The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide

Friends of mine will tell you that New York City has my heart. There’s something about the iconic landmarks, bustling streets and amazing food that makes it such an exciting city to visit. Before every trip, I spend endless hours trawling through books, blogs and Instagram planning my next adventure in the Big Apple. To make sure this research doesn’t go to waste, I’ve compiled the ultimate guide for you so that you can get the most out of your next trip to NYC. 

What to see & do

Empire State Building

No building in New York is more iconic than the Empire State Building so this is a really popular attraction. With 360 degree views across Manhattan from both the 86th and 102nd floors, it’s well worth a visit although there are arguably better views to be had elsewhere.

Top of the Rock

Situated at the top of the Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock gives unobstructed views of both Central Park and the Empire State Building across three floors, making it my number one choice for viewing platforms in the city. If you’re tight on time or budget, I’d pick this over the Empire State Building every single time.

Edge at Hudson Yards

If you’re not done with seeing the city from above, you might want to head over to Hudson Yards and visit Edge, where you’ll see the entire skyline in one sweeping panorama. There’s a section of glass floor and angled glass walls so you can peer down at the streets below. And if you’re feeling really brave, you can challenge yourself to get harnessed up, climb to the the highest point of the building and lean out over the edge. Definitely not my kind of challenge but it was fun watching other people have a go!

Statue of Liberty

Another iconic New York landmark is the Statue of Liberty. Tickets include entry to Liberty Island, where you can wander around the statue (it costs extra to go inside), and then a stop off at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum on the way back. You’ll also get great views of the Manhattan skyline which is worth the ticket fee alone. 

Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO

DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, but it also happens to have the most incredible views of Manhattan, along with a beautiful carousel on the waterfront. Ride the subway over to DUMBO one evening, grab a bite to eat at the Time Out Market and then take a stroll back over the Brooklyn Bridge, admiring the twinkly skyline views as you go.

Times Square

Pretty crazy and not for the faint hearted, Times Square is a place that you have to visit just to experience it. The lights of the billboards are so bright that it feels like daytime at 10pm, it’s loud, busy and full of tourists taking photos but it’s one to tick off the bucket list for sure.

Central Park

You haven’t been to New York until you’ve taken a stroll through Central Park. There’s so much to explore that it would be pretty tiring to see it all on foot. Most recently, we hired bikes and cycled the full perimeter, stopping every now and again to wander through the park. My favourite spots include Bow Bridge, the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, and the Jackie Onassis Reservoir. On a sunny day, grab a picnic and find a quiet spot to relax away from all the hustle and bustle of the city.

The High Line & Little Island

If you’re looking for a moment of calm in the city, head to the High Line - a public park, built on a disused railway line in Chelsea. While we were walking along we spotted Little Island, another public park that almost looks like it’s floating on the Hudson River. We spent the afternoon wandering around both, stopping every now and again for photos, and had such a relaxing time. Highly recommended. 

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum

The 9/11 Memorial honours the thousands of lives lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks. The surrounds of the twin pools are inscribed with the names of those who died, with loved ones often leaving flowers or tokens of remembrance. I’d highly recommend setting aside a few hours to visit the accompanying museum too. It’s a moving experience to view the many artefacts and read the stories of those affected, on the site where the events took place. Prebook tickets if you can, as the queues were long.

Watch a sports game

If a New York sports team are playing at home while you’re visiting, I’d recommend getting tickets for a game. We watched the Yankees play baseball on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and although we didn’t have much of a clue what was going on, we thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere! Tickets for the baseball are available for as little as $10 each so it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening, and the Yankee Stadium was easily accessible by subway.

Where to eat

Buvette

Tucked down a beautiful street in the West Village (and a stone’s throw from the ‘Friend’s Apartment’), Buvette serves delicious french food all day and is the perfect spot for a laid back brunch. From the charming menus (with a surprise pop-up detail) to the eclectic decor, there’s a lot to love about this little bistro. The ‘Pain Perdu’ gets my vote, whilst the waffle sandwich got a thumbs up from my husband. They don’t accept reservations so you may have to wait for a table, but it’ll be worth it.

Dudley’s

The best BLT of my life was had at Dudley’s, a laid back bistro on the corner of Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Open all day for food and cocktails, it’s definitely one to add to your list. They only accept walk ins so get there a bit earlier to avoid disappointment.

Rosemary’s

With two locations to choose from - one in the West Village and the other on Manhattan’s east side, Rosemary’s is an italian restaurant with beautiful decor and a delicious menu. Serving handmade pasta, seasonal salads and sourdough pizzas (only available at Rosemary’s East) it’s definitely worth a visit. We loved their handmade focaccia and the lemon ricotta bombolini with nutella cream…heaven!

Maman

With about 15 locations in New York, you’re bound to stumble across a Maman on your trip, and if you do, make sure you head inside. They serve breakfast, lunch, pastries, sweet treats and coffee in the most beautiful of settings. On our most recent trip to New York, we visited their cafe in Tribeca but passed a few others and every single one was so pretty - even their takeaway coffee cups are gorgeous.

Time Out Market

If you’ve ever been to the Time Out Market in Lisbon, you’ll be excited to try New York’s offering in Dumbo, Brooklyn. There are multiple eateries and bars all under one roof so you can sample the best that New York has to offer. The communal tables and great atmosphere make it a brilliant place to spend an evening. Don’t miss the rooftop either, with incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

The Lavaux Wine Bar

Some might say this is a bit of an unusual addition to a New York City guide, but I heard about this place on Instagram and just had to try it. The Lavaux was founded by three Swiss people who are devoted to showcasing the best food and wine from their home country. If you decide to pay them a visit, share a delicious fondue with bread, potatoes and pickles, all whilst seated in the cutest gondola in the window of the restaurant. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we didn’t have room for dessert but their chocolate fondue sounded amazing.

Joe’s Pizza

No trip to New York would be complete without a slice of pizza that’s the size of your head. For a truly delicious slice, head to Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street. It’s a no frills sort of place but very popular - the walls are covered in photos of celebrities that have paid them a visit over the years. And a top tip - according to the New Yorkers that we met, the best way to eat these enormous slices is to fold them in half lengthways. Game-changer!

Levain Bakery

Walking the streets of NYC, you’re bound to work up an appetite. If you need a sugary pick-me-up, look no further than Levain Bakery. You may have seen their deliciously thick, gooey cookies on Instagram and many people (myself included) have tried to recreate them at home. But take it from me, the real thing is to die for!

I hope these recommendations are useful and you have the most incredible time exploring New York City. I have no doubt you’ll create some amazing memories.

And if you're looking for a way to remember your NYC adventures, forget the tacky souvenirs and instead treat yourself to a personalised print from my New York City collection.

Have an amazing time, and say hello to NYC from me!

Love,
Kimberley
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