“There’s something in the New York air that makes sleep seem useless” – Simone de Beauvoir

Ohh New York City. Gosh you were exciting, crazy, wonderful, incredibly busy and a place I will want to go back to again. But not for Christmas. The crowds were quite unberable and rude and after 10 days I had definitely had enough of waiting in lines and being pushed and knocked all the time. Don’t get me wrong, seeing all the Christmas decoration, window displays, Christmas markets and ice-skating in Central Park on Christmas Day was amazing! But I would recommend going to NYC before Christmas to see all these things, then getting the hell out of there and spending Christmas in a small peaceful snow-covered cabin in the country πŸ™‚

I got the New York Pass for 7 days for about $190 USD (look online for discount codes). It covered entry into most of the major attraction and got me to do many more things I hadn’t considered seeing while I was there too which was great. Check out what is available beforehand. Some of the walking tours can book out when it is busy but you can book them online in advance (Eg the Food on Foot tour. It sounded amazing but was booked out for weeks!).

When you go to NYC expect to be busy because there is so much to see, do, taste and feel! Here is a “brief” rundown of what I managed to get through in 10 days (anything with a * next to it was part of the NYC Pass):

(Scroll to the bottom for photo gallery)

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Times Square – just stop in the middle and absorb the lights, the people and the chaos. In the centre of Times Square is the TKTS booth where you can buy cheaper last-minute Broadway Show tickets, which sometimes still weren’t all that cheap. I got onto an app called Today Tix and I found it better and cheaper.

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Columbus Circle Christmas Markets, right on the edge of Central Park – this was gorgeous, had delicious food, cute trinkets and a great atmosphere.

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NYC style pizza – you definitely need to stuff your face with pizza slices the size of your head. It is the NY way.

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Union Square Farmers Markets – they had delicious hot apple cider and a great assortment of fresh fruit and veggies (which you will probably crave after eating all that pizza!)

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Strand Bookstore – it is found near Union Square and is 18 miles of new, used and rare book heaven for the reading enthusiast.

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Grand Central Station – this place is great for people watching and admiring the building’s design. Also check out the Grand Central Markets where you can buy ridiculously overpriced but delicious cheese and other smallgoods.

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* Rockefeller Center and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree – if you want the tree to yourself you will have to visit in the wee hours of the morning, otherwise you have to battle with the other 5000 people wanting a picture with the tree. The Rockefeller Center is a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture and if you do the walking tour you will get a wonderful insight into the history of the building and see the large amount of ‘hidden’ artworks on its walls and ceilings.

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* Brooklyn Bridge – no trip is complete without the compulsory arty photo of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge walking tour was great and took us on an interesting historical journey with a stop-off for amazing hot chocolate at the end.

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Shake Shack is a new fast food chain with surprisingly delicious burgers and also serve beer and wine. There is one on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge with a lovely fireplace to warm your freezing tush!

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Plaza Hotel – Made famous in the Home Alone movies, it is really pretty inside and worth a walk-through.

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Central Park – this park is absolutely amazing. It is so big and you could spend days exploring the different areas. Hire bikes to explore the perimeter, walk through other areas on foot, go ice-skating in the winter and watch the cute little squirrels bounce around through the trees. I can’t wait to one day go back and see it in another season.

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NY Knicks game at Madison Square Garden – the annual Christmas Day game was great fun despite the fact that the Knicks lost!

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Ice skating in Central Park – If you go to the rink at the south end of the park you will pay a premium compared to the one at the north end, but the rink is bigger and it is more conveniently located.

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New York Subway – the subway network is great, quick and easy to use. I felt completely safe and it is such a cheap way to get around.

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* Finance Museum – it had some interesting facts about the advent of finance and how it has changed over time.

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* Water Taxi Tour around lower Manhattan – a great way to see the city from the water. The driver also points out some sights along the way.

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* Wall St walking tour – a fantastic walking tour around a place with such interesting history.

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Ground Zero and Survivor Tree – this was such a sad place to visit that they have turned into a lovely memorial park.

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* Tribute Centre – this has some really sad stories from survivors and rescue workers from 9/11.

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* Madam Tussauds – my first time to Madam Tussauds and I was impressed by the detail that went into these sculptures. I am not a huge celebrity person however, and so I would skip this if you aren’t either.

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* Statue of Liberty – a trip to NYC must include a visit to Liberty Island to see the neoclassical copper statue representing friendship between nations and freedom from oppression. Head out there on the first boat out for a less crowded experience. The boat ride also gives you a nice view of the south part of Manhattan Island.

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* Top of The Rock – in my opinion the view was better than from the Empire State Building. It is less crowded, the view isn’t obscured by metal bars, you can still get a great view from indoors if the weather is bad and you get a better view of Central Park. So in my opinion, if you only have time or money to see one view, go for this one

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* Bike riding around Central Park – it is harder work than you think with all those hills, but it is a great way to see the park

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* Guggenheim Museum – an interesting collection of art that is worth a browse. The building itself is really interesting too.

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Magnolia Bakery – this famous bakery has a delicious apple crumble slice!

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Stand Up NY live comedy – this is the one I checked out, barter for tickets on the streets around Times Square as there is a minimum drink spend per person when you get there. But the comedy was so hilarious I couldn’t breathe!

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* Empire State Building – a beautiful iconic building with a nice view and a really interesting history. Did you know that at the time of completion it was the tallest skyscraper in the world? If it is busy you need to get your tickets in advance to go up to the observation deck (read earlier info about Top of The Rock).

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* New York Sky Ride – this was so terrible that if I had paid extra to do this I would have been very upset. But if you have the NYC Pass, just do it for a laugh.

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* Natural History Museum – this is such an incredible museum with amazing displays and one could spend days wandering around there. Tip: do not go on a rainy day around Christmas when 50,000 other people decide to do the same thing!

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* Soho, Chinatown and Little Italy walking tour – a great walking tour of a really interesting par of town, you will also get to try some great food and delicious dumplings from the ‘dumpling nazi’ (you will understand when you go there. Have correct change!!)

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Supreme Court building – a building worth having a look inside if you are walking past.

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Serendipity – stupidly overpriced sundaes and frozen hot chocolates (how does that even work?) and a ridiculously long wait time, but the decor it kitsch and the atmosphere is quite cool. But don’t expect to have time to sit and chat afterwards, they will quickly scoot you out the door to fill the tables again. It was cool, but if you don’t have a burning desire to go here don’t bother.

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* Chelsea, Meatpacking District and Highline walking tour – another great walking tour of a part of town that has made some amazing changes

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Chelsea markets – really hipster and cool! Check it out!

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* Intrepid Air Sea Space museum – a chance to board an aircraft carrier and explore the science behind air, sea and space travel.

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Broadway play – ‘This is our youth’ – this was a cheap but fairly average play, but I got to see a Broadway show!

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* Moma – the Museum of Modern Art has something for everybody and is worth a peruse.

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The MET – all required to enter is a ‘donation’ which can be a few pennies and then check out all the cool art in there.

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New York Library – I never managed to get inside (thanks Christmas holiday closures!) but from the outside it is still a beautiful building. Also the Christmas markets nearby are great!

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Central Park New Years fireworks – I was not feeling up for battling the crowds and not having access to food, drinks or toilets for 12 hours, so I decided not to do new years at Times Square. Instead we took to a pub near Central Park and rushed over watch the fireworks. They were not as good as Sydney’s fireworks but hey, they were still fireworks!

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The Soup Man – I grew up as the daughter of a Seinfeld fanatic and was super excited to get a picture at the Soup Man store for my dad even though it was closed.

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Tom’s Diner – is the diner that is the backdrop from Seinfeld. Again, I was excited to see this in real life.

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Washington Square – check it out an feed some pigeons.

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* Museum of Sex – prepare to be intrigued and also horrified in this museum. 18+

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* Discovery Times Square Body Worlds Exhibit – being a vet and having an interest in anatomy I was quite excited to see this exhibit. Not for the squeamish but I thought it was really cool! They even had a plasticised dissected horse and rider!

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Woah, I made it! And hopefully you did too!

I stayed in Brooklyn at an Air BnB place. It was great, alot cheaper than staying in Manhattan and only 20mins on the subway from Times Square!