I was in NYC just a few weeks ago with a friend. We decided to visit for a long weekend and the fall weather just made it even sweeter.
We both had flying points to use so it was short & sweet with a direct flight from Montreal with Delta. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the company for this trip. It seems like they have modernized their services & they gave free snacks on the flight even for such a short trip.
I made sure to fly to La Guardia instead of JFK because it’s so much easier & cheaper to reach Manhattan from there. The shared buses were pretty late on schedule when I landed so I hopped on a shared Lyft ride and was in Soho 25 minutes later!
The next 48 hours were filled with walks, food, shopping and more food. I love this city so much, especially Manhattan after rediscovering it the right way these last few years. I dream of staying there for a full month but I’m still looking for a place that would be nicely located while still being “affordable”. If you’re from New York and you ever need a housesitter, 👋
So what is there to do in New York if you’ve never been or are trying to avoid touristy activities?
1) Find an affordable room close to everything
Frankly, the prices in hotels, hostels and Airbnb have all gone up in a pretty excessive way in New York. Going during fall makes it even worst because it’s so popular!
To not blow away your budget before actually enjoying the city, make sure to find a place that works. To me, it’s all about location. I have no interest in staying 40 minutes out of the city and having to take the subway to get everywhere. Just like Montreal, what I love about New York is how walkable the city is.
That’s why after doing plenty of research, I found The Bowery House. This hostel has great design, super sweet staff and is a big two-minute walk from some of the best neighbourhoods including Nolita, Soho & Chinatown.
Of course, it’s a hostel so don’t have high expectations. It was noisy, we had to wait to use the bathroom or shower and we didn’t get much rest. But for about $100 per night each, it was definitely worth it!
If you are travelling without a fixed budget or you feel like treating yourself, then you should book a room at Public Hotel which is just one block away as well. It’s in my lifetime’s top two hotel rooms, with self-check-in, an amazing bedroom fully automated, a beautiful gym and much more to discover. (The other room was bigger than my condo at InterContinental in Hanoi, Vietnam and had a daily Asian buffet out of this world if you’re curious 😉)
2) Eat out, as often as possible!
New York has an infinite list of places to try that it’s a bit overwhelming. I like to plan ahead and pick a few places I really want to visit during my stay but also keep a few meals out in the open in case I walk into a little gem.
That’s exactly what we did on our first evening and found Fish Cheeks! I wish I had photos to share but I was too busy indulging in the best Asian seafood meal of my life. The design caught our attention while walking and then the menu got us very excited. So much that we couldn’t pick what to order and ended up going for a set menu at $90 for two.
Never in my life have I seen such generous portions. Most of them were flavours that were new to me, even with all the restaurants I have tried around the world. I can’t wait to go back!
Another place that made my day was Milk Bar. Momofuku in Toronto is the first place I step foot in whenever I travel by train. I always make sure to go pick up a few treats upstairs from the Milk Bar fridge. But it was finally my first time going to a real location and enjoying the treats as fresh as they could be.
I had the cereal milk soft serve and a slice of the infamous crack pie to go. Omg, that crack pie was a-ma-zing. Seriously, if there’s one place to indulge in sugar, it has to be Milk Bar. Plus, did you watch the Netflix episode with Christina Tosi? It’s hard to resist her treats after seeing how passionate she is about what she does.
I couldn’t make my New York food trip complete without visiting one of the multiple matcha chains all over town. Cha Cha Matcha became part of my daily routine for a glass of matcha nitro. I liked the staff & the overall vibe and really enjoyed the sofa to get some reading done.
3) Jump on a ferry!
NYC Ferry has been operating only since May 2017. The ferry service was created for locals to deload the subway system. With plenty of routes to choose from and such a low price of $2.75 for a one-way, it really is an interesting service and I’m wondering why Montreal hasn’t started something similar.
Of course, ferries sound exciting to tourists as well so they might have become more popular than they should be. However, it’s totally worth the lineup as the ferries come often.
I did the East River route back & forth which was beautiful, especially when we passed under the Manhattan bridge.
I find it awesome to be able to jump from East 34th Street to North Williamsburg in just a few minutes and in such a calm setting. Don’t miss out on the modern boats on your next visit! They have a full bar and plenty of treats (even GF)!
It’s even made me reconsider staying in Long Island City if it means staying in a nicer hotel, eh?
4) Meet local producers at Farmer’s Markets
There are tons of Farmer’s Markets all over the city and not only during the weekend. I easily found one daily where I’d stop for a treat, tasting or simply to walk around and enjoy such a local activity. I even found a baker that did gluten-free treats including tiny pumpkin tarts <3
If you’re crazy about dogs like me, it’s also a great place to go pet all the dogs or at least enjoy how cute they are like this good boy:
5) Don’t forget about Brooklyn
Seriously, no New York visit is complete without at least a few hours spent in Brooklyn. I recommend skipping Williamsburg which looks nothing like it did before. I mean, I did go back myself this time to grab a nice meal at Juliette like I always do and I couldn’t recognize anything other than the restaurant.
Brooklyn is a beautiful city and the deeper you go, the more interesting it gets. There are so many “hidden” bars & delicious restaurants to try and the best way to find them is by taking a walk.
I’m trying really hard to go back for a few weeks this December or January. There’s never enough time to see everything.
I do hope this article gave you a few ideas to get started on your next big apple getaway!
Happy Sunday 🌈