New York City – What to See (and Dreams v Reality)

New York City is known as the place ‘where dreams are made of’. I mean, just look at the pictures and watch the movies. How can you deny it? (Unless you just hate cities for whatever reason)

It’s August 2018, and my brother, mum and I are finally going to New York. This is the place I dreamed of going to since the age of 11. We had booked our accommodation in New Jersey, near Hudson River, because it was cheaper than staying in NYC itself. This meant we saw the beautiful skyline of the city before we entered the city itself, and it did not disappoint. I remember feeling so happy just looking over at the buildings and shapes of the city, having finally arrived at the place I had longed to visit for years.

New York City from the other side of the Hudson River
How beautiful are the city lights at night?!

Now, everyone who knows about New York know about the Statue of Liberty. Although we did not go to Ellis Island where the statue stands, we took the Staten Island Ferry, a free ferry route from Manhattan to Staten Island which passes the Statue of Liberty. This is good if you’re on a budget as it saves the cost of getting a boat tour around or directly to the island. I have to admit, the statue was a little underwhelming, but maybe that was because we didn’t get close enough and my expectations were too high. Besides, it was still beautiful, both in aesthetics and what it symbolises as a national icon.

The Statue of Liberty as seen from the Staten Island Ferry

Everyone should also pay a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. There is a museum where visitors can learn about the history of the Twin Towers as well as the attack, but even if you do not want to pay the entrance free for it, you should take a few minutes by the memorial to commemorate the lives lost.

9/11 Memorial

The place I was most excited to see was definitely Times Square. I was not let down. Big billboards, lots of people and bustle, plenty of colour. I just loved the whole vibe of it. The reality of the place definitely met the standards of my dreams, if not exceeding it. Visiting this place is a must!

It was a dream come true for me when we walked through Times Square.

And when you need to escape the business of the city, just go to Central Park, duh. You could spend an entire day here if you want to explore all it’s famous attractions, which includes Central Park Zoo, Conservatory Garden, the Loeb Boathouse and loads more. Seriously, dedicate a good few hours if you want to see it all, or if you just want to take an hour walk in the greenery you can do that too. You could also try Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Or if you want to hideaway indoors for a while instead, there’s the New York Public Library. To be fair, we mainly had to go there to cool down – it was really quite hot outside.

Get some peace and quiet in the New York Public Library.

Another way to spend time indoors is to visit a museum – and there are many, many to choose from. We went to the American Museum of Natural History and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The natural history museum featured an impressive taxidermy exhibition, and as a girl who really loves space, the Rose Center for Earth and Space was honestly one of my trip highlights. The Intrepid Museum was equally as cool, with a lot of interactive and immersive elements.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, already looking awesome from the outside

One way to add a bit more to your daily steps is walking Brooklyn Bridge. It’s famous because when the bridge was first built, it was the first of its kind. I suppose I got pretty much what I expected from walking the bridge. Although it wasn’t super exciting, it’s a tourist attraction for a reason. You get a lovely view of Manhattan, and you’re walking on a famous bridge. It probably took us around an hour to walk the length of it one-way – bear in mind the heat was somewhat sweltering, it was crowded, and we (by we, I mean my mum) kept stopping to take photos.

Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn

The Rockefeller Centre is a landmark complex where we went to grab a sundae and explore the buildings. This is also where you can go to the ‘Top of the Rock’ which gives an amazing view of the city – however it is quite pricey so for us personally it wasn’t worth it. ($38 + tax for an adult)

Visit the shops and grab a bite at the Rockefeller Center

On the subject of money, we took a trip to Wall Street, where we tried to get a picture of the Charging Bull, the iconic bronze structure. When I say tried, this is why:

Lots of hustle around the Wall Street Bull

I admittedly did not know much about Grand Central Terminal apart from the fact that it is a famous rail terminal, and I had seen it in the movie 2:22. That made it all the more impressive when we visited it. The ceiling maps out star constellations, and the large building also includes a market, food hall and shops. Expectations exceeded.

This landmark is more than just a train station

New York, New York. The place fulfilled my dreams for sure, and the city lights are a sight to see in itself. I only wish we spent more time there to explore more – there’s just too much to see and do.

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