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Things to do in New York City: A Guide for Visitors and Locals

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

New York City is one of the most popular destinations in the world for travelers who want to experience its vibrant culture, diverse cuisine, iconic landmarks and endless entertainment options. In this blog post, I will share some of the highlights of my recent trip to the Big Apple and offer some tips on how to make the most of your visit.


I arrived in New York City on a sunny morning in June, after a long flight from London. I checked into my hotel in Midtown Manhattan, which was conveniently located near many attractions and subway stations. I decided to start my exploration with a walk along Fifth Avenue, where I admired the impressive architecture of the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center and the New York Public Library. I also stopped by some of the famous stores, such as Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, browsed their dazzling displays of jewelry, clothing and accessories.


Times Square, New York, NY, USA

For lunch, I headed to Times Square, the bustling heart of the city that never sleeps. I was amazed by the huge billboards, neon lights and street performers that filled the square. I grabbed a slice of pizza from a nearby vendor and sat on the red steps of the TKTS booth, where I watched the crowds and enjoyed the lively atmosphere. I also bought a discounted ticket for a Broadway show that evening, which was one of my bucket list items.


After lunch, I took the subway to Lower Manhattan, where I visited some of the most historic and symbolic sites of the city. I paid my respects at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which commemorated the victims and heroes of the tragic attacks on September 11, 2001. I was moved by the exhibits and artifacts that told the stories of the people who were affected by that day. I also saw the One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, which stood as a symbol of resilience and hope.


Next, I walked to Battery Park, where I boarded a ferry to Liberty Island. I was excited to see the Statue of Liberty up close, as it was one of the most iconic images of America and freedom. I climbed up to the pedestal and enjoyed the panoramic views of the city skyline and the harbor. I also visited the museum inside the statue, which explained its history and significance. After that, I took another ferry to Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants arrived in America in search of a better life. I learned about their stories and experiences at the Immigration Museum, which was housed in the former processing station.


For dinner, I decided to try one of New York's famous cuisines: bagels. I went to a local deli and ordered a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, which was delicious and filling. I also had a cup of coffee and a slice of cheesecake for dessert, which were equally satisfying.


I ended my day with a Broadway show at one of the theaters near Times Square. I watched The Lion King, which was an amazing spectacle of music, costumes, and puppetry. I was blown away by the talent and creativity of the cast and crew. It was a perfect way to end my first day in New York City.


The next day, I explored some of the other neighborhoods and attractions of New York City. I visited Central Park, where I rented a bike and rode along its scenic paths. I saw some of its famous landmarks, such as Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Fountain, and Belvedere Castle. I also enjoyed watching some street performers and artists who entertained the visitors.


I then went to Upper East Side, where I visited some of the world-class museums that lined Museum Mile. I spent hours admiring the artworks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), which had collections ranging from ancient Egypt to modern art. I also visited The Guggenheim Museum, which had a distinctive spiral design and featured contemporary art.


For lunch, I tried another New York specialty: hot dogs. I bought one from a street cart and added some mustard and relish. It was simple but tasty.

After lunch, I took a cab to Brooklyn Bridge Park, located along the East River with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. I walked along the waterfront promenade, enjoying the fresh breeze and taking in the picturesque scenery. The park was bustling with activity, with people picnicking, playing sports, and even kayaking in the river.


From the park, I made my way to Brooklyn Bridge, one of the most iconic landmarks in New York City. As I walked across the bridge, I marveled at its intricate design and the breathtaking views it offered. The bustling traffic below and the panoramic views of the city made it an unforgettable experience. I took my time to snap some photos and savor the moment.


After my adventure on the bridge, I decided to explore the vibrant neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Known for its hipster culture, trendy boutiques, and vibrant street art, Williamsburg had a unique charm of its own. I strolled through its streets, popping into quirky shops, browsing vintage clothing stores, and admiring the colorful murals that adorned the buildings.


As the evening approached, I made my way back to Manhattan and headed to the High Line, an elevated park built on a historic freight rail line. This urban oasis provided a peaceful escape from the bustling city streets below. I leisurely walked along the landscaped pathway, surrounded by greenery and enjoying the views of the Hudson River. The sunset cast a golden glow over the city, creating a magical ambiance.


Manhattanhenge, NYC

For dinner, I decided to try some international cuisine in the vibrant neighborhood of Chinatown. I indulged in a feast of dim sum, sampling various dumplings, steamed buns, and other delicious dishes. The bustling atmosphere and the aroma of exotic spices added to the overall experience.


To end my visit to New York City on a high note, I decided to venture to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Center. From the observation deck, I marveled at the glittering cityscape that stretched before me. The Empire State Building, the illuminated Times Square, and the vast expanse of Central Park were all visible from this vantage point. It was a truly breathtaking sight and a perfect way to bid farewell to the city that had captivated me.


My trip to New York City was filled with unforgettable experiences and cherished memories. From exploring iconic landmarks to indulging in diverse cuisine and immersing myself in the vibrant culture, the city offered an endless array of delights. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, New York City never fails to leave a lasting impression. It truly lives up to its reputation as the city that never sleeps and will always hold a special place in my heart.


What are some other famous landmarks in NYC

New York City is home to numerous famous landmarks that are worth visiting. Here are some additional iconic landmarks in NYC:

  • Times Square: Known as "The Crossroads of the World," Times Square is a vibrant commercial intersection in Midtown Manhattan. It's famous for its giant billboards, bright neon lights, and bustling atmosphere.

  • Central Park: Spanning 843 acres, Central Park is an expansive urban park located in the heart of Manhattan. It offers lush green spaces, picturesque lakes, walking paths, and various attractions such as Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Terrace, and the Central Park Zoo.

  • Statue of Liberty: Situated on Liberty Island in the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom and democracy. It was a gift from France to the United States and has become an iconic landmark representing the welcoming spirit of America.

  • Empire State Building: One of the most recognizable skyscrapers in the world, the Empire State Building stands tall in Midtown Manhattan. Visitors can ascend to the observation deck on the 86th floor for breathtaking views of the city.

  • Brooklyn Bridge: Connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge is an architectural marvel and an iconic symbol of New York City. Walking or cycling across the bridge offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River.

  • Grand Central Terminal: As one of the world's most famous train stations, Grand Central Terminal is renowned for its Beaux-Arts architecture and grandeur. Inside, you can admire the celestial ceiling in the Main Concourse and explore the various shops and restaurants.

  • Rockefeller Center: This iconic complex in Midtown Manhattan is home to the famous Radio City Music Hall, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and the iconic ice skating rink during the winter season. It's also known for its beautiful Christmas tree and holiday decorations.

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met): Located on the eastern edge of Central Park, The Met is one of the world's largest and most prestigious art museums. It houses a vast collection spanning thousands of years, with artworks from different cultures and civilizations.

  • High Line: Built on a historic elevated railway track, the High Line is a unique park that offers a green oasis above the bustling streets of Manhattan's West Side. It features beautifully landscaped gardens, art installations, and stunning views of the city.

  • One World Trade Center: Standing as a symbol of resilience and hope, One World Trade Center is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. It's the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and offers observation decks with panoramic views of the city.

These landmarks represent just a fraction of the many attractions and iconic sites that New York City has to offer. Exploring the city is an adventure in itself, with each landmark contributing to its unique and captivating character.


How to Explore the Big Apple: Tips and Tricks for Getting Around

Exploring New York City, also known as the Big Apple, can be an exciting and rewarding experience. To make the most of your visit and navigate the city efficiently, here are some tips and tricks for getting around:

  1. Utilize the Subway: The subway system in New York City is extensive and efficient. It's the fastest way to travel around the city, avoiding traffic congestion. Purchase a MetroCard at any subway station and familiarize yourself with the different lines and routes. Be sure to check for any service changes or delays before your journey.

  2. Plan Your Route: With so much to see and do, it's helpful to plan your itinerary and group attractions based on their proximity. This way, you can save time and minimize unnecessary travel. Consider using online maps or smartphone apps to help you navigate and find the best routes.

  3. Walk and Explore: New York City is a great city for walking, and many attractions are within walking distance of each other. Enjoy the vibrant streets, take in the sights, and explore different neighborhoods on foot. Just be prepared with comfortable shoes and be mindful of traffic and pedestrian signals.

  4. Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis are a convenient option for shorter distances or when you need to travel with heavy luggage. You can hail a yellow cab from the street or use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. Just keep in mind that traffic can be congested, especially during peak hours.

  5. Consider Bike Rentals: If you enjoy cycling, renting a bike can be a fun and efficient way to explore the city. New York City has bike-sharing programs like Citi Bike, which allow you to rent a bike for a specified time and return it at designated docking stations. There are also bike lanes and paths throughout the city.

  6. Check Out the Ferry: The NYC Ferry provides scenic transportation options across the city's waterways. It's a great way to enjoy breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and access attractions like Governors Island, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Staten Island. Be sure to check the ferry schedules and fares in advance.

  7. Avoid Rush Hour: New York City can get crowded during rush hours (typically 7-10 am and 4-7 pm on weekdays). If possible, plan your activities outside of these times to avoid heavy traffic and crowded public transportation.

  8. Get a CityPASS or Explorer Pass: If you're planning to visit multiple attractions, consider purchasing a CityPASS or Explorer Pass. These passes provide discounted access to popular sites, allowing you to save money and skip long ticket lines.

  9. Stay Aware of Your Belongings: Like any major city, it's essential to stay vigilant and keep an eye on your belongings. Be cautious of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas, and keep your valuables secure.

  10. Ask for Help: New Yorkers are known for their fast-paced lifestyle, but they are also generally helpful. If you're unsure about directions or need assistance, don't hesitate to ask a local or seek help from information booths or hotel concierge services.

By following these tips and tricks, you can navigate New York City with ease and make the most of your time exploring the Big Apple. Remember to embrace the city's energy and enjoy the unique experiences it has to offer.


FAQs

  • What is the best way to get around NYC?


The subway is the fastest and most efficient mode of transportation in NYC. It covers a vast network of routes throughout the city.

Walking is also a great option for shorter distances and allows you to immerse yourself in the city's vibrant atmosphere.

Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are convenient for shorter trips or when you have heavy luggage.

  • Are there any transportation passes or cards available?

Yes, you can purchase a MetroCard for unlimited or pay-per-ride access to the subway and buses.

The NYC Ferry offers single-ride tickets or unlimited ride passes for travel across the city's waterways.


  • How can I plan my itinerary to see the major attractions efficiently?

Consider grouping attractions based on their proximity to each other to minimize travel time.

Utilize online maps or smartphone apps to plan your routes and find the most efficient way to navigate between attractions.


  • Are there any peak hours or times to avoid?

Rush hours in NYC are typically between 7-10 am and 4-7 pm on weekdays. Try to plan your activities outside of these times to avoid heavy traffic and crowded public transportation.


  • Is it safe to walk around NYC?

New York City is generally safe for pedestrians, but it's always wise to stay aware of your surroundings and take common-sense precautions, such as avoiding poorly lit areas at night and keeping an eye on your belongings.


  • Can I rent a bike in NYC?

Yes, there are bike rental services available, such as Citi Bike. You can rent a bike for a specified time and return it to designated docking stations across the city.


  • Are there any discounted passes for multiple attractions?

Yes, you can consider purchasing a CityPASS or Explorer Pass, which provide discounted access to popular attractions and can help you save money.


  • How can I get from Manhattan to Brooklyn?

The most iconic way to travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn is by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Alternatively, you can use the subway, take a taxi or ride-sharing service, or utilize the NYC Ferry, which offers connections between Manhattan and various Brooklyn locations.


Remember to check official websites and local resources for the most up-to-date information on transportation options and schedules in New York City.


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