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New York City guide

Enjoying everything New York City has to offer during a short trip is a myth. NYC, a city forever in flux, is impossible to “see” in one visit. In four days you can see only the best of the best. Even that is hard to accomplish without a good plan.

When to go

I went there somewhere late June. I didn’t plan it, it just happened. See more on how I ended up in New York here.

The best time to visit New York City is from April to June and September to early November. The weather is warm and pleasant but the tourist crowds are not overwhelming. The cheapest time to visit New York is on weekends from mid-January to the end of February.

Where to stay

Do you have some time on your hands? Then look for bargains.

If not, after staying in Brooklyn and after doing a lot of metro rides, if I had to choose again I would stay right in Times Square; literally a block away from all the lights and billboards. Location is queen when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.  After a quick look for some options, I do believe that the Intercontinental New York Times Square is a good choice. Didn’t stay there tho’.

What to use to move around

I took the Hop-on Hop-off bus tours for the whole duration of my stay. Not sure if I would do that again, to be honest. so much time lost in traffic…

I also bought the 7-day pass, because… Brooklyn. Yes, I got lost a few times, but that’s part of the fun! Like I said in my previous post about New York, people there are nice. You’ll get a hang of the system eventually, and there’s a great app to help you get around called Transit.

And I also had a rented car because a day was planned for Washington, one for Niagara Falls and one for The Hamptons. I know, lots of ways, but we were three people with different scopes and this is what suited us all.

Guide sites

In general, I group sites together based on their location in order to save my time walking and using public transportation. This will keep me from spending unnecessary time on the subway and from backtracking through the city.

 Day 1

The Flatiron building is located at the intersection of Broadway and 5th avenue on 23rd street in Midtown Manhattan, about 10 blocks south of the Empire State Building.  If you want to get a good photo of the Flatiron building that captures all of its architectural design, your best chance is to crouch down at the southern end of “Flatiron Plaza” just north of the building to get the view that shows both the 5th Avenue and Broadway sides of the building.

Head on the 34th Street with a New York iconic place: head to the Empire State Building. Check the main and top deck and take advantage of our high-powered binoculars to get a closer look at the city. you will have to pay around $58 for both.

Stroll up 5th Avenue past the lion guardians of the New York Public Library and step inside. Admission is free, with the exception of some lectures that require advanced tickets to attend. You can also sign up for one of the free tours to get more information on the history and layout of the building.

Located at the intersection of Park Avenue and 42nd Street (89 E. 42nd Street, to be exact!), Grand Central Terminal is a transportation hub and an architectural wonder. It’s open daily from 5:30 AM to 2:00 AM and it’s almost always a contact sport since it’s one of the busiest train stations in the world, with approximately 750,000 visitors every day. But it’s totally worth it!

Move on to the Chrysler Building, an art deco stunner. You will find it at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue in the Turtle Bay neighbourhood of Manhattan.

Make your way to the Rockefeller Center and be sure to check the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.  This might fill your day until dusk, a good time to walk south on 7th Avenue toward the bright lights of Times Square. By the way, this is a spot worth to be seen day and night so be sure you add the Times Square on another day too.

Day 2

Set off in search of history via ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. An early start helps you beat the crowds, and after a thorough visit, complete with guided tours, you can expect to return six hours later.

If you just want a quick peek, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is one of New York City’s best free things to do. During this ride, you have great views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline. This will take around 1h.

It really depends on you how much time you want to spend there.

Back in Manhattan, head to the One World Trade Center.

One World Trade Center is the sixth tallest building in the world and the tallest building in the western hemisphere. This skyscraper stands next to the footprints of the original World Trade Center buildings that were destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

From here, you have awesome views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey.

After your visit to the One World Observatory, head to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, an 8-acre park where the World Trade Center Twin Towers once stood. This moving site centres on two dramatic waterfalls and reflecting pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers described as “large voids, open and visible reminders of the absence.” Move on and visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I will be honest with you: it was a very emotional experience. This place was unreal, it is really moving and overwhelming.

Find your way to the Oculus: a futuristic piece of architecture with a WOW factor that sits right next to the 9/11 Memorial. This slice of visual wonder was designed by Santiago Calatrava and was designed to symbolize a dove.

Now it’s time to head for the Battery Park (named Battery Park for the old batteries (cannons) that defended the city) and just relax. Take a photo with the famous bull and then head to Wall Street.

Day 3

I don’t know about you, but I could live in an art museum. Start your day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You could easily spend a whole day here, but you’ll exhaust yourself if you do. Check the current exhibitions on the MET’s website and pick a few. General admission tickets include exhibitions and are valid for three consecutive days if you are lucky enough to spend more days here.  Just behind the museum lies beautiful Central Park, where you can collapse onto a bench, rowboat, or meadow and watch the world go by.

If you still have time I have another great museum that is a must visit: The Guggenheim Museum. The cylindrical museum (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) is considered one of the 20th century’s most important architectural designs. It’s my second favourite building in New York, after the Chrysler Building.

Day 4

Brooklyn is becoming one of New York City’s hot spots to visit. With historic neighbourhoods, a fabulous food scene, and some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline- don’t miss adding this to your itinerary.

Start your day in Williamsburg, a wonderful neighbourhood with boutique shops and restaurants. Then, take a ferry to go to Dumbo and the Brooklyn Bridge. Enjoy one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline.

Start and end the day with a walk over the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. If you go crazy early inthe morning you may get it less crowded.

Don’t forget to…

…wander. Do what many New Yorkers like to do on their days off. Even if you have a schedule don’t be caught up in it. Relax and feel the vibe of the city.

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