Ok, I admit that in Part I of this series on things to do in New York City I might have focused a little on food… so I’m going to change it up. This post is all about taking in the sights, rather than the tastes of my favourite city – New York.
6. Go shopping at weird and wonderful places
Just like London, shopping in New York City is AMAZING. Unfortunately though, our backpacks won’t hold much more and even if they did, we can’t afford to buy anything on our measly budget.
But in New York City, this doesn’t matter because simply window shopping is exciting enough. And there are some great places to do it.
If you’re after vintage clothing, Williamsburgh in Brooklyn has some great stores. But if department store shopping, or designer labels are more down your street, then you have to walk down the famous Fifth Avenue and check out all the boutiques.
The original Tiffany’s and Co. is on Fifth Avenue and because Dave bought my engagement ring from their sister store in London, I’m due a tour of the jewellers above the store! But as luck would have it, I’m not travelling with my ring nor my certificate because of safekeeping so the tour will have to wait until next time.
But what I did get to tour was the shop Evolution. Located on Spring Street, this is more like a museum than a shop.
You can buy real baby fetuses in jars, human skulls and numerous stuffed animals.
I think I walked through the entire store in amazement, muttering to myself ‘only in America’.
It was something else.
7. Go up the Empire State… at night
If you’re on Fifth Avenue to look at the shops, make sure you go up the Empire State Building. It’s a little bit of cliché, I know, but well worth it.
We went up the building at night time and it was just magical. It gave us goose bumps to see the lights of New York City stretching for miles.
It’s truly the city that never sleeps and if to prove it, the Empire State is open every day of the year until 2am. On the weekends you can enjoy a live jazz band as you take in the view.
It costs $25 for an adult ticket, which is a little pricey, but it’s something you have to do when in New York.
8. Experience Brooklyn
I previously mentioned the shopping being great in Brooklyn, and the cafes and bars are too.
After a day of walking for miles around Manhattan, Dave and I went back to where we were staying in Brooklyn and decided to visit a local bar.
We were staying a beautiful Air BnB apartment, one of the accommodations I mentioned we’d be using on the trip, and our hosts recommended checking out a bar called The Narrows.
We would never have found it if we hadn’t been told where it was because the bar is housed behind a non-descript door without a sign.
You enter the dimly lit bar into a narrow room (hence the name) and can drink a number of delicious cocktails to your hearts content. The bartenders really know their stuff and the food is delicious too.
You can find the bar on Flushing Ave.
One thing we didn’t do in Brooklyn which I would’ve loved to have done is to ride bikes around the neighbourhood. Many of the locals get around by bike, being the hippy-like place Brooklyn is, and it’s one of the best way to see the sites.
New York City has city bikes you can hire from street corners, so I figure it’d be quite easy to do.
Brooklyn really reminded me of Shoreditch in London, only cooler.
9. Visit the 9 / 11 memorial – and the church across the street
You can’t visit New York City without thinking about 9/11. Walking through the city’s streets and looking up at all the skyscrapers around you, it’s difficult to imagine them falling down. The buildings look so powerful and strong and yet they fell.
Words can’t even describe how awfully scary it must’ve been for those both in the Twin Towers or nearby on 11th of September 2001.
It’s hard to believe that it was nearly 12 years ago that it happened, because I can remember it like it was yesterday. I’m sure everyone can recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.
We visited the 9/11 memorial when we were in New York and it was impressive. You have to purchase your tickets (via a donation – if you give more than $10 you get a memorial wristband) in advance at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site at 20 Vesey St.
When you get your tickets, you are given a time to come back and see the memorial. While you’re waiting, I really recommend going into the St Paul’s Chapel which is just over the road from where the Twin Towers once stood.
Dave and I nearly didn’t go in, dismissing it as just another church. But I’m so glad we did because inside they’ve dedicated large sections of the chapel to remembering the victims of 9/11 and those who fought to help save them.
It’s amazing that the chapel didn’t collapse when the towers fell. I don’t believe in God but it’s hard to understand why the chapel didn’t get demolished – apparently a large tree fell over the chapel and protected it when the first tower came down.
The 9/11 Memorial itself is also very moving. The waterfalls they have placed on the site of the two towers are beautiful, and all around them are the names of those who died.
One engraving really stopped me in my tracks. It was a woman’s name and then next to it read ‘and her unborn child’. I imagined what her husband must’ve felt that day. So sad.
10. Don’t forget to look up at the beautiful architecture
In New York City, it’s easy to get swept up in what’s happening on the streets but make sure you look up as much as possible.
There is some beautiful architecture to be found all around the city but to appreciate it you need to look to the skies most of the time.
Thanks to the New York City tourism board, NYCgo, that gave us a complimentary city pass so we could explore all that New York City had to offer. As always, our views are our own.