It’s impossible to spend a week in New York and see everything there is to see. Aim to experience the must-see attractions in this iconic city and spend the rest of your time exploring.
If it is your first visit to New York City (or Manhattan), you may feel overwhelmed. This is especially true when you discover the famous scenes that are so familiar in countless movies and television shows. Create your own memorable experiences, as New York is a wonderful city to explore at your own pace.
I spent just over a week in New York for work and while I didn’t experience absolutely everything, I did immerse myself in the culture. Here are my top 8 most memorable experiences:
Settling in to the apartment
I landed at Newark airport after flying from Manchester UK, via Heathrow. The 7-hour flight went quickly, and a car was waiting to pick me up to take me to the Marbella apartment block, on Washington Boulevard in Jersey City. This is where I would be spending the next 10 days.
The apartment was lovely, complete with the typical American whistling kettle and large fridge. And 26 floors up, I also had some great views of the city. The New York skyline was even visible across the Hudson River.
There was a large shopping mall, the Newport Centre, within an 8-minute walk. Within the Newport Centre were numerous shops, including macy’s, as well as a food court. It was in this food court that I discovered Panda Express and the delicious orange chicken!
Navigating New York
The easiest way to get from Jersey City to Manhattan is via the Path (Port Authority of NY and NJ) line. The closest station from my apartment was Newport Path Station, which was a 6-minute walk. Head north down Washington Boulevard and turn right onto Pavonia Avenue. The Path goes past Hoboken and into Christopher Street Station on the Manhattan side.
I found it easy to get around and didn’t worry about getting lost. In fact, I felt quite safe being on my own. On the first day I visited New York, I took the Subway downtown and walked back uptown to take in all the sights.
I had only been in Manhattan for a couple of hours, and 4 or 5 people were asking me for directions to streets/nearby Subway stations. Strangely, I was able to successfully help them out (hopefully)!
Navigating the blocks, sideways, streets and avenues was easy as most tend to follow a pattern. However, when you come up from a Subway, it can be confusing to know which way to walk next. There are usually at least 4 exits situated on different sides of the street for each station.
Seeing a Broadway show
A visit to New York isn’t complete without seeing a Broadway show. It’s worth taking a trip to Times Square. Not only is the atmosphere buzzing with the bright lights and large billboards, you can also get discounts on theatre tickets at TKTS.
I managed to bag front row seats for the off-Broadway show Avenue Q at New World Stages for a reasonable price. I regularly visit the theatre, but hadn’t seen this show before. It was exceptionally funny, and as it was set in New York on the fictional ‘Avenue Q’, it was the perfect show to see. I was so glad I saw it, and have now seen it about 5 times!
Visiting the 9/11 memorial
When you spend a week in New York, an absolute must is to experience the moving 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. Two memorial pools honour the lives that were lost in the terrorist atrocities, with their names inscribed around the pools.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum documents the events that took place and their impact. It also includes personal stories about the people who lost their lives.
Taking the ferry to Staten Island
While you are downtown, take the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and see the Statue of Liberty. You can also see the ‘Postcards’ 9/11 Memorial, which commemorates the loss of lives of people living on Staten Island.
The ferry is free, and operates from the Whitehall Terminal, lower Manhattan to St George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. You will need to get off before embarking again for the return journey, so you will get chance to explore Staten Island.
Spotting famous buildings
There are so many famous buildings and monuments that you could see when you have a week in New York. They may have become popular due to a movie or television show, for example the ‘Friends’ apartment block on 90 Bedford Street, or the McGee’s Irish pub on 240 W 55th Street that inspired McLaren’s pub in How I Met Your Mother.
Also, keep an eye out for the architecturally stunning monuments, such as the Empire State Building, Flatiron building, Chrysler building and One World Trade Center that make up the New York skyline. You will find yourself walking around constantly looking up!
Exploring famous districts
There are also the well-known districts to explore when you visit New York. These include Soho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Madison Square Gardens – to name a few! A good idea is to plan your time so you don’t have to double back.
Relaxing in Central Park
Central Park is a large, peaceful sanctuary right in the middle of all the tall buildings and busy-ness. You will see park areas, ponds and baby turtles. I loved spending time here, and was lucky enough to go on a gorgeous sunny afternoon. It’s the ideal place to spend a few hours relaxing with a book or simply watching the world go by.
In the city that never sleeps, there will always be something different to explore and experience. Immerse yourself in the culture, the food and the sights to see how it feels to be a New Yorker.
Christmas is also an exciting time to spend a week in New York as the holiday festivities begin. Bright lights, extravagant decorations and ice-skating all make for a magical time away, whether you travel as a family, group, couple or solo.