hot chocolate drinking, hitting Abercrombie, Saks (if you love Charbonnel chocolate there's a concession in Saks), Lacoste, Victoria Secret and Macy's. We got lucky with Macy's as they were having one of their famous one day sales – much to my boyfriends delight as he had his heart set on buying a suit while we were in New York. The women's section of Macy's is like a jumble sale, however, the men's is clean, tidy and a pleasure to shop around in.
Feeling well and truly shopped out we headed back to the hotel to dump our bags and freshen up. We had a little bit of time to kill before dinner, so we thought it would be a good chance to go to Dylans Candy Bar – very glad we did! If you have a sweet tooth, then this place will be right up your street. Incase you're wondering how sweet, I had a White Chocolate Martini in their upstairs bar (delicious!) Review here: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d30…
Dylan's Candy Bar is right opposite Bloomingdales, so we popped in there afterwards, where I was served by a very eccentric Frenchman.
We had dinner at Tonys Di' Napolini just off Times Square which was amazing! Great food (huge portions) and it was packed full of New Yorkers. I highly recommend this place. (Review here http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d543689-r127578242-Tony_s_Di_Napoli_Midtown-New_York_City_New_York.html)
The night was still young and we fancied some drinks. I'd been told to go to The Waldorf Astoria for drinks, which we did - so not worth it, the bar there looked dark and dank - but do take a nose up to The Starlight Room on the top floor. (Review: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d93618-r127578616-Waldorf_Astoria_New_York-New_York_City_New_York.html).
Feeling very let down from finding no decent bar (we wanted a good view) we found our way to The Strand (using Trip advisor app - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tripadvisor.android.apps.cityguide.newyorkcity&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS50cmlwYWR2aXNvci5hbmRyb2lkLmFwcHMuY2l0eWd1aWRlLm5ld3lvcmtjaXR5Il0)
What an amazing place! Stunning views. Would come back here again. I left a review - tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d17…
Saturday - day 3!
We woke up to a pretty miserable, rainy day. Our NY passes gave us free entry to Madame Tussauds just off Times Square. I'd never been to one before, so we figured we'd make use of our free entry and wait out the rain. If you decide not to go to Madame Tussauds, don't feel like you're missing out. The place is quite small and we were out within an hour. Very pleased we hadn't paid for it, we'd have felt quite cheated.
Anyway, we found ourselves a Dunkin' Donuts nearby (whilst passing NY Times head office by accident which was pretty cool), then caught the subway up to the Natural History Museum. This place is definitely definitely worth a visit! However we did make the mistake of going on a Saturday, so there were kids everywhere! The queues were also huge but because we had our NY passes we had free entry and fast track.
We left about 3 hours later and the sun was finally shining. We took a stroll across Central Park and headed for Madison Avenue. If you happen to be a shoe lover (ladies) I highly recommend popping into Louboutin on Madison Avenue. I treated myself to a beautiful pair - the staff are genuinely lovely and offer great advice on caring for the shoes and where to go in NY if you want the soles protected.
From there we walked down towards Top of the Rock to catch the sunset, which was amazing. I am so pleased we chose sunset to go up Top of the Rock. We got to catch some beautiful views across the Hudson River, towards Queens on the otherside and Central Park. It was so nice watching NY transform into night time, with all the lights turning on. We got to spend as much time as we liked up there and we got free entry again thanks to our NY pass. (Review: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d587661-r125944185-Top_of_the_Rock_Observation_Deck-New_York_City_New_York.html)
We ended the night at Angelo's Pizzeria for dinner.
Sunday - day 4
We woke up early and had a wander through Central Park towards Strawberry Fields, John Lennon's memorial. We stayed there for a few minutes, before walking back down and spent the rest of the day having a fairly chilled out time going to FAO Schwartz, Barneys and so on.
For the evening, we'd bought tickets for Dizzys Club at the Time Warner building, but we had some time to kill beforehand so we decided to go for a horse and carriage ride around central park. A bit of a tourist thing to do perhaps but I love horses, so this was right up my street. After that it was get back to the hotel, freshen up (stop smelling of horse) and go out for dinner.
We had the most amazing meal at Landmarc in the Time Warner building. Best meal we had out there. No question. I left a review here to explain in more detail - tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d10…
After dinner was over, we made our way upstairs to Dizzy's Club. This was by far the highlight of our weekend. I cannot recommend this place enough. Read my review here: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d44…
Monday - Day 5
We woke up early (despite several wines at Dizzy's the night before) and made our way to the Wollman rink for some early morning ice skating. We had avoided the ice rink over the weekend because the prices are higher (we paid $50 in total and this was a weekday). We had no time limit though so could stay skating for as long as we wanted. The price was also for both of us to skate, rent the skates and a deposit (which we got back at the end), so perhaps not so bad really.
After this we made our way up to Central Park Zoo. It's quite small for a zoo, but we really enjoyed our time there. The enclosures are nice and all the animals seemed well looked after and happy, which is all that matters.
We finished up early afternoon and had the rest of the day to chill out, walk through the park and do a spot more shopping.
Tuesday - day 6
We woke up and caught the subway downtown to catch the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of liberty. I left a review here, explaining why you should definitely catch the Staten Island and not pay for the tour which takes you to Statue. tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d14…
We were back within 40 minutes and walked towards Wall Street. It was still early morning, so was eerily quiet down there. Opposite the entrance to Wall Street you'll see Trinity Church, which I'm sure you'd have heard of after 9/11. From Wall Street we made our way to the 9/11 memorial. I cannot even put into words what it feels like to be there. I felt a mixture of emotions being there.
We spent a little while there, before heading for Century 21 (don't bother), walked through China Town and Little Italy, before catching a subway to Grand Central Station. We had a nose round there and then made our way to the Empire State Building about 3:30pm ish. Again, don't forget to get yourself a New York Pass if you want fast track and free entry. I left a review here: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d10…
We left about 4:00 / 4:30 and decided to stop off at a rooftop bar nearby - 230 Fifth (love this place!) The plan was to stay for a few drinks, enjoy the views, then go out later for dinner. We ended up eating there and staying there most of the night. Fantastic place! I left a review of it which you can read here: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d14…
Wednesday - day 7
Our last full day, so we decided to make the most of it. We caught a subway down to the Flat Iron building and then took a slow walk down to John's Pizzeria on Bleecker Street. By the time we got there it was about lunch time and boiling hot (despite it being March and freezing cold the previous days). So a pizza and a cool drink were very welcome. I can honestly say I have never had pizza that good before and still haven't since. Read my review here: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d49…
We then walked down town and made our way to Brooklyn Bridge, which we walked across. This was one of my favourite things we did. The views across the bridge are amazing, I absolutely loved it. We'd read great reviews of the River Cafe, so thought we'd make our way there. I really wish we hadn't, so not worth it. (Review: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g60827-d482173-r127586071-The_River_Cafe-Brooklyn_New_York.html).
We finished our drink there and caught a subway to Max Brenner (restaurant which specialises in chocolate and desserts). I have a huge sweet tooth, so this was heaven for me.
We made our way back towards the hotel and had a drink at O'Lunny's before crashing back to our room.
Thursday - day 8
We checked out of our hotel first thing and had them look after our bags for us while we enjoyed our last day. We had done all the big things we wanted to do, so we spent the morning spending the last of our spending money and grabbed a bit of lunch.
We spent all our time in the afternoon walking through Central Park and walked all round the reservoir and back down, stopping off at the park on the way down. By the time we got back to the hotel it was about 7:00pm, so we waited for our airport transfer which was coming at 7:30pm and made our way back to JFK.
Here's a map entry of the places we went: https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms…
Hopefully this will all help someone else who's planning their trip to NY :) Thanks!