My husband Lucas and I took our first trip to New York City last March. We stayed with our friend Jose Castro. The trip was long-awaited; we had been talking about it for years. Most would consider it ill-advised, but we had to put our truck in the shop, for two weeks, while we were down in Miami for our aunt’s wedding. Despite the second-guessing, our spontaneity overtook us. So we went for it!
Kennedy Airport greeted us with thick rain that would last for the first two or three days of our stay. For all you NYC Newbies, this is your first important tip: PACK SMART, always considering the time of year and potential weather changes. If it’s winter, bring a VERY warm coat and a scarf at the very least. We had to buy these things once we got there… we had packed for Miami weather.
Your second tip? Don’t waste precious suitcase space by packing one or more umbrellas; there will be plenty of random salesmen on street corners each time rain begins in New York. Though not always of the highest quality, they are usually very low-cost in addition to the convenience of having access to an umbrella whenever you need one.
Lucas and I, however, ended up having to buy at least seven or eight umbrellas because we kept loosing them. We’d leave them on subways, in the backs of cabs, in restaurants, etc. What can I say..
Here’s a few big thrills you want to make sure you don’t miss in NYC:
1. Battery Park.
It’s beautiful, it’s rarely crowded, and it directly faces New York Harbor and gives fantastic views to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
2. “Bliss” Restaurant in Brooklyn.
Our friend Jose took us here and I was in Heaven. It’s an all-vegan menu, but even hardcore carnivores will be coming back for seconds sooner or later. Yes, it’s THAT good.
3. The Corner Bistro.
Recommended byTim Ferriss, we absolutely insist that you do not miss this one. This infamous hot-spot is open 24/7. The cheeseburgers might be the best you ever get to eat in your life, and they serve $2.50 beer. We made this a nightly ritual! If you’re interested in making the Bistro part of your own New York ritual, you can find directions and more info here on the official site:
4. Central Park.
It’s just one of those places you have to go if you’re in New York. It’s huge, so get a map and enjoy your stroll through the beauty of NYC.
5. The Museum of Natural Sciences.
Sound boring? I thought so too initially. Some exhibits have the capacity to blow your mind. I was speechless while I gazed at the trunk of a 2,400-year-old tree. The timeline of history was marked on its trunk.
If the Museum left you feeling like a super dork, head on over to Vinyl and feel like a rockstar again. It’s a hotospot de jour, serving food and drinks near the theatre district.
Treat yourself to a Broadway production, and save a TON of cash by making use of the lottery system they have in NY for tickets: If you get there very early around 5:30pm (the shows usually start at 8pm), you can make sure your names get put in the hat for an old-fashioned lottery drawing. If your name is called, you win front-row ticket upgrades for you and someone in your party as well as a substantially discounted ticket price (we paid $25 a ticket).
We won front row seats to Hair and Wicked!
Chelsea is a beautiful and clean part of NYC! Definitely, check out The Chelsea Market (great shopping & restaurants) and, if you need a room, The Chelsea Pines Inn.
As a final tip that I cannot stress enough: BUY OR DOWNLOAD SEVERAL DIFFERENT MAPS OF NY AND STUDY THEM BEFORE YOU GO!!! Trust me, you will be very happy you did this when the crowd rushes kick in at various times of day and night.
Learn the subway system; there’s nothing worse than being lost somewhere. Also, some subway lines stop running at night. Be sure you know which ones close and at what time so you can plan a different route.
Last but not least, if you are as fortunate as we are to have close friends in New York City, make sure you see them and make sure they give you their local tips and secrets.
If you don’t have friends there now, make some when you get there. Native New Yorkers can tell you all you need to know. They know the best restaurants, boutiques, the fastest way to Yankee Stadium, etc.
And, if you ask real nicely, they might even show you the proper way to hail a cab.
Visit the full NYC photo album on our Flickr page