If you follow Picture Rocks Travel on Facebook or Instagram, you know that the past four days we were visiting New York City.
This was our “maiden voyage” to New York City and we have to say, it won’t be the last time we visit. We fell in love with The Big Apple as soon as we arrived in Times Square. Now, having never been to New York City, we have to admit, we had heard all of the horror stories about New York.
“It’s dirty!”, “It’s wall to wall people”, “It’s not safe!”, “Everyone’s rude!” Well, they couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, there are a lot of people, especially in Manhattan. But rude they were not, if anything, New Yorkers are all too happy to talk with you about their great city, time permitting of course. Was Times Square busy? Absolutely, especially on the weekends, but it’s supposed to be! Times Square is where it all happens, especially at night!
Our hotel was the Sheraton Times Square and it couldn’t have better situated. Just a half of a block from Times Square, we were able to get to the action of Times Square and Broadway in nothing flat. Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall were a mere five minute walk away and of course, Central Park was within a few block walking distance as well.
So what do we recommend doing while in New York City? EVERYTHING!! Just kidding, it’s impossible to take in all that Manhattan has to offer, let alone the other Burroughs that make up New York City, in just one visit.
For the first time visitor, here are our recommended must see’s and must do’s:
- Times Square – Times Square is a happening place, night and day. Street performers, food truck/stall vendors, farmer’s markets, shopping, dining – it can all be found in Times Square. And of course, don’t forget to scope out the iconic New Year’s Ball!
- Broadway – Taking in a Broadway Show is an absolute must! All of the theatres are within a short walk of Times Square and there is nothing like being on Broadway and seeing a play. The theatres are not large so any seat you choose is going to give you a great view. Get all dressed up or go as casual as you like!
- Central Park – Central Park is a beautiful area to explore and the best way to explore it is by either Pedi-Cab or horse drawn carriage. You can find either at any of the entrances. Both offer a bit of history on Central Park and, if you’ve got a great guide, they will point out various places in the park that have been used for filming locations.
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum – This is, in our opinion, a must see. Be prepared to be overwhelmed with emotion, pack plenty of kleenex, because we guarantee that at some point, the impact of that fateful day will hit you. It is an incredible tribute to those who lost their lives on that day and the tribute isn’t just to those lost in the Trade Towers, but to everyone who perished on the planes as well as at the Pentagon.
- Museums – It doesn’t matter which one you choose, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA), Museum of Natural History, Museum of New York; they’re all incredible. We chose the Museum of Natural History and we know we only covered 1/8th of what there is to see.
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – We didn’t visit the Statue of Liberty as Bryan was on a quest to gather information on his great-grandfather’s immigration from Italy to Ellis Island, but she was magnificent to see and a stop we highly recommend doing. Ellis Island is a great experience that gives you an incredible insight into the immigrant experience.
- Empire State Building – A trip to the top of the Empire State Building is well worth it!! The views from the 86th floor of Manhattan are spectacular!! Go early in order to beat the crowds. One small caution though, the elevators to the observation points (there are three on different floors) are filled to max capacity and are not terribly fast. If you are claustrophobic, we recommend you skip this.
And of course, a visit to New York City isn’t complete without trying out the many restaurants. Dining in New York City isn’t without its cost; plan on about $200.00 a day for two people, average. You can, however, share a meal (most restaurants will charge an additional fee of a few dollars for that option) and cut your expenses in half. We recommend sharing a meal, the serving portions are huge, so you won’t be hungry.
Our top recommended places to eat:
- Carnegie Deli – Located at 854 7th Avenue, 55th Street, this quaint deli is well worth the experience and expense. You’ll find photos along the wall of all of the celebrities who’ve visited. The menu offers plenty of options and the serving sizes are hugely proportioned. Plan on sharing a meal.
- Juniors – Junior’s has several locations throughout the New York City metropolitan area. This chain of restaurants is well known for their cheesecake, however, we highly recommend the cupcakes. Especially the Reese’s Peanut Butter cupcake.
- The Original Vincent’s – Located at 119 Mott Street in Little Italy. Family owned and operated since 1904, and in the exact same location, this gem in little Italy is pure paradise. The pastas are made from scratch, the tomato sauce is a family old world secret and the meatballs and sausage are pure heaven to the palate. Plan on sharing a meal here as well and don’t pass on the desserts! We recommend the cannoli.
- Serendipity 3 – Located at 225 E. 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Serendipity is famous for some of the scenes shot on location for the film, Serendipity. Reservations are recommended as it can get busy quickly. Serendipity 3 is best known for their sundaes and frozen hot chocolate. You’ll find mixed reviews regarding the service, staff and quality of the food. All we can tell you is that we had one of the best BLT’s on Challah Bread on we’ve ever tasted and the frozen hot chocolate and hot fudge sundae were amazing! It’s definitely worth checking out and again, plan on sharing a meal, you’ll have more than enough to fill you up.
- Fraunces Tavern – Located at 54 Pearl Street in the Financial District and Battery Park Area. It is Manhattan’s oldest surviving building, dating back to pre-Revolutionary War. It served as Headquarters for President (then General) George Washington during the Revolutionary War, was a venue for peace negotiations with the British and housed federal offices during the early days of the Republic. You’ll find several local artisan craft beers on tap; Irish Whiskey’s and of course, a good menu with plenty of options to choose from.
We, of course, will go back to New York City to explore more as there was just too much to see and do and get it all crammed in over the course of four days. Please leave a comment and tell us what your favorite part(s) of New York City are and some restaurant/deli recommendations.