Visiting the Big Apple in a New York minute

by Tess O'Connor

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Welcome to New York City- epicentre of the arts, creator of new fashions and engrossed with every genre of restaurant and bar. New York has it all, but visiting (or staying) without some sort of itinerary can be stressful. So here are some recommendations for anyone planning a short trip or thinking of doing a J1 there this summer.

Even the notion of missing out on a single one of the city’s unique attractions can lead to a serious case of FOMO. Whether you want to spend the day shopping or eating, or you want to go sight seeing on a budget, there is something for everyone- which is what makes it so enjoyable.

Things to do

There is so much to do in NYC that doesn’t cost much- walking around is entertaining enough. For scenic walking routes, Brooklyn Bridge is beautiful and in summer be sure to rent a bike and cycle over to Brooklyn for the sunset. Similarly, the high line is an old railway track in the Meatpacking district that has been converted into a walkway- its really unusual and definitely worth seeing.
The most traditional tourist attractions to visit for skyline views of the city are Top of the Rock or the Empire State but they can be really manic sometimes so the fast pass is definitely worth buying.

The 9/11 memorial museum/ One World Observatory, Grand central terminal and the Met are other main tourist attractions. However, they are all equally worth visiting at least once. If you are looking to really make your trip memorable or celebrate an occasion the ‘Sea the City’ jet ski tours on the Hudson and a helicopter ride with FlyNyon are most definitely worth the extra cash. FlyNyon helicopter flights have no doors so you are literally hanging out the side, it is absolutely mesmerising to see the city that way. While its on the pricier side there are always discount codes on flights so keep an eye out.


NYC is notoriously expensive, everywhere you go a minimum tip of 18% has to be applied so keep that in mind when going out for food/ drinks. ID is also essential everywhere you go in NYC so always have it on your person. You’ll find that majority of the bars you go to will be ones your friends work in as you usually get looked after. If you will be in NYC on a Sunday make sure you go to the Bingo in The Standard, one of the best nights you will ever have.
You are put on tables and drink out of fishbowls with the most over the top Bingo set up (nothing like the local parish hall). The minimum spend is $35pp but you generally don’t go over- so worth it.

The bars in NYC are as good as you expect, no two are the same.
For a good rooftop bar, The Standard Hotel, Mr.Purple and 230 Fifth are three of the best.
The Standard has arguably the best view of the city and the Hudson. Similarly, the views at Mr.Purple’s are pretty much the same as the Top of the Rock so it might be worth your while not wasting your time queuing for Top of the Rock if you intend to go here.

The Sugar Factory do good novelty drinks but they are definitely overpriced. Brass Monkey in the Meatpacking district is kind of pub like but very cool. In NYC terms it’s very low so their rooftop terrace gives a bit of a different perspective on the city.


Like drink, food is also pricey.
Brunch is a huge deal in NYC so there are so many cool options. The Morning Standard at the Standard hotel has a really nice outdoor area for when its sunny. Bubbys in Tribeca is apparently one of Leonardo Di Caprio’s favourite spots. If you are vegan, the Butcher’s Daughter is delicious (even if you aren’t vegan). If you are looking for a boozey brunch, Beauty & Essex is located behind a pawn shop and does a brilliant bottomless brunch on a Sunday.

For dinner, depending on the mood Eataly is good for a relaxed, standard priced meal that is absolutely delicious. Likewise, anywhere in ‘Little Italy’ is generally a safe option. For fancier occasions, Smyth & Wollensky is one of NYC’s most famous steakhouses and the restaurant itself is absolutely hopping.

And finally, you absolutely cannot go to NYC without getting pizza- Joe’s is one of the most well known and for good reason!


Nowadays, there isn’t that much you cant get at home in Ireland and there are far better things to be doing in New York than shopping in my opinion. If shopping is a major part of your trip and you know where you are going you can definitely get it done in one day. Avoid Fifth Avenue and Times Square , they are just mental busy and daunting to shop on. Spring St. in Soho has all the main shops plus boutique stores with some real gems.

NYC really is one of the greatest places in the world and it is impossible to fit it all in no matter how much time you have. Hopefully this list will give you somewhere to start.

Tess O’Connor

Image credit – Tess O’Connor