By Lucy Hulm.
I wrote a bucket list of things I wanted to do when I was in my early 20s – one of the things on the list was to have a picnic in Central Park, New York. Read on for my tips for a great day in New York and your chance to win a Kikki K Leather Travel Organiser. I’ve never lived in a big city – so I’m not sure why I had this strong desire to travel to New York – maybe it was one too many episodes of Sex in the City. I lived out my dream and have travelled to New York twice now.
Every thing that has been written about New York and will be written about New York is true. It buzzes, it never sleeps and it has momentum, a pulse that pulls you in. It is full of endless possibilities, beginnings, ideas and life.
I choose to stay in the same spot for two weeks each time – Manhattan, mid-town. I love holidays, but sometimes when you travel you spend a lot of time going between places – you know the one night here, two nights there and so on. New York is the kind of place you can travel to and stay in one place, but no matter how long you stay you’ll leave feeling like you only just scratched the surface. I travelled there in Summer on each occasion. I often get asked what I recommend for a short visit – what were some of the highlights or must dos.
Below is my guide to a great day in New York.
If you like to travel as much as me – get excited as one lucky reader will win a Kikki K Leather Travel Organiser. This baby will keep all your travel documentation in one place and make it easy to find! Just see the competition page, follow the links and get entering! Winner announced next Tuesday (see terms and conditions).
Now Wake up – you’re about to have an amazing day!
Breakfast I really liked Le Pain Quotidien café for an easy breakfast. They are organic and have a great variety of baked goods and cooked breakfast options to suit. They have these fun communal tables, that make you feel like you’re at a great breakfast party, and the most amazing jams and choc hazelnut spread – so yum. Where: There are a few in New York, but don’t be concerned about it being a chain. We went to the Columbus Circle one while we were in town. Cost: It was also well priced and easy to get in and out. A decent coffee I don’t drink coffee, but one thing you’ll hear Australians say about visiting America is they missed having a decent coffee. My husband found Blue bottle cafe – and it soon became a daily visit. Sometimes he’d even get up before me, race down town get a coffee and come back to meet up for breakfast – he really loves good coffee. Where: We went to the one at Rockefeller (1 Rockefeller Plaza, Concourse Level (underneath ground level). Cost: couple of bucks. Insider tip – Don’t be afraid to order a flat white – they know what it is. Morning fun – Now the day really starts – 10:30am to 12:00 A trip to MoMA (Modern Museum of Modern Art). New York is known for its museums and galleries. If you’re in town longer and love this kind of thing (I know it isn’t for everyone) be sure to visit a few. If I could only go to one, I’d go to MoMA. The exhibitions are fun and the museum itself is right in the middle of the city. It is busy but has a great combination on permanent and temporary exhibitions. Where: 11 West Fifty-third Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Cost: $25 each Insider tip – buy your tickets on line to jump the queue. Get lost in Central Park – Lunch with a spot of fun 12:00 to 3pm Now you’ve had your culture fix for the day, head up town to Central park. First stop – lunch supplies: Go to Wholefoods supermarket – hit the salad bar, the sushi bar, the bakery – hell just hit everything!!!! Make your own picnic lunch. Where: Columbus Circle (Lower Concourse Level of the Time Warner Center) Cost: The food here is yummy and cheaper then buying from a café. Insider tip – Don’t forget a drink – cold ones in the fridge near the check outs, oh and how cheap are the in season raspberries! Cross the road into a beautiful park – find a nice spot, sit down and eat – yum yum yum. Next head to the lake – hire a row boat – it might be a little lake but it is fun for the city kids. It will feel surreal to be paddling in a lake and just above the tree line you’ll see the towering apartment blocks reminding you, you’re in a huge city. Where: Near the restaurant the boat house. Cost: $12 an hour Insider tip – look out for turtles Next head to strawberry fields – this is the memorial for John Lennon. Originally it was planted with wild strawberries but the squirrels ate them all – despite this the name strawberry fields stuck. It is a very pretty garden. The highlight for me was a man who has appointed himself the Major of strawberry fields – a super fan of John Lennon and when in a good mood, will happily to share a fact or two about the monument. That’s enough fresh air for one day. Shopping time (for young and old) 3pm to 4pm Head over to the 24/7 apple store – okay so you could go at 3am just to see who buys apple goods at 3am – but your near by so pop in now. Even if you’re not in the market for apple products this is one of their flagship stores and is a sight to behold. See the latest and greatest. Insider tip: Look out for the glass box, enjoy the free wifi and head underground. Next pop into the FAO Schwarz toy store it is just behind the apple store. I know what you’re thinking – but check out the giant piano (from the movie Big) – if you’re lucky someone will do a show. Afternoon delight 4pm to 6pm Time to head down town (down town) – jump on the subway – it will take you straight down there. Don’t be afraid to use the subway – it is easy, cost effective and even air-conditioned! This is a great way to get around New York, I found it fast, affordable and safe. Go to Magnolia Bakery – famous for starting the ‘cup cake’ craze, you’ll find something yummy to eat here. The frosting/icing is amazing (you’ve walked a lot today, so treat yourself!) Where: 401 Bleecker Street. Cost: About $5 a cup cake. Take your treats to go and head to the highline Now head to Chelsea a short walk away – go to the high-line. This is a cool old railway track not far away that has been converted into an elevated walk way with lovely planted gardens. A good place to eat a cupcake or two, or three. You’ll also get to see a nice part of old New York with cobbled streets. Where: It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. There are multiple points to enter. Cost: Free Dinner 6:30pm This is tough, there are a lot of great restaurants to try. But since you’re in Chelsea, why not swing by the Spice Markets in the meat packing district – dress up if possible (get your hipster on). This place will not disappoint! I recommend the tasting menu. Oh and say hi to whichever celebrity sits next to you. It is that kind of place. Where: 403 West 13th Street Cost: About $50 a head (plus tip and drinks). Insider tip: make a reservation ahead of time, but don’t be worried if you can’t make one, lots of restaurants keep a few tables free for bookings on the day so try your luck by rocking up. Equally an early bird dinner may not be your cup of tea – you can seriously eat most places till midnight. We arrived jet-lagged and found an amazing Italian place at 11:30pm. A city that never sleeps, has places to eat around the clock. Good night New York Some people go to Empire State Building (you can if you want) – but I went to Rockefeller. I hear that is has shorter lines plus you can buy your tickets online. You’ll go top of the rock – look out on New York in the night lights. It is a beautiful city and a great view. Where: 45 Rockefeller Plaza New York Cost: $27 each. You’re young in the most amazing city – next head out for a drink and see where the night takes you. Have fun. Other things to see, do and eat If you’re in town longer – I’d also recommend:
- There is also a great place to eat in the MoMa museum. The Modern is a fine dining experience which is hard to top. We went for dinner, it has a separate street-level entrance, meaning you don’t have to be a visitor to the museum to dine there. This was hands down the best place we ate while in town. We had the four-course dinner and it was to die for. The flavour combinations were adventurous, the service was great and the little extras were a surprise – such as the chocolate cart at the end of the meal, where we were presented with hand-made chocolates to select (in addition to dessert). It is $$$.
- Hire a bike and ride around Central Park – it was a really fun way to see the park.
- Time square – it really is amazing – it is a tourist mecca, largely avoided by locals. But I recommend, going there just to sit on the red stairs and watch. It will make you feel really small in a good way.
- You can go to stature of liberty (I’ve never been) – I saw it from land and decided that was enough. The queue was very long and I felt like I could see her (just) from land and that was enough.
- Brooklyn Bridge – even walk across and visit Brooklyn for a day
- China town and little Italy – it is amazing how you can walk from street to street and the vibe can change so quickly. When you step into china town you’ll be swept up in the rich smells and bargains.
- Check out Chelsea food market – even if your not eating it is fun just to have a look. Check out the lobsters – freshly cooked on site.
- Century 21 in lower Manhattan is known for it’s high-end labels at low low prices. Check it out for a bargain shop.
- Shopping – you can walk down fifth avenue and all over there are mega shops, with floors and floors of stock. I visited every Zara in New York just to hit up the different sale stock in each shop. You can shop as much and as little as you like. All the brands are there. You can also head to Soho to get the boutique experience.
Lastly, if you can have a day without a plan – just walk – head out and just walk around, you’ll see, hear and experience the city. We did this one day and found ourselves at the UN, then watched from the side lines a movie being shoot, then popped into a little café that had the most amazing French toast I’ve ever had (Delicatessen), watched some street basketball being played and just watched the world go by.