My wife and I were in Manhattan for 5 days in March of 2008. It was a fantastic trip and I would recommend it to anyone of any age to go see.
Where Did We Stay?
We stayed at Hotel 31. It is a budget hotel on Park Avenue just a few blocks to the east of the Empire State Building. I wrote a review of Hotel 31 already.
What Restaurants Did We Eat At?
The Coffee Shop
This is located across the street from the northwest corner of Union Square. A neat restaurant where the lighting is so dark I couldn’t really read the menu. I had the Brazilian Seafood Chowder, oysters, and their sesame chicken salad was superb.
It has some really terrible reviews on a lot of sites, but overall I thought it was fine. Some sites mentioned the snootiness factor which I did notice when we walked in, but it was fine after that.
This is a tapa style restaurant. Probably the best calamari I have had and they serve a number of appetizer items that are pretty tasty. Check out the Elmo website.
Elephant and Castle
Located in Greenwich Village, this is a great place to have brunch before exploring the neighbourhood. I had the special for brunch which was a trout dish covered in a hollandaise sauce that was fantastic. There lattes are literally served in a small bowl.
Check out the Elephant and Castle website.
The Heartland Brewery is the restaurant in the bottom of the Empire State Building. It is huge. The food was good and there is lots of selection and is really a convenient place to grab a bit while you are touring around.
What Did We See
Empire State Building
A must see if you are in New York. The view is really neat and you can get a good idea how the city is laid out.
A downside are the lineups. They can get really long apparently. We fluked out and happened to have dinner at the restaurant downstairs and tried to go up around 10:30PM. There was basically no lineup and we just went straight up there.
The nighttime view was great and I have included a picture here. The daytime view really lets you see the layout of the city and apparently dusk is the best as you get the best of both views. This is supposedly the busiest time however.
It cost us $18/each to go up. You can stay as long as you want. Word of warning, however, is that it was extremely cold and windy while we were up there. A hood and mittens is a must for March weather if you want to stay on the outside and get a few photos.
Grand Central Station
There isn’t a lot to see here other than the building itself. The architecture is old and very neat. You can wander around and take some photos before catching a train or continue walking down the street.
GYPSY – Broadway Show
I thoroughly enjoyed this show. It stars Patti LuPone, who is a Broadway legend. The story is about a mother who is pushing her two daughters into show business to satisfy her need for success. It is really comical throughout.
We purchased half price tickets for $60 a person from the TKTS booth in Times Square.
Phantom Of The Opera – Broadway Show
It is a classic and it worked out to see it. We ended up getting standing room tickets for $25/person. It is a long time to stand, but it wasn’t really that bad. You have a railing to lean up on and designated spot at the back of the orchestra seating (main floor). You can sit in the lobby during the intermission for a break before you go back in too.
This is very cool to walk around. Keep in mind that it is very big and takes a while to actually walk. We ended up taking on of the bicycle carriages for $50. They start at $60, but went down $10 for us. It turned out to be a good idea as they know lots of little trivia about buildings around the park and different locations that have movie or television references.
There are tons of buildings to see in New York and you can look them all up yourself. Some of the ones I remembered are:
- Rockefeller Center – NBC studios are located in here.
- Carnegie Hall
- Radio City Music Hall
- Old Plaza Hotel
- John Lennon’s Old Apartment
- Woolworth Building
- Chrysler Building
- New York Public Library on 5th Avenue
- Trump Tower
- Time Warner
Some areas of New York City definitely have there own look and feel that is worth checking out if you can. In particular, I liked Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Soho.
This is all around the downtown and is just cool to walk around. There will be people out in suits, busy about their day. You can see a lot of office buildings, the New York Stock Exchange, the World Trade Center site, the bull on Broadway, city hall, and random other buildings.
This is worth the walk. We took the subway (A or C line) one stop into Brooklyn which is the High Street station. You get off and walk onto the bridge. It is about half and hour to walk back into Manhattan, but you get good views all the way back of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, downtown, the Statue of Liberty, and just all the other people using the bridge.
Staten Island Ferry
This is the best freebie and probably the only one in New York. The ferry is completely free and goes from Battery Park to Staten Island and back. You get views of Manhattan from the south, a closeup of the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.
They will probably make you get off at Staten Island, but you just walk through the terminal and get back on the same ferry for the ride back.
Statue of Libery
We did not go ourselves, but we got a closeup view from the Staten Island Ferry. There are plenty of tour companies offering a ferry over there and Ellis Island if you want it.
5th Avenue Shopping
This is just neat to see. Lots of high end stores with ridiculously priced items. Gucci, Dior, Chanel, Tiffany and Comnpany, Coach, Prada, and you name it.
You will also find some high end hotels along here and the 5th Avenue Mac store is there. The store is open 24 hours a day and all year. It never closes. It is under the ground and the entrance is a glass cube like thing. You have to see it to understand, but it is kind of neat.
Yes, that is a man holding a tray of champagne in the Dior store.
This place is just ridiculous. Tons of people and lots of lights. It doesn’t even slow down until late at night. You can catch Broadway shows, eat at a nice restaurant, go catch the Late Show with David Letterman, or just wander around and watch the commotion.
It is located where Broadway and 7th Avenue cross and extends in either direction.
This was just a cool museum. Event if you are not into the art scene, the Guggenhim Museum building is a cool enough shape inside to at least venture in a take a look. You don’t even need to pay to at least go in and look up at the snail like interior.
If you don’t feel like tackling the MET because of its size, this is a bit more manageable. It costs $18 to go through and you can do it in a couple hours if you want.
The exhibit while we were there as Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want To Believe.
It was quite neat. There were tigers, wolves, clay sculputres, canvas artwork made from explosions and fuses, and even some live animals.
Fuerzabruta is an extremely different show. You need to see it to believe it. Check out some of the Fuerzabruta YouTube videos on it and see if you would be interested. It is $72 and located at a theatre on the south east corner of Union Square.
This is a great historical place to see. The tour is around 45 minutes and costs around $18/each. They do have a student rate as well. You will see some of the meeting rooms and get some background information on the U.N.
This isn’t for the squeemish. The Bodies Exhibit is an exhibition of real humans that have been plasticized and certain parts put on display. You will see complete bodies with muscle and internal organs showing or you might only see there blood vessels preserved totally intact and in a human shape after the rest of the body was chemically removed.
There is a bit of controversy around it, but go check it out if you want. I found it very educational. It is $26 a person and is located at the South Street Seaport.
The Knicks, Rangers, or Yankees all play within a close distance from the downtown. Plus there are some other teams when you get into New Jersey.
My Map Of New York
Here is my Google Map of New York. I zoomed in on downtown, midtown, and uptown before printing off a copy. It worked well for getting around the city. Click on a flag to see what the site was.
Overall, it is an awesome place to go. You can find a lot of things to do and even check out other sites that have tour options if you don’t feel like doing it yourself.