Grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee and a snack as this is a fairly long post. We are going back to 2015 when I went to New York City. To begin, I will explain how I surprised my mum with this trip.
For a long time me and my mum have always said we would like to go to New York. In August 2015 I decided I was going to surprise her by taking her to New York for her birthday in the coming October. After searching around online for the best deal I booked the trip with Last Minute. I managed to keep the trip a secret until around mid September – I believe? I didn’t want to leave it too late to tell her, we all like to go out and buy a few things before a holiday! I have watched tons of videos online of people surprising others with trips etc and thought it would be fun to do something similar other than just tell her. I made a video that featured Empire State of Mind – Obviously! It consisted of lots of different images of New York, the last shot of the video had text that said – NEW YORK CITY 2015. I then handed her a wrapped travel guide – so by this point she knew she was going but not exactly sure when. I then gave her an airline ticket that I found online, which I edited to have her name on and the flight date and time. We were VERY EXCITED, thankfully there was only a couple of weeks or so to wait.
Our flight departed London Heathrow at 0915 on the 4th October, landing in John F Kennedy around midday. Once we had gone through security and collected our luggage we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel – Ameritania Hotel – situated 230 W 54th Street, blocks away from Times Square. Absolutely perfect for a first time visit – close proximity to lots of landmarks. There was a doorman called Jeff at the hotel who was very helpful throughout our trip – he arranged a private car to take us back to the airport at the end of our trip also.
We were waking up pretty early in the mornings, I took the above photos at 0730 in Times Square. Most likely a mixture of jet lag and my own body clock waking up around 5am for work. Times Square at this time of day was so surreal, all the lights and screens, but hardly anyone around – completely different to how busy it was when we took a look around when we first got to NY.
My friend recommended the Top of the Rock observatory after she went to NY. Reviews online suggested this viewing platform was better as you get a view of the empire state building itself – I presume you can see more of Central Park from here also. If heights make you feel uneasy I would say Top of the Rock is the best observatory, as each edge of the building has a lower platform beneath it – meaning you are not looking at a sheer drop – this was definitely helpful for me – I am okay if I can look across at a view, if I am able to look right down I start to feel dizzy.
If it is your first visit to NY, I recommend having a travel booklet with you and spending lots of time walking around. I feel we discovered most of the things we wanted to see and more, by doing this. As, if you get cabs or the subway everywhere you go, you will miss out on the things in between.
In terms of shopping our main agenda was to visit Times Square and surrounding stores, Fifth Avenue and department stores: Macy’s & Bloomingdale’s. For years I have always said if I ever go to New York I would get myself a Return to Tiffany necklace. I stuck to my word and headed on in – deciding on the circle duo pendant, I like the heart design but wanted something I wouldn’t get tired of.
Living in the UK whenever I go abroad I check for Sephora stores – why does the UK not have any?! I believe I visited the 119 Fifth Avenue store – It wasn’t very busy when I went, perfect for browsing.
As we headed down Fifth Avenue we approached Madison Square Park – you have to go to Shake Shack, it’s delicious. They have since opened more stores across the city, but if you visit when it is warm you have to go and eat outside in the park. From there the Flat Iron Building is not far at all, we sat there a while and took advantage of the free WiFi.
One World Observatory had very recently opened when we visited NY. The observatory and 9/11 memorial are both amazing experiences, it is unimaginable what people experienced on that day. Inside the memorial there are lots of artefacts and accounts from those present and a memorial for all those lost, it really brings home the amount of those effected, of course we heard on the news but it is so difficult to comprehend. The observatory view is quite possibly my favourite place in the world. It was very peaceful, calm and the view is phenomenal. I would love to visit again at night/sunset.
After we had finished in the Observatory we walked round to battery park. We wanted to get closer to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island but knew we wouldn’t have time to get off the boat and look around, we bought tickets with statue cruises as they said you did not have to leave the boat and could stay on if you wished. It was a sunny clear day As you can see you can still get a really good view. When I visit again I would like to spend more time here. When heading back towards our hotel we walked up Broadway before getting on the subway to Midtown.
The above images depict our last day in the city – absolutely gorgeous. We walked up to Columbus Circle and carried on to the upper west side where we stopped at a diner for lunch. After lunch we made our way over to Central Park, it was such a lovely sunny day, we explored several areas of the park. It is so strange that you are amongst a huge city in such a peaceful park. I would love to spend more time here another visit.
Our returning flight was due to depart John F Kennedy airport at 2130 on 7th October, after a few delays due to illness of passengers on-board we took off around 2230, landing in London Heathrow around 0930 the next day. I fell asleep not long after we took off, it is very strange falling asleep in New York and waking up in London.
There are quite a few things I would like to do if I went back again. I am currently planning another visit, of which I will let you know, I will most definitely do another post and also ones for helping others plan their trip.
On the agenda so far for the next trip:
Explore more of Central Park
Walk the High Line
Visit the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
Walk around Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Walk across Brooklyn Bridge
One World Observatory – sunset/night
Spend more time taking everything in
Take more pictures!
I hope you enjoyed this post – thanks if you made it this far!
I absolutely love New York, we had such a great time and will cherish the memories forever. If you have been to New York what were your favourite experiences and which observatory was your favourite: Top of the Rock, Empire State Building or One World Observatory.