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Sam and I have a trip to New York planned in January and it will be the first time for both of us visiting the ‘city that never sleeps’. Needless to say we’re pretty excited , not only because it’s our first trip away together since we had kids, but also because there is so much to see and do there. Once that was approved, we started planning! Here’s how we planned our trip and what we hope to see…
Why & How to get an ESTA
We applied for our ESTA visa before we booked our tickets, just in case we were denied, in fact we had nothing to worry about though as we checked back the next day and had been approved. The ESTA application is simple to do, a few pages of questions on a website including personal details, history, jobs etc. The immigration department then approves you for travel to the US and each ESTA is valid for 2 years. You can also do a group ESTA application which is great for families and saves a bit of time.
Flights & Hotels
We spent an age deciding on which area we want to be in, deciding on midtown manhattan. I priced up loads of hotels and narrowed it down to three. We will not be spending much time relaxing in the hotel so the size of the room and how it looked weren’t that important to us. We chose a Hilton in the end, and then when I was looking up flights it was actually almost £270 cheaper to book the flight and hotel direct with British Airways – so that’s what we did!
Free Things To Do In New York
- Walk the High Line – a park on the site of an old railway that takes you through Chelsea
- Walk into Manhattan across Brooklyn Bridge
- Stroll around Central Park
- Climb up the Vessel in Hudson Yards (you need to book tickets but they are free)
- Take the free ferry to Ellis Island pas the Statue of Liberty
- Stroll up Wall Street and visit the Bull
- Green-Wood Cemetery
- Irish Hunger Memorial
- Visit DUMBO for views of Manhattan
- Cable car to Roosevelt Island ($4 return trip)
Saving Money on Attractions
There are quite a few different companies providing multi-use attraction passes (this is one) which for varying amounts you can buy a 3,5,7 or 10 attraction pass to save money on the individual entrance fees. However this only works if the total cost of the attractions you plan to do is less than the pass costs. I have a spreadsheet detailing all the things we want to do, their cost and which multi-use pass they’re available on. Some attractions are not available on any of them – so we’d need to pay on the day. It’s worth asking you hotel if they have any discounts available too. Some museums are free on certain days of the week too.
The 5 Attractions I don’t want to miss
A birds eye view – I want to do this during the day and again at sunset. There are three choices. One World Observatory gives you a great view , but is further down Manhattan island. Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building are closer together and each gives you views of the other, though Top of the Rock is closer to Central Park.
The Tenement Museum – I’ve read a few books featuring life in the tenement housing in New York and think learning more about the history would be really interesting.
The Color Factory – giant ball pools, crazy colours, and interactive experience that looks a lot of fun!
Chelsea Market – a huge variety of things to look at, eat and buy!
Catacombs by Candlelight – slightly creepy, very atmospheric and who doesn’t love underground passages?
Food I Want to Try in NYC
Burgers – hopefully the whole diner experience!
Huge Pizza Slices on the go
Cheesecake Factory – yes it’s a chain restaurant but everyone says it’s amazing!
Chinese food in Chinatown.
Waffles – loaded with all the good stuff
So there we go, that’s how I’ve planned our trip, from sorting out our ESTA’s to what food we want to scoff. Now we just have a few more weeks to wait, and need to find some comfy books for all those steps we’ll be getting in!