I have one of the best jobs that gives me the opportunity to travel all over the world and get paid for doing it. Right now I’m in New York. Now New York is a great city and one of my personal favourite places but sometimes you just don’t have enough time to do and see all the things you want to. When time is short its best to restrict yourself to one area and in this post I’m looking at midtown Manhattan.
The area around midtown contains some of the best shopping you’ll find anywhere in the world, it’s also the heart of the theatre district and contains some interesting architecture.
My morning begins at Grand Central Terminal (42nd Street & Park Avenue). It’s big, and looking around it’s hard to take it all in at first, one piece of advice I have is to find yourself a space from where you can stand and look without getting in everyone’s way, it’s a really busy place. The soaring arched windows are beautiful and let light stream in onto the marble laden Beaux Arts interior, looking up is the zodiac ceiling covering the entire main concourse.
The lower level dining concourse for me was a bit of a miss, by all means grab a coffee but unless fast food is your thing go elsewhere. My recommendation would be to head back upstairs to Grand Central Market where you’ll find a great selection of tasty treats, including some of the best cheesecake I’ve had!
I’m heading north on Park Avenue, a lovely wide avenue usually centered by colourful flowers. As I’m walking up I spot the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel and more or less next to it the pretty St Bartholowmew’s Church. At the corner of the church I make a right turn onto 51st Street and go down to the corner at Lexington Avenue. Looking up I get a really good view of the top of the Chrysler Building.
Third Avenue is where I’m going to stop for breakfast at the famous Ess A Bagel (831 3rd Avenue between 51st & 52nd). I’ve been told that these are, arguably, the best bagels in town. I had plain with cream cheese and I have to say it was pretty good, I chose to eat mine on the go.
Back up on Fifth Avenue I’m standing in front of Saks, the luxury department store (611 Fifth Avenue between 49th & 50th Streets). Across the street is the Rockefeller Center. I come back to the Rockefeller Center a bit later so I’ll talk more about it then.
Right next to Saks is the beautiful St Patrick’s Cathedral, I would recommend taking time to look inside. Fifth Avenue is New Yorks shopping mecca and there are flagships for virtually every major brand. A few famous places on Fifth Avenue include Trump Tower, FAO Schwarz the toy store and the huge Apple Store (free wifi here if you want to check emails etc).
I quickly pop over to Central Park but haven’t really got time to do much else but take a few photos. I will revisit Central Park, maybe when the weather warms up.
On leaving the park right in front of me is the world famous Plaza Hotel, as seen in many Hollywood films. Back down Fifth Avenue I pass department store of rich New Yorker’s Bergdorf Goodman, further down is another New York institution, Henri Bendel.
Up on 53rd I spot the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the design store at the museum has some excellent arty souvenirs.
Im now back at the Rockefeller Center and the famous ice skating rink is in full flow. I decide to have lunch here down in the concourse, there are numerous options available for food from upscale Sea Grill to food court style selections, I grabbed some soup and a sandwich. Even if you decide not to eat here it’s worth coming down to see the Art Deco lobby.
Following the signs out I make my way to Radio City Music Hall (Sixth Avenue between 50th & 51st). You won’t be able to go in unless you hold tickets for a show or you’re booked on a tour. I take my photos and move on.
Going down Sixth Avenue I pass on the corner at 49th Street the Magnolia Bakery of Sex and the City fame, although a different branch. Turning left onto 47th Street I enter the stretch known as Diamond Jewelry Way, it’s lined with shops selling diamond Jewelry, be careful of the hawkers who will try to get you into their shops.
Im surrounded by flashing advertising boards and bright lights, Times Square is an amazing place, busy, brash and noisy, but full of fun. If you’ve got time go to the TKTS Booth and get some discounted tickets for a Broadway show, it opens at 3pm for evening performances. I just stand and take it all in.
Walking down 42nd Street I get back onto Fifth Avenue where I come to the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue between 40th & 42nd). I love this grand building with its two stone lions, Patience and Fortitude guarding the steps to its entrance.
After all that walking I was in need of a short rest, just behind the library is Bryant Park, a really nice open space with plenty of tables and chairs to relax on, although it was cold the hot coffee I bought warmed me up.
A few blocks south and I ended up at my final destination the Empire State Building (350 Fifth Avenue between 33rd & 34th). As time was short I didn’t go up to the observation deck – I’m leaving that for a summer visit – it’s still a very impressive building even from the ground.
Shattered but feeling that I’ve seen a little of what New York has to offer has satisfied my curiosity for now but I will be back to enjoy this incredible city again. Trust me on that one.