I can't believe it has nearly been a whole year since our anniversary trip to New York City. Also, I can't believe I still haven't finished writing my blog posts about it! While you're waiting, we have come up with a list of our top 10 tips to make your visit to NYC one to remember. We had the most amazing time & can't wait to visit again some day.
1. Book an Airport Lounge
The Mister surprised me with a pre-booked airport lounge for our outward journey which got our anniversary trip off to a great start. It made it that little bit more special, and after check-in we headed to the lounge and enjoyed comfy seats and free Wi-Fi in addition to our complimentary drinks (free Prosecco, anyone?) and snacks, and a small pre-flight meal. There are several lounges to choose from, we used No1 lounges in Heathrow T3 and really enjoyed our experience with them.
2. Book your Transport between the Airport and Hotel in Advance
Arriving in a big and bustling place like NYC especially at night-time was a daunting prospect, before we left we booked a shared van transfer from JFK to our hotel (and the return journey) using Attraction Tickets Direct. It is a 24-hour and door-to-door service and their current website price makes it only £68 return for two people, and booking it in advance means it's all paid for and won't eat into your spending money. After walking into arrivals we simply took our ticket to the desk, and the customer service representative called it through for us. After a short wait, our driver arrived and showed us out to the van and took us straight to our hotel. For the return journey, the Mister called and booked our van 24 hours in advance for the time required and we left our luggage in reception while we went out to enjoy our last day in the city.
3. Book Attraction Tickets in Advance and Plan a Loose Itinerary
Visiting lots of attractions can work out to be very expensive, it's definitely worth looking into buying your attraction tickets in advance - buying a multi attraction pass is good value as well as a great way to save money when you're sightseeing. We booked a pass for 5 attractions, and chose the places we wanted to visit from the list on the ATD website. You can even pre-book meal tickets (that include a drink, main meal & dessert from a set menu) for places like the Hard Rock Café in Times Square.
4. Use a Hop-On/Hop-Off Tour Bus
We didn't want to use the subway, so we booked the New York FreeStyle Pass mentioned above from Attraction Tickets Direct which is currently £125 per person for 5 attractions, and this also included tickets for the All Around Town Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus Tour and the Hop-on/Hop-Off Harbour Cruise on the Hudson. We used the tour bus to get around the city as they stop at or near all the major landmarks.
5. Take a River Cruise
The Hop-on/Hop-Off Harbour Cruise has four stops and does a little circuit of the Hudson, passing Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty as well as giving you amazing views of the skyscrapers in the financial district. It was definitely a highlight for me & next time I would love to get a ferry out to Liberty Island for a closer look at the statue.
6. Spend a day walking around Central Park
It's beautiful and there is so much to see and explore - and it's free! On our last day our bus tickets had expired and we had used up 4 of our 5 attraction tickets, so we spent most of the day walking around Central Park taking photos and looking at all of the sights including the beautiful bridges and sculptures, such as the bronze Alice in Wonderland statue. Take a picnic and make a day of it. We also walked to Grand Central to have a look around and take some photos as it is only a few blocks away from Central Park and an absolutely stunning piece of architecture.
7. Do a View Attraction at Night, and one by Day
If you're going to visit a 'view' attraction like Empire State, Top of the Rock or One World Observatory, I would recommend doing one at night and one in the day. We decided to visit Empire during the day time, and the Top of the Rock at night. It was awe-inspiring, and I would do it all again to see those views over the city, it was breath-taking. I definitely plan to visit One World next time.
8. Have Small Bills for Tips
You're expected to tip pretty much all of the time, particularly for the guides and drivers if you are hopping on and off the bus and cruise so make sure you keep some smaller bills for tips handy otherwise it could really eat into your budget.
9. Plan Areas to Visit to Reduce your Travel Time
You don't need to be too rigid with your plans, but having a look at where everything is so you can do a day in one area, then a day in another etc. to save wasting your precious sightseeing time sitting in traffic is a good idea. If you plan well, you can design yourself almost a walking tour as you go from one landmark to another, like getting off of the bus at Battery Park to go and see the Bull before walking along Wall Street and seeing the New York Stock Exchange as you head to the harbour for the cruise, for example. Get yourself a map and find your bearings.
10. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge
Again another free activity, which gives you some lovely views over the river and just has to be done. There are lots of little stalls at the entrance to the bridge, so grab yourself a giant Pretzel and have a leisurely stroll over the bridge and back.