Much of the time when we travel we do our best to avoid the clichés. We want to get off the ‘beaten track’, do things like a local, or discover the ‘genuine’ [insert destination here]. But sometimes the clichés are so engrained in the image we have of a place they can be difficult to avoid. New York is the perfect example. Ever present on the big screen and in your favourite TV shows, New York is a place that conjures up emotion without you ever having set a foot in the city. So what better way to discover it for the first time than by walking in your favourite characters footsteps?
Take a Walk Around the Block
If TV shows are anything to go by then New York is a place where people are perennially moving home. As Sex and the City’s Carrie says: “In New York, you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend or an apartment”. It’s hard to imagine the city without thinking of those classic brownstone townhouses, steps leading up to front door, elegant trees lining the edges of the streets. So why not take a break from seeing the main sights and get lost in some of the more residential parts of New York. Start in West Village, a pretty Manhattan neighbourhood with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to stop off at during your walk. Another New York district that’s ideal for exploring on foot is East Village, where you can find plenty of all-night nightlife and bars as well as quirky vintage shops and coffee shops.
Meet Me at the Top of the Empire State Building…
It may be a classic on the must-see list of things to do in New York, but don’t turn down a visit to the Empire State Building because of the queues, the weather or because someone told you it ‘wasn’t that good’. Unlike some iconic landmarks (the Statue of Liberty, while fantastic, is a little small in real life), the Empire State Building won’t let you down and the views over Manhatten and out into the bay are stunning. There’s a reason Sleepless in Seattle was filmed up here…
Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Good!
If my childhood memories of TV serve me right, New Yorkers live on an almost exclusive diet of macaroni and cheese, pop tarts, s’mores, Twinkies, corn dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagels and pizza. As a kid, when the most exciting snacks available where stringy cheese and choc ices, I was determined to try some of these weird, exotic foods. Now that I have, I can safely say that some were worth it, some not so much so (I mean you, Twinkies). However New York food is (and probably always was) so much more exciting than that, so make sure to visit some of the best restaurants and cafés in town!
A must on the very long list of places to eat in New York is Dominique Ansel Bakery, birthplace of the cronut. Perhaps the most sugar-coma inducing snack of them all, the cronut (in case you didn’t know) is a deep-fried cross between a croissant and a doughnut. And is delicious. Get there early, they sell out fast.
I Need to Get to Rockefeller Centre!
What Christmas is complete without another rerun of Miracle on 34th Street, Elf and Home Alone 2? If your family Christmas was all about ripping open your presents and the spending then day watching New York-based festive films, then stick around until the end of the year when the entire city is lit up like a Christmas tree. Your main destination? Rockefeller Centre, for the biggest tree you will ever see. Follow that with a trip to the Top of the Rock, for another amazing view of the New York city skyline, this time complete with the Empire State Building.