Having just finished summer camp, I had four days to spend in New York City, and I was determined to do it on a small a budget as possible to leave some money to bring home.
I spent aaages researching accommodation and transport and budgeting whilst I was there.
Here’s how I did it:
One of the most expensive parts of any trip is the accommodation: knowing where to stay and what you get is the part that’s time consuming. I wanted to find somewhere in a good location, not too pricey, with some privacy and all of the amenities you would expect.
I found a hostel located in Chelsea, and managed to book a private room. The price for four nights was so much cheaper than it would have been to book a hotel. It also included a basic breakfast which was so helpful! If you don’t mind sharing a bathroom and having a basic room then a hostel is the way to go!
After this it was deciding what I wanted to do. Having never even been to America before, everything in New York was new and exciting. I was determined to do most things whilst I was there!
On our first night in the city a few of us from camp met up to go to a Yankees game in the Bronx: it was $12 per ticket and the atmosphere was amazing. It was a definite must whilst you’re there!
On day two, a few of us took the Subway to Brooklyn (a good, cheap mode of transport that will take you pretty much anywhere in Manhattan, if you’re prepared to jump on and off) and did some exploring, wandering around the Brooklyn Bridge park before walking across the bridge itself.
It’s free to do, but so amazing, You get a beautiful view of the City skyline, a distant view of the Statue of Liberty, and of course the famous architecture of the bridge as you walk across.
After a quick Starbucks we made our way to Ground Zero on foot, and we walked around the memorial site. It was the most emotional place I think I have visited, and I gained such a new perspective. The memorial is so peaceful, so heartbreaking yet compelling to look at. I have such a huge respect for everyone who risked their lives, everyone who helped, and those involved who experienced such trauma or lost their lives during the terrible attack.
We also did the memorial museum which is located on the site, which was around $26 entry but so worth it. I felt almost as if I was paying my respects, and walking around is so emotional yet compelling. It was so interesting to learn about the events of 9/11 and to be guided along chronologically.
From the museum we grabbed a quick Pizza Slice (there are so many in New York that are cheap, huge, and taste amazing) and carried on to catch the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free to catch, runs every half hour or so, and you get a really good view of the Statue of Liberty.
It doesn’t, of course, take you to Ellis Island where the Statue is located, but if you stand outside you can clearly see the Statue as you sail past, and with a good camera lens you can get some good photos. Plus the ferry gives you a fantastic skyline of New York and you can always stop off at Staten Island for a while.
We decided to do Top of the Rockefeller Centre at night, and also took a guided tour. The benefits were learning so much about the history and culture of the area, the arts and entertainment development, and then of course a stunning night view from the top including seeing the Empire State building.
I can’t describe the view as anything other than magical. You finally understand why it’s named the city that never sleeps, and seeing everything lit up beneath you feels like being on top of the world.
Another sight which is amazing at night is Times Square. Imagine huge colourful billboards covering the walls and shopfronts, completely surrounding you. It’s absolutely amazing, the atmosphere is so energetic and vibrant and it doesn’t feel like night time at all. It’s just as lively at night as it is during the day, and of course there are street performers (remember to tip) and lots more going on!
Halfway through my stay we did the high line walk – essentially a park created on a disused rail track above the road. It took us about an hour to walk, and along the way you see unusual and interesting artwork, as well as elevated views of the city.
Close the walk is also the Vessel, which is a building which looks like what I can only describe as a pine cone, but you can actually walk up it!
Afterwards we found a small quiet cafe called Matto, where everything was $2 and it was actually delicious! A lot of it was vegan too so plenty of choice for everyone!
The cafe was also where I said goodbye to my travelling buddy 😦 who was one of my camp best friends. I’m lucky because she also lives in the UK so I can definitely visit her, but the thought of facing NYC alone terrified me.
I spent the afternoon shopping and taking my time to browse all the shops around Times Square (including the ‘I heart NYC’ shops which are actually EVERYWHERE).
Whilst I was in New York, I really wanted to do the American Museum of Natural History, so on Thursday I took the Subway up to Central Manhattan and spent my morning going around the museum. It was amazing to actually be there, and it was by far the biggest museum I have ever been in.
Their history and exhibitions cover most aspects of life, which makes it an enjoyable experience for everyone no matter what their interest. I particularly liked their prehistoric and space exhibitions. They’re like no other displays I’ve seen at a museum – almost like works of art!
From there I headed back downtown and completed my New York Bucket List: the Chrysler building, Public Library and Grand Central.
The Chrysler building is impressive to see from the ground, and it’s a stones throw away from Grand Central Station and the Public Library, both grand buildings with huge archways and high ceilings. They’re beautiful and well worth going to see.
I was so sad when Friday rolled around – my flight home! 😦 I was so excited to see my family and my boyfriend after such a long time, but sad to wave goodbye to the most incredible summer.
New York is truly stunning, and unlike anything I have experienced before. It’s exciting, lively, vibrant and something is always happening. It makes you feel so alive, and I feel so lucky to have gone and experienced it. I would go and do it all again in a heartbeat.
Have you ever been to New York/ are you lucky enough to live there?