New York is one of the most visted cities in the world and probably features on most people’s bucket list. It’s therefore not exactly known for being cheap, but hopefully I can show you how to have a cracking time, without breaking the bank!
On the way back from our South America trip we stopped off in the Big Apple for 4 days, before we flew back to Scotland. I am lucky enough to have spent a bit of time in New York before (I went with my family aged 15 and I visited a few times during my experience at Camp America). However, this was my first time in New York over 21, so I felt that I got to see a completely different side of the city, which I thoroughly enjoyed of course!
Living Like a Local: Williamsburg
My boyfriend suggested that we stay in Williamsburg, which is a trendy area in Brooklyn. This way, we had easy access to central Manhattan (about 10-15 mins on the Subway), we were able to experience real life living in New York and we could get a lot more for our money. I was sold! As always, we did the usual scouring of Airbnb before we found somewhere that we were both happy with.
We arrived late at night to LaGuardia Airport and got an Uber to take us to the apartment in Brooklyn (it didn’t cost much between the two of us and there wasn’t really an alternative at the time of night). I absolutely loved the area, it feels completely different from Manhattan. You are able to walk around without feeling overwhelmed by tourists and there are so many edgy bars and restaurants. There is so much going on and a real buzz about the place in a different way to the rest of New York. It is extremely trendy as well, there are loads of funky little boutiques and markets as well as street stalls selling different items of clothing and accessories; it is a vintage heaven!
Every morning I would get up early and go for a run around McCarren park (I am rubbish at lie ins and it wasn’t very far). It was also a good excuse to watch New Yorkers in their everyday lives, I couldn’t stop dreaming about living there one day myself! After that, I would head back and shower, then we would grab a bagel and an iced coffee to set us up for a busy day.
Williamsburg: foodie heaven
A huge part of a visit to NYC (or any American city for that matter) is enjoying the food on offer. America just has it all, it is a good 5 years ahead of the UK in terms of their culinary offering and Williamsburg was a great place to experience it in all its’ glory!
Here’s some of the foodie Highlights:
Bagelsmith: Get your famous smoked salmon and crème cheese bagel as I did just about every morning that we were in New York! New Yorkers refer to these badboys as ‘Lox Bagels’ and they are about 10 times the size of the ones we get at home. If you didn’t eat a bagel in NYC…did you even go?!
We stumbled upon Juliette restaurant one night, which turned out to be a bit of a treat. It was a bit pricier than we hoped, but the food was fantastic. The setting of the restaurant was lovely and the staff were very chatty and attentive also. I had a Chicken, Cheese, Bacon and Avocado Baguette sandwich which was unreal.
We paid a visit to Urban Rustic, which is a hipster sandwich bar in Williamsburg that I guess fits into the ‘Cheap Eats’ category. I had a chicken, mozzarella and roasted pepper sandwich, with roasted hot sauce. They allow you to make your own sandwich, the place is like a high-end version of subway and I’d totally recommend giving it a go!
If you are on a budget in NYC, then 2 bros pizza may become your new best friend! It is just $2 for a humongous slice of pizza and the quality is great! 2 Bros is something of a fast food joint, you can find the branches across central Manhattan and there are standing tables for you to eat and enjoy as a pit stop on the go! (Manhattan)
Radegast Beer Garden – This huge beer hall with an outside area and live BBQ is a must visit if you are a craft beer connoisseur. The layout is very social, with long benches, live music and a large standing area. Even if you are like me and beer isn’t your thing, the place is worth checking out and you can opt for some of the wine, spirits, cocktails or soft drinks that they have on offer.
After reading a lot about Skinny Dennis online, we decided to pay it a visit and see if it lived up to the hype. The place is certainly not lacking in character; the live music and monkey nuts that cover the dance floor are worth mentioning.By New York standards, the place is an absolute bargain find and there are a decent amount of cocktails on offer, starting from just $7.
One of the more interesting bars we visited was Surf Bar, which is exactly what it says on the tin. The ground is made of sand and the both the food and drinks menus follow the beach theme. The bar was extremely busy when we arrived on a Saturday night and we managed to get the last seats at the bar area.
Berry Park is an absolute treat and a must visit if you are in Williamsburg. The roof terrace bar offers fantastic views of NYC in a really chilled out setting. It’s one of those places that is so hip and trendy that you almost feel embarrassed to take a photograph. I’m happy to say that I took one for the team as the scene was too good not to capture. Please enjoy below!
Exploring NYC: Tourist Hotspots
Times Square – this is probably the image that pops into most people’s heads when they picture New York. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that there’s something exciting about Times Square. It’s busy, noisy, colourful, commercialised and let’s face it, a little bit tacky. I don’t believe that anyone would go to New York without paying it a visit!
Macy’s – Macy’s is a must, if you’ve not heard of it then it is a mahoosive department store in Central Manhattan. I stocked up on MAC makeup, which is a fraction of the price that it is in the UK, and I had a wander around the store trying to avoid bankruptcy.
Central Park – I completely recommend visiting Central Park and spending about half a day there. I think that everyone underestimates the sheer size of it when they visit New York. However, there is so much to keep you occupied. It offers some second-to-none people watching opportunities, cafe’s, a chance to unwind and chill in the sun, take in the spectacular views of the city that it has to offer, take a tour on a horse and cart, dress up as the statue of liberty and pay $10 to have your photo taken, watch some talented buskers and grab a hot dog or some ice cream from one of the vendors…the list goes on!
As a self-proclaimed veteran NY tourist, I suggested an activity during the day before grabbing some typical greasy scran to enjoy in the sun in Central Park. We visited near the end of August and it was about 28 degrees Celsius.
SkyBar Views – We had to take advantage of the cheap drinks on offer at VU bar, Koreatown. Happy hour is 5-7pm and the roof terrace bar boasts views of the Empire State Building, in a relaxed setting.
Rockefeller Centre – This was the 4th time I’ve been up to The Top of the Rock and the views never fail to amaze me. I think the Rockefeller is s0 much better than Empire State Building as you book in advance and therefore don’t have to wait in a queue for hours. I’d totally recommend going about an hour before it gets dark; that way you get to see the views in the light and dark and watch the sunset over a spectacular backdrop.
Smoresburg – this is a street food market in Williamsburg with hundreds of restaraunts from across Brooklyn renting a stall. I have never seen so many different types of food in one place. There was a stand selling lobster rolls, Vietnamese food and a Venezuelan stall. They do say America is a melting pot of different cultures and Smoresburg completely represents that. Sound good? That’s not even the best part, it is set along the Hudson River with an unspoiled view of Manhattan for you to enjoy while you scoff your chosen delicacy.
NY Giants Game at the MetLife Stadium – I have never seen anything like it! The stadium is HUGE and due to our purchase of the cheapest possible tickets on offer (about $10 on ticketmaster.com) we were in the sky and were grateful for the escalators in the stadium!
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge – This was the first time I’ve taken the time to do this in New York and I am so glad I did. It offers the chance of (believe it or not) more fantastic views of the city, but also the chance to get some welcomed fresh air from the breeze provided!
Statue of Liberty – We took the free Staten Island Ferry which provides an unspoiled view of the Statue of Liberty. I guess it’s one of the things you have a duty to visit in NYC, however it is a bit of an anti-climax. The ferry is free though, so if you are on a budget and have a bit of time in the city, then I’d recommend squeezing in this short trip after having a walk around Wall Street, as it’s not too much of a detour.
I Love New York
It’s a city that is hard to get bored of. From the suburban feel of Williamsburg, to the commercialised but iconic Manhattan, New York will leave you wanting that little bit more. Go and see for yourself what the city has to offer. For me, I want to return in winter for some Xmas shopping and see it in the snow!