5 days in New York City

New York is insane. There are SO many people, and SO many things to do and it can be a lot. But it’s New York, so that’s kinda what you expect and kinda what makes it…New York.

We enjoyed our 5 days in New York, although at times did find it too busy and too much. We tried to do it at a reasonable pace and do more than scratch the surface. The most common question I’m asked about New York is “what can I fit in to a day?”….and the answer depends on how quickly you want to do it all. What I’ve included below we did in 5 days, at a reasonable pace. I’ve heard people who have done the same in just 3 days!

So….here’s my New York Top 5 (and best of the rest):

ONE. Hudson River Trip

I loved the River Trip. We used Circle Line Cruises and they were great. They leave from the West side of the Hell’s Kitchen area, which is in walking distance from Midtown so easily accessible. A boat trip enables you to see the New York skyline from the river. It also lets you see the Statue of Liberty up close if you don’t have time to go over to Ellis Island on the ferry (which we didn’t!). Having done the boat trip, we didn’t feel we needed to anyway.

The New York skyline from the Circle Line cruise
The Statue of Liberty from the Circle Line cruise

TWO. Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn area

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is a must for anyone visiting New York. Remember to look back across it if you’re crossing from Manhattan to Brooklyn so you can get all the skyline views!

We also then explored Brooklyn on the other side – Brooklyn Bridge Park has some epic views back to the Manhattan skyline, and Brooklyn itself is full of nice houses and little cafes. We walked over the Bridge first thing, spent the morning mooching around Brooklyn, had lunch and crossed back to Manhattan again. That enabled us to do it at a leisurely pace.

View of the Bridge from the Park
Me on the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn is definitely where I’d choose to live!

THREE. Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center is a giant shopping mall, with restaurants and even art work! It’s also home to Radio City and the famous ice rink in winter. You can do a tour of it, but we decided to walk around ourselves which we enjoyed. Inside we also bought tickets to go up to Top of the Rock. I recommend buying in advance for the same or next day so you don’t have to face the huge queues. The views from the top across to the Empire State Building are, in my humble opinion, the best in New York.

View from Top of the Rock observation deck
Radio City Music Hall

FOUR. 9/11 Memorial and Museum

It’s hard to put in to words how moving this site is. I cried a few times in the museum. I also learnt a lot about the build up to 9/11 and the deep routed politics involved. I definitely recommend doing this at the end of the day so you have a bit of space and reflection time afterwards. As I have been at a number of sites across the world (e.g. Concentration Camps and killing fields), I was shocked by people taking selfies in front of memorial boards and photos. I only took one photo inside of the museum.

Memorial to the victims where the foundations of the towers used to stand
Museum Entrance

FIVE. New York Public Library

I loved the library. It’s a beautiful building for starters, it houses the ORIGINAL Winnie the Pooh, and the Rose Room is just stunning. I loved it, loved it, loved it and we spent a good two hours walking round and exploring.

Outside of the New York Public Library
The Rose Room ceiling
The Original Winne the Pooh and Friends

The best of the rest in New York City

  • Empire State Building – I personally preferred Top of the Rock and the queues for the ESB were so long I didn’t get up there until dark, but the view was still pretty epic!
  • Flatiron Building – I loved it!
  • Times Square – way too busy for me, but the Disney store and M&M store were fun to have been in. I couldn’t stand it for longer than about 15 minutes though
  • Museums – anyone who reads my blogs knows I love museums. In New York we visited three:
    • Museum of the City of New York – we spent about 5 hours here learning about the history of the city; from European settlers, to Civil Rights, to Women’s emancipation to current population demographics. It was fascinating.
    • Lower East Side Tenement museum – an immigration museum with a difference! You actually go in to the houses where different people have lived. We chose the ‘Hard Times’ tour and learnt about 2 migrant families living in New York in the 1800s and 1900s.
    • Gulliver’s Gate – the best miniature exhibition we’ve ever been to. An amazing mini scale model of the entire world. It was cool spotting all the places we’d been to.
  • Grand Central Station – so cool. The main terminal is amazing!
  • Chelsea Market and The Highline – Chelsea market has loads of nice places to eat so we had brunch there and then walked up the Highline – effectively an old railway line now converted in to a park
  • Chelsea Piers Golf – a golf driving range where you hit balls over the Hudson River; hours of fun!
  • Central Park – it was raining so badly the day we chose to visit, so we didn’t see it at its best and had to get a horse and carriage round, which was still fun!
  • The Cupcake ATM – a personal favourite. You pick a cupcake on the screen and pay for it (it looks like an ATM in the wall). And then the ATM door lifts and….there’s your cupcake. Literally the best thing ever. And the cupcake was delicious.
Walking the Highline
Our carriage awaits at Central Park
The night time view from the Empire State Building
The Flatiron Building

Full Itinerary (for those interested)

  • Day 1 – Flatiron building, One World Trade Centre, NYSE, Wall St, The Bull, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Empire State Building at night
  • Day 2 – Chelsea Market, The Highline, Chelsea Piers golf, Circle Line Cruise
  • Day 3 – Rockefeller Centre, Top of the Rock, Times Square, Gulliver’s Gate, Macy’s, BBQ night
  • Day 4 – Central Park, Upper West Side, New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, Museum of the City of New York, Cupcake ATM
  • Day 5 – Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, China Town, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Little Italy

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my New York post. Let me know if you have any questions, or have been to New York yourself, in the comments below!

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