TRAVEL GUIDE: LOWER MANHATTEN, NYC, USA
We planned a trip to New York City for the 2nd part of our honeymoon, you may remember the 1st part was last October in Athens and Mykonos. As neither of us had been to New York before, we were both really excited and apprehensive about the trip. We spent a lot of time researching the sights and planning each day, and it really paid off as we had an amazing time in NYC and really explored the whole city.
To organise our trip, we split the island of Manhattan into sections, so we have decided to structure our NYC blog series in the same way so that you can make use of our plan if you would like to. We started in Lower Manhattan on day one, and by the end of the trip made it up to Central Park. For the first post we will be focusing completely on our day in Lower Manhattan.
We got up nice and early to make sure we had as much time as possible for our first full day in the city. Actually, we were a bit jetlagged and the 5 hours’ time difference meant that we couldn’t really sleep any longer. So, by 8am we were out of the hotel and on our way. Our hotel, called Yotel, was located on 10th Avenue at 42nd street in the Hell’s Kitchen area, which was a really central location to reach all of Manhattan and was just a few minutes’ walk from Times Square. Yotel has their own luxury smart space concept and quirky features like free coffee 24/7 and muffins for breakfast. If it sounds like your kind of hotel, be sure to check it out.
We made our way down 10th avenue to 30th Street to access the Highline. The Highline is a public park and footpath located on an elevated rail line running down to west side of the city, right down to 11th Street. From the Highline you have a fantastic view of the streets and buildings of Manhattan and at spots along the way there are viewing platforms which overlook certain scenes and areas. It takes around 1 hour to walk the whole way, but it’s definitely worth it and is a refreshing alternative to the sidewalk.
After leaving the highline we walked along the shores of the River Hudson to the west of Greenwich Village and Soho and into the area of TriBeCa. As you walk south you see the new World Trade Center One in front of you, unofficially named Freedom Tower. It’s a spectacular building and is the tallest building in New York. As we approached and realised we’d reached Ground Zero, we crossed the street and went to admire the area.
Ground Zero is a very special, but also solemn place. Where the north and south towers once stood are now 2 deep pools flowing with water. They are actually the largest man made waterfalls in North America. The walls of the waterfalls are engraved with the names of those who lost their lives on that day in 2001. After we’d had a few moments to take everything in, we moved on and made our way further down Broadway and headed towards the Staten Island Ferry, which is located directly next to Battery Park – another beautiful location.
As it was still quite early and the weather was clear, we decided to take the Ferry which is a 30 minute ride there and 30 minutes back. The ferry is free and although the ferry terminal was very full, the ferries are very big so there is plenty of space to relax, enjoy the sun and take photos. From the river you have a fantastic view of skyline and the boat passes right by the Statue of Liberty, which really is an amazing construction. As we reached Staten Island, the next ferry was ready to return to Manhattan, so we boarded straight away and were on our way back.
We were back on dry land and ready to continue exploring. From the Ferry Terminal we walked back up Broadway towards the infamous Wall Street. At the top of Wall Street is Trinity Church, which we have to say is kind of cute, being located in between all the tall buildings and offices. As you walk down Wall Street, one of the first things you reach is the New York Stock Exchange, which is a beautiful old building. Otherwise, there isn’t a great deal to see on Wall Street, and of course, with the advent of the internet, Wall Street is no longer the place it was. But it’s certainly worth seeing if you’re passing through.
We continued walking east to the bottom of Wall Street towards the other side of Manhattan Island and from here we could already see the Brooklyn Bridge. So, the next destination was set, and we made our way north towards the footpath leading on to the Bridge.
As you walk up the footpath, you notice straight away that it is quite narrow and there is only one lane for walking, the other is for cycling. So you have to be careful not to stray off the footpath, especially when it’s crowded. As you make your along, the suspension lines are hanging either side of you and the view, both of the bridge and the scenery, is absolutely breath-taking. We continued about half way across the bridge and then decided to turn and come back to Manhattan. As your standing on the middle of the bridge you have a wonderful view in both directions and from here you can take some great photos.
When we exited the bridge, we walked a couple of hundred metres to City Hall, which is located in City Hall Park. The park is really beautiful, with a few fountains and charming walkways. The flowers were starting to bloom and the trees were blossoming and it really was a haven in the middle of the city. Just down the street from the City Hall is St Pauls Chapel, which like Trinity Church, also looks like the odd one out in the middle of the city. However, this just makes you realise even more how beautiful the building is.
From St Pauls Chapel, we made our way back across to the east side to visit Brookfield Place. Brookfield Place is a shopping/leisure complex and is our secret tip for Lower Manhattan. Outside the building you will find seating along the river and an Ice Rink (in winter). You enter the lobby, which is a large open atrium, and are greeted by enormous palm trees amongst luxury shops, cafes and seating. Upstairs you will find a food court which offers all kinds of food and snacks, from high-end to budget – you really are spoilt for choice and the atmosphere is lovely.
By now it was already late in the afternoon (don’t forget we left the hotel at 8am!) and we were ready to head back to the hotel. As it wasn’t that late, we decided to walk back which in total took around 2 hours. By the time we reached the hotel, we were completely exhausted and the Steps app on the iPhone said we’d walked 30, yes 30 KMs! Needless to say we accomplished a lot on our first day in New York and we, and our feet, were ready for some well-deserved rest!