A few months’ ago, I visited The City That Never Sleeps – New York. I am already dying to go back. Why you may ask?
Well, New York is like no other place I have ever visited.
The majority of my time spent in New York made me feel like I was on the set of several films I had ever seen. Yes, I admit, the majority of films and television shows I have watched inspired me to visit New York. Coming from a small scale city, New York was draw-dropping in real life. From the skyscrapers, to the office buildings, the wonderful street art, the eclectic mix of people… plus the fact that you can get any cuisine you want any time of the day AND the endless amount of things to do. Every day I spent walking around this exciting city, I felt like I was in a dream because it is a truly magical place!
One of the main reasons why I travelled to New York was because a few years ago I went on my very first Contiki around Spain, and on that trip, became friends with a super cool person (Christina). At the end of the trip, I said to her “One day I will come and visit you in New York”. Two years later, I booked my flights and accommodation and was all set to go!
Below are some of my tips for New York:
New York: Before You Go
- Give New York enough time. I was there for 10 days, so was able to fit in most of the attractions and activities, however, the minimum time I would spend there is four to five days, just so that you can do all the fun things! And also so you can spend time away from Manhattan in say, Brooklyn.
- If you are from New Zealand / Australia, you will need to apply for an ESTA Visa before you go, as this is your entry into the United States. It only costs US $14 and you can apply here. Be aware that a lot of websites offer this as well – but these are scams! One of my friends was charged in the hundreds because she applied for an ESTA Visa on a different website.
- Download the YELP app! I use YELP whenever I travel, as you can bookmark all the eateries, attractions, parks and markets etc. that you want to visit. Each place on Yelp states the business’ opening hours, whether they have free WiFi or not, plus reviews and tips from other users.
- Tipping! In the United States, tipping is a must for the following: dining out at restaurants (table service), buying a drink at a bar, for hotel porters if they help you with your luggage, taxi drivers (although not Uber…), or any other service like getting your nails done, haircut, spa etc. For restaurants, tip between 15% – 20%.
- Packing: Definitely include comfortable walking shoes (as these will become your best friend), US travel adapter, portable charger (a definite must if you plan on taking a lot of pictures on your mobile), big camera, notebook and pen to write about places you visited and some handy New York subway apps.
- Weather: I visited in the peak of summer (as New Zealand is cold at this time). It was insanely hot and brimming with people. Next time, I will definitely visit in the fall/autumn, as it is a bit cooler and no longer the summer holidays.
New York: Transport
The public transport in New York is great – don’t be afraid to use it! Prior to my trip, I heard from friends that taxis are expensive, and if you are in a rush and the traffic is bad… well you are not going to get to your destination on time.
- Instead, buy a 7 Day Unlimited MetroCard for $32 – you can use the pass not only on the subway, but also on local buses too. The subway is awesome and an interesting experience. Tip: Do not stare at people, ever. I love to people watch, so I wore dark sunglasses every time I caught the subway, just so that I could stare people – mainly I love looking at what people are wearing!
- If it is really late at night, or you are tired from all the walking, catch an Uber. They are super reliable and the cars are nice too… you won’t see a Toyota Prius anywhere in sight!
- Walking is great – if you are not pressured for time, I would recommend walking. On some days, I walked from downtown Manhattan to uptown! Yes, it did take a while, but you discover so much more when walking, which is exciting!
Long Island: What I Ate, What I Did:
After spending nearly two weeks in Mexico, I flew to JFK Airport and arrived on a mild Friday night. Christina was there waiting for me… very exciting! From there, we drove to her place in Long Island where I stayed for the weekend. For dinner, we headed to one of her favourite restaurants in Long Island, had breakfast at a traditional American diner, met her family (!!!), explored the Williamsburg area and also did a street art tour in Bushwick. Here are my highlights from the weekend and also from Williamsburg and Brooklyn:
Bay Shore / Babylon
EAT: Nicky’s On The Bay
On my first night in New York, my friend Christina took me to one of her favourite restaurants on Long Island – Nicky’s On The Bay, which serves great seafood, has good service, and the best part, a view overlooking the Bay Shore Marina! There is ample seating, both inside and out, and we managed to get one of the last tables outside right next to the water which was stunning.
We ordered a cup (more like a bowl) of their seafood bisque with lobster, shrimp and crab meat, which surprisingly came out pink (!!!), fresh oysters to share (with cute mini Tabasco bottles!), and the linguine with clams. The linguine portion was very generous – enough for two or three meals! All dishes were fantastic, and we also tried a local beer. Being by the marina, eating seafood and in good company reminded me of home and made for a very nostalgic night.
150 South Clinton Ave, Bay Shore / Website
EAT: Glen’s Dinette
I would have breakfast at Glen’s Dinette every day if I could. A traditional American diner located in Babylon, Glen’s Dinette serves the most extensive and delicious breakfast menu I have ever seen. Christina said this place is always crowded, whether it be a weekday or weekend, and she was right! We had breakfast here on a Monday and there was literally only one booth left. A few minutes’ later, a line had also formed outside.
Back to the menu – it is HUGE and trust me, you will have a hard time choosing what to eat. I love pancakes, and really wanted to try some truly authentic ones, so I ordered a stack of their traditional buttermilk pancakes. They also make buckwheat pancakes, blueberry pancakes, banana and blueberry pancakes, and even pumpkin pancakes. Wowzas! I also ordered an egg and sausages, plus my friend ordered waffles for us to share. It was literally the best breakfast I have ever eaten – the fluffiest pancakes served with loads of real maple syrup and butter (nothing like I have tasted back home), and again, the best waffles, all washed down with a few cups of bottomless joe! Would highly recommend a trip to Glen’s Dinette!
23 East Main St, Babylon / Website
Brooklyn: DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Williamsburg
EAT: Smorgasburg Market
Smorgasburg is the market for ultimate foodie heaven.
Held every Saturday in Williamsburg, this open-air market has over 100 food stalls and attracts thousands of people each weekend. Not surprising, as the food here is EPIC! I loved the variety of food available… different to back home! You will find LOBSTER, Japanese shaved ice, spaghetti donuts, Philly cheese sandwiches, Korean fried chicken, Juice in your favourite hulled-out fruit, Ramen burgers, Fresh mango on a stick carved into a flower, and so much more!
While I wanted to try one of everything, I paced myself and only ended up eating a Nutella S’mores Ice Cream (topped with torched meringue) from Bona Bona Ice Cream and a Philly Cheese Sandwich, which I think is the culprit here due to it being very “philling!” Both were delicious. I enjoyed these (and bites of various other things) by the East River, while taking in the views of the Manhattan skyline.
Tips: Bring your camera, sunscreen (there is hardly any shade), water bottle (which you can refill at the market) and loads of cash!
EAT: Egg Shop
After our street art tour around Brooklyn (see below), we headed over to Egg Shop for lunch and it was so worth it. This cafe was recommended to me by a friend, who said it was one of her favourite places. Egg Shop literally serves eggs, in a whole lot of different ways. I ordered their Pepper Boy – scrambled egg, maple cured bacon, caramelised onion aioli on a panini roll… it was delicious! Also loved their Frose with fresh pressed watermelon. Heavenly.
Don’t forget to follow Egg Shop on Instagram for some daily egg porn!
DRINK: Berry Park
A group of us ventured to Berry Park bar after spending the afternoon at Smorgasburg Market, and after drinking quite a few beersies. I really enjoyed Berry Park, in fact it was the only rooftop bar I went to while in New York City. It was bustling when we arrived, has great views of the city (including a glimpse of the Empire State Building), and the cocktails delicious. Highlights included bumping into a photographer from the New York Post who was doing a photoshoot (which we joined in on) and ate his loaded fries which were so yummy. We also got talking to some people, who evidently shared their Krispy Kreme donuts with us. It was a great night!
DO: Street Art Tour with Graff Tours
I had heard that Brooklyn has the best street art in New York, so I thought I would do something different and book a street art tour for my friend Christina and I. After reading many reviews, I chose Graff Tours, as they came highly recommended. The tour started in Bushwick, and when we arrived, the area was dead. Like no one around. We thought it was a bit sketchy and maybe we had been ripped off, so we rang the company and they told us the guide was just running a little late. Phew.
We turned out to be the only ones on the tour (as a few people did not turn up), so it ended up being a private one hour tour around the industrial area of Brooklyn. It was fantastic. Our guide was awesome – we learnt a lot about the history of the area, the street art and the meaning of each one, the street artists involved and got some great photos! Would definitely recommend.
DO: Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is a must do while in New York.
Staying in East Village, I was lucky enough to just hop on the subway (L line to City Hall Station) and get off right near the Brooklyn Bridge. Definitely wear comfortable walking shoes and bear in mind the throngs of people! It was exciting to walk across – with the commuter traffic underneath and all the pedestrians above. The views are excellent too – you can see the Statue of Liberty and also views over Brooklyn, and once you are on the other side, views over Manhattan. I only walked across the bridge during the day, but I think at night, it would be magical!
DO/EAT: Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop
After walking across Brooklyn Bridge, the only thing I had planned to do was visit Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Shop. The store in DUMBO is the place where it all started. You will find handmade chocolate treats, hot chocolate and ice cream sandwiches. They also have wonderful packaged chocolate gifts, so I bought a few of these to take home!
Seeing it was a super hot day, it was a good excuse to order one of their frozen hot chocolates. Boy, oh boy, it was rich… but very good! I recommend ordering one of these and sitting in the nearby Empire Fulton Ferry Park to enjoy such treat, while taking in the Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge and city views.
Manhattan: What I Ate, What I Did:
After a lovely weekend staying on Long Island, I caught the train into Manhattan where I stayed in an apartment in East Village for a week. There is no doubt about it – Manhattan is HUGE. While I planned on doing literally everything on my 10 page itinerary (including visiting over 100 eateries), and while I was sure I could accomplish it, there was no way it was possible. I had also planned to have brunch every morning at a different cafe, but when looking at the menus, I figured out I would be spending over a thousand on meals for a week… hence not many breakfast/brunch places are featured in my list below. For ease, I have listed which eateries I dined at and things I experienced in each neighbourhood located in Manhattan.
Upper East and West Sides
DO: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Located at 1000 5th Avenue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is the largest museum in the United States, and the second most visited museum in the world – wow! Walking up to The Met, it is very grand, from the outside, to the inside and throughout. Plenty of photo opportunities!
You could spend a few days at The Met, but I managed to narrow my time down to 2-3 hours, focusing on what I really wanted to see. This included: the Greek and Roman Art, the Egyptian section (including a life size Temple of Dendur – do not miss!), the classical paintings (Monet, Manet, Matisse and Picasso) and their current exhibition ‘Heavenly Bodies’. There is also a great gift shop ‘The Met Store’ – I only picked up a few bookmarks for gifts, but they had some really interesting products.
Tip: No need to book your tickets online, simply head to one of the kiosks at the entrance to purchase your ticket.
Address: 1000 5th Ave, Upper West Side
Nearest subway station: 86th St Lexington Ave
Socials: Website / Instagram
DO: Central Park and Strawberry Fields
After being amazed at The Met, head across to Central Park and get lost in there (literally this happened to me). Central Park is HUGE. I thought it would be easy, walking from the east side to the west side (30 minute walk), but of course, got distracted. Mainly due to the number of dogs I saw – it is just like the films, where a young girl/boy is walking 10 dogs at one time, which is quite a sight to see! If you are a dog lover, definitely visit Central Park. Also came across the ‘Shakespeare Garden’ which was super pretty with all the flowers. While on the west side of Central Park, check out Strawberry Fields with the IMAGINE mosaic which is the memorial for John Lennon.
EAT: Levain Bakery
I had been recommend to check out Levain Bakery by a few foodie friends. They are famous for one thing only – COOKIES. Cookies as big as your hands, which almost look like muffins! Their Chocolate Chip Cookie is out of this world. Best cookie I have ever eaten, hands down.
Prior to devouring Levain’s cookies, I had been getting lost in Central Park, so it was a nice way to end a sort-of stressful moment because I thought I would be stuck in the park for ever and ever. Their bakery is tiny, so takeaway is your best option. I ordered two cookies – Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate, plus an Iced Latte. It was the perfect combo in the New York City heat!
DO: Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) was the highlight of my New York City trip (funnily enough not food!). Being on my own, I whizzed around all five floors like a maniac, taking many pictures, and being amazed by all the beautiful art. Highlights included: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, The Golden Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, Water Lillies by Claude Monet, as well as impressionist art from a number of other famous painters.
I then spent about an hour in the gift shop. Seriously the best gift shop I have been to around the world, it had books, posters, cards, ornaments – all inspired by different artists. I picked up a poster of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh and a beautiful book all about Frida Kahlo’s life and paintings (very excited to purchase as had just spent time in Mexico and visited Frida Kahlo’s house).
Tips: No need to book your tickets online, simply head to one of the kiosks to purchase your ticket. Each floor has an information desk and all staff were helpful. There is a small place to purchase drinks (next to the gift shop), however you have to drink your drink then and there, no taking around the museum. Next to the gift shop, there is power points to charge your mobile. Plus, FREE WI-FI. Woohoo!
I would highly recommend visiting the MoMa – it was worth every cent.
EAT: by CHLOE.
I have been following by CHLOE. on Instagram for a while now, so as I had to kill some time before Top of the Rock, I bought a takeaway dinner from by CHLOE. This particular branch is within walking distance of the Rockefeller Plaza where I was about to view the New York City skyline.
I love everything about the by CHLOE. brand – all the food is 100% vegan and housemade daily. But never fear, the food is not boring. You will find salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, breakfast and brunch meals, fries, sweets, ice cream and a huge range of beverages. Their menus are also super cool – love the design and the brightly coloured emojis of food, which make me want to lick each one!
Back to the food, I ordered their Classic Burger with a tempeh, lentil, chia and walnut patty, plus pickles, onion, beet ketchup and special sauce on a potato bun. This was an easy option for a grab and go bite and was super satisfying.
DO: Top of the Rock
If there was one thing you had to do in New York, it would be to visit Top of the Rock. Located at the top of the Rockefeller Plaza, Top of the Rock is a 360 viewing platform with three observation decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors. From these decks, you can see a full-view of the Empire State Building on one side and stunning views of Central Park on the other. If you want breathtaking views of New York’s skyline, then this is for you!
Tip: You must book your tickets online and choose which day and which time, and you will see why. I was recommended to go up around 7.45pm (in summer) – this way you see the day, the sunset, and the skyline at night time. It was a great experience, and despite the insane amount of people and steep price (around NZD$40), I would highly recommend it to all. Don’t forget to bring your camera!!!
Click here if you want to check out the sunset times for the different seasons.
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown West
Nearest subway station: 47-50 Sts – Rockefeller Ctr
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook
DO: Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is featured in countless films and television shows – it is probably where most of you know it from. One particular television series in fact – Gossip Girl, where in the first episode, Serena is ‘spotted’ at Grand Central Station. Aside from that, a visit to Grand Central is a must-do when in New York City. The station has beautiful architecture and inside interiors. Don’t forget to look up to admire the ceiling mosaic of horoscopes! Visiting any time of the day is busy, but that is what makes it exciting!
Grand Central is not just a terminal – it also houses over 60 shops and 35 places to eat, plus holds various events during the year.
EAT: Grand Central Oyster Bar
Situated underneath Grand Central station, Grand Central Oyster Bar is definitely touristy, but it is pretty cool in the sense where it is located, and the decor and layout is old school, with red and white checkered tablecloths, gigantic menus and counter seating.
Upon arrival, we were seated in the main dining area as we were having dinner and I was surprised by how quickly it filled up – mainly families, groups and tourists. We ordered beers and you guessed it, seafood. Their menu is EXTENSIVE – it took ages to decide what to order. They have appetizers, like fried oysters and clams and a surprising discovery – New Zealand Greenlip Mussels! Plus a raw bar, featuring oysters from around the United States, soups, stews, lobster, fried seafood, shrimp, a cold buffet and ‘today’s catch’ served with vegetables and steamed potato. Everything sounded delicious to be honest. I ended up ordering the Blue Point oysters, but chose fried instead of fresh (big mistake), with tartare sauce and French fries. I thought the portion size was very small, considering the price – $24.90 excluding tip, which works out to about $38 NZD! The oysters were okay, but nothing special. Instead, I would recommend coming to New Zealand for some fresh and affordable seafood!
DO: Times Square
Touristy? Check. Cliché? Check. Crowded? Check. Chaotic? Check.
Times Square is all of these things, but for me, I think it is a once in a lifetime experience.
I literally just went here to take pictures, because I love dazzling neon signs and seeing gigantic ads on sides of buildings, well we don’t have those back home. But, Times Square is not just about the bright lights, it is also where you can catch a show on Broadway (unfortunately, I did not end up seeing one), and there are many places to eat and drink. One of my friends did recommend trying the cheesecake from Junior’s, so if you are feeling famish, head there for a sweet treat.
Without thinking, I decided to visit Times Square on a Saturday, at lunch time – do not recommend as the crowds were INSANE. I felt like I was in a mosh pit. However, I discovered a few avenues were closed off because there was a market on! There were many stalls selling food, clothing, bags etc. Very exciting as I picked up a colourful bag (made in Thailand), which was actually something I had hoped to bring back from Mexico, but had not found one over there… so all in all, it was worth checking out Times Square!
Side note: On my first day in Manhattan (after catching the train to the city from Long Island), I caught an Uber to my apartment, which ended up going through Times Square. It was fascinating! If you are not too keen on crowds, then catching a taxi to go through Times Square may be the perfect option for you!
EAT: Los Tacos No.1 at Chelsea Market
Prior to walking across The High Line, I ventured into the Chelsea Market to check out the lunch options – it is a famous market / food hall, offering a variety of foods and fresh produce. I had received many recommendations to try Los Tacos No.1 – apparently it is quite famous. And, having just eaten tacos in Mexico every day for two weeks, I thought why not? I ordered three tacos – Carne Asada and Adobada, and also a horchata. There was a bit of a wait, but that is always a good sign, and the tacos did not disappoint – tender and juicy meat, and flavoursome ingredients.
Their horchata also hit the spot, and was perfect for sipping on while walking over The High Line afterwards. What I loved most about Los Tacos No.1 is that while you wait for your food, you can watch the chefs in action, and there is also a self-service station for salsas and sauces, so you can add more goodness (and spice) to your tacos. YUM.
DO: The High Line
After eating a delicious lunch at Chelsea Market, head to The High Line which is nearby.
The High Line was originally a freight rail line, elevated above Manhattan’s West Side, which was transformed into a public park in 2009. It runs for 1.45 miles (2.33 km) from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District all the way to Midtown. It is somewhere where visitors can experience nature, art (my favourite being the Dorothy Iannone ‘I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door’ colourful mural) and design. It is also a great place to relax away from bustling Manhattan.
What I loved most about The High Line is that it is the perfect opportunity to get a higher perspective of New York City… without all the crowds. Boasting views of The Hudson, Chelsea, the Manhattan skyline and even a small glimpse of the Empire State Building, this greenway is filled with beautiful gardens, flowers and artwork along the way too.
EAT: by CHLOE.
As mentioned above, under ‘Midtown’, I checked out the by CHLOE. branch near the Rockefeller Plaza and enjoyed one of their burgers for dinner. After walking all day over the Lower Manhattan area, I stumbled upon by CHLOE. and had a delicious lunch here.
Having just been to Mexico, I was still on a taco buzz, so ordered the Quinoa Taco Salad with chopped romaine lettuce, quinoa, spicy seitan chorizo, black beans, sweetcorn, avocado, tomato, tortilla strips, tofu-crema and agave lime vinaigrette. Just typing that makes me drool. The portion was very generous, so much so, I had the rest for dinner back at my apartment! I would highly recommend a visit to by CHLOE. for some seriously delicious vegan food!
Also, if you are feeling like a sweet treat after, head next door to Sweets by CHLOE. where they serve vegan cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and pastries.
EAT: Jack’s Wife Freda
Jack’s Wife Freda is another eatery which was recommended by foodie friends, and which I had been following on Instagram for a while now. It seemed like THE place to have brunch, so following the ‘gram, I did!
Owners, Freda and Jack, are South African and Jewish respectively, and have drawn on their family histories to create a menu that works perfectly at their all day bistro. I barely perused the menu, as having seen on Instagram their Green Shakshuka (two baked eggs in a green tomatillo shakshuka, served with challah toast) and fresh watermelon juice, it was all I wanted. The meal was perfect and the challah toast melt in your mouth.
Food aside, service was friendly and welcoming, and I did not have to wait long for a table. Upon arrival, the line was quite long outside (but having read many reviews, I was prepared to wait), however, I did not have to wait long because no one wanted to sit at the second empty table outside as it was meant to rain, so I got a cute table to myself. It did not end up raining FYI, which made me LOL a lot during the time I was there.
I also got talking to the people sitting next to me and they too had been following Jack’s Wife Freda on Instagram for a while now. Oh, how I love social media. Definitely worth the hype!
Address: 224 Lafayette St
Nearest subway station: Spring St
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook
EAT: Taiyaki Ice Cream
Taiyaki NYC serves up traditional Japanese fish-shaped cakes stuffed with soft serve ice cream. I love the concept, and I knew it would be great for the ‘gram, so I headed here on a very hot day… after a lot of walking I must add! The shop is small, with only a few seats inside, so ideal for takeaway.
I ordered their Unicorn Taiyaki Cone (in memory of my friend who loves unicorns and was celebrating her birthday on the same day) with vanilla ice cream and a custard filling, which arrived topped with rainbow sprinkles, Unicorn ears and horn. It was super cute and delicious! Just beware, it melts very quickly, so you have to eat fast… BRAIN FREEZE!
DO: Union Square Greenmarket
Union Square Greenmarket is located within the center of Manhattan and has been running since 1976. It is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and has many stalls selling the following: MAPLE SYRUP (the main reason I visited), fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, baked goods, fresh fish, pies, beautiful flowers, plants, wine, cider, and much more!
Back to the maple syrup, I had been reading about a company called Deep Mountain Maple, who make maple syrup, maple candies and maple sugar on their farm in Vermont, and sell these at the Union Square Greenmarket every Friday and Saturday throughout the year. Their maple syrup is dreamy, so I brought some back to New Zealand. At the greenmarket, I also loved the rows and rows of punnets filled with summer fruits, such as blueberries, tomatoes and cherries.
DO: Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s is a supermarket worth checking out. I ventured here during my trip for five reasons:
1. While staying at my friend Christina’s house, for breakfast every morning, she made avocado and eggs on toast (YUM) topped with a seasoning I had never heard of or tried before. Introducing the ‘Everything but the Bagel Seasoning’ exclusive to Trader Joe’s… I was hooked! The seasoning is named after the ‘Everything Bagel’ (which uses a spice mix consisting of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt). I admit, I went to Trader Joe’s a few times, just so that I could buy a few jars of this seasoning to bring back home. I ended up with 12 jars… which evidently increased my luggage weight!
2. Because I made a decision not to have breakfast/brunch out every morning, I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on bread and spreads, which (somewhat) happily fulfilled me for the week.
3. The fact that they have super cool carry bags with colourful fruits and vegetables on them. I bought one for myself and one for my Mum, because we love going to supermarkets!
4. This branch was only about a 15 minute walk to my apartment. This meant I could go here before catching the subway uptown, OR visit after a day of sightseeing and pick up some yummy things to eat on my next day’s adventure.
5. Even though Trader Joe’s is always super busy and the lines are long, they have a great checkout system, and everyone was super friendly and interested to know more about New Zealand. Would highly recommend popping into Trader Joe’s!
COFFEE: Bluestone Lane
I had not had a decent coffee in weeks. Prior to my New York trip, I was in Mexico, where we only had filter coffee, which is fine, but I was really missing a flat white or cappuccino like I would have at home. Luckily, I found Bluestone Lane!
This coffee shop is Australian-owned, with several branches around New York City. I enjoyed a delicious cappuccino from the branch by Astor Place Station which re-fueled me for a long day of sightseeing. The coffee was great, and reminded me of home. They also have free Wi-Fi – bonus.
EAT: Tompkins Square Bagels
Despite having toast for breakfast every morning for a week, there was however one breakfast food I had to try while in New York – a New York Bagel. There was no way I was going to leave New York without trying one!
Tompkins Square Bagels was just around the corner from my apartment and after reading some excellent reviews, I popped in here early one morning. There was already a line forming, so I knew it was going to be a goodie. The menu is extensive – there are many toppings and spreads to choose from and I like the fact that you can see the staff preparing your bagel right in front of you. I thought I would go all out and order the Lox & Cream Cheese on an Everything Bagel. This bagel is the ultimate – it is a spice mixture consisting of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt.
The bagel was HUGE. More like eating two bagels in one, and so different to back home… but in a good way! Nevertheless, I ate the whole thing, washed down with some filter coffee. This particular branch is cash only, and there are plenty of seats available, with a window bar at the front – great for people watching! 5 stars for Tompkins Square Bagels – cannot wait to go back!
EAT: Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
One piping hot slice of Margherita Pizza and I was all set for dinner! The slices at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza are HUGE. Like nothing I have ever seen or tasted before. Each slice is $6 which I thought was reasonable compared to prices back home. Their pizza is heavenly and I highly recommend stopping by. Note that this branch is small, with only a few seats and is cash only.
EAT: Shake Shack
If you are looking for a funky and hipster burger place, then Shake Shack is a good option. Unfortunately we don’t have Shake Shack in New Zealand, so it was a good reason to eat here! I dined at the branch near Astor Place Station, which was super busy, but they have a good ordering system so I did not have to wait long for my food. I ordered the original ShackBurger – a single cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce, plus a Chocolate Thickshake. The burger was delicious and fresh – just check out that lettuce and tomato below!
EAT: Stuffed Ice Cream
How does ice cream stuffed into a glazed doughnut sound?! Umm…. AWESOME! That is exactly what I was thinking when I walked into Stuffed Ice Cream. I like that it is something different, and again, something that we do not have back home. I ordered the Stuffed Cruff – a perfectly toasted, glazed donut stuffed with Rocky Road ice cream and topped with rainbow sprinkles. It was super delicious and fun to eat. And, if you enjoy taking cool pictures of food for your ‘gram, then this is the place to visit!
Financial District / Battery Park
DO: Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
For many years now (long before food), I have been interested in the Holocaust and Jewish history. I have read many autobiographies about survivors and watched many films, and aim to one day (hopefully next year) visit Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam and also Poland to visit the camps. In the meantime, I have been visiting Holocaust and Jewish museums and memorials around the world, most recently in Berlin, which was a very moving experience. I had read about the Holocaust Museum in New York, so planned to go there before hopping on the Staten Island Ferry (a short walk nearby).
The Museum of Jewish Heritage is located next to Battery Park, at the southern end of Lower Manhattan. I loved that the building is surrounded by beautiful manicured hedges, green trees and gardens, and inside it is clean and also light near the end. I spent about two hours at this museum, reading all of the exhibits, which are very detailed and informative. There are also many items which I had not seen previously. Would definitely recommend if you are interested in the Holocaust and Jewish history.
“Always remember. Never forget.”
DO: Staten Island Ferry – Whitehall Terminal
If you have a spare morning, afternoon or night, head to Whitehall Terminal (southern tip of Lower Manhattan) and hop on the ferry to Staten Island. The best part? It is FREE! On the way, you will also see the Statue of Liberty! The ferry runs 24 hours, 7 days a week and each ride is 25 minutes each way, and runs every 30 minutes (except during peak hours). Check out the timetable here.
On the day I went, it was a weekday morning, but there were still throngs of people, both waiting in line and on the ferry. It was a good test for patience! I think it would be a great family activity to do and also a great opportunity to see the Manhattan skyline at night.
Prior to the ferry trip, I walked past a line of people who were waiting to board another ferry, taking them to the Statue of Liberty. Not joking, but there were probably 300 people in the line. It was a phenomenal sight to see! To skip those horrendous lines, catch the Staten Island Ferry – it will save you the ticket price and waiting time, and you will still get a decent view of the Statue of Liberty.
Address: 4 S St
Nearest subway station: South Ferry
Lower East Side (LES)
EAT: Katz’s Delicatessen
Katz’s Delicatessen is a 24 hour deli and a New York institution, where many well-known people have dined. It is also featured in the film When Harry Met Sally, and you can sit at the very table where the scene was filmed. Most people go to Katz’s Deli to try their Hot Pastrami or Corned Beef Sandwich. With almost 10,000 reviews on Yelp, I knew I had to check this place out. Luckily, my apartment was only a 20 minute walk away!
Walking in, you simply take a ticket from the reception desk, line up at the counter, order and receive your food (you can also request to try a slice of pastrami while you wait) and pay at the end. Just make sure not to lose your ticket – there is a fine for US$50 if you do!
Their Hot Pastrami Sandwich was definitely on the cards, but the portion size is massive – it would best be shared among two or three. Luckily, they do a half size, and this was perfect. So, I ordered the Half Pastrami Sandwich and Matzo Ball Soup, a side of pickles and an iced cold beer. The Pastrami was melt in your mouth delicious and writing this now, my mouth is drooling. It was honestly my favourite meal of my trip in New York – nothing compares to it!
EAT: il Laboratorio Gelato
After feasting at Katz’s Delicatessen, head across the street to il Laboratorio Gelato for a sweet treat. This is a real life laboratory where they test out interesting and exciting flavours, such as: Acai Sorbet, Black Sesame, Lucuma, Pistachio, and Black Cherry. I ordered my two all-time favourites – Coconut and Espresso, which did not disappoint!
EAT: Supermoon Bakehouse
I have been following Supermoon Bakehouse on Instagram for a while now, so was super excited to check out their store in the LES. They are famous for their Cronuts and Croissants, filled with exciting and delicious flavours. Also check out their website here, which will have you drooling for days.
While on my way to catch the Staten Island Ferry (see above), I popped into Supermoon Bakehouse on the way. They have many croissants to choose from, and while I could have eaten them all, I chose the Chocolate Chip Cookie Croissant topped with meringue and the Salmon and Cream Cheese (Lox) Croissant. They were both excellent, with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Croissant taking the prize for the most EPIC croissant I have ever eaten! Their shop is also super cool (see below) and their packaging is the best – they have cute holographic bags and boxes! 5 stars for Supermoon Bakehouse.
Hope you enjoyed my Guide to New York! If you have any questions feel free to comment! And if you are planning on visiting New York, have an amazing trip!