new york central park
The final stop on our US road trip? My heart and soul, New York City. There is no greater excitement than getting the opportunity to introduce something you love to someone you love, is there?

After a mini medical emergency we, undesirably, hit the city in rush hour and therefore returned our rental car at the speed of light. A quick taxi to the Uptown border of Central Park let us get settled into our fifth-floor walkup (the secret to the bodies of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. cast, obvs) and freshen up before a nightly stroll through Harlem. As you do. (Disclaimer: the FOOOOOOD.)

Waking up the following morning, we decided to get our tourist on and visit the Empire State Building. I have never been too fussed to visit – always preferring to explore a city rather than explore a city’s queues – but an early wake-up call and two free tickets fated a visit. Truth be told, it was spectacular. Getting there when it opens gives you virtually no waiting time as well as plenty of room to move around at the top deck and take Manhattan in from every angle.

Taking a few wrong turns on our way to lunch led us to the happiest of accidents: Energy Kitchen. Heads up, London franchisers, this ridiculously healthy chain has an excellent menu of 500-calorie-or-less meals and treats which, in its simplicity, has a consistent stream of dedicated, fit customers. A fast food revelation in the city of cronuts and ramen burgers (and, if you’re single, a hotspot of babes and manbabes).

Spending the rest of the day on a shopping-slash-walking tour of the island, we rested our punished bodies with an evening at Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. It may not be the most Broadwaaaaay of Broadway shows, but my nerdy inner fangirl loved every minute. Reeve Carney and co. bring the (slightly altered) story to life with flumes of talent and some of the most interesting art direction in theatre this millenium.

Morning two? Back to hidden food gems in Harlem to taste my first ever Chicken and Waffles. In my opinion, if you’re going to try a new food you might as well go for the option that The Food Network holds in highest regards. Melba’s Southern Fried Chicken and Eggnog Waffles is that dish. Though the restaurant itself is small, the atmosphere is friendly – celebratory almost – and the food is intensely delicious. Somehow, soaking her chicken in mustard and buttermilk gives Melba the edge on virtually any piece of poultry I have tasted. Mouth-melting goodness, I tell you.

As expected, Alex (who made the daring choice to order an even-heavier Smothered Chicken with Waffles) and I were in a food coma. Wanting to take it easy before an adrenaline-pumping evening in New Jersey, we opted to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Museum of Natural History at a snails pace and find as many hidden spots to canoodle in Central Park as we possibly could. Whether you live in the city or are planning your first visit, I cannot recommend wedding-watching in Central Park highly enough. As the most beautiful nature spot in a relatively non-green city, the weekend draws brides and wedding photographers to the Park in force. It is like watching a live action wedding blog.

For a complete change of pace in the evening, we PATHed it to Newark to watch the New York Red Bulls destroy DC United. In comparison to football (British), US soccer has an atmosphere of pantomime – even with big guns like Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry on the field. Though, strangely, it was much more of a production than I expected from my favourite sport, the fan camaraderie and ability to buy Red Bull cheaper than water made for a hilarious evening.

The following morning we cured our football hangover with brunch at The 5 and Diamond (bourbon fried chicken and waffles with banana habanero syrup, natch) and went back to pack our US road trip memories away before night-flighting back to London.

Viva America.

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boston
After a seven hour road trip and the grand service station tour of i-87, Alex and I finally reached our East Coast sanctuary of Boston. Though we arrived late, our Airbnb host (and her adorable cats) gave us a warm and wonderful welcome, sending us in the direction of Bertucci’s for our first ‘real food’ of the day.

Service was smile-packed, all-American, and the perfect compliment to fresh bread, oils, and a pitcher of Moscato Sangria. Though, as as chain, I didn’t expect to be wowed by Bertucci’s menu, their newest salad – marinated watermelon, fresh mint, arugula, cucumbers, shrimp, and feta cheese with lemon, olive oil and a balsamic glaze – has since become an obsession.

After a magical night in dreamland we woke up to a homemade breakfast from our Airbnb host, who – being a charming literary agent – chatted literature, politics, and a Boston versus Manhattan lifestyle with us as long as we could make our cups of coffee last. Knowing we only had a few hours to explore Boston, she also prepared us with a handful of travel tips before we headed off towards Harvard.

Boston’s Underground/Subway system – The T – is as simple as any I have explored a city on before and unusually charming; it seems to be packed solely with college students (and subway ads that sell to them) in the daytime. From the end of the red line (Alewife) it took us only 15 minutes to get to Harvard and we spent the rest of our morning exploring the campus, eavesdropping on campus tours, playing life-sized chess, scouting Harvard’s food trucks and stocking up on road essentials (water, things that don’t melt).

Next stop…New York City.

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boston
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mansion on delaware
After our second big day on the road, we left Niagara Falls slightly exhausted and ready to wind down. Our next port of call? The Mansion on Delaware (MoDA) in Buffalo, New York (roughly 30 minutes from the Falls). Every US road trip needs a slice of luxury, after all.

Though we decided to Airbnb our way over to the East Coast for 99% of the road trip, you just can’t say no to a night at a place like MoDA.

Rolling up – still slightly damp from being waterfalled – in the late afternoon, we were greeted by the Mansion’s butlers to have our car valeted into the hotel’s private lot. Oh, yeah – butlers. The thing that sets MoDA apart from other boutique hotels is a 24-hour butler service which, as you can tell, does everything in their power to give you an incredible stay. Whether they are giving you a complimentary press, shoe shine, or running you a bath – these dudes are the creme de la creme of concierge services.

After a mini-tour of our Premium Grand room (at which point I had to restrain myself from lighting the fireplace and diving headfirst into the whirlpool bath), we headed downstairs to the billiards room to join their nightly cocktail reception and indulge in a game of billiards. While chatting over drinks, our butler came over to ensure we had everything we needed and offered to help with the most urgent matter of the moment: dinner.

After suggesting his personal favourite place – read: not a tourist trap – for Buffalo wings (come on, we had to) in the city, we went upstairs to freshen up and met him back downstairs to hop in MoDA’s Land Rover and get chauffeured to Gabriel’s Gate. Whether you’re going out and planning to down a bottle or not, that kind of chauffeur service proves invaluable for anyone visiting a new city.

Twenty extra crispy, extra hot wings later we decided to stroll back to MoDA and bubble bath the rest of the night away.

Waking up with a seven-hour drive on the cards, we made the most of a continental breakfast (of gargantuan selection – fruit, pastries, eggs, cereal, toast, juices, et al) and threw down as much caffeine as possible before heading off to Boston. Though we didn’t get much time to play tourist in Buffalo, MoDA alone has me dying to return.

mansion on delaware
mansion on delaware
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niagara falls
Niagara Falls was my biggest surprise of our US Road Trip. Though it has always been a bucket list destination, my research extended as far as living vicariously through Bruce Almighty‘s visit. That kind of planning leaves you with very little on the expectation front, my friends.

Deciding to abstain from countless package deals and tour offers, we simply drove into Prospect Point Park, paid for parking, and sloped around to see what activities enticed us first. One birds-eye look at the Maid of The Mist twisting in and out of the Falls confirmed my suspicions: it was time to get wet.

Since 1846, the boat cruise has carried passengers into the rapids immediately below the waterfalls – a performance of indifference, that is, until you get into the rapids yourself. After grabbing your souvenir poncho from the Observation Tower, you board the boat and head over to the basin of Horseshoe Falls. It is a complete adrenaline rush to be showered by the power of the Falls’ so-called ‘mist’ and whip around the rapids while watching millions of gallons of water rush towards you every few seconds. Dreamlike, to tell it straight.

The second must-hit? The Cave of the Winds. After an 175-foot elevator drop you are entered into a storm of mist that allows you, quite literally, to soak it all in. Wooden walkways allow you to stroll as close to the torrents of the Bridal Veil Falls as humanly possible.

Go, little travel monkeys. You won’t regret it.

niagara falls
niagara falls
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cedar point
As a teenage thrillseeker, some of my favourite Summers were spent sweating it out in the lines of Kings Island theme park in Mason, Ohio. Roughly two hours from our front doors in Indiana, my friends and I would load our cars full of SPF and Twizzlers to cross those state lines as often as our part-time jobs allowed. While Alex and I were planning our US Road Trip, Kings Island appeared to be the logical first stop on the road.

As per usual, Google presented us with a better option. Just one hour above Mason (and one hour closer to our next stop) lies Sandusky, Ohio; home of Cedar Point, recently crowned Best Amusement Park in the World for an unprecedented sixteenth year in a row. Sold.

Though I had never been to Cedar Point, the 364-acre theme park has enough on offer to entice you – across an ocean – from website alone. Taking up a rather enormous peninsula on Lake Erie, we knew we wouldn’t be able to ‘do it all’ in one day so focused our sights on the biggest and baddest roller coasters around. Ranking their coasters from 1-5, we kept our eyes peeled for high (4) and aggressive (5) thrills only.

Best Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

Mantis: You stand up on this one. You stand up in loops, drops, and twists. It is unlike anything I have been on anywhere.
Mean Streak: I love wooden coasters but can’t stand the head-shaking, body-throwing that seem to go hand in hand with them. By some divine thrill intervention, Mean Streak is smooth wooden roller coaster and architecturally awesome.
Magnum: Being the first coaster to ever top 200 feet, you can actually see Canada from the top of this baby. Pretzel enthusiasts will love this one.
Millenium Force: The King. So long (at 310 feet) that it created a whole new category; the giga-coaster. Worth the inevitable long line, Millenium Force uses a cable lift to drag you up the first hill, drops you down to earth at 80 degrees, then shoots you off at 93 miles per hour. It is insane.

cedar point
cedar point
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