New York Downtown

New York City – The Big, no… “HUGE” Apple

Sara Provenzano

Sara Provenzano is the Contributing Editor at Global Storybook (Italy).
You can read more about Sara here.

New York City is not just a Big Apple – New York City is a “Huge” Apple!  That’s the first thing that I thought while getting out of the PATH train station at 33rd street, on my very first day in New York, looking for the 777 8th St.

But let’s start from the beginning.  After years traveling all over Europe, Africa, Asia and Caribbean, I finally found the perfect moment to visit New York!  Since it was the first time visiting USA for me – it was a completely different trip, as I imagined.  When thinking of New York – we all picture the skyscrapers, the colors of the Central Park during the Fall season, the Christmas decorations and the thousands lights of the Times Square.

New York is a city for all seasons but it is especially worth visiting while it is not too cold outside, like in January-February.  So, since I had my vacation time in the beginning of September 2017, I said: YES, this is the right time!

Times Square

Times Square

And then I started planning my 14-day itinerary in the USA.  People often say that “X” amount of days in one place can be enough or not enough, according to own experience or simply because it’s just a custom.  As to myself – I’ve always thought that time is never enough while exploring new places.  That’s the reason why 10 out of my 14 days in the U.S. were spent in New York City.

Though, I also took a chance to go straight to Niagara Falls, right after landing in New York, so that I wouldn’t waste time and money planning it in the middle of the trip, and then to Philadelphia and Washington on my last 2 days in the country.

After these 10 days in New York, I can strongly suggest that – If you do not plan your days right in advance, you will definitely end up loosing an opportunity to visit one great place or another.   You need to know exactly where the particular place is, its openings times, when it is the right time to visit it and so on!  The aim of this post is not to describe New York City and its top attractions, but to help you in planning your own exploration of the “Huge” Apple.

Where To Stay In New York City:

Manhattan is always the best choice though it’s the most expensive.  I have to say that, unfortunately I chose the most expensive week of the entire year – the Fashion Week and the beginning of the UN Assembly meeting.  A double room during these ten days had an average daily cost of more that 200 Euros plus tax, plus city tax, and sometimes plus the cost of the building.  It was all a PLUS something!  And we are talking about 3-star hotels with a decent review, breakfast excluded.  Definitely too much for my wallet!

Even booking through Airbnb was expensive – it was almost the same price as that of an hotel or, if by chance, I found a reasonable price – the house itself didn’t look good.

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So I spent a lot of time looking for an accommodation.  Then I finally decided to find something in New Jersey, just across the Hudson river, only a 15 minutes ride by subway (4 stops), not too far away from Midtown or Downtown Manhattan.

I found a house in Hoboken, the home town of Frank Sinatra and also of Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss!  Trust me when I say that it was an excellent choice – Hoboken is a lovely small town with lots of shops, restaurants and on top of it all – it has one of the best promenades ever with the most beautiful view of Manhattan’s skyline, from Midtown to Downtown.  And it was for a more reasonable price of 120 Euros per night, tax included.

Hoboken

Hoboken

New York Skyline from Hoboken

New York Skyline from Hoboken

How To Move Around In New York City:

If you haven’t done so yet, I will suggest to read Global Storybook’s post on “How to use the subway in New York City” as it will really help you out!

Since we were based in Hoboken, we used the PATH train network, which in just 15 minutes or so, connects Hobooken with Midtown Manhattan (stopping at 10th, 14th, 24th and 33rd streets) or Downtown Manhattan (stopping at the Word Trade Center).  You can buy a single ride for $2.75 or a weekly pass, depending on how many times you plan to use it.

Choosing the subway is for sure the fastest and most comfortable way for exploring the many corners of New York City, since the second thing that you will notice here is it that TRAFFIC IS: “NO WAY!!!”.  On the other hand, since I had 10 days available to spend here, I decided to walk everywhere in Manhattan, which was a very tough decision: be prepared to walk around 25 km a day, not joking!  Yes, because the third thing that you will notice in New York City is that even when they tell you: “It is just 2 blocks away” you need to be prepared to walk for about… 2 km!

Hobooken Path Train Station

Hobooken Path Train Station

What To See In New York City:

All boroughs of New York are worth a visit – from Bronx to Brooklyn, from Harlem to Battery Park.  Starting with Uptown and then going all the way Downtown, exploring a district or two per day, so that you won’t miss a thing, is a good way to see the city.

New York is full of attractions and museums that you cannot miss and each entrance ticket can be rather expensive, up to $30 or more.  So it is quite easy to end up spending more than $400 in 10 days.  Hence, the best and easiest way to saving money is to buy a Sightseeing Pass which can give you a free access to almost all the sights.

Once you have checked the different pass options and what each includes plus the different duration periods, then you can choose the right one for you.  My strong suggestion is to go with the  The New York Sightseeing Pass.  I purchased the 7 Days Unlimited Pass option, that cost $299 and included more than 90 attractions, plus most importantly – an unlimited access to the Hop On – Hop Off  Double Deck bus for the entire duration of the pass.

That means that you can basically use it as a transportation option between Uptown, Midtown, Downtown, and Brooklyn, getting on and off at the main points of interest.  Just remember that one-day pass for any of those double-deck busses costs around $59 and you will quickly realize that it is in fact the right choice.

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Another value of this pass it that you can basically eat a lunch for free – seriously!  There is a selection of restaurants, mainly one in each district where you will only pay the taxes (about $2-3 dollars per person), and you will have a full set menu with the main course, dessert and beverages.

An amazing salad at the Planet Hollywood.

An amazing salad at the Planet Hollywood.

Free fried chicken is on the Menu at the Buffalo Wild Wings.

Free fried chicken is on the Menu at the Buffalo Wild Wings.

Those 2 things are something that you will not find in almost any other New York’s sightseeing passes.  This Sightseeing Pass is available for 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days and includes all the major attractions from MOMA to the MET, from biking in Central Park to walking tours, from city tours to night-time tours, cruises and so on.

Relaxing after biking in the Central Park.

Relaxing after biking in the Central Park.

Full list of sights is available on the website along with some sample itineraries that will help you out planning your days in this huge city.  Yes, because like I said earlier – you need to plan in advance in order to take the most out of it.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Where To Eat In the New York City:

Well, the title should be – where I can starve in the New York City?  I have never seen so many restaurants (all kinds of restaurants from all over the world), food trucks, fast-food and whatever else sells food, like here in New York.

Unless you know already the specific place where you wish to have your lunch or a dinner at – if you see something that you like or you wish to try, well try it straight away, because you might not have a chance to visit this place ever again.  Even if it’s not the right time of the day yet, do not be scared of having a giant hamburger at Ruby Tuesday after having eaten a huge slice of Junior’s cheesecake.  It is something that you have to try, or you will regret it!

I can suggest all the places where I have dined but all your friends who have been here can suggest a lot more.  I had a list of top places but was not able to try them all because I simply discovered others that caught my eye.

Final Tips:

I hope that you enjoyed my article and that now you will be able to begin working on your own travel plans to New York City.  So let me summarize now, in a few bullet points, the most important things that you should remember:

  • Pick the right season to visit New York, according to your own preferences but remember that Winter can be a real challenge!
  • Choose an accommodation in Manhattan or in a place close to the subway or a train station that, in no more that 20 minutes, will take you into the very heart of the city.
  • Decide how you wish to explore the city – by subway or by walking.
  • Buy a “Sightseeing Pass” to explore more than 90 attractions and save up to 65%.
  • Choose where to eat as there is a lot to choose from!
  • Shopping: I know that there is no mention about shopping, but how can I describe shopping… I mean, we all know how to do it!
Westfiled Shopping Mall

Westfiled Shopping Mall

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