New York City is a place I’ll never tire of visiting. Each trip can be themed around taking in major sports teams, musical acts, high end shopping, cultural festivals, celebrity sightings, etc.
My very first trip to NYC was a whirlwind of non-stop activity as I tried to cram in as much sightseeing and experiencing as I could. Here are my top ten unforgettable experiences in the Big Apple.
- With more than 700 bars to choose from in Manhattan alone, you can find the right watering hole for you, whether you want to people watch, imbibe a $40 cocktail or slurp specialty oysters while you chat with your companions. My go-to spot is Marie’s Crisis piano bar in the West Village. A former speakeasy, this little underground bar is populated by a rotating cast of brilliant piano players belting out famous and obscure Broadway show tunes while patrons (and staff) with incredible voices sing along or sing solo.
- People watching in Times Square is loads of fun. Find a safe spot out of the way watch the stream of humanity filing by. If you’re lucky, you might see a few talented buskers, a flash mob or a movie filming.
- Central Park is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the bustling city. Plan to rent a bike on park (ignore the independent guys who will try to lead you ten blocks away to pick up their bargain bikes) and ride around for the best view, or sit back and relax while a knowledgeable rickshaw guide takes you around a few loops.
- Cheering and jeering is mandatory if you want to take in Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. The theatre is a short walk from subway stations on densely populated streets, and the historic building is a beaut.
- Walking quietly and respectfully though the site of the former Twin Towers was an important element of our visit. The World Trade Centre Memorial shouldn’t be missed.
- An unrepentant bookworm, I spent hours perusing the shelves of The Strand used bookstore. Billed as the largest used bookstore in the world, the store boasts 18 miles of books.
- Walking The High Line, a unique public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets in Chelsea.
- A few touristy trips really are a lot of fun – take the Staten Island Ferry for a great view of downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, and buy a hot dog from a street vendor to nosh on while you walk the Brooklyn Bridge.
- High end shopping on Fifth Avenue is a favourite for the well-heeled shopper, but my taste, and budget, is decidedly more down market. I enjoyed visiting the Brooklyn Flea Market, checking our stoop sales (brownstone versions of a garage sale) and vintage shopping in the East Village (No Relation Vintage was my favourite).
- The food – the food! I had spent countless hours poring over restaurant reviews and menus online, selecting a few restaurants from each neighbourhood. All of our meals were memorable, but the following really stood out: chicken and waffles at Sylvia’s, deep fried shrimp sushi at Hakata Ton Ton, shakes and burgers at Shake Shack, pad thai at Pinto, lobster bisque at The Original Soupman and melt in your mouth pork belly buns at Momofuku Noodle bar.
“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” Tom Wolfe
Sarah began freelance writing for the Calgary Herald at the age of 15. Since then, she’s written hundreds of feature articles, book reviews and business, restaurant and individual profiles for magazines and newspapers across Canada. Sarah has three daughters who sometimes accompany her on her travels, and she blogs at Doing All The Things. You can read some of her other travel pieces at http://sarahdeveau.wordpress.com/.