Neeeew Yoooork, concrete jungle where dreams are made of – Jay-Z’s Empire State Of Mind had been going through my head for weeks before my trip.
And when I did eventually land in the most famous city in the world it was a bit like being plonked in the middle of a movie or an episode of Sex And The City – bright lights, yellow taxis, thundering skyscrapers all there as promised.
Shortly after arriving in the Big Apple I checked into Dream Downtown, situated between the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.
The party hub, which frequents celebs including Rihanna and Beyonce, is a modern-art spectacle complete with rooftop pool, “beach club” and a fusion restaurant serving Japanese and French cuisine.
A four-minute walk from the high-line and a stone’s throw from buzzing Chelsea Food Market, it’s the perfect spot to explore the city from.
Home to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Statue of Liberty and other iconic sites, New York has enough to keep any tourist entertained for weeks.
However, I had just 72 hours (and a limited budget) to explore the city, tick off some Bucket List attractions and find some quirky spots of my own.
And after three fun-filled, hectic, amazing days in the city that never sleeps here are my top 10 must-dos:
1. Walk The High Line
Escape the hustle and bustle of New York’s busy streets and get your bearings by wandering along this elevated stretch of reformed railway.
The old train tracks have been transformed into a luscious park dotted with wild flowers, trees, art installations and the odd food stall.
The urban park stretches 1.45 miles from the Meatpacking District to the northern edge of Chelsea, right down to the Hudson River.
From this lofty green space you’ll be able to catch glimpses of iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building, bordered by flowers.
Also, make sure you save space for an ice cream sandwich – the red velvet and cream cheese one is a must.
2. Eat At Chelsea Market
If you’re a foodie this place is a dream come true. The bustling food market has everything from New York bagels and homemade ice cream and high-end restaurants.
You could spend the whole day sampling dishes from around the world, but if you only have time for one thing, try the marinated pork (abobada) and cactus (nopal) tacos from Los Taco No.1.
At just $3.30 (around £2.50) each they are both cheap and delicious. The tiny shack is currently rated as the 10th best restaurant – out of more than 10,000 in New York – on TripAdvisor and with good reason.
Ramen restaurant Mokbar is also a real treat for the tastebuds. Everything on the menu is delicious but the marinated short rib Kalbi Dumplings are out of this world.
There is also a vintage-style market at the back selling everything from jewellery to art and handmade make-up bags.
3. Soak In The Views At The Top Of The Rock
Why not go up to the top of the Empire State Building arguably the most famous building in the world with a stunning view over the city.
The view from the Empire State Building is amazing but if you’ve only got time to scale one towering monument I recommend making your way to the Rockefeller observation deck.
Views from the 70th floor are unmatched and this way you get a view of the iconic skyline with the Empire State Building at the centre of it.
The busiest time to go is at sunset, however this is also one of the best times to go as you get to see New York at dusk and then watch the twinkling lights come on below.
However, if you’re not a fan of crowds, visit the tower late evening on a week day. The last elevator goes up at 11.15pm and the city looks beautiful at this time of night.
Adult tickets for the observations deck at the Rockefeller cost $32 (around £24.50) or you can purchase a New York CityPass. The easy-to-use- ticket booklet costs $116 (around £89) and allows you to visit six of the city’s best attractions.
This will save you 40% on admission costs and in some cases it means you can skip the queues.
4. See The Statue Of Liberty From A Circle Line Cruise – Liberty Cruises
If you haven’t got much time but want to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty, opt for the Circle Line Liberty Cruise.
The relaxing cruise will let you witness stunning panoramic views of midtown and lower Manhattan from the water. And the boat sails within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty for the best photo ops.
Tickets cost $29 (around £22) for adults or you can get in with a CityPass.
5. Unlimited Cocktail Brunch At Studio Kraut
Home of the $19 (£14) unlimited brunch, Studio Kraut is a the perfect spot for a weekend treat.
If you want to go all out the Triple Chocolate Meltdown waffles are ridiculously indulgent and a side of homemade paprika hash browns are a must.
6. Eat, Drink And Be Merry In Central Park
Hire bikes and cycle round the entirety of Central Park before settling in for lunch at The Boathouse.
Idyllically located on the edge of a turtle-infested boating lake, the veranda restaurant is the perfect spot to watch the world go by.
With great food and a buzzing ambiance, the famous eatery encompasses everything that’s great about the city.
The popular spot gets booked up though so make sure you reserve your table in advance. Book at thecentralparkboathouse.com
7. Party At Dream Downtown’s “Beach”
If you are a guest at the hotel you can use the rooftop pool and bar for free, but if you’re staying elsewhere you can buy day passes for $60 (£46).
The translucent glass-bottom swimming pool overlooks the hotel lobby and it’s a great place to escape the heat of the city.
The rooftop bar offers a variety of flavourful cocktails and light bites as well as a more hearty evening menu and nightly star-studded parties take place in the exotic venue.
8. Drink At The Top Of The Standard
There are plenty of quirky rooftop bars to explore in NYC, but this is a great place to start.
Situated on the top floor of the Standard, the glass-enclosed bar offers amazing views over the city.
On one side the Empire State Building dominates the skyline, while the other side provides uninterrupted views of the sun setting over the Hudson River. And in the very distance you can even spot Lady liberty herself – torch gleaming in the sun.
Cocktails are pricey at $16-18 (around £13), but the view is worth splashing out.
9. Feast At Buddakan
This restaurant houses a Harry-Potter-style banquet hall with grand chandeliers and chunky wood tables. The ambiance is sultry and dark the buzzing music makes it feel delightfully “New York”, but it’s the Asian-fusion food that really draws the customers in.
Don’t leave without trying the dim sum tasting for two, which costs $36 (£27.60). The salt and pepper black bass ($38) and the lobster fried rice ($23) are also dreamy.
10. Visit The 9/11 Memorial And Museum
I felt strange about visiting a tourist attraction built around such a horrific tragedy, but after going to the 9/11 memorial and museum I would recommend a visit.
The plunging waterfalls are such a beautifully haunting tribute to those who died and the museum is a stark and powerful reminder of the tragedy.
Although I cried my way around the exhibition it now unfortunately represents an important part of American history and is worth a visit. Save it until the end of the day though as it is extremely harrowing.
Adult tickets cost $24 (around £18) or you can get in with a CityPass.
To reserve a room at Dream Downtown go to Booking.com. The online accommodation booking website has over one million diverse properties available around the world, from hotels and apartments to homestays and chalets.