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    New York State of Mind

    In a nutshell: Called New York City or The City of New York (don’t get confused with the State of New York). New York City consists of five boroughsThe Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.  These boroughs were consolidated into a single city (New York City) in 1898.

    Two weeks will give you time to scratch beneath the surface of this eclectic, multi-dimensional city. You can also successfully squeeze in a couple of days ‘out-of-town’ without running yourself ragged.

    If you do want a change of scenery, Washington DC is one destination worthy of serious consideration – this political hub is dramatically different to NYC.  The contrast between NYC and DC will provide plenty of fodder for dinner table conversation for years to come. A day trip to Niagara Falls is fun if you have the time. We went probably because our sole purpose was to say we’ve been there.

    New York City – first impression: this city is an ever changing potpourri of sights, sounds, smells…once you’ve been bitten by the ‘I Love NYC’ bug there’s no turning back. Spend a lifetime there and you’ll still find new things to see and do. Even New Yorkers haven’t seen all of New York City!

    No matter where we travel, we always try out the Hop on Hop off bus as soon as possible. It puts a city in perspective and helps you get your bearings from ground level.

    High Line. Head to the High Line for a cruisy stroll. Once a rail line, it is now a public promenade with perennial gardens designed by Piet Oudolf. Soak up the elevated views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan Skyline away from the crowds.

    Times Square. Nothing says “You’ve Arrived!” more than standing in Times Square. Breathe it in. Soak up the vibe. It’s indescribable. It heightens your senses. This is a mind-boggling super city destination overloaded with neon billboards, zooming cars, and people of all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds. It must be experienced both day and night. If you’d like a quick drink head to TSQ bar – their mojitos are excellent.

    Rockefeller Centre – Top of the Rock during the day is the best vantage point to capture the sweeping views of this beautiful city, gaze over Central Park and get your bearings. Once your feet are back on the ground, getting around NYC will be easier to ‘read’.

    Where: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NYC. Time pushed? Buy tickets on line.

    Empire State Building. THE place to go at night. The city is ablaze with glitter. Feast your eyes on fantasy world floating below. It’s a complete buzz.  In peak tourist period, buy tickets on line.

    Where is it: 350 5th Ave, NYC

    Brooklyn Bridge. Don’t just look at it…walk along it, across the Hudson (river) and over to the other side. You’ll get a different perspective of NYC. And Brooklyn for that matter. We loved this side of the river – it’s less touristy, it has grunt!

    Statue of Liberty – see for free. Great for skinny budgets. Jump on the Staten Island ferry which travels between Staten Island and Manhattan. Grab a good possie (aka spot or location) on the ferry deck. The 25 minute journey reveals a breathtaking panorama – Lower Manhattan’s skyscrapers and bridges, New York Harbour, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – all for free! Remember to check peak hour rush times to avoid getting caught in the masses.

    American Museum of Natural History. Fabulous for history buffs and those eager to learn about America from the get-go. If you’re going to Washington DC, you may choose to skip this attraction as the Smithsonian’s offer is more comprehensive.

    Where is it: Central Park West at 79th Street, NYC

    Grand Central Terminal & the Oyster Bar No one should come to NYC without free flowing around Grand Central and then making your way to the Oyster Bar for freshly shucked oysters and chilled vino.

    Where: Lower Level, Grand Central Terminal, 89 East 42nd Street, NYC

    While you’re at Grand Central have some free fun – head to the Whispering Gallery. Located in the dining concourse near the famous Oyster Bar. The acoustics of the low ceramic arches can transform a whisper into clearly audible words. (The whisperer’s voice follows the curve of the domed ceiling.) Don’t believe me? Try it yourself with a friend. Stand diagonally opposite each other, face towards the wall and whisper. You’ll hear clearly what the other person is saying to you.

    Art Galleries: The Metropolitan (aka The Met) & the Guggenheim. There are dozens of others but if you’re time poor I recommend you visit these first. The former because there’s always a world-class exhibition garnering admiring gasps from far and wide backed by seriously impressive collections on tap year round; the latter because simply winding your way on foot from ground level to the top of this snail-shell-like structure is an experience in itself.  Nearby is the Frick Collection, housed in what was formerly a private residence. This grand old mansion provides a different gallery experience. Make time for the ultra-contemporary MoMA too.

    NYC is full of extraordinarily good art galleries…major as well as boutique. This city is an art lover’s nirvana.

    Parks to chill out in: Central Park, Union Square Park and Bryant Park. All different. All with their own reason for being a top spot.

    Central Park

    Union Square Park

    Byrant Park

    Ground Zero. It’s your duty as a human being to visit this tranquil, solemn place. 9/11 will never be erased from our memories.

    Where: Vesey-Liberty-Church-West Streets NYC

    Visit:  National September 11 Memorial & Museum

    Where: One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor New York NY 10006

    New York Plaza. Food and Fashion. We all need a touch of luxe. If you are a foodie you must slip into the New York Plaza darling! Most won’t be able to afford a meal in The Palm Court Restaurant (no prices on the ladies’ menu I believe) but a glass of wine in The Champagne Bar is doable while a fine meal in The Todd English Food Hall is not only affordable, it is full of local New Yorkers which is a solid indication what’s on offer is good.

    For lovers of Kay Thompson’s stories about loveable Eloise at the Plaza you’ll find a toy shop dedicated to this little mischievous rascal. (Our home library is home to a treasured collection of Eloise books, but Eloise’s life at New York’s Plaza is still the favourite.)

    No point listing the remarkable collection, high calibre and overwhelmingly drool-worthy boutiques, high-end department stores and quirky shops. They just go on, and on, and on…

     Money Saver: Check out the different passes you can purchase on line. Review the different offers and prices will change over time. Here are a couple of different city pass options to get you started:

    New York CityPASS                                                            

    NewYork Pass                                                                     

    Smart Destinations – select New York destination   

    Vicki Montague is a freelance writer with a predilection for travel, European fashion, architecture that oozes history and charm, and objects that tell a story. She and her partner John are empty nesters - their three adult children have left the comforts of home to carve out their own paths in life. Vicki’s professional background is in marketing and public relations.

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