A month or so ago, we hit up the city that never sleeps: New York. We didn’t have long there, but we managed to cram in enough to create a quick weekend guide to New York which is packed full of some of the best highlights of the city and some pretty cool alternative things to do…
OK, so this post is about two months late – but life has been a little crazy for us since we popped over to NYC. First of all, I only went and got engaged to my lovely boyfriend on a surprise weekend trip full of British fields, yurts and Prosecco galore (but I still can’t say ‘fiancé’ – sounds too weird!). Then came some very sad times indeed as our grandmother in Australia passed away – Sophie recently jetted over for the funeral at minimal notice. Then my birthday week came along… in short, it’s been something of a rollercoaster summer with no rest for the wicked. But I’ve finally found the time to record just how Saints do NYC and get our quick weekend guide to New York down in a post… and also edit a short video to share with y’all!
If you haven’t had the chance to experience New York, then hit play on our little video below to cop an eyeful on how to spend a few days there. Feast your eyes on our 60 second video which will take you on a journey from brunch to Broadway, from burlesque to Brooklyn – it’s our whistle-stop guide to New York! See anything that takes your fancy?
A quick weekend guide to New York
Where to sleep in New York: Lower East Side
We were lucky enough to land a beaut of an apartment right in the heart of the Lower East Side. We booked through AirBnB, but you have to be aware that AirBnB isn’t entirely legal in Manhattan (not sure about the rest of New York). We won’t link to where we stayed as we would hate to get our lovely host in trouble, but it was the best way to experience the city.
Stay in New York’s Lower East Side if you want a ‘hood that’s edgy, yet cool and hip. It does have something of a dodgy reputation (a knife was apparently pulled on the Deli owner beneath our apartment – Sophie decided to keep that bit of info on the downlow until later in the trip)… but we had quirky places to eat on our doorstep, hole-in-the-wall hiphop bars just down the road, and a Whole Foods on the next block. If you haven’t experienced the wonder of Whole Foods all you need to know is it’s the absolute PERFECT place to stock up your fridge (shout out to the four cheese grilled sandwich which revived Sophie after a night out on the tiles).
Taking in the sights: the best ways to see New York
The Sex and the City tour:
The first thing we had to do was take some kind of New York city tour. We don’t really go for the usual tourist hotspot bus tours you’d find in any old guide to New York (I have a very short attention span) so we booked ourselves onto the Sex and the City bus tour (courtesy of AttractionTix). Sex? City? Complementary cocktail? What’s not to love?
The tour guides for the Sex and the City tour are all actresses or comediennes so their guide to New York certainly wasn’t boring – I’m sure you can imagine the sort of material they had to work with, given the content of the SATC series! In between iconic clips from the show, we would stop at certain key points like the New York Library (where Carrie and Big nearly got married) and the swanky restaurant where the couple held their engagement dinner in the first movie.
We finished off the New York tour with a Cosmopolitan at Steve and Aidan’s bar, ‘Scout’, which actually used to be a speakeasy from back in the Prohibition Era. A tunnel that connected the bar to the local police station still exists for when the police wanted to have a nightcap… but didn’t want to get caught.
With Cosmo goggles firmly on, NYC was beginning to feel like an old friend already.
The best view of Manhattan: Top of the Rock
Next we took a trip to the Rockefeller Centre. Everyone told us the Top of the Rock is the best way to get an incredible view of that New York skyline and, sometimes, everyone is right – the clips from our video were filmed from up there. Although it was busy, it really wasn’t that crowded, so there were plenty of chances to get a good view. (Find out more about the Rockefeller Centre and why you should head to the Top of the Rock in our previous post).
The extra New York sights you can’t miss:
Any quick weekend guide to New York has to include Times Square – everyone needs to see it once in their lives, and it’s a must on your first trip to the city. Seeing Times Square is like seeing a film set come to life. It’s kind of an overwhelming tribute to consumerism with huge LCD screens, each competing for your attention and trying to sell you some kind of dream. But still, it’s a pretty incredible sight. And I have been known to consume.
We also wandered round Grand Central Station to admire the gorgeous constellation covered ceiling and the sheer enormity of the building. You can also sneak into one of the side passages and take advantage of the bizarre acoustics: stand in opposite corners of one of the square passages – as you talk into one, your partner across the way will hear you as if you were speaking right in their ear. Paranormal!
Last but not least on our list of sights that had to be included in a quick weekend guide to New York, was the awesome Brooklyn Bridge. It was a mean and moody day when we walked across but the New York skyline looked all the more atmospheric under those stormy clouds. Well worth the walk! Plus, we snatched a little glimpse of the Statue of Liberty on the way over (much smaller than you’d think).
Eat, drink, walk it all off… and repeat!
So, it turns out that though drinks in New York are pretty pricey, they are also super strong! I realised my mistake when I ordered a double gin and tonic and it nearly blew my head off. Mum was pretty much floored after a few sips.
One of the absolute highlights of our trip was watching the glamorous burlesque girls do their thing over a swanky three-course meal at the super stylish Duane Park. A live jazz band, a singer with a huge voice, waitresses dressed all in white (we were served by a cool AF NYC fashion blogger) and the most beautifully sexy ladies adorned in feathers and nipple tassels – it was out of this world.
When you’re on a short trip, there ain’t no time for hangovers. And luckily, when you’re down and out in NYC i.e. nursing a little hangover from throwing some shapes at an awesome hole-in-the-wall hiphop bar in the Lower East Side, Central Park is waiting to restore your faith in life. What an amazing oasis of greenery right in the middle of all those skyscrapers! You can see from the view at the Top of the Rock that Central Park covers a huge amount of space, plus it had cute dogs running about everywhere and live jazz bands busking on the grass – what else do you really need?
Food, that’s what you need. Luckily, NYC had so many amazing places to eat it blew our tiny little minds. From Chelsea Market with its beyond epic food court (‘casual lobster anyone?’) to amazing brunch spots like The Butcher’s Daughter (thanks for the recommendation Mermaid Gossip!) and vegan-friendly, retro styled ice-cream parlours like Van Leeuwen, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to food heaven. Or eat so much you do…
Finally, we’d also recommend hiding out in a theatre on Broadway if you’re still flagging from the night before – we went to see Aladdin the Musical which was our childhood dream come true. There’s nothing a little bit of Disney can’t cure.
With only a few days in New York, you’ll never have a dull moment. This city captured our hearts and if only visas and green cards didn’t exist, we could imagine happily living there for a little while. So grab a flight and don’t look back!
All photographs by Sophie and Alex Saint. Many thanks to AttractionTix for our SATC tour and Top of the Rock experience.