There is no city more “American” than NYC: New York City, New York. As one of the largest, busiest, and most populated city in the US, it is bustling with diverse culture, business, and history. It is visually so iconic and recognizable because of the countless films and TV series that take place in this city. The fantastical lives on screen conjure nostalgia for the “real deal”. Indeed, there is just so much to see and do in the “Big Apple”! We’ve been here 3 times and still have more places we want to explore in future visits! For now, these are some of our favorite places in New York:
Statue of Liberty
NYC represents the melting pot of culture that is the very bloodline of the US. The Statue of Liberty is a stunning representation of the freedom, hopes, and dreams so many immigrants have when they choose to make the US their home. A short and scenic ferry ride to Staten Island allows you to see the statue up close and you get a gorgeous view of all the skyscrapers and classic architecture.
When you think New York City, there is an automatic association of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The 9/11 Memorial is a beautiful and haunting sight that allows visitors to remember those whose lives were so sadly cut short for a senseless act of terrorism. The large constructed “water falls” reminds visitors of the night Twin Towers which once stood. We didn’t visit the Museum, but we hear it preserves the many stories of the people whose tomorrow’s were stolen as well as a portion of America’s history that will never be forgotten. Behind the memorial stands One World Trade Center, which opened for business yesterday (11/3). The building is exactly 1776 feet tall, to commemorate America’s year of independence.
A visit to New York City is incomplete without strolling through Central Park. This place also holds a special place in our heart as we traveled there the day after Thanh proposed. That is why Nhi’s sister painted the above canvas for our wedding. We were hopeful of catching Autumn colors, but unfortunately, the park remained entirely green. We strongly recommend taking a bike tour that would allow you to take in the entire park without exhausting all your time. The bike tour does allow you to take as many stops as you want, so be sure to take a picture in front of the Friends fountain!
Considered the “heart” of NYC, Times Square is truly a must-see extravaganza, especially at night. It may be midnight but the bright lights, crowds, and bustling businesses will make you question the time. Truly epitomizing a city that never sleeps, Times Square is home to several broadcast television networks and showcases the latest advertisements. Tourists flock here day and night and it is the location for the annual New Years Countdown featuring a certain “ball drop” to celebrate the New Year. Surrounded by big stores and big lights, Times Square puts you at a walking distance to some of its most sought-after offerings – Broadway & shopping!
We had to visit this French luxury bakery known for its macarons that are flown straight from Paris. It is a rather petite shop with small arrays of delicacies. The decor of the shop, the packaging, and the appearances of the pastries were exquisite. Despite the high-end price (each macaroon was $4), we found the taste to be just average; our eyes feasted more than our stomachs.
There are plenty of Asian dining options among Chinatown and Koreatown. In terms of cleanliness and aroma, Koreatown wins by a wide margin. As for food, it depends on your preference. We love Kang Suh Restaurant although it is rather pricey. The BBQ is mouthwateringly delicious. We also like their lunch boxes, which are more reasonably priced. And the squid side dish is to die for. Koreatown’s bakeries look cozy, inviting, and absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, the actual taste leaves lots to be desired. If you’re in the mood for a nice, authentic Vietnamese dinner, we recommend Chinatown’s Nha Trang One (not to be mistaken with Nha Trang Centre). Their canh chua (tamarind based soup) is the best we’ve tasted. We also love their soft shell crabs. Lastly, enjoy a family meal of all-you-can-eat hot pot at 99 Favor Taste. (Really? Favor and not Flavor? A serious typo!)
Carlton is located near Koreatown, which makes it extremely convenient for those who live to eat. :) The decor is very elegant and classy with many hidden charms. Aside from a very pleasant stay, Nhi left with more decor inspirations for our future home. :) Room service here is also very good. Their French fries are the best we’ve had. (Their steak was fine, but not extraordinary.)
(Photos taken the day after Thanh proposed.)
Located in the upper side of Manhattan, “5th Avenue” is the dreamland of high-end shopaholics. Even if your budget doesn’t allow for any purchases, everyone can afford to window shop. You are near Central Park and also sprinkled among all of the window fronts and stores are gorgeous, historic architecture. For more “affordable” shopping, check out the stores on 7th Avenue, including “the largest store in the world”: an 8-story worth of Macy’s spanning an entire block!
New York City is a nice place to visit for its grandeur. But, it’s not one for habitat. Having lived in Minnesota for a good many years, Nhi believes in being nice to strangers. Well, most New Yorkers don’t tend to share that belief.
In this city, cars and taxis are not the ideal mode of transportation. You will not only pay a premium just to park (if you can find a spot) and will waste much of your precious NYC minutes stuck in traffic. Become very familiar with the MTA (New York’s public transportation system); nowadays your smartphone makes navigation a cinch! Because there’s just an overwhelming amount of potential sight seeing, we recommend lumping multiple nearby destinations in each of your planned outing so you’re not wasting too much back-and-forth travel time. Most important will be to have comfortable footwear – we walked well over 5 miles one day!