While Grand Central station is a must see in itself there is quite a quirky feature that people should experience.
The archway outside the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant creates a neat trick with sound. Simply stand in one corner of arch and whisper something into the wall. A friend who is standing diagonally across from you in the other corner will hear you as if you were standing next to them.
Largest Catholic church in the US.
Perfect to get away from the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue. Seen famous funerals in past such as Robert Kennedy's.
Bicycle - this is one of the best ways to see NYC. There are a lot of bike friendly areas, like Central Park, Hudson River Park bicycle path, Brooklyn Bridge. These company offers nice bicycles for hire. We chose a bike tour in NYC. These guys showed us best places in New York and it was a lot of fun. So for those who like cycling - i strongly recommend this company, they located just one block from Central Park.
I tried public tours and while they are cheaper, a private tour is much more personalised and inclusive. The group size is small and limited to friends (or family). Their New York City walking tours are pretty comprehensive yet leisurely.
It's in an excellent location not far from Union Square with trendy cafes within 100 meters. Rooms are ensuite and a lot more effort put in to the overall quality of the hostel than you will generally find in all of NYC hostels.
NYC vacation rental market is swamped with blatant scams. It is safer to stick to airbnb.com or roomorama.com when looking for an apartment for short-term stay. Craigslist might still have the best bargains though, if you've got the time and patience to hunt for them. In order to weed out the scams, stick to two simple rules: after you've made contact with the person offering a place for rent, ask the magic question: "With all the scammers out there, could I please send a local friend over to take a look at the place before booking?" (doesn't matter if you really have anyone there who could go over, no reply = scammer). Second, do not pay anyone anything in advance unless there is a way to reverse the transaction (read: PayPal only). Anyone requesting full stay's rent plus a huge deposit in advance via bank transfer or money order is a scammer, and they're most likely using photos and descriptions stolen from legit real estate ads.
A two week intensive in drawing, painting or sculpture led by artists of renown. The Drawing Marathon transformed my studio practice and brought art back to the center of my life. I went deeper and farther in two weeks than I had in years.
This is a gem. My daughter and I have spent many delightful Saturday afternoons in this brilliant little theatre. Originally built by by Oscar Hammerstein it's an enchanting space off of Time Square, on 42nd. The shows are eclectic, funny, informative, and cultural courtesy of traveling companies from all over the world, including the UK. A must see for anyone visiting with children!
The exterior was used as the HQ of the Ghostbusters in both films. As fans it was only right to go and find it. The firehouse isn't mentioned in the movie tours around NYC, so we set off to find it walking from lower Manhattan and going straight up Broadway and then turning left onto White St, West Broadway and then North Moore St. It was just sitting there waiting to have its picture taken!
Nearest station would be the Franklin Street subway.
14 N. Moore Street
Google map: tinyurl.com/ybw52mj
Cocktail bar in Lower East Side. AMAZING cocktails, including ones made with house-infused vodkas in various flavours. Has a nice zinc top bar for that classic NY cocktail bar experience. The bartender was really friendly, and we even got some lovely aperitifs on the house to go with our drinks.
Make sure you don't miss it though - we initially thought it was shut, as there is just a small sign and you have to go downstairs to get to it! Incidentally we also ate at one of it's sister restaurants, Schillers, which was also lovely.
281 Lafayette St
Bar on Houston St in New York. A really nice little bar with a great atmosphere. Make sure you go up the stairs and not to the bar below, which is a completely different place! We went in happy hour (around 6pm-8pm I think), which was cheap cocktails and 2-4-1 on draught beers (and good ones at that - try the Brooklyn white or pilsner). The best thing was that here Happy Hour stipulates that you MUST have two drinks each to benefit - brilliant, more beer! Also it's just down the road from Katz's deli so perfect for pre/post sandwich drinking. They also had cheap tacos on that night, which also looked pretty good, and they seemed to have various different food and drinks offers on each night of the week.
47 E Houston St
Girls have to give up a lot when they backpack in a thriving city like New York – think makeup, haircare, and comfortable beds! I can impart my sound knowledge and tips regarding female travel as well as recommending some good tricks when visiting the Big Apple!
You must leave any non-essentials behind. The last thing you want whilst away is trying to lug your heavy backpack from place to place, and struggling rather than enjoying the sights the city has to offer. If you must take makeup, take waterproof mascara and some lip gloss... that's it. Plus, New York has so many shops that you may have to end up posting things back home anyway.
Be savvy with the clothes you pack. Obviously make sure they are lightweight, but also things that can be worn in different ways are a good way to cut corners, I found long vests and tees that double up as little dresses very helpful. You will pick up lots of bits and pieces as you go round as there are so many little thrift stores, bookshops, and the more famous department stores to explore. Taking favourite jewellery or accessories is a definite no-no.
Also make sure you try out the sprawling subway network, but make sure to plan your route carefully so that at no point during the stay you find yourself in the dark on your own in an area you don't know.
This hostel is the only all-girls hostel in New York and is perfectly located right next to Central Park, with bags of the ‘New Harlem’ spirit and character you would expect for the area. Its main draw is the ideal location, you can easily get the express trains to most places in Manhattan from here as well as take a stroll around during the day.
With an antractive pink front door, this brownstone hostel blends in with the surroundings and neighboring houses. Inside the interior is simple and fresh and there are loads of opportunities to meet other female backpackers in the evenings when you are back from sightseeing.
Two ideas to budget in NYC on holiday:
1. You can get tickets to see TV recordings for free i.e. for Ricki Lake. You need often to apply early though.
2. On the same day, head down to Time Square and the TKTS booth and get theatre tickets half price.
TKTS Booth, 46th st & Broadways
The museum's name speaks for itself I think. Basically it's guided small tours around re-created tenement rooms. Really worth a visit. If you've been to the Dennis Severs house in London you'll get the idea.
It is a website which I read about in an article on this site. It has apartments or rooms to rent all over NYC. I rented a fab studio in Greenwich Village for $150 a night through them (how cheap?!) The owner was very helpful and nice - he even contacted me after we left to say I had left $50 in the studio and sent it back to me! Owners don't get paid until after your stay so it is all safe and secure plus the website is nicely designed, easy to use. Highly recommended. The apartment I stayed in was called 'Famous Street' and I found it by searching for 'two people, whole apartment $150 max'. Only minor downside is that I couldn't find a way to search by area.
This is a great way to see the Park, but I beg you all to wear a cycle helmet at all times and to exercise every caution you would on the open road. The Park is frequented by extremely fast cyclists, who sorry to say, do not always obey the traffic signals or even the most basic safety rules. People are killed and injured here every year by speeding cyclists. My 15-year-old daughter was hit from behind by a speeding cyclist and sent flying over the handlebars last summer in the Park, despite the fact that she was cycling in the designated bike lane, in a perfectly safe and orderly manner. The cyclist who knocked her off was admittedly concussed, but he started telling the attending police and paramedics that she had been the one who caused the collision, because she had ‘come out of nowhere!’ Luckily, other cyclists who had witnessed the incident stopped and gave their version of events, so we heard no more, but it was a very unpleasant experience and the speeding cyclist had to be taken to hospital. Also, if you are a pedestrian using a crossing in Central Park, be aware that cyclists seldom heed the crossing signals – quite often they are simply going too fast to stop. Use your ears and eyes to cross safely. Part of the problem is that not for nothing was Manhattan named the island of hills by American Indians. There are quite a few hilly parts in the Park and bikes can reach a fair old speed when going downhill. Please don’t be put off – this a fabulous cycle ride – but don’t assume that you are ‘safer’ in the Park and relax your guard!
For anyone on a budget, taking the train across America is ideal. We paid about £650 from NYC to LA, via Toronto, Chicago, Seattle and SF, and you can stop off for as long as you like in your chosen stops!
Because it's America, the space you get on the trains is immense compared to the UK and on certain legs of the journey you get your own cabin with panoramic windows to watch the world go by (and a free little bottle of bubbly upon arrival!)
The longest leg of our journey was approx. two days through the beautiful flat plains of the Midwest with the occassional ranch and small town thrown in for good measure, followed by the beautiful Rockies, where we even saw a few wild animals!
All your food is included in the price of your fare - staff come knocking on your cabin door to take reservations and at your alloted time you make your way to the dining carriage. If you're travelling alone or in a couple you'll share a table with other passengers.... although we're a bit British sometimes and don't like awkward small-talk, this actually was a lot of fun! One night we shared a table with a sweet Midwest school teacher (v. talkative) and a toothless trucker (not so talkative!) Priceless!
If you haven't been to Central Park before and love bike riding, rent a bike and explore the park yourself. I found this company on Google - you can choose bike rentals or bike tours, price is good and the service is very nice.
In New York the best value sightseeing tour is that relaxing Circle Line boat trip around Manhattan Island. For just $34 those aboard get to see it all with great commentary. Remember: sit on the left (or port for more seasoned voyagers) side of the boat!
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