My NYC top 10: Jess Parr


By Jess Parr, British Airways cabin crew and travel blogger

As told to Zach Udko | Photography by Getty

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July 2017

As British Airways cabin crew and blogger, Jess Parr flies far and wide for both her job and love of travel – but visiting New York is always a highlight. She reveals ten of her must-sees, eats and dos whenever she’s in town.

1. Top of The Rock

I adore this place, so I make sure to visit every time I’m in New York. The observation platform is larger than the Empire State Building’s and it feels a little less crowded. I recommend going up first thing in the morning to beat the crowds (it opens at 08:00) or early in the evening, just before sunset, when you can see Manhattan lit in three different ways – daylight, dusk, and nighttime). Book ahead so you can head straight through instead of waiting in long lines to buy tickets.

People don’t really think about the city as a place to have outdoor adventures, but New York offers kayak excursions on the Hudson

2. Brunch on the Lower East Side

I love really cozy brunch spots, and the Lower East Side is the place to find them. Within a 200-meter radius, you have so many fantastic options, so if one’s packed, you can always hop along to the next. I always try to eat clean, especially when I’m traveling, and The Butcher’s Daughter is paleo and perfect – the almond milk macchiato tastes like marzipan. If you’re craving something heartier, Jack’s Wife Freda serves up delicious baked eggs in a herby, green sauce.

  • Do brunch like a New Yorker at Jack’s Wife Freda.

    Did you know… ?

    Eggs Benedict was invented in New York City. Some attribute its creation to NYC steak stalwart Delmonico’s, which offered the dish to satisfy a picky customer, while others claim that hungover stockbroker Lemuel Benedict asked the chef at the Waldorf hotel to put the dish together after a big night out in in 1894.

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3. Westlight at sunset

The best place to experience the sunset in New York is on a rooftop bar. I was recently wowed by the views of Manhattan’s skyline at Westlight, located at the top of The William Vale hotel in Williamsburg. Try something off their menu that you would never consider drinking, such as the Viking Shandy, which combines aquavit, gin, Strega, lemon, Grapefruit Saison beer, dill and coriander. The canapés are quite addictive too – you will need multiple orders of the deep-fried, blue cheese stuffed olives.

4. Biking in Central Park

Hop on a bike and whizz around the park to fully immerse yourself in New York’s largest open green space – there’s just too much to see on foot. You can rent bikes from Columbus Circle or near the Plaza Hotel, and cycle up to the Lake, Strawberry Fields, the Bethesda Fountain, and the Peter Pan statue.

  • Cover more ground in Central Park on two wheels © Martina Birnbaum/Getty Images.

    Park life

    While Central Park may be New York’s most iconic park, it’s not its biggest. In fact, several boroughs trump Manhattan’s green spaces in terms of size, including Staten Island’s Greenbelt, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park.

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  • A Manhattan must-sip in summer: strawberry frosé at Bar Primi © Noah Fecks.

    The big chill

    As well as frozen rosé, Bar Primi also serves a slushie version of a negroni, which is made with vermouth and Campari. Try it for yourself – the bar is open Monday to Thursday from 11:30-23:00, Fridays from 11:30-00:00, Saturdays from 10:00-00:00, and Sundays 10:00-23:00. Nearest subways: Bleecker Street (4, 6) and 2nd Avenue (F).

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  • Have your own urban adventure by kayaking on the Hudson River © Manhattan Kayak.

    Did you know… ?

    The Hudson is New York state’s longest river – it originates in the Adirondack Mountains and stretches 315 miles all the way to the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson Valley and New York City.

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5. Late-night bites

I’m constantly jet-lagged and up at odd hours of the night, so I’m always looking for the best 24/7 diners in every city I visit. New York is home to one of my favourites: Coppelia, a Cuban eatery serving up strong short black coffee, smashed fried plantains, Cuban sandwiches, fish tacos, and the most decadent mac ‘n’ cheese with crisp pork belly. For a post-club nightcap and treat, Cafeteria is still the place to be. Made famous by those Sex and the City brunches, this Chelsea restaurant serves delicious blue crab toast and some pretty fantastic truffle Parmesan fries.

6. Whispering Gallery at Grand Central Station

I had heard an urban myth that you could whisper something in a corner of the terminal of Grand Central Station and someone would be able to hear it on the side of the hall. But it actually works and I definitely recommend trying it. If you stand right in front of the Oyster Bar, you’ll find an unmarked archway with magical acoustics.

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  • Discover Grand Central’s Whispering Gallery © zxvisual/Getty Images.

    Rock around the clock

    While most tourists make a beeline for the clock atop the information booth in the main concourse, be sure to check out the station’s 42nd Street-facing clock too – it is known for having the world’s largest example of Tiffany glass. Fly from London to New York from:£69 return

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7. Katz’s Delicatessen

This New York institution is the classic spot for a high-stacked high pastrami sandwich. It’s actually the only thing I’ve ever eaten there. Beyond the delicious food, it’s such an interesting place culturally to get in tune with the New York pace and vibe. The walls are also covered with pictures of everyone famous who has ever eaten there, including Meg Ryan in her “I’ll have what she’s having” When Harry Met Sally scene.

8. Kayaking on the Hudson River

People don’t really think about the city as a place to have outdoor adventures, but New York offers kayak excursions on the Hudson. From April to September, you can rent a kayak from one of several vendors at Pier 84 (we used Manhattan Kayak), have a quick lesson, and journey out onto the water for about an hour. The views are stunning and on a beautiful day, it’s the perfect opportunity to see the New York skyline from a completely different perspective.

9. Bar Primi

This is one of my favourite Downtown spots for brunch, lunch or dinner. Pair their delectable pasta dishes with a glass of their heavenly ‘frosé’ – strawberries blended with frozen Sicilian rosé.

10. Beauty Bar

This 14th Street bar offers one of the best deals in the city: $10 for a cocktail and a manicure. The manicure-martini pairing is offered Monday to Friday from 18:00 to 23:00 and from 15:00 to 23:00 at the weekend. No reservations are necessary, and walk-ins are always encouraged.