Our Summer Holiday To New York
There are no bad seasons in New York. Autumn is beautiful, with the trees bursting into flames of gold and amber in Central Park, and I wholeheartedly believe that there is nowhere more festive than the city in December, when every shop front is adorned with elaborate displays, and the iconic Christmas tree is erected in front of the Rockefeller. April is known for the beautiful cherry blossom that bursts into view on every street, and September feels like a last hurrah of warmth before the winter arrives again. The city has a particular brand of magic for each and every month of the year, but without a doubt my favourite time to visit is the summer. A lot of people would disagree with me, and I can understand why. It’s exceptionally humid in New York in the height of summer, and there are wild, unrelenting thunderstorms aplenty. The worst of the urban insects come out to play (I’m looking at you, cockroaches), and at times it can feel like the city has become overrun with tourists. It’s sticky, it’s noisy, and if you happen to arrive on bin day, it’s smelly.
And yet, none of that matters. Because a little bit of sweat will never dull the excitement of cycling around Central Park in the sunshine, and the rising temperatures only add to the magic of watching a perfect sunset over Manhattan from a rooftop bar. I know this to be true because I found myself doing both of those things last week, all the while whispering over and over to myself how lucky I felt.
If you don’t already know, I spent 7 nights in New York last week with my family to celebrate my Mum’s retirement. She very kindly flew us all out there for our first proper family holiday since I was 18, and we had the most amazing time. I enjoyed every single minute - in fact, from the second I first spied the skyline from the yellow taxi on the way to our apartment, until the moment we scoffed our last Shake Shack burger in the airport waiting for our flight home, I felt like the happiest, most relaxed and most sparkly version of myself.
New York is a destination that my family and I had all been lucky enough to visit a couple of times before, and so we didn’t arrive with a huge list of sights to see or activities to tick off a list. Instead we woke slowly each morning, drinking coffee on the sofa of our East Village apartment and made a loose plan for the day ahead.
First on the agenda each and every single day was brunch. I swear I’ve never eaten so many delicious pancakes in my whole life, and I don’t regret a single thing. Our favourite brunch spot was Clinton Street Baking Co, which we went back to a couple of times - their fried chicken and waffles dish is a thing of beauty, and I’m considering booking a flight back for that alone.
Once our tummies were full, we’d head off and spend a few hours doing something fun in the sunshine. Some of our favourite activities included walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, strolling along the High Line, relaxing in Central Park and taking in the sights in Midtown. There was plenty of shopping too of course, which was usually followed up by a fancy cocktail on a rooftop bar. One day we even swapped the rooftops for The Plaza Hotel, and despite not running into Kevin in the lobby, it was still very entertaining for someone as obsessed with Home Alone as I am.
Some evenings we opted to stay local and eat dinner somewhere close to our apartment - the East Village was a perfect place to anchor ourselves as there were so many yummy options literally at the end of our street. Other nights we ventured out a little further, drinking yet more cocktails at PDT, enjoying a delicious dinner at Beauty & Essex, or soaking up the super cool vibe in Williamsburg.
We spent our final evening doing something very fun indeed, and headed to New Jersey to watch Beyonce and Jay-Z perform. The night was very almost a disaster - we were greeted at the stadium by the most dramatic rain storm I’d ever seen, and spent the whole time watching the support acts feeling slightly damp (#glam). Just when we thought that everything had calmed down and we were ready for the main show, the police came on to the stage to urge us all to take shelter as there was an electrical storm on the way that posed a danger to the audience.
We spent about an hour huddling in the concourse of the stadium, catching glimpses of the lightning and feeling the thunder rumble the floor beneath us, all the while wondering whether the show would actually go ahead. Thankfully it did - at around 11am, Bey and Jay took to the stage and it was absolutely incredible. The atmosphere was just as electric as the storm that had passed just minutes earlier, and their energy was even bigger and more special than the city they played to.
It was the perfect way to round off our trip. A reminder that New York City can be unpredictable and imperfect and at times, a bit annoying, but that if you’re prepared to put up with all of it’s flaws, you’ll be rewarded. You’ll be treated to the best food, the best shows, the best views, the best opportunities. And most of all, you’ll be lucky enough to experience that rare, unfiltered, magic energy that never fails to make you feel like the most amazing version of yourself.
As we stood in the ridiculously long queue at JFK waiting for our flight home, my family and I discussed exactly that. We talked about how exhausting and frustrating and weird New York can be at times. But how we know we’ll always keep returning, because nowhere else in the world is quite as brilliant.
And for that very reason, we’re already planning our next trip.