Visiting the Big Apple: An Insider’s Guide

by Jules on April 26, 2011

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple can sometimes seem like biting off more than you can chew, but with cheap New York flights available you can get there; it’s such an iconic place that making sure you see the best of it can be an overwhelming task.

The vibe

New York is the definition of cool, and as it attracted over 48 million tourists in 2010 alone it is also a city with nothing to prove. Boasting some of the world’s most recognisable landmarks, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular destination.

Add to that the fact that we see New York City regularly in films and on television and the city’s appeal grows even bigger still.

New Yorkers are notoriously ambitious straight talkers, and the hustle and bustle of the city is part of its charm. Although it welcomes visitors with open arms, it’s far from a tourist trap city. When you take a trip to New York you feel part of the action, like a temporary New Yorker, rather than a mere spectator.

What to see

New York’s most recognisable landmarks and attractions include Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and, of course, the Statue of Liberty.

Many of these New York landmarks form part of its spectacular skyline, and skylines are normally best seen from a distance. Helicopter tours can be taken in NYC and are a great way to take in everything from an amazing perspective.

If flying is not for you then a boat tour down the Hudson River is another great way to take in the New York skyline, as well as the Lady Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Staten Island.
Culture vultures will enjoy the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) with its wide range of famous works; including masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Picasso and Monet.

A stroll around Central Park is a must, no matter what the weather, and the bright lights of Times Square and Broadway are a real spectacle come nightfall.

New York is also infamous for its shopping opportunities, with world famous department stores Macy’s and Bloomingdales, and the oldest toy store in the US, FAO Schwartz. Like everything else in New York, the city does shopping on a big scale, so make sure you pack your credit card

Where to sleep

New York is full of amazing accommodation options, and whatever your tastes you won’t be disappointed. Americans pride themselves on good service, and nowhere more so than in the Big Apple.

Those who simply have to stay in the most happening locations should check out the Casablanca Hotel. Slap bang in the middle of the bright lights of Times Square, this hotel has the hottest address in the city.

Comfortable rooms and a friendly café add to the Casablanca’s appeal, and it’s a very popular choice with tourists.

For a cool, minimalist hotel with quirky touches, the Distrikt Hotel fits the bill. This hotel has clean, cool rooms in a monochrome colour scheme, amazing views including views of the iconic Chrysler building, as well as a few little surprises up its sleeve; it’s definitely worth considering.

Some travellers, however, simply have to stay in one of New York’s iconic hotels. The ones that we’ve seen in the movies and dreamt of visiting one day.

In that case, the big three are The Waldorf Astoria, The Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons Hotel. You should nevertheless expect to have to pay the price if you want the full experience.

Where to eat

From pizza to pancakes, New Yorkers love their food. Throw yourself into a New York food experience first off with a traditional diner breakfast.

Walk into any New York diner and you’ll find the slightly odd combination of pancakes, syrup and bacon on the menu, all washed down with a bottomless cup of strong coffee.

For lunch, New York pizza is a must. A real passion in the city, good pizza is taken seriously. Lombardi’s on Spring Street is meant to be one of the best places to get a whole ‘pie’.

Dinner is all about the steak, and Frankie and Johnnie’s does a mean one with amazing fries.

For dessert, head to Magnolia bakery, of Sex and the City fame, and pick up a box of Red Velvet cupcakes to take back to your hotel. Although not great for your waistline they’re sure to make you very popular with your travelling companion.

Whoever you visit New York with, you’re sure to have an amazing time and find yourself bitten by the Big Apple bug and eager to return.

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