Worth-the-Hype Tourist Hotspots in New York

When I first told people I was off to New York City for the first time ever, the most popular question I got asked was ‘Are you going to all the touristy bits then?’ I mean, the short answer was yes, but if I’m honest I never wanted to get too bogged down with seeing things I’d seen a million pictures of before. But as this title suggests, some things are just worth the hype, and here’s my selection of the top ranked places I visited!

The Empire State Building

I’d been captivated by a view of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry, but I was yet to see it from up-high, so the Empire State Building was a famous landmark we just couldn’t miss seeing and ascending. One piece of advice with these types of attractions, is paying for tickets in advance really pays off! We got ours from Attraction Tickets Direct and paper tickets were delivered to us prior to our trip, which not only saved time, but money too.  

The stunning Art Deco building is a real slice of NY history, and has a number of exhibitions informing the visitor on how the feat of engineering was built. There are three stages to the assent, from 80 (indoor viewing) to the 86th floor (outdoor deck) and finally a 102nd floor (which is a separate price).

One thing to note are that there is security, so any bags you bring in must be placed inside a machine (just like the airport) and this will have a queue. We opted for an evening visit, around 10pm, and the queue took between 15-20 mins to get through so bear that in mind.

9/11 Memorial

Ground zero has always been a place I wanted to see. I remember that fated day so well and the harrowing images that followed but when I visited the site, I had no idea how haunting it would be. Beautifully done, the memorial showcases cascading water falling from one hole into the ground, with the destination of the water invisible to the eye.

Around the outskirts of the memorial are the names of the victims who died, and in a lovely gesture, a white rose is placed next to each person’s name when their birthday falls. I can’t quite put into words how weirdly quiet it was, especially being slap bang in the centre of the financial district in Manhattan.

There’s a 9/11 memorial museum nearby, but we opted to just walk around and visit the nearby Oculus building instead.


Times Square
I asked a number of people what they thought of Times Square, and I got a LOT of mixed, almost negative reviews which really had me feeling a little worried about visiting! From costumed characters trying to barter money for pictures, to pick pockets and hoards of people, it was safe to say I was less than keen – but my god am I glad I visited the hotspot!

In all honesty, I think my good experience might have been due to a load of happy coincidences. Firstly, when Kayle and I visited (early February) it was fairly quiet everywhere. It was easy to get around the square, and it was drizzling slightly so the rain may have been keeping people away. Secondly, we visited in the evening, which I think is personally better than the day, and there’s no need to worry about low lighting because the billboards more than illuminate everything!

This again is somewhere you don’t need to spend a lot of time at. Walk around, take some pictures, climb the red stairs or find one of the temporary installations. Shops-wise, there’s only really a selection of tourist outlets and an M&Ms world – so you won’t miss out if you simply walk through the square.


Central Park

Central Park for me is synonymous with NYC, but it’s also a place I kind of thought might be over-hyped as being the only real green space in the city. I was definitely wrong in both respects, because I really was blown away by the size, and the beauty of Central Park (I keep wanting to write perk instead of park, Friends – what u do to me?!) and the green areas in the city in general. I can only speak for the park during winter time, but if you know me, y’all will know I love autumn and winter and for me this was the ideal time to visit.

Sleet turned to fluffy snow as we hopped off the subway and arrived on the Upper East Side, ready to explore the park. From the Alice in Wonderland statue, to the John Lennon memorial at Strawberry Fields and the quaint but charming Belvedere Castle, there’s so much to see in Central Park.

What I loved most though, was the serene quiet. The winding, snow-peppered paths that were devoid of people (probably because it was freezing, and snowing!) minus the odd local taking their dogs for a walk… and while we’re on the subject of dogs, DOGS! There were so many dogs in NYC, with the first dog-friendly cafe opening up that weekend in the city, complete with cooked treats just for your pooch. Ugh, just another reason to love the most magical place I’ve ever been.


The Staten Island Ferry

One of the best pieces of advice I got prior to visiting New York was to head on the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty herself could be described as small in comparison to the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan, but I definitely think she’s worth seeing. The best part? The ferry journey back to Manhattan. In the words of Janice, ‘OH.MY.GAWD’. Seeing those towering buildings grow on the skyline was a pretty spectacular view, and it was free!


You can obviously opt to stay on Staten Island and see what it has to offer, but we had limited time so headed straight back. It’s a great way to spend half an hour and something I’ll remember forever.



A Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

I knew Kayle and I would be very stretched for time as this last minute trip saw us only have two and a half days in the city, so we wanted to prioritise Manhattan over Brooklyn. Nevertheless, a walk across Brooklyn Bridge was definitely in order! Thank god for our slight jet lag which meant we were up and raring to go around 7am, so we managed to catch the sun rapidly rising in the sky over the bridge – a most wonderful sight on a crisp, cold morning.

What was better, was the fact that there was hardly anyone around, so we were free to wander across the bridge without crowds – I can only imagine how busy it gets in summer!


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  1. March 11, 2018 / 7:14 pm

    You’re making me miss New York so much! Totally agree with all of these, looks like you guys had the best time and I love your photography.

    • lifewithmariaeva
      March 12, 2018 / 10:12 am

      Omg Emma it was just the best time!! It went wayyy too quickly so I definitely want to go back at some point, I’ve always wanted to see it in the Fall so maybe around then hehe!

  2. March 12, 2018 / 11:06 am

    AWWWWWW you made me miss the city so much – I haven’t been in a few years, but i used to live there and I still miss it. For me NYC was love at first site – remember stepping out of the train in Grand Central and just falling in love hard:) something about the vibe of the city just works for me (happens to me in London too). My husband for example doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. My favorite part of the city is the East Village, and My favorite site is The Metropolitan museum. Never got to walk across the bridge weirdly enough, should catch up on it the next time around:) and I LOVE time square, always feels like you are standing in the heart of the city. I could talk about this for days so I’ll stop now:) thanks for giving me a really really fun read.

    • lifewithmariaeva
      March 12, 2018 / 11:37 am

      omg Madi you are so lucky, I would love to live there!! Next time I wanna go to the Met, and also walk the High Line as well as checking out Brooklyn that would be amazing! Im not sure whether it’s because I work in London, but I love New York’s vibe soooo much more!

  3. March 13, 2018 / 11:37 am

    Love these photos! I wish I had gotten to the top of the Empire State building when I visited over the summer, the view looks stunning!

    • lifewithmariaeva
      March 13, 2018 / 4:51 pm

      It was so good Sofia, I loveeeed it! I definitely want to go to the Top of the Rock next time, ee!

  4. March 14, 2018 / 4:44 am

    I cannot WAIT to go see New York for myself! Empire State Building is at the TOP of my list! Great post!

    • lifewithmariaeva
      March 14, 2018 / 3:48 pm

      Thanks so much lovely! Omg it was fab, such a brilliant place to visit! x

  5. March 19, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    I love these pictures! New York is so beautiful and so are you???

    • lifewithmariaeva
      March 19, 2018 / 9:37 pm

      Awe Anna thank you so much!

  6. March 19, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    I want to visit New York soooo much, especially after your post! Your photos are amazing and you look stunning!

    • lifewithmariaeva
      March 20, 2018 / 12:11 pm

      Awe thank you so much beaut! What lovely things to say! New York is like no other. x

  7. March 20, 2018 / 7:19 am

    Posts like this deserves an A+++++++ I FREAKING LOVE YOUR PHOTOS! I’ve always wanted to go and visit New York ever since watching Gossip Girl during my teenage years and this post takes me back & bringing a lot of feels! Looking forward to see more beautiful photos from you, Maria! xx

    Mary x

    • lifewithmariaeva
      March 20, 2018 / 12:11 pm

      Awe Mary thank you so much, it was such a photogenic place I have to say, hehe!

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