It’s been a long time since I went on a sight seeing New York weekend break so the opportunity to visit the Big Apple in January was too good to miss. In preparation for the weekend stay I searched out many blogs including reviews for New York but could not find any options that I liked for 72 hours in New York. I have to add, that of the ones I did find, they were completely unrealistic of what you could do in the allocated 72 hours. Read on to follow a realist 72 hour tour of New York.
We arrive from London at 4pm but take over 90 minutes to clear customs, the queue is not moving fast and all we can do is wait. Luckily by the time we get to the taxi rank we don’t have to queue as there are only a few people in front of us and cabs are plenty. The great thing about New York cabs from the airport is that the fare is a fixed price plus tax, tolls and whatever tip you wish to add. For our trip to Uptown Manhattan 77th adjacent to Central park we paid $65 including tip and tolls. Now if you are on a budget you can take the train, but after the transatlantic flight and the 90 minute wait to clear customs, trust me the taxi fare was justifiable.
After much deliberation of hotels available for our stay we opted for The Surrey, a 5 star boutique hotel up by Central Park and just two blocks from the underground. We arrive to a warm welcome from the doormen and a prompt check-in by reception, including the promise of a bottle of Champagne to help celebrate a belated birthday.
Once checked in we feel a little jaded by the journey (even though we have flown business class) so we opt for a short snooze. Two hours later we are rested and on our way out for a walk around the area for some fresh air. We take a visit to the Mark hotel one block away for cocktails and then return to The Surrey for more cocktails and live Jazz which plays in the bar on Friday and Wednesday evenings. Well worth a visit even if you are not staying in the hotel as the atmosphere is so New York and you can just imagine Sarah Jessica Parker sitting chatting over a Friday night drink to the sounds of the live Jazz band. By 11pm we are ready to hit the sack in order to be up and out the next day.
Day 2 in New York
Jet lag kicks in and we are both awake by 6am and ready to get on the go, we opt for free coffee from the foyer, apples and water to kick start us for the day. We head down-town (buying a weeks underground pass that also covers the buses for just $33 dollars per person) all the way on the line from the hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. We walk across the bridge taking in the views of the bridge, the statue of Liberty and the sun on the city buildings looking back from the bridge. What strikes me is the amount of joggers/runners out today and to be fair every day, make sure you keep on the right side of the line as the runners or cyclists will take you out if you get in the way! It’s a fab walk and we end up down in DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan overpass) the new refurbished area of town that is home to many new shops, bars and restaurants. We wander through the cobbled streets and take pictures of views back to the city and the streets and buildings under the overpass.
We stop for Coffee in a small Italian bar and rest our feet although early we have been recommended an Italian restaurant called Juliana’s and when in Rome as they say, eat Pizza! The first tip here is don’t order a large Pizza unless you have huge appetite. We chose the goats cheese side salad to go with our build your own pizza and washed it down with two cold local beers. $65 including the tip.
Refuelled we head up through Brooklyn to the brownstones and wander round the area taking in the sights and as the weather changes we decide to head on to ground zero. A visit to the museum below is a great idea when the skies of New York open and the rain starts falling. Contrary to what we thought the 911 Memorial &Museum is very well done a moving tribute to what happened on the day of 9/11. Guided tours are available as are audio tapes, however one of the guides tell us that it is possible to get a good feel just walking around by yourself and they are correct. It takes us roughly 90 minutes to walk round the whole area stopping and looking at the various items and listening to some of the calls and video footage of the day. It is definitely worth a visit and the people of New York should be proud of this display of history of what happened on that dreadful day.
We head out of the museum and wander up towards the train station as our plan is to take cocktails at Grand Central, but there is one shop we cannot pass by, Century 21. Such a great shop with so many bargains to be had and the sales girls in the make-up counter will have you reaching for your purse and upgrading your purchases before you know it. Loved the girl on the SmashBox counter and she gets my vote of best sales girl of the weekend in New York!
After our retail therapy its off for our drinks in the Campbell Apartment cocktail bar at Grand Central Terminal and of course a look around this amazing rail station. such a fabulous station to arrive or leave from as it is just so amazing in structure. How many movies can you recall that has the main concourse as one of the locations? We take the obligatory pictures with the sweeping staircase and the famous clock in the background and then it’s off for drinks and down time.
Refuelled we head to Times Square and walk around the area taking in the sights, it is one crazy part of town and there is lots going on. Just sitting on the raised staircase watching the various adverts changing and the noise of the city, can keep you entertained for many an hour. We are flagging to head to an all American bar in the Hells Kitchen area for beer and chicken wings! You have to do it at least once when in America. We watch some of the sport, enjoy our beers and wings then head back to the hotel for an early night. All this walking, sight seeing and fresh air takes it out of you.
Day 3 in New York
It’s up and off to the Garment district this morning for a look around and some shopping, we have cheesecake and coffee in Macy’s mid-morning and then a visit to the cosmetics department for some great bargains. The Garment district has some great buildings with amazing roof top terraces so check out the website for the garment district and plan a cocktail stop taking in one of these great bars and restaurants. Today its a toss up between Pastrami at Katz and New York Sunday brunch at Paradou, which we have been told is great value as they have free Champagne or cocktails with brunch entree!!! I am out voted for the traditional Pastrami at Katz dinner so we head down to the East village area for our Pastrami sandwich. Wow big or what! We had to share one as no way could we eat one each, the restaurant is mad, absolutely packed with queues out the door but the process is pretty quick. Before we know it we are paired up with a couple of American ladies from New Jersey who have been for a spa weekend and are finishing off at Katz. They guide us through the menu and we place our order which comes pretty quickly. Its an experience for sure but I would rather have had the Champagne with brunch! We head out and stop at the Paulaner Brewery which is a German brewery in the East Village of New York serving their own beers, 5 in total to choose from and the food looks good too! We take a taxi to Tribeca for a stroll taking in the cobblestone roads, Cast-iron buildings and the many quirky restaurants and coffee shops this neighbour hood has to offer. It has a great family atmosphere to it and we wander for a couple of hours soaking up the ambience and then taxi to the end of the High-line to walk back down towards the West village area and a visit to the Spotted Pig for drinks at Cocktail time. The High Line New York, was once a railway line that has been converted into a public park/walkway which starts at 34th street and works its way down to Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District. Its a beautiful day and the walk is lovely to see what has been done converting this railway track into a great route for walkers, runners and families to enjoy. It’s a must and the view out to the river as you near the end is a great photo opportunity.
The Spotted Pig New York has been recommend to us to visit and what a great recommendation, this small restaurant has such a great atmosphere with such friendly staff. We stay for 2 or 3 drinks and then head to Balthazar for the experience and Moules et Frites, another recommendation. In our opinion not worth the cab ride, stay at the Spotted pig for a great meal and 1000% better ambiance.The Balthazar is trading on its reputation and is not a great experience, stroppy waiters a rude maître ‘d and a rushed service at an exorbitant price. We head out into the streets of New York and finish our day with a walk up Broadway and eventually catch a cab back to our hotel for a night cap. Its been a great day.
Day 4 in New York
Monday our last day, and we are up and out in Central Park on bikes (curtsey of the hotel) for a cycle around the park, the temperature has changed dropping by 25f and the wind chill is up. Its a fresh ride but fabulous to get a feel for how New Yorkers use the park. I don’t think I have ever seen so many dog walkers or runners for that matter, the park is full of both. Its a 6.7 mile ride round the park with some hefty hills at the North end but generally an easy ride mid to south. We stop for some Central Park pictures and enjoy the crisp morning sunshine and are tempted by the ice rink but push on back to the hotel for Breakfast and our last day of activities.
After breakfast at Cafe Boulud we pack up shower and head down to the Rock for a view of the city and a look around the Rockefeller centre, the Christmas tree has been taken down so we miss out on seeing that but its normally up from around the 29th of November until the first week of January. The view from here is fabulous, the staff entertaining on the way up and NO queues with a lot more room than the Empire State Building to move around at the very top to take in the views and get some snaps to remember the visit. The best thing about the Rock is that you can get some great pictures of Central Park and of course of the Empire state building. We head back down to the West Village area for a spot of retail therapy and a visit to the Apple store, why not its an experience in itself and we pass time browsing the streets.
Our last stop of this trip is back to the Spotted Pig for lunch, the whole west Village area has captured our hearts and the warm feeling of the restaurant has taunted us back. We are not disappointed with a stunning lunch, our first burger shared along with a toasted Cheese sandwich el al Spotted Pig way, washed down with a very nice bottle of White wine, a Spanish Albarino. We eat to the sounds of David Bowie playing in the background, a mark of respect by the restaurant on the knowledge of his death the previous day. It is the perfect way to end our quick visit to New York and we feel rested and ready for our flight home. We indulge ourselves with a 3 hour lunch and call a taxi to take us back to the hotel and then on to the airport. New York it has been a pleasure and we will return.
For first timers to New York also consider the Hudson river cruise, a visit to Staten Island, Liberty Cruise including Eli’s island or the big bus tour. These are all great options when the weather is warm in New York.
goeasy Travel offer packages to New York from £799 per person for 7 days in New York staying at the Edison Hotel departing Jan 2017. Call 0844 811 2550 for your personal quote today.