I love New York City! From the food to the people (not all New Yorkers are rude) and the fact that it never sleeps, I just love that concrete jungle! If it weren’t for the snow, I really think I would live right there in the heart of Manhattan sipping a cappuccino and writing for the New York Times. What’s so amazing about New York for me is that there are a lot of hidden pleasures in the city that are just for us!
If you love NYC as much as I do and want to take a trip to some of my favorite spots this is just for you. Here are some of the things that I love and always consider before I visit the Big Apple that you may want to Add to your bucket list!
First, Pick the Right Travel Time
For me, avoiding December all together is the best. The holiday lights are beautiful and all, but I’ll pass. And that whole watching the ball drop? You are required to stand out in the freezing cold for hours to get a good view of the ball with thousands of strangers rubbing against you just to see the magical 10 seconds ending the year. Count me out! Go in the fall or the spring; it’s beautiful and less crowded (but it’s always crowded).
Find the Perfect Hotel for Your Taste
There are five Boroughs in NYC, so it’s hard to choose where to sleep. When I visited on my last trip, I stayed in Manhattan at the Night Hotel Times Square. It was so close to all the lights and hustle but a little pricey. If you want something a little cheaper, and a lot quieter, I’ve also stayed in Staten Island and it was much more residential.
It is only a ferry ride away from the fun and the ride is free!! You also get a good view of the Statue of Liberty while you drift towards Manhattan greeted by a breathtaking view of the skyline! On my next visit I am dying to stay at the black owned Akwaaba Mansion bed and breakfast in Brooklyn! Some where amazing!
Do Not Get A Rental Car… Walk
DO NOT get a rental car! It will take you 45 minutes to get 5 minutes down the street. You will get stuck in traffic. If it’s far, take an Uber and save the hassle, and the money, or learn the subway (I got lost for a little bit on my first trip into the dark, so you may want to download an app).
If you packed a comfortable pair of shoes, just walk! I took an Uber to Brooklyn and then walked over the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan which I highly recommend! Just make sure you get their early to avoid crowds. The views are amazing!
You can’t not go to Central Park when you visit New York. It is the most famous parks in the world! There, you can visit the Central Park Zoo, go fishing, rent sail boats and, just like I did, take a horse and carriage ride around the park. Just remember to never go in the park at night especially alone for your safety.
And while you are at it take an audio tour that is self guided (and free) like the this one that explores 19th-century racial violence and Black resilience in New York City.
Learn Something New
Everywhere we go, I try to find a museum or gallery to learn something new. I love art, science and history but in New York, whatever your taste, there’s a museum for you.
The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum is beautiful and will give you chills along with a new respect for the NYFD. I do want to take a guided tour provided by the 9/11 Tribute Museum for $35 with someone who really lived through 9/11 guiding us.
My favorite was the American Museum of Natural History! It is huge! You may want to wear comfortable footwear and have a few hours set aside to get your money’s worth.
A bonus museum that I ran across was the Museum of Sex. THIS IS FOR ADULTS ONLY and believe me I still don’t think I was even old enough to go in there. Despite some very questionable exhibits, it was quite interesting and I learned a lot.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute are two other educational centers both located in Harlem that you may want to check out!
Eat! And Eat Good!
With all that walking around and using your brainpower, you deserve a good slice of pizza! Try Percy’s which has some of the greatest pizza in the city and it can be as cheap as $1 per slice. If you are a cheesecake lover like me, then Junior’s is the spot to visit! There are a few locations in New York that you can try but the famous Brooklyn location may interest you! They also have some good food as well. Breakfast? Home Sweet Harlem is a black own breakfast café that you will love! Get the French toast. If you want to grab a quick bite while walking to the next stop, grab something at one of the street food carts! It is really yummy!
If your tsate buds are craving for more black owned dishes, try Fish ‘N Ting in Bronx or if you are in Brooklyn Cuts and Slices or Peppa’s may be just right for you! Here’s a longer list of Black Owned NYC Restaurants.
Stand on Top of The World
You cannot say you went to New York City without getting to see one of those rooftop views. There is the famous Empire State Building which was amazing to get a chance to do. There’s also the One World Trade Center Observatory on the top floor that gave me beautiful views of all of New York. My favorite part was the elevator ride up but I can't give away all of the fun New York secrets.
If you want to save a little money and you are 21+, try a rooftop bar like I did. I got a few drinks at the Sky Room Time Square. The views at night are amazing and it wasn’t too crowded. 230 Fifth I’ve heard has the best rooftop views while you munch on Sunday brunch, but I will need to put that on my bucket list for the next time.
When you put your feet back on solid ground, also try checking out the African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan or hop over to see the inside of the historic Apollo Theater! I’ve been inside and all I can say is WOW!
Don’t Forget the Iconic Stuff
Visiting NYC, there are some things you should not pass up. On your first visit go see Times Square, one of the most famous and iconic spots in the city, and you surely want to visit it at night! Soak in the atmosphere as it just feels energized.
You may also want to visit the Statue of Liberty! I will say while it is a cool experience just to be next to the statue, it would be better to venture inside. You must get those tickets beforehand as they sell out months in advance but just getting to the island is a lot easier.
You also want to get yourself a seat to see a Broadway play. Tickets may be expensive but there are a lot of seats that don’t cost you an arm and a leg. Try Visiting NYC.com to view the latest running shows.
Exploring New York City can be one amazing and unforgettable experience! Just make sure you put down the phone for a second, pause on the social media and just… enjoy the moment. Happy travels!
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