New York City

A secondee's guide to New York

Flying over New York from Washington DC to Boston

I was lucky enough to be sent to New York for a four month secondment for work several years ago.  So, from January through to April I lived and worked in Mid-Town Manhattan.  The following is my take on the best things that Manhattan has to offer (this is by no means an exhaustive list otherwise I'd be writing for days and no one wants that!). 

1. Rooftop bars

The advantage of having skyscrapers everywhere is that majority of the buildings have amazing views of both downtown and uptown New York.  In true New York style, rooftop bars and restaurants are everywhere. 

230 Fifth, located at number 230 on fifth street (makes sense), is the classic tourist rooftop bar as it gives amazing views of the NYC skyline.  It is definitely worth a quick visit for the view, but there is no real atmosphere to stay here for much longer than a drink. It is open all year round and warm red blankets are available in Winter to keep you warm.  They even had plastic igloos with table and chairs inside last year for those willing to pay a little bit extra to enjoy the view.

My favourite was Hudson Hotel on the corner on 57th and 9th in Mid-Town and just a few blocks south of Central Park. The Hudson Hotel may not have the best views in comparison with other rooftop bars but the atmosphere, food and drinks are some of the best in New York, not to mention it has a stunning library room.  The Hotel has been beautifully renovated and is well worth the visit and drinks - I just wish I could afford to stay here when I visit NYC again.

Other honourable mentions include: Brass Monkey, the Refinery Hotel, Press Lounge, Library Hotel, and if you want some cool views from Brooklyn, the Ides Bar.

230 Fifth

230 Fifth

2. Brooklyn Bridge

Ok so everyone recommends the Brooklyn Bridge and be warned that in summer, or any day that its not -10 degrees for that matter, there will thousands of people there getting in your way.  It is definitely a worthwhile visit for the views of the City, to visit Brooklyn, and/or for a nice day out.  The best way to do it to avoid all the people is to jump on one of the free City Bikes which are all over the place and ride across the bridge (you have your own lane to avoid all the people taking photos).  You can then easily visit Brooklyn and Willamsburg.  Also try Grimaldi's Pizza situated the Brooklyn side of the Bridge; one of the best pizza places in New York. 

Cycling the Brooklyn Bridge

Looking towards Mid-Town Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

3. Chelsea - Highline and Markets

Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen and the Meat Packing Districts in Manhattan (located all on the West Side), were some of my favourites.  The Chelsea High Line is an old abandoned railway that has now been turned into a cool walk through the west side of Manhattan which gives you great views of the sky line. 

Finish the walk off with a visit to the Chelsea Markets for lunch - some great places to eat! 

                     A hidden Burger Bar inside the Meridian Hotel

4. Eating in New York

When I was growing up my dad would tell me that Harrods in London was the place to go if you had to buy something outrageous - even an elephant.  This is how I imagine NYC for food - literally anything you want you can find and even things you have never heard of.  Ever tried a Cronut or chorizo ice cream?  Or in true American fashion - try some bacon covered in chocolate.  

I have made a list of some of our favourite places in the below post but you can find literally anything you are craving by googling it and doing some research.

5. Sports in New York

It wouldn't be New York without going to Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium.  The best place to buy tickets from is  Stubhub, actually owned by eBay, is an online market to buy tickets through.  Just make sure if you are travelling around that you buy the electronic tickets so that you can just print them rather than having to have the tickets posted to you. 

Knicks game at Maddison Square Gardens

Nets game at Barcleys

NY Rangers at Maddison Square Gardens

NY Yankees at Yankee Stadium

6. Central Park

It still amazes me that in a city the size of New York there can be a park of this size.  Considering the land is worth somewhere in the vicinity of $35 billion it is amazing that parts of it have not been sold off. 

Central Park is ever-changing depending on the season or the weather; it is hard to say what is better: the park romantically covered in snow or colourfully bright on a sunny day.  Either way it is worth a walk from one end to the other.

Brooklyn Brewery

7. Brooklyn Brewery

The Brooklyn Brewery was a great change of pace for us.  Just across the East River in Williamsburg is the Brooklyn Microbrewery - famous for its Brooklyn Brewery.  There is a free tour available of the brewery and there is a nice beer garden there to try all different types of craft beers that cannot be bought anywhere else.

Afterwards if you are keen to kick on, there is a nice rooftop bar across the road with views of the Manhattan Skyline. 

8. Skiing day trip

Want to get out of the big city for the day?  See some mountains?  The snow, depending on the time of year you are in NYC, is closer than you think. 

You can arrive in the snow within a 2-2.5 hours by bus.  I have used Urban Sherpa as they offer lift pass, transport from NYC to Windham/Killington and gear rental for around $130.  You can also arrange with them to stay a few nights or a weekend.  The only downside is that they only go to certain ski resorts on certain days.

Snowboarding at Windham, Upstate New York. 

9. Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller or Empire State Building for views of the New York skyline?  Both are good but to me the Rockefeller gets the nod based on the fact you get a view of the Empire State Building and a better view of Central Park.  There is also slightly less people at Rockefeller and you don't feel like cattle being herded into a pen (a very high pen).

 Top of the Rock costs $32 and is located on the corner of 50th between fifth and six avenues.

View of the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock

10. Cruise the Hudson River

I wasn't overly impressed by the Statue of Liberty but an evening cruise on the harbour was a good way to see it along with the rest of New York.  The cruise offered good food, good music, and an overall fun evening.

Cruising the Hudson River

11. Broadway

Book of Mormon!  Amazing - except you would be lucky to find a ticket for under $200.  To get into the Book of Mormon cheaply (about $30) you will need to line up at the ticket booth outside the theatre about two or three hours before and buy standing room tickets (the first ten or so people will get them).  Everyone else can go into the draw to win 20 seated tickets (max 2 per person - so you have 10 chances). 

our standing spots, Before the Book of Mormon