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I grew up immersed in a mish-mash of culture in vibrant San Francisco and loved every moment of it but often, I fantasized about life on the East Coast.

I started venturing to NYC when I was 14-years-old. It’s difficult to pinpoint what draws me to the city and how this love affair started; it could be the aura of sophistication, the energy of the city, the idea that life could change in a New York minute or maybe it’s the endless food options.

These days, I can only visit a few times a year, but NYC holds a special place in my heart.

Below are my tried and tested tips for navigating through that concrete jungle…

AIRPORTS

New York has three major airports:

JFK is roughly 40 minutes, the cheapest way to get into Manhattan is using the subway. Take the Airtrain to Jamaica Center and hop onto the E train towards World Trade Center. The fastest way to the city is the LIRR. Take the Airtrain to Jamaica Center and purchase a train ticket to Penn Station.

La Guardia is my favorite airport since it’s only 20 minutes away and less crowded. I typically take an Uber or Taxi for this airport.

Newark is located in New Jersey and is about 30 minutes when taking the New Jersey Transit. This will take you directly to Penn Station.

TRANSPORTATION

New York is best explored via subway. It’s really easy to use so don’t be afraid! The subway system is color coordinated with letters or numbers. One thing to remember is Uptown is going North towards Central Park, Downtown is going South towards the World Trade Center. When in doubt an Uber or taxi is pretty cheap in New York.

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WHERE TO STAY

There are so many great areas to choose from that it can be overwhelming (and by overwhelming, I truly mean, exciting). Picking an area to stay in depends on what you’re looking for. My advice is to see it all!

Central Park is a great location for families. 1 Hotel is a boutique hotel has great views of Central Park and has a greenhouse theme to it.

Hell’s Kitchen/Midtown West if I’m not in SoHo, you’ll find me at The Peninsula. The hotel is on the pricier side but it’s totally worth it and if you have the chance, grab a drink at Salon De Ning and enjoy the view. You’ll thank me later.  This area is about a 6 minute walk from Central Park.

SoHo is the place to be if you enjoy the quietness and do not want to be near Times Square. There are a ton of great shops and lots of options for bars and restaurants. NoMo SoHo is one of my new favorite places as it has a beautiful exterior and a very trendy hotspot. The Sixty SoHo is another great boutique hotel and in the perfect area!

Chelsea is edgy, semi-industrial, but also home to some high profile spaces like the Gagosian Gallery and the Gladstone Gallery. If you’re staying in this area, I love the Dream Hotel and definitely recommend spending some time at The High Line.

Times Square is for first timers who enjoy being in the center of it all. Hyatt Times Square is great as it also has an awesome rooftop bar called Bar 54. The Knickerbocker is another great option with a rooftop bar called St. Cloud, enviably perched directly beneath the iconic New Year’s Eve Ball! Lastly, The Night Hotel is dark and sexy and located in the theater district.

Union Square is great for convenience as it has most subways located at Union Square. The Edition Hotel is a gorgeous hotel located right across Madison Square Park.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

Rooftops are the thing to do in New York especially during summer. My personal favorites include The Jane, Gallow Green, and The Ides. No idea where to start? Check out this list for starters.

Speakeasy Bars: Call and make reservations in advance! I can’t stress that enough. These places are intimate, the mixologists take pride in their work and like to really focus on the guest experience so again, make reservations.
Employees Only – Hidden behind a fortune teller shop.
Please Don’t Tell – Hidden behind a phone booth in a hot dog restaurant.
The Ship – Hidden between two stores and marked with a single flag in Little Italy.

Museums: New York has all the museums to fit any individual. My personal favorite is The Met; other museums include: Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Natural History Museum, Guggenheim Museum, New Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Parks: Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, The High Line and Washington Square Park

I love this city because of its hidden charms, the variety of dining options and the beauty that lies in both the ancient and modern architecture. I believe New York City is a city filled with determination, opportunities and dreams. And as Fran Lebowitz once said, “When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.”

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