I’ve hit the The Big Apple many times but never just with the girls. Until now. I know, I know, Manhattan is made for the ladies to trip around a la Sex in the City. But this is a seriously huge city, and one that’s easy to get lost in if you don’t know where you’re headed. Especially when you’re shopping. And eating. And generally having the time of your life. If you’ve got a gals’ trip on the horizon (or if you’ve got a few days alone with your man), consider NYC first—and take these tips with you. It’ll take the work out of finding your way around so you can focus on play, play, play.
4 INSIDER WAYS TO NAVIGATE NEW YORK CITY
A trip to New York is not complete without seeing at least one Broadway show but why pay full price if you can get a discount? If you’re a planner like me, the Internet is your BFF here. Instead of spending hours reading reams of reviews, post this question on your Facebook wall: 3 gals heading to NYC. Which Broadway shows did you love?
For discounted tickets in advance, you’ll have to do some work online. Use Google to find cut-rate tickets or coupon codes to Broadway shows. Don’t be scared. Most discount sites are large and reputable and post clear guidelines about how pricing works. If you’re more of a last-minute shopper and aren’t picky about the shows you see, then download the TKTS app to your phone. Check it in the morning for same-day matinees available at half-price, and again in the early afternoon for discounted evening performances. The app is set up so you can see all the shows offered that day, or you can research them by genre. The most central TKTS booth to buy half-price tickets is in Times Square.
Insider Tip: We suggest seeing at least one matinee (your feet will ache from all that shopping so the theatre is a well-deserved break) and at least one night-time show.
2. STAY IN A BOUTIQUE HOTEL
After a long day hitting the NYC streets, what we want most of all is a BIG, clean, comfortable room to sprawl out in. OK, fine, we want more, too. We want a boutiquey feel that’s near enough to hot spots to walk, and we want the service we deserve. We want fantastic choices that are high end enough to keep us feeling pampered at a price that won’t ravage our wallets. Personally, we love staying in boutique hotels, and here are three midtown ones we loved.
We choose boutique hotels over chains for many reasons. First, we love feeling like New Yorkers, and a smaller hotel means almost having your very own NYC apartment to come home to and unwind in. Also, the service feels more personal, with doormen and front desk staff going out of their way to make you feel welcome. Expect to enjoy some fun perks and quirks you don’t get at the big chains as well. At some boutiques, there are common areas or club rooms where you can hang out on couches, use computers, and even pour yourself free wine at Happy Hour. Others offer breakfast included in your stay.
Insider Tip: You can often get a great rate at a boutique hotel by calling or checking sites such as Magellan Luxury Hotels. For more options, here’s an extensive list of boutique hotels in NYC.
3. RESEARCH THE BEST EATS
New York is no place to diet so leave that Paleo Cleanse at home. The food is in abundance here and you can find just about any cuisine you crave in any area of the city at any time of day. The problem is, with so many options, finding the best spots can be tricky. Plus, you may need reservations so even if you’ve settled on your top picks, you’ll need to do at least some planning ahead.
Here are 5 hidden restaurant gems we literally built our shopping excursions around—and a further 5 recommendations, just to give you options. Always ask friends for recommendations. Then hit the Internet to read reviews. If you love certain types of food, you’ll want to Google those first—Best Chinese in NYC, say—and then consider which areas of the city you’ll be in. It’s best to book dining near where you’ll be shopping or sightseeing so you don’t have to crisscross the city too many times, especially in cab-crowded rush hour. Keep in mind that certain areas of the city are known for some types of food. So if you’re a real foodie, you may want to experience the heaven that is Little Italy, for example, rather than eating at some so-so Italian restaurant in the theatre district.
Insider Tip: Use all the restaurant apps at your disposal. You can read reviews on Yelp, and check out menus and make reservations on Open Table.
4. CREATE A SHOPPING PLAN Before you head out for a day (and/or night!) of shopping in NYC, remember to slip on your most comfortable walking shoes. Do your feet a favour and save those fashionable heels for an evening out. Because no matter how much time you think you’ll be spending walking and shopping, you should probably triple it right now. Once you start pounding the NYC pavement, you won’t be able to stop. The shopping is that good.
So of course, we’ve compiled a list of our Top 4 must-shop areas in NYC. You probably know that in New York, you’ll be poking around in fantastic stores on just about every corner. The trick is to find the areas that pack in the types of stores you’re looking for. For us, that means staying away from the big box strips and wandering around on streets that are home to smaller, more boutiquey shops. But remember: NYC is a big place. It’s easy to get lost and waste time hunting for stores you’ve heard about but can’t seem to find. Oh, and don’t expect your cabbie to help you out, either. We’ve been dropped off in the wrong area way too many times to make that mistake again. That’s why it’s important to map out your shopping areas before you set out for the day. Decide which shopping meccas make the most sense—keeping in mind what you’ll be doing later on, whether that’s a Broadway show or dinner, so you’ll be near where you want to end up. Keep it simple, and then let yourself loose on the city. We’re jealous.
Insider Tip: If you’ve had mega success in the stores, you may need to drop off bags before you continue on, so build that hotel pit stop into your shopping map at the outset. (And time it for Happy Hour, if you can!)