My NYC Birthday Trip + Tips on Where to Stay, Where to Go + Yummy Food!
I wanted to share with you some highlights and tips about my most recent trip to New York City. It was during spring of last year, so my memory is slightly foggy, but thankfully I wrote down a lot of what we did + took lots of photos so that definitely helps a lot!
I took this trip with my best friend Anne, and we went to celebrate my 24th birthday over there! It was a lot of fun, one of the best trips I've taken in my life. We had a great time celebrating my birthday, visiting museums and parks, shopping at Madison Avenue and eating lots of yummy food!
Some of the pictures used for the different places are also from older trips to NYC.
A little side tip for trip memories coming back: when you go on a trip, buy a new perfume, any perfume you like will work, and wear it most days on the trip. When you go home, try not to smell it for a while, and when you do so again, I swear you'll be transported back to the trip, it's crazy! I did this with my trip to Mexico, I bought a Chanel perfume and even now, a year later, I still get all these memories every time I smell it.
Also, it probably goes without saying, but don't rent a car in NYC! It's a waste of money and finding parking is difficult and expensive. The public transportation will take you anywhere! What I usually do is buy an unlimited metro card for the amount of time I will spend there and it allows me to get on subways and buses as much as I need to.
When to go:
Even though it's more crowded, I recommend visiting during Spring or Autumn, going during Summer is ridiculously hot, people are sticky, the subway is unbearable, it's just not very fun! And during winter, it's so cold that you can barely go outside without wanting to cry. If you really want to make the most of out the trip, visit in either April, May, September, or October.
Where to Stay:
This is something I learned the hard way, but don't stay at Times Square! We stayed there last time we went because we wanted to be in the middle of it all, but it's so crowded, and when you're super tired at the end of a long day, the last thing you want is to have to fight through crowds to finally get to your hotel room, not to mention that it's so much more expensive to stay in Times Square. After doing some exploring while in NYC and extensive research, basing myself off prices, locations and reviews, some of the best areas and hotels to stay at are:
TriBeCa, The Lower East Side and Nolita
These are fancy residential neighborhoods, soo pretty! Also, amazing restaurants and plenty of places to shop at. You really get a feeling of living in NYC in here. Some of the best hotels here are: The Frederick Hotel (from $152 per night), The Bowery House (from $109 per night) and The Holiday Inn NYC - Lower East Side (from $135 per night).
It's a lot more calm and quiet than the rest of the city, especially at night. This is great if you like a more peaceful atmosphere, while still being pretty close to everything. I did a lot of research, and would recommend Gild Hall - A Thompson Hotel (from $144 per night), World Center Hotel (from $123 per night) and The Fairfield Inn New York Manhattan/Financial District (from $131 per night).
Soho is one of my favorite areas in NYC. It's so vibrant and eclectic! Definitely one of the best areas to stay at. It is a bit pricier to stay here, though! It's super close to Chinatown and lots of designer shops. Some good options to stay at are: Soho Grand Hotel (from $215 per night), SIXTY SoHo (from $205 per night), and 11 Howard (from $219 per night).
Chelsea is lovely! It has great night life, too, if that's your thing! Plus, it's close to shopping areas like Herald Square, Union Square, and Madison Square Garden. It's close to everything, but not right in the middle. Some of the best hotel options include: The Holiday Inn NYC - Manhattan 6th Avenue - Chelsea (from $135 per night), The Hilton New York Fashion District (from $142 per night), and The Courtyard New York Manhattan/Chelsea (from $135 per night).
Upper West Side
In the Upper West Side you will find sights like the Natural History Museum, Central Park, and Lincoln Center! It's a very good spot especially if you've never been to NYC before. There's lots of stores, but also lots of nice houses for you to admire. Some of the best hotels are: The Lucerne Hotel (from $176 per night), The Empire Hotel (from $134 per night), and La Quinta Inn & Suites New York City Central Park (from $129 per night).
Upper East Side
The first thing that probably comes to your mind is Gossip Girl, Madison Avenue and fancy townhouses. It's actually so much more than that! It's such a beautiful area, with so much to do, plenty of museums to visit and amazing restaurants to eat at. Plus, I love how it's quite peaceful compared with Times Square or other busier areas! It's also really close to Central Park. Some of the best hotels in price and reviews are: The Bentley Hotel (from $151 per night), Hotel Wales (from $186 per night), and The Courtyard New York Manhattan/Upper East Side (from $164 per night).
Where to Go:
Here I will include my favorite things to do/places to go in NYC! I won't include The Statue of Liberty or The Empire State Building, because they're too obvious, but make sure you do those things if you've never been to New York, though!
I mean, obviously. I will need to include some very touristy things like Central Park just because you can't possibly visit NYC and not take a walk through here. It's beautiful, it's huge, there's a lot to do! Especially during the warmer months, it's lovely to just relax here during an afternoon while eating some ice cream.
Don't stay exclusively in Manhattan. Make sure you visit Brooklyn and check out DUMBO, The Brooklyn Bridge and Park, The Brooklyn Museum (second-largest art museum in New York after the MET), walk around Williamsburg, Park Slope and Cobble Hill, the houses are super cute!
A must-do in NYC is visiting at least a couple museums! Obviously the MET, (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), it's ridiculously cool, it has all the art you can imagine and more, you can spend the whole day there and you will not see everything! Another really good one is the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art), here you'll see the most crazy contemporary art you can think of, go with an open mind! Also, you can't miss the Guggenheim Museum, it's a mix of contemporary, modern and impressionist art. It's a beautiful museum with a lot to see! Plus of course, the Museum of Natural History, it's one of the most entertaining ones out there.
Also, as a tip! A lot of museums in NYC let you decide how much you want to pay for the ticket, so you don't have to pay full price if you don't want to. Also, some museums have free days, check online first to see when they are and take advantage of them.
See a Broadway show
Don't miss out! They are incredible, so so cool. We went to see Cats in this trip, and we loved it so much, I can't say one bad thing about it! Some other cool ones are Wicked, The Lion King, Anastasia, The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago.
Explore Greenwich Village, Soho and TriBeCa
Don't just go to the main touristy attractions like The Statue of Liberty and The Empire State, but also go exploring a bit! These neighborhoods are so beautiful! Walk down Bleecker street, enjoy people watching, check out the gorgeous brownstones, do some shopping, take some photos!
Visit Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is basically an urban food court with around 40 small businesses. You'll find all kinds of food in here! It's also an office building for some companies like Google. There are several shops, selling practically everything you can imagine.
Go to a Live Jazz Show
Walk around and check out the architecture
The city is filled with beautiful buildings! And there are so many other landmarks that are worth checking out. Some of my personal favorites are: The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, The Queensboro Bridge, The MetLife building, The Ansonia Hotel, The Flatiron Building, The Trinity Church, The New York Public Library, Grand Central Terminal, The Woolworth Building, The Chrysler Building and The Waldorf Astoria.
Listen to free live music at Madison Square Park
Especially during the warmer days, they will usually have live music at the park, they will play blues, jazz, and more!
Visit the New York Botanical Garden
It's so lovely! There's so many beautiful plants and flowers, especially on a warm, sunny day, it's super enjoyable.
Best Food I Ate During this Trip:
DO Cookie Dough Confections
This was so delicious! It's all the cookie dough you could want, and it won't give you Salmonella because it doesn't contain raw eggs. They have a bunch of different flavors and sizes, it's really really sweet though, so maybe order a small one, we made the mistake of ordering a big one and couldn't finish even half of them.
A must-do, at least once! We went on my birthday. I love Bergdorf Goodman, just going into the store makes me super happy. They have a restaurant at the top, and it's delicious! The views are great, too, and the service was super nice. We had the mushroom gnocchi, and it's one of the best meals I've ever had.
Italian food will always be my favorite thing ever. My love for pasta knows no boundaries. So, of course we explored Little Italy a lot and went into Da Nico for lunch. It was delicious!! Would definitely recommend it, plus the staff was amazingly nice. I know this place pretty touristy because it's right on Mulberry street, but it's still really really good.
This is a family-style Italian restaurant in Times Square. Yes, it's crowded, but OMG, it is so good! We loved it so much, the flavors are so intense and filling.
This is such a cute, "hidden" restaurant in NYC. The decor is amazing, kind of hipster but super cool! The service is great, and the food is delicious! I had the Beluga Lentils, and I can't say enough good things about them.
Located in the West Village. Delicious food and great atmosphere as well! It's a little loud, but nothing too bad! Food is cooked to perfection and drinks are on point :)
You might remember this spot from Blair and Serena's brunch dates. It's amazing! We went to brunch, to the one in the Upper West Side. Great service and food, a bit on the pricey side of course, but worth it! I had the Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelette. Absolutely delicious.
Of course I had to include Magnolia Bakery, it's ridiculously good! Please do yourself a favor and go, and try the banana pudding and the sugar and peanut butter cookies.
And that brings us to the end of my NYC post. Hope you enjoyed it! :) Let me know if you have any questions.