New York City

Traveling is one of the best hobbies to have for the simple reason that you can’t run out of things to visit. Traveling is fun and there is always plenty of exploring to do; whether you’re checking out thingstodoinamerica.net, looking into visiting Natchez or New York. Today we’re taking a look at the New York City, one of the biggest cities in the world. You can expect to choose from quite a few attractions since it’s not just big, it’s also old and full of history. So here are top things to do while in the Big Apple.

Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Visiting a museum might not have been on your priority list but this isn’t just any museum. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a place where 5000 thousand years worth of history collide in millions (2 million to be more precise) art pieces. It’s definitely a place for those passionate about both art and history.

Go down in Time Square

Time Square is an iconic landmark in its own right so if you’re in New York City you just have to go see it for yourself. You’ve definitely seen it in movies and other media, but it’s a completely different experience when you’re right there, in the middle of the crowd. It’s definitely a chaotic place as well, where you can expect your body to be pushed into overdrive due to all the things that attract your attention at the same time. From the huge crowds making their way from one side to the other, to the different events or manifestations in the streets, to the infinite number of billboards and publicity display panels, there are loads of colors and sounds all mixing into one big boom.

Climb the Empire State Building

Of course, we mean climb it from the inside, not Spider-Man your way to the top. The Empire State Building is another iconic landmark that pretty much defines New York but also represents a pure portion of America’s essence. The Empire State Building passed the 100th mark when it comes to how many floors it has, and the higher you go, the more breath taking the view becomes. Those who make it all the way to the 102nd floor are rewarded with a truly incredible oversight of the city. That’s the kind of mental picture that never leaves you, and that’s also probably why the Empire State Building is the most popular place for tourists to visit in the Big Apple.

Photo courtesy of  Prathamesh Kale

Ever wanted to be in the presence of the world’s top designers, A-list celebrities and major fashion designers without breaking the bank? It’s a realistic goal that can be met with a little bit of discipline and will to rid yourself of ego tripping.  After chatting with my friend and fellow tech gal, Huny during New York Fashion Week, I realized just how much I was saving…and she said, “You should write a blog about it.” So here we arrive. Check out my five tips on spending less and seeing more at New York Fashion Week:

1. Hop on the train – The New York Subway is an adventure in itself. From the teens gossiping about the latest episode of Pretty Little Liars, the young couple from Paris hoping to live out their dreams on Broadway to the aspiring music artist- the most unique and interesting people are riding the train.

Spend Less: If you purchase a Metro pass for a week, it will last through the entire duration of NYFW. Refuse to take a cab….unless it’s super late. You’ll be forced to be efficient with your time and appreciate the downtime on the train.

See More: I encourage getting lost a bit. Well…exploring different burrows, rather. There’s always a train a few blocks up, so why not?

Ashley Small at New York Fashion Week

Ashley Small at New York Fashion Week

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help…in Advance – A friend offered her space over a year ago, and when my first plan of housing fell through the cracks, on her I called. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Especially if you’re young and building.

Spend Less: Buy groceries to get you through the week. At minimum, you’ll be able to catch breakfast and dinner at home.

See More: If your friend (like mine) lives in a charming, cultured neighborhood in Brooklyn you’ll have the opportunity to see more than the skyscrapers in Manhattan. The perception is that all of New York is as chaotic as Manhattan, but it’s far from the truth.

3. Get Creative with Your Wardrobe – Depending on your style, you’ll quickly find out that she who stands out, with personal style is (as Charlie Sheen might say), “winning” at fashion week. The “trendsters” tend to get lost in the crowd, while the everyday people wearing confidence and comfort seem to make the boldest statements. Dig for your favorite pieces in your wardrobe and experiment a bit before you go. You just might surprise yourself.

Spend Less: Although it’s fashion week, a new wardrobe is not at all necessary. Work with what you have and pack an excess of belts and jewelry.

See More: Try to pack everything you need, so you don’t have to spend large amounts of your time shopping…unless, of course that’s your thing. But really, who wants to spend several hours in a city like New York looking for a belt to match your outfit or a new pair of heels?

Miss J at New York Fashion Week

Miss J at New York Fashion Week

4. Find the Prime Locations – While I do encourage exploring the city a bit, I also recommend saving money and time by finding a prime location for everything you need. Lincoln Center is perfect because it’s not too far from 5th avenue, Central Park or Columbus Circle.

Spend Less: By staying in one area, you’ll quickly learn what to do and how to save. If you’re a taxi kinda girl, you should defienetly consider this option. An area that has a Starbucks close (for coffee and wi-fi), affordable dining, and leisure fun near.

See More: Most prime locations in New York are great for people watching and celeb sightings. While I was roaming the streets near the Lincoln Center I ran into a broad range of celebs and public figures like Miss J, Corrine Bailey Rae and the Anna Wintour.

5. Eat Healthy and Smart – New York is not the type of city where you want to eat until you’re sleepy in. Imagine filling up on a nice slab of ribs, baked potato and soda- then making a mad dash to the train. Doesn’t sound like an ideal way to spend your time or energy, right?

Anna Wintour at New York Fashion Week

Anna Wintour at New York Fashion Week

Spend Less: During my time there, I practically lived in the Whole Foods near Columbus Circle. It included a full cafeteria, with a broad range of food from Indian, to Mediterranean to classic American dishes like meatloaf and macaroni. It’s filling, and is priced according to weight.

See More: By choosing one location to eat at daily, such as Whole Foods- you’ll save time and get into a daily routine. Everything you need is in one location and it will take at least 7 days to explore the entire selection of food.

I highly encourage anyone who has the slightest interest in fashion or creativity to attend New York Fashion Week at least once in their life. It’s magical, inspiring and if done right, can be affordable. For more tips on fashion on a budget, check out Ashley’s personal brand blog.

An English friend of mine wanted to meet me in New York City while I was living in Newport, Rhode Island.  I happily agreed to take the train down from Rhode Island to see my friend and one of my most favorite cities in the world.  Deciding on where we were going to stay was difficult. There are so many wonderful hotels in New York City that choosing just one to stay in for a long weekend is nearly impossible. I had a just a couple of requirements for choosing our hotel

  • Must be a boutique hotel
  • Luxury hotel, no chains or budget hotels
  • Must be convenient (in Manhattan)
  • Must be an area of Manhattan I know

At this time in my life I had only been to NYC a couple of times and being a girl from a small West Texas town where we only had one high rise building I was still getting used to the big city.  My longest stay in NYC had been a week for my 21st birthday and we had gotten a package deal at the Hyatt Grand Central. It was an awesome hotel but my motto in life is that when it comes to travel, don’t repeat your experience if you don’t have to. That way I’m always open to the new.

So after a little research I found the Library Hotel and in an instant I knew I HAD to stay there. I’m a book worm if there ever was one so this hotel was like a dream come true. Right down the street from the New York Library, around the corner from Grand Central Station where I would arriving from Rhode Island and definitely an area I knew the hotel met every requirement.

The Library Hotel is one of the most unique hotels I’ve ever heard of. The room numbering system is based on the Dewey Decimal system. Each floor of the hotel has a different category and each room of the floor coincides with the category. For example, we stayed on the 11th floor, the Philosophy floor, in the Ethics room.

When I arrived in NYC at Grand Central Station, I had already mapped out where my hotel was in relation to the terminal. So I set out on foot and started walking with luggage in tow to the hotel.  I took a few wrong turns and had to call the hotel. They were so friendly and attentive on the phone. Turns out I was just at the end of the block from the hotel.

When I arrived late in the evening,  the small lobby had low lighting and the hotel clerks were incredibly nice for it being so late. Of the many hotels I’ve ever been to, the Library Hotel probably had the best service of any hotel. They seemed genuinely concerned that I have a great time in New York and at their hotel. The informed me of the amenities available to me at the hotel and gave my directions to the nearby gym facilities I could use since they didn’t have a gym on the premises.

I arrived late and my friend was to arrive the next day, so my plan was to go to bed and await my friend’s arrival the next morning.  After a train ride and a walk to my hotel, I was ready to just relax and go to bed. My room was surprisingly small although it was a deluxe room with a queen size bed. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised; after all it’s a New York boutique hotel not the Grand Central Hyatt.  Overall, it didn’t matter. The room’s decor was heads and shoulders above the Hyatt. It was so incredibly classy and luxurious that size didn’t matter!

The bathroom was what stood out the most to me. Modern, sleek and bright the bathroom was almost as big as the rest of the hotel room. With big plushy robes, slippers and towels, makeup vanity mirrors and incredible toiletries I decided that I never wanted to leave. I wonder if it’s possible to live at the Library Hotel?

The next day I managed to miss the free (yes, free) continental breakfast despite my excitement over it. My friend and I enjoyed a tourist day in NYC and were excited to come back to our hotel room and enjoy the complimentary wine and cheese reception in the reading room. We missed it by 5 minutes!  Did we manage to get a free movie from the DVD library of the American Film Institute’s top 100 films of the 20th Century available to guests? No, because we came home to our turned down room only to pass out after a full day of sightseeing.

The next morning was Sunday and we woke up just in time to enjoy the continental breakfast, and having worked at a coffeehouse in college, I made us expert cafe au laits using their espresso maker. We settled into the reading room and began reading the Sunday papers from, well, all over the world and sipped our morning coffee in comfort and luxury.

Here’s the thing about the Library Hotel: it’s incredible. They offer so much in amenities and service that it’s almost not possible to get your money’s worth as a short term traveler/tourist to New York City. While that’s not a bad thing, it’s unfortunate. Of course, the hotel doesn’t need to change a thing. They are wonderful. But it’s not the kind of hotel you go to if you’re a tourist in New York City. It’s somewhere you go when you know you might be spending a lot of time in the city or you’ve been there/done that in the city. Even so, don’t miss this hotel. If you can afford it there’s not reason not to. And you can afford, because they always have some sort of package deal going one. It’s one of the most unique hotels you’ll ever find.

Written by Jerri Stephenson, co-founder of DIWYY.

Need some inspiration for your next trip? Look no further than your favorite TV shows and movies.

Girlfriend Getaways: Do you love Sex and the City or Gossip Girl? Head to New York City to see the locations of your favorite shows.

On Location Tours offers guided tours of the locations made famous by both TV and movies. Love SATC? Check out the daily 3.5 hour tour that hits all the hot spots from Midtown to the Meatpacking District. Excited for the movie premiere? Why not take advantage of the SATC2 movie package? On May 28, 2010, you will be treated to a tour, dinner, movie admission, and entrance to a nightclub after the screening. Package is only $179 and tickets can be purchased here.

Is Gossip Girl more your style? On Location Tours also offers a half day tour that peruses all the hot spots on the Upper East Side.

Sci-Fi: For the geek chic girl or to appease your male travel partners, why not venture to the filming locations of Stars Wars or Lord of the Rings?

Many scenes in Star Wars were filmed in the southern part of Tunisia, a small country in North Africa. If the epicenter of your trip is visiting filming location, check out this resourceful website with information on planning your adventure. Prefer to see more of the country with a bit of Star Wars here and there? Visit Peregrine Adventures’ website and review the itinerary for their Highlights of Tunisia trip. If you opt to venture solo, be sure to add a stay at the Sidi Driss Hotel in Matmata to your itinerary (while the hotel doesn’t have an official website, you can book through most hotel booking sites). It is very simple in terms of accommodations but you can pretend to be Luke Skywalker for the night.

If you prefer  to venture to Middle Earth, get on the next plane to New Zealand to begin your journey. Southern Lakes Sightseeing offers an array of experiences and adventures that any Lord of the Rings fan would appreciate. And while you explore the beautiful South Island of New Zealand, don’t forget to enjoy all the other spectacular things you can do in Queenstown like jet-boating, bungee jumping, and skydiving. After all, it is a city that loves adrenaline! Need some more tips to start your planning? Read DIWYY guest writer Kylie’s post on the location.

Island Fever: Want a location that will suit everyone’s interest? Visit the Hawaiian destination where Lost and many other famous movies like Jurassic Park were filmed. The sunny island of Oahu will be a great place for you to see where the scenes of Lost have been filmed while also enjoying the many other cultural and adventure options the island has to offer. KOS Tours, Inc. offers tours ranging in length from 2-8 hours covering the many filming locations on the island.

Written by DIWYY co-founder, Kristina Wegscheider. Email her at kristina@diwyy.com.