This post was due a few weeks ago now but the weeks run ahead of me. We recently spent 3 packed days in New York so thought I’d share what we got up to with you all!
We booked all parts of our trip separately – flights, hotel, trips, transfers etc. We flew with Virgin Atlantic to JFK. We also pre-booked a lot of things as we found it saved money and time.
Day One – Saturday
After an almost 8 hour flight we arrived at JFK at around 1pm local time. We definitely weren’t prepared for the crazy long customs queue that greeted us though! It took us over 2.5 hours to clear customs in the end, so a tip is to be prepared to have to wait in line and also to have your fingerprints and mug shot taken at the border.
Once we finally got across customs and collected our baggage we went to get in line for our Go Airlink shuttle bus transfer – this was a shared transfer but luckily the other drop offs were nearby and we were the second stop so once we got through the initial traffic going into Manhattan it was pretty quick being dropped off, I’d recommend this option if you’re looking for inexpensive airport transfers and don’t mind waiting a little.
By the time we arrived at our hotel – Paramount Hotel – it was past 5.30pm! We booked the hotel through Expedia and got a great deal in advance. The hotel is quite basic and compact (as is apparently the norm in New York) but we found the location a very convenient base.
Times Square is quite noisy but we were so tired after running around each day that we barely noticed!
Paramount Hotel – Link
We got settled in quickly and headed straight out to collect our tickets for Aladdin the Musical that we had pre-booked to watch that evening (this was booked through the musicals website directly in advance). After we had a short window to grab some dinner so headed to the nearby Shake Shack for some burgers and cheese and bacon topped fries – would definitely recommend those yum! Aladdin the Musical was fantastic!
Once the Musical had ended we had a half hour window to get across town to New York Comedy Club – yes we were a little crazy to book two shows for our first evening but one of our favourite comedians, Gina Yashere, was performing that night only and we had to go! We booked an Uber and they were extra efficient out there, it was also surprisingly reasonable to get to and from the Comedy Club. The show consisted of Gina as the headline and a handful of other American comedians which we thoroughly enjoyed. Something we found odd about New York comedy was that all venue’s seemed to have a minimum drink spend per person which isn’t normal for London. If it wasn’t for Gina Yashere we probably would’ve saved this for our second night but a bonus was that it helped us get used to the timezone quicker by staying up late.
Day Two – Sunday
Up bright and early we grabbed some breakfast toasties from Dunkin Donuts and headed to the Citysights bus tours office to collect our 48 hour pass – you’ll see lots of bus tour companies touting you as you walk around but we booked in advance and got a great rate. This ticket also entitled us to one free visit to the LOL Comedy club during our stay too.
Tickets collected we headed to Top of The Rock next and went up to the observation deck. This was also booked in advance with Citysights which gave us a great price for Top of the Rock and Empire State combined. We had to go through airport style security to get in which I suppose is understandable. The views from the top were incredible! This was probably my absolute favourite activity we did in New York. There was plenty of space on the decks for hundreds of people to move around and take photos comfortably.
Skyline Combined Ticket – Link
We got some amazing shots up there and would definitely recommend doing one in the morning and the other (Empire State) in the evening for different views. Personally I think Top of the Rock was better for daytime as Central Park wouldn’t be seen very well at night which takes up 1/4 of the viewing span.
A few hours later we headed to the Intrepid Air and Sea Museum – this was Mr R’s biggest must-see thing! You probably could’ve spent hours and hours in this place if it was your cup of tea, full of planes, submarines and history. It kept him happy at least haha 🙂
We then headed back towards Times Square and jumped on our first Citysights bus tour all around uptown Manhattan – it was great that you could hop off when you wanted, explore and then jump back on if you wanted to or you could just see it all from the top of the bus. The audio tour guides were a bit hit and miss depending on who was talking but it was still interesting to see it all.
We saw the Empire State, the shopping districts,, Central Park, Harlem, the steps from Gossip Girl and jumped off near a Christmas shop – you all know how obsessed with Christmas I am so this was exciting to have a little look around!
We then found the famous The Halal Guys gyro vans near Fifth Avenue and had lamb wraps and rice – this was tasty! We ended up with lots of snacky foods in New York instead of sit down restaurants as we were short for time and wanted something quick to get going again – it worked well for us.
The Halal Guys – Link
Gyros eaten we grabbed some hot drinks from Starbucks (and had my first birthday cake cake-pop which I fell in love with!) and took a stroll towards Macy’s. Target was also one of my must-sees so we headed there too.
A little shopping later it was almost dark so we got in the queue for the Empire State building. I will note that we found this much less organised than the Top of The Rock entry system but the night time views with all the lights was stunning and so worth the visit. The viewing deck was also much smaller than Top of The Rock so we didn’t stay up there quite as long but managed to get some great photos!
Day Three – Monday
Up bright and early again we jumped on the bus tour downtown to Battery Park. We had pre-booked tickets for the Statue of Liberty which meant we could get in the pre-booked queue for the ferry which was a little shorter. A short ferry ride across to Liberty Island later we joined the queue to enter the Statue of Liberty – she was so much smaller in real life than I had expected! Crown entry tickets need to be booked months in advance which we did online.
Crown Tickets – Link
We took in the sights from inside the Statue of Liberty and then took the ferry again over to Ellis Island.
A few hours later we took the ferry back to Battery Park and took a stroll towards Wall Street. We stopped for lunch at Wogie’s Bar and Grill where they had this delicious dish called “garbage bread” – ignore the name it was so good!
We then walked up to the 9/11 Memorial which felt incredibly surreal and sobering.
We then jumped back on the sightseeing bus passing the Flatiron building and headed towards the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge.
We headed to City Kitchen for dinner that night, it’s an indoor food market near Times Square, which was lovely and had great big donuts for dessert!
Another quick dinner later we headed to the sightseeing night bus tour – that was by far my favourite bus tour, it took us all around downtown New York, over the Brooklyn Bridge and everything was lit up! We found the bus tours really handy for getting around quickly and the audio tours were mostly great.
Night tour over we stopped for a drink before heading back to our hotel. We were up bright and early the next morning again but this time to continue our adventure over to Mexico, but that’s for another post!
Lots of love