I recently went to the US for the first time, spending a busy week in New York followed by a more relaxed week in San Francisco with my partner. I reviewed many of the places we went to on Google Maps, so here’s a selection of activities / restaurants / landmarks in our first 3 NYC days!

Note: This is a series of posts, with NYC Part 1 & Part 2, and San Francisco Part 1 & Part 2.

Day 1 (2nd June): Arrival

6,095 steps (2.51 miles)

This day was just the ~8 hour flight, getting essential supplies, checking into our hotel, and avoiding jetlag.

NYC day 1

Moxy NYC Times Square ★★★★✰

This is a very hard hotel to review, since it has some great bonuses but fails some of the basics.

First, the rooms are pretty small. This would be OK, except they use space a bit… oddly. The wall hanging pegs are useful, but the sink being outside the bathroom is… weird.

If you’re not very comfortable & close with your partner before sharing a room here, you will be at the end! Frosted glass on the bathroom (featuring a crack that can be accidentally looked through) ensures minimal privacy.

There’s also no coffee etc facilities, and the rooms can be EXTREMELY noisy at night. The “weed world” across the crossing plays loud music until 1-2am most nights, and added to the street itself you’ll need to be a deep sleeper to cope.

On a more positive note, the $30 amenity fee can be used at the GREAT cafe next door, which made up for a lot of the issues we had with the hotel itself. There’s also quite often free candy / fruit / water in the lobby.

Finally, the location is pretty good for the centre of town, but not ideal for the subway / travelling further.

Original review (1 photo)

Whole Foods Market ★★★★★

This was perfect for late night shopping when we arrived in NYC for a holiday. There’s plenty of variety, prices are alright, and the checkout process is nice and efficient.

There’s also usually good deals, so we ended up coming here pretty often throughout our trip for supplies.

Original review

Day 2 (3rd June): Midtown

29,711 steps (12.48 miles)

NYC day 2

Cafe D’Avignon ★★★★★

One of the best bakeries / cafes I’ve been to.

There’s plenty of variety of savoury or sweet items, with some hot food also on offer. We went here every morning for a week, and ordered different lovely things every day!

I’d recommend their sandwiches especially, and their bread pudding / croissant “slab” can feed 2 easily (both pictured).

If you’re at the hotel next door, you just need to give your room number and name, and you’ll get $30 off your bill. We spent $25-35 every day for 2 foods + 2 drinks, so good value for money.

Original review (1 photo)

Grand Central Terminal ★★★★★

Yes, I’m rating a train station 5/5.

I didn’t research grand central before visiting, and assumed it would just be an impressively large station. Whilst it IS this, it’s also wonderfully cool during the summer, has an extensive food hall downstairs, decent public toilets, and helpful staff.

It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re anywhere near.

Original review (1 photo)

St Patrick’s Cathedral ★★★★★

An oasis of calm in the middle of packed streets.

Whilst I’m not religious, I absolutely can appreciate breath-taking architecture and sacred buildings. There is a very calm and quiet atmosphere here, with a main area with tourists meandering around accompanied by a “no photos” private prayer area.

This can get quite busy at certain times, but the large tourist groups tend to move on quickly.

Original review (1 photo)

Paley Park ★★★★★

The large wall waterfall here silences the constant NYC street noise.

There’s plenty of seats here to grab a breather, as well as a small shop selling basic food and drink. We spent much longer than expected here, as it was just so relaxing.

Original review

The Shop at NBC Studios ★★★★✰

As a non-US non-TV watcher, I assumed this store would have nothing for me. Nope!

Turns out NBC actually produced quite a few shows I’ve seen (e.g. Brooklyn 99 or Parks & Rec, pictured), and have decent merchandise for all of them. There’s a good mixture of shirts, mugs, and other suitable items. Prices are alright, not ideal but good for a one of a kind store in central NYC!

Original review (1 photo)

MoMA Design Store ★★★★★

Whilst I’m not even slightly artistic, or particularly fond of modern art, this shop was still definitely worth visiting.

There’s tons of interesting things to look at in here, most of which are pretty unique, in fact I don’t think I’ve seen any of these items anywhere else!

It’s a great place to get unique gifts for others.

Original review (1 photo)

Urbanspace ★★★★★

Great mixture of cuisines, with no queues.

We came here around lunchtime on a busy day, and were surprised to find it only half full. Each of the food stalls are very distinct, and we ended up coming here a couple of times to try a few.

Original review (1 photo)

Summit One Vanderbilt ★★★★★

This is the best experience I’ve had in a skyscraper.

The main attraction is the mirror lined wall you’ve probably seen hundreds of photos of, it’s something that truly has to be seen to be believed. The infinite recursions up and down give a bizarre but enjoyable sense of vertigo.

The main room is very busy with people taking posed photos for Instagram, but people generally move around every few minutes so you’ll find a spot. The views on all sides are stunning, and look amazing whichever way you look.

It’s worth mentioning this one mirror room is just one part of the experience. There’s also a balloon room, art exhibits, other mirror rooms, although each of those is far less engaging. The merchandise is also good quality, I bought a shirt for the design itself.

DEFINITELY worth the price, visit if you can!

Original review (5 photos)

Joe’s Pizza ★★★★✰

Okay, controversial opinion: The pizza is pretty good, but not worth the hype.

At peak times the restaurant will have queues out the door, and whilst it’s well priced and tasty pizza… it’s just pizza. Give it a go if you’re passing by, and the pizza is definitely one of the better street slice places, but don’t expect a life changing experience!

Original review

Day 3 (4th June): Chelsea & Hudson

25,849 steps (10.65 miles)

NYC day 3

The High Line ★★★★★

Great views, great walk, great route.

It’s pretty rare that a green walk through a city is actually significantly faster and more convenient than regular street walking. High Line achieves this!

There’s great views all the way along, and walking it end to end is a great way to see hints of NYC buildings in gaps between the greenery.

Original review (3 photos)

Artechouse ★★★✰✰

Worth visiting if nearby, but don’t expect to spend too long here.

The entire exhibition is one room, primarily for an immersive projected 3D render of a cell living and dying. Without any commentary / notes / context, it’s up to the viewer to try and interpret meaning from it.

Original review (7 photos)

No Particular Hours ★★★★★

I have no idea what category to put this shop in.

Part antique shop, part thrift story, part curiosities exhibition, every single item was completely unpredictable and unique.

The shop isn’t massive, but the fairly large single room will still keep you engrossed for half hour just looking at labels!

Original review (4 photos)

Pier 57 Rooftop Park ★★★★★

One of the best views over the Hudson, without the crowds.

This pretty secluded “park” is essentially a rooftop area with benches, but it is completely free and not particularly widely advertised. These all combined to make a great place for photo taking, and looking out over nearby landmarks.

Original review (1 photo)

Bluestone Lane Café ★★★★✰

Good coffee and snacks, with slightly more secluded seating just round the hedge in front of the shop.

Original review

Printed Matter, Inc ★★★★★

A very unusual selection of books, including plenty in unique formats. Worth a look around.

Original review (1 photo)

City Opera Thrift Shop ★★★★✰

What a mixture!

Furniture, books, clothes, this thrift shop has it all, and full of surprises.

Original review (1 photo)


Lots of new info, even for someone fairly into cybersecurity / espionage!

The museum features exhibits on various real spies, spy tactics, and notable spying events. The objects on show were particularly impressive, with a mixture of film props, WW2 tech, spy equipment, all clearly labelled and explained.

There’s also lots of interactive elements, with a wristband letting you play various games and see your results at the end.

There’s a timed button hitting game that is far more fun than it has any right to be, although beware they’ll automatically email you a video of yourself optimistically trying to act half your age!

Original review (7 photos)

Tradisyon ★★★★★

Excellent quick & no-frills filo food, I recommend the sisig and ube cheesecake!

Original review