As with many cities, beyond the shopping, eating and drinking, there’s a lot to see and do in NYC. There’s actually loads of free options (who doesn’t love free stuff) and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, seasonality really does play a huge role in what to see and do here. The best way to get around is on foot, so get your comfs on and get ready for some serious walking.
The streets of New York – Everywhere! Without doubt, my number one thing to do in New York is to wander, which I know seems a bit vague for a must see list! I promise you’ll be nothing but impressed by the architecture and real life on the streets. Pick an area and follow your nose. Don’t forget to (literally) look up when you’re in the Financial District or anywhere Midtown up, you forget the scale of the city when you are head down for too long. If you like a bit more structure to your meanderings, via a little search on Google you’ll find many walking tours. There’s a significant shift in appearance of neighborhood to neighborhood and the types of shops, cafes and restaurants. Enjoy getting lost!
Central Park – Uptown. Did you know that Central park is bigger than Monaco? I read that somewhere the other day. You’ve got a few options to choose from in order to get around the park. The free one is to walk, but it’s pretty big (bigger than Monaco!) so to make up some ground, you could hire a bike, or hitch a ride with one of the many touting rickshaws – make sure you negotiate with them on their rates. I would really advise against taking a horse and carriage, I know they’re romantic but without getting in to the hum drum details, it’s widely reported that the horses are not treated very well, ooh, makes me sad. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a celeb in the park on the weekend (a friend saw Leonardo DiCaprio walking around the reservoir!) and you’ll have an overwhelming sense of familiarity as the landscape transforms in to recognizable movie scenes.
In the summer months there are loads of free concerts and Shakespeare plays, while in the winter there’s of course the very famous ice rinks to enjoy (FYI – the skates bloody hurt!!). Other fav spots are the Strawberry Fields dedicated to John Lennon, a walk through the Bethesda Terrace Arcade where there’s always a goose-bump inducing quartet making the most of the acoustics, the Loeb Boathouse for a gawp at the stunning lake and rowers (I’ve never had the bloody patience to wait in the insanely long queue) and finally Sheep Meadow, a really open greeny bit so you get a 360 view of the amazing architecture surrounding the park. Watch out for low flying frisbees and other balls, its a hot spot for games! Random story alert: on Christmas Day last year, Jack and I had a romantic stroll around a very white Central park thanks to the numerous dumps of snow and there was a group of people playing Quidditch on ice. Yes, they had broomsticks, their own ice skates on and had set up a game in the park! Is it just me who thought quidditch was a completely made up game for the purpose of Harry Potter!?
My favourite thing to do (a non winter activity) is to get some cold meats, cheeses and breads and find the spot next to the skate dancers to have a picnic.
The Highline – (Midtown/Meatpacking). Yay for the Highline! Take a stroll above the streets of New York and be surprised how much distance you cover when you’re not stopping every block for lights/cars! I love the Highline, such an awesome idea and it’s been done so well. Essentially, for those who don’t know, it’s an urban park on a disused railway line. It gets busy on the weekends but still manages to give you an escape from the noise and constant grind of the city. Random story number two: everytime I walk along the Highline I sing Upon the Roof by The Drifters in my head!!
I would recommend getting on the Highline at the north end (34th Street) and walk down so you finish at 12th Street, in the heart of Meatpacking. The 34th Street end always has loads of people waiting for Mega buses/Greyhound buses which makes it a right pain in the arse because of loads of queses of people everywhere. Bit of a mood killer after being on such a chilled out walk. At least on 12th street you can go to Chelsea Market and get a pancake!
View from the Empire State Observation Deck – Midtown. This place needs no introduction and is a bit corny to recommend, but the view from the top of the Empire State is really breathtaking and you’ll get a completely different perspective of the city. Some people say The Top of the Rock is better, I personally like the Empire State (call me romantic)!
Guggenheim Museum – Upper West Side. I didn’t love the exhibitions in the Guggenheim as much as I loved walking around the iconic round staircase or appreciating the building’s serious curb appeal. It’s totally worth going in to see it for yourself, but I would say there are other museums and galleries that I prefer for the actual exhibits.
A Signature Facial at Elena Rubin – Soho. When I first moved to New York I thought my face was going to fall off. My poor skin was dealing with intensely cold weather, an insanely hot apartment (heat is controlled at a building level, not apartment level – how stupid is that?!) and on top of that, I wasn’t used to the humidity levels ie a severe lack of moisture in the air. It was also only five months away from our wedding, I felt my skin resembled a six week old lemon, not the kind of bridal skin I had been hoping for.
Long story short, I quickly found Elena Rubin after using some review sites and my life changed thanks to her! OK slight exaggeration. But this lady is a gift from the skin gods, put on this earth to give you the best skin of your life. I had never experienced a facial like it. I was used to hydra/microdermabrasion facials, but this was seriously high tech, a mix of pain and pleasure (as the facial included extractions, and although Elena is very gentle, I am a complete wuss). The end result was the most amazingly radiant, smooth and plumped out skin ever. She can actually plump out skin. It’s no wonder she’s expensive and she’s the therapist for models and actresses!
Blowout at Brush – Flatiron District. If you’re looking for a cut/colour or simply a blowout to get your locks bouncing before a big night out, check out Brush in Flatiron. I love this salon. The staff are all lovely and ace and it’s quick. I would recommend Kim for colour and Machal for a cut, I have had blowouts (blow drys) from both and was so impressed with both of them!
Aire Ancient Baths – TriBeCa. If you don’t like the idea of a luxurious selection of turkish baths in an edgy, exposed brick-loft-style building with wrought iron candelabras creating the most romantically candle lit space ever, then don’t come here! As If!! You’d be mad to not want to come here!! A friend recommended I check this place out when I first moved to NY and I’m so glad I did. This is a true escape from the city. There’s a selection of flotation pools, Jacuzzis, ice pools, hot pools and steamrooms with the added option to have a massage (really great to go with friends as you can have four people in the little massage place at the same time). This place is a complete dream.
Cycle over Brooklyn Bridge – East River Park. One of the best and cheapest things to do in New York. Not only is the bridge an iconic sight in itself, the view of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn is truly gobsmacking, it’ll give you chills that multiply and it might just make your instagram go mental! Cheats guide: you could ride half way, adore the view and then cycle back but I would really recommend making your way over the whole bridge to check out the parks that hug alongside the riverside (there is also a shake shack…. who said burger again?!)
Experience a Broadway Show – Broadway! Of course, last but by no means least is going to see something on Broadway. If musicals aren’t your thing, don’t discount seeing a show, there are loads of off Broadway plays, sketches etc. I have provided a link to The Last Ship, which is the most recent show I have seen on Broadway. It’s written by Sting and is one of the best (I actually said it was the best) modern musical around. It’s a bit hit or miss when the music from a musical isn’t familiar but the songs in this were catchy without being annoying and told a great narrative (I thought the same of Legally Blonde).
So there you have it, my first week’s posts done and dusted. A week completely dedicated to the city that has inspired me the most and given me the nudge to start this blog. West Fifteenth isn’t always going to be about my fav places to eat burgers, or specifically about New York, I can’t guarantee that the topics won’t pop up now and again! Have a tops weekend!!