Last year, my oldest son Lucca was given the choice between a large communion party or a city trip to New York. The choice was easy – the Big Apple had captured his imagination for years. My best friend asked her son the same and so the four of us ended up waiting for the flight from Brussels to New York at the end of August.
Travel in style
As an additional surprise, we organised a limousine to bring us from the airport to the hotel. The boys were wild with excitement when they found out. For the first time it wasn’t a problem being in a traffic jam as now they could enjoy this luxury car a bit longer.
Best time to travel to New York?
I don't like most citytrips during summer. In New York it's rather hot and humid, so try to travel in spring or autumn. In winter it's cold and there are occasional snowstorms in New York but that shouldn't hold you from visiting New York at Christmas. I think no place on earth can compete with New York during this time of year.
Where to stay?
I stayed in Gansevoort Park Hotel when I was in New York a few years ago. A beautiful hotel, and apparently good enough for Rihanna, who we ran into in the lobby.
This time we booked the Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel. This was also a super hotel and in an even better location.
Another great place to stay is Dream Downtown Hotel in Meatpacking District.
All these hotels are situated on a great location and the rooms are rather spacious. They all have a rooftop pool which is perfect if you visit New York during summer. It can be very hot in New York. Don't think you can relax besides the pool because it's really busy. Hotels with rooftop pools are very popular. There's a party going on every evening.
Where to eat in New York
The Chelsea Market is across the road from the hotel. It is a fabulous place that you shouldn’t miss. When you go inside, you’re transported to a different world. It is a collection of small shops with the most heavenly treats. The perfect address for a quick lunch or a tasty snack during the day. The boys chose tacos nearly every day (they very boldly picked the “spicy” version the first day but found out very quickly that “mild” was hot enough). The Lobster Place is a paradise for seafood lovers. You absolutely have to try the lobster roll here. Heavenly! Do you love brownies? Buy the brownie mix at the Fat Witch. When your kitchen fills with the lovely smell of freshly baked brownies, you get immediately transported back to the Chelsea Market.
nIn New York, you shouldn’t have breakfast at the hotel. Beyond its doors you will find cosier places, and cheaper too. A few recommendations:
- Moonstruck op 244 Madison Avenue
- Penelope op 159 Lexington Av. at 30th street.
Nobu is a world-famous chain of Japanese restaurants, so this featured high on our wish list. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to our expectations. The food was lovely, but the price was ridiculous. Better go to Tao (42 East 58th Street). You also get lovely food there, and a completely different experience. You must reserve a table beforehand though, as it is the place to be.
Dos Caminos is a wonderful Mexican restaurant (675 Hudson Street at 14th Street).
Of course, you haven’t been to New York until you’ve had a hamburger. I am a big fan of Five Guys. You will find them across the city in numerous locations.
If you’re near Times Square, try the one at the City Kitchen (700 8th Av at 44th Street).
But for the ultimate hamburger experience, you have to go to the Meridien hotel. You will find a big curtain in the lobby, and you have to go beyond it. You have to stand in line but the burgers are delicious and the atmosphere is fabulous. There is a good reason that they were chosen as “New York City’s Best Burgers”.
Things to do in New York
If you have only one day in New York, there a few things that need to be on your New York itinerary besides the well-known spots like Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Little Italy, China Town, (the Bull of) Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge…
The Statue of Liberty
You can of course take the ferry there, but it is so much more fun to take The Shark or The Beast. You will fly across the Hudson in these superfast speedboats. If it is a warm day, the captain will take sharp corners creating a nice fresh shower for those on boat. The boat stops for the obligatory photo opportunities (Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan skyline and of course the Statue of Liberty). This would be the highlight of the holiday for any children you have with you.
You can take a nice stroll through Central Park, but don’t misjudge this as the park is rather large. It is much nicer to rent a bike. There are some steep climbs, but at least you can visit the whole park. Not the sporty type? No problem! You can charter a horse-drawn carriage to bring you around. The advantage is that you will also get some information about the beautiful buildings you pass.
The High Line
.If you want to escape the bustle of the city, go for a stroll in the High Line. It is a public park on a disused railroad track high above the streets of Manhattan (from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, between Av 10 and 12).
The most important sight is (unfortunately) Ground Zero. Where the Twin Towers once stood are now two deep pits with a copper fence with all the victim’s names around it. It's one of the most emotional moments I ever experienced on my travels.
One World Observatory
Nearby is the brand new One World Observatory. The lift will bring you to the top of the highest building in the western hemisphere in 60 seconds. During the ascent, the story of New York’s skyline (from 1500-today) is presented on the walls of the lift. At the top, they show you images of the tragedy and you hear from survivors. After that they take the screens from the windows and a spectacular view of New York is revealed. The accompanying background music ensures that this truly is a goosebump-inducing moment. Once you were here, you can forget the queues at the Rockefeller Tower or the Chrysler building, as you’ve already seen the best view. You can book your tickets over here.
5 days flew by. We undoubtedly saw the highlights, but I will definitely be back to discover more of this vibrant city and check some of the weird NYC attractions.
For more things to do in New York, read over here.
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