After a week of busily tweeting and instagramming my way around New York, I’ve had a couple of requests to write a post about my favorite things to do and see in the city, so here it is!
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that shopping is always high on my New York itinerary and, for me, the penultimate shopping experience is Bergdorf Goodman. I’m also partial to a bit of Barney’s and the shoe floor at Saks (complete with its very own express elevator) is not to be missed. But, nothing beats the magical experience that meandering through the seven floors of wonders that Bergdorfs delivers. It is now family tradition (instigated and enforced religiously by yours truly) that the first day of any visit to New York includes lunch at Bergdorfs and I have told the children to scope out the best area to surreptitiously scatter my ashes as per the film when the time comes.
Another favorite location is SoHo, where the designer stores present an edgier edit of their collections than their more refined 5th Ave cousins. It’s also home to Mercer St, which sees my Brisbane favorite Calexico stretched out into a whole street of stores. Note to shoppers planning a day here, while I will never provide advice that suggests the wearing of sensible shoes, leave the stilettos at home and go for a more solid heel when shopping here or risk finding yourself nobbled by the cobblestones that line the streets.
If your budget has been exhausted after following the above shopping tips, rest assured that my next top place to visit is completely free. The Highline is an above the ground park which runs from the Meatpacking district up to 30th St and, as the name suggests, is the conversion of an old railway line. One of the things I love about the Highline is how it varies from season to season, as you can see in the pictures below taken in winter, spring and summer.
If you are there in the warmer months and have some money left in your pocket, I can highly recommend the red velvet cheesecake ice cream sandwich available from one of the myriad food vendors who have set up shop to ensure you don’t go hungry while strolling along.
Of course going hungry is never likely to be a problem on a trip to New York given the incredible array of dining options on offer. Everyone who has been to New York has their own favorites that they will argue passionately in favour of, but these are some of mine.
Lunch in the Meatpacking district is always a nice precursor to a stroll along the Highline and The Fig & Olive, Spice Market or Dos Caminos are all good places to start.
If you’re looking for breakfast options, I like to head to the area where I am planning to spend the day and find something there. Brunch at Balthazar makes a wonderful start to a day’s shopping in SoHo and there are no shortage of great diners on Park Ave if your day has an Upper East Side focus.
Come dinner time, the options are endless. I love restaurants that have a fresh seasonal produce focus and ABC kitchen and Gramercy Tavern fit the bill perfectly. New York is also well represented by the big global brands such as Morimotos and Nobu and these never fail to deliver an exceptional experience. Try Rosa Mexicana for the best guacamole, made to order at your table, or enjoy fabulous Asian cuisine under the watchful gaze of the giant Buddha at Tao.
If you have finished your dinner but are not ready to call it a night, there is bound to be a club or bar that caters to your tastes in terms of both music and crowd. I can highly recommend Lavo (across the street from Tao) for a fantastic night out, where any aches and pains generated on the high energy dance floor can be alleviated by the best-ever neck and shoulder massages from the catwoman-attired hostesses (no, no images to share here, you will have to experience this one for yourself!)
If you’re looking for something a little lower key, 230 5th has amazing views of the New York skyline from its rooftop bar and don’t be concerned about the temperature if you are there in the colder months as enormous red snuggies are provided to keep guests cozy!
This next one may surprise you as I am not exactly renowned for my passion for sports (as opposed to the male members of our family), but I would still put a trip to Madison Square Garden for a basketball or ice hockey game on my must do list. The atmosphere is fantastic and you can’t help getting caught up in it and screaming for the home team in what is billed as the best sporting arena on earth.
Another freebie now, (provided you don’t get sucked into doing this by carriage ride) is a walk through Central Park. Do yourself a favour and dodge the horse and carriages at the southern entrances to the park — walking provides a much better and way less smelly experience. Central Park’s reputation as one of the best parks in the world is well earned and you could walk through it every day and encounter something new and different. Take the opportunity to join the multitude of people who run through the various circuit paths in the morning, the beautiful surroundings make the chore of running seem much less arduous.
So, where to stay while you are enjoying the delights New York has to offer? For me there is only one option, which also will also make clear why I have left out the one thing you may think is non-negotiable when visiting the city.
The Langham on 5th Ave is my New York home away from home. The rooms are large, especially by New York standards and the people and the service are second-to-none. We have stayed at other bigger name, higher price hotels in the city but choose the Langham over those time and time again. In addition to the comfort and exceptional service, if your room is at the southern end of the hotel you have the added benefit of waking up every day to the most incredible view of the sun hitting the Empire State building, plus enjoying whatever the lighting colour theme for the day is when darkness falls. I’d actually much rather look at this view than battle the crowds to visit the top of the building, but thousands of others choose to differ 🙂
Similarly, you will notice a distinct lack of museums and galleries in my musts. I do enjoy a trip to the Met, but I prefer to find my art on the street, in the amazing window displays at Bergdorfs, or the street art that is on display as you explore the city in the best way possible, on foot.
So there you have it, those are my tips for things to do in New York. Before you start telling me all the must dos that I’ve left off (or savage me for preferring window displays to ancient masters) remember this — one of the things that makes New York my favorite place to visit is just that. It doesn’t matter how much research or planning to do before you visit, with the wealth of experiences on offer it is highly likely that your own favorite New York memory will be created by something you didn’t plan to see or do, but you just stumbled across as you explored the city that never sleeps.
(The majority of the photos in this post were taken with Glass, the perfect companion for easily snapping pictures as you walk around the city.)