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Monday 12 October 2015

NYC- Highlights & Top Tips!

I'm back! I took three weeks off there for the holiday of a lifetime. Himself and I went Stateside and explored New York, Boston and as much of New England as we could fit in. This was actually a second honeymoon for us as when we got married I was too ill to leave the country and although we very much made up for it by staying in some of the most beautiful destinations in Ireland, we felt now was a good time to do something BIG to belatedly celebrate our nuptials. 
Himself actually planned the trip given his propensity for organisation so I can take zero credit for all the amazing things we did. Also, we spent a full week in New York and did some pretty cool stuff, which I could surely write several blog posts on but instead I'm condensing it into one. There'll be posts on Boston and New England to follow plus some beauty hauls (I *may have gone slightly mad in Sephora).

Statue of Liberty
I know this is an obvious one but she's such an iconic figure of the Big Apple that I couldn't wait to get to her! We booked our tickets for the ferry beforehand, HERE. There's usually fairly substantial amounts of people queuing for this and it was no exception for us but the line does move quickly. The boat stops at Liberty Island first, where you can either roam about the island, get to the podium or climb up into the crown (all dependant on which ticket you've booked. Bear in mind that if you want to book the crown you'll need to have organised it several months in advance). We booked the podium only and while we really enjoyed it, I'm not sure it added a huge amount to the experience. Being on the island alone would probably have been enough. It's a self-guided tour but audio guides are also available for no extra charge. The museum was interesting and overall, we absolutely loved seeing the statue. You can then wait for the next boat to either bring you to Ellis Island or back to the docks at Battery Park

The Highline
We actually did this as soon as we arrived and were settled into our apartment. The High Line is a public park, built on a historic freight line elevated above the streets of Manhattan's West Side. It's very cool. You get great views of the city as you walk through, with places to sit while looking at works of art along the way, food stalls and interactive exhibitions (we loved a lego exhibition that was full of people adding their own creations- check out ours below!). As it's a public park, it's free and is a great way to get some fresh air and see a different side of the city. I would 100% recommend this!

Central Park & The American Museum of Natural History
I'm putting these two together because they are right beside each other and it's easy to do both at the same time! Central Park is beautiful and is full of life; stalls, street performers, joggers, people with their kids, tourists etc but it still feels a bit calmer than the rest of the city and is a lovely place to relax. I've also included a photo of the John Lennon memorial, which is in Strawberry Fields.
We ended up spending most of a day in the Museum which was really interesting; there were current exhibitions of live tropical butterflies, spiders (shudder) and the secret ocean as well as the permanent exhibition….DINOSAURS!!!! You can see me below there cowering in fear. Ahem.
Admission starts at $22 (see HERE) but can be more expensive depending on what other things you want to see. I'd avoid the restaurant if you can; the food was fine but it was quite pricy for what it was.

We've both been to MoMA before but it's definitely worth a second visit. It's $25 each for entry but is free in between the hours of 4-8 on Friday afternoons (more of that below). MoMA is one of the best modern art museums either of use have ever been to and as well as the well known works from the likes of Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Hopper, Rothko, Dali, Kahlo, Lichtenstein and Pollock, you'll also find some more obscure contemporary art also. It is again, self-guided but there's really quite brilliant audio guides (you can see it in the photo below beside my gin cocktail!) 
You could easily spend a whole day here over the various floors and the gift shop is well worth a look too! Oh and the restaurant is excellent with a great view overlooking the garden. 
Plus, delish cocktails!

The Book of Mormon & Fool For Love
If you can, try and fit in a Broadway show. We went to two, musical (The Book of Mormon is hilarious) and a play, just to get the full New York theatre experience! Fool For Love was a brilliant Sam Shepard play, starring Sam Rockwell (of 7 Psychopaths fame). We loved them both- money well spent. After The Book of Mormon we went and searched out a Speakeasy bar in Chelsea, Bathtub Gin, which had been recommended to us (thanks again Áine!) where we had a great meal and delicious (but lethal drinks). Such a good night. 

30 Rock & Brooklyn Bridge
I'm putting these two together because if you're looking for stunning views of the city, this is where you want to be. I had on a previous visit to New York been to the Empire State building but we decided to go with 30 Rock as you can see the Empire State from its roof! Again, we booked online first and as I've mentioned below in the tips section- be prepared for queues! 
To get to the bridge, we took the subway to Brooklyn, walked for a couple of blocks and then crossed back to Manhattan. We went at nighttime so got some great views of the city all lit up but the bridge itself is architecturally quite beautiful so would be a great walk any time of the day really. Just make sure you stay out of the bicycle lane- I saw some tourists having their heads bitten off by angry cyclists!)

Ground Zero
This is a unique and striking memorial to those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks. I feel like this is a completely personal choice for whether to visit it or not but as we were nearby for the Satute of Liberty ferry anyway so we were able to see this also. Truthfully, this is a very moving and poignant place and reading all of the names of the deceased is upsetting; I left teary-eyed but was glad we had gone.

New York Public Library & Grand Central Station
Being book nerds there's no way we could have gone to New York and not visited their stunning library. This is free in and is well worth scouting out for the architecture alone. There's also a pretty cool little gift shop for those of us who adore books and their associated paraphernalia (I got my gorgeous copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's here. Love) as well as a quite moving photography exhibition downstairs (I cried in public for about the 70th time this year. Thanks, NYPL). Oh and on the path to the library there's the Library Walk, a celebration of the world's greatest literature-plaques depicting beautiful literary quotes.
Grand Central Station was just around the corner and we actually did get a train from there but it's also worth a look, purely for the architecture again. I was keeping an eye out for Serena Van Der Woodsen but no joy.

Sorry for all the library shots (not sorry at all)

  • Book as much as you can in advance to cut down on queues. This can be a risk weather-wise but generally it was worth it to save disappointment. Obviously some things are easier to book in advance- the theatre etc. We looked into buying New York Pass tickets but it actually worked out cheaper for us not to get them because of our schedule. They do seem to be quite cost effective in general though, so check them out before you go.
  • Look into Airbnb for accommodation. The city of New York is currently cracking down on illegal Airbnb rentals but there's still up to 25,000 available rentals and it is seriously cheaper than staying in any of the city's hotels, which are awfully expensive. The place we stayed in was clean, nicely decorated with all mod cons and close to a subway station, restaurants, grocery shops, bars etc.
  • Buy a weekly Metrocard for the Subway. We ended up using it a few times a day and it's a handy way to get about the city for a lot less than taxis and you'll be saving your feet!
  • Bring a hand sanitizer with you-you'll need it on the subway!
  • MoMA is free in on Friday afternoons but it didn't suit us time-wise. As we were leaving MoMA on Friday it was just time for the free admissions and it was already getting jammers. Uncomfortably so. If you like to have a bit of space to look at your art properly, it might be worth  not going for the free option!
  • There are often free events on in Times Square. One time we passed through they were broadcasting the opening night of the Met (with an operatic version of Othello) with lots of chairs out for people to sit down and take it in. 
  • Speaking of Times Square, avoid eating around there as it tends to be pricier and at times less of a unique dining experience.
  • Bring ID with you to bars. I'm on the dodgy side of 30 and still needed it. Grr.
  • The pre-made coffee in deli/gorcery stores is horrendous. Avoid.
  • You'll find your food options will involve a lot of meat, cheese and fried goods. Just embrace it, it's delicious. Also, NYC is expensive, for food and drink (in comparison to everywhere else we were on the East coast)
  • Prepare to queue to get to the top of 30 Rock- we had pre-booked tickets and were going out afterwards but thought we'd be fine time-wise. Wrong! The queues to get up and back down were impressive enough- this is especially true for peak times; sunset, night time etc.
  • As for beauty and clothing, because there's tax on everything you're better off buying things you can't get at home. This is hard for us beauty addicts in Sephora but it'll save you money in the long run!
  • On the topic of Sephora- make sure and get your loyalty card; you get gifts back when you spend a certain amount and you get a birthday gift! Hurrah!
  • It's still very warm at this time of year (that was two weeks ago, this will obviously be changeable) and if you're going in early Autumn, make sure and bring a light jacket/scarf with you for the evening. Bearing in mind you won't need it for the subway, which is like the 7th circle of hell, heat-wise.
  • Speaking of heat, try and stay down-wind of the bins on the street corners. They smell vile. 
An that's that! So while I could go on at length I'm going to leave it at there. Make sure and keep an eye on the blog for more American shenanigans! Who else LOVES New York as much as me?!

*I definitely did. There's no "may" about it.


  1. I've been hoping you'd do posts on your trip because I was obsessed with your snaps over there! Especially New England and Boston as I'd never been there and Salem looked amazing :) And now I can't wait for your Sephora haul!!

    1. Thanks K! I'll have posts on those coming up- I'm a bit sad going through the photos atm though, post holiday blues!

  2. This sounds so amazing Chloe - I can't wait to get back to the U.S.! Love all your tips and recommendations and also excited for the Sephora haul :)

    1. Thanks Emma! Yeah, I maaay have spent a bit too much in Sephora! Eep!

  3. I drank in every single Snap, Chloe & was hoping against hope this would be your first post. We fly out on Halloween & your Snaps were invaluable!!
    That being said, they put a serious goo on me for Boston & New England too. We're seriously considering Boston for March... My Bank Manager wants a word with you!! xx

    1. Thanks Sue! Oh you'll have such a great time! Can't wait to hear how you get on! xx

  4. Ah I want to go back there... So bad! Looks like an amazing trip! Loved the snapchats xx Siobhan

    1. Thanks Siobhan! I'd go back tomorrow if I could tbh!! Loved it! xx

  5. I've never been but I want to go NOW! These are brilliant tips so I'm saving this post! Can't wait for your Sephora haul! xx


  6. what a brilliant post. we went to new york on holiday when i was a child. i don't remember a lot about it tbh. i would just love to go back now, especially to see some broadway shows!can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip x

    1. Thanks Grace! Tbh, I'd go back tomorrow! Let's go together!!! :D xx

  7. I loved all your Instagram posts on your holiday, love all the pics here, the library!!!!

    1. Thanks Y! I know, the library was unreal!! Loved it!

  8. I thought I commented on this already! Brilliant post, I loved your snaps so much. Great travel tips as well!

    1. Thanks Sharon! I'm sure I've got more, just need to think about it ;)