Best things to do in New York

I have always wanted to visit the Big Apple and it does not disappoint – everything is bigger, better and busier where it feels like anything is possible. It’s hard to describe the city without using cliches but it really is everything you read about.

We visited in June 2019 for 5 nights and I absolutely loved it, we are hoping to visit around Christmas time too to see the city covered in snow and embrace the festivities. Here are some of my favourite things to do for your next visit.

The top of Rockefeller

Go all the way to the top and buy a cocktail and admire the stunning views – you can see the Empire State Building and all across the city with the Statue of Liberty in the distance and even all 5 boroughs on a clear day. I recommend going at sunset and watching the sun go down, bursting pinks and purples everywhere.

Times Square

Not actually a square like I assumed (am I the only one?!) The lights can be seen as you approach and its very busy and bright space can be a bit overwhelming! However, find the red steps and take in all the different neon displays and tourists getting their photos. Apparently, New York residents hate Times Square!

Central Park

843 acres of calm and quiet in the heart of the bustling city where people can go for long walks, runs or even outdoor ice skating if you’re visiting near Christmas! Its vast space means you can spend time exploring the walkways and enjoy discovering what the park has to offer. You can do anything from hiring a boat to go around the lake, see John Lennon’s memorial or bronze sculpture of Alice in Wonderland, visit the zoo or watch an outdoor movie or event. 

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

It’s an obvious one but it really is worth seeing, even the ferry ride over with the views of Manhattan as you pull away are epic. It’s incredible to see the Statue of Liberty up close and you can even go to the top of her crown for more views of the city.

Ellis Island was one of the busiest immigration stations and it tells the stories of over 12 million immigrants who came over to NYC to live the ‘American Dream’. It shows the conditions they traveled in to reach Ellis Island and you can tour the baggage room and Great Hall where people queued for hours to be inspected.

Museums

You have to visit some of New York’s museums during your visit whether it’s The Metropolitan Museum of Art (extremely large museum, you won’t be able to see it one day), the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, Louis Armstrong House Museum, or the 9/11 Museum. It is better to book in advance, especially for the 9/11 museum to avoid long queues.

See the city from above

Lots of observation decks from One World Observatory, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock or Edge ( a suspended mid-air deck!). You can also check out some of New York’s rooftop bars that also offer amazing views, food and cocktails from Sky Room, St. Cloud at The Knickerbocker Hotel, Top of the Strand, and Refinery Rooftop to experience New York in style!

Shopping

New York is one of the fashion capitals and iconic shopping destinations from Bloomingdales, Barney’s Macy’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are all here, not to mention some of your favourite high street stores. Spend some time shopping and maybe even grab a famous Little Brown Bag from Macy’s.

Walk along the High Line

A public park that sits on an old, elevated railway line starting from Gansevoort Street and ending at the Meatpacking District. Along the walk, you’ll find spots to sit and take in the setting, delicious street food, arts spaces, gardens, and views of the Hudson River.

TV/Film Tours

I love Friends so I had to make sure I visited the famous apartment building on 90 Bedford Street. I thought it was going to be tourist overload but it really wasn’t when we got there. Underneath the building is a little cafe that was busy but as it’s in Greenwich, there’s plenty of cool places to eat including some classic New York pizza!

You can also see Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment at 64 and 66 Perry Street from Sex and the City (although residents are trying to stop it becoming a tourist spot, it might be difficult to get a picture here). You can stop by The Plaza Hotel where Home Alone 2 was filmed and recognise spots from When Harry Met Sally. There are also bus tours that take you around all the famous tv and film spots too!

Try New York food

Whatever food you’re fancying or whether you want street food or upmarket restaurants – you will find it in New York! Bagels, thick New York cookies, pizza, pretzels, hot dogs, steaks, and lots more. Not to mention places such as Katz’s Delicatessen, Chinatown, and Magnolia Bakery that are famous New York food places.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

One of the most iconic bridges in the world is the Brooklyn Bridge connecting Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the length of the bridge but probably more as you admire the high limestone and granite Gothic towers, and views of the river and city.

Grand Central Terminal

Probably less romantic and exciting if this was your daily commute but I loved seeing this station and its detailed painted ceilings, the New York trains, and watching the hustle and bustle!

The best thing about New York is that you can reach places easily by walking (and really get your steps in!) so definitely pack comfortable shoes. The subway is an experience in itself and I found it to be a lot more confusing than the London Underground! There is so much to see and do.

Have you visited New York? What was your favourite thing to see or do?

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