From time to time I put down my hiking backpack and head to the big city! I took a trip several months ago to New York solo due to exceptionally cheap flights from Calgary, Alberta to New York! I couldn’t say no to New York in autumn!
My first suggestion on getting around New York and seeing popular sites in an efficient manner is being prepared to travel light and move hotels nightly, or be willing to pay the fee to commute back and forth to your hotel. Check out my blog post about travelling in a carry on for more information and tips!
Secondly, I suggest not renting a vehicle and instead using public transit or UBER/Lyft. New York is notoriously congested and hectic to drive in – I could NOT imagine driving here as a first time visitor. Save yourself the stress and just take the train or take an UBER.
Lastly, travelling alone as a woman has some obvious risks. Be smart about where you are going – keep a friend or family member updated on where you are staying and where you are going and stay in well lit and populated areas. Be mindful of who you are talking to and do not disclose too much of your own personal information – including where you are staying.
I landed in JFK late and got over to Manhattan in the evening – around 7:00PM. My hotel (Night Hotel Times Square) was directly around the corner from Times Square! I knew I wanted to utilize the night time to see the city lights and experience the chaos of Times Square. I spent a while photographing the bizarre phenomenon of Times Square, tried some vendor food, went in and out of a few stores and decided to make my way to the Rockefeller Plaza and make my way to the top! It is a bit pricey but I promise you the view at night is well worth it.
Rockefeller Plaza at night is lit up and absolutely gorgeous! You get to see New York lit up as far as the eye can see – it is a remarkable sight to see for those who aren’t used to big cities.
I woke up early and spent the morning walking from Times Square (Top of the map) to Grand Central Terminal to see the bustling morning commute for New Yorkers heading to work! Grab a bagel from the many street vendors and make your way down to the Empire State Building to head to the top and see New York during the daytime. It is well worth going! I highly recommend it.
Next I went to the famous Flatiron Building and sat at Madison Square Park to people watch for a while. By a suggestion of a friend I walked to the High Line (an abandoned train track turned garden) and walked above the New York Streets! Well worth doing – at the end of the high line path is a popular pizza place called Artichoke Pizza it is a must if you are in the area – It is virtually the best pizza I have ever had!
Afterwards, I took an Uber down to the World Trade Centre and walked around Ground Zero before checking into my hotel in the financial district for the night.
I had planned to take a ferry over to the Statue of Liberty but was unable to with time constraints – Remember to book ahead if you want to see the Statue of Liberty up close – MONTHS in advance if you want to go to the top.
Time flies in New York! The weather was forecasted for heavy rain and I had so much left I wanted to see! I spent the morning rushing around the financial district including the New York Stock Exchange enjoying being part of the busy morning commute through New York. New Yorkers walk FAST! be ready to walk fast or get yelled at! Be careful not to stop in the middle of a sidewalk, many people are in a rush to get where they are going and nobody appreciates walking around you as you check your phone.
I took the train from the financial district to Central Park and made my way through half of the park (It is a HUGE park!) stopping at Bethesda Fountain and Bow Bridge before the forecasted rain set in! There went my day at Central Park!
The remainder of the day called for rain so I spent the day at the New York Museum of Natural History (Hint: If you want to skip the long lines, buy a ticket online and show them the code on your phone! I skipped a two hour long line doing this AND saved money!)
I checked into Park West Hotel directly across from Central Park and nearby the museum and headed over to Whole Foods to grab myself a cheap dinner before turning in for the night – I had an early flight to catch the following morning!