New York: A Traveller’s Guide
Writer: Larissa Werbiuk
New York, ‘the city that never sleeps’, is full of new surprises and adventures at every turn. You can be casually window shopping through SOHO, then turn down a side street and find yourself in Chinatown or Little Italy. In Central Park, which is close to the size of Melbourne’s CBD, you can be amongst the entertainment of musicians, and performances next to the lake and Bethesda Fountain, or walk along beautiful trails and footpaths and become immersed in utter peace and nature. So basically what I’m saying is, you cannot get bored in New York City, or run out of places to explore.
New York City is comprised of five boroughs known as The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens & Staten Island. Each borough has their own unique culture and diversity; it’s up to the individual to decide where their fit is. 99% of tourists stay in Manhattan, with probably only visits out to the Brooklyn bridge or perhaps a walk across to Dumbo – which is a beautiful suburb in which to laze around in parks or by the waterfront. When I visited NYC this last university break, I stayed in Bushwick, Brooklyn; which was a fifteen minute train ride away from Manhattan.
As a starting point, if you’re trying to see New York in three to ten days, then The New York pass is a great idea, with value access to basically every main tourist attraction in New York. You can buy passes for three, seven and ten days, ranging in affordable prices. Once activating the card, you have access to over eighty locations such as The Empire State Building, The Rockefeller Centre, The MET, MoMa and plenty of tours! There are constantly exclusive offers online such as US$30 off at Newyorkpass.com, so plan ahead by checking the website until a deal pops up!
The Empire State Building is a must. Depending on the time of year you go, I would recommend pre-purchasing your ticket to skip some of the queues, and also going in the morning or late afternoon. The views are spectacular, and it’s a great experience to visit such an iconic New York building. Going to the Empire State Building during the daytime is a great way to see New York bustling during the day, although it’s good to get a night perspective of New York via The Rockefeller Centre ‘Top of the Deck’. There are two levels at the top, where you can choose how high you want in an open or closed area.
For shopping, you can’t go wrong with Soho and Chelsea, neighbourhoods which are also perfect spots for celebratory drinks over your wardrobe make over! There are great shops such as Michael Kors, Forever 21, Adidas, All Saints, H&M, Zara & Urban Outfitters. Soho is also great to look out for the latest model or actress on Broadway or Hollywood – with model Gigi Hadid and actress Sandra Bullock residing there. Chelsea is always great for designer shopping on Parisian inspired cobblestones streets with restaurants. The best thing is, you don’t need to shop there to appreciate the architecture, scenery and energy… as they say , the best things in life are free.
New York has heaps of amazing things to offer, unfortunately food and coffee is not one of them. If you’re a foodie, do your research before eating out, or prepare to be disappointed. Zomato (formerly known as Urbanspoon), Time Out New York and Yelp are great online search tools to find places to eat, and things to do. Just remember, New York restaurants are graded either A, B or C with the grade displayed in the shop front. I strongly recommend eating at A graded restaurants due to higher cleanliness. If you’re wandering around Bushwick at all, I recommend you check out Cheers – it was the first cafe I came across that had reasonable coffee. Cheers has a great breakfast menu that will get your tastebuds working, especially after a big night out. Espresso Art Love in Brooklyn is also a great place for cheap $6-$14 sandwiches with chips that will fill you up nicely. Just remember in New York, if you want to order fries, make sure you make it clear to the waiters you want French fries, as most places serve potato crisps, even with dinner meals (I learnt the hard way).
If you’re in Brooklyn, Williamsburg is a great place to visit. Unlike Melbourne’s main strips such as Brunswick Street and Chapel Street, Williamsburg has a great strip of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars followed by more bars and restaurants sprouting out in other streets. Black Bear (BB) is a great place to go; it’s got a great feel with brick walls and an art gallery.
In Manhattan, it is an unspoken travellers rule that you must try food from street vendors and take advantage of $1 & $2 pizza slices. The street vendors have juicy kebabs, rice and pretty much anything fatty your tastebuds desire. And for those travelling on a budget, pizza is great for a cheap fill me up between meals… although not the healthiest. Eating healthy is much more expensive – almost double the price! Making your own food throughout the day, as you would at home, would be the most economical – trust me, I struggled.
If you’re thinking of travelling to New York I encourage you to do so! You’re never going to get younger, and more responsibilities will keep on coming as the years go by. New York is great to experience.