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New York City: Crew tips for the best weekend

By: Dave Gunner

December 17, 2018

New York skyline © Shutterstock

New York skyline © Shutterstock

With multiple daily flights to New York, it’s no surprise our crew members know all the best places to go.

In the lead-up to Christmas we asked some of NYC’s biggest fans to share their finest tips, hotspots and NYC experiences. From the best neighbourhoods to favourite cafes and coffee shops, you can follow in their footsteps and make the most of your next trip to the Big Apple.

Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO, Brooklyn © Shutterstock

Sultan Rashid: As a regular visitor and a huge fan of Asian culture, sometimes I like to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. So I grab a bus from Penn Station, and 20 minutes later I’m in New Jersey heading to a place called Mitsuwa Marketplace. It’s a nice quiet neighbourhood where you can pass the time by hitting golf balls along the Hudson River at the local driving range, or you can do what I do and explore the variety of Japanese shops around the area. Indulging my need for green tea ice cream or reading a geeky comic book at the bookstore is a nice way of gently passing the time.

Back in Manhattan, the best place for food and coffee in my opinion is within the confines of Chelsea Market. It’s set in a converted biscuit factory underneath the High Line (a nice walk to work up an appetite or burn off a meal) that sprawls underground and is home to a massive food hall. You can find Mexican sushi, fried chicken on waffles, manuka coffee or my personal favourite, cheesecake gelato. Anything you imagined to be a tasty combo can be sampled here, as well as things you never even conceived of before.

Emily Mawdsley: For breakfast, it’s always Pietro NoLita. It’s a small cafe with a big personality and great food. They’re open all day, then turn into a bar at night and everything is PINK. It’s like a Barbie DreamHouse. My other favourite place to eat in the city is Bagatelle. Although I’ve visited other Bagatelle restaurants in London and Ibiza, the one in New York seems a lot more fun and vibrant, with delicious food and drink. It’s also a great place to go if you want to spot your favourite celebrity.

Pietro NoLita © Pietro NoLita/Facebook

Lauren Waterman-Willis: I love the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park – go to the East 72nd Street entrance and walk through from there. It’s very well known and has starred in lots of films (Friends with Benefits is a recent one). Then take a walk to the Loeb Boathouse and if possible stop for lunch, though you’ll need to book ahead. It overlooks the lake and has also featured in hundreds of films and tv programmes – famously in Sex and the City when Carrie and Big fell in the water. Even if you don’t stay to eat, the views are really great.

Jules Hutchison: One of my favourite attractions is climbing up to the crown at the top of the Statue of Liberty. Book well in advance though, as tickets sell quickly. We did it in November and booked our tickets six months beforehand. A favourite spot for brunch is Cooper’s Craft & Kitchen in Chelsea, right opposite Chelsea Market. It serves the best Bloody Mary and the food is amazing. Thalia on 8th Avenue at 50th Street is fab for oysters and sushi, and Ikinari steakhouse is also great on Madison and Park Avenue; they have a few locations in the city.

Statue of Liberty © Shutterstock

Lauren Waterman-Willis: Get the train to Brooklyn and walk to DUMBO (down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass) – it’s a fantastic photo opportunity. Then head back to Manhattan over Brooklyn Bridge for one of the best views of the Lower Manhattan skyline. When you arrive in Manhattan you can walk to One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, both very emotional and moving. The Oculus building and mall is also an impressive sight. From there, take a train or cab to Canal Street, walk uptown through Chinatown along Mulberry Street. You’ll pass through Little Italy, Greenwich Village and then past NYU –– all fantastic neighbourhoods! Keep going until Union Square to see the house where I am Legend was filmed and then further onwards to the Flat Iron Building. It’s a great way to see loads of sights while stopping off at shops, restaurants and bars along the way.

Little Italy New York © Shutterstock

Matthew Wilson: Grab a quick breakfast at Essen on 8th Avenue, then head over to the High Line for a leisurely walk along the Hudson, taking in the artwork and city below. Pop into Chelsea Market, then continue walking through the West Village down Bleecker Street, stopping off to pick up some banana pudding from the Magnolia Bakery. If you’re interested in LGBTQ+ history, a short walk away is the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street where you can take a moment to read about the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement.

In Midtown, take in the hustle and bustle of Times Square, then continue down 7th Avenue until you hit West 42nd Street. Take a left and keep walking until you come to Bryant Park which lies just behind the beautiful New York City Library. If you have a moment, head inside and take a look around. From there, carry on down 42nd St and you’ll come to the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal. Take a look inside and marvel at the sheer grandness of it all, including the constellations on the ceiling set against a turquoise background. After leaving Grand Central, head over to Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock to watch the sun set on this concrete jungle. If you fancy a quick cocktail before calling it a night, head over to 230 Fifth, where you can sip your drink on a rooftop bar overlooking the Empire State Building lit up in all its glory.

Empire State Building © Shutterstock

Jules Hutchinson: Visit the amazing Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on the Hudson and climb onboard the guided missile submarine USS Growler. You can also see about 20 aircraft, including the A-12 Blackbird spy plane from the Cold War. Another favourite is lunch on the 8th floor of SAKS, with great views of Rockefeller especially when the Christmas tree is up.

Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to New York from London Heathrow and Manchester.

Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.

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