New York. The Big Apple. The Empire State. There’s so much to see in this great city all year round. During the winter, people flock there to see the ball drop on New Years Eve or do some shopping during the Christmas sales but be warned: it’s freezing! Layers, scarfs and hats will definitely be needed. In the summer, it’s the perfect time to enjoy all of New York’s parks and sightsee in warm weather, but it can get humid and sticky so be prepared for that if you’re throwing on a rucksack and heading out all day. It’s during the spring that the city is at it’s most beautiful in our humble opinion.
The first thing we would suggest is avoid renting a car if you can. It can be crazy to drive in the city and difficult if you’re not used to driving on the other side of the road. Plus, it’s so busy and jam-packed that you’re better off walking, getting the Metro ($31 for a weekly pass) or perhaps an UberPool which is a popular choice.
Where to stay?
WestHouse Hotel: We stayed at the WestHouse Hotel, a very luxurious and elegant place in Manhattan just a stones throw away from Central Park, Times Square and the theatres of Broadway. There’s plenty of yellow cabs if you fancy hailing one in traditional New York style, but with a Subway station less than two minutes walk away that’s a good option if you want to explore the city at a cheap cost.
What did we love most? Well, the Glamsquad partnership is pretty cool. The mobile beauty service can pop up to your room and fix your hair, nails and make-up, offering bespoke in-room services. The rooms are comfortable, glamorous and welcoming, and some even have views of Times Square. There’s a lobby bar called The Den (with an open bar every evening from 5pm-7pm and free snacks!), a terrace with stunning views and GHD straighteners available in all of the rooms. They say that they like to be your “home away from home” and that’s exactly how it felt, with little touches like free bottled water, a 24-hour fitness center, and an empty mini fridge for all your snacks.
The required resident fee of £23 per person per day covers Wi-Fi, breakfast, afternoon tea and snacks, as well as the aforementioned endless beer and wine! Prices start from £220 a night.
Gild Hall Hotel: This lovely Thompson Hotel is based in the Financial District and we also spent some time staying here. Based in Lower Manhattan, this hotel is near to Battery Park City, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Freedom Tower. Also within minutes of a Subway station, it’s well connected to other parts of the city and you can get to the exciting Greenwich Village or Central Park in around 15-20 minutes.
So, what were our favourite things about the hotel? The warm ambiance and elegant wooden furniture is beautifully unique and the hotel perfectly combines high-end aesthetics with a warm ambiance. The lobby library is stunning and feels like the perfect place to hang out and unwind after a busy day of sightseeing. With a chessboard, checkers and a relaxing bar, the lobby in itself is an idea spot.
Amenities include a 24 hour fitness center, free Wi-Fi and in-room dining. There’s a lovely upper-level wine lounge, La Soffitta, with endless options of Italian vintage wines and cocktails. Just across from the lobby is Felice Ristorante, a delicious Italian spot with yummy Tuscan pasta dishes and a cosy, inviting atmosphere where you can go for lunch or dinner.
Prices for rooms start from £179 a night.
There are plenty of stunning apartments to choose from on Airbnb, including this one for £127 a night with 5-star reviews. This apartment is stylish, spacious and has a hot tub! The spacious 1 bedroom is a 1930s apartment amongst shops, bars and restaurants. There’s also the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan which is just as good!
Where to eat & drink?
- Head over to Greenwich Village for a mix of restaurants, bars and clubs. This place is easy to get to with a Subway station close by. There’s so much to do, you could easy spend a whole day here. Plus, the cheese ravioli at Malatesta Trattoria is lifechanging.
- The Press Lounge at Ink48 Hotel. For cocktails, light snacks and a crazy view, there’s nowhere better.
- Playwrights Irish Pub. If you ever make it to New York for St Patricks Day, you’ll have endless pub options but Playwrights is a great choice for a buzzy, vibrant environment. They have a few, so you’re more than likely to find one nearby.
- Tanners Bar. A house of cocktails? Yes please. Styled as a 20th Century New York drinking house, you can enjoy a range of delicious cocktails until 4.00am
- Felice Restaurant. The food is yummy and the wine list is impressive. It’s a nice, romantic setting and perfect for a cosy dinner.
Where should I definitely try and visit?
- One World Observatory: The most stunning views in the whole of New York can be found here. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and feels quite surreal at times and for $32, you can see a 360 degree of the whole city.
- Rockefeller Center: The top of the rock is a great experience and something you should visit to understand why it’s a part of US history. With beautiful views, you can head to the Channel Gardens for a bit of peace and quiet.
- 9/11 Memorial: A lovely memorial and truly emotional to visit the 9/11 Memorial and the Museum. A very moving experience and offers a sense of peace after such a tragedy. These 30-foot waterfalls were placed where the Twin Towers once stood and are said to be the largest waterfalls created by man in North America.
- Staten Island Ferry to Ellis Island: Looking for free views of the Statue of Liberty? The Staten Island Ferry is free of charge and takes you past the statue, with ferry’s running every half an hour. It’s a breath of fresh air.
- Central Park: Going to Central Park is a great way to experience New York like a New Yorker. Go for a jog, play chess or checkers or go ice-skating. Pretty scenery and a great place to escape the hustle and bustle.
- A Broadway show: Truly a wonderful experience! We went to see the fantastic Chicago after reading reviews about it and hearing it’s been a huge favourite for the past 20 years (it’s now the longest-running American show in Broadway history!) Since it first began in 1975, the show has been gracing Broadway and telling the tale of a 1920s murder trial based on a play of the same name by reporter/playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins. During that period, Chicago’s press and public all became mesmerised by the homicides that were being committed by women. It has all of the ingredients that make a classic Broadway show and this story of fame, fortune and jazz is full of show-stopping songs and amazing dancing. You’ll be humming ‘All That Jazz’ for weeks after.
- The High Line: This is a public park which is built on a historic freight rail line on Manhattan’s West Side. The tourist hotspot runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street and it’s a wonderful way to see the city and different neighbourhoods.
- Grand Central Station: We all remember that Gossip Girl scene where Serena returns and that is enough of a reason to visit this beautiful place. Plus, it’s one of the nations most historical landmarks, as well as the busiest train station in the country.
- Brooklyn Nets Game: There’s nothing quite like going to a basketball game, screaming GO NETS and eating hot dogs and popcorn to really get into the spirit of New York.
- Museums: There’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), American Museum of Natural History and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to name a few. The Met is almost impossible to fully experience in one visit but the exhibits and artifacts are definitely worth having a look at. There’s something for everyone. At the American Museum of Natural History, there are also a number of great exhibits to see and you can easily lose track of time exploring everything it has to offer. MoMA has a wide range of modern art and is the ideal place to visit if you need some inspiration. You’ll find famous works of art around every corner and these museums are the perfect way to spend a rainy day.
Should I take a tour?
How shall I get around?
If you want to blend in with the locals, you can get the Subway. It’s easy to navigate and if you plan your route while you have Wifi, it can be a stress free, simple way to get around the big city. The Subway is really well connected and it doesn’t take long to get from A-B. Not only that, but if you install an app such as Moovit, you are able to track how far your train is away from you. Similar to London’s tube system, you swipe to get in and out and can top up if you don’t think you’ll be using it enough to buy a weekly pass. If there are occasions where you’ll need to get a cab/Uber, UberPool is available and is a great way to save money. Just be careful as it’s a massive city and it really doesn’t ever sleep. So if you are getting a cab be prepared for possible traffic!
Why should I go in spring?
New York is a wonderful, vibrant, buzzing city and no matter when you go, you’ll have an amazing time. But, during the spring you get the best of both worlds. You have a mix of sunny days where you can enjoy the stunning panoramic views and parks or you can visit the museums if the weather isn’t great.
There’s a massive range of pubs, bars, restaurants, shops, tourist attractions and architecture everywhere that will leave you understanding why it’s known as the City of Dreams. It’s so exciting to wander around the city and get lost. One minute you could be on Times Square amongst hundreds of other tourists and the next you could be in a quiet rooftop bar drinking cocktails and taking in the views.
In March, average highs are 9°C, in April it’s 16°C and May it’s 20°C. The average ranges from 4°C to 16°C in the spring so be prepared for a mix!
If you have a spare day or two, Atlantic City is only two hours away by car. It’s a world away from New York, full of casinos, restaurants, bars and stunning hotels, reminiscent of a mini Vegas. While New York has endless opportunities and places to see, Atlantic City is vibrant and fun and feels like the perfect way to explore another state while still staying close. The casinos are welcoming and a lot of fun, with endless entertainment depending on your mood. Fancy listening to some live music at a casino bar? Resorts AC has you covered. Or is a pool party more your cup of tea? Harrah’s is known for throwing some pretty good ones. We stayed at Resorts AC, where we started off at the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar before moving on to Bar One to enjoy live music.
The boardwalk is extensive and is still an American icon, with lots to do. The nearer you go to summer, the more shops and restaurants will be open but regardless, it’s refreshing to go for a stroll or walk along the ocean.
During the spring, the weather does change from day to day but whether it’s raining, sunny or windy, there’s plenty to do. Our top 10 tips for New York during the spring season are below:
- Head to Central Park of course. But then, head to the Chess and Checkers House where you can borrow pieces for free (donations are welcomed) and enjoy a fun day of board games outside.
- There are so many markets you can head to and stunning finds if you go to the Brooklyn Flea. This is where you’re likely to find rare finds and souvenirs to take back home.
- Had enough of the busy streets? Well, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is serene, calming and a perfect way to slow down. There are over 200 cherry trees, as well as a beautiful rose garden and admission is free on Saturday mornings and Tuesdays.
- Rent a bike and go for a ride along the Hudson River Park, the longest waterfront park in America.
- New York has some excellent food. But if you’re craving something sweet, a doughnut from Dun-Well is the place to go for an out-of-this-world doughnut experience.
- Dumbo is a great place to visit, where you can see unbelievable views of the bridges before you find a local bar. Juliana’s Pizza will fill all of your pizza needs too.
- Go and see a Broadway show. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and from big-budget musicals to smaller more intimate shows, there’s something for everyone. Book in advance to avoid paying really high ticket costs.
- You can get up close and personal with Brooklyn Bridge and walk along this stunning piece of New York history.
- Seen Central Park and fancy heading to another one? Prospect Park in Brooklyn is perfect for long walks.
- Saving the best until last, of course a visit to the Empire State Building is ideal in the spring. The views are pretty phenomenal and it’s open until 2am if you fancy seeing it at night!