Picture this, you’re standing in the middle of Time Square while Alicia Keys sings ‘Welcome to New York’ and you look across to admire the twinkling lights and gigantic billboards advertising everything from coke to lingerie. The magic of the City attracts millions of tourists from around the world and can you blame them? Everyone wants to experience the charm and wonder that the City has to offer. Here are 30 best things to do in New York City:
Take a Walk Through Central Park
Nothing else feels more like New York than a hearty day spent at Central Park, often considered as the heart of the city. You can spend an entire day here by indulging in activities such as Yoga classes, biking, running and strolling around the massive lush green area. During summers, you can enjoy Shakespeare in the park plays, concerts and open-air film concerts at night. There is something for everyone here from fitness enthusiasts to romantic couples, Central Park never disappoints.
Visit the Beaches at Coney Island
A visit to Coney Island is sure to rejuvenate your soul because of its sandy beaches, endearing restaurants and vibrant atmosphere. The Island is located in the South Western part of Brooklyn, a borough of the city. The famous Luna Park opens every year in the month of April. The legendary amusement Park was started in 1903 and includes rides such as the B & B carousel, thunderbolt and the cyclone rollercoaster. Don’t forget to try the classic hot dogs from Nathan’s.
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge was constructed in 1883 and connects lower Manhattan with Brooklyn. A landmark site that is constantly being featured in Hollywood movies is eternally congested with tourists from all over the world. Hence, it is highly recommended to visit the Bridge at night as your movement will be less restricted. However, the allure of this tourist hotspot lies in the breathtaking views of the city and the East River. Remember to bring two things along with you, a camera and a good mood.
Pay Your Respects at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
It doesn’t matter where you were when the planes hit the twin towers on September 11th, 2001 but the harrowing images would have been cemented in your memory. The site of the World trade centre which now remains hollow is surrounded by an oasis of white oak trees. The museum was opened to the public on the tenth anniversary of the attacks and contains artefacts from the towers, recordings of the survivors and first responders as well as photos of more than 2,000 victims.
Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The metropolitan museum of art is more famously known as the MET and is the location for the ultra glamorous MET Gala event. The museum was started in the 19th century and has since been able to curate a remarkable collection that includes Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, Islamic art and sculptures from Europe, Greek and Rome. The biggest crowd puller of the MET is the costume institute that was founded in 1946 and houses designers such as Gianni Versace, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
Marvel at the Statue of Liberty
The towering and majestic presence of the statue of liberty has become synonymous with New York’s tourist culture. The statue is located on the aptly named Liberty Island and signifies the friendship between America and France. It stands tall at 305 feet tall and the torch itself is 29 feet tall. You can either enjoy a clear view of the national monument from a ferry or you can buy a ticket in order to climb the stairs to the statue’s pedestal and have access to the balcony. A visitor can also learn more about the history of the statue at the museum and later grab a bite at the cafeteria.
Grab a Bite at the Queens Night Market
The Queen’s night market is often considered to be a secret food festival that is seasonal and pays homage to cuisines from all over Asia. The market is located in New York’s flushing meadows corona Park and espouses a contagious energy and salivating smells. You can gorge on dishes such as Egyptian hawawshi, Indian masala noodles, cheese donuts and Shark sandwiches. This is a diverse space created to represent the communities living in New York and is a must visit on every visitor’s list.
Admire the Art at the Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim museum is located on the very suave fifth avenue street of New York and was established in 1939 under the patronage of a wealthy miner named Solomon Guggenheim who had been collecting impressive artwork all throughout his life. The museum is one of the most visited ever and houses collections by Paul Cezanne, Franz Marc and Ernst Ludwig. The museum mostly specializes in post-impressionist, modern and contemporary art.
An Abundance of Gluten at Smorgasburg
A foodie in New York is like a child in a candy shop because the number of options available never stops delighting you. One such option is an open-air food market called Smorgasburg that takes place in the Brooklyn borough of New York and offers a scrumptious taste of the city. The stalls that can be found here include pizza moto that specializes in brick oven pizza, lobsterdamus, Himalayan horizon, bread and monkey, frico Italia and big mozz. If this doesn’t give you reason enough to visit New York, I don’t know what will.
Get Lost in a Book at the Mysterious Bookshop
The mysterious bookshop was started by a book editor named Otto Penzler in the year 1979 and has become the world’s oldest and largest book shop dedicated to crime fiction and thriller novels. The average sized bookshop holds mainstream hits and copies of popular books but if scourged well, you can find some lesser known gems. In order to add to the intrigue of the store, there is a door taped with yellow police tape attached to it. You may be exalted to find significant manuscripts, first editions and anthologies.
Travel Back in Time at the Tenement Museum
United States in general and New York in specific is the result of an amalgamation of different cultures and races. In the 19th and 20th centuries there was a surge of immigrants coming to America in search of a safer and better life from all over the world and the Tenement museum attempts to showcase their struggles and experiences. Here, you can visit historically restored apartments of immigrants to see how they lived and hear untold stories of their lives. You will also become familiar with their lifestyle, music, food and politics as well as visit lesser known areas in the lower East side.
Get Serenaded at the Carnegie Hall
The philanthropist and business mogul of the 19th century Andrew Carnegie is responsible for the construction of one of the world’s largest and renowned concert halls situated in Midtown Manhattan. The Carnegie hall was opened to the public in the year 1891 and with its regal golden and red hued interiors has become a landmark. Many musical icons and legends have performed here such as the beatles, rolling stones, Tina Turner and Led Zeppelin. There are three auditoriums within its premises with a total seating capacity of more than 3,000.
Forget Calories at the Lexington Candy Shop
The Lexington candy shop was opened in the year 1925 and is the city’s oldest family owned restaurant. The last renovation it experienced was in 1948 which means the charming cafe has managed to retain the charm of older and simpler times. Even though it markets itself as a candy shop, it is much more than that. The restaurant still uses its original coffee urns and machines while serving famous dishes like egg cream, tuna melt and creamy milkshakes. As you step inside the cafe, you will be transported back in time.
Have a Sweet Tooth? Visit the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Chinatown’s oldest ice cream destination is family-run since the year 1978. The ice cream factory has a popular social media presence and has garnered a loyal following of people with a sweet tooth. The ice cream flavours that you can choose from include almond cookie, black sesame, red bean, green tea, Zen butter, pumpkin pie and oreo cookie, among a host of others. As you can read, each flavour is more unique than the one before it.
The Heart Will Go on at Pier 54
In a city infested with a plague of overzealous tourists snapping away restlessly and taking up more space than required, pier 54 is a quieter and lesser known area which holds in its heart the history of an ill fated disaster. This was the same pier where the Carpathia ship that was carrying the survivors of the Titanic first arrived in New York City. Anxious family members and other well wishers were waiting in anticipation at the dock to find out if their loved ones had made it back home. Though, the site is withering away but it still has a quiet tranquillity rarely found anywhere else in the City.
Visit France at the Cloisters
The cloisters comes under the purview of the metropolitan museum of art but is situated in a different geographic location than its parent museum. A cloister generally means a covered walkway which is famous in France and this museum specializes in European medieval architecture. There are four cloisters here including the Cuxa, the Bonnefort, the St. Guilhem and the Trie which have been excavated from France and rebuilt in the States. This is a lesser known tourist spot of New York and makes the visitor feel as though they have entered a European monastery and not a museum.
Food and Love Unite at the Nonnas of the World
Enoteca Maria is a restaurant situated at Staten Island that employs grandmothers from around the world instead of professional chefs. This is a one-of-a-kind venture which is rarely found in any other part of the world and hence, when you visit this city you must eat food made lovingly by ‘nonnas.’ The grandmothers employed here in rotation and on a temporary basis come from Italy, Brooklyn, Pakistan, South Africa, Venezuela, Turkey, Poland and Greece. Here, calories are just a number because grandmothers make sure you leave nothing on the plate.
Breathe in Fresh Air at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn botanic Garden is a welcome change from the dust ridden streets of the city as this 52 acre oasis will leave you mesmerized. At the Garden, the most important area is the Japanese Garden where you can marvel at River Turtles and step into a fairy land during the cherry blossom festival in the months of April and May. There is also a discovery Garden where you can enjoy family related activities and participate in interactive programs. The scenic walking trail coupled with the diversity of plant life, this botanical Garden is the perfect getaway from the city.
Get Schooled at the New York City Police Museum
The New York City police museum traces the vast history of the New York police department since its inception in the year 1845. The museum covers various facets of the force such as their patrol wagon, police uniforms, weapons and a special memorial for the September 11 attacks. The museum which was opened in the year 2000 features a number of interactive activities such as simulating a gun fight after which the participant gets to decide the ethicality of the situation. The museum is a thrilling experience for anyone who is interested in learning more about the protectors of our society.
Feel the Magic at Times Square
Times Square is situated in Midtown Manhattan and is easily the most recognizable landmark of the city. Here, you can simply stand among the crowd of tourists and stare up at the shining billboards and twinkling lights. You can visit Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s believe it or not, bowlmor bowling alley, Bryant Park and the Ocean odyssey. There are multitudes of restaurants to choose from such as shakeshack, chipotle, John’s pizzeria and Piccolo cafe, among a slew others. At time square laugh a little, dance a little, smile a little but most of all, live a little.
Explore Modern Art at MOMA
MOMA stands for the museum of modern art and was started in the year 1929 and ever since has become a beacon for the preservation of contemporary art in all its sacred and sometimes, otherworldly forms. The museum contains works of architecture, design, painting, sculpture, films and photographs. It showcases some of the most influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries such as Pablo Picasso, Diane Arbus, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh and Andrew Wyeth. The artworks will move you, the photographs will haunt you and the collection of books will leave you inspired.
Eat Pasta in Little Italy
No one is denying the status of little Italy as a perfect tourist trap of the city but at the same time, its charm outweighs the cliché nature of the area. This is the place where Italian immigrants first settled in the city and this is the reason for the area’s rustic quality. Little Italy has some of the best restaurants of New York including rubirosa, parm and grotto azzurra. Another shop sells vintage prayer cards and other souvenir is called Rossi E and company as well as the Italian American museum where you can learn the detailed history of the immigrants and their lifestyle. The constant smell of Pizza and a feeling of unbridled joy are the hallmarks of Little Italy.
The World is Your Runway at Soho
SOHO stands for ‘South of Houston street’ and is considered the most high-end shopping area of New York City. You can visit the MOMA design store to pick out a perfect gift from a collection of contemporary art sold at affordable prices. If you want to enjoy the perfect combination of a unique book with a cup of coffee, you should visit the housing works bookstore cafe and if you’re looking to shop for some vintage clothes then you should visit what goes around comes around. There is a place for simulating debates and putting forth intellectual viewpoints at the new museum. Finally, it is pertinent to visit some sumptuous restaurants such as Dominique Ansel bakery and Balthazar.
Visit an Urban Garden at the High Line
The high line is a linear freight line which is constructed over a former New York City railroad. The elevated walkway has been transformed into an urban garden with plants and surfaces of grass which make it a great place to escape from the concrete roads of the City. The high line was opened in the year 2009 at Manhattan’s West Side and is seen as an environmental revolution in the chaotic atmosphere of the surrounding areas. Here, you can also visit a souvenir shop where you can purchase t-shirts, handkerchief and other artworks. The line also hosts special events and showcases public art all the while continuing to plant seasonal flowers.
Watch a Film With a Glass of Wine at Nitehawk Cinema
The nitehawk cinema is definitely a one-of-a-kind movie theatre where the options available for snacks and beverages are vast and the quality, a level higher than the ordinary cinema halls. The interior of nitehawk cinema is spaced out and the seats are larger and much more comfortable. There is a bar from where you can purchase beer, whiskey and wine as well as waiters who come inside the hall to take your food order. The food items available here include hummus, fish tacos, tater tots, caramel popcorn and kale salad. The movie watching experience is elevated ever further by the humorous commercials and witty sketches that are played before the movie starts.
Feel on Top of the World at Empire State Building
The empire state building is considered as the most significant tourist spot in the entire New York City and a visit to this city will be incomplete without going to the very top of the 102 storey skyscraper situated in midtown Manhattan. The construction of this building was completed in the year 1931 and has subsequently become the world’s 45th tallest building. The observation decks of the building show marvellous sights of the city and especially at night when the city looks absolutely magical. The empire state building is also known for putting up light shows for special events such as memorials and holidays.
Serenity and Politics Meet at Union Square Park
The union square Park has been a constant fixture on the news owing to its place as the centre point for political demonstrations and rallies. It is also a meeting point of cultures and a tourist occupied street filled with buskers and skateboarders. Four times a week, the area hosts the union square green market that is a great space for exploring the food space of the city as farmers, bakers and flower cultivators set up their stalls and create a lively environment. There are also ordinary people dressed up as famous personalities such as President George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi. Moreover, you can simply stroll around and admire the eccentricities of the area.
Visit Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn heights is an extremely suave and stylish neighbourhood of the city and a walk across the area is sure to result in a day well spent. While walking around you will encounter beautiful architecture and picture perfect spots for your feed as well as learn about the history of the area which starts from the late 19th century. You can also visit the New York transit museum which contains old subway trains and other memorabilia. Most importantly, you should eat at the restaurants located here such as River Deli and Damascus bakery.
Enjoy the Views From the Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island ferry takes visitors from New York City to the boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island in approximately 25 minutes through the New York harbour. The ferry takes more than 70,000 passengers each day and is so famous among tourists and locals due to the breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the statue of liberty as well as the calming breeze of the harbour. The ferry has been featured is some famous films such as working girl and I love Lucy.
It Doesn’t Get Better Than This, Prince Street Pizza
A trip to New York City would be futile without stuffing your face with the best pizza slices that the City has to offer and one such famed location is Prince Street pizza that serves square pies instead of the traditional round ones and one can’t help but wonder the ingredients of their secret sauce. Some of the most mouth watering options available here include the classic pepperoni slice, the original Prince pizza, the Prince Perfection pie and the SOHO vegan square.
Your phone’s storage space will fall short of the innumerable photos you would have clicked of the City and your old jeans would have to be traded for new ones considering the calories consumed during this trip especially the countless slices of Pizza. However chaotic, messy and crowded this City may be it never fails to disappoint anyone who decides to visit it.