Why I went here? I generally do not need a specific reason to go to New York. I loved the city since my first visit and the sentiment has not left me since. This time however, it served as a strategic stop on my way to Rome. It has been a couple of years since my last visit and it felt like the right time to see some family as well. Oh, and of course, it was Fleet Week!
Best time to visit? I have said it before…I am a fan of New York City on any season. The city sparkles in winter, especially in December, when the windows of the biggest department stores present elegant displays suitable for the season. Spring brings in the blooms and baseball season (go Yanks!), and fall marks the foliage, which is best viewed in Central Park.
Best way to get there? Most domestic flights land at La Guardia (LGA) and the rest of them, including all international flights, at John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport. The quickest way will be to take a cab. LGA to Manhattan rates range from $30-$60 depending on traffic and JFK to the city starts at $55 one-way. If time is not a factor, my suggestion will be to catch a ride via the NYC Airporter. It is definitely more economical and it is pretty comfortable. It stops at the city’s largest train and bus stations: Grand Central, Penn Station, and Port Authority. One way starts at $13.
What to see/do? First time visitors should visit my first article. It lists the major sites anyone should attempt to visit. For this segment though, I will focus more on attractions frequented by tourists and locals alike. The first is the recently restored elevated freight track called High Line which is now a sprawling urban park. It passes through the neighborhoods of West Chelsea, The Meatpacking District, and Hell’s Kitchen. Surprising serenity, local art, and great views of the city makes this a local favorite. The granddaddy of all parks in Manhattan is Central Park. Locals come here to have a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. You will see families having picnics at the Great Lawn, elderly couples walking their four legged canines around Strawberry Fields, or a group of school children having a field trip at the zoo. If you want to know the types of people that live and work in New York, spend a bit of time here. If Central Park is the granddaddy of parks, then Lincoln Center is the corresponding one for performance arts. The New York Philharmonic (they play at the Avery Center), The Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet all call this cultural complex home. The majority of the individuals you will see come through those magnificent doors will likely be residents of the city. As a writer, I tend to seek out literary hideouts, and in New York, there is nothing comparable to the New York Public Library located near Bryant Park. Other than the Library of Congress, this has got to be one of the most beautiful and best public libraries this side of the Atlantic. Its collection numbers into the millions, and with books in over 300 languages, anyone who is ever published probably has a copy here.
Food and drinks: Anything you can possibly want can be found in Manhattan. On this last trip, I wanted to try a variety of food so I sought out items that are not readily available in my own city. One day I went glam and tried a three course pre-fixe meal at The Modern, the fine dining restaurant in The Museum of Modern Art. The food was good, though not particularly spectacular in my opinion, but it is certainly a unique ambiance. How often do you get to dine surrounded by artistic masterpieces? The next day, I had a craving for falafels so I headed over to Greenwich Village to try Mamoun’s. This hole in the wall establishment has been feeding students at nearby NYU since 1971. The falafels are the ones to get but they also make pretty good shawarmas. Make sure you try their hummus.
Where to sleep? Hotels find stiff competition when it comes to accommodations. With the popularity of alternative housing and websites such as CouchSurfing and AirBnB, many travelers end up foregoing the traditional way. Just as I mentioned previously, the best way to find out where to sleep is to determine your itinerary while in the city. If you are planning a return trip, try to stay at a different area next time because each neighborhood has its own appeal.
Why I would go back? New York will always be my favorite city. It was the first city in the US that made me feel at home and every trip here feels like a new experience. I love the culture, the vibrant atmosphere, and the people.