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New York for those without a queue

  • Story Highlights
  • New York can be explored without the need to queue
  • Best eating places are in Nolita and SoHo
  • Catching the subway to Brooklyn and walking back to Manhattan is a must-do
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By Julie Clothier
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(CNN) -- New York -- what's not to love about the Big Apple? Well, for a start, the queues. The words "full airport security" quickly become part of your vocabulary when you visit the city that never sleeps.

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Wrap up under a rug and take in the view of the Empire State Building at rooftop bar 230 on Fifth Avenue.

Day one in Manhattan tested our patience when we visited the United Nations headquarters, caught the ferry to Ellis Island and ascended the Empire State Building at dusk. Admittedly that's an ambitious timetable, especially when you add tired legs and jet lag into the mix, but heck, we live in Britain, where getting in line is practically a favorite pastime so we were up for the challenge.

Then, as much as those sights were all very worthy of seeing, something clicked. We realized we didn't have to line up. This was, after all, our second trip to New York, and we were there to soak up the city, not to trudge around looking at monuments, and so Sara and I made a pact -- we would avoid queues at all costs for the duration of our trip.

Day two got started on a much better note with the discovery of Guy & Gallard (459 Park Avenue South), just around the corner from our hotel. So good is breakfast at this cafe -- take your pick from eggs Benedict, omelettes, frittatas, pancakes or bagels -- that we ended up going there every morning, apart from our last because it's closed on Sundays.

We were on a mission for make-up and jeans so we headed to Sephora, which is make-up heaven. You can try on anything you want at Sephora with zero pressure to buy. There's virtually one on every block in Manhattan, so you can experiment with as many brands as you like and give your make-up a top up while you're on the go. This is quite vital in New York, where beautiful size zero women make up a large portion of the population.

As for the jeans, we hit the goldmine further downtown in Nolita at mom and pop store Henry Lehr (9 Prince Street, between Bowery and Elizabeth Streets) where the staff patiently brought pair after pair until they got it right for Sara. I eventually picked up a pair at Barney's department store, but that's only because, at 4 foot 10," I needed a short leg. Sara, being blessed with longer limbs, also had success at Chip & Pepper, in Nolita (250 Mulberry Street).

New York, New York

As any shopper knows, giving your credit card a workout builds a hefty appetite. There are plenty of cool places to eat in Nolita and nearby SoHo, but our favorite is Spring Street Natural (on the corner of Spring and Lafayette Streets).

Little Italy and Chinatown are worth a wander, but save most of your walking power further west for the West Village. Walk through SoHo and head north to Bleecker Street where you'll find funky boutiques and most importantly, Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker Street), which made its name on "Sex And The City" and makes the tastiest cupcakes I've ever eaten.

Speaking of "Sex And The City," I'm a big fan, and day three saw me join a busload of other women to visit the sights where the show was shot. I'd heard mixed things about these tours but I had an absolute ball. It also happened to be my 30th birthday so I figured that day was the perfect one to pay homage to Carrie & co. It was also a great way of seeing Manhattan Island without getting weary legs.

Once the tour ended, we decided to get moving again by jumping on the subway to Brooklyn and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Sara and I did this on our first trip to New York and I think I'll continue to do it every time I visit the city. The view of the Manhattan skyline is sensational.

With tummies rumbling, it was time for dinner so we headed back to Nolita where we had a reservation at funky restaurant Public (210 Elizabeth Street), which serves food that fuses Asian, Pacific and Middle Eastern. If you're a wine connoisseur be sure to check out adjourning The Monday Room. Our tastes are more suited to cocktails so we perched ourselves at the bar in Public and downed a ginger Cosmopolitan. My pan-seared snapper on wasabi-boniato mash was to die for and didn't break the bank.

We finished the evening with a nightcap at 230 Fifth Rooftop Garden (230 Fifth Avenue), which offers spectacular views of the Empire State Building, but less than tasty and overpriced drinks. Still, they're worth suffering through for the view. We sat rugged under blankets before retreating indoors one floor below where the outlook is still good.

Our last day rolled around too quickly and we chose to spend it in Central Park. We had plans to check out the Guggenheim Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but with queues to get into both, we had to put them on our 'next time' list and instead headed to the north end of the park's Reservoir, which gave us yet another breathtaking view of Manhattan's skyline.

From Central Park, we headed to the south-west corner of the park to Columbus Circle and revisited one of our favorite haunts from our last trip, Whole Foods, in the basement of the Time Warner Center. I've visited Whole Foods in Britain and other parts of the U.S. but nothing beats the salad bar at this one.

We opted for the uber trendy Meatpacking District, where Samantha from "Sex And The City" lives, to spend our last night. Cool clubs and pubs are in abundance here, including the rooftop bar at The Gansevoort Hotel (corner 9th Avenue and 13th Street). We stumbled upon a very hip Mexican diner called Tortilla Flats (767 Washington Street) where we spent most of our evening sipping on margaritas and eating burritos, soaking up the electric atmosphere and listening to the waitress occasionally take to a microphone and wish someone a happy birthday.

My only disappointment about the trip? Unlike Sex And The City's Carrie Bradshaw, I didn't get my Mr. Big in New York. Now that's something I'd consider joining a queue for. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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