Last year I finally got to travel to a city I have always dreamed about visiting – New York City. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it was – I honestly felt like I was in a movie for the entire trip it was just so surreal.
So, I decided to do a blog post on my trip with some personal tips and recommendations for you. First thing is first, if you are planning to go make sure you shop around first. Normally when I book holidays I don’t book packages, mainly because I think some packages are just crazy money and I know that you can get flights and accommodation no bother AND most of the time when I book it myself it always works out cheaper. This was the case for New York as well – we booked our flights through Aer Lingus and trawled Tripadvisor for at least two weeks before deciding on which hotel to stay in. We got loads of recommendations for places to stay – I love personal recommendations because you are almost always guaranteed an honest review. We decided on the Hotel Edison and all together it cost us €750 each for 5 days.
I booked airport transfers with JR Luxury NYC – I joined a New York Facebook Page which I would 100% recommend because the group is full of tips and help and advice (you do have to request to join but it’s normally accepted in a few minutes). I saw that JR Luxury were recommended numerous times on the Facebook group so we decided to book with them. You can contact them to get a quote they are so helpful, and when we did confirm our booking they emailed us a whole list of places to eat and things to do. We flew into JFK which isn’t far from the city so if you do want to get a taxi I think they are around €50.
Another thing I would suggest is don’t get sucked into the New York Pass or City Pass. Before you buy one you really have to consider how long you are there for, what you want to see and at what pace you want to see it. Like, think about it.. 80 attractions and you’re there for 3/4 days? And some of the attractions that are advertised are free, such as Central Park , Times Square, and then the museum admission is ‘pay what you wish’ so you can pay their suggested admission of $22 or you can basically pay what you want (I personally paid the suggested admission because I read up on what the museum does in terms of research and they offer free trips for schools which I loved). In a nutshell, plan what you want to see and weigh out the costs and see which is better value for what you want to do.
We all know that New York means one thing – SHOPPING. When I was planning to go I had heard all about the outlets and of course I wanted to go. But while I was researching and reading about the shops in the outlets and also reading if they are worth the visit I found loads of posts especially on TripAdvisor saying that they aren’t worth a visit and the shopping is better in the city BLAH BLAH BLAHHHH. Do me a favour, if you read things like this or hear things like this DON’T LISTEN. If you want to go to the outlets – GO. You can decide yourself when you get there if it was worth it. Don’t let others put you off, make your own mind up and then see how it goes. For me personally I LOVED the outlets. We went to two Outlets, Woodbury Common and Jersey Gardens. Sean loved Woodbury Common and I loved Jersey Gardens. In short, Woodbury Common is about an hours drive away and it is not a centre all the shops are outside. So if you are going in the winter time wrap up because it can be quite chilly. Jersey Gardens is only a 20-25 minute drive from the city, the shops are tax free and the main reason why I loved it – there was a Victoria Secret Outlet there 😍 and just to give you an idea of the prices I got 3 bikinis for $60….. let that sink in. If you are going to go to either outlets I would recommend the following –
- Go early, the earlier you go the more time you have to shop and to take your time going from shop to shop.
- Bring a small suit case to Woodbury, we didn’t but I saw so many people who did and we were sorry we didn’t because we had so many bags to drag around!
- Get a trolly in Jersey Gardens, they’re so handy to wheel around and throw your bags into. I think they’re $4 dollars for the day.
- WEAR COMFY SHOES
- Pick up your discount booklets from customer services in both outlets – you just need to show your passport. Give the booklet a read because there are some really good deals in them.
To give you an idea of the bargains you can pick up here. When we visited, Converse had buy 1 pair get a 2nd pair for half price. Vans were 50% off everything. Calvin Klein had 70% off women’s underwear. I picked up three pairs of Nike Runners for something like $60 dollars. Sean got so many tshirts in Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, All Saints all for nearly half price. I also picked up two Guess Bags for me and my mam and they were less than $100 for the two. So in short – the outlets were 100% worth a visit.
We stayed in Hotel Edison which is literally right on Times Square. I would recommend this hotel only for it’s location and the rooms were really comfy and clean – as for the staff, I have decided not to comment but just don’t expect a warm welcome or helpful attitude.
The afternoon we arrived we dropped our bags and went straight out. Mind you I was in no form after the plane journey I was so so travel sick but I was glad we went out in the end. We walked up to the Empire State Building and we just paid upon entry, we paid $34 dollars for the main deck as the top deck was actually closed at the time for reconstruction (see Website for info & Pricing here). The views from the top were just outstanding, I will never forget it!
Day 2 – We were up at the crack of dawn and walked to Times Square for some photos, it was empty because it was so early. A picture on the red steps is of course a must!
We then went to Top of the Rock, we had already decided that we wanted to get the Sun and Stars Package which is ticket entry for day and night. I’ve just looked this up online here, and it gave me a price of $98 for two people -We only paid $47 each when we went and again we just paid upon entry and it wasn’t too busy. But it was 100% worth it, the views from up here are just incredible, this was definitely my favourite. You can see the whole of central park from here! There’s loads of seating inside up at the top level with massive windows so if you are freezing your arse off you can hide inside and look out the window! We went back later that evening for the night time views and I think my photos speak for themselves – breathtaking!
We roamed around the Rockerfeller centre, and went to St.Patrick’s Cathedral, I am not religious but this was a gorgeous Cathedral. We then walked to the New York Library stopping off in Battery Park for some coffee and then we walked to Grand Central Station. It was so surreal being here because it’s in so many movies that I watched, I literally just stood at the top of the stairs looking around for a good 15 minutes taking it all in.
Day 3 – We walked from our hotel up to Central Park stopping in to a little cafe for some brekkie called The Roast Kitchen – I loved this place, they made our omelettes right in front of us and they had fresh juice and smoothies too (amazing staff too!). It was a really really cold morning so the grass was still frosty and the lake was part frozen too. We stopped in at the Boathouse for coffees and strolled around some more. Central Park is 100% a must and I would recommend walking it because it’s just so nice, hard to believe this little gem is literally in the middle of a concrete jungle. Such a stunning park, and if you are an animal lover like me there’s loads of squirrels and little birdies to be seen too! We then headed towards the Museum of Natural History. This was really busy here but we got a good two hours in. When we were finished we went outside and got two hot dogs from the hot dog stands – definitely recommend trying these!!
After the Museum we got a taxi to Downtown Manahattan and got off near Wall Street. We walked from here to the Twin Tower Memorial. It really is an amazing an honorable memorial that they have put in place here, I only took a few photos as I personally felt it was inappropriate to take photos where so many people lost their lives. We walked from here down to the port to get the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. The ferry is free, runs and it literally takes 15 minutes to reach Staten Island, loads of time to get some photos and some great views of the city from the ferry too. The ferry leaves every 30 minutes, see schedule here. After the ferry we walked up toward Little Italy and had dinner in Lombardis, the oldest pizza place in New York! Super super busy we were lucky they took us as a walk in, but the pizza was delish!
Days 4 – We went to Woodbury Common and shopped our socks off
Day 5 – We went to Jersey Gardens and shopped our socks off again!
As I said above, I loved both outlets and when I go back to New York I will go back to both of them again because – to be honest, I just love shopping! Though I am not sure if I will be able to persuade Sean to go to both of them again, he might murder me!!
What I learned and what I would reccomend when going to New York –
- If you are going in the Winter Time – WRAP UP AND WEAR LAYERS. I have genuinely never felt cold like it, I was literally frozen right down to my bone marrow!
- Bring comfy shoes – trust me on this one, no heeled boot is worth the agony! Granted we walked everywhere but that was the whole fun of it, to take in and experience the city in it’s entirety. But bring runners or something flat, you’ll need them.
- Don’t over tip – 15% is loads and it’s not mandatory so don’t feel like you have to.
- If you are exchanging your cash try get smaller bills – perfect for tipping.
- If you’re lost, stop and ask someone, New Yorkers are so friendly and helpful, the few that we stopped were only delighted to give us directions and some info!
- Print a map and familiarize yourself with the layout – once you get there you’ll get the hang of the directs of the streets and the avenues.
- Make a plan and an itinerary of where you want to go and what you want to do – the more prepared you are the better!
- Try a hot dog at the hot dog stands, they’re yummy.
- Go further downtown for your souvenirs because the shops up near Times Square are a total rip off.
Guys, I really hope you liked this post about New York. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below I am happy to answer any that you may have. If you enjoyed it and want to read more of my posts you can subscribe above with your email and receive updates when there are new posts up.
As always, thank you so much for reading.