New York, New York, the city so good they named it twice.
But if you’re only going there once, it’s good to have a plan.
I’ve received a lot of questions lately asking about where to stay in NYC. Where’s best for sightseeing, where’s best for a first trip, when you’re travelling with a family and so on.
And most of that boils down to what you want to see and how happy you are to travel around the not-all-that-big-when-it-comes-to-it Big Apple.
One of the best things about Manhattan is that its grid-like structure with numbered road names makes it easy to work out where things are and how far you have to go to get there.
The worst thing is that that means you have to stop to cross the road every 20 seconds or so.
No problem for many, intensely annoying for some. In our marriage, it’s one of the few times that I get to be the Zen one who doesn’t mind at all, while Mr Travel Lab and our NYC mate fizzed and frazzled themselves every time WALK and DON’T WALK appeared.
It’s a moment I shall treasure, particularly the next time I’m in the Quiet Carriage on the train and someone opens a packet of crisps.
(In fact, that was short lived. I’m on the train right now and someone’s just done it while I’ve been typing. Arrgggh!!!! Petty problem hell!!! It’s even driven me to use multiple exclamation marks, a blasphemy of some kind around here.)
Anyway… I digress.
The grid-like system means that it’s very easy to work out where something is.
The subway system on the other hand is less clear. It’s almost enough to make you yearn for the colour-coded London Underground and definitely hot enough to make you yearn for a hot shower.
Those iconic yellow cabs can obviously also get you from A to B but it’s not always a given. I’ve been in several where I’ve had to give directions and ended up yearning for that shower anyway.
The ferries give some great views, as does a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge but I think I’m getting ahead of myself.
Most of the first time attractions are within walking distance if you have comfy shoes and, well, a slight sense of adventure.
If you have a fitbit, too, now’s the time to invite a friend to a challenge. You will be smug beyond your wildest dreams as your step count grows and grows.
Time Square, Macy’s, the Flatiron, Central Park, Carnegie Hall, the Chrysler Building, Museum of Modern Art, Trump Tower (!) and the Empire State Building all cluster roughly around the Midtown area.
For the Statue of Liberty, you’ll need to take a ferry. This ties in nicely with a trip south to Battery Park City where you’ll find Wall Street, new architectural stars like the Oculus, and the poignant 9-11 Memorial & Museum within reach.
If you have the energy (and time) you can also venture onto the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across to DUMBO, Brooklyn.
The area is a little more open here than on the rest of the island (apart from Central Park) so it’s another potential base to consider if you’re looking for somewhere to stay as a family.
But in essence, almost anywhere will be fine. The travel distances aren’t too great. But Midtown makes those top attractions easier, with a detour south for a few key highlights.
After that first visit? Well, then there’s plenty to talk about and lots of unusual things to see and do. Which I shall write more about soon ;-)
Until then, enjoy some of the best photos spots in New York over here.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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