Let’s wander around the ‘Concrete Jungle’ – Welcome to New York!
For the first time ever, I got to finally visit New York City! The Big Apple is truly a concrete jungle and there were so many places to see and not enough time to check everything out. We stayed at the Marriott Hotel in Times Square so that it would be walking distance to many spots we wanted to visit. The hotel was clean, modern and about a 10-minute walk to the heart of Times Square. It was a long day of traveling for me, having to drive from Vancouver to Seattle to then catch my flight to New York with Jet Blue Airlines. The airline was fairly new at the time so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, it was clean, roomy and the service was great.
When I finally arrived New York, I was seriously jet-lagged and hungry! We decided to walk around Times Square and soon realized how crowded it got at night. We were trying to figure out where to have dinner – walked around a bit and saw the ‘Bubba Gump Restaurant’. Of course, we had to try it! I mean cmon, it’s Forrest Gump’s joint! Service was extremely slow and probably took an hour, possibly more, before we got our food. It was busy but they didn’t have enough servers working and that was pretty frustrating. We had some beer and tried some of the shrimp appies. After dinner, we walked around a bit and decided to call it a night so we can get a good rest and have an early start the next morning.
When we got back to our hotel room we wanted to figure out our itinerary and see how we were going to plan our days while there. I went online to check out tour packages and found the New York Pass. After checking out the attractions, what it covers and the pricing, we figured it had the best value and options compared to the other companies and so we opted for the 3-day pass. This included the bus and tour combo.
Times Square is packed regardless of the time of day
In the morning, we finally had a chance to look around Times Square and there were people everywhere. There were plenty of solicitors dressed up in costumes that you can take a picture with – for a fee! They seemed so friendly and entertaining, it was hard not getting up by them. Once the picture was taken – they hit you with the “We would appreciate a donation please”. So I felt inclined to give them a minor ‘donation’. Most of them will come up to you to say hi and have a friendly conversation, but that’s how they hook you! So just remember that if you’re a first timer at the Big Apple.
Check out the Hop on Hop Off Tours
That day, we purchased The New York Pass and decided to get on the Hop on Hop off Bus right away. Usually, attractions could range from $20 USD and up plus the cost of transportation could get quite costly, so I HIGHLY recommend this pass to anyone visiting New York. I do recommend figuring out your stops and attractions before you head to New York to figure out which attractions you’d like to visit, the time it would take to get there and also consider possible lineups. The pass covered free entry to a lot of main attractions in New York and pretty much covered our transportation to various points around the city by taking the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tours. The route covers a wide area of New York from Upper to Lower Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. The New York Pass allows you to ‘skip’ lines to some popular spots and some attractions can be booked in advance. So do your homework! As spontaneous as we were, we still managed to check out quite a few attractions in those 3 days so booking things last minute wasn’t too impossible. Our first stop was the Empire State Building. Luckily it wasn’t too busy when we got there as we’ve been told there’s usually long lineups and plenty of crowds. The view from the top was surreal! You can see the city from all angles. We stayed up there and watched the sunset and it was so breathtaking. It gets pretty cold up there and I was just wearing a tank top with a thin coverup. Make sure to dress warmly for your visit.
There are so many excursions to choose from
For the rest of our stay, we checked out The Met Museum, biked around Central Park, took the City Sight Seeing Tour (90-minute Midtown Cruise), shopped at Century 21 and did plenty of walking around Times Square. Check out the slideshow below for pictures.
Oh, and if you happen to see the ‘Halal Guys’ food truck, you need to get your butt in that lineup and grab some. It was so delicious and I can’t wait to go back and indulge more of it. Just looking at the pic right now is making me crave it so bad.
New York was so much fun and honestly, 3 days is not enough to see everything. It is a big city after all so I recommend at least 5 days to visit the main spots. Check out the popular main attractions first and make sure you take advantage of the Hop On Hop Off bus tours, ‘The New York Pass‘ is definitely worth it. I can’t wait to go back and try to cross off more excursions from the list.
**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions and expressions are my own.