Wednesday, 13 April 2016

How to do New York (cheaply) in 5 days

I have just come back from the most amazing 10 day stay in New York - it was so long as my Dad has been asked to speak at some events over the course of the few days. We stayed in a budget hotel that does not provide breakfast - but that didn't matter as there were plenty of cheap places around where you could grab a bite to eat and even an award winning burger joint joining the hotel. If you are looking for an amazing experience but you are on a tight(ish) budget I am going to give you my guide of what to do and where to eat.


We stayed in the budget Pod 51 hotel (as it is on 51st street) and it was a brilliant stay. They have a range of rooms - very cheap ones that mean that you share a bathroom with another room or queen beds with a private bathroom. Now I won't lie and say that the bathrooms are big - in our room it was more or a toilet a few feet away from the shower and the small sink was in our bedroom (but we were in the bigger room). But the shower is lovely - I must have spent hours (in total!) singing my heart out and dancing around in there. It is also the cleanest hotel that I have ever stayed in - the maids are lovely and prompt and they will do a fantastic job of cleaning your room. It was a lovely place to stay. 

Day One

So you've traveled all day (or maybe a few hours) and you're tired but you still want to venture out into this brilliant city and make the most of what is left of the day. I'd suggest going to Times Square (if it is the evening), standing on the steps and just taking in the chaos of the city. Avoid the costume clad actors and the topless Statue of Liberty's and pose for photos with the neon adverts behind you. You could even pop into the shops around the square and do some shopping or you could (if you have time) take a wander down to the flat iron building that is around 20 or so minutes away (depending on how fast you walk).

If you stay in Times Square and you fancy a burger to start your American journey then I would recomend The Counter - it's a bit like Build a Bear but with burgers. Now, I don't eat beef burgers so I am an expert in vegetarian or vegan burgers and let me tell you their Vegan Veggie burger is the best burger that I have ever had. Ever. And there is always seems to be someone standing outside handing out vouchers for free fries. It was great.

Day Two

Right so you are up early and ready to take on the city. You want it to be cheap but also fun so head out of the hotel and grab your breakfast in Ess-A-Bagel on the way. Walk through central park (make sure to see the Alice in Wonderland statue if you like reading) and head towards the Met. It's massive and best of all it's by donation. This means that, although the suggested fee is $25 per adult you can pay whatever you can afford (it can be free if you want but it really is a great art museum). You can spend hours here - we did about three hours there and there were massive sections that we didn't see.

Now you're hungry so you can head back to Central Park and have a Le Pain Quotidien or you can take a walk to the Upper East Side's Shake Shack (I know it's a chain but it is cheap and reliable - also have the chicken burger). If you go over to the Shake Shack you can nip into Barnes and Nobel and browse this fantastic bookshop (just don't mention Amazon).

Once you've done that you can wander back to the hotel or visit The Frick collection - it's $20 per admission but it is very interesting f you are into your art. Or you could even head back to the park and walk or read or take photos or pet random peoples dogs.

That evening grab some homely Italian food in the family run restaurant Mimi's and then take a walk around the block (or grab some drinks in one of the near by bars) before going to bed to prepare to cram day three in.

Day Three

Make your way to Grand Central and catch the 4 down to Fulton Street (or a 6 but the 4 is quicker) then take a trip to the 9/11 memorial. Be respectful and don't lean or take smiley selfies with the memorial (I mean you can do the second one and you will see people do it but really?). Then you can go to the most moving museum I have ever been to. It costs $24 per adult to enter but apparently they do free Tuesday admission (but prepare for crowds). It is moving, horrific and brilliantly done. 

Then you can walk to The Staten Island Ferry Terminal (it's free) and you can hop on, see the sites, get off and hop straight back on the next one back. Or you can grab lunch in Pier 76  and then head back. Afterwards you can walk to the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across to Brooklyn before ambling through the park and popping into the local shops as you do. Then you can head for dinner in Grimaldi’s Pizza on the way back.

Day Four

Are you ready for some cramming? It's your last full day day in New York and you need to fill it up in with as much as possible. It's museum time so head on back through central park and get ready for some queuing in The Natural History Museum (it's by donation again). Speed through the stuffed animal section and head to dinosaurs and the human evolution section.

After this head and get lunch in Chipotle before going down to MoMa (if you go on Friday they have a free afternoon admission but it does get busy and you do have to check in a backpack so if you can do, avoid bringing a large bag). There is some truly amazing art in there that you must see (and also some really odd parts that are still a must see). You have to pay (I think people under 18 are free) but it is so worth it. These two museums should take a big chunk out of your day but there is something else that you have to do...

The day before you must go to The Rock and book evening tickets (aim to go about 40 minutes before sun set) it is expensive but you should do this over going to The Empire State (as you can't see the Empire State from the Empire State). Get there early and nab yourself a spot facing downtown. Then arm yourself with a lens and prepare yourself for elbows and spectacular views. 

For dinner maybe head to Patsy's Pizzeria (it is great if you have children) and definitely have the cheese cake.

Day Five

You're flights later on so you have a few hours to go shopping and a chance to see the sites a bit more before you leave. I would recomend (if it's a Sunday) booking brunch in The Smith (it is pricey but amazing) and do you shopping now. Shop till you drop and head back over to Central Park for one last walk in the wonderful but wacky New York City. 

Then head to Bryant Park and have a coffee before talking a walk around the New York City Library (hopefully the rooms will be open for you - for us there was urgent work being carried out so there were some areas that we couldn't go into).

(This post wasn't sponsored and I am not sure what happened to the spacing about halfway through but I can't seem to change it). 

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