WHAT TO SEE
This was my second trip to the big apple and having already done the touristy things before, I didn't particularly want to go up the Empire State again (however I did want to go with my friends, who hadn't been before). To my benefit, there are barely any queues at this time of the year which soothed my patience!
Obviously while in NYC; the Empire State, Top of the Rock, Grand Central Station, Central Park, Staten Island/Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial and all of the museums etc. are pretty self-explanatory places to see/visit. My favourite for views over the city is by far the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Centre) as you get to see both views of the Empire State and Central Park which at this time of year, look beautiful dusted in white and frozen over. Tip: Go up at least one hour before sunset on a clear day (check the weather iPhone app for the exact time of sunset that day) so you get to view the city in the daytime and watch the beautiful transition of day to night and see all the sparkly lights turn on (and if you're lucky, a stunning sunset - shown below).
In terms of museums, the MoMA and American Museum of Natural History (the one from the Night at the Museum) are my favourites. I also visited the Met and FIT Museum but still haven't made time to visit the Guggenheim, which everyone is always raving about! The MoMA is great for seeing classic famous pieces of artwork, boasting Warhol, Picasso, Van Gogh, Magritte, Lichtenstein, Pollock, Bacon, Matisse, Cézanne, Kahlo and more on offer... A couple of years ago I got to see the Mona Lisa who happened to be on tour, so always check out what could be there for your visit.
If it is your first time however, then I'd recommend visiting the city for a minimum of a week. We went for five days and it did hinder the trip in such freezing temperatures. By the time you've adjusted to the time zone and regained your energy, you're only left with a few days to whizz around - and I can tell you it is exhausting! A week or ten days is the ideal - to spend more time relaxing, sitting in the cosy warm and taking in the different district's atmospheres.
WHERE TO SHOP
Chelsea Market - A treasure trove of beautiful vintage and silver jewellery, vintage clothing and up-and-coming brands and boutiques. There was a J Brand sample sale at the end of the week that I didn't have time to make it back to, but keep your eyes open for what sample sales they'll have when you next go. There is also an Anthropologie - my ultimate favourite store for homewares!
SoHo - This is my favourite place to shop. You've got all the classic high-street retailers mixed with cool concept stores and high-end boutiques i.e. Isabel Marant, Opening Ceremony and Acne Studios...
Fifth Avenue - For flagships and department stores, then Fifth Avenue is a must. Situated right at the top next to Central Park is Bergdorf Goodman, my favourite department store of all time. You've also got the Tiffany & Co original store which is always a great place to pick up a little souvenir or present as the prices are a lot lower in the states. And of course, the new Topshop flagship!
WHERE TO EAT
If you can, avoid the international chains, and American chains (if you must) and research places to eat before you go. We made the mistake of not researching places to eat (an easy mistake) and ended up eating in some pretty bleak chains that I'd normally avoid if we weren't desperate and wandering the -15 degrees streets at 9pm looking for some warmth! For breakfast, I'd recommend making your way across to Midtown East to Penelope for the banana french toast, head uptown to the secret Burger Joint hidden inside the Le Parker Meridien hotel for a burger and fries (trust me, the best I've ever tasted) and back downtown to Little Italy's newly refurbished Gelso & Grand for truffle bruschetta, calamari and prosciutto pizza.
I'd also highly recommend hitting up one of Chelsea Market's many eateries. We had the most deliciously mouthwatering tacos from Los Tacos No.1 - highly recommend! This indoor food court is perfect in the winter, and their free wifi is a nice touch!
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