Have you always wondered if the concrete jungle is really where dreams are made of? Or if the streets will actually make you feel brand new? There’s no better way to figure out the answers to those questions than to go there yourself!
Contrary to popular belief (or basically every other Netflix show we’ve watched), New York City is more than just skyscrapers, yellow cabs, and amazing street food carts. Its made up of five boroughs; Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island are each treasure in its own form, and there’s no underestimating what they can offer you!
Are you excited? Now pack your Louboutins in your Louis, and let’s get to business.
Day 1: Manhattan – Part I
So you found yourself waking up to the soft ray of sunlight through your hotel window overlooking yellow cabs in the midst of busy traffic in Midtown. What now? 😉
Central Park (3 to 4 hours)
No trip to Manhattan can ever go wrong when you begin by heading to Central Park!
Take the subway to 59th Street/Columbus Circle station to this 843-acre urban park (yes, it’s that massive), and prepare to spend the most tranquil morning of your life. Now you’re thinking “Okay, what should I do here?”
Credit: @centralparknyc on Instagram
Well, take tonnes of pictures, go people-watching with a bag of nuts and churros in your arms or better yet, go by our little checklist below:
a) Explore the park effortlessly by renting a bicycle, or, if you’re feeling a little generous, get onto the first horse-drawn carriage you see! Carriage drivers are often tour guides themselves, so you’ll find yourself with a chatting company throughout the tour.
b) Go to the Bethesda Terrace & Fountain and catch street performers (mostly musicians) wow park visitors with their incredible talents. If you’re in NYC with a special someone, posing for romantic pictures underneath the gorgeous archways and colourful tiles must be on your to-do list!
Credit: Regan Vercruysse on Flickr
c) Check out the Literary Walk when you walk through The Mall (it’s very hard to miss these two!) and admire the lifelike statues of classic literature writers such as Sir Walter Scott and William Shakespeare.
d) Love animals? Go to Central Park Zoo is open daily, all year round. Plan your schedule well as you might just be able to watch penguins come out from their dens for feeding time 🤗
Credit: @calebv940 on Instagram
e) Spread that picnic mat you accidentally brought on the lush green grass at Sheep Meadow! Be sure to pick up breakfast/brunch from any of the halal cart located in Central Park so your picnic won’t turn into a rather lonely reunion between you and your book 😜
f) Pay a tribute to John Lennon by visiting the Strawberry Fields. In 1984, Yoko Ono and landscape architect Bruce Kelly added the Imagine mosaic for fans to commemorate the memory of the great artist!
Credit: Tony Hisgett on Flickr
American Museum of Natural History (1.5 hours)
Have you watched Ben Stiller’s comedic performance in Night at The Museum 1 & 2? If yes, you probably know what to expect while visiting this museum – well, except none of the exhibits will come to life!
Credit: @ingridmattei on Instagram
This museum is perfect for families to spend quality time together as there are cultural events for adults, plenty of interactive exhibitions for kids as well as educational laboratories led by scientists for the rest of the family ☺️
Credit: Don DeBold on Flickr
While there are price suggestions for entrance tickets to the normal exhibition, the museum allows flexibility to its visitors to pay any amount they prefer.
Hayden Planetarium (1.5 hours)
Located right beside this museum, Hayden Planetarium is where you get your cosmic fun fix. Visitors throng the planetarium for its larger-than-life exhibitions and the Space Theater, and this, of course, is a solid reason why you too should drop by!
Credit: @picturedivision on Instagram
Their crowd puller? The breathtaking Dark Universe show narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, which brings you on an immersive astrophysics discovery through space and time under a gigantic, avant-garde nano seam dome screen 😱
Day 2: Manhattan – Part II
That’s right. One day of Manhattan is not enough! So off we go again!
Grand Central Terminal (1 hour)
Standing in the middle of the ever-busy Grand Central Terminal simply takes you back to mid-1800s New York, where trade and banking activities were robust and became the primary reason people across the globe flock this stunning city. Real Estate Record & Guide opined that “People who come to New York should enter a palace on the end of their ride, and not a shed,”, which explains its glorious classical architecture standing tall to this very day.
Credit: Ray on Flickr
But that’s not all there is to this inter-rail transit station. Grand Central Terminal also serves as a town square, where important events in America go on live broadcasts, where people shop and dine, and where happy reunions are made memorable 😌
Rockefeller Center (2 to 3 hours)
It’s no surprise that this building is dubbed as the busiest place in Manhattan during the festive season– there’s just an unbelievable number of things you can do under one roof!
Catch spectacular shows by the likes of Marc Anthony, Britney Spears and Hailee Steinfeld at Radio City Music Hall, go behind the scenes of famous TV shows via the NBC Studio Tour, or take the elevator all the way up to Top of The Rock observation deck to experience phenomenal view of the whole city.
Given the right time and the right weather, you might leave with a stunning photo of the view such as this one:
Credit: Sam valadi on Flickr
United Nations Headquarters (1 hour)
Credit: @robertaabdanur on Instagram
Prior to entering the UN compound, visitors are subjected to security checks just like at the airport. People of all nationalities are welcomed here, and the headquarter is built to accommodate persons of disabilities as well as children.
Credit: Hernán Piñera on Flickr
Guided tours are offered in the UN’s 6 languages; English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Russian, and Chinese!
Times Square (stay as long as you need to!)
Few might warn visitors of tourist-trap outlets which are scattered along the stretch of these vibrant shops, but nothing can hold you back when those souvenirs are way too delightful to ignore. In fact, you’d find it difficult to run out of things to do here!
Apart from shopping, taking photos for the ‘Gram, or grabbing savouring guilty pleasures at the many halal food carts, you must not leave Manhattan without watching a Broadway show!
#HHWT Tip: Ticket prices often drop a few hours before a show begin, so if you’re all about that thrifty lifestyle, this is definitely an option to consider. Though the seat might not be ideal, at least you get to experience this iconic show without breaking your bank 😉
The Halal Guys is a famous international chain, frequently patronized by both Muslims and non-Muslims. And yes, the chain started as a halal cart in New York!
The Halal Guys’ famous beef-and-biryani platter topped with white sauce for late lunch is a “Yes, please!” in our NYC vocabulary. Tasty Middle Eastern grab-n-go is always a hit with travellers especially if you’re going frugal.
Credit: @thehalalguys on Instagra
Keep a lookout for their trademark red-yellow parasols located near Hilton Midtown (West 53rd St 6th Avenue) and expect a long line filled with locals and travellers.
Day 3: Manhattan – Part III
You’ll thank us for our clingy nature to this borough, we promise 😜
Chelsea Market (1.5 hours)
Chelsea Market is one of the most underrated destinations in Mid-Lower Manhattan. For an enclosed urban marketplace which gathers every possible retail shop and food stalls under one roof, we can hardly say no to this gem.
Oh, and don’t get us started on their brick-ruins, exposed pipelines aesthetic. Super Instagram-worthy😍
Credit: @pinocchio456 on Instagram
Though it’s quite a challenge to find a halal-certified eatery here, you can always inquire the ingredients for the food you’re about to order. Be sure to try some of the freshest seafood here – the size of the lobster is bound to astound you 😎
Credit: @kk_ho1 on Instagram
Wall Street (1 hour)
You’ve heard and seen movies filmed in Wall Street. Now that you’re finally here in person, what is there to do in the epicentre of New York’s Financial District?
Credit: Anthony Quintano on Flickr
Well, for one, many of NYC’s most famous structures are within the area; the Trinity Church, Federal Hall Memorial, New York Stock Exchange! Take many pictures and immerse yourself in the busyness of this area.
Credit: Reading Tom on Flickr
We recommend heading there after 10 AM, before 3 PM, or after 7 PM to avoid rush hour foot traffic!
Ground Zero (1 to 2 hours)
Many of us can never forget the tragic 2001 attack which changed not just the lives of families who were affected, but also the world. The One World Trade Center a.k.a Freedom Tower was built right across Ground Zero to replace the World Trade Center. To this day, it stands to embody the rebirth of the American hope.
Ticket for the One World Trade Center is priced at USD34 (adult) and USD29 (child). The Memorial, however, is free of charge.
Credit: Wilson Loo Kok Wee on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: Come down here after sundown as the Memorial Pools and the 500 white oaks planted around it are illuminated at night!
While you are there, take a trip 3 blocks down to the 9/11 Museum to complete your visit Downtown. Family-friendly tours are provided and tickets are priced at USD24 (adult) and USD15 (child).
Statue of Liberty (3 hours)
Did you know: the Lady Liberty was a congratulatory gift by the French government to the US for abolishing slavery?
For immigrants which makes up a large proportion of the States, the statue is a freedom icon that welcomes people from every corner of the world to find home in her arms.
Part of the poem The New Colossus written by Emma Lazarus engraved on Lady Liberty’s pedestal reads;
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
You can get a good view of the statue from Battery Park or Bay Ridge Boardwalk (Brooklyn) or via the Staten Island ferry ride. But if you plan to go to the Liberty Island, the only way is to get your ferry tickets from Statue Cruises. This covers the admission to the statue’s pedestal and Ellis Island.
Mild warning: the ticket line builds up really quickly and you might have to spend a long time waiting as the day progresses. The best time to go here is in the wee hours of the morning!
#HHWT Tip: Need a proper place to pray while hopping in between destinations in Manhattan? Drop by the Islamic Cultural Center of New York at East 97th Street 3rd Avenue and find yourself warmly welcomed by local Muslims in the city.
Credit: @fzahq on Instagram
Sometimes, all we want out of our US trip is an American-style burger. To get a combination of the all-American taste in a halal burger is not a difficult task when you’re at BURGERS by Honest Chops.
Credit: @rizeatz on Instagram
Not only were we personally impressed by how good their organic meat in general is, strings of satisfied customers have proven gratitude to this place on numerous restaurant review sites. More reasons to come over and try their menu for yourself!
P.S. Their truffle fries is unlike any other. Check out their generous serving of parmesan 🤤
Credit: @romiedecosta on Instagram
Day 4: Brooklyn
When in Brooklyn, do as the Brooklynites do! Brooklyn is a tad bit different from Manhattan in terms of the atmosphere it gives off, but you’ll be equally impressed by this rustic and relaxed borough.
Brooklyn Bridge (0.5 hours)
It’s probably a sin not to feature the Brooklyn Bridge first and foremost. This iconic bridge connects lower Manhattan to West Brooklyn with an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline!
Credit: @yujuhuang_0901 on Instagram
You can walk, drive, and cycle to get across. Whatever your mode of transport is, don’t forget to snap one or two pictures for the ‘Gram 😉
Brooklyn Bridge Park (2 to 3 hours)
This park rests on the East River shore of Lower Manhattan, where the Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. Before walking the bridge, go on Jane’s Carousel (only USD2 per person!)
Credit: Shinya Suzuki on Flickr
Coney Island-Brighton-Manhattan Beaches (4 to 5 hours)
This beach stretch is arguably the best place to spend long summer days at! Stroll down Coney Island Boardwalk with your shades on, go on rides with fellow Brooklynites at the adjacent amusement parks, sunbathe at Brighton Beach and finally, take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Manhattan Beach.
When life gives you this,
Credit: @foodninfo on Instagram
…you kick your weary days off and enjoy!
We gotta give it to the guys over at No Pork Halal Chinese for being the fellow locals’ favourite halal spot. You can find your favourite Asian comfort food here til late at night. We’re talking about all of that fried rice and tofu goodness.
Find this at Dean St 4th Avenue right at the intersection. Every bite will remind you of home – guaranteed!
Credit: @themexican on Instagram
Planning to take a stroll down the Boardwalk in Coney Island? Drop by Paul’s Daughter for their famous fried calamari, cotton candy and slushies!
Credit: @wherever_with on Instagram
Halal status: Vegetarian options available, alcohol served in establishment.
Day 5: The Bronx
You thought we were gonna skip the borough which gave us J.Lo and Cardi B? Well, you thought wrong!
Credit: er Guiri on Flickr
The Bronx was once clenched tight by its dark past with crack epidemic and sky-high crime rate, but things have changed especially for South Bronx since the past decade.
Famous for its vibrant contemporary street arts, a day trip to the Bronx deserves to be the highlight of your NYC trip. Here’s why:
Yankee Stadium (1 hour)
When visiting Home of the Yankees, you don’t want to be caught alive not dropping by this stadium, especially if you claim to be a baseball fan.
Credit: @jstilesphotographer on Instagram
The stadium tour is available during offseason and no game days. Get more details here.
Grand Concourse, Franz Sigel Park & Joyce Kilmer Park (4 to 5 hours)
Parisians have Champs Élysées while Bronxites have the Grand Concourse!
It’s inevitable to native New Yorkers that this was once the Park Avenue of the middle class. The concrete boulevard was opened in 1909 and runs north-south in West Bronx.
Credit: @discovertheburgh on Instagram
If you find yourself already holding a bag of street cart chilli dogs and bagels and looking for a serene green space to have brunch at, choose between The Bronx’s famous Franz Sigel Park and Joyce Kilmer Park, both located alongside the concourse!
Bronx Museum of The Arts (1 hour)
BxMA is more than just a melting pot of distinctive and diverse art in New York City, and we’re very proud to confess that this is not an overstatement. From the day the museum opened its doors to the public, it has since persistently promoted and championed cross-cultural understanding through installations, educational programmes and public events.
Looking forward to catching their next event? Click here for the schedule!
Credit: @khoster on Instagram
The Halal Guys isn’t the only trick you need to survive New York City. Another local favourite, Big Taste Halal Food is the go-to halal cart in Eastchester Rd and you simply need to order their chicken or lamb platter to validate this.
We love the variety of items in their menu; from sandwiches to meat platters to tacos, it’s hard to deny this cart is all you need! Plus this cart is open 24 hours everyday 😍
BONUS: Order take-outs, New York style
Even while on vacation, there’s bound to be some nights where you just want to stay home (especially in winter!). Now, this is the perfect time for you to experience ordering food in, New York style. If you’re craving for Korean fried chicken, Modoo Chicken and Noodle Bar is the place to get it!
Credit: @halalnyc on Instagram
This eatery provides a halal menu with halal chicken, so you can savour them from the comforts of your hotel room. Their fried chicken comes in flavours like sweet soy, sweet chilli and even Buffalo Maple 😋 Here’s the number to call: +1 (929) 346-0382. But if you want to head down to their store, it’s located in the Bayside neighbourhood in Queens.
Halal status: Halal menu available
Day 6: Staten Island
We know what you’re thinking – it’s day 6 already? The final day in the Big Apple can make you feel awful, but you have the choice not to be. How? By spending the day on Staten Island!
Fort Wadsworth (1 to 2 hours)
If you have a knack for American history, you won’t want to miss Fort Wadsworth.
You’ll get to experience New York in 3 different timelines where its role is most significant; the Peach Tree War, the American Revolution, and the Civil War.
Credit: Peter Miller on Flickr
The incredible views of Verrazano Bridge and the harbour from the tower are not the only thing you should be looking forward to here. Tours by National Park Service run twice daily (11 am & 2 pm) Wednesday-Sunday and are the only way to access this is through the interior sections of the buildings.
#HHWT Tip: Be sure to wear sturdy walking shoes, bring water, sunscreen, and camera if you’re going for the Saturday morning tour. It covers more structures within the fort hence is slightly longer than the common tour!
St. George Theatre (1 to 2 hours)
Planning to watch a cultural show before your flight back? Perhaps a comedy, a concert, a dance performance would do!
Credit: @hoodieboy817 on Instagram
Well, we hope your return flight schedule fits St. George Theatre’s show timing because you sure don’t want to miss your last chance to play dress up in the city that never sleeps!
National Lighthouse Museum (1 to 2 hours)
Credit: National Lighthouse Museum on Facebook
It’s true when they say the very attraction of Staten Island begins with its ferry dock and lighthouses.
Learn more about the Wall of Lights, Lighthouse Timeline, and other permanent collection at this self-guided museum dedicated for nautical-navigation. Just the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon at after a week-long sightseeing 😌
If you’re a self-proclaimed sweet tooth – we know just how to end your New York trip with a bang. Beans & Leaves is a must visit for tea connoisseurs and people who simply cannot resist a good ol’ waffle.
Credit: @21andhungry on Instagram
From Cap’n Crunch to Red Velvet, you can never run out of topping options. Go wild with your brunch menu, we promise you’ll have an amazing time here 😋
Halal status: Vegetarian options available. Do ask the staff for alcohol-free desserts.
What about that, eh? Still think New York is strictly defined by the Fifth Avenue and kebab carts? Well, we hope this article gave you a better picture of this bustling city, enough to want to go forth and experience it for yourself 😍