It has always been a life-long dream to one day visit the USA and I have been fortunate enough to have fulfilled this last month. The USA is a big country with plenty to see from natural landscapes like the Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon to modern cities like New York and Los Angeles.
I didn’t wanna rush my time here and thus, opted to visit a few cities in the East, with New York being the first stop. Below is the first part of my 7-days itinerary which includes a link to my day trip to Washington DC.
I decided to leave out the food part and will include my favourites in a separate post which you can find here.
I started the day off by heading to The High Line which used to be rail tracks and is now reused as a breakout zone across the major part of Chelsea, bringing in some greenery in this concrete jungle. As it is 1.45 miles long (4.33km), there are a few entrances which you can find out more on their website. I entered from the 30th street entrance and walked from one end to the other. I would say that the part nearer to the 23rd Street entrance has more people as there are larger seating areas and sunbathing spots there.
There are plenty of different viewing spots and seating areas in between so do take your time to walk the High Line. It can get really hot on a sunny day as there aren't many shaded spots. It took me roughly half an hour to 45 minutes to walk the whole High Line with breaks in between.
I stopped at Chelsea’s Market to take a quick look. It is an indoor market with an array of restaurants and vintage shops. The seafood here are really fresh as you can smell it the moment you enter the shops, there is a shop here known for its seafood and lobster but I couldn’t be bothered to queue up for an hour as I was already very hungry.
After lunch, I headed to the Flatiron Building for a mandatory tourist shop. It’s pretty cool how the building expands at the end which follows the divergence of the street. The streets must have definitely been taken into consideration when the architects were designing it. If you’re wondering why it’s called the Flatiron building, it’s because the when you look at the building at the plan view / aerial view, it is indeed the shape of the bottom of an iron.
Although The Empire State Building holds a lot of meaning behind it, I decided not to go up to the top as it was a choice between the Empire State and Rockefeller Centre. I made my choice by researching on to a few sites on which you could read up and decide for yourself.
Making a quick stop at Macy’s just cause it’s the “Harrods” of New York, it was where all the different styles and brands came together under one roof. Didn’t spend much time here and headed straight to 5th Avenue which was also known for its high street shopping. As most of the stores on this street are flagships stores and are high-end, I was keen on checking out some of the interiors, one being the Armani store as its staircase is a major piece of architectural design. Do keep in mind that 5th Avenue is a really long stretch, so by the time I was done walking half of it, it was already night time.
What better place to head to on my first night in the Big Apple than the bustling streets of Times Square. The screens were brightly lit whilst the sound of car engines roared and hundreds of pedestrians crossed from one side to another, Times Square came to life, welcoming the night with open arms. I usually hate busy streets but there is a tiered seating area in Times Square where you could just sit in the middle of the square and do nothing. There was something fascinating and maybe even a little bit appreciative about being able to feel calm and be still in the midst of all these business.
As I lived right round the corner, I stopped by Times Square once more just to see how it is during the day. I must admit that they are very different and as the images on screen aren’t as vivid as they are at night and it honestly didn’t feel like it did the night before. The buzz seemed more prominent yet the escape zone felt more like a rest area than anything else.
Chrysler Building was my next stop. The building is decorated with Art Noveau style and although it is known for its roof design from afar, I took a quick peek at the lobby inside. Nothing that fancy but I figured since I was already here, why not?
Following this was Grand Central Terminal. When you’re here, be sure to go down to the food court as it is on that floor will you find the “Whispering Wall”it’s pretty cool how someone could whisper something at the wall and the other person could hear it from the other end! Can someone who’s good at physics please explain this to me in lay man’s terms? Haha. There is also an Oyster Bar here for all you oyster lovers out there.
Unfortunately during the time that I was in New York, the main room in the Public Library was closed for renovation. Dang it. I did however got to see the other rooms and get a taste of how the main room was like. Love how old school and grand it felt like both internally and externally.
Behind the Public Library was Bryant Park which was a quaint little park that was surrounded by high rise buildings. From here you could take a breather and cool off under the shade. It was also “Growlithes’s Nest” for Pokemon Go so I spent some time here. Don’t judge, it is a pretty addictive game that rekindles my childhood memories!
I then headed to Rockefeller Centre for the Top of the Rock which costs $32 per adult. I came here roughly 1 hour 15 minutes before sunset and stayed till an hour after. I felt that this was ideal as not only do I get to see Manhattan’s skyline during the day, but also during the night. There was a short queue to enter but it only took about 10 minutes as not many people came up yet.
From one side of the building, you could see the Empire State Building in the midst of the concrete jungle and on the other side, you could see Central Park, bringing a large chunk of greenery and serenity to this city that never sleeps.
The skies were absolutely gorgeous that day and this definitely made the trip up here worth it. I would recommend finding a good spot about half an hou before sunset especially when you’re at the highest floor and staying there as people start to crowd around the railings half an hour before sunset.
After the sun has set, it took a while before the skies turned completely dark but when it did, the little lights that came out from each window in Manhattan started to light up the horizon and once again I’m reminded on why I prefer night views than day. The journey down took really long as everyone was leaving at the same time. The elevators were constantly going up and down sending people down. It took a good half an hour or more before I was finally out of the building but honestly, I can’t emphasize enough how much this was worth it.
DAY 3- WASHINGTON DC
For my 3rd day here, I took a day trip down to Washington DC. Click here for a more detailed itinerary.
My first stop for the day was the American Museum of Natural History. There is a suggested donation of $22 for the entrance ticket. However, do bear in mind that it is the suggested donation, if you buy your ticket online or at ticket agencies, they will charge you the full amount. Thus, if you’re not willing to spend so much, do queue up on site and upon reaching the counter, give them your desired amount directly.
Most of the animals from Night at the Museum are taken from here and if museums are your thing, you could easily spend the entire day here. I skipped through most of it as it was about the same as that in London and headed straight for “Dum Dum” and “Rexy” from the movie.
On the other exit of American Museum of Natural History lies Central Park. There are plenty of things to discover and do here including canoeing. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on my side so I couldn’t do any of the water sports.
Amongst the places I visited in Central Park are the Alice in Wonderland fountain, Belvedere Castle, Gapstow Bridge, Bethseda Fountain, Bethseda Terrace and Shakespeare Garden.
The Bethseda Terrace is one of the most photographed spots in Central Park due to its detailed ceiling. There was even a wedding photo shoot taking place whilst I was there.
Central Park is huge and I would recommend renting a bicycle if you want to see the whole park. I didn’t go to the North side of Central Park as most of what I wanted to see were in the centre and at the South.
Do stay tuned for Part 2! Also, feel free to drop a comment or send me a message if there's anything you would like to know or would like me to add on to my New York trip.
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