My Personal Inside Tips for an Amazing Holiday in New York City
Probably the best New York City tips you will get. And NO, this is not a list of museums. These are the things we would do if I would host you in New York.
During 2006 I lived in New York for four months, and I have been a constant visitor to the city for the last decade. Friends, family, and acquaintances usually ask me for inside tips on what to do in New York. After sending a bunch of really long emails, I decided it was time to create a proper article and spread my knowledge. Here come my inside tips for a great visit to New York.
First of all, relax
Yes, you are excited, and you want to see everything. But I am sorry to say but if you don’t have a month to spare you will never make it. Instead, relax. Realize that you should visit New York many times during your life, and this visit will be much better if you don’t try to do everything in 4 days. Instead, pick the things below that you like and let the rest be for the next time you come to New York.
Where should I stay?
There are a lot of hotels in New York, and probably most of them are not that good. The first thing you should do is to decide where in New York you should stay. My recommendation is Soho. Why? Because it is close to everything and from Soho, you can easily transport yourself to other areas of New York. Also, it is a friendly and fun neighborhood. To find a good hotel always start by searching on Google Maps. There you can see what hotels got good grades from guests and current price point.
I have stayed in a few hotels in the area, and the hotels I recommend are;
- Soho Grand www.sohogrand.com, an upscale hotel that will give you a good experience
- Hotel 50 Bowery, easy to access and have a nice hangout area
- Hilton Garden Inn New York/Tribeca, clean and nice and have ok pricing
Do you like walking? – Start here
The best way to see New York is by walking. Here are some starting points and directions on where to walk.
- See the city over street-level – The Highline – This is a great place to see the city from a new perspective and to relax.
- Union Square – Take yourself to Union Square, check out the area around the square (on weekends they have a market there) and go into ABC Carpet & Home on 888 Broadway. Then walk down south on Broadway for great shopping until you reach China town. During this trip, you will walk through Soho.
- Eat in China Town – Go to China town and eat lunch at some back alley place where all the guests and the menus are only speaking/reading in Mandarin. And while you are there make sure to buy something you don’t need on the street. After all, what is a vacation without carrying home a pointless object that you will never use?
- Check Out West Village – Go to Bleecker Street and Christopher Street intersection. Go and see the apartment from the popular TV Series Friends. Click here for location. Then start walking north on Bleecker Street. Here are some nice stores and it is a very cozy area. Make sure you don’t miss Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment. Then take yourself to 820 Washington St where the Highline starts. Walk the Highline and enjoy the experience. To learn more about the Highline visit www.thehighline.org
- East Village is great for bars and food. Go there in the evening. Don’t forget to check out St Marks Street between 2nd and 3d Ave. There is great Asian food. What bars and restaurants to go to is difficult to say since it always changes. My recommendation is to check out the Zagat guide for advice www.zagat.com/new-york-city.
- Pier 17 – Start at cozy Pier 17 admiring the view and then take a look at the nearby stores. Look at your map and then start walking toward the business district making sure that you pass by the Wall Street building and then walk down to Battery Park. Here you can admire the view of the Statue of Liberty. Now walk north to ground zero and make sure you visit the 9/11 Memorial www.911memorial.org.
- Fancy som fancy? – Do you like fancy and expensive stores? Well then start at the corner of E 72nd Street and Madison Ave. Here you find the Ralph Lauren stores. Now walk south on Madison Ave, and you will see some great stores on the way. When you come to E 59th street take a right until you come to 5th Ave. In this corner, you will see the Apple store and the Plaza Hotel. Check out both these places and when you are done walk south on Fifth Ave where you will be able to visit stores and sights like Rockefeller Center, Nike, Uniqlo, the Catholic Church, Grand Central Station, Tommy Hilfiger, New York Library and Empire State building where the walk ends.
- See the lights – Make sure you visit Times Square both during day and night. If you are visiting at night make sure that you go to the 8th floor of the Marriot Hotel and sit by the bar that has a view over Times Square. It is super cool, and you will have an amazing view.
- Central Park is a really good experience all year so make sure you don’t miss it.
- The Cable Railway - This tip is from Jakob Ramlöw. I have done it myself and it is super nice. "Take the subway to Roosevelt Island and then take the cable railway back to Manhattan. Magic experience to hover through the skyscrapers, especially at night! It's also included in the metro card, so great if you are on a budget."
Apps you should get
The Zagat Guide that lists the best places in New York has an app, and you can download it at www.zagat.com/new-york-city.
Places to visit
There are a lot of different locations in New York that you may want to visit. Here are my favorites.
- The UN building – Take the tour
- Statue of Liberty – It is beautiful, but you don’t have to visit it. Instead, go to Battery Park and look at it from a distance.
- Grand Central Station – I love to see all the people walking around, and it is an amazing building.
- Central Park – Great place to look at people, walking and just relaxing.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art – They have so much cool stuff there.
- Museum of Natural History – It is a cool building, and a lot of movies have been recorded here.
- 9/11 Memorial – It is beautiful and peaceful.
- Saint Patrick´s Cathedral at 5th Ave – It is a peaceful spot in the middle of the city.
- Rockefeller Center – Makes me think about the TV series 30 Rock. In December you can see people ice skating here and the giant Christmas Tree.
- Top of The Rock – The absolute best view of the city. Make sure to book in advance.
- Brooklyn Bridge – Walk over it and admire the view.
- Brooklyn Brewery – Visit the Brooklyn Brewery Tasting room and get a guided tour of the brewery and taste their beer. More info HERE and make sure you come early. This is a very popular destination.
- Ellis Island – This is something I would do on my second or third trip to New York. Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States and is today a museum. If you like me, have family that immigrated to the United States, you will find new perspectives on your family history. More info at www.ellisisland.org
Should I do a Helicopter Tour?
Of course, you should. It is affordable and will give you a serene view of the city. Check out heliny.com and book your tour.
The super cool experience that you should not miss
One of the absolute coolest things I have done in New York is to experience Sleep No More an indoor promenade performance lasting up to three hours. Every individual experience of the performance I unique and for me, it was mind-blowing. I have never in my life experience such a cool... yeah that is the issue there are no words to describe it. Just go! Book your tickets at www.sleepnomore.com
The bars I go back to
New York is full of bars and places to go. There is no limit. But some bars I seem to come back to regularly.
- Doc Holidays – I love this bar in east village – click here to see a map, it is easy going and just so trash dirty cool. Every time I have been there I had a blast.
- Marriot Hotel Bar – Go to Times Square and up to the 8th floor of the Marriot Hotel. Find the bar that is facing the Times Square and enjoy the view.
- R Lounge – Great bar with an amazing view over Times Square. Don’t forget to make a reservation at Book your table here
- Please Don’t Tell – This is a “secret” bar that is difficult to find and it is even more difficult to get a table. The same day you want to go you have to call 212-614-0386 at exactly 3 PM and book your table for the same night. The bar is located at 113 St. Marks Pl, East Village and it is hidden in a fast food place that serves Hot Dogs behind an old Phone Booth. More info at pdtnyc.com
- The Top of The Standard – With dramatic city views that turn magical at sundown, you can sip one of the best drinks in the city. Don’t forget to book a table. Check it out here!
- Flaming Saddles – The bars main slogan is “Straight Woman – No woohooing.” Yes, this is a gay bar where the bartenders do line dance on the bar. Should not be missed. Check it out here!
Food and restaurants
New York has unlimited food possibilities. My best recommendation for food is to explore the site and app the Zagat Guide www.zagat.com/new-york-city that offers consumer grades reviews of almost all restaurant in New York. Here you can find out what restaurants that are the best at the moment. My second tip is to look at Google Maps to find interesting restaurants close to you.
My favorite restaurants
- Otis - Whatever you do, don't miss Otis - The nr 1 restaurant in New York State according to Yelp users. Located in the coolest area of Brooklyn serving amazing drinks and comfort food. Check out www.otisbk.com.
- Chipotle – This is a fast food restaurant located all over New York. It is fast, it is affordable, and it is healthy. What else do you need?
- Gaonnuri – Great Korean restaurant with an amazing view over the New York Skyline. It is a must. Located at 1250 Broadway. Don’t forget to make a reservation at www.gaonnurinyc.com
- The Modern – This Michelin starred restaurant may be too expensive in the evening, but they do have a great lunch offer. Call (212) 333-1220 and book a table at the “Dining Room” for lunch. Once there you can eat an amazing three-course dinner plus dessert for 76 USD plus drinks and tips. Sure it is an expensive lunch, but it is outstanding. I do recommend that you dress up since most of the guests in the restaurant are usually very well dressed. The restaurant is located at 9 West 53rd Street, and you have more info at www.themodernnyc.com
- Cafe Habana in Soho – Offers Cuban food with excellent frozen Margaritas and make sure that you order a corncob with cheese as a starter. It is amazing! The restaurant is located at 17 Prince Street (212) 625-2001, cafehabana.com
- Boqueria Soho – Tapas place in Soho with great food located at 33 Wyndham Street www.boquerianyc.com
- Elmo Restaurant and Lounge – Great atmosphere, amazing food, really busy, good prices and they have received great reviews. What else can you wish for? The restaurant is located at 156 Seventh Avenue www.elmorestaurant.com
- La Esquina NYC – The entrance is inside a diner / fast food place, and the restaurant is located underground. On your way in you will pass the kitchen and you will immediately feel like you are on your way to a hidden pearl. Make sure to reserve a table and then go to 114 Kenmare between Lafayette and Centre www.esquinanyc.com
- Pig and Khao – If you love Asian fusion this is a must. They are located in East Village. When you are finished with the food you can take a drink just cross the street at Garfunkel’s
My absolute favorite stores
When I go to New York, these are the stores that I always visit.
Stores at 5th Ave
- Apple Store Fifth Avenue, 767 5th Avenue – It is just such a cool store located next to Central Park.
- Niketown, 6 East 57th Street – Nike is one of my favorite brands and in this store, you will find the latest and the greatest.
- Uniqlo, 666 5th Avenue, www.uniqlo.com – A store concept from Japan that offers basic clothes for great prices.
- Tommy Hilfiger, 681 5th Avenue – I love clothes with a lot of colors, and that is exactly what Tommy Hilfiger offers.
Stores at Union Square
- ABC Carpet & Home, 888 Broadway – This store sells furniture and accessories for homes, but it is just so cool and therefore always worth a visit.
Stores in Soho
- Sabon, 93 Spring Street – Get ready for a handsorgasm. Go into the store and ask to try their experience. Who would guess that washing your hands could be fun?
- Nike, 21 Mercer Street – This is a Nike special store that offers a unique selection of the Nike brand.
- SuitSupply, 453 Broome Street, suitsupply.com – A store for men that offers everything for the very well dressed man.
- Lululemon, high quality training clothes and their stores all over the city
I hope you find my tips useful and if you have anything you would like to add, please write a comment below. Have an amazing stay in New York.