New York – Upper vs Lower Manhattan

*Updated in January 2019*
I love nothing more than visiting New York in the winter.  It’s a great city to visit in any season but there is something about it in the winter that is just so magical.  I love the Rockefeller Christmas tree, along with all the glitzy decorations and twinkley window displays that adorn Fifth Avenue.
On my most recent trip I arrived on New Years day, what a great way to start 2013!  Having visited a few times before I wanted to spend sometime exploring other parts of the city that I hadn’t visited yet.  So here are my recommendations on different areas to explore in this wonderful metropolis:
Upper West Side:  I stayed at a great boutique hotel called Hotel Belleclaire, only ten minutes walk from Central Park it’s a really nice area.  There are some great grocery stores; I am a total foodie so exploring local produce stores is right up my street.  West Side Market, just around the corner from the hotel and Fairway a short stroll away, were my favourites.  Both had great deli counters, a huge selection of cheeses and a brilliant variety of fresh fruits lined up outside.  Of course this isn’t necessarily what you will have come to New York for but as I’ve mentioned in past blogs I love immersing myself in local cultures and discovering what people eat in other parts of the world.
There are plenty of options for breakfast or brunch in this part of town, my favourite being Viand Café.  With a classical American diner feel this was my favourite spot for a big hearty American breakfast.  A great menu with all your typical American style breakfasts such as buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, waffles, eggs any style or for a healthier option, granola.  All reasonably priced I can’t think of any other way to start the day in this wonderful city.
A cool place for a drink or meal is the Amsterdam Ale House, it had a really nice atmosphere and pub feel and being British I felt right at home!  The food was superb and reasonably priced with interesting mains such as tuna and bison burgers on the menu, I would describe it as posh pub food and a definite winter warmer.
From our hotel it was easy to walk to Central Park and down to Fifth Avenue.  On the edge of the park on the West Side sits the American Museum of Natural History, its well worth a visit.  Once in Central Park stroll past the lake and the popular Loeb Boathouse restaurant, a nice café to stop off for a coffee and a warm up.
Lower West Side: Greenwich Village, found on the Lower West Side of Manhattan has got to be my new favourite area of New York City. With its trendy village feel, I don’t know why I didn’t visit sooner!  Greenwich is about a ten minute cab journey from Times Square. Being a small suburb it has a slightly quieter feel than the hustle and bustle of central Manhattan.  With lots of boutique shops it kept me occupied for quite sometime, even if it was just window shopping…
Bleecker Street is a perfect place to start exploring, first things first you must head to Magnolia Bakery, their cupcakes have to be the best I have ever tasted!  This popular bakery can get very busy, but don’t be put off by the queue the cupcakes are definitely worth it.
Blind Tiger Ale House (You will notice there is a theme with me here!) is a short walk from the bakery.  With a list of twenty-eight draught beers and a cosy open fire it is the perfect retreat from the cold.  The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable and will happily let you try the beer before you buy.  The rustic dark wood interior and old school cash register give this place a very homely feel.
The beers we tried on our two afternoon visits were: (These may have changed since my visit)
No 28 – Lagunitas Pilsner from California
No 23 – Original Sin Cider from New York (My favourite, I love Cider!)
No 20 – Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA from California
If you fancy a bite to go with your beverages the bar snacks were marvellous and perfect for sharing.  Coconut curry squash ($7) and Cajun Mac & Cheese ($7) were our favourites.
This is clearly a popular drinking establishment with locals and tourists alike. One afternoon I overheard a great conversation between an English couple and a local New Yorker discussing Scotland. The local pronounced Edinburgh in a very funny way, as you can imagine this caused a lot of laughter at the bar!
Murray’s Cheese Bar is also worth a visit, this is a restaurant with a twist, cheese being you guessed it at the centre of the menu, Brilliant!
Brooklyn Bridge: Brooklyn Bridge is on the Lower East Side and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn.  Built in 1883 it stretches for just over a mile across the East River.  It is a lovely scenic walk with views of Central Manhattan; you can see the Empire State and Chrysler Building to name just a few.  Look the opposite side and you can see the Statue of Liberty.  If you like taking photos you can get some cracking shots from here, and the bridge is magnificent.  Wrap up warm though as it is very chilly in the winter.  I was fascinated to see all the ‘love locks’ attached to various parts of the bridge and took a bit of time to look at the initials and messages engraved on them.
The Highline: Located on the west side in Chelsea, just above Greenwich Village sits the Highline, an old railway line that is now a public walkway. Raised above the busy streets, the Highline weaves in between buildings and has wonderful views of the Empire State Building and the River Hudson. Along the walkway there are some interesting art installations, food vendors and benches to sit and watch the world go by. Stop off at Chelsea market for quirky shops and cool restaurants. The milkshakes at Creamline are the best! For more head to my blog post all about it: Walking the Highline in New York…
I have to say there is no competition between the Upper and Lower Sides of Manhattan. Both have so much to offer, if I was going to choose I think my favourite is the Lower West Side.  With its small village feel and boutique shops I would definitely like to stay in this area on my next visit to ‘The Big Apple.’

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