Travel Blog: New York

Martyn White

Posted on August 14 2018

The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, Empire City; whatever name you know it by, New York is a global destination with something to offer everyone.

Eleven years since my last visit to the New York, it was a dream come true to be returning to Manhattan for a short city break during February. Known for its soaring skyscrapers, iconic landmarks and exciting entertainment districts, New York has something for everyone, no matter how long a duration. During the three day visit, I explore some of the classic tourist destinations and best viewing galleries to take in beautiful sights from the One World Observatory, 9/11 Museum and Memorial to the Top of the Rock Observatory.

World Trade CenterViews from the One World Trade Center observation deckGround Zero MemorialWorld Trade Center StationTimes Square at night

It was important to me to visit the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Museum & Memorial on my first day. A place that is embedded into many of our minds and has an impact on so many lives, it was a way for me to pay my respects after watching the events and development for almost seventeen years. Having visited Ground Zero back in 2004 when it appeared to be a deserted building site, I had mixed emotions walking into the new grounds surrounded by sparkling new buildings. I was pleased to see New York move on, rebuild itself and become a stronger place but something so catastrophic as the events that unfolded on 11th September is something can never be erased, nor should they. Walking into the grounds and approaching the memorial, I could not think of anything more fitting than the two enormous pools that sit in the footprints of the original towers. The scale is unlike anything that I have ever experienced, and the surroundings of oak trees with the noise of the waterfalls transport one to a place of peace, away from the busy surrounding city.

The museum takes visitors through the events of that tragic day, exhibiting artefacts, videos and sound footage as they unfold. As you would expect, the visit can be quite distressing. There are warnings for areas of the museum that are age restricted with content being quite sensitive, particularly for younger children. I would recommend a visit especially for those intrigued by the history and construction of the towers, but it is an experience that will stir emotions.

Rocketing one hundred storeys into the sky, the One World Observatory is one of the few places to go for unobstructed 360-degree views of the city. With the latest technologies, fascinating elevator ride exhibiting the evolution of the Manhattan skyline over the years and theatrical introduction to the iconic skyline, the observatory is all about entertainment and the wow factor. Set out over three floors including a restaurant, bar and cafe, the views on a sunny day are impressive.

For a full overview including a video of the observation deck, view the 'One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, New York' travel post. 

Empire State Building New YorkNew York Travel BlogNew York travel blog views of the World Trade Center

I started my second day with breakfast in Greenwich Village. There are so many cute bakeries and coffee shops nestled between the streets that it is easy to start the day the New York way and appreciate the vibe of the city. The entire area is a beautiful place to explore with galleries and boutique stores just a few highlights that The Village has to offer visitors and locals alike. One of my favourite parts is Washington Square Park with its dominating archway that frames 5th Avenue and views of the Empire State Building, almost thirty blocks away. A social hub and source of creativity, the park is the perfect place to sit back and relax, watching the city go about its business while enjoying the odd street performer and artist showcasing their work. 

With such gorgeous sun on a surprisingly warm Winter's morning, I spent the first half of the day making the most of the weather, relaxing in Washington Square and Rockefeller Parks while exploring the sights of Lower Manhattan. Knowing the limited time that had to enjoy New York, I made my way towards Upper Manhattan, straight to Central Park to enjoy the impressive views and remaining sun of the day. Using the city's efficient and 'characterful' metro system, I was in Central Park within twenty minutes. Walking a short route from East Drive around to Center Drive, one can take in the overwhelming views of Billionaire's row, thin luxury towers that line Central Park, reaching into the sky, each higher than the next. 

Central Park New York at DuskNew York travel Central Park at nightNew York City at NightManhattan skyline at night

With such a wide selection of observation decks to choose from, you may want to visit more than one during your stay.  Research the locations and sights before your visit along with the weather conditions to ensure the best experience. I selected the One World Observatory as it is currently the highest viewing platform in the city and one of New York's latest attractions. My second observation deck was 'Top of the Rock' at the Rockefeller Center in Midtown. As the sun started to set in the park, I made the short ten-minute walk to the skyscraper to watch the sun setting over the Manhattan skyline. With most of the observatories, I would recommend buying your tickets in advance, even if it is the same day so that you avoid the queues as they can be at times incredibly long. Another great spot is the top of the Empire State Building; however, I decided against this in the end as the structure is so beautiful that it needs to be in the photographs rather than taking them from the top of it. Split into three levels the views from the Top of the Rock are very impressive, with unobstructed views of the North and South sides. Viewing the city during twilight is mesmerising, the surroundings take on new personas, sparkling with multicoloured lights as the streets come to life.

For full highlights on my visit to the Rockefeller Center, click to view 'Top of the Rock Observation Deck, New York

Empire State Building from the High LineNew York Street ArtEmpire State Building New YorkFlatiron Building New York

On my third and final day in the city, it was all about design discoveries. The morning was fresh and sunny, so a walk along the Highline; a fantastic new 1.45-mile-long elevated park was in order. The route follows the tracks of a disused railway line that extends from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, planted with trees flowers and foliage to add a moment of calm and tranquillity to the day.

Exploring Some of the best brands and showrooms that New York has to offer. The Soho district is quickly becoming known as the go-to destination for high-end furniture and lighting designers with Lee Broom and Tom Dixon moving into new showrooms in recent years. The area also hosts high-end luxury brands Flair, OCHRE and Roll & Hill as well as the highly sought-after BDDW with their incredible showroom just off Howard Street. 

Talking for hours about the impressive designs on display, my final walk 

I am biased when it comes to New York, but I do believe that everyone will have a great time. The city offers so much from galleries and museums to Broadway shows, incredible restaurants and an infinite amount of shopping. For those looking to explore the city for what it is, there are walking tours, parks and ferry rides that can take you round the concrete jungle and help you experience a personal side to your visit.



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