As a family, we have a rolling bucket list of holiday destinations. Japan, Iceland and the USA. One of our bucket list destinations is New York, to see that famous skyline, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and eat in the many deli’s and pizza diners. So, if you are like me and want to visit the USA, then here is all the info on ESTA requirements, what hotels to book and where to visit in New York…..
Before you go to the USA
For anyone travelling to the USA from the UK you no longer need a traditional style VISA. Instead you can apply for an ESTA. ESTA is an abbreviation and stands for: “Electronic System for Travel Authorisation”. It is also often referred to as the “ESTA USA”. An ESTA is actually cheaper than a VISA and is easier to apply for online, and in most cases granted the same day. Instant, immediate and no sending off your passport for a visa insertion.
ESTA requirements & validity
An ESTA is valid for two years from the moment it is granted. During this validity period travellers are allowed to make an unlimited number of trips to the USA. These can be for both tourism as well as business. Make sure to check up on the ESTA requirements before applying.
Right so ESTA accepted, tickets are booked, so where to stay?
The Hoxton Williamsburg
Opened in September 2018, the Hoxton Williamsburg is situated in the buzzing neighbourhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. An uber cool area with many record stores and indie boutiques, great food, buzzing bars, and a cool crowd to match. It’s still a little raw round its edges but there’s plenty of green spaces to spread out in, rooftops to drink on, street food to discover, and stores to ponder. Ask the best artists, musicians and chefs where they live in New York and chances are they’ll say Williamsburg. Rooms are available from $199 for a cosy room and breakfast.
Crosby Street Hotel
Firmdale Hotels’ kitsch-but-classy, classic-meets-contemporary English elegance has landed in Manhattan. As you’d expect from Firmdale, as well as Kit Kemp’s special blend of inspired fabrics, textured wallcoverings and colourful artworks, Crosby Street Hotel also has a fabulous bar-restaurant. The socialising spills out of this chic space onto a patio on Lafayette Street and into a foliage-filled, residents-only courtyard. But the fun doesn’t stop there: downstairs in the basement, there’s even a state-of-the-art cinema, decked out with zesty orange Poltrona Frau armchairs, that hosts regular film screenings and events. Rooms start from £557 per night.
Arlo Hotel, Soho
Sure, you may be in New York to see the sights and experience everything the city has to offer, but with on-site programming this good, you may never want to leave the hotel. Arlo Soho offers guests an amazing array of classes such as: mixology where you’ll learn to shake, strain and stir with some of New York’s finest. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Harold’s Meat + Three, the Arlo’s on-site restaurant, for a plentiful plate of hot chicken, Japanese sweet potatoes, mac and cheese and blistered shishito peppers. Rooms start from $119 per night.
Hotel booked. Where shall we visit? Here are the top destinations for any first timer to New York.
The Museum of Modern Art (Midtown)
More of a modern art person? Consider making your way to the famous Museum of Modern Art to start your 4 days in New York, which is home to, among many other things, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and works by Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock.
Keep in mind that while the Met and Natural History Museum are both right next door to Central Park and located a mere 15-minute walk across the park from each other, MOMA is a bit south of the park into Midtown–for that reason, if you decide that MOMA is the museum for you, you may want to start your morning with a stroll through Central Park and then head to the museum, rather than the other way around.
Stroll through Central Park
A must visit! Central Park has been featured on so many films and tv shows, that it feels so familiar. The park itself is enormous and could easily eat up an entire day’s itinerary so here are a few of the top spots:
Belvedere Castle, rowing across Central Park Lake in a rowboat, checking out the Alice in Wonderland statue, strolling through the beautiful Bethesda Terrace Arcade, and meandering through The Ramble.
A stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge.
The iconic, magnificent Brooklyn Bridge is an absolute must-see during your trip to New York, but be prepared to get up early to beat the crowds.
Enjoy photo ops around DUMBO.
Once you cross the Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll be deposited in Dumbo (short for Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass–New Yorkers love acronyms, or at least not using six whole words to describe a neighbourhood).
Be sure to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pebble Beach, and Jane’s Carousel, all popular spots in the immediate area.
And of course–don’t forget to stop by the intersection of Washington Street and Front Street, where you can capture the iconic Manhattan Bridge photo for yourself–be sure to note the way that the Empire State Building is perfectly framed in the arch of the bridge.
Admire beautiful brownstones & explore the West Village.
The West Village is one of the better-known areas of New York City and is full of classic New York charm. Yes it’s where those famous steps that belong to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.
This is one of the oldest parts of New York City, and the streets have a tendency to wind together somewhat incomprehensibly here, looping back in on themselves and generally feeling worlds away from the wide, manicured avenues of Midtown.
There’s also a national landmark in the West Village: the Stonewall Inn, which was the birthplace of the LGBT rights movement in 1969.
Today, you can find everything from trendy boutiques to delicious brunch spots to improbably small and #instagrammable coffee shops in the West Village, along with beautiful residential streets.
I’d better get saving or enter the lottery or star on a game show! I need to visit NY and soon!
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