New York, New York, New York – the city that never sleeps, the big apple and the concrete jungle… I think you can all agree that this incredible city is pretty high up on most people’s to-do list, as it was on mine. Well, back in March me and my bestfriend Sophie were lucky enough to be taken to NYC by our lovely mums for our 21st birthdays and now I am going to give you the ultimate New York itinerary.
Tips & Advice
– Travel: New York is such a massive place so you are going to need a way to get around if you want to see everything that it has to offer. We chose to do the New York Pass which you can get for either 1,2,3,5,7 or 10 days and includes the Big Bus Hop on Hop Off tour with its uptown and downtown tours, a great way to get around the city. It also includes free entrance to the big attractions such as the Empire State, Top of the rock, Statue of Liberty and much much more. Follow the link below to find out in more detail how this pass works and what’s included – https://www.newyorkpass.com/En/how-it-works/
– Tipping: Something that none of us got used to whilst in NYC was giving tips but like it or not for the people working in the service industry tips are an essential part of their earnings. A rough guide to tipping would be 15-20% of the total bill for waitstaff, $2-5 for hotel doormen and 15-20% of the total fare for taxi drivers.
– Weather: We went during winter and it was very cold so the majority of our suitcases we taken up by coats, jumpers, hats and scarfs, however, our sunglasses came in very handy as it was so sunny!
– Getting to and from the airport: We decided to jump in a taxi and go straight to our hotel which cost around $60 but if you are on more of a budget there is a shuttle bus which costs around $21 per person.
It takes around 8 hours to get to New York (from the UK) so get yourself booked on an early flight meaning you arrive around lunchtime leaving the rest of the afternoon to explore. We flew with Virgin Atlantic who were amazing and even gave us free champagne as it was our birthdays! We stayed at The Roosevelt Hotel which is a beautiful old hotel with a historic art deco look and grand elegant rooms. As nice as the hotel was we wasted no time in dumping our bags and headed straight out to explore the city, our first stop Times Square.
Times Square was just how we had all imagined it – we spent a while walking round, taking pictures and soaking up the atmosphere. It was so surreal to actually be standing in Times Square, New York!! Our next stop was Grand Central Station where we had 2 things to do. No 1. was our mums wanted to waltz round the main concourse just like in the film ‘The Fisher King’ and No 2. me and Sophie wanted to walk down the stairs that Mila Kunis does in the film ‘Friends with Benefits’. With both things complete we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go out for dinner.
We chose to eat at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square (another thing crossed off the bucket list) where we had cocktails and burgers before heading back to the hotel for an early night ready for our first full day in NYC.
Right pick some comfy shoes because its going to be a long day! Get up early and head out to find some breakfast- we were told about 2 places, the first was the Comfort Diner a more traditional restaurant and the second was the Red Flame which was the more touristy choice. We chose the Comfort Diner and oh my god it was amazing. We ordered hot chocolates (to die for) and buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup (also to die for). After filling up on food we headed back to Times Square to activate our 3 day New York pass and then jumped on the red bus route which tours around downtown Manhattan.
We decided to jump off the bus at the 9/11 memorial and museum. There is no way I can even begin to describe our time in the museum but my thoughts will always be with those taken or affected back in 2001. My favourite part of the museum was the blue mosaic artwork made up of 2,983 tiles all different shades of blue representing each victim of the attacks in both 2001 and 1993. It is called ‘Trying to remember the colour of the sky on that September morning’ which is inspired by the memorably clear blue sky on that fateful morning.
Afterwards we walked outside to Ground Zero, the two memorial sites where the twin towers once stood. Quite simply it was an experience that I will never forget.
Next up visit the One World Trade observatory platform. We were whisked up to the 102nd floor in under 60 seconds and watched a 2 minute clip of New York being built before a screen was raised which revealed the most breathtaking view over midtown Manhattan.
Ok now go and grab some lunch! With so many cafes and delhi’s you will have no problem finding somthing you like. We found a cute little delhi and ordered sandwiches and wraps. Feeling very full and slightly warmer we got back on the bus and completed our tour of downtown Manhattan.
We got off at the Rockefeller and decided to use our New York pass to go up to the viewing platform just as the sun was setting. We stepped out of the lift at level 70 and almost mistook the sky for a painting – it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
With day 2 coming to an end head out, find somewhere to eat and then go for some drinks! We went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner where the waiters and waitresses sing Broadway songs as they are serving you. We didn’t particularly like it here but you may as well head down and decide for yourself!
Today head back downtown again but not before grabbing some breakfast! We went back to the Comfort Diner again as we enjoyed it so much the day before! You can either jump on the hop on hop off bus and get out at the Statue of Liberty or pay $3 and get a subway down to Bowling Green (which we did just to try out the subway) and make your way over to the ferry that will take you out to Liberty and Ellis Island. TIP: If you are wanting to go up the Statue of Liberty itself you need to get there super early as they only let 100 people up a day. The ferry to and from Libery island allows you to take those iconic pictures of the New York skyline. You can also get some amazing pictures from Liberty Island itself. Ellis island is also definitely worth a visit – we learnt so much about what the immigrants used to have to go through before being allowed into America and they also have a really cool free headphone guided tour.
When in New York you have to go and see a Broadway show so head back to your hotel and go and get ready! If you are looking to grab somthing quick to eat before the show head to Five Guys like we did – it will not disappoint! We chose to see Matilda which I absolutely loved as its one of my favourite films! We also had amazing seats thanks to our mums!
Once the show has finished there is one more thing you have to do before heading back – The Empire State. The views were breathtaking and to see New York all lit up was incredible.
Once again it’s going to be a long day so head out early to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Today head to Times Square and catch the blue route bus that will take you uptown and around Central Park. It was so cold the day we went so after seeing upper west side, Harlem and East Harlem we got off at the Guggenheim and walked down through Central Park to the Loeb Boathouse Cafe for a hot chocolate to warm up. This is also where they film a scene from 27 dresses! There is so much to see in Central Park it is so beautiful. We walked to strawberry fields to see the memorial for John Lennon and then jumped on the subway and headed over to Wall Street.
Wall Street was amazing – we walked past the Trump building, the New York Stock exchange and Tiffany & Co. I would love to be able to go back and see what it was like in the 1920’s I bet the atmosphere was incredible.
From Wall Street we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked halfway across, it was such a beautiful day so we managed to get some amazing pictures before finding a little cafe for lunch.
So if you are anything like us and want to get as many views of the city as possible then listen up… we had already been up the Rockefeller once, but that was at night, so now we wanted a day time view! We caught the subway back over to the Rockefeller and were whisked up into the sky once more. This time we didn’t have a sunset but we did have the most spectacular view over Central Park!
Right it’s your last night in New York so you have to do something big! Our mums told us they had a suprise for us so we got ready, caught a taxi and headed out. The suspense was killing me and Soph but finally we pulled up outside this gorgeous swanky rooftop bar on 5th avenue called 230 Fifth. Our mums had booked us a window table looking out directly onto the Empire State Building! We had the most amazing evening and ordered loads of cocktails and food (too much food). We stayed down in the inside part of the bar but we had a quick look upstairs and it was amazing – in warmer weather it would be absolutely perfect for a night out with friends.
Last day! We were up early again so that we could pack, check out of our hotel and then head out to grab some breakfast. We decided to give the Red Flame a go – the place I mentioned earlier and it was really nice but the Comfort Diner wins hands down in my opinion. There is no better way to spend your last day in New York than doing a bit of shopping at the likes of Macys and Bloomingdales! At mums request we sought out the Serendipity Cafe for a frozen hot chocolate which we all shared as it was massive! After a long day we raced back to the hotel (not before finding The Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue where Home Alone 2 is filmed) and caught a cab back to the airport ready for our flight that evening.
So there you go that’s my ultimate itinerary for how to spend 5 jam packed days in New York City. I had the time of my life and already want to go back and do it all again
Have you been to New York? Have anything extra to add? Let me know in the comment box down below or send me an email I would love to hear from you!