New York quick travel guide – do, stay, eat, skip

I haven’t done a travel guide in more than seven years, but I was recently in New York and I wanted to share my travel thoughts with you. The last time I was in New York was before 9/11. I was really young so I don’t remember much, so it was really nice to be back in the city. Despite it being such an old city and already pretty developed over the last 20 years, I still feel like a lot has changed. We were there for eight days total and had a great time, ate a ton, and did a lot of sightseeing. That being said, at the end of it, I was pretty glad to be flying home.

Do

  • Buy a New York Citypass, which gave us access to 6 different sites / museums for a really reasonable rate of $122 USD + 20% off if you buy online in advance. The best part wasn’t saving money on the various tickets, but bypassing all of the ticket lines. The only real line we had to wait in was when we first picked up our Citypasses at the Natural History Museum, other than that we skipped right to security for all of them. You pick up your pass at the first of your 6 sites, so pick one that has more ticket booths, such as the Met. The Natural History Museum, 9/11 Memorial Museum and Empire State Building all had massive lineups.
  • Visit the Empire State Building with morning and night tickets. We went up once during the day, and then again at night. The difference was actually pretty big and we loved both views. If you can only go once, definitely go at night. It’s much quieter, shorter lines, and the view is amazing.
  • See a Broadway show. We watched Wicked, after it was on my bucket list for nearly 10 years, and it was so amazing. We purchased our tickets off TodayTix and saved ourselves a ton of money. The tickets are face value, but you don’t have to pay any ticket processing or service charges, which can get super ridiculously high. We also had a coupon code to save $10 off our first order. You don’t know which seats you will be getting, but we ended up getting amazing seats in the front of the rear mezzanine right near the centre of the stage. You can save $10 off your first show if you use my code ILMNQ.
  • If the weather is good, definitely rent a bike in Central Park. We went in the fall so the weather was perfect, and the fall foliage was beautiful. You’ll need at least a 1 hour bike rental to do the entire park without riding too hard (think leisurely).
  • The 9/11 Memorial Museum was gut wrenching but a must see.
  • If you are from Vancouver, definitely fly Cathay Pacific. You get treated like you’re on an international flight, with pillows, blanket, and MEALS!! Plus you get two free checked bags per person, which is unheard of for any North American carrier.

Stay

  • We stayed in an AirBnb in East Village. It was walking distance to Soho, Nolita, and a TON of different restaurants, shops, and nightlife. It was also super close to multiple subway lines so it was convenient to get to both uptown and downtown. AirBnbs are illegal in New York unless the host also lives there, so you’re likely to share common space with the people who live there. It worked out really well though, our hosts were very nice, and it was nice to have our own bathroom.

Eat

  • Eat lots and lots of pizza. We had Prince Street Pizza twice because it was so good. Definitely ask for it extra crispy because then it’s extra hot too. So delicious, and we’re pretty sure regular pizza is ruined for us now.
  • Enjoy some spicy lamb noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods. If you are noodle lover, you have to try this place. I highly recommend the lamb cumin noodles, they are AMAZING. There are several locations in Manhattan, and they are all equally busy. We went here 3 times, so you know how good it is.
  • If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend trying a traditional New York steakhouse (for the science, you know). We did one the same evening we went to see Wicked, and it was an amazing date night. The steaks, while expensive, were delicious and definitely something different from what we have at home.

Skip

  • We took a red-eye in but couldn’t check into our AirBnb until 4PM, which means we were walking around like zombies for the first day. I don’t recommend that unless you can find a place to crash for a bit when you first land. We ended up taking a nap in Central Park.. on a bench… like homeless people… *shifty eyes*
  • Top of the Rock. It was just okay, another observatory. There are so many in New York, and this one was probably not as impressive as the Empire State Building.
  • Staying in New York the entire time. We were there for 8 days and honestly by the end of it, we were getting a bit bored and homesick. One of the options we were talking about was doing a day trip to Boston or DC, but we didn’t end up doing that. Next time, we’ll definitely try to do more day trips instead of staying in one city the entire time.
  • Taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. I went the first time and remember it being a bore. Instead, do a cruise around Manhattan at night where you can see the Statue of Liberty close up but not having to stay for a long time and wait around for ferries. The cruise we took was the Circleline cruise included in the Citypass.

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