Why a ‘gut-friendly’ travel guide? Well, as someone with IBS and endometriosis, it doesn’t take much to knock my body off balance. Travelling can be tricky – never knowing how your bod is going to feel and the anxiety this brings. It could put you off going away altogether! But I love seeing new places and try not to let either IBS or endometriosis keep me from doing the things I love. Long live travel, I say!
This gut-friendly guide is a suggested itinerary for four nights and five days in New York, a.k.a the Big Apple, a.k.a the city that never sleeps! It includes the places we visited, the sights we saw, and importantly for someone with gut issues, the food I came across. You’ll notice that breaks in each day are included – not overdoing it is very important. It’s all about the balance – abroad!
(This trip follows on from a short break in Toronto if you fancy a read–> Gut-Friendly Travel Guide: Toronto. It was just a short plane ride (about an hour) from Toronto to New York – ideal!)
Travel Guide New York – Day 1
Arrive and settle into the hotel
We stayed at Cassa Hotel on 45th Street. The room was perfect – cosy and smart. Great location too, just a short walk from Times Square. Not that you’d know it – the room was lovely and quiet! We didn’t have breakfast included so it was a case of researching gut-friendly places to eat as well as asking for recommendations.
Gawp at Times Square and attempt to take it all in
The buzz, the bright lights and people – lots of people…all the time!
Eat dinner at Virgil’s
A smokehouse with big ole portions. I like restaurants like this because you can pick and choose what goes on your plate so any sauces/other foods that could set your tum off can be avoided/left on the side. Salmon was the special of the day and it was so good. Huge fillet! I checked for any garlic and the waiter confirmed ‘no – none included’. Delicious American grub and a tasty introduction to the city.
Travel Guide New York – Day 2
Check out Whole Foods Market
Great foodie place in general with a fresh salad bar. I kept it in mind as somewhere to grab a bite but it didn’t fit with our plans in the end. But still, enjoyed having a mooch (anyone else like seeing all the different food products available elsewhere?!)
Grab a Jamba Juice for breakfast
Did you see the size of my salmon the night before?! A juice was just what was needed. There’s tonnes of juice places throughout the city so you’ll never be stuck to find one.
Visit the New York Public Library
Make sure to look up at the ceilings which are beautifully painted. Felt quite an imposter walking around while some people were genuinely using the facilities but hey, if I had a library like that near me, I’d be using it! There’s a lovely gift shop which is well worth a look around too. I like collecting a postcard from each city I go to and they had some lovely ones.
Walk along Fifth Avenue (part of it, at least)
Ah yes, hello Fifth Ave – known for it’s shopping. We didn’t have a chance to shop, but cool to walk down and have a look!
Visit the Sex Museum (or don’t, it was a bit crap)
Not worth the money in my opinion.
Wander past Madison Park and see the Flatiron Building
We hadn’t planned this but saw this landmark from a distance and recognised it. That’s the great thing about New York, there is so much to see and famous landmarks all over the city!
Eat a proper American-style lunch with the locals at Bloom’s Deli
They do a gluten-free menu too. Authentic American food which seemed to be a locals spot, so you know it’s good food! I went for a sandwich, that in my mind says ‘New York’ – pastrami and cheese (gluten-free). It was good. Washed down with a cuppa – not so American!
Stop by Grand Central Terminal
Known as the busiest train station in the country, it’s quite something. Oh and I totally didn’t get overexcited thinking that a scene from ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ was filmed there (which it wasn’t – that would be Chicago, it turns out) oops. 😉
Take a break..!
Buy tickets for a Broadway show at Times Square (again, taking it all in!)
We headed to the TKTS booth which is at Times Square – if you don’t mind what you see, you can buy tickets for shows that haven’t yet sold out for that day. I’d seen that Cats still had tickets left the day before, and was excited to see they still had some on this day too! Tickets are still expensive but how often do you get to see a show on Broadway, eh?!
It’s got to be done. There happened to be a flower carnival on at the time we visited so there were beautiful blooms everywhere. If you’re after souvenirs, head to the Arcade which is located at the back. There’s not a huge range there but a good (if slightly random) selection.
Grab a bite
Ended up at another Chipotle’s (following on from a visit while in Toronto), but this time I knew to pick out the onion in the avocado 😉
Watch a Broadway show…
…And leave with a big fat smile on your face and the soundtrack stuck in your head. Absolutely BRILLIANT and worth every penny. What musical to see next?!
Gawp some more at Times Square
Never gets old.
Travel Guide New York – Day 3
Brunch-it-up at Brooklyn Diner
A proper American diner just like you see in the films…and a good menu (with gluten-free bread available) with good portions. Check out my rather sizeable omelette! Nothing like a hearty brunch to start the day. Oh I could get used to this.
Walk through Central Park
Having seen (TV/films) and heard so much about Central Park, it was exciting to actually be there, walking on the same ground as the Sex and the City crew 😉 The park is huge! I really wanted to go for a run around the lake. Next time…
Visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art
You could spend days in here – there’s so much to see! We certainly didn’t get round it all. Instead, we picked the exhibitions we wanted to see the most, all of which were very impressive.
Visit the National History Museum
As with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this place is huge. You could definitely spend a whole day here. But with limited time (especially after viewing their special 3D whale exhibition film which was brilliant), we chose the rooms that most appealed. Oh well, guess it’s just reason to go back!!
Get the subway
And give those legs a break!
You can’t go to New York without having a slice of New York cheesecake. I did a little research and Junior’s popped up – apparently the best cheesecake in New York! Well, I didn’t mind testing it, all in the name of research, of course. I had plain* and the boyfriend had cherry. Both gobbled up and enjoyed very much (with no guilt whatsoever after all that walking!)
*I’ve always kept lactose in my diet, recommended by my dietitian, and as a modified low-FODMAPer, I incorporate a range of high FODMAP foods in my diet to suit my body. No doubt there will be other places with lactose-free versions, but it all depends on individual tolerances.
Take a break..!
Stop for pasta at Barilla
New York does fast, healthy food really well. This place was no exception and caters to a range of dietary needs.
Watch a basketball game at Madison Square Gardens
Madison Square Gardens is impressive – no question. I sat there thinking about all the famous people that have cheered on games there. We watched a semifinals college game which my boyfriend cleverly organised before the trip. Great way to soak up some American culture.
Finish off the day with a drink
Lovely glass of vino.
Travel Guide New York – Day 4
Breakfast/brunch at Oatmeals
As a massive porridge fan, finding a place dedicated to the stuff was rather exciting (it’s the little things!) You can choose from their menu or pick your own toppings. The perfect, tum-friendly stop-off en route to the Statue of Liberty.
Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and enjoy the Manhattan Skyline
First, you see her standing tall in the distance as you board the boat – then, before you know it, you’re standing in front of one of the most infamous landmarks in America. Very impressive indeed. We had bright blue skies too which made her all the more striking. Ellis Island was the next stop-off – really interesting to learn more about the history of the U.S.A.; ‘the land of the opportunity’. Not forgetting those stunning views of the Manhattan Skyline.
Have lunch at TGI Fridays
Well, when in the U S of A! Knowing the amount of grease in the food and how my stomach would react to this, I opted for a salad which was actually pretty good. Just the job.
Visit 9/11 Memorial
A very poignant memorial to those who lost their lives on 9/11.
Walk to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge
Take a break…!
Have a takeout pizza when your legs have had enough
You don’t have to go out your way to find a gluten-free* pizza. Turns out it’s more widely available than I would’ve ever thought, even if it isn’t obviously advertised. It’s well worth checking online beforehand or popping in and asking. I spent time researching ‘gluten-free pizza near me’ – finding places around a mile away – and then my boyfriend spends two minutes looking and finds that the pizza place across the road from us (Little Italy) does gluten-free – typical! Well, that was us sorted. We popped across the road to order and brought it back to the hotel to enjoy while resting our legs. Nicer than the majority of gluten-free bases I’ve had at home, too.
*I’m not gluten intolerant but find that I can better manage FODMAPs by opting for gluten-free when eating out.
Go up the Rockerfella to get 360 views of the city at night
The views at night are pretty darn spectacular (even if being that high up made me feel slightly giddy!)
Travel Guide New York – Day 5
Have brunch at Friedman’s
This place, serving gut-friendly grub, was recommended to me by a fellow Instagrammer. I somehow hadn’t yet had pancakes on the trip (shock horror) so no guesses what I was going for. Deeee-licious gluten-free (blueberry) pancakes. With a healthy drizzle of maple syrup.
Go up the Empire State Building
Definitely do it. The multiple queues were completely worth it. What a way to view the city. And a wonderful way to round off our trip, spotting all the places we’d visited across the city. Oh and there was a diva pigeon – clearly not phased by heights. Unlike me *legs shake*.
Have lunch at Chopt
(We went to the one at the Empire State Building – fairly newly opened apparently). This place knows how to do a proper salad. Select from the menu or create your own – perfect for those with sensitive tums.
Go souvenir shopping
You’ve got to go into those brilliantly tacky shops and have a gander at the souvenirs – there’s always some hilarious and random ones. Some little gems often found.
Stop off for a break
Head to the airport…
We got the subway which turned out to be more complicated than we realised – thankfully allowed plenty of time – phew. Goodbye to the city that never sleeps!
Where did those four nights, five days go?! There’s just SO much to see in this buzzing city, but really pleased with what we covered in the time we were there and guess I could be tempted to return to see more 😉
The good news is there are TONNES of gut-friendly food places, so you won’t be stuck for choice.
Just make sure you get your legs ready for lots of walking…’JUST.ONE.MORE.BLOCK.’ I found myself saying – but plenty of rest stops too – so not to overdo it.
Have you been to New York? Would love to hear your recommendations, you know, for when I go back!
P.S. Personal highlight – seeing proper Amercian school buses – I just love ’em!