I was so excited to visit the Big Apple for the first time last month! I ate tons of great food, saw a bunch of awesome sites and spent an entire day at the New York Comic Con! I began planning the trip when a friend of mine found out that his favorite comic book/manga artist, Masashi Kishimoto, was going to be traveling to the United States for the first time AND attending his first American Comic Con in NYC. We purchased one day passes for one of the days he was going to be at NYCC and started to plan a multiple day trip in the city.
We had a blast at Comic Con! We met a ton of really talented artists, some well-known and others just starting out, we searched for new additions to my Pop Vinyl collection and Cody and I got to meet the one and only NATALIE DORMER! She is SO nice and friendly – and oh my gosh – her accent is amazing. She even commented on Cody’s Spider-Man hoodie! Natalie starred as Anne Boleyn on The Tudors, Cressida on The Hunger Games and her character on The Game of Thrones, Margaery Tyrell, is currently still alive (which is pretty impressive if you know anything about GOT). The most exciting part of the day for Cody, was attending Masashi Kishimoto’s panel! He talked about how he felt about completing his well-known series, Naruto, and it’s upcoming movie. We even got to watch him draw his favorite characters! This single event made our entire trip worth the journey.
Now, everything wasn’t smooth sailing on our trip and that’s where these 5 tips will help you plan your first trip to New York City:
- Choose quick and dependable forms of transportation: Don’t take the Greyhound. Just don’t do it. No matter how desperate you are. No matter how cheap it is. It is not a straight drive from your location to the city, even if that’s how the website makes it seem. On our trip to New York, the bus we were on made almost TEN different stops and was over two hours late to our destination! Hopefully, our next trip into the city, we will be able to afford plane tickets or we will take the train from Cleveland.
- Use Airbnb: We booked our hotel in Chelsea through a site that gave us a decent deal. If you could overlook the stained carpets, it was an okay place but for the money we paid for it, we certainly expected something a bit more. It wasn’t until after our trip that I heard about Airbnb and I can’t wait to try it! I have a friend traveling to NYC in a couple of weeks and we found a really nice place for him to stay at that is around $100 per night. The hotel room we shared with our friends was $500 for each couple. You do the math and decide what the better option is!
- Want a touristy day? Plan it in advance: We were only in the city for three full days and one of those days was spent at Comic Con, leaving us with just two days to explore a city none of us had ever been to. We knew we wanted to see some of the touristy sights – Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty. A great way to do that is to book a bus tour with one of the many companies in the city. Most tour companies start their day in or near Times Square and have multiple buses that run their route so you can get off of the bus to explore wherever you want. We had a great plan in place to start our bus tour in Times Square, make our way to the Statue of Liberty and end up back in Times Square so we could board the other bus line to take us to Central Park, but the tour company was short a bus that day and was running an hour or so late, so our plan didn’t go exactly as planned. If you decide to do a bus tour, make sure you start earlier in the day so you can see everything you want to see and have a time buffer built in just in case!
- Experiment & Explore the City: We celebrated Cody’s one year vegan anniversary while we were in New York City and we were so excited to sample all of the vegan offerings and restaurants! Cody and I both agreed upon arriving that we wanted to go to as many unique places as possible. Yeah, there’s a Starbucks on every corner, but how many Bean & Bean Coffee‘s are there? There are millions of McDonald’s in the world, but only five Blossom du Jour‘s. And who can pass up on a retro-inspired diner for breakfast? We stopped at the Tick Tock Diner for breakfast a couple of times – their Nutella stuffed french toast was to die for!
- Use your resources: Download helpful apps like Yelp! to use when looking for a new restaurant, bar, bakery and specialty store on the go. Use the Maps app on your phone when walking around the city so you don’t get lost. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or suggestions from the people around you – why not trust a local who can suggest an awesome place for dinner!
New York, New York – I love you!