I am a traveler at heart and as such I have a desire to explore as many new locations as I can. There are however exceptions, special places that I like to re-visit such as the Lake District, Vancouver, Boulder, Boston, Sydney and one other location… That location is none other than the world’s most iconic city, and in a couple of weeks we will make the seven hour trip to New York City.
I have had the privilege of visiting New York City more than eight times in my 35 years and I still retain the desire to revisit. This actually makes it my most visited city outside of the UK. So why, what is so special about the city that never sleeps? Why does this city continue to call to me? and that’s a great question.
The answer revolves around the cities vast offering of potential experiences. But let me start with the main draw which is, actually being in New York. Its iconic stature is so influential in popular culture that I really think that people visit just to visit. To be able to say you have experienced the city, enters you into a kind of social club, where everyone can talk about their experience.
Moving past its iconic stature, the sights are also an influence
- The Empire State Building, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station, Central Park, Wall Street, 9/11 Memorial, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway/5th Ave, Canal Street
But having visited these the first few times, not all are worth revisiting every time – so we started to look for other sites.
- UN Building, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Washington Park, The Guggenheim, Bleecker Street, Union Square, Rockefeller Center, Ice Skating, Chrysler Building, Macys, Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem, Woodbury Common, The Meat Packing Industry, Coney Island, Central Park Carriage ride, a Basketball or Hockey game…
A real draw of this city is that a number of the sights actually offer a host of different experiences, and therefore are never the same. This includes the iconic Central Park, which is so huge, that exploring it all is simply not possible. I didn’t even realize it had a zoo until my fourth visit! Also being able to relive some of the sites with a loved one also delivers a new memorable experience. Having Megan with me for the last 3 visits I have a completely difference perspective on the city with places like The Empire State, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge taking on a new perspective.
Some locations never lose their charm, Bleecker Street and the Brooklyn Bridge are my essential visits every time. They are special places to me, and house some of my fondest memories.
But New York is not all about the sites, it’s also about the experience. From world-class restaurants to take away pizza joints, it houses a vast range of cuisine options, all offering a unique taste experience. I am a firm believer that some New York favourites are a must on a visit, these consist of mainly street food such a pizza, pretzel, bagels, burgers and milkshakes. That maybe a personal thing but coming from Europe, there’s something about American street and diner food. This may revolve around the iconic word again, who knows!
New York’s nightlife has previously and still does offer an incredible experience. There is nothing like a night out in New York, this is where you truly see the truth behind the ‘city that never sleeps’. Some of the best ‘nights out’ of my life were meeting local New York residents, hostel bunkmates, friends coming into the city and of course Megan, and visiting a range of bars and clubs. These have included the upper east side high-end to Soho’s university dive bars, even the touristy Times Square can offer something of a night on the tiles. One memory I have is walking into Times Square at 5am in the morning and accidentally walking into the glass door of McDonald’s, nearly knocking myself out – I’ve never laughed so hard while lying on the sidewalk! A night out with friends and loved ones is essential when visiting.
One of my favourite draws to New York is actually wandering the city itself. Yes the city is another example of a Wanderers paradise, from the iconic 5th Avenue to Chinatown, the city streets are very walkable. Being surrounded by an incredible amount of huge imposing buildings in much of the city, really gives you a sense of how small we really are. With these huge buildings littering either side of most of the Avenues, peering down these roads gives some picturesque imagery – Sometimes I imaging the buildings are walls and New York City itself is a maze that has to be explored. This never gets old, and always draws me back. I absolutely love wandering the city, I once walked all the way from 151st street in Harlem to the Staten Island Ferry in downtown taking around 4 hours.
Speaking of wandering – Central Park also provides a great experience for my inner wanderer consisting of a huge area I have never been able to fully explore. It encompasses a zoo, a number of lakes, a running track, a forest area, Japanese Pagodas to name a few attractions. Wandering the park you could actually completely forget that you are in a city, which I suppose is its huge appeal to local residents and tourists alike.
A lot of tourists flood the streets of New York for the shopping experience. This has never appealed to me as much as some of the sites, experiences and food but I can understand how the glitz and glamour of 5th Avenue and Times Square draw shoppers from all over the globe – it really is a consumers paradise – if you can’t find it in New York, you can’t find it anywhere! I have to admit that I do enjoy a browse around Macy’s and used to encompass a visit within every trip. Nowadays I take the bus to the city outlets that offer an incredible choice at mind-blowing discounts, but this doesn’t take away from experiencing the mass consumerism that New York holds. As mentioned previously I also love the second-hand, antique and retro shops encased in Bleecker Street.
Even for this visit we have found new experiences to enjoy also, yes after eight visits there is still places we have yet to explore. This time around we have booked a Broadway show, a hockey game in Brooklyn and hope to explore the outer region of Long Island. New experiences such as the Freedom Tower and Highline have also opened so we will incorporate these into a very busy visit. Even then, we have still never been to Queens…
Does that help explain my continued fascination with this iconic city? Variety of experience – New York really is the Wandering Memories playground…
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