NEW York has it all - glitz, glamour, movie stars and pizza.
And now with direct flights from Manchester with American Airlines, the Big Apple is less than eight hours away. Francesca Winrow found out more.
If all the world’s a stage, then the biggest movie set in it has to be New York.
And what a backdrop it is. Everywhere you turn there’s some place that’s been up there in lights – from the Court House used for a shooting in the Godfather, to the infamous deli where Sally made her point to Harry over lunch.
Like most people I’m a sucker for a bit of popular culture and for me just being in New York was a wonderful experience.
In my book, the Empire State Building may have a great view but it’s all about An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle and Fay Wray being held aloft by King Kong.
A trip past the Public Library brings on images of the big freeze during The Day After Tomorrow and Spiderman swinging through the air not to mention the Ghostbusters coming down the steps ready for action.
And of course there’s Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue where I was able to indulge my Audrey Hepburn fantasy – although sadly I had more in common with her character Holly Golightly as I searched for the cheapest item in the shop.
The biggest problem you will soon find during a visit to the city that never sleeps is getting a chance to see everything it has to offer.
I have to confess I’m not a big fan of organised tours on holiday, preferring to find my own way about, but there’s just so much to see and do in New York, taking one is a great way to fit at least some of it in.
One of the best, The On Location Tour, boasts 50 different film sites, as well as pizza from a deli featured in Men in Black 2.
It also doubles as a great way of getting to see a good chunk of mid town Manhattan.
The tour also goes on the hunt for films that are actually shooting – the Smurfs movie believe it or not during my trip – plus unsuspecting stars going about their daily lives.
Poor Bradley Cooper, Face in the new A Team film, wasn’t sure how to react when a bus load of movie lovers spotted him walking his dog with a friend near his apartment block – although we did get a sheepish grin after a few frantic waves.
Movies also play a big role in another tour with a difference – this time across the water in Brooklyn.
Most tourists will get no further than the famous bridge during their visit to the Big Apple.
But the Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour showed just what they were missing.
Host Tony Muia, who really did look and sound like someone out of the Sopranos, clearly loves the borough and wants everyone else to love it too.
Along with a visit to Coney Island, there was a chance to see where John Travolta strutted his stuff in the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever and the road under the A-train used during the breath-taking car chase in The French Connection.
But let’s not forget the pizza, which was after all the foundation of the tour.
First there was a trip to Grimaldas, where Michelle Obama had visited just weeks earlier, complete with her secret service staff, after getting a yen for some real New York pizza pie.
After a few mouthfuls it was hard to see how the small pizzeria could be beaten – but then came a visit to L&B Spumoni Gardens at the other side of Brooklyn.
The best way to describe their Sicilian is heaven on a plate – with the secret being to put the cheese on before the tomato sauce!
If I could have smuggled it back to England I would have.
The best way to wrap up any trip to New York is to take in a Broadway show and thanks to the internet it’s never been easier to book.
With more than 30 musicals and 20 plays showing most weeks there truly is something for everyone.
Firm favourites are Chicago, Wicked, Mary Poppins and Jersey Boys but there’s plenty of others to hold you spellbound.
And as well as seeing a few famous faces acting their socks of, you never know when you might just spot that mega-star of the future treading the boards for the first time.
THINGS TO DO
Visit the Top of the Rock – see the amazing views of New York from the observation decks of the Rockefeller Center. Check out www.topoftherocknyc.com for details.
Enjoy a three course meal at Brasserie 1605, part of the Crowne Plazza, Broadway, before taking in a show then soaking up the atmosphere in Times Square. Visit http://www.manhattan.crowneplaza.com/brasserie-1605 for details.
Take a Big Onion walking tour to discover the city’s history. Tours last around two hours and cost approx $15 per adult. Visit www.bigonion.com for full details.
Hit the shops for some retail therapy then treat yourself to lunch at Pera Mediterranean in the heart of Manhattan. For more details visit www.peranyc.com.
Push the boat out and visit SD26, one of New Yorks most stylish restaurants. Book ahead to secure a table by visiting www. www.SD26NY.com.
A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tours. Guided bus tour leaves from Manhattan. Over Christmas there is a special festive lights tour. Visit www.asliceofbrooklyn.com.
Take an On Location Tour, New York City's only TV and Movie Sites tour company, to go behind the scenes of your favourite shows and movies. Visit www.screentours.com for more details.
Stroll around the West Village and have dinner at hotspot Betel, which offers modern Southeast Asian cuisine in a stylish, contemporary space. Booking ahead is recommended. Visit www.betelnyc.com for details.
Pick up a NYC & CO Citypasses to save money visiting attractions including the Empire State Building, Museum of Metropolitan Art and many others. Visit www.citypass.com/new-york for more details.
Francesca stayed at the Tribeca Grand Hotel where rooms start at $399 a night. Visit www.tribecagrandhotel.co.uk or call 0800 028 9874 for more details.
Flights were with American Airlines, which now flies daily non-stop from Manchester to New York JFK, complementing the airline’s existing daily direct Manchester to Chicago route. Flights are timed to arrive in America mid afternoon and leave in the evening to make the most of your time in the US.
Manchester-New York prices start from £339pp return, including all taxes and charges and Return fares in Business Class start from £1504pp, including taxes and surcharges. To book visit www.aa.com or contact reservations on 0844 499 7300.