Friday, 19 June 2015

Tips for visiting New York City for the first time | Travel

Hello lovelies! If you know me or have been following me for some time, you'll know that I'm completely and utterly obsessed with New York. My Daddy, my stepmum Leeanne and I went for 10 days last May/June and it's safe to say I left my heart there. It's honestly the most incredible holiday I've been on and I thought I would share some tips to help you make the most of your holiday if you're headed to New York or even just thinking about it (or maybe you're just nosey like myself and want to see what I got up to).

I wrote a post about each day I was in New York and they can all be found at the end of this post if you want to read a bit more but these are just are my tips on where to go and what to do. Hope it helps!

Save your first Times Square experience until dark

If you can, try to save your first Times Square experience until it gets dark. There's something so magical about walking towards Times Square when it's dark and seeing it lit up as if it's still day time. Yes, it's still breathtaking during the day but seeing it at night for the first time is just something else. This was one of my favourite places in the whole of New York City.

Head up to the Top Of The Rock

Definitely get yourself tickets to go to the top of the Rockefeller Centre! We got tickets called 'the sun & the stars' which meant we could go up once during the day and once at night in a 24 hour period. It's amazing to get a view from above the city at both day and night as it's totally different. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the Rockefeller Centre's photographers as they take your photos and you can go and choose which photographs you want to buy, if any. We loved ours because, how often do you get nice family photos taken overlooking New York City!? I can't remember how much we paid but it was definitely worth it.

(Side tip: do not buy drinks here because they're about 3 times the price of any other bars in New York!)

Visit the Empire State Building and go right to the 102nd floor

As well as going the top of the Rock, we also went to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building which is 32 floors higher than the Rockefeller Centre! There is 103 floors in the Empire State Building but only celebrities and VIPs can access this floor. 102 floors above Manhattan is still pretty damn cool though! Not many people go up there and it seems a lot of people don't actually know about it so it's a bit quieter than the 86th floor where most people go. If you're not in New York for a long time, it's probably best to choose between the Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building as you are essentially doing the same thing but they're both such iconic buildings that we wanted to do both! Of course, being 32 floors higher up in the Empire State Building, you do get better views but there isn't a great difference.

Get bikes and cycle around Central Park

I would only recommend this if you have a lot of time in New York or you reallyyy want to see around Central Park. We rented bikes for a few hours and it was actually pretty cheap. We cycled the whole 7 miles of Central Park and whilst it was exhausting, it was beautiful and it was nice to stop along the way for a little break here and there. If you, like Leeanne, do spin classes then you're totally going to be fine but if, like myself and my Daddy, you aren't that fit, you'll probably find yourself stopping every 10 minutes for a breather and a drink of water.. Especially if it's as hot as it was when we were there! 

Visit the beautiful Bryant Park

Aaah, the beautiful Bryant Park.. One of our favourite places in the city. It's just amazing how you can be in a crowd-filled street one minute and then relaxing in this lovely park the next. There's books and chess boards if you want to do something while you're there but if not you can just chill out on the grass and take in the scenery around you. We visited here a few times as we sometimes passed it on our journey back to our hotel and I must admit we were so exhausted one day that we just fell asleep for a while because it was so chilled out. 

Walk along The High Line

It seems that not a lot of people know about the High Line because any time I mention it, people ask about it. It's a disused New York Central railroad that has been converted to a linear park for recreational use. It runs from 34th Street to 14th Street and we walked the whole length of it, starting at 34th Street and ending up in the Meatpacking District on 14th Street. It's basically a park above the city with lots of plants, places to sit and lots of art. It's something quite different and I would really recommend it, especially if you're heading from one part of the city to another. There's more streets that you can access the High Line from and I think you can actually get a map online. We went at night time as we were headed to the Meatpacking District for dinner and drinks but I think it might be even better, especially for photos, during the day.

Get a boat out to The Statue of Liberty

This was one of the coolest things we done whilst in New York.. Going right up in the Statue Of Liberty's Crown. See those little holes in her crown, yeah, we were up there! I'm not sure in the price difference for normal tickets and crown tickets but I do know that you have to book them like a year in advance! Luckily Leeanne was on the ball and had everything sorted. It's so cool to say I've been up there when they only allow a certain amount of people up. We got the boat over from Battery Island and after we went up the Statue Of Liberty, we headed to Ellis Island. Ellis Island was really good to see too but if you're pushed for time, you could just skip it as it's mainly just a photo museum. The Crown is amaaaazing though! You'd be surprised how tiny it is when you're up there.

The coolest photo, taken out of one of the windows at the Crown.

Walk along the Brooklyn Bridge at night

This is just the loveliest walk if you're heading from Brooklyn to Manhattan or vice versa. We were in Brooklyn for dinner and walked back to Manhattan across the bridge and yes, it's quite a walk but it's definitely worth it! The view is incredible and the photo opportunities are amazing. Top tip: bring a sharpie to write on the bridge alongside many, many more tourist's names. We didn't know this until we got there but luckily I had a sharpie on hand. Also good for in case you bump into celebrities, as you'll see below ;)

Make your way to Coney Island for the day

If you have a day where you're not sure what to do or know you have a lot of time to do something, take the train to Coney Island for the day where you'll find the most amazing boardwalk with fairground rides, cool shops, lots of food and beautiful scenery. Luckily we had the most amazing weather whilst in New York so it was a great day to get the legs out and feel the heat.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial

I don't know how to put into words how brilliant this museum is so you just have to go for yourself and see it. Yes I know, it's not exciting or fun but you see and learn so much and you get to see how much Americans love their country. The museum is breathtaking and just so well put together. I think we spent about 5 hours here and we could've spent longer if our feet and legs weren't so sore. Would very highly recommend a trip to this museum. Even if you don't have that much time, just go for a couple of hours.

Eat lots of food!

Oh, the wonderful, wonderful food! We ate so much on this holiday and really piled on the pounds but my gosh it was worth it. There's great food everywhere in New York but below are some recommendations..

The above photos are all from Junior's which you'll find just off Times Square on West 45th St. between Broadway and 8th Avenue. I think we went here a total of 4 times.. Twice for dinner, once for milkshakes which as you can see from the photo are amazing and once for cheesecake. Everything about this place is great.. the food, the location and the extremely lovely staff! I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

You'll find Bella Casa Restaurant in Little Italy and it does the best Italian food. We were greeted by a man who was like something from The Godfather and he brought us to a lovely little table where the staff looked after us. I got the carbonara and it was just delightful!

Grimaldi's is pretty famous and can be found right under the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a great authentic Italian pizza place but make sure to get down a little while before you really want to eat as you'll be greeted with queues as it's so popular!

Nathan's is along the boardwalk at Coney Island and it does THE BEST hotdogs. That's all.

Charley's Philly Steaks is a hidden gem in Penn Station that we wouldn't have known about if it wasn't for my cousin, Chris who lived in New York for a while, telling us about it it. Basically it just does the tastiest Philly cheese steaks and you need to try one, no questions asked.

Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities

We honestly went to New York thinking it was far too big to ever bump into celebrities but we ended up meeting quite a few..

Louise and Binky from Made In Chelsea were sitting at a little restaurant just outside of Times Square and we just happened to spot them. It was just before they started filming for Made In Chelsea: New York. They were so lovely and talked away.

We went to see Of Mice And Men and afterwards we waited at the stage door and luckily met a few of the stars of the show. Firstly, the beautiful Leighton Meester.

Joel Marsh Garland from Orange Is The New Black.

The very funny Chris O'Dowd. Sadly I didn't get a great photo with him so this one will have to do.

Jim Parrack who Leeanne just screamed 'True Blood' at, haha!

And of course, James Franco!

Okay so this little cutie was a shock to me. I remember thinking she was cute and being too embarrassed to ask the lady for a photo so I made my dad ask. I was looking through my photos for this post and realised it was Marnie The Dog! I didn't know about her until a couple of months after the trip but have been obsessed since. It's so funny that I didn't know then and now I'm super excited about it, haha!

Ride the Subway at least once

Be a typical New Yorker and ride the subway while you're in New York. We got metro cards and rode the subway most days and it saved us a lot of money that we would have spent on taxis or other modes of transport. They're so handy and comes every minute or so, so you won't be waiting long. I wish we had public transport as efficient as this!

Make space in your case for a lot of shopping

This one speaks for itself really but two spots to hit up.. Zumiez, a really cool and afforable clothes shop on 34th Street (close to the Empire State Building) and of course, Sephora! I think I went into six different Sephoras and my Daddy didn't understand but they're different! Duh.

Pick up some souvenirs

Okay, so maybe don't do what I done and come home with your souvenir inked onto your skin for the rest of your life but definitely pick up some little trinkets to remind you of your trip. You'll never be short of places to get these as there's souvenir shops on every corner. I already knew I wanted a tattoo before I went to New York and thought, why not get something to permanently remind me of the best trip ever? I came up with the idea for my tattoo and my tattoo artist, Erica Flannes, drew it all up for me and I couldn't love it any more. If you are looking for a tattoo whilst in New York, definitely check out Red Rocket Tattoo. The staff are all so friendly and they made me feel so comfortable and welcome. My daddy and Leeanne actually headed off and done their own thing while me and Erica just chatted for the hour and a half that it took to do my tattoo. Definitely check out her work here. She's amazing as what she does!

I hope this post helped you in some way if you're heading to New York, planning on it or have been before and wanted some more things to do when you go again. Here you can look at all my in depth posts that I posted about each day, if you're interested.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10

I haven't posted a 'travel tips' kind of post before so it's probably too long and I probably put in too many photos (even though I took 2000 in the ten days that we were there, haha) but I hope you enjoyed it and were able to get something out of it.

Have you been to New York or are you planning on going? If not, you definitely should! It's honestly the best place I've ever been to and I was so ridiculously happy every second of every day that I was there. Thank you so much for reading! And if you have any more questions, don't be afraid to ask.

With love,


  1. Caitlin this is such a wonderful post! I feel like you've written my bucketlist, haha! Eventually I will get the opportunity to go to New York. ONE DAY! So I'm definitely going to keep your fab tips in mind. Cycling around Central Park sounds like a wonderful idea, especially in nice weather. Also, I can't even imagine how much I will cry when I eventually get to see Times Square for the first time. I'll just stand there and cry and cry and cry. It looks beautiful at night! All of your photos look so beautiful. I'm so jealous!

    Katy Belle | Beauty & Lifestyle

    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment! For once I'm actually quite proud of this post so I'm glad you liked it. I never thought I would get to go to NY so keep dreaming and it'll happen one day! Aah I cried when I first went to Times Square.. Its just an incredible feeling that is so hard to describe. It's the best place on earth though! I hope you get to go soon lovely :) xx

  2. it looks like you all had fun. Thanks for the tips. Since a long time i wanted to visit New York. ;)

    1. We really did! It was my dream for so long and it finally happened :) I hope you get to go some day too. Thanks for reading & for the comment! xx

  3. You have just made my hunger for NYC so much worse! It looks like you had the best time, and I can't believe you met Blair Waldorf?! I'll be referencing this post when I eventually make my trip, super helpful x

    1. Aww thanks for the kind comment! I know, I still can't believe it haha. It was so strange too because I was expecting someone really cocky and possibly rude but she was so sweet, very quiet and so small! I was expecting her to be so tiny lol. I hope you get to New York soon :) xx

  4. I've always wanted to visit New York, and it's something that's been on my bucket list for a while now... this just makes me more excited about it haha :) great post x

    1. Aww, well I'm glad it makes you more excited! You definitely need to go :) thanks for the comment lovely xx