The most fashionable and FQ-approved hotspots for eating, drinking, shopping and tourist-ing when in New York City.
New York. There’s no place quite like it. The buzz of this dynamic city is indescribable and the people-watching is second-to-none. There’s always something new to discover here, whether that be a hip new restaurant, a cool new neighbourhood, the latest pop-up bar or exhibition, or a wacky fitness class.
You could live in New York your entire life and still not see and do everything – but if you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple, here are the things that should be at the top of your list:
Getting to New York with Air New Zealand is a breeze with stopover options available via Los Angeles, San Francisco or Houston. Turn the flight into the first part of your New York adventure – live it up and enjoy a glass of champagne beforehand (if you’re a Koru, Gold or Elite member, you can do this in the comfort of the Air New Zealand lounge) or use the time to well and truly get into holiday mode; don a face mask and tuck into that book you’ve been meaning to read. For either option, we’d definitely recommend packing a comfortable change of clothes in your carry-on to change into mid-flight – a pair of cashmere pyjamas (or even just a cashmere wrap and a pair of socks) will feel like an absolute treat at 30,000 feet. And don’t forget a chic eyemask, a pair of earplugs, hydrating face mist (we love this one) and a neck pillow to ensure you arrive feeling fresh and well-rested.
FQ tip: Use Air New Zealand’s OneUp upgrade service to “bid” on an upgrade before your flight. Simply decide how much extra you’d be willing to pay for an upgrade, then submit your offer along with your Airpoints™ number and payment details a week before you depart. If your offer is accepted, you’ll be bumped up a cabin class – eg. from Economy to Premium Economy or Premium Economy to Business Premier™.
WHAT TO PACK – THE ESSENTIALS:
Packing for New York can be tricky – the weather can be extreme if you’re hitting the city mid-summer or mid-winter. And if you’re visiting at any other time of the year, you’ll probably want to cover all bases as New York can be baking hot one minute, freezing cold the next. Layering is key and you’ll need to have a few knitwear pieces and a jacket or a classic trenchcoat at the ready if you do encounter those icy blasts. Bring different footwear options as you never know where your day will take you; you could go from cycling in Central Park to dining at a Michelin star restaurant in a New York minute. One of the best ways to discover New York (and particularly Manhattan) is on foot, so comfortable walking shoes are a must.
We don’t need to tell you New York is a shopping mecca. Provided you have covered off all your travel essentials in one suitcase, we’d recommend folding up and packing a second weekender bag in your suitcase or carry-on which can be filled with all your shopping spoils. If you are flying Premium Economy or Business Premier™ with Air New Zealand you are allowed two pieces of luggage, each weighing 23kg, when flying to and from the States. So if you’ve shopped ’til you dropped, be sure to make the most of this additional luggage on the journey home!
EAT YOUR WAY AROUND THE CITY.
New York’s culinary scene is an exciting and ever-changing one. Try as you may, it’s nigh impossible to get through a fraction of the hottest cafes and restaurants, even if you are eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Part of the fun is trying to hit as many as you can – here’s some of FQ’s favourite joints:
BAR HOPPING IN THE BIG APPLE.
Whether your jam is a darkly-lit speakeasy or a glamorous hotel rooftop with killer views, New York sure knows how to enjoy a drink. These are a few spots worth checking out:
NEW YORK IS LITERALLY SHOPPING HEAVEN.
It’s easy to empty your pockets (and your bank account) in New York City. From the big department stores to the smaller independent boutiques (and don’t even get us started on the vintage!) there is something for every kind of shopper. These are the areas and the stores we recommend hitting up with your credit card at the ready.
In Soho it’s possible to hit all your birds with one stone, so to speak. Here you’ll find all your ‘high street’ brands on Broadway – like H&M, Zara, COS and Uniqlo – as well as your medium tier brands and specialist stores such as J.Crew (99 Prince Street), Madewell (486 Broadway), NikeLab (21 Mercer Street) and Reformation (23 Howard Street). Be sure to check out all the designer boutiques up and down Spring Street and the other cobblestone lanes in the area, including Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Acne Studios.
What Goes Around Comes Around (351 W Broadway) stocks next level vintage and somehow, you’ll find yourself seriously considering maxing out several credit cards all in the name of a vintage Chanel bag or even an Hermès in pristine condition. Concept boutiques are also abundant in Soho – you won’t want to miss the following: Dover Street Market (160 Lexington Avenue), with seven floors of the very latest from the likes of Gucci, Comme des Garçons and Vetements; The Line Apartment (76 Greene Street) is a concept store with a twist: it is laid out like a real apartment but everything you see – the furniture, books and even the beauty products on the bathroom shelves – is for sale; and lastly, Opening Ceremony (35 Howard Street), founded by current Kenzo creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, is where you’ll find Kenzo, Mansur Gavriel, Proenza Schouler and more.
FIFTH AVENUE, MADISON AVENUE AND PARK LANE
Go Uptown to find every luxury designer flagship boutique you can think of – and then some. In between hitting the massive underground Apple store and wandering through the giant Nike Town superstore, there’s also Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue which, if nothing else, you should visit purely for their impressive window displays. Move up Madison Avenue, and drop into Isabel Marant, Céline, Chloé and The Row flagship, which is housed in a chic three-story townhouse. Head further north to E 69th, to stop by Five Story (18 E 69th St), a luxury concept townhouse housing labels such as Rosie Assoulin, Ulla Johnson and Tabitha Simmons.
The new and improved Barneys New York Downtown (101 7th Ave) is definitely worth a little look-see – you’ll be blown away by the white marble spiral staircase and we wouldn’t blame you if you feel compelled to Instagram it! The space occupies a portion of the same city block where the company was founded and opened its first store in 1923, so there’s a lot of history there. However, you wouldn’t know it – the space is sleek, the displays are modern, and the clothes, accessories and cosmetics edit is perfectly on point.
UNION SQUARE AND FLATIRON DISTRICT
Aside from Club Monaco, Banana Republic, J.Crew and about a million running and activewear stores, you’ll find more commercial brands around here like Topshop, H&M and a giant Macy’s. But Flatiron is also a homewares lover’s dream – make sure you visit ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway) and Restoration Hardware (935 Broadway) for lush furnishings and loads of interiors inspo.
BROOKLYN AND WILLIAMSBURG
Cross one of the bridges to the south of Manhattan and you’re in the super hip neighbourhoods of Brooklyn and Williamsburg. Here, you’ll want for nothing – there’s vintage and antiques galore, underground boutiques, contemporary brands and markets. This is the place to source your vintage Levi’s and pick up some jewellery from cult brand Catbird (219 Bedford Avenue).
If there’s one thing you can be sure of in New York, it’s the chance to nab a designer bargain – whether that’s in the sales which take place several times a year at all the department stores and boutiques, or at one of the city’s many designer outlets. Century 21 in the Financial District is legendary for landing shoppers designer steals at bargain prices – the shoe department in particular is enormous but you’ll need to sharpen your elbows and get ready to push through the crowds. When we checked out TJ Maxx in Columbus Circle (808 Columbus Avenue) it was positively heaving with Saint Laurent boots and Isabel Marant sandals. And while Woodbury Common (498 Red Apple Ct, Central Valley) is much further afield (and would require almost a full day out of your itinerary), it has every store under the sun from Gucci, Celine and Saint Laurent to Nike, rag and bone and GAP.
GET YOUR CULTURE ON.
New York is a veritable treasure trove of art, culture, theatre and architecture. It’s impossible to do it all – but these are the activities we’ve tried and loved:
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
Even if art or history doesn’t float your boat, New York’s museums and galleries are among the world’s best and should not be missed. Beyond the famous annual Costume Exhibit, The Met is a spectacular display of some of the most beautiful artworks and sculptures you’ll ever get to see in your life. If you can’t bring yourself to go inside, then make like Blair and Serena and park up on the steps for some great people-watching. The Guggenheim and MoMA are both great on a rainy day (or even on a not-so-rainy day) to see some of the most iconic pieces of art – think van Gogh, Dali, Gaugin and Manet. The queues can be long, so aim to get there early and come prepared with an umbrella if the weather isn’t looking too flash. Meanwhile, the new Whitney has some pretty epic exhibitions on a regular basis, and the views (yes, more views!) from the outdoor terrace over the High Line are something special.
One of the best things to do in New York is walk. Central Park is an obvious first place to start – whether you want to fight off jetlag with an early morning run, go for a full-on hike or just stroll at your leisure around one of the lakes, there are plenty of routes to take. Another must-do is a walk along the High Line, a public park and walkway elevated above the streets of Manhattan and converted from an old railway line which went out of service in 1980 (you can still see the tracks running along the path). Pick up some food from the nearby Chelsea Market and pull up a spot on a patch of grass or, if you can find one spare, a lounger. And of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to New York without sauntering across one of the bridges between Manhattan to Brooklyn. Come prepared with camera in tow: walking from Brooklyn towards the city will give you some pretty breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.
HIT THE LANDMARKS
Aside from the key landmarks – Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Grand Central Station et al – there’s a few other, less obvious tourist attractions that should not be overlooked. Oculus, the newly opened transportation hub at the World Trade Centre, is jaw-dropping and is not just a supreme example of architecture, but also a supreme shopping mall (read: there’s a Sephora here!)
There’s a reason Carrie Bradshaw chose the New York Public Library as her wedding venue in Sex and the City. The interior of this historic building will take your breath away and is the largest marble structure ever built in the US. Entry is free, so you can wander in and explore at your leisure.
Oculus at the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub
RANDOM TO DOS
It wouldn’t be a trip to New York without hitting a show on or off-Broadway. There are always plenty to choose from – both long-standing classics like Phantom of the Opera and new hits such as The Book of Mormon – quite often with an A-lister taking top billing. You can look online for discounted tickets or simply get to the theatre early to nab any last-minute tickets they have available. Experiential theatre has become extremely popular in recent years and Sleep No More should definitely be at the top of your list. The interactive show, at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea (530 W 27th St), blurs the line between performer and audience – and, without giving too much away, you will find yourself in the strangest of situations and part of the performance.
If you’re looking for the latest fitness fad, New York City is the trend-setting capital. New Yorkers love their fitness; SoulCycle was born here and is still going strong, and there’s a new class or exercise genre born every other week. One of the latest experiencing popularity is ModelFit (212 Bowery), which uses weights strapped to your ankles and tiny movements to sculpt your limbs into long, lithe and well, model-esque versions of themselves. Karlie Kloss is a huge fan, and when we hit a 7am class one Wednesday, it became quite obvious that she’s not the only model who attends. Slightly intimidating, yes, but if it’s good enough for Karlie, it’s good enough for us.
Our other top tip if you’re looking for something a bit different? Hip hop yoga. If you’re of the school of thought that yoga should be a time of zen and quiet meditation, then this dynamic vinyasa flow class set to hip hop beats might not be your thing. However, if you can’t think of anything better than doing your sun salutations to a throwback Jay-Z classic, then the yogis at Y7 Studio are your people.
You gotta see how Kiwis do the USA. Check out great USA tips from fellow Kiwi travellers at www.usathekiwiway.co.nz.
* This article is brought to you by Air New Zealand.