I’ve hopped over the pond twice to the Big Apple under very different circumstances but it has felt the same both times. NYC is a wonderfully vibrant and contradicting city; you can spend a lifetime there and never see everything the city has to offer. Having visited both alone and with family I’ve put together 12 things you shouldn’t miss if you’re spending some time in the big apple.
1. Statue of Liberty
After enjoying some salted pretzels and corn dogs in Battery Park take the free Staten Island ferry to get a view of the Statue of Liberty. The ferry takes 25 mins one way and runs around the clock, every day of the year. Generally, the ferry runs every fifteen minutes during rush hour, and every half hour or hour during nights and weekends .We made sure we got the first ferry after rush hour to avoid huge queues as this is still public transport. Although this trip isn’t quite as informative as a personal tour of Ellis Island, it is still a wonderful treat to see Manhattan sprawling around you on all sides.
2. Central Park
Spend a good few hours walking around Central Park enjoying the sunshine or the snowy tree tops. The park has almost 58 miles of pedestrianised walkways to choose from in a site that stretches 843 acres. The park is flanked on all sides by huge apartment buildings and hotels and it is unbelievable to think that this patch of green managed to survive the urban development.
* Don’t forget to grab a map or cache one on your phone
* We visited in spring and had to dodge the occasional rain shower. Pack an umbrella or a waterproof jaket.
* We found the best way to get around NYC was via the subway. They were on time and very cheap.
3. Brooklyn Bridge
Take the subway to Brooklyn Heights and walk back to Manhattan over Brooklyn Bridge. The walk will take you 25mins at a fast pace or up to an hour if strolling and taking photos (and why wouldn’t you?). Akin to Tower Bridge in London, this stunning piece of architecture is both a tourist hotspot and a daily commute for New Yorkers.
4. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola
Probably one of the best evenings out I have ever had! Get dressed up and head to this beautiful sky high jazz bar on Columbus Circle. The food, the music, the view…breathtaking. Enjoy the incredible jazz while watching the sunset over the New York skyline. Not the cheapest of evenings but considering how many things you can do for free in NYC this will definitely be worth the money.
5. Natural History Museum
After a leisurely breakfast in vibrant Harlem head to the Natural History Museum. This museum is packed with artifcats and information – more than you could ever possibly take in on one trip. An adult ticket costs just $22. It can get very busy and if visiting on your own I recommend downloading a guide or simply music themed for each section!
6. Little Italy & China Town
A stroll down these two suburbs is both hectic and fascinating. Fully immerse yourself in the fact that you ARE a tourist. You look it and you feel it. Don’t try and hide it! Pick up a ton of souvenirs or enjoy some great gelato.
7. Top of the Rock (Rockefeller center)
Yes, you will be herded in like cattle. You won’t be able to avoid this so just roll with it. The views at the top are worth the hour or so it takes to line up and the $30 ticket. What’s the point of visiting NYC if you can’t take in the views!?
8. Comedy Cellar & Olive Tree Cafe
Founded in 1982 this place had our sides splitting for hours. Although small, the place doesn’t feel overcrowded and everyone gets front row seats to some great performances. We didn’t know most of the people who performed, but Aziz Ansari was there as an unscheduled guest. Our cheeks hurt by the end of it! After the performance head to the Olive Tree Cafe for some celebrity watching and cocktails. You can even draw on the tables!
9. Rockefeller Center
Brunch here is not badly priced and sitting out in the sunshine with a tall Latte watching the world go by is not something to be sniffed at. Don’t forget to take a tour around the Lego store just next door ’cause, you know, LEGO!
10. World Trade Center memorial
A somber place worth seeing simply to get an idea of the size of the buildings and the effect it has had. Although some have said this is just morbid curiosity, I see no difference that stepping into a 12th Century cathedral in Europe – it is a memorial to the past. Unfortunately the site is marred by the ‘Gift Shop’ you must pass through. Yes, the money goes to a trust/memorial fund but there’s something a bit uncomfortable about buying a key chain from this site.
11. Times Square
A stark contrast to Ground Zero, Times square is proof that NYC can bounce back from anything. Stand still for a few minutes and look around; you’ll see modelling shots, wedding photographs, street performers and suddenly get th urge to visit every Broadway show advertised. There’s a lot of restaurants around too. We ate at Bubba Gumps restaurant but do your research; there’s a few others around, but definitely catering to purely the tourist crowds.
End your trip on a magnificent high with a Broadway Show like The Lion King. I regret nothing about this pricey indulgence and found it to be the highlight of our trip.
However you spend your time in NYC I doubt you will be disappointed. There’s something for everyone here and (almost) any budget!