The Best Travel Guide to New York by BestTravelBook

Sensational NYC, a sensory overload

NYC is full of superlatives and is the only city on Planet Earth to be named twice, New York, New York.  Where else in the USA can you cruise around one of the most important financial centres in the world (lower Manhattan and its mighty Wall Street), climb to the crown of the Status of Liberty (a gift from France), peruse phenomenal art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stroll the shaded walkways of Central Park, and sip cocktails whilst gazing out at the most famous skyline in the world?

“Sensational NYC, a sensory overload!” is segmented into 8 key travel themes to immerse you into everything New York City:

  1. An introduction to this wonderful city;
  2. Something funnymy entrée into New York City;
  3. Some Facts & Figures;
  4. My Top Tips;
  5. Some Great itineraries;
  6. A comprehensive lowdown of What to See;
  7. A comprehensive lowdown of Where to Eat; and
  8. An insiders guide.

Hope you enjoy it!  Carpe Diem!

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In writing this post I hope to inspire you to explore this wonderful CityCarpe Diem!

1. Introducing one of the greatest cities in the world

How does one introduce New York City (NYC) – an almost impossible question to ask.  The only way to introduce NYC is to visit the city and experience what I would describe as a sensory overload.  My first time to NYC was part of the British University North America Club exchange Programme and to say my neck hurt is an understatement.  This was in the 1990’s when the city still had rather lot of edge.

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NYC really does have something to offer everyone from dazzling Broadway shows, world class museums all the way through to some of the high rolling shopping of Fifth Avenue.  Manhattan has some of the highest skyscrapers on the planet and is where high rise living was invented.  At my last visit in February 2020 for my 45th birthday, some of the new skyscrapers partially built over central park are simply gravity defying.  It has created a wholly new interest in architecture.  I would love to know how these building obtain planning permission let alone stand freely once built.

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Few cities equal NYC’s marvelously diverse culinary offerings.  It’s not a question of finding a cuisine, but rather of choosing from a plethora of the world’s cuisine – there really is something to delight everyone.  The outstanding museums and iconic sights are equally world class, from the incredible statuesque Empire State Building (my favourite, do check out its new exhibition) to the Museum of Modern Art, with one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary art.

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The theatre scene is incomparable, Broadway really does dazzle (on my last visit we went to see Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s oldest longest standing Broadway show and for a person that prefers the great outdoors I was literally blown away with world class goose pimple inducing actors and actresses)   Spend a couple of evenings in NYC and you will understand why it is called the city that never sleeps.  On my birthday we headed down to Tao Downtown – quite an experience within the VIP lounge – those in the ‘know’ will understand the “experience’ part 🙂   Evenings start late, and go on even later, with bars and clubs in the Meatpacking, Greenwich village and Soho districts spilling over with revellers.  One hint is to ensure you are on the guest list or dine in the restaurants for some of the clubs as it is notoriously hard to enter some of these if you turn up after pub closing time.

 

2. Some thing funny, my entrée into NYC

I have been to NYC many times, however, one of the funniest occasions was a visit for my 40th Birthday.  We were staying at the Waldorf Astoria which has been the backdrop of so many Hollywood Blockbusters.  For my 40th birthday my wife and I had some warm-up drinks in Grand Central Station and then a night planned out to Tao Downtown.   In the taxi to Tao Downtown, I asked the taxi driver if there was any chance we might end up in any problems that night which he responded “you are going from one of the best hotels in NYC to one of the best nightclubs in NYC – however, if you want to get into problems I can take you to somewhere were you will encounter problems :-)”

We were pretty tipsy on arrival at Tao Downtown – well it was my birthday – we had a fabulous dinner in Tao Downtown before heading off into the club (my brother-in-law did all the artwork for Tao Downtown and was able to bag us a place in the club – it’s normally quite difficult to gain entry)  Now we were in the club – and we decided to sit down on one of the tables – big mistake – as within a few moments we had an R&B group and their security hounding us away.   Luckily my wife managed to distract the R&B group by showing them a picture of a pigeon photo-bombing one of selfies on top of the Empire State Building 🙂

Many drinks later (the R&B group let us sit with them on their table – I later found out that tables costs thousands of points a night) we were feeling a pretty drunk and at closing time we were looking for a nightcap.  Wandering out we found a Dive Bar around the corner from Les Bain (Standard Hotel) – this place was mad – the bar hostess looked like Rihanna only with a lot more tattoos and there were bras and knickers hung up on the ceiling throughout the dive bar.  Not even sure how we managed to keep going but it was about 6am when we hailed a taxi back to the Waldorf Astoria – fantastic birthday!

3. NYC facts and figures

NYC has some incredible facts and figures.  Latest counts suggest that there are 8.5 million people speaking 80 languages and nearly 1 million buildings.  NYC really has to be visited to be believed!

NYC in numbers

4. My Top Tips

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5. Some Great Itineraries

Where do you start in this sensation city – below are some of my favourite itineraries to provide some inspiration.

Day 1 Itinerary (My Favourite):

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7am – Sunrise at the Empire State Building: 

Get your ticket to take a journey to the top of the world – the views from the top of the Empire State Building are sensational and early in the morning you will be able to take photographs from all four sides of the Empire State Building uninterrupted.

Make sure you spend enough time to have a look around the wonderful expedition which charts the history of the Empire State Building.  Also make sure you do not miss the hall of fame which shows all the Hollywood stars that have visited the Empire State Building.  There is also a wonderful cinema room which shows all the Hollywood blockbusters that have been filmed at the Empire State Building over the years.

11am – Art o’clock

Make your way up to Upper East Side’s Museum Mile.  You will need a few hours so grab some food before taking on some of the world-class museums.

Check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art which fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration. With extraordinary exhibitions and the world’s finest collection of modern and contemporary art. 

Check out the stellar 20th century collection by Kandinsky, Chagall, Cezanne, Picasso, Degas and Van Gogh at the Guggenheim Museum.

2pm – Relaxation in Central Park

Take a relaxing work in the oasis of peace in the heart of NYC.   You can take a break from sightseeing by taking a walk or rent a rowing boat, bicycle or gondola.  Feast your eyes on those gravity defying buildings that are being built at the entrance of Central Park.

Take in the park’s many architectural and landscape wonders before pausing at the Loab Boathouse for some delicious food.

Evening – Times Square & Broadway

Be dazzled by Times Square which is known as the “Crossroads of the World”, Times Square is NYC’s most famous intersection with its dazzling array of advertising.

Grab yourself an unforgettable Broadway show such as Phantom of the Opera or Chicago.

Splash out on some drinks on one of the roof top bars around Times Square enjoying the views, sights and sounds and reminiscing on your action-packed day.

Day 2 Itinerary (A close second):

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7am – Sunrise at the Statue of Liberty:

Jump on one of the express subways down Lower Manhattan and jump on a ferry to see the fantastic Statue of Liberty.  You can grab the Staten Island Ferry which is free and watch the sun rise over Lower Manhattan’s skyscrapers.  The Statue of Liberty (a gift from France) is the symbol of freedom for millions seeking a new life in the USA.

Check out the 9/11 War memorial, then visit NYC’s famous Wall Street – the epicentre of NYC’s financial district.

Don’t miss Trinity Church where you can see some of New York’s greatest luminaries buried in the cemetery – also head across Brooklyn Bridge for outstanding views over Lower Manhattan.

Midday – Grab lunch at Chelsea Market:

Delight your taste buds at the sensation Chelsea Market.  Chelsea Market has cuisine to delight any taste buds.  There are also some fabulous foodie shops as well as a sway of very unusual shops.  Perfect for window shopping or splashing out on your favourite condiments.  There is also some funky art pieces within the market.

Once you have refuelled have a wonderful stroll on The High Line which is a disused railway line that traverses lower Manhattan.

2pm – SoHo and Chinatown:

Head down to hip SoHo to shop for your favourite brands and then wander across to ChinaTown for a sensory overload.

China Town has a staggering 250K population cramped into a very compact area; it represents the largest China Town within the United States.

Evening – Dance the night away in the Meatpacking District:

Head down to Tao Downtown for some Asian inspired fusion food and some of your favourite tipples – Tao also has its own nightclub – dinner in the restaurant improves your chances of entry.

Try and your luck at getting your name on the guest list for Le Bain which is part of the Standard Hotel.  As it is notoriously hard to get in unless you pay a tonne of money for a table – there are still a couple of Dive Bars in the area – which are fabulous fun.  I have great memories!

6. A comprehensive lowdown of “What to See”

Whilst it is almost impossible to assemble a guide for NYC as it is continuously re-inventing I have assembled a short guide to some of the more classical and long-standing visitor experiences below:

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American Museum of Natural History

BestTravelBook Top Pick

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  • Long famous for its dinosaurs the museum moved into the 21st-century with the addition of the dramatic Rose Centre for Earth and Space
  • The largest of its kind in the world with over 32 million attractions
  • Since its founding in 1869, the museum has grown to 46 permanent exhibition halls spanning 4 city blocks. There are 32 million specimens and cultural artefacts, many unique in the world.

Broadway and Times Square

BestTravelBook Top Pick

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  • Broadway is the place to catch a show and Times Square is a visual feast and home to MTV, Conde Nast and the New York Times.
  • Known as the “Crossroads of the World”, Times Square is NYC’s most famous intersection with its dazzling array of advertising

Brooklyn Bridge

BestTravelBook Top Pick

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  • Completed in 1883, Brooklyn Bridge is an engineering marvel. It was the largest suspension bridge in the world and the first to be built of steel.
  • It took 500 workmen and 16 years to build, claiming 20 lives during its construction Go at sunset for classic views of Manhattan’s financial district

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

  • This outdoor haven draws natives and visitors with its classic French garden design.
  • Enjoy free concerts in the Summer time

Central Park

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  • An oasis of peace in the heart of NYC and an area to take a break from sightseeing Hire a rowboat, cycle or gondola and enjoy looking at those gravity defying buildings.
  • It took 16 years and over 500K trees to complete

China Town

Chinatown

  • With a 250K population, this represents the largest China Town within the US.
  • Chaotic and exciting in equal measures with fabulously colorful restaurants

Chrysler Building 

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  • Opened in 1930, this 77-story art deco tribute to Walter P. Chrysler
  • One of the city’s best-loved landmarks, its construction is shrouded in secrecy
  • The spire was built in a fire shaft that was raised to revel a stainless-steel extravaganza covered in automatic motifs and gargoyles modelled on Chrysler hood ornaments

Empire State Building

BestTravelBook Top Pick

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  • This Art Deco skyscraper is on of the most widely recognized symbols of the city. Elevators whisk you up to an observations deck on the 86th floor for sublime 360-degree unparallel views of the city
  • There is a fabulous exhibition which chronicles how it was built, movies that have appeared within Hollywood blockbusters and all the famous celebrities that have visited over the years

Top Tip: Purchase the day and night ticket if you want to marvel at the skyline and save some $

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Fifth Avenue

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  • Fifth Avenue is NYC’s best-known boulevard and some of the world’s best shopping
  • Home to both world-class shopping and three of its most famous buildings Trump Tower, St Patrick’s Cathedral and New York Public Library

Rockefeller Centre

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  • An urban wonder, with gardens, restaurants, stores, artwork, offices and a skating rink
  • Take a tour of NBC Studios, Radio City and Music Hall and marvel at the golden statue of Prometheus
  • For some of the best views over NYC visit the Top of the Rock observation deck

Statue of Liberty

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BestTravelBook Top Pick

  • The lady holding the torch (a gift from France) is the symbol of freedom for millions seeking a new life in the USA.
  • Liberty welcomed 12 million newcomers to the USA between 1892 and 1954.
  • Liberty weighs 141.5 kg, and her pointed finger is 2.4m long and her 22-story steel frame was built by Gustave Eiffel

Ellis Island

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  • Carefully restored buildings bring to life the experience of immigrants who have poured into NYC over the years

Grand Central Station

BestTravelBook Top Pick

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  • Watching Manhattan’s commuters zigzagging across the magnificent marble concourse is one NYC’s most mesmerizing sights
  • Look up to the view the incredible Sky Ceiling showcasing the twinkling constellations of the city’s winter sky

Greenwich Village

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  • Historically Greenwich Village was home to many of America’s bohemians and artists e.g. Bob Dylan
  • High real estate prices have driven much of the Village’s creative community to the outer boroughs, but the neighborhood is still one of the loveliest in the city

Guggenheim Museum

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  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s maverick spiral is a home to a stellar 20th century collection by Kandinsky, Chagall, Cezanne, Picasso, Degas and Van Gogh

The High Line

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BestTravelBook Top Pick

  • An elevated rail line has been reborn as an urban park with integrative landscapes and public art installations.
  • A fabulous way to get off NYC’s grid like streets which can be hugely frustrating if the myriad of NYC’s traffic lights are not on your side

7. A comprehensive lowdown of “Where to Eat”

8. An Insiders Guide:

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Victoria Insider Guide NYC 20200511 v0.1

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