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Travelling to New York - any tips?

(37 Posts)
MrsK Mon 11-Apr-16 18:21:04

We are going for a long weekend beginning of December, DH, DD & me. DD is 16 & keen to shop. DH & I went just before I was pregnant, so have done certain things like a Broadway show DD isn't interested in.

She is keen to do a bit of sightseeing, we will have 3 full days there. What I am wondering is if any of you have any suggestions of places to visit, eat, shop or general tips? I know I need to arrange ETSA's before we travel. I've looked at the Statue of Liberty website to try & prebook tickets, but, it appears bookings currently only go to August.

Also, we haven't booked accommodation yet. DH said it was very expensive so is going to do it last minute. I'm a bit concerned about that, as I really don't want to end up homeless. I'd like somewhere ideally that has good transport links or fairly central. Quirky rather than an anonymous chain style hotel would be nice too, though I realise that often comes at a price.

Apologies for the essay, I wanted to be comprehensive rather than waste your time drip feeding information.

SwedishEdith Mon 11-Apr-16 18:28:54

I'd book a hotel now - you can cancel if find somewhere else you prefer.

Normandy144 Mon 11-Apr-16 18:34:25

Agreed with pp, I would book ahead. NYC is expensive for accommodation. You are going in December which is peak season for Christmas shopping. If you leave it until the last minute you will find very little to choose from as all the best spots will be gone, so you will be left with either really high end options or not so nice hotels but you will still pay through the nose. Book through or similar where you can find free cancellation options.

Other than that, my advice to anyone going to NYC is to go to Grimaldis for pizza in Brooklyn. Just by the end of the bridge. Delicious cheap pizzas. Get there early as there's usually a line up.

YesOfCourseAlways Mon 11-Apr-16 18:36:14

I'd look on air bnb, or vrbo for an apartment, I have done that twice in NYC and much prefer it to hotels.

Top of the Rock is the great, book it for twilight as you see the lights coming on around the city.

Also the night time ferry tour is fantastic, so worth going on.

I'll be back when I think of more, I love NY!

Sidge Mon 11-Apr-16 19:20:35

I went to NYC for Easter - we booked hotel etc 9 months ago and when we were there it was full. We were there for 4 nights and 3 full days. I really wouldn't leave it until last minute, you run the risk of not getting accommodation especially in December. AirBnB isn't something that interests me, I like to know what I'm getting.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn West 57th St - very well located and within walking distance of everything, but not too expensive. I paid approx £500 for 4 nights B&B. Not quirky but we literally just slept there (we were out 0830-2330!) so no point paying extra IMO. There is so much to see and do you won't spend much time in the hotel.

We got New York City Explorer Passes from Viator which were excellent - I paid £79 and it covered 5 attractions, we used it for ESB, TOTR, the Hop On/Hop Off bus and the MOMA and even though we didn't do 5 attractions we saved a fortune - the ESB alone is about $35.

The Staten Island ferry is free, and most of Manhattan is walkable. We didn't visit the Statue of Liberty but sailed past it on the ferry which was enough. I recommend doing ESB later on in the afternoon, the queues earlier in the day were horrendous, however it will be dark earlier in December.

Shopping - you have Macy's, Bloomingdales, Saks as well as TJMaxx, Gap, H&M, Apple, Abercrombie and Fitch, Superdry etc and lots of high end stores. We found prices weren't much less than UK, especially as you have to factor in taxes on top of the label price. Eating out I can recommend Angelos for Italian, Bill's Burgers in Greenwich Village and Red Rooster if you don't mind venturing out to Harlem. Remember to factor in tipping which will increase the bill by 15-20%.

Have a great time smile

harridan50 Mon 11-Apr-16 19:34:57

Book a hotel you can always cancel for a better deal.
Top of the rock at night.....advise pre-booking
Walk across Brooklyn bridge, turn left at the end and eat pizza.
Central park....fabulous.
We went at easter, took a 17 and 19 year old. They enjoyed all the above plus Empire state and other things you will already have done. off in Bloomingdales with passport get a card from customer services.........Henry Bendalls v good

MrsEricBana Mon 11-Apr-16 19:48:12

Ooh how exciting!
- I recommend Empire State at night hands down over Top of the Rock as ESB is totally iconic but be prepared to queue.
- Dd loved Tiffanys on 5th Ave as is huge Audrey Hepburn fan (go up to the silver floor where you can have a proper snoop round without feeling like a fraud!).
- Dd also loved H&M Times Square as massive, thumping music etc, M&M store very American, everywhere down 5th Ave and lower end of Madison Avenue (all the big designers have stores here - fab window shopping)
- Staten Island Ferry free and fab views back at Manhattan, of Statue of Liberty etc (go there and straight back)
- Walk the Highline (linear garden on old elevated freight line) from somewhere near Penn Station down to the meat packing district the go to Gansevoort market for lunch and walk through West Village, Greenwich Village, Soho etc.
- Art galleries - in this order unless you have speciific interests - Guggenheim (take lift to top and spiral down), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Gallerie (Munch, Klimt etc in beautiful Upper East Side Mansion), MoMA, Cooper Hewitt - you MUST do Guggenheim as so iconic.
- Lots of walking in Central Park and drink at least at Tavern on the Green as iconic.
- Dining - we loved Tao Uptown and for sheer cheese factor Ellen's Stardust Diner where all the waiting staff are aspiring Broadway stars and sing the hits. Also recommended are Red Rooster (Harlem), Jack's Wife Freda, Cafe 2 at MoMA, Lafayette, Cafe Cluny.
- 911 Memorial very very moving.
- Wall Street.
- Walk over Brooklyn Bridge, pizza at Grimaldis as Normandy says then subway back if short of time.
- Skating at Wollman Trump Rink in Central Park or Rockefeller Center.
- Rockefeller Center tour (fab).
- Take comfortable shoes!!!
Enjoy :-)

oldlaundbooth Mon 11-Apr-16 19:53:26

We stayed here

It was really good. Big rooms, near to the subway, only 5 stops to Times Square. Plus lots of interesting stuff to do nearby too - less touristy.

oldlaundbooth Mon 11-Apr-16 19:54:13

It'll be great in NYC in December - just before Christmas!!

MrsK Mon 11-Apr-16 19:58:09

Thank you, so, many replies already. I really appreciate your tips & taking the time to reply. Thank you also for confirming my fears about leaving accommodation to the last minute.

Sidge, you are right what was I thinking 😏? It's a whirlwind weekend I'm not going to be spending much time in the room am I.

Time to speak to Mr K, I think

feltcarrot Mon 11-Apr-16 20:03:46

Would second Grimaldi's pizzeria in Brooklyn and Ellen's Stardust Diner is good fun with singing waiters.
DH and I went early December and went to see The Rockettes Christmas Show at Radio City which was very kitsch, skating at the base of the Rockefeller building and or the Wollman Rink not to be missed in December!
Have fun, I would love to go back!

bloodypassword Mon 11-Apr-16 20:07:24

It's already been recommended but another vote for Ellen's Star Dust diner

We stayed at the Sanctuary Hotel which was awesome. Great staff. Not pretentious and good value.

Sidge Mon 11-Apr-16 20:15:29

MrsEric See I preferred ESB in the daytime and TOTR at night - when it's dark and the lights are out both are amazing but at night you don't get the elevation that you will at the top of the ESB grin

We walked the HighLine which was lovely, and lots of quirky little stalls selling stuff which was far nicer (and cheaper!) than the shops.

Definitely need comfortable shoes! We walked 12.5 miles one day...

MrsEricBana Mon 11-Apr-16 20:36:49

Yes Sidge good point! I guess if there for only 3 days bit much to do both in which case would be ESB for me all the way.

MrsK Mon 11-Apr-16 20:50:31

Thank you, I am making notes of all your recommendations. Thank you also for the links. Comfy shoes, definitely. I learnt my lesson spending a day walking round Disney in Birkenstocks my Achilles never recovered.

I can't wait, I wonder if we'll get snow?

Noofly Mon 11-Apr-16 21:05:49

We just got back from New York on Saturday.. We stayed in a one bedroom suite at the Shelburne Affinia and loved it (2 children so we need more space). When I was growing up I went to New York at least once a month but this was my family's first time.

If you want to go up to the Crown at the Statue of Liberty, keep a close eye for your dates opening up as they sell out very quickly.

If you want something a bit different to do, look into the vertical tour at St John the Divine. Fantastic!

Be very wary of renting an apartment. The vast majority are illegal (short term rentals are generally not allowed in apartment buildings) no matter how legit they may seem on Air BnB and the City is really cracking down on them.

Juliana's is better than Grimaldi's for pizza in Brooklyn and is conveniently located right next to it so you can see which line is shorter. wink

MadamDeathstare Tue 12-Apr-16 23:54:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SandyisinCaldwell Wed 13-Apr-16 13:18:46

Sidge: Are the New York Passes worth the money then? I'm going in September for 5 days and have been looking a the passes.

Sidge Wed 13-Apr-16 14:23:07

Sandy I would say definitely. Mine cost £79 (about $110) and covered 5 attractions (you can get more or less, I think it's 3, 5, 7 or 10) which individually would have been $30 dollars upwards. We did the Hop On-Hop Off bus which would have been $64 alone.

I got mine from Viator, downloaded it to my phone and it was easy to use.

TeaBelle Wed 13-Apr-16 14:30:00

If you're going to use the subway then I would recommend getting a 5 day pass as it saves so much money. When using the subway, work out your route before going through the turnstiles as once you have paid there seem to be no more maps! It is a little confusing at first but so easy once you get the hang of it.

If you just want to see the iconic things at the natural.history museum (dh just wanted to see the dinosaurs), admission is free an hour before closing time.

The public library is so interesting and runs free tours daily - the architecture is amazing

MrsEricBana Wed 13-Apr-16 14:50:36

Ooh yes re the New York Public Library - right on Bryant Square and by Grand Central Station (wow architecture) and it has the REAL Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Kanga originally owned by A.A.Milne. Free and just utterly charming.

bojorojo Wed 13-Apr-16 23:05:51

I think NY can be quite busy in December with Christmas shoppers. Can you not book a hotel with the flight? We liked the Soho Grand last time we went but we chose SOHo de,I berate,y as we had it stayed in that area before. The weather can be very cold in December so although you may be out a lot, you do want a sanctuary to come back to. Breakfasts are universally expensive in NY hotels so to save money you can go out to a coffee shop. The underground is cheap but universally revolting, old and clunky. Very poor live info on trains as well - none on some stations. It is very retro. Either choose a hotel near the attractions you want to see or take taxis!

We thought Macy's was like a jumble store the last time we went. The up-market stores on 5th Avenue are more fun. Lots of quirky shops in SoHo and Greenwich Village. It's a different world down there. Cobbled streets and much smaller buildings. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is fun and the Woolworth Building is like a cathedral office block! We did't like the memorial to 9/11. Dark and thought provoking - the bottomless pits are very poignant. Not a fun trip!

Art galleries such as MoMa and the Guggenheim are great. We also thought the Met was amazing but expensive. Works well with a trip to Central Park though. The skating rink there is lovely. Top of the Rock is great and the Empire State is still iconic, as is Central Station. You would never get me inside Trump Tower these days! Ellis Island is also interesting but don't go up the Statue of Liberty. Just sail by!

There are restaurants everywhere. I never really like the touristy ones. Many neighbourhood ones are great.

bojorojo Wed 13-Apr-16 23:09:18

Sorry - deliberately as we had not stayed in that area before.

SandyisinCaldwell Mon 18-Apr-16 13:21:48

Sidge: thanks for your response. How long are the tickets flexible for? I'm there for 5 days so do you put the first day you arrive?

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 18-Apr-16 13:26:12

We went up the new tower here - was amazing! I booked literally just before and though it was not cheap it's comparable to the other skyscrapers and is very well done.

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