My American Roadtrip – Can You Help?

Posted in Blogging, Travel.

Way back in January, I wrote a post about travelling. I admitted that I’m not very well-travelled and have actually never ventured outside of Europe. I also wrote about an upcoming American roadtrip – my first big holiday, ever.

Time has sped away from me since then and the big American roadtrip is now NEXT WEEK! We leave on Thursday and will be visiting Chicago, New York and Maine with a very brief stop in Boston. To say I’m excited would be the understatement of the year. I am literally bouncing off the walls with glee!

american travel blog
Image of Chicago by Dave Sizer 

In Chicago we have a tour guide in the shape of my lovely sister-in-law-to-be Jen, who’ll be taking us up the Hancock Tower, to see the Bean, to watch a gospel choir (I think breakfast is involved there somewhere too – amazing!), to eat good Mexican and to watch a live Blues Band.

america holiday ideas
Image of New York by xjrlokix

I’ve been dreaming of visiting New York since I first saw an episode of Friends aged 13, so I have a long list of things I want to see and do. Visits to the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty are musts, I’ve got to get inside Bloomingdales, want to explore the vintage shops of Brooklyn and eat a cupcake from The Magnolia Bakery.

where to go in new york
Image of Maine by poptech

In Maine we’re staying with family who I know will show us an amazing time – I’m thinking trips out on the water, fresh lobster and maybe even a visit to Cabot Cove? (Okay, I know it doesn’t exist, but that would be so cool).

So this is where you come in – do you have any recommendations to share? Lovely bloggers Clare and Lily have already sent me long lists of their favourite places (thank you ladies!) but I’d love to hear from you too. If you’ve discovered the BEST restaurant, found a fantastic vintage shop, had an amazing time at a particular attraction or wandered off the beaten track to great success, let me know. I want to do as much as I can while out there so all ideas – no matter how unusual – are welcomed!

I can’t wait to read your stories – thanks for sharing!

PS – FYI potential burglars – we have a house sitter while we’re away! ๐Ÿ˜‰

54 Comments

Bee.

………I’ve kind of fallen in love with you because of that reference to Jessica Fletcher.

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Alex in Leeds

Rather jealous as Boston and Chicago were both places I loved visiting. ๐Ÿ™‚

In Chicago you might like to see the Art Institute – they have the Nighthawks painting amongst tons of others and it’s an amazing gallery, one of my favourites anywhere. And pizza too, Chicago pizza is wonderful.

In Boston I really enjoyed exploring the old town via the Boston Trail, it’s a red line painted on the pavement that you follow round all the major sites – like the balcony where the Declaration of Independence was first read out and the first housing areas built by the English when they arrived – and it’s a great way to see the city at your own pace. You can buy a booklet from the tourist office at the start that explains everything and is a nice souvenir but there’s info panels on the buildings too if you’re just mooching. The markets, the Italian quarter and the bars along the old shore line were fun too.

I put photos of my trips up on my blog if you’re interested, you just need to scroll down to the USA section at the bottom – http://alexinleeds.com/2012/01/04/the-travel-index/

Have a fabulous time!

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Kylie

I only left Europe last year to go to Vegas and went to NYC in Feb (too bloody cold then). I quite enjoyed the Staten Island ferry which is free. You go past the statue of Liberty and have a great view of the skyline. We just came straight back again (aparently there is not much to do on Staten Island). Also loved looking around fao schwarz the toystore. Would really love to go to Chicago, have an amazing time x

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jennicampbell85

Oh how I miss New York!!
Attraction wise go up the Rockerfeller Centre in the day – it has gorgeous view of Central Park and then the Empire State Builing at night. Then you get a birds eye view of the City in the day and at night, but there wouldn’t be much to see up Rockerfeller Centre at night. I fell in love with a store called American Eagle while I was over there – I blogged about a pretty foral top I got from there – and it does really good US – style basics, much cheaper than places like Abercrombie (although these are cheaper over there than over here obvs lol)
Wear flat shoes you will walk everywhere!! as it seems like its “just around the corner” and if you go to Central Park you will get hounded to go on a bike ride, but barter with them – they do a tour but we had certian things that we wanted to see, and the guy that did ours made some suggestions to add in (such as the Friends fountain!! – I saw your mention of friends in your post) and they’ve usually got good knowledge of where the celebs who live near the park are.

Have a fantasitc time – I’m only a little bit jealous lol

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jennicampbell85

oh and visit Dylan’s Candy Bar – still one of the best sweet shops I’ve ever been in – although it doesn’t have many British brands its worth a visit – the fudge is to die for and makes great gifts (although its very heavy!)

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Hev

I love America so much! My dad booked for us to go to
New York over christmas and I couldn’t be more excited! So can only imagine how excited you must be going next week. I can’t give you much advice of what to do as the areas I’ve visited are LA, San Francisco, Vegas..basically the other side of America! Will be looking forward to reading about your trip when you return though! Have an amazing time xx

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Lakota [Faith Hope and Charity Shopping]

No helpful hints as I have never been (at least not yet) – but excited for you and to read your post on your return as I am finally going to New York with my husband next year! Am excited now, will be ridiculous when I’ve finally chosen my hotel and booked the flight!

Have an amazing time x

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Anonymous

If you’re a Friends fan, the apartment building is at the corner of Bedford St & Grove St! Greenwich Village is also a great spot to visit. And if you’re a big kid, the Toys R Us in Times Square!

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Anonymous

Jen, please don’t waste your time going to a shop we have over here?!

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Lydia

In Boston you HAVE to try and stop by Quincy Market, it’s the most amazing food market in the middle of one of the old quaters with loads of shops surrounding it and it’s also the best place to spot some stylish people and see street performers (one of my friends likened it to Covent Garden in some ways)

In New York if you are in the mood for something cheesy but fun there’s a traditional style diner just off Broadway called Ellen’s Stardust-great retro food and the waiters/waitresses are all performers who sing as well as serve (whilst waiting for their big break! apparently casting directors regularly come in to spot new people)

SoHo is fantastic for some quirky little shops.

Lastly the Museam of Modern Art was an afternoon well spent, especially if you get a rainy day!

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Samantha

I don’t know if you’re a big bookworm like I am, but The Strand in NYC (specifically the village area) is AMAZING. A lot of the books are used or resold, so they’re at discounted prices. You can find everything from the latest and greatest bestsellers to an old, rare classic there. It’s amazing! Plus, if you’re already in the village, I would recommend stopping at Momofuku ramen bar for the best noodles you’ll ever have, and 16 Handles for an amazing variety of fro-yo! Love the village.

<3 Samantha
http://www.nerdysam.com

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joanna.

I was in New York in February, and it was fantastic. If you have time, I recommend walking across Brooklyn Bridge (or a bit of the way at least!) A visit to Stardust Diner on Broadway is a must too. All the waiters are wannabe performers, so they sing and dance whilst you eat, and the food’s good too!
Have a great trip! xx

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Nicola

I think my favourite day of my NYC trip was when we got the tube to Brooklyn, then just wandered around there. We went to the pier bit, or promenade, or whatever they called it (if you walk straight down Montague Street you hit it), where there are pretty awesome views of the Manhattan skyline. We ate at Vegetarian Ginger (down Montague Street), which was really really lovely. I’m veggie and totally loved it, but even my mum who isn’t loved it too. Yum. Then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, back over to Manhattan. It was really nice.

My top NYC tip is to go to the toilet whenever you get the chance! We didn’t see any public toilets anywhere. I came up with a theory about this. The reason why everyone is walking around with a coffee cup is because they needed a wee and the only toilets are in coffee shops, so they had to buy something, then that coffee makes them need a wee, so they have to go in a coffee shop and buy something, and the cycle continues!

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sophie

Sounds like a great trip! You mentioned the Statue of Liberty – be warned, only something like 300 people are allowed up a day so you *have* to book really far in advance (just letting you know in case you were thinking of going up!)

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Butterfly I let go

Penelope in NYC – amazing food, on the weekends there are queues round the block! It is my favourite breakfast place in the whole of the USA and I have travelled there a lot! Have a wonderful time – I wish I was off there next week, I have to wait until October…

http://www.penelopenyc.com/

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Emily

If you like history/ museums, the Natural History museum in NY is absolutely wonderful. I love Greenwich Village and Battery Park City at the southern tip of Manhatten for people watching, gorgeous views over the river and some amazing delis for lunch! Definitely worth a trip down there if the sun is shining and you want an hour or so to relax and just take in the surroundings. Rollerblading round there in the sun was one of my absolute favourite hobbies to do as a kid in the summer! I’d also say don’t forget about the other boroughs, it’s so easy to get sucked into Manhatten only but there are some brilliant places in the other four too. Hope you have a fantastic time!xxx

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Butterfly I let go

I also recommend Ellis Island – I wasn’t that keen but we arrived just in time for the start of a free tour round and the guy was amazing and really brought the history to life. Absolutely fascinating.

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My Passport to Style

Hi Jen, this is my dream too! A close friend of mine is planning to go to Califorina I told her she was slightly nuts and should be going to NY but seriously the USA is a great melting pot for creativity I’m sure you will have an amazing time, sorry I have no tips for you! xx

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Butterfly I let go

Oh and one very last thing – wear your most comfortable shoes and take a spare pair just in case. I have never walked so much as I have in NYC and that’s along side a subway pass (the weekly passes are great value). Plus walk across the Brooklyn bridge in the evening – it’s lovely all lit up and the view of Manhattan is fab.

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Charlotte Louise

I worked in Maine in 2010. If you can get to Portland you must go, it is lovely. Such a quaint town.

New York is amazing, where to start with it. Just soak it all in and wear comfy shoes!!

Charlotte
x x
lilmisschickas.blogspot.co.uk

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Eve Maria

I don’t have any helpful tips for you unfortunately but I’m looking forward to seeing your pictures when you get back. Have a great time!

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Jen

I’ll be blogging while I’m out there so you won’t have to wait too long! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Hannah

I bet you’re super excited. I was in NYC in January and it was amazing. But one thing, Magnolia cupcakes aren’t actually that nice, Hummingbird is a MILLION times better. If you want some amazing cupcakes, try Crumbs. They’re are huge and amazing. The Statue of Liberty is actually closed for renovation this year so you can’t go up it but I do recommend the free Staten Island ferry where you can get a really good view of it. I’m sure all the big touristy places are on your list, Empire State, Rockefeller Plaza (better views), The Met, Guggenheim, American Museum of Natural History, MoMA, Frick Collection, Wall Street, Central Park, The Highline Pak (amazing place), Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Pizza at Grimaldi’s (in Brooklyn by the bridge), dinner at Ellen’s Star Dust Diner where the waitresses sing, you can see the outside of the ‘friends apartment’ and underneath is a lovely restaurant called little owl. The Lower East Side is amazing for going out, it’s full of really cool bars. Arlene’s Grocery, Whiskey Ward, Nurse Bettie, Upright Citizens Brigade for comedy. Pete’s Candy Store is a fab bar in Williamsburg and don’t forget to visit Dylan’s Candy Bar – the sweet shop on 5th Avenue. Also, Mony has a veggie cafe called Teany that’s worth visiting. Anyway, all this is in the 2 posts I wrote about my trip http://www.bowdreamnation.com/2012/02/new-york-new-york-take-1.html and http://www.bowdreamnation.com/2012/03/new-york-new-york-take-2.html hope you have an amazing time you lucky thing

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Hannah

Sarabeth’s for breakfast is amazing, the best and biggest omelets ever. Also, if you get a chance, a run in central park is beautiful! NY public library do really good free tours too, there’s are so many great bookstores too (The Strand), don’t go to Barnes and Nobel (it’s a chain). Starbucks everywhere and so much cheaper so get lots of coffee. The subway is pretty bad I think, we found it was much easier using the buses to get about. There is a really good iphone app for NYC public transport, it’s developed by the same people who made the london tube app. Oh, Trader Joes is a really yummy whole foods store too

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Kathy

I was in Chicago for 4 months at the end of last year. Reading your blog I think a trip to Wicker Park would be right up your street. You can take the El train (blue line to Damen) or hop in a cab-it’s not too far, it’s full of vintage shops and quirky boutiques. You also can’t beat the magnificant mile for shopping.

As for food, yolk is a MUST for brunch, like a serious must. It’s amazing. There are 3 locations throughout the city, so there should be one near you. There’s normally a queue but it’s totally worth it. The cheesecake factory is awesome too. The crossroads at state and hubbard is a fun place to hang out, lots of restaurants and bars, quite busy on a friday/saturday night. The roof on the Wit is an outdoor bar about 30 floors up with great views of the city. And also you should go to the signature room in the hancock-cocktails 83 floors up!

An architecture boat tour is also a great day, especially if it’s nice weather. The first lady of Chicago is the best. I know it sounds a bit boring, but it is really good.

I could literally go on about Chicago all day so feel free to email if there’s anything else you want to know.

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Jen

Thanks so much for your suggestions, Kathy – my sister-in-law wonders if you’ve been listening in on our conversations because we’re doing pretty much everything you mention! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kathy

Well it sounds like you’ve got a great tour guide then! I’m heading back to Chicago this summer to stay with friends and I’m super excited, it’s a great city you’ll have a blast!

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Jen

Hi Jen!

I went to Washington dc, Boston and new York in April last year and it was my best holiday EVER. (NYC was actually where my fiance proposed to me so its now v special to us!)

I’ll try to not repeat what people have already said on here, but…

NY: if you’re a fan of any of the cool us sitcoms like 30 rock or the office, or even just enjoy telly, then the NBC studio tours are really interesting! They’re at the Rockefeller centre so easily combined with other stuff. I loved visiting the toy shop FAO Schwarz as it has some amazing toys plus the massive piano from the movie Big! The Whole Foods on Columbus circle by the SW corner of central park is fab for a choose your own deli salad to then eat in the park and watch all the amateur baseball. So fun and American! We also, by complete chance, got approached in times square and after answering a trivia question got to be in the front row of the David letterman show! So look out for those guys. Also if you’re looking for a romantic place for dinner then the boathouse restaurant in central park is fantastic. You can then take a walk to this famous bridge that’s been in loads of films e.g. Woody Allen films. That was where my man got down on one knee! ๐Ÿ™‚

In Boston we went to see a Red Sox game which was awesome, I would definitely recommend that! And just hanging out in any of the sports bars watching basketball on tv and eating sliders and drinking beer makes you so enjoy the culture. And visit the Harvard campus if you can.

Phew! Sorry, that went on quite a bit! I’m sure I cam think of more if you want it though!

Jen x

Teafortwodiary.blogspot.com

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slowdownapproaching30

For NYC, if I can offer you one tip it’s to where comfy shoes and get your walk on! It’s so easy to navigate and it just blinds you with sensory overload… I love it. Lots of cool places mentioned above. Tourist wise, Rockefeller, Ellis island, grand central are pretty inspiring. I also loved the UN… But I’m a geek like that!

For parks, the cherry blossom in prospect park will be stunning at the moment. Also the high line gives and amazing perspective of the city and dig deep into central park away from the crowds.

Food & drink wise, make sure you get some h&h bagels and cream cheese, I love Mexican food and la esquina on kenmare is a real treat and full of interesting people. Try crif dogs in the east village for hot dogs and try and squeeze into the cool bar there. I also recommend death and co for amazing old school cocktails.

If you get to see one show, go off broadway and see fuerza bruta at union square. No word of a lie it will blow your mind. They sell 25 tickets for $25 at 5pm daily if you want to do it on the cheap.

Enjoy yourself. American is an amazing country and I will always want to go back and visit and explore more of its beautiful countryside and fascinating cities! Have fun…! X

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Lauren

All I can say is how jealous I am and I’m going to New York next summer! I have also heard that the Magnolia bakery isn’t great. x

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sparkleandpop

Whoo hoo! Sounds fabulous. I live in the suburbs of Boston; if you’re sticking to the city proper I second the recommendations for Quincy Market and the Freedom Trail. The North End is also AMAZING for food and pastries–it’s the Italian section, plus you can walk from there to Christopher Columbus park and the aquarium on the ocean. Harvard Square used to be cool but now it’s mostly banks and the kind of chain stores you can find anywhere.

Either way, DEFINITELY hit up the Garment District in Cambridge, which has two floors of vintage and new apparel of all sorts, from the $1-per-pound pile to actual 1950s housewife dresses. Cambridge is right near Boston and you can get there by public transportation.

If you can get out of the city, Salem (North Shore) is one of my favorite places ever–full of history (the infamous Witch Trials) and quirky shopping. Concord is another historic town if you like literary history (Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott lived there). Let me know if you need a guide! Happy travels ๐Ÿ™‚ Corrie

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Katy

Have an amazing time Jen! I’m going to be doing a similar road trip in October (minus Chicago but plus New Hampshire) so it’ll be great to hear about your travels and what amazing places you find. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Anonymous

lucky you!!!
I hope one day to go to new york and make..amazing shopping there
jessica fletcher…I love her
don’t miss M&M’s shop
have a nice holiday
ste from italy

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Caramel Latte Kiss

I’ve never been to the States, but I would love to go. I want to see New York, Chicago, Washington, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles…everywhere.
I have no tips as I’ve never been, but on my list of ‘things I want to do in New York’, I’d like to eat a proper NYC bagel, visit some art musuems, walk down fifth avenue pretending to be filthy rich, eat a croissant looking in the window of Tiffany’s early in the morning, and sit on Carrie’s stoop.
Have fun, you lucky, lucky thing. I can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

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THE ROBYN DIARIES

I’ve just got back from an American road trip, I went to San Fran, Coachella, LA, San Diego and Vegas! I know how excited you must be eeeeppp! I have only visited New York out of those three however for vintage shops you have to go to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, just ask a taxi driver to take you to there and work from one end to the other as all the shop work off one big lane (like brick lane!) x

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Helen

Oh so jealous! NYC is my favourite city in the whole world.

Eating: Mara’s Homemade in the East Village does amazing soul food. Shake Shack do INCREDIBLE burgers and frozen custards. Bubby’s at DUMBO does amazing pies. The peanut butter was a religious experience. Dumpling House on Eldridge Street for the BEST dim sum ever. Also ridiculously cheap. Katz’s Deli. Spice Market (expensive Asian fusion but really really good). We also went to Butter which was ridiculously expensive but amazing. Essex is good for brunch – you get unlimited mimosas or bloody marys included in the price (book before you go).

Drinking – d.b.a in the East Village was cool but my absolute favourite was a cocktail bar called Little Branch in the West Village. Just amazing. It’s like a little Speakeasy and the cocktails are the best I’ve ever had. It’s VERY difficult to find though and isn’t really marked on the street.

Seeing: American Museum of Natural History. DUMBO. Rockerfeller Center (better views than the Empire State). Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Highline Park. Museum of Sex (yes, really). MOMA. Guggenheim.

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Mat

this is going to be soooo much fun. me and hollie say whenever we get married this is what we would do as our honeymoon

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Anonymous

I would definitely take a trip to the Top of The Rock. When we went to New York we did the Empire State building during the day which was beautiful and the recorded guide is worth getting. If you can book fast track tickets before you go then that is worth doing – it saved us a very long queue!

We went to the Top of The Rock during the evening which gave us a fantastic view of New York’s skyline at night. It was spectacular seeing all the lights of the city that never sleeps. Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge are both worth visits to.

Whatever you get to see it will be amazing and you will have a lovely time! I am so jealous, stuck here with revision instead.

Liss

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Char!

I can’t wait to hear how it all goes! Chicago and new york are so beautiful! you have to visit P F Changs is you are a fan of chinese food, it is the best chinese ever! Good luck xx

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Emma Jayne

I have family in Boston-its amazing! Definitely go to the Cheers bar, and some museums. New York is on another level though. Have an amazing time ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

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Buffalo Hearts

Hey there! I live in Chicago! If you are looking for non-touristy things to do here are my recommendations. Food: If you are into Veg/Vegan or something different try Pick Me Up, The Chicago Diner, Handle Bar, or The Bad Apple. Entertainment: Improv: IO (formerly Improv Olympic)- I recommend Improvised Shakespeare or Cook County Social. If you like Theater- Iceman Cometh (starring Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy) Karaoke at Holiday Club on Mondays and Wednesdays is always rockin’. Shopping: Thrift- Village Discount (there are a bunch all over the city) or the Brown Elephant. (smaller shops) Hoard and Secret Closet. Hope this helps! You can e-mail me at buffalohearts@gmail.com if you need/want more recommendations!

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fashiondate

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