To celebrate my 21st birthday, I went to New York last week for 5 days and it was amazing. It was my first time in New York (America for that matter) and the huge hype of the Big Apple did not disappoint.
6 ladies made the trip- my cousin, mum and aunties. With my recent trips, I’ve always planned the itinerary prior to arriving but this time it was all taken care of by my auntie who had been in the last couple of years. Hallelujah. Hopefully, this blog post can help anyone if they are looking for some recommendations!
We flew from Edinburgh Wednesday- Sunday/ Monday with United Airlines. Bearing in mind we went the 2nd week in October… it was soo hot (27degrees), humid and rained once on the Sunday- which was actually quite a relief. This went against everyone’s recommendations of how cold New York would be at this time of year. (The locals did say this was unusual)
We started off with a night cruise which I would 100% recommend. It sets off about 7pm and was perfect to hear about the history of the island as well as seeing the skyline lit up. The company was Circle Line and it was the Harbor Lights tour.
The best way to see everything is on the bus tour. We used Big Bus Tours, New York and used the red route. It is great to just drive around the city and listen to some of the history behind it. We had it for 2 days and I noticed that they have a lot of buses in different cities so I would definitely use the company again. The bus trip allowed us to hop off near the Rockefeller, One World Observatory (which is next to 9/11 memorial and museum), Trump tower etc.
The two amazing shows we went to see were Anastasia and Kinky Boots. We all love our musicals but this exceeded the high expectations we already had!
Central park really surprised me and I could have spent all day there. I knew it was huge but I did not realise how much there was to actually see and do in the park so it was helpful to have a guided tour around it. Unlimited Biking provided the tour and guide- we had Daniel who was lovely and certainly knew his stuff!
One thing I had planned to do was a helicopter ride but we heard such mixed reviews about it. The minimum to pay for a 15-minute trip was $190. If anyone has any recommendations to try I would love to hear them! I feel like with the Top of the Rock and World Observatory we managed to see the city from above anyway.
Shopping was good on 5th avenue. I can understand why people go with empty suitcases… My group of girls all got Tiffany necklaces for their 21st and I was the last to celebrate mine. They had decided that it would be nice for me to get mine there so it was lovely as the Tiffanys was like a heavenly museum. I could have spent a lot of time and money!
Ellen’s Stardust Diner was out of this world and where I spent my birthday breakfast! I had the fruit pebble pancakes and raspberry cava and the service and atmosphere was brilliant. It really is like the movies that there is always a waiter/ waitress bursting out into song on top of the tables.
Seans Bar & Kitchen was along the road from our hotel, across from Rockefeller centre and in between our hotel and 5th Avenue. It was a nice Irish bar, the breakfast was great and the staff were lovely.
Johns pizza. We went to the Times Square restaurant as we randomly picked it while walking the streets. It wasn’t until after we went we realised there was such a hype for it- their original one is in Greenwich village and apparently worth the visit. It was great! Pizza is a must in NY and I’m currently craving it now as I should be sleeping but have the good old jet lag.
Sugar Factory was on my list of places to try for a cocktail. It was a bit further out and as we were going to see two musicals we did not have time to go at night. There was a smaller one near us at Times Square where we went but we did not try the amazing looking drinks!!
There are TGIS which we went to which is as fabulous for cocktails as they are in the UK and the food is a similar menu. I was told there was a Starbucks on pretty much every corner but it was only when we were needing a cuppa we couldn’t get a cafe for miles. You can always grab something from here or the plenty of Pret A Manger’s.
All the menus are like $15-25 for your average meal which is reasonable but note there is tax and compulsory gratuity which adds on about $15 to everything.
We stayed in the The Gallivant Times Square. The location is perfect here. On the doorstop to Broadway theatres and along the road from Times Square (of course), the Rockefeller and the bus stop for the bus tours. We were within walking distance to the pier for the boat trip, Central Park etc and got the hop on bus to get to the 9/11 area.
We were speaking about going a bit further out when we booked it but prices didn’t decrease by much and this one looked lovely. Again, look out for the small print when booking for additional taxes etc!
I took money out at an ATM in the hotel and there was only like a $2 charge and the exchange rate was pretty average so that was fine. Remember to apply for your ESTAs before you go to make sure you are allowed in the country!
I had an amazing time and I already cannot wait to plan to return to NYC.
Thanks for reading!