Upper East Side - Obviously we had a few expectations going in - mostly based on Gossip Girl. Our expectations didn’t fall too short. This area was boogie AF, but also full of some interesting places to spend the weekend - hidden speakeasies, rooftop bars with $250 minimums just to name a few. If you’ve followed any of our trips or read any of our other posts, you can probably tell that we travel pretty frugally, so this area was a little out of our price range. It’s definitely worth taking a walk around though and maybe recreating all of your favorite Gossip Girls cliche poses.
Upper West Side - This was a quiet area right down the street from Central Park. We chose to stay in a hostel here, which was a decent price with great space and coincidentally happened to be NYC’s best party hostel. Besides being an international hub where we met lots of new friends, it was only a 5 minute walk to the metro that got us everywhere. Fair warning though: it will take you roughly 20-30 minutes to metro anywhere you want to go, so plan accordingly.
Chelsea - This area was full of cute bars and restaurants. We actually ended up here accidentally when we joined a bar crawl, but we were pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of restaurants and bars, as well as the feel of the neighborhood. It gives you a kind of local feel - where the bartender knows the name and order of the regulars.
Brooklyn - This was one of the neighborhoods we were most excited to explore. We booked tickets (free) for our 3-hour walking tour where we got to learn about the interesting history of Brooklyn from a local. We made the mile long trek across the Brooklyn Bridge, ventured into some of the neighborhoods and ended along the water. One thing we found really interesting about the bridge was that Emily, a crazy cool woman (whose husband and son were two of the main architects of the project and were both paralyzed and/or died during construction) had a huge part in the building and completion of the bridge. When the bridge opened in 1883, Emily was the first person to walk across it. Another interesting thing to note was the drastic change in perception of the Brooklyn neighborhood. I think we kind of had it in our minds (after watching loads of movies and T.V. shows set in Brooklyn) that it was an artsy place where starving artists lived until they made it big. The reality is that it’s risen to be one of the more high end areas, and apartments are selling for millions.
Manhattan - What can we say? Manhattan is the heart of NYC. You can practically feel the pulse of the city as thousands of people make their way past you - locals and tourists mixing together as they rush in and out of the subway and through the busy streets surrounding Times Square. No matter what our plans for the day were, it seemed we always ended up in Manhattan for some period of time.
Little Italy/Chinatown - I feel like every time you watch a movie or TV show about New York, you hear about Chinatown and Little Italy, so I guess my expectations were that they would be these huge cultural areas. Maybe we went at the wrong time because there was a huge festival in Little Italy, but mostly it seemed like a great place to go to get traditional food, but there wasn’t much else to see there. We were also a little surprised that the two neighborhoods seemed to flow into each other instead of being distinctly separated. Where one neighborhood ended, the other began.