It is impossible to see everything you want to see in this vibrant and exciting city in just a few days so, if this is your first visit, make sure you research and prepare for the travel as much as possible in advance, so you have a rough plan of action. Keep it flexible though as there are plenty of distractions along the way! The following are some ‘what not to miss’ ideas for those with limited time:
The Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Centre. Many people think (and we would agree) that it has better views than the Empire State Building, not least because it has views OF the Empire State Building! Make sure you book in advance to avoid long queues.
Afterwards, stroll down 5th Avenue to West 29th Street (corner of Broadway), where you can enjoy a delicious brunch at The Breslin, a gastropub, part of the hip Ace Hotel (where you can also buy, among other things, large canvas bags for $45 – ideal if your shopping gets out of control and you need an extra piece of luggage for the trip home!)
Walk The High Line. This abandoned railway line, transformed into an urban park, runs between Midtown and the Meatpacking district, and is a great way to see the city, and catch some glimpses of the Hudson River too. If you need refreshment along the way, the Underline coffee shop serves the best coffee we found in New York, and the avocado on wholemeal toast is good too!
Central Park Definitely worth taking some time out to explore this beautiful and huge park either on foot or by bike. If you stay at one of our Central Park View apartments, you can see the park from your window, plus enjoy the advantage of being directly opposite the huge Whole Foods in Columbus Avenue, where you can buy everything you need for a luxury picnic in the park.
Statue of Liberty There is a long waiting list to go up the Statue of Liberty, so best to book this well in advance of your trip. There are tours including the ferry, with visits to either just the pedestal, or right up to the crown.
Museums and Galleries Frustrating to be limited for time, as there are so many great museums and galleries in New York, but if you have to choose one, and you are in Central Park anyway, make sure you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An exhibition would need to be booked in advance, but even if you just want to experience the museum, make sure you take the lift to the 5th floor to the Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar, with its sculpture garden and fabulous rooftop views over Central Park (open May until end October).
Otherwise, spend as much time as possible in Lower Manhattan, to explore the diverse neighbourhoods, history and architecture here – and where you will also enjoy some wonderful shopping and dining experiences. Here are a few tried and tested recommendations …
SoHo - Go to Prince and Spring Streets, plus the cross streets, all offering great shopping and people watching.
Where to Eat:
Balthazar, 80 Spring Street (between Broadway and Crosby) – a wonderful French bistro open from breakfast till late!
Café Habana, 17 Prince Street - this is a really special Cuban café with a great menu, including corn with jalapeno butter and lots of taco choices.
Where to Stay
Greene Street, Soho This lovely rental apartment is reminiscent of early Soho, with its large warehouse windows, and spaces, and its white walls offset by striking prints. Sleeps 2 – 3.
West Village - Walk down Bleecker Street in West Village for some great shopping and just to admire this lovely traditional neighbourhood, with its tree-lined brownstone streets and beautiful buildings.
Where to Eat:
Joe, is a relaxed café on leafy Waverly Place, offering an excellent coffee or brunch, popular with both local residents and tourist.
Employees Only, 510 Hudson Street. This lively and atmospheric cocktail bar and restaurant, with its 1920’s vibe, has the atmosphere of an original speakeasy, with its mahogany dining room, and ridged Art Deco lighting surrounding the pressed-tin ceiling, also lined with old-fashioned luggage racks. It serves both an impressive range of cocktails and an impressive food menu. There is also a fortune teller in the foyer who offers tarot card readings!
Meatpacking District - As its name suggests, this area was formerly an industrial area with meat packing plants, and open air meat markets. Its tenement buildings, lining its cobblestone streets, many of which have now been transformed into luxury apartments. It runs from Gansevoort Street to West 14th Street and from the Hudson River to Hudson Street, and offers plenty in the way of cultural and both upscale and casual dining choices. Its proximity to the Hudson River also means that residents and visitors can enjoy the waterside park here which extends right from 59th Street down to Battery Park. As well as bicycle and pedestrian paths, the park also includes facilities such as tennis courts and a children’s playground.
Where to Eat:
Barbuto, Washington Street, between Jane and W. 12th Street. This warm and welcoming Italian restaurant is in a converted garage, with doors which open right up during the warmer months, when you can enjoy an outdoor table. The excellent menu changes every day and covers a range of typical Italian antipasti, pizzas, main courses and cheeses.
If you have time to kill before dinner, watch the sunset from the rooftop cocktail bar and pool area at the Gansevoort Hotel.
Where to Stay
Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking. A converted warehouse apartment, with fabulous exposed brick walls and natural wood flooring, It is filled with antique and contemporary furniture, and artwork. Sleeps 2 – 3.