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  • Writer's pictureAnnabelle White

Annabelle's New York Top Tips

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Thank you to everyone for being so interested in NYC here are some notes to help.  Remember NY is 5 boroughs not just Manhattan so take time to visit them -. Queens has great food culture and Brooklyn is a must for a Peter Luger steak house visit, a sampling of Junior’s baked cheesecake on Flatbush Ave (or you can get a sample near Times Square and stores like Fairway do sell the product) , a great Grimaldi’s pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge at  1 Front St and then the walk from Brooklyn into Manhattan over the bridge to burn off the eating!!

Time to Visit

I love mid to late March/ Easter – the days can be chilly but hotels are better priced and also late October after the frenzy of the foliage season and up to Thanksgiving (last Thursday in November) for good for fares and cheaper hotel rates.

July/August can be very warm and Dec through beginning of March can be chilly – a visit in December to see the Xmas decorations is great.  New Years Eve is a very popular time but if you decide to visit straight after new year to see the decorations etc – get there ASAP as the decorations come down very quickly post Christmas.

“Remember NY is 5 boroughs not just Manhattan so take time to visit them all.”

How to Dress

Wear black (cities are dirty places) sensible well used walking shoes are a must and check out the other requirements – loose cotton for summer and heavier gear for winter – but fear not – New York is a Mecca for shoppers and you can always get what you need when there – even replacement shoes – check out the Designer Show Warehouse locations  or there are many shoe outlet stores around Union Square.

Where to Stay

Hotel Beacon on Broadway and 75th Street has been my hotel for the past ten years – from agents to my family to tour groups that I have escorted, everyone loves this hotel for so many reasons. Its not the cheapest option if there are more than two of you book a suite and ask for beds in the living room.

It’s in a neighbourhood that is safe, smart and easy access to museums and Central Park – it’s quieter than Times Square and when you get out of the subway (2 mins walk) you feel restored and relaxed.

The hotel rooms have their own little kitchens (my favourite NY food store is over the road – FAIRWAY. I buy the beautiful pasta and quick chilled soups) and with an impressive laundry below you feel like a local rather than a tourist – add to that the hotel is in a building where there are residents, so it really feels like you are living in your own apartment rather than a mere number in a large hotel amongst a sea of suitcases. Friendly and helpful staff that have been there for years helps as well.

Getting to your Hotel

For all the airports, take the cab except from Newark (it’s too pricey)  – from Newark take the bus with free wifi, it drops you off right at the Port Authority on 42 nd St and then take a cab from there. – From JFK is a flat fee for the cab,  just remember to add a 15-20 percent tip, and La Guardia airport is relatively close for Manhattan hotels.

Going back to the airport the hotels can sort an excellent airport shuttle service – especially for one guest – it’s more cost effective. If you are traveling light there is a train from JFK and Newark into the city.

On arrival in the city, go to the nearest subway and get a Metro travel card its about $34 USD for 7 days unlimited train and bus service.  For sheer convenience even if staying 4 or 5 days if you intend to use more than 10 buses at $2.90 each then get the card- its so easy and I often give it away to hotel staff before leaving and they make good use of the remaining time and don’t forget for a great view of the Statue of Liberty take the free Staten Island ferry. (Check on web site for travel times to avoid waiting too long for next the ferry).

If you get tired and want to relax and see the city take the bus – the subway is incredibly fast and efficient but some of the bus rides are wonderful views of the city – always try to get the seats near the pavement side of the bus for the best view (when you get on bus they are the seats to your left)  – you need to allow about 90 mins for some but its worth the view – the bus that runs up Madison Ave to the Cloisters is great if hot and tired or cold or wet (air conditioning/heat) this goes through mid town and up to stylish Upper East side and then onto Spanish Harlem and skirts past Washington Heights and all the way up to the Cloisters Museum.

Plan that on the day you do the Metropolitan Museum as the day you go there you get free entry to this very small and serene Cloisters at the end of the bus ride.  Also the bus down 2nd Ave and back up Third gives you a great view of Chinatown and Lower East Side.  Also a personal favourite is the M5 bus you catch at West 72nd street that goes all the way down 5th Ave to Century 21 (bargain shopping) It’s a wonderful sight seeing bus route past Empire State (34thSt), the Flat Iron building (23rd) and the New York Public library (42nd) and ends on the edge of Greenwich Village

Shopping Macy's

With the 10 percent card for visitors plus super staff who give you so many discounts they almost give things away.  I love Macy’s but it’s a huge store so plan what you want to get – i.e. is if a pair of jeans or a new suitcase ? etc and focus,otherwise some Kiwis get over-whelmed with the possibilities.  Also for outlet shopping Woodbury Common (get the bus from the Port Authority) that is where you will find great prices for designer labels – you want an Armani suit, a Michael Kors handbag or Ralph Lauren go there if Macy’s hasn’t sorted you out etc.

REMEMBER at Macy’s go up to the cashier be super nice and say you might have missed the specials in the paper – can they help you?? And they will help you even more with promotional prices if they can – talk to them!!!

Best Burger

Shake Shack‎ check out the webcam to see the queue before you leave.

Great Eating

Go to Chelsea Market for great inexpensive tacos at Los Tacos No. 1 ($5 taco) and Eat Italy are food places with great food.  Fine dining – try the lunch specials and fixed price early dinner specials – a favourite is Nougatine in the Trump Hotel at Columbus Circle. Also wherever you are staying walk around and see where all the locals are eating and Yelp on line is great for best coffee suggestions and budget eats etc – but always remember the early bird dining options and often in NY “Lunch deals “ go to 4.30 ish and that might suit instead of a heavy dinner later. Please note if ordering at counter and not table service tipping post Covid is the norm.

Best Sandwich

Go to Katz Deli (205 East Houston St) and have a pastrami sandwich – if there are 2 of you only order one sandwich they are huge and try the celery soda!!! Buy the salami t–shirt and remember when you go in get the ticket – they mark it at the counter and pay as you leave.  The table from “When Harry Met Sally” is there marked for you all the enjoy!

If you are heading to Katz take time to look at the knish shop near by and Russ& Daughters at 179 East Houston (its been there for a hundred years) and buy some of their white fish and baked salmon salad (more like a chunky spread) s(divine) for your toasted bagel breakfast the next day!

Best Bagel

Go to Ess-a-Bagel – go online for locations and check out menu first as they are very grumpy if you do not know what you want but give the banter back – that’s the spirit of the Deli!!!!

A schmear of cream cheese and scallions (spring onion) on a toasted “everything “ bagel with smoked salmon is very good!!! A schmear in a deli means a light coating otherwise it will be a huge portion of cream cheese Absolute Bagel (a bit of a hike) 2788 Broadway cash only does great bagel sandwiches

Best Dumpling

Mei Lai Wah, 62 Bayard street New York (the lines are long for a reason) amazing baked roast pork bun $1.75 Map

Best Soup

The man that inspired the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld has a couple of outlets

Other Must Do's

1. Highline – the park that is a beautiful walk and former elevated railway track – go to the Chelsea Market afterwards and try the Mexican food in there – so good! 2. City Pass buy online or agent will sort – the best $169 you can spend for a tour of the city on the water and all those passes to all the sights – remember with the City Pass in some places you can go ahead of the lines – for sure at the Modern Art Museum (don’t miss the gift shop).  My preference is The Rock (in pass) for view of city but the Empire state is beautiful at night (go up very late)

3. 9/11 Memorial & Museum go to web site for info when planning your trip

4. Take the subway to Brighton Beach and walk around the old Russian neighbourhood and try some of their snacks!

Other Resources This is a great article on discovering the real New York:

ENOUGH ENOUGH I’ve exhausted you all but planning in advance – going on line for info re shows and sports fixtures all good check out NYC Company web site

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