It is known as one of the most beautiful and special places in the world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t intimidating beyond compare. New York City is the heartbeat of the world with millions of people walking around on a daily basis. For people who don’t live there or at least visit on a regular basis, it can seem a bit intimidating to wander those streets. There’s so much to see and so much to do, but what really stands out amongst the crowd? For those who won’t get to travel to the city all that often, here are ten suggestions:
1. Statue of Liberty
The most obvious place to visit is the Statue of Liberty. It is a great monument to everything that makes the United States amazing – from the first days to now. It tells the story of immigrants who came to this country with less than their health and who helped us grow and prosper. A trip the Statue also includes a visit to Ellis Island, where you can see what these people went through and hear it in their voices. You take a boat out to both places, which allows you to get quite the view of the island.
Make sure to bring walking shoes if you plan to go up into the Statue: the tightly coiled stairs are a bit harrowing.
2. Wall Street
Wall Street marks the center of the financial world, and it is still something to see. You can watch the men and women in business attire run around and frantically tap away on their phones. Take a visit to see the bull statue that represents everyone who works there and, as long as it remains, check out the statue of the little girl staring him down, representing the strength of women.
Near Wall Street, there are plenty of bars and restaurants that are extremely tasty and may not be as crowded as the Applebee’s in Times Square.
3. Central Park
No matter what time of the year it is, Central Park is a gorgeous place to visit. From the thousands of trees to the street performers to the concerts, Central Park is a hub of activities for people of all ages and walks of life. Make sure to take some time to walk through Shakespeare’s Rose Garden, the Central Park Zoo, and to catch a game of baseball on one of the many fields throughout the park.
You don’t even have to plan your day – walk around and you never know what you will come upon next. A rousing chorus of “Let It Be” in Strawberry Fields, a marathon running through the northern tip of the park, or a runaway carriage pulled by the biggest horse you’ve ever seen.
Don’t be afraid to take a map and look like a tourist here, because you truly don’t want to miss anything.
Even if musical theater isn’t your thing, going to a Broadway show is like nothing you’ve ever done before. Plan ahead to see shows like Hamilton or Wicked, or go to the TKTS booths located around the city to see what you can get for cheap. There are old standards that never seem to leave (Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, The Lion King) and exciting new shows that push the boundaries of what we think is possible the theater (Come From Away, The Great Comet, Goundhog Day).
It is truly worth taking the risk and jumping feet first into a Broadway show, even if you don’t like it, you can say that you have experienced it.
5. Chelsea Market
If you like to eat, there is nowhere better to go than Chelsea Market. Filled with stalls from the best cooks, chefs, and bakers in the city, you will have your choice of everything from tiny donuts to sides of beef to lobster tail. The market is bustling with prepared food, food to take back home, and even the sweetest little bookstore.
During the lunch rush, Chelsea Market really fills up with local workers, so try to go during the “off” hours to get the chance to look at everything on display. Make sure to go all the way to the back to the flea section where you can see designs from local artisans.
6. High Line
Located right behind Chelsea Market is the high line, a once-abandoned train line. Now, friends and local government have turned it into a park on the water that goes above the streets and even some buildings. The walk is long and extremely hot in the summer months, but there are plenty of places to stop or exit the High Line. The views are worth it, especially for first timers. Make sure to bring cash so that you can get one of the popsicles that they sell along the way – they are to die for.
7. On the Subway
Don’t just use a cab or an Uber to get around the city. Do like a New Yorker does and take the subway. At first it might seem a bit daunting, but if you have a cell phone you have directions to go wherever you want. Make sure you know whether you need to go uptown (towards Queens) or downtown (towards Brooklyn) and you have it made. There are usually people in every major station that can help you choose the right train and even though they usually look angry, the people of New York will help you too.
Get yourself a metro card, swipe through the turnstile (this may take a few tries), and get ready for the ride. Just make sure you hold on.
8. Fifth Avenue
Even if you can’t afford it, a walk down Fifth Avenue is a must for fashion fans. See the huge department stores that sell clothing that costs more than your car, look at the diamonds in Tiffany’s, and even shop at the biggest flagship stores for clothing you can afford. There are always stores coming in and out, so make sure to see what’s there when you go.
Just remember that whatever you buy you have to carry home, and be smart with your purchases.
9. Times Square
If you ask anyone who lives in New York or who goes there frequently, they will tell you that Times Square is the ultimate place to avoid. However, for people who don’t live in the city it is an amazing place to be. Get ready to be confronted by people selling you CDs, trying to get you to take a picture with them, and people selling tickets to shows of all kinds. However, you may also come across a drum circle, wedding photos, or the most tackily dressed school trips in the world.
If you like to people watch, it is by far one of the best places in the world to go – you will be entertained for hours. Of course, there is also a lot of shopping to be done.
10. Grand Central Station
If you take the subway like suggested above, you may just find yourself at Grand Central Station. If not, this is just a quick walk from Fifth Avenue and Times Square. You don’t need to spend too much time here, but take in the beautiful architecture, the hustle and bustle, and the amazing cafeteria. Make sure to stop by the Whispering Wall, where you can stand on opposite sides of the room and hear each other.
There are tours as well, but they are mostly directed toward people who want to know about the building style.
No matter when you go or who you go with, New York City is magical and fantastical. There is a reason that so many people dream of spending time here. Know that sometimes people may be rude, know that you will see people who won’t conform to what you’re used to, and know that it will be expensive. Still, know that there is nowhere else on earth quite like it.