So 16 days after setting off from Heathrow we finally landed at JFK to start the final leg of our honeymoon with 4 days in New York. As we had arrived in the city early evening we jumped in a taxi and made our way to The Viceroy hotel, 1 block from Central Park.
On arrival, the staff had left us a bottle of champagne which was a really nice way to start our stay with them! We willingly obliged and poured ourselves a glass or 2. Being late evening, we headed to the hotel’s restaurant, Kingside for a bite to eat before heading up to the rooftop bar for a cocktail. Perfect!
Day 1 – Central Park, Empire State Building & Times Square
Neither of us had been to New York before so naturally, we had all of the key sightseeing areas planned out and bought a City Pass – this is a much cheaper way to explore the city giving you access to many sights at a big discount.
So we kicked things off on our first day by heading one block north of the Viceroy to Central Park. We explored Bow Bridge, Belvedere Tower, the turtle pond and the boating lake which was beautiful. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard of central park however I think I completely underestimated quite how big it is – like everything we saw in America, it was twice as big as anywhere else would have had it!
Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
After a couple of hours wandering around the park, we figured we would use one of our City Pass vouchers and so headed down the famous 5th Avenue to the MET museum where we saw pieces by the likes of Picasso and Mondrian.
All of that walking worked up quite the appetite so rather than finding anywhere nearby to eat we tried to combine a few more sights into lunch by walking up to Grand Central Station for a Shake Shack! This meant we passed the Chrysler Building, the Rockefeller Center and plenty of other skyscrapers on Madison Avenue. Touristing at its finest!
Empire State Building
Refuelled, we made our way to our next stop of the day by heading to the iconic Empire State Building. Standing tall in the middle of New York this is a must visit destination, especially if you’re visiting the city for the first time. I was expecting there to be a lot of standing around and queuing however luckily things moved pretty quickly and we had made our way to the viewing platform in no time at all! Up there I met a Gorilla (much to Sarah’s embarrassment!) and we took in the view across the city which was incredible.
If you’re planning to head up the Empire State Building on your visit to New York, be warned that at the top it is quite exposed and is seriously windy!
Read more about my visit to the Empire State Building here.
Broadway & Times Square
With the sun setting and pretty exhausted from another very long day we made our way back to the hotel via Broadway and Times Square – definitely the busiest place we visited in all 21 days in America as it’s a complete tourist trap!
We also made a quick stop into Macy’s to play the Big Piano!
So that was day 1, pretty busy and a LOT of walking but absolutely amazing!
Day 2 – Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial & Book of Mormon
After our first and exhausting day we kicked things off by heading to Pick a Bagel for breakfast which was something we’d been advised by various Trip Advisor articles. Nom!
The first stop of the day was to use another voucher on our City Pass and visit the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. Unfortunately on the day we planned to do this it was absolutely bucketing it down with rain and incredibly windy which made our stay on the island like many others who took the boat across the river rather short lived – we’re talking 20 minutes, tops!
On Liberty Island there really isn’t that much to do beyond taking the expected arm in the air photo (it’s New York’s equivalent of holding up the leaning tower of Pisa!) so with the rain somewhat killing our mood we jumped straight onto the next ferry and continued on to our next stop, Ellis Island to learn a bit about the history of immigration on America’s east coast.
Read more about my visit to the Statue of Liberty here.
Ellis Island was really interesting as it offered a huge amount of things to see and read about. They’ve effectively turned all of the original immigration buildings into a museum so there’s loads of information boards and a guided walk around the place. For me it was one of the most interesting places we visited as I know very little about American history.
Educated, we jumped back on the ferry to Manhatten and took the short walk to Wall Street where we saw the New York Stock Exchange. With One World Trade Center in our sights, we headed to the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero for our next stop of the day.
National September 11 Memorial Museum
We had already seen the 9/11 memorial at The Pentagon at the start of our honeymoon in Washington DC however we were keen to see how America had paid tribute to those who had lost their lives where the twin towers once stood. Arriving at the site it was was pretty sobering to see not only how big the footprint was of the original towers but also how such a tragedy could take place for the everyday people of New York who were just going about their daily lives.
We located the entrance to the Memorial Museum which was included in our City Pass booklet and wandered around the museum which offered an insight into the events leading up to September 11th, the events on the day and what has happened since. The whole experience was quite emotional.
Book of Mormon on Broadway
With the day nearly over we headed back towards Times Square and Broadway for our final stop of the day seeing Book of Mormon. This was by far the funniest stage show I have ever seen! It was completely insulting, humorous and full of “I can’t believe they can get away with this” moments – honestly, everyone should see this show!
Day 3 – The High Line, Brooklyn Bridge & Top of the Rock
Our third day in New York was our last full day in America and signified the end of our honeymoon. With that in mind we tried to pack in as much as we could, which you guessed it, meant another full on day of sightseeing an walking!
What better way to start the day than by heading to West Village and to the building which everyone in their late 20’s to early 30’s has grown up with on their TV screens most weeks for the past 20 years…
With that excitement out of our system we headed to A.O.C. for breakfast which was a really nice venue serving great food. West Village also offered something quite different to the rest of New York as there are no high rise buildings to be seen – it’s got a much more local town feel to it so completely different!
Read more about my visit to the West Village here.
The High Line
With brunch sorted we made our way to the High Line to see what all of the fuss was about as it’s something that you read about everywhere when planning your trip to NYC. I wasn’t too sure what to expect if I’m completely honest but it really is something quite cool and the city have done an amazing job with it. They’ve basically taken an old elevated railway line through the city and section by section are converting it into a modern, scenic walkway filled with plants and landscaping.
What I found most impressive about the High Line is the complete lack of commercialism which is on every street corner elsewhere in New York.
As it was along the High Line we then headed to the famous Chelsea Market to take a look around and grab a bite to eat! This was about halfway along the High Line so really convenient to visit offering loads of food and drink stalls and shopping.
The market was really interesting to see however you do need to be prepared to be confronted with a lot of people in a small space! There was room to move around but it is really busy in there. With this side of Manhatten done we jumped on the subway and headed over to Brooklyn to take a look around.
East River & the Brooklyn Bridge
It wouldn’t be right to head to New York and not see Manhatten and the New York skyline from Brooklyn so it was something we had to do – with the transport system being so good, despite the distance it was well worth it.
We continued along the river past the various piers and (eventually) managed to navigate our way to the walkway to head onto the Brooklyn Bridge – it really isn’t particularly well signposted!
By this point the day had become somewhat of a marathon walk so we were completely exhausted! Despite this we knew it was the last day of the honeymoon and so ploughed on through and made our way back across to Manhatten. Here we decided to head for a fancy steak dinner at Del Frisco’s which was a place a couple we met in Las Vegas had recommended to us earlier on in our trip!
Top of the Rock
Feeling a bit better having eaten(!), despite the abysmal weather, endless fog and 10pm time, we decided to use our last City Pass voucher to go up Top of the Rock to the viewing platform as a final evening sign off to New York. I would love to say the views were worth the effort however as per the photos below it was pretty crap – not quite the stretching city views it promised! To be honest it didn’t matter though as we were in the area anyway and we can of course now say we’ve done it – I expect on a clear day the views back to the Empire State Building are pretty special.
Day 4 – Last day of the honeymoon
Waking up on day 4 in New York was a mix of emotions. It was the last and 21st day of the honeymoon which was depressing but at the same time it offered that happy feeling of heading home soon after a long time away. As our flight back to Heathrow wasn’t until later on in the day we checked out and stored our bags to do one final lap of the city.
Sarah and I didn’t buy each other wedding gifts to save some money so to celebrate our time in New York we headed to Tiffany &Co., just around the corner from the hotel and bought a charm – lifelong ambition complete!
We then headed to a little Italian place for lunch called Pizzarte but I wasn’t overly impressed with it if I’m being honest, average at best.
The day we were leaving New York was also the day of the Pulaski Day Parade. This meant 5th Avenue and many of the surrounding roads were closed due to the procession which offered singing, dancing and plenty of floats/parade vehicles!
With only an hour to spare we finished our honeymoon by heading to the Magnolia bakery and then sitting on the edge of Central Park taking in the final sights and sounds of this amazing city.
New York done, Honeymoon done – back to reality!
New York was incredible and certainly one of my favourite places of everywhere that we stayed, the city offered so much to do, so much to see and so many experiences that we’ll never forget. It was just so much better than I expected – I’m in no doubt that we’ll return there within the next few years to explore the city further!
So that was it, New York was done which meant that our incredible 21 day honeymoon in the States was over. We saw so many places in our 3 weeks there and I loved every minute of our stay. The American people were so welcoming and friendly and the customer service was exceptional no matter where we visited.
America, you did yourselves proud – thank you for having us, giving us the greatest experiences of our lives and for exceeding every expectation. We’ll see you again soon.