Don’t miss a thing when you visit New York. We hope our guide to making the most of a trip to the “Big Apple” helps you see the best sites, landmarks and attractions of this amazing city. We stayed in Lower Manhattan (China Town) as the hotel prices in the this part of the city are so much less than around Central Manhattan.
We stayed at Hotel 91 in China Town, a well priced hotel, clean, with comfortable bed, good wifi and ice machine on each floor. Some of the reviews mentioned noise from Brooklyn Bridge. We had a room with a window looking out towards the bridge and had no problems sleeping, you could just hear the trains but in no way did they disturb our sleep. We would recommend the hotel.
We found the location was perfect as we were a short walk from famous Brooklyn Bridge, China Town, Little Italy and walking distance to Battery Park and some of the best views of The Statue of Liberty. Great transport links also meant we could be in the hustle and bustle of Time Square, Rockafella Centre and the Empire State Building in just a few minutes.
With so much to see in New York, we would recommend a minimum of 7 days in the city, if you can manage it. Our itinerary took us 10 days of leisurely seeing all parts of the city and we hope you can pick out a few tips to help you with your planned visit weather it be a long weekend or an extended stay.
Day 1 and 2 – The Open Top Tour Bus
We booked the hop on hop off city bus from Citysightseeing which constantly drives a route covering all of the sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. We highly recommended this whether you are in the city for a long weekend or a longer stay, as it gives you a real snapshot of the whole city with stops at some of the most iconic spots including Battery Park, China Town, Empire State Building, Central Park, Yankee Stadium and Brooklyn. We also took the night time tour which was excellent with all the lights through Time Square and the drive across Brooklyn Bridge giving you a brilliant night view of the Manhattan skyline.
Day 3 – China Town, Little Italy and Brooklyn
Starting early gives you a real feel of local life in China Town, as the shop owners deliveries of exotic fruits and veg arrive along with the aroma of roast duck and sweet and sour greet you as you turn every corner. You can’t miss Little Italy, which is right next to China town which consists mainly of one street lined with Pasta and Pizza restaurants, but its worth a look while you are that way. The walk across Brooklyn Bridge was next on our list, close to China Town its an impressive walk with fabulous views down the Hudson. When you reach the other side be sure to walk through Brooklyn Heights and down by the river at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you’ll get brilliant views of the New York Skyline.
Day 4 – Battery Park and Wall Street
We started our day down at Battery Park with a return trip on the Staten Island Ferry. This little 25 minute trip each way gives you some good views of the Statue of Liberty and part of the River Hudson. Best of all the ferry is free of charge!
Our final stop of the day was a very moving visit to Ground Zero Memorial and St Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church to pay our respects to all those that lost their lives in the 9/11 attack.
Day 5 – Central Park and Time Square
We started our day taking the train (subway) to the stop close to south entrance of Central Park. A long walk through the park taking in the beautiful autumn colours and sound of music from the Chinese man playing his Erhu (a kind of violin). The Bethesda Fountain is a lovely spot to stop and relax and Bow Bridge is a pretty nice place to have a photo. We didn’t really have time but we saw quite a few people who had hired rowing boats and were spending an hour or two on the lake. Boat hire is available from The Loeb Boathouse
You can easily spend half a day in Central Park, which we did, spending a bit of time at Strawberry Fields, grabbing a fresh Pretzel from the street vendor on Central Park West and heading back through the park for a walk back down 5th Avenue towards Manhattan.
We spent the rest of the day around the Time Square area, partly because we wanted to see if we could get some cheap seats for a show that evening. We managed to get tickets for some really good seats at Phantom of The Opera (Majestic Theatre) at about 30% discount.
Tip: For great value last minute show tickets, queue up at the TKTS Time Square Booth for that evenings shows!
We found a lively sports bar to grab a bite to eat eat before the show “The Keg Room“, great atmosphere and well priced pub food. Phantom of the Opera was an excellent show.
Day 6 – Rockafella and Empire State
We planned to take two high views in today. One daytime trip up to the top of the Empire State Building and a trip up the Top of The Rock at night.
We purchased tickets for both from Newyorksightseeing as they offered a deal for two at a 30% discount.
As we were visiting out of season we didn’t have much of a queue when waiting for the lifts, but if you are visiting at peak times expect delays and plan this into your day.
We highly recommend doing a day and a night trip as you get a totally different experience each time and great photo opportunities. Wrap up warm if you are going out of season as it can get pretty windy up top and pretty cold too.
Headed back to China Town for some fabulous Chinese food.
Day 7 – Williamsburg Bridge, Williamsburg Neighbourhood and Soho
We spent the day exploring the Neighbourhood of Williamsburg starting with a walk across Williamsburg Bridge giving us great views down river towards Manhattan Bridge. Williamsburg has plenty of cool cafes and restaurants and a pretty relaxed feel.
We headed back over the bridge and made our way to trendy Soho for a bit of window shopping and a warm pretzel from one of the street vendors.
Day 8 – River Trip Up The Hudson
We researched good Hudson River Cruises and ended up settling on Circleline Sightseeing Cruises setting off from Pier 83. The cruise passed under 20 bridges and over 130 of the city’s most iconic landmarks including the full Manhattan skyline, One World Trade Centre, Brooklyn waterfront, Yankee Stadium, Gracie Mansion, George Washington Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Review: A great river cruise with really informative guide, comfortable boat with snack bar on board. Recommended.
Headed back to China Town for a really good supper at one of the local restaurants.
Day 9 – Hell’s Kitchen, Macy’s and Central Park
We had a fairly leisure day planned today with a walk up Hell’s Kitchen which has some really good restaurants, bars and pubs along 8th and 9th avenues. We ended up at Hudson River Park which has some lovely landscaped walkways offering lovely waterfront views.
We then headed to Macy’s for a bit of retail therapy. Managed to get a bargain on a lovely North Face Jacket!
Walked through Time Square again and a final evening walk in Central Park.
Day 10 – Day At Leisure!
The beauty of a 10 day trip to New York is that it leaves you with a free day to catch anything than you didn’t get time to do or in our case a chance to spend a bit more time around Brooklyn. Followed by a Hunt for a really good New York Cheesecake Shop, research took us to Eileen’s who have been baking cheesecakes at the shop for over 40 years! We were not disappointing, it was the best cheescake we’ve ever tasted!
Summary of our trip to New York:
If you are lucky enough to have 10 days to explore New York, you’ll have plenty to occupy your time and we hope our itinerary gives you a good idea of things to see and places to go. If you have a shorter period of time in the city we hope you can pick out some of the most iconic sights that we have listed and build them into your own itinerary.
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