No surprises here, New York remains to be my favourite city in the world. Yes, the second time around and the concrete jungle didn’t disappoint. If you’ve been here for a few years you’ll know I went on a blogging trip back in 2015 and absolutely loved it, and ever since I’ve wanted to return. Luckily for me, one of my close friends lives there now so it was the perfect reason to make a detour on my way home from Europe. Last time was filled with rooftops, expensive dinners and all the sites – this time was a lot more down to earth but equally as fun.
I was there for a week which was heaps of time for me. Especially since I had already ticked a lot of the tourist spots my first visit there. But for those of you who have less time there, or maybe you just have no idea where to start with your NYC planning, I thought I’d put together a guide of my ‘must-do’ places, sites and eats while you’re there.
First one of the most asked questions I get is “how much money did you save for New York?” and honestly, I have no idea the exact number. For the 6 days I was there I had set aside $500 USD and I didn’t spend it all while I was there. Things add up quickly though, and I often didn’t eat out so I managed to save where I could. I also didn’t buy many clothes since most of it I can get online for cheaper. To be comfortable though (and include random costs like taxis from airports, metro etc.) I would suggest $100 USD a day. Also, get the $30 week-long metro card – trust me, you’ll thank me later.
To save a lot of money before I even arrived I used Skyscanner to book my flights from London to New York, and then from New York to New Zealand. I’m so glad I did too, my original flights were going to cost a whole $1000 NZD more booking through the airline so I don’t know how that’s even possible. Now I swear by searching on there for the best hidden deal before anywhere else. Oh and also – Citymapper app is a lifesaver in the city!
I know booking and planning for cities you’ve never visited can be daunting (especially a place as big as New York) so don’t hesitate to ask me anything in the comments!
Where To Stay
The Standard High Line
This is actually the only hotel I’ve stayed in while visiting New York but I 100% recommend it. It’s really close to the Chelsea Markets, has a great restaurant and has its own rooftop bar. Not quite sure what the vibe would be like in winter, but in summer this is a definite win of a place to stay. The meatpacking district is really cool too because it’s close to the High Line, it has a variety of your favourite shops – from Sephora to Free People – and you can even go see where Carrie Bradshaw lived. One of those awesome quintessential New York City experience areas and for a short visit, absolutely perfect.
What To Do
Walk The Brooklyn Bridge
Or in this case, head down to DUMBO for this classic photo. I walked the bridge the last time I was in NYC so this time I went vintage shopping instead. This is one monument though that I feel is worth making the trip to see. It’s such a beautiful view looking back at the city from the other side.
Top Of The Rock
Skip going up the Empire State Building and go up the Top Of The Rockefeller instead. It’s a better view since you don’t have safety grating all around and it makes for an epic photo looking back at the ESB. I didn’t go this time around but I would absolutely go back and spend the money on going up there. Bonus – you can get a pass where you go up during the day and then night for the best night city view.
The New York Public Library
It’s one of those places I think a lot of people forget to visit, but it’s so beautiful. Plus Sex And The City fans, this is where “all the great love stories live” if you get me. It doesn’t take long to visit but is a great way to give you some relief from the summer heat. I love libraries so it was a highlight to get to visit this time around.
Obviously one of the most classic spots, but after long days of exploring the city, there is no better place to relax. Visit the famous Bethesda Fountain and Terrace then rent a boat to float around Central Park in. The perfect way to end a long day of walking which is inevitable in New York. Or, as we did, after visiting The Met and Guggenheim Museum which aren’t far away.
I didn’t get to see it the last time I visited so I made a point of it this time around. Such a powerful and sad memorial which I would recommend visiting at night to get the full effect. You truly can’t imagine the severity of it until you see the space in which they are missing among all the night lights.
Where To Shop
My all-time favourite brand, as you’d know from these posts. Well if you’re in New York you can walk into a real ass shop and see all the beauty. My favourite one is the SOHO one which also has a heap of vintage to shop from too.
The Real Real
I couldn’t go to America now without trying to visit The Real Real in store. Full of beautiful and reasonably (for vintage) priced designer pieces. The website will always have the best selection but you can absolutely find some steals in store. I’m still so sad I didn’t leave with the Gucci loafers I found in my size.
My favourite vintage store has a couple of locations in New York. On my first visit to NYC, I found the most amazing belt and Equipment blouse for less than $10 USD each which is unheard of. This time around I didn’t find anything except a BRAND NEW Realisation Par dress for $30 USD so totally worth hunting through if you have the time.
I mean I feel like this needs no introduction, but basically beautiful skincare and beauty. If you’re interested I actually wrote a guide about getting Glossier to New Zealand on this post, but otherwise, you’ll need to go in-store to buy it. Let me tell you it’s a full experience – the shop is beautiful and worth the wait in line.
What To Eat & Drink
I have to start off with a party place because you know me. We went here on one of my last nights and it was an experience to remember (or forget, depending on your open-mindedness). If you’re a Gossip Girl fan it’s where Blaire did her infamous stripe tease for Chuck, but in real life it’s an exclusive burlesque club that doesn’t allow phones. Let me just say that the shows aren’t for the faint-hearted but make for one hell of an impression.
Milk Bar is a pretty Instagram famous place which offers a milk soft serve with crunchy cereal topping. I didn’t think I would really enjoy this but I was pleasantly surprised and it was worth the money if you’re craving something sweet after dinner.
Cha Cha Matcha
Another Instagram famous spot, Cha Cha Matcha offers all things matcha. Surprise, surprise. I am a big fan though and loved the Beautiful drink with Oat Milk because they use Oatly so you know I’m sold (Thanks Abbie for the obsession). If you’re a fan, give it a go. At the very least it makes for a cute photo.
A friend of mine had recommended this in London but I ran out of time too quickly, so I made a point to go when I was in NYC. Completely vegan and incredibly tasty, I really enjoyed it (even if it wasn’t the cheapest). I still think about The Guac Burger because damn, it really hit the spot. I will definitely be coming back for the rest of the menu, thank you very much.
It’s on the pricer side by damn, the food is good. I can’t ever give up good Italian and this place hits that spot HARD. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had cheesecake so good either. Needless to say, I left completely stuffed and satisfied. If you want more of a view, it’s still featured on my Instagram Stories.
Just another classic New York spot – they have these all over the city. The Banana Pudding is their most classic menu item and if you love banana flavoured foods you’ll be into this. I got Shake Shack then sat and ate this and it was one hell of an American meal. Not going to lie, it’s probably a good thing I don’t live there or else I’d do it all the time. Yum.
A New York Bagel!
The best thing about New York is its delis. They’re on pretty much every corner and offer a range of yum and affordable foods. One being the classic grilled cheese (you can’t visit without getting one!) but my all-time favourite is the NYC bagel. This one was peanut butter and jelly which totally hit the warm, gooey spot. From a great deli close to the train station near the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO, but I’m sure you could get great ones anywhere. It’s a must!