Hi there, again!
I decided to write this blogpost, regarding the amount of questions from different people I got. They all wanted to know the hotspots in the city, what they can't miss and the big to do's.So I decided to tell you guys something about all of that, in this blogpost, which you can always refer back to :) Enjoy!
First I'd like to give you some general info about this amazing city. New York isn't only a city, but also a state. The city itself is the most densely populated one in the USA with almost 10 million citizens spread over an area of almost 800km². The city consists of 5 boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The most people will know Manhattan as NY, but it's so much more than that. All the other boroughs are also blooming and becoming more and more known. There are a lot of beautiful places to discover there. Manhattan has 3 bridges downtown, going to Brooklyn & Williamsburg, to remember it, I use 'BMW' in my head, from down to up, it's Brooklyn bridge-Manhattan bridge-Williamsburg bridge. A lot of monuments from the city are world famous and are sometimes a symbol for the USA in general. We can think of these monuments: The Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building and the World Trade Center. The liveliness gives the city some nicknames like 'The city that never sleeps" and "the Big Apple".
One tip: definitely take the subway when you can. It's so handy and the most efficient way to cross around the city! (& there's a chance you'll sit in front of Karlie Kloss, a supermodel, like me) For the smaller distances, you can take the uber or a typical yellow cab.
I'm gonna work with some themes and lists, as it is clearer for you to go read what you're looking for. As you may know (or not), I was in NYC for 5 months in 2018 and did an internship there, so all the things I'm gonna write here, are based on my own experience living in the best city that I know, where there's always something new to discover every day and where every street corner is worth taking a picture of.
Views over the city
- Top of The Rock: personally my favorite. The view that you get is amazing, you'll see the Empire State Building located centrally and you can go on different levels to have some amazing views over the city. It's cheaper to buy a city pass to combine some of the tourist activities like this is one of them.
- One World Observatory: it's the tower that's built after 9/11. It's not only an amazing building, you'll also have a 360° view there. As this building is located downtown, on the most S point of Manhattan, you'll also have an amazing view on the other parts, other than Manhattan.
- Empire State Building: you'll also have an amazing view here, and I visited it by night, all the lights you see then are kind of magical, and of course we all remember the heartbreaking scene of Gossip Girl here.
- Statue of Liberty: something not everyone knows is that you can go into the crown of the Statue of Liberty. When I was in there, it was kind of a cool feeling because you were in one of the most known monuments of all.
- The Vessel: I haven't been there, because it was getting built when I was still there. But the next time I'll be there, I'll definitely go there! It seems to be a really cool monument to experience, and you'll also have a nice view over the city, located in the Hudson Yards. In February, I went up there when I was in the city. I can't say you have a view over the city, but it's a very cool architectural building & worth it to go up there. You just have to get a (free) ticket on the website, with a time slot.
- The Edge: I can't wait to go up there. It seems (from all the videos and pictures I've seen of it), that the view you have here is a-ma-zing. There's also a transparant floor area here, so that's not something for people with a fear of heights :)
- 34th Street: that was my street when I was there, my residential was located here. It's a very long street, with a lot of shops located. We have Macy's here for example, did you know they even have their own zip code, as their building is that big? Next to that, it also has all the general shops you can think of and also the typical American shops like Target and CVS.
- 5th Avenue: you can find the more luxurious brand here, which are nice to go window-shopping :) But we can also find some general shops here on one part of the street.
- New shopping mall Hudson Yards: there's also a new shopping center located next to the Vessel. I'll definitely have to go there the next time I'll be there. I went there last year and it was definitely worth it. You can find all the shops you imagine here, there's also some fancy restaurants and the entrance of The Edge.
- The Oculus: an architectural building, located in financial district, next to the 9/11 memorial. They have a lot of shops there, so it's actually also a shopping mall.
Food & drinks
- The Butcher's daughter: one of my favorite brunch/lunch spots, located in Soho, one of my favorite neighbourhoods. You may have a chance to walk into a celebrity here.
- Cha Cha Matcha: if you're going with this new trend and really like the taste of this green drink, this is a place for you! Next to that, it also has a very instagrammable interior :)
- Starbucks: my daily all time favorite to go get an iced tea. First of all: much cheaper than here, and there literally is at least one of them in each street. You have to keep in mind that their smallest size of a drink is the biggest one we know in Belgium. And when you get a chocolate chip cookie, they ask if it needs to be warmed up, definitely say yes to that, because the taste of that is a-ma-zing. Just a small tip from your girl over here.
- Smorgasburg: during the summer, there's a big food market, located in Williamsburg (a very hip neighbourhood). It's located next to the water, so you'll have a great view over the skyline of Manhattan.
- Sweetgreen: I really love the American concept where you can compose your own salad. For lunch, I sometimes had a very tasteful salad from Sweetgreen and we went to go eat it at our rooftop or at the waterfront.
- Carmine's: when you want to go eat with a bigger group and you don't want to pay too much, this place is good for you. At Carmine's, you can eat delicious pasta's that you can share with your whole table, it's located next to Times Square, so don't forget to go take a look at this very touristy place.
- Junior's Cheesecake: if you like cheesecake (like me), this place is perfect for you. But you'll maybe have some stress while choosing, because they have a lot of different tastes there. It's also located next to Times Square.
- Magnolia Bakery: they have the best cupcakes (try the red velvet) and the best banana pudding! Haven't heard from the last thing I mentioned? Don't worry and just try it! You'll thank me later :)
- Frieda's Bakery: located in Williamsburg, they also have all the sweets you can think of! They also have some deals, like the $1-cupcake Monday for example. On my internship, we sometimes definitely took advantage of that :)
- Whole Foods Market: in the city, they don't really know the concept of a supermarket that we know. I would definitely recommend to go the Whole Foods, to get the best/most fresh ingredients or lunch.
- Insomnia cookies: just try these. They have them in different tastes and are soft inside. Can you think of anything better?
- Van Leeuwen icecream: I haven't tried this Dutch ice cream yet, but it seems to be the best ice cream in the city so next time I'll have to try this.
- Five Guys: they have really good fries here and you feel very American when going here.
- Shake Shack: really the best fastfood in my opinion, I like their cheese fries & their milkshakes.
- Artichoke pizza: something else you'll definitely have to try when you're in the city. Keep in mind that they work with American sizes, that we are not used to, so don't order too much.
- Chipotle: if you like Mexican food, just go there. You can get taco's, a bowl, nacho's with guac, that sounds very good, doesn't it?
- The Palace foodmarket: as not a lot of people know, under the Palace Hotel (the very luxurious hotel known from Home Alone and located next to Central Park), there's a big food market. Just go take a look, it's very impressive.
- Waffles & Dinges: to stay in the Belgian atmosphere, try their waffles, especially with nutella & strawberries.
- By Chloe: my favorite (vegan) place to go eat lunch, they have the best sweet potato fries & avocado toast.
- Dunkin Donuts: when you're looking for a simple (& cheap) breakfast or a bagel or donut to go, go there and drink some iced T/coffee with it.
- American diner: when you're in the USA, you'll have to go to an American Diner. You have some of them in the city and it really feels like you're in a movie when you're sitting there. A big milkshake can't miss in this picture.
- Speakeasy: as you also have in some other cities, try to find some of these in the city. The rumor says there's one behind a Five Guys somewhere. I went to one in a hair saloon one time, pretty cool experience if you ask me.
- 5th Av rooftop: if you want a very nice view and feel like you can touch the Empire State Building, while enjoying a drink, definitely go there.
- Empire Hotel: go to Chuck's hotel and enjoy a drink on his rooftop, sitting under the lights of the hotel-sign.
- Novotel Hotel: when you want a view over Times Square by night, go to the rooftop of this hotel.
- Moma: some modern art is exhibited here.
- Guggenheim: a very nice architectural building, next to Central Park. Inside, you'll have some different exhibitions.
- MET: known from the famous 'Met steps' and also the Met Ball is held here.
- The Whitney Museum: a very nice building, next to the Highline. On Friday you can go in for free, and you definitely also have to check the free admission with the other museums, because probably everyone of them does it one day in the week.
- The Frick Collection: I haven't been there, but apparently this museum has a very nice inner garden and it's held in a really nice building.
- 9/11 Memorial: you should really go there. It's definitely worth seeing this museum and hearing all the stories of the people left behind. Outside, there are 2 big fountains, built on the exact spots where the Twin towers were located.
- Soho: one of my favorite districts. There's a lot to see, some nice shops & I really like the buildings there.
- Little Italy: as I really like Italy, of course I also like this district a lot. They have some nice Italian restaurants here.
- Chinatown: also a nice district, with some hip hotspots like Pietro Nolita (the pink restaurant).
- Midtown: I lived here, so I have a lot of memories here, going from visiting the local shop and getting the guy owning the shop recognizing me, looking for a wineshop, going for a run next to the river, having the best memories with the best girls, in our residence,...
- Williamsburg: I also have a lot of memories here, as my internship was located here. I really love all the small shops you can find in Bedford Avenue, the walks to the subway I took every day, the lunch breaks by the water, the fun after work drinks I had with my colleagues,...
- Brooklyn Heights: also one of my faves, you have a beautiful view over Manhattan from here and see the most pretty houses here, that one day, I'd like to go live in.
- Dumbo: next to Brooklyn Heights, known from the picture spot with the Manhattan bridge in the background and also the building where Dan Humphrey lives :) Dumbo stands for 'Down Under The Brooklyn Bridge Overpath'.
- The Highline: a big to do when you're in the city. It's a 30-minute walk, between the biggest buildings, from Hudson Yards (the beginning was in my street) to Greenwich Village, where I just really like to walk around and go visit the Chelsea Market.
- Brooklyn Bridge: also a big to do! It's always beautiful, in the day or in the evening, seeing the skyline of Manhattan, when you walk towards Brooklyn. I would say it's a 30 minute walk, depanding on how many photo stops you make :)
- Williamsburg Bridge: a pink bridge, also worth walking if you have enough time. You can see Manhattan in the background, during your walk/bike ride.
- Central Park: always beautiful there, just chill, take a walk, go to Bethany Place (the place where Blair & Chuck got married), enjoy the nature around you and see a lot of squirrels.
- Washington Square Park: located next to the different NYU-buildings, so you'll see a lot of students here. It's always cosy there, people talking and sitting at the fountain (known from Friends), playing some music by the triomf, walking their dogs,... We tried to go in a NYU-building, but that didn't work out.
- Coney Island: a to do if you're in the city for a longer time and when the weather is great. There's a theme park next to the sea and a lot of American food spots. Also the record for 'eating the most hotdogs' is held here. Let's say it's really an experience to go there.
- Governor's Island: also a to do if you're in the city for a longer time. Nice to walk or bike around and a hip colorful spot to eat/drink something, while looking at a view of Manhattan. You can get there by boot.
- Times Square: not really my favorite, but it's worth a small walk, squeezed between all the people walking around there & looking at all the big billboards.
Extra's (to do's when you're in the city for a longer time)
- Yankees game: a real experience, even if you don't really understand anything of all the rules the game has.
- Jimmy Fallon show: we attented a Jimmy Fallon recording and saw some (unknown) artists. I also went to a recording of 'The View', and Amy Schumer was present with John Krasinski.
- Kajak/Jetski: I didn't do it myself but a friend of mine did and it was a real experience to do these activities on the Hudson River, having a view over Manhattan.
- Broadway show: go see a musical, I already saw Wicked, Aladdin & Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. All worth it! You can sometimes get last minutes tickets at the ticket counter, some time before the show starts.
- Street art: all around the city, it's worth looking for them. I personally really like the artist 'Hektad'.
- Dolphins spotting: I did that with my family some years ago, we went on a boat and saw some of them.
- Karaoke: go do that in Koreatown, in a small room with some disco lights and a book with thousands of songs you can chose from, really like in the movies. Fun assured.
- Weekend trips: you can take a (kind of cheap) busride to Washington DC or Boston (I did both of them). We also went to the Hamptons for a weekend, by car and I thought that was really cool. We really felt like the GG characters, except for the fact we didn't own a villa there haha!
- Helicopter flight over Manhattan: really my dream to do that one day. Definitely on my bucket list!
- Visit some galleries: there's always some cool galleries to find in the city, especially in the Chelsea district. Do some online research in advance.
When you'll go to the USA for a longer time, or do an internship like me, it's very important to be aware that you'll have to deal with a lot of paperwork, answer a lot of (silly) questions online, go to the ambassy in your country and that you'll have to get a visa to stay in the USA for a longer time. It takes a lot of administration work but it will be sooo worth it! (It also takes some savings, because nothing's for free in the city :)
If you want to see some of the million pictures I took in the city, the 4 times I was there already (& there will probably follow a fifth time soon), go check my instagram! Let me know what you think about it & about this blogpost! And if you have some questions, send me a DM or an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). I really like to help you get the best time in this one of a kind city!