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10 things to see & do in New York City

New York City is one of my favourite places to visit. I’ve been twice now, the first trip being our honeymoon back in 2008 and the second saw me getting stranded in a very dark hotel room as Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 and all the power went out for a few days!

New York is one of the biggest and most popular tourist destinations in the world, largely because it contains a plethora of entertainment, attractions, and noteworthy sights. This means that pretty much anyone can find plenty to do in the city. The problem, for a lot of travellers, is there’s simply too much! With all of the offerings of New York City at your hands for a brief vacation, it can be very hard to narrow things down and plan your trip.

In order to help with that process, I’ve put together a list of 10 of the very best sights and attractions across the city. Naturally there’s plenty to do that doesn’t make this list, but if you cover a handful of these items, you should be off to a great start on your trip to New York. So here goes:

1. Central Park

Central Park, on its own, is an incredible attraction. The sheer size of it is actually difficult to comprehend, and there’s something very cool about being able to enjoy sprawling green fields and tree cover with a border of skyscrapers lining the surrounding area. But the park is also a lot of fun because there are so many additional attractions within. It has its own zoo, a modern castle, baseball and soccer fields, boathouses, restaurants, and more.

Central Park New York City(image credit)

2. Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are tons of amazing museums in New York, and different ones might appeal to different people. If you’re curious about finding the perfect fit, Smithsonian’s picks of five must-see museums can give you a nice selection of very different exhibits to consider. But for the best all-encompassing experience, it’s difficult to beat the Metropolitan Museum of Art, often referred to simply as the Met. As one of the biggest museums in the world, it just has some of everything.

Metropolitan Museum of Art(image credit)

3. Columbus Circle

This is a personal preference, but for little glimpses of the city at its finest, Columbus Circle stands out as a place to see. It’s an easy stop, as it’s right on the southwest corner of Central Park, and it’s a pretty breathtaking city block. A vast roundabout packed with taxis and horse-drawn carriages fresh from the park, the circle is surrounded on all sides by towering, gleaming skyscrapers. Its ground level is marked by an eclectic mix of coffee shops, glass-walled building lobbies, hotdog stands, and one giant golden statue commemorating U.S. sailors from the Maine battleship.

Columbus Circle New York(image credit

4. Brooklyn Bridge

Because it’s made up of various boroughs divided by water, New York is known for its bridges that ferry unfathomable amounts of traffic back and forth on a constant basis. Among them all, the Brooklyn Bridge also functions as a tourist attraction. Connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan, it’s a massive and impressive structure, particularly when you consider it was built in the 1800s! The bridge is walkable, too.

Brooklyn Bridge New York

5. Washington Square Park

Like Columbus Circle, this is more of a sight than an attraction or activity, but I’d still recommend Washington Square Park as a place to check out if you want to get a feel for some of the different atmospheres within the city. Essentially a wide open space situated at the edge of New York University, it’s a beautiful area packed with people that often feels more laid back than other popular neighbourhoods closer to midtown. It’s also a great place to catch some amazing street performances, despite policy changes that have at times made it more difficult for performers to work there.

washington square park new york(image credit)

6. World Trade Center

The new World Trade Center, built where the Twin Towers were tragically destroyed in the events of Sept. 11, 2001, is still incomplete, but it’s already a stunning area and a fitting monument to New York’s collective perseverance. Its signature building, One World Trade Center, is now the fourth tallest building in the world, and the NY Post says its observation deck is “out of this world.”

One world trade centre new york(image credit)

7. Flagship Stores

Major retail stores may not sound like noteworthy attractions in a city as towering and magnificent as New York. For many, though, they’re must-see stops. In fact, flagship locations for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are even highlighted as part of BA’s page on New York travel, where potential travellers are guided through some of the most significant things to see and do in the city. It may or may not be for you, but if you like to shop—or are simply intrigued by the idea of stores large enough to span multiple city blocks—visit some of these flagships.

Macy's flagship store, New York(image credit)

8. 5th Avenue Cathedrals

Manhattan’s 5th Avenue is known mostly for high-end shops and luxury hotels and condos. However, it also has a few breathtaking chapels and cathedrals lining the streets. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the most famous one, often mentioned among the city’s greatest sights, but the Saint Thomas Church is also a treat to see.

st patricks cathedral new york(image credit)

9. Yankee Stadium

New York has a lot of famous sports stadiums, and mayn local fans are a little bit sour on the new Yankee Stadium, which was built in 2009 to replace the historic old one. While an element of tradition was lost, the new stadium is about as impressive a sports venue as you can find in the world. Filled to the brim with monuments to the Yankees’ history (and in some respects that of New York), the stadium also emphasises fan comfort.

New York Yankees stadium(image credit)

10. Governors Island

Finally, there’s Governors Island, which is my personal favourite off-shore attraction in the city. Once essentially an island fortress, it has been transformed into a park of sorts with walking and cycling routes, areas set aside for art exhibitions, and plenty of food and entertainment options—all in view of the island of Manhattan.

Governors Island New York(image credit)
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A lovely weekend

To say I had a glorious weekend would be a bit of an understatement. (I’ll get to that in a minute…)

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. I don’t know if it was tiredness or loneliness or a little bit of everything but I was starting to feel like nobody liked me. It’s not anything that anyone has done or said, it’s just with the all the house renovations and Nick working away for a few weeks, that we’ve been too poor and busy to really see anybody. I don’t have that many friends and I’m okay with that, I’ve always been more of a ‘few & special’ than a big cluster of acquaintances kinda gal. But over the past week we’ve managed to finally catch up with a couple of people who mean a lot to us and it’s made me feel much better. I always thought I was okay with my own company, which I am, but it’s really made me realise how important it is to connect with other people. There’s also a glorious bunch of local blogger ladies on Whatsapp that cheer up my days endlessly <3.

In other news, my sister-in-law Neile has finally started a blog after years & years of me telling her she’d be awesome at it. She’s super nervous about it so if you could all go follow her on Twitter & show her some love that would be awesome.

A side-effect of this is that seeing her excitement about it has made me realise why I started doing this in the first place. After 5 years of blogging, it’s easy to become complacent and disheartened by the whole thing and to be honest, over the past year, I’ve seriously considered shutting my blog down several times. But hearing her talk excitedly about people retweeting her and commenting on her blog has given me a fresh perspective on it that I feel I really needed.

Anyway, back to my awesome weekend (which kind of starts with Thursday…)

Our favourite pizza place, Da Marios is closing for a little while so they can extend so I said I’d take Nick there for Father’s Day before they shut as we thought it would be quieter than trying to go somewhere on Sunday. It was a beautiful evening so we decided to stop off at the beach on the way so Huxley could splash in the sea.

Branksome Dene ChineMiddle Chine BournemouthBranksome Beach DorsetBranksome Dene Chine PooleBranksome Dene Chine stairsGruffalo crocs

Huxley found a seashell in the sand that he was convinced was an ice-cream…

Da Mario pizza BournemouthDa Mario pizza Westbourne

Friday was pretty busy. Nick had the dentist in the morning and I got stuck in the car with a napping Huxley. Then we went to Bournemouth to do a bit of shopping, Castlepoint to buy some plants and bits from B&Q and then to the Quomps at Christchurch so Huxley could run around in the amazing free splash park that they have there. In the evening our friends Lauren & Ben came over as Lauren is also our accountant and she helped us do our tax returns and we stuffed our faces with delicious curry.

A photo posted by Emma Baines (@thestylebox) on

Free summer fun for kids in Christchurch DorsetQuomps splash park ChristchurchChristchurch Quay free water park for kidsFree things to do with children in Dorset Saturday morning was spent in the garden with my granddad as it’s a bit of a jungle! He ripped up a load of unwanted plants and bushes and replanted the good ones and it’s so much neater. Nick had been up since 3am to get his smoker nice and hot as he wanted to do some pulled pork for our friends Nick & Amy who were coming over. I made an amazing salad from the DeliciouslyElla app that went down well too and we had a lovely catch-up.

A photo posted by Emma Baines (@thestylebox) on

Sunday morning was spent baking some cookies before we went to see Nick’s dad for Father’s Day. Nick’s sister was also there with Elsie & Hadley so we went to a local pub with a park so the kids could run around together. Then we came home and I may have played a sneaky bit of bingo on my mobile* while Nick made strawberry and balsamic vinegar ice-cream and I could have eaten my own bodyweight of it. Literally amazing.

A photo posted by Emma Baines (@thestylebox) on

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One Direction in Cardiff

On Friday I drove to Cardiff with all three of my little sisters to see One Direction in concert. It was amazing. But very stressful!

When we originally booked the tickets in December, we were going to leave nice and early, spend the day looking around Cardiff, stop for some lunch, go to the concert, stay overnight, sleep in, do some more exploring and then head home.

What happened was not even close. A few weeks ago we found out that one of my sisters had a GCSE exam on the day of the concert, meaning that we couldn’t leave until 3.30pm. It’s a 3-hour drive to Cardiff on a good day so we knew we’d be cutting it fine but figured we’d just about get there before it all started. We hadn’t factored in the fact that there were two enormous concerts happening across the street from one another and that there would be 45-mile tailbacks down the M4.

Then my other sister announced that she was going on holiday the day after the concert meaning we’d have to get up bright and early so that she could be back for lunchtime to catch a flight to Spain.

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I’m the oldest, but the shortest! #verticallychallenged

So, after a 5-hour drive we arrived at Cardiff at 8pm, knowing we’d already missed the two support acts, one of which was McBusted which my sisters were very excited about. One Direction were due on stage at 8pm so there was a lot of frantic Twitter-checking to see if we were missing out. We pulled up to the park-and-ride to find that the last bus had left half an hour ago and that we had to call a taxi to get into town. The park-and-ride was £10 a car. The taxi into town was £13.80 and we’d have to get a taxi home as we didn’t have a park-and-ride bus ticket.

The taxi couldn’t drop us off at the Millenium Stadium because all the roads had been closed so we still had a 10-15 minute walk once we got into town. My sister is 5 months pregnant so as you can imagine, she wasn’t thrilled about this. She also wasn’t thrilled about the 6 flights of stairs we had to climb once we were inside to get to our seats. We could hear cheering and music pumping as we walked up to the stadium but from what we could gather from Twitter, we’d only missed one or two songs. THANK YOU ONE DIRECTION for coming on stage late!!!

Once we were inside, all was forgotten. It was an absolute blast. We were up in the rafters which is a new experience for me as I’m usually down the bottom getting crushed and sweaty with the screaming masses! To be honest, I was so grateful to have a seat after all that driving and it was much quieter up in the nosebleeds so you could hear more of the music. I’ll be honest, I only recognised one or two songs as I’m not a big Directioner but I did get up and gave it my all with my embarrassing older sister dancing for their finale track ‘Best Song Ever’.

One Direction CardiffOne Direction at Millenium Stadium CardiffHarry Styles in CardiffOne-DirectionOne-Direction1One Direction On The Road Again Tour Millenium Stadium CardiffOne Direction concert in Cardiff 2015

The concert ended at about 10.15pm and we knew we had to get a taxi back to the park-and-ride before the gates shut at midnight otherwise we’d really be stuck. We briefly stood in the queue for merchandise before realising that we’d better get a move on before the Manic Street Preachers kicked out as getting a taxi would be hard enough already. I did feel a little bit like Cinderella rushing to get back before midnight but not for long. It was absolute bedlam. Thankfully we managed to book a taxi and after a bit of confusion about which side of the hotel we were standing and a lot of shivering in the cold, we finally made it into our nice warm carriage at about 11.30pm. (Massive thanks to Dragon Taxis for being awesome). Our taxi driver was the best. He knew all the backroads to take and we didn’t get stuck in traffic once. He dropped us right outside the car and even helped us work out the best way to get to our hotel.

We were staying in Caerphilly and even driving around in the pitch black, I could tell it was going to be stunning when we woke up in the morning. I could see the outline of all the hills in the moonlight. The town centre is also home to an enormous, amazing looking castle WITH A MOAT. Absolutely gutted we didn’t have time to explore that but I’ll have to go back one day.

Our night at the Premier Inn was lovely and very comfortable and we woke nice and early for a bacon roll at McDonalds. We then drove home VIA READING due to a Sat-Nav mishap (my sister is not allowed to be in charge of directions any more) but we made it home with an hour to spare before she had to get to the airport so not a complete disaster.

I think it’s fair to say that I was very relieved to get home, put my comfy clothes on and slob on the sofa checking out the second hand designer goodies from rebelle* on my laptop. I think I’ll be sticking to concerts much closer to home in the future!

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