Amidst the rising skyscrapers, commotion of commuters, tourists, and locals, find culture, crowds, and unparalleled energy in the world’s most fascinating city, New York City. NYC is a place I have loved since I was eighteen years old and the city in which I learned to drive, during a time where honking the horns was allowed. The high energy and brilliance of this baffling city continues to mesmerize me, even after countless visits.
Explore Central Park
A visit to NYC must consist of taking in a trip to the sprawling 843 acres of Manhattan’s Central Park. The list of possible activities is endless: strolling or jogging along the beautiful sidewalks, people watching, enjoying nature, riding the Central Park carousel, paying your respects to legendary Beatle John Lennon at the solemn Strawberry Fields, having a snack from a local food vendor, exploring the Central Park Zoo, ice skating at Wollman Rink, or rowing by scenic Bow Bridge, just to name a few.
Rub Elbows- Literally
Where Sixth and Broadway meet, known as Herald Square, is a great place to be submerged among the busiest sidewalks and neon light congestion in the city. Of course Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral at Thanksgiving rank right up there as well. Sometimes, it is just nice to just walk these streets and people watch, check out the sidewalk art and junk kiosks, and enjoy warm roasted nuts or a hot dog from a street vendor.
See a Broadway Show
This is my favorite thing to do while in New York City. In fact, I try to pack as many shows into my visit as I can. Getting tickets to a show can be as easy or as painful as you wish. Tickets can be purchased through ticketmaster or the theater directly in advance, or you can stand in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square in hopes of getting discount tickets. A third option is to stumble upon tickets being sold outside the theater before the show, but use caution as sometimes these are fake. I prefer musicals to plays, but all of the shows are top quality and sure to entertain and deliver a great time. The theaters are spectacular and collecting playbills from each show is a big deal to Broadway junkies, like myself. The best musicals I have seen are the Mystery of Edwin Drood, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Xanadu, and Book of Mormon. I do not understand the obsession with Wicked so forgive me if it is one of your favorites as I would never recommend to anyone, though I do enjoy a few of the songs and loved the books. Be sure to pay your respects to the cast members after the show and get your playbill autographed at the stage door.
Get Your Art & History On
If you are craving history, plan a visit to the American Museum of Natural History or to President Ulysses S. Grant’s Tomb in upper Manhattan. Art lovers will love browsing the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the MOMA, or legendary Guggenheim. The century old New York Public Library is another place site to visit; do not miss seeing A.A. Milne’s original Pooh Bear and the famous marble lions adorning the front, named Patience and Fortitude.
Witness Amazing Architecture
Some of the most iconic New York City buildings to check them off your bucket list will be the Empire State Building, United Nations Building, Flatiron Building, Grand Central Station (Terminal), and my favorite, the shiny Chrysler Building. This will just give you a start because NYC is full of amazing architecture. Skip the admission fees of going inside, as the view is probably no better than from your hotel window.
Visit Ground Zero
If you have time, stop by the heart-twisting 9-11 Ground Zero Memorial. Here, you will stand on the hallowed grounds that both riveted our country and united us all at the same time. While there, you can see the hustle of NYC stockbrokers and bond traders on Wall Street in this fast-paced part of the city. Also, stop by Century 21 for premiere discount shopping and enjoy a slice of ricotta cheese pizza at Ray’s next door.
Shop Until You Drop
NYC is a shopper’s dream city and there are numerous neighborhoods with unique treasures. For my family, two of us love shopping uptown in stores like as Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Barney’s New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and Bloomingdale’s. The other two love the gritty and trendy shopping in Soho (Yellow Rat Bastard is a hoot!) as well as roaming around the garment district for funky finds. On rainy days, visit the indoor Shops at Columbus Circle, located next to Central Park.
Explore the Trendy Villages
I really enjoy exploring places off the beaten path, and New York’s unique villages are definitely that. Each has its own unique flavor and claim to fame. My favorite, after all these years, is still Greenwich Village, followed by the Flatiron District, and Chelsea/Meatpacking District. In Greenwich, stroll Bleecker Street for really cool, hipster shops and foodie delights. Do not miss Lulu Guinness and Olive & Bette. New York is not all about fashion, so be sure to drop in Strand Books on Broadway in the Flatiron District for cool finds and have a coffee at their local coffee house. The Chelsea Market is a fun place to pop in, people watch, and have a taste of all sorts of spectacular food items, plus, the Food Network films there and you might see a famous celebrity chef. I recommend the Fat Witch Bakery and Tuck Shop.
Eat in the Best City in the World
As I was walking through Hells Kitchen talking to my mom on the cell, I counted 17 different ethnic restaurants on one single street. How absurd is that? Or how amazing if you love food as much as I do! New York is the city where you can find exactly what you want, whenever you want. Having been to the city a lot, I have many favorites, but I will recommend only these for now: Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain (everything is delicious, especially the trio of shellfish cocktails), Max Brenner’s (it is a chocolate restaurant, need I say more?), One if By Land, Two if By Sea (the most romantic restaurant), and Dean & Deluca (Soho location for cookies and takeaway desserts). Everybody who has been to NYC will want to recommend restaurants to you, but get out and explore for yourself and be your own judge; but be sure to skip food chains and anything you can get at home.
What are your favorite things to do in New York?
Check out my more in depth post on NYC’s Broadway here.