Corina, one of our lovely training executives, took a long to trip to the Big Apple last year and we decided as our in house expert that she would be perfect to recommend the best sights and tours of the city. Here is her account of an amazing trip:
‘What can I say about New York? “It’s awesome” doesn’t quite cut it!
My husband and I decided that a long holiday was in order after a very busy year. Deciding on where to go wasn’t the problem; we both knew New York was where we wanted to be. Having been on a 5 day trip the previous year we’d already had a taste of the city and wanted more. Saying this if you are considering your first trip to the Big Apple, then 5 days is more than enough to see all the main sights.
As we’d already been to the city we decided we wanted to see as much as we possibly could and so booked for 3 weeks, from mid-August through to September. We flew with Virgin Atlantic, from London Heathrow to JFK, and decided to go for the premium economy seats. I have to say I was very impressed with the smoothness of the journey, we were first off the plane and first to collect our bags. The meals were also delicious and served on china plates – certainly a break from the normal plastic trays!
Whilst we were in NYC, the weather was quite hot to say the least. But don’t let that put you off as almost everywhere is air-conditioned – even the subway system (London underground take note). This brings me to my first suggestion, Metro Cards. Highly recommended if you want to get around the city (by bus, train or subway) and into the local boroughs. You can get them from most new stands/kiosks or the subway stations. It’s an inexpensive way to get to most places without taking a cab each time. Although you have to do it at least once while you’re there; hailing a taxi cab, by whistling and waving your arm from the middle of the street, gives you a slight feeling of being in a movie. Well, it certainly did for me.
To start off your trip, I’d suggest booking one of the sightseeing bus tours. There’s no better way of getting your bearings, plus it gives you some great photo opportunities. The best one, in my opinion, is the Freestyle New York, which is a 72hr hop on, hop off bus tour with 3 routes, plus a night tour and also includes entry to 3 top attractions of your choice. Remember to take a jacket with you if you decide to take the night time tour as it can get quite chilly – but well worth including, as New York at night is stunning.
As well as a tour bus you can also see the city by water. One of the best trips to take is a 2 hour Semi Circle Cruise, which takes you through uptown Manhattan past all the big sights (twice), which includes the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge and many more. It’s also a relaxing way to see a lot in a short space of time.
Places I’d recommend you visit:
Coney Island: Take a stroll down the promenade and soak up the surroundings and smell of the ocean, before stopping off for a world-famous Nathan’s hot dog and a beer. The fun fair here is incredible but isn’t open all year round, so a visit to it’s neighbour the New York Aquarium is a worthy substitute. The island is in southern Brooklyn but is accessible via train or bus.
Bronx Zoo: Well worth the journey. It takes a while to get there on the bus from Midtown Manhattan, but you do get to see some of the neighbourhoods and boroughs that you wouldn’t get to see usually. The zoo has many parts to it and will keep you entertained for the whole day. Get there early and if possible, pre-book your tickets; the queues can get a little long and pretty tedious if travelling with little ones.
9/11 Memorial Park: An incredibly moving piece of recent history the Americans have built to remember their friends, families and cherished ones, which I would recommend going to see if you can. The waterfalls have a solemn peacefulness to them; the water trickles and splashes calmly as people walk around touching the names of those to be remembered, etched into the metal never to be forgotten. We didn’t see the completed “Freedom Tower” before we left, but could already tell that it would become another beautiful landmark of the city. The 9/11 memorial park is included in the New York Explorer Pass should you want to book in advance.
Radio City Music Hall: If you can get to see a show, gig or musical appearance here it’s not something you’d want to miss. Connected to the NBC studios and Rockefeller Plaza area, you can spend the day wandering the many shops and flagship stores, see a show and take the studio tour, ice-skate in winter or sip cool refreshing drinks in the cafe in the summer.
Rockefeller Center: Far superior to the Empire State building. Yes, I said it! I know the Empire State Building is iconic, but for the views you can get – and thinking of those photographs – the scenery and sights from the Rockefeller Center are much more iconic. Looking north, you have Upper Manhattan and Central Park. To the south, Lower Manhattan and the Empire State. You can get the shot that has been made famous around the world. If you’re interested in visiting the Rockefeller Center then a guided tour is also included in the New York Explorer Pass.
Will I be going back to New York again? No doubt about it! There will always be a special place in my heart for the Big Apple. I’d recommend it to everyone to at least give it a go. For a few days, it’s something you’re not likely to experience elsewhere. It’s New York, baby! Yeah!’
If you think a trip to the Big Apple might be on the cards, there is a fantastic range of New York holidays on the Travel Republic site, as well as a great selection of New York tickets and attractions.