Visiting the Big Apple every year has become a wonderful tradition in my life and a lot of people ask why I keep going back. I tell them that there is so much to see and do that you can’t possibly do it all in a week or even two weeks; however there are some must see things that everyone must do when visiting New York City on their first trip; however I came up with these Top Things to do in New York City.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is constantly on the top of tourist must do’s for anyone visiting New York City. Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is free but you have to pay 13 dollars for the ferry ride over. You can buy tickets the day of or you can purchase them online from www.statuecruises.com and chose your date and time before hand and not have to wait in line. You board the ferry from either Battery Park in Manhattan or Liberty State Park from New Jersey.
You will first get dropped off at the Statue of Liberty and can walk around and take pictures. If you want to go up to the crown you will need to get reservations. After spending time at the Statue of Liberty take the ferry over to Ellis Island. You can take a 45 minute audio tour of Ellis Island or just walk around the museum and learn about the immigration process that early immigrants had to go through from 1892 to 1924.
Many people don’t realize how big Central Park really is but at 843 acres (2.5 miles by 0.5 miles) it is one of the largest metropolitan parks in the United States right in the middle of Manhattan. You can visit one of the many lakes and kayak, ride the Central Park Carousel, play different sports, or rent a bike and bike the whole park. Plan at least spending a few hours relaxing under a tree and give your poor feet a rest from walking.
Empire State Building
Completed in 1931 the Empire State building was the tallest building in the world until 1972 standing 102 stories high at a height of over 1,250 feet. The view from the roof the Empire State building gives an amazing 360 degree view of the New York City skyline. You can choose either to visit the main deck on the 82nd floor for $25 dollars or opt for the 102 floor for $42 dollars. Either will give you amazing views of Manhattan. You can purchase tickets the day of and wait in line or purchase your tickets from their website www.esbnyc.com in advance. As you wait in line to go up you can learn about how they built the building.
New York City changed forever on September 11, 2001 when terrorists blew up planes into the World Trade Center Towers. 10 years later a beautiful memorial now sits on the site with a reflection pool and names of each person who died at the towers that day along with the attacks elsewhere. There is also a tree called the Survivor Tree which was one of the only things left standing after the attacks.
Visiting the site is free but does require a ticket you can get from the 9/11 memorial site (they ask for a donation but that is up to you) Plan to spend an hour or so. It is a great time for reflection and offers an odd feeling of peace in busy New York.
We all know about Times Square and probably have since we were little and used to watch the ball drop every new years eve. During the day and especially at night Times Square is full of people. You can enjoy people watching sitting on the steps of the northern part of Times Square or just hang out in between plays. You can also spend time watching all the street performers.There are many wonderful places to eat near times square like Shake Shack or Ellen’s Stardust Diner.
Going to a Broadway play is a must for anyone’s first trip to New York City. There are tons of shows each day , but for the more popular shows like Wicked you will need to get tickets in advance. You can look for discount tickets from www.tdf.org or stand in line at one of the TKTS booths in Times Square or if you are a student see if the play you want to see has student rush tickets.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City is home to tons of museums, but probably the most famous is the Metropolitan Museum of Art located in Central Park. The museum is the largest in the United States and has some of the most significant art selections from early Egypt to classic Greek and Roman art along with items from Monet and other famous artists.
Shopping in SoHo and 5th Avenue
Shopping in New York can be pricy so if you’re like me you will probably window shop. Visit the stores on 5th Avenue like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, and FAO Schwarz among others. After you have your fill of 5th Avenue stores head down to SoHo where you can shop even more in high end boutiques and stroll through one of the dozens of art galleries.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorite things to do in New York City and it is free! The walk is around 25 minutes each way if you don’t stop but I would plan on 45 minutes to take in the view and stop and take pictures. You can either walk from Manhattan into Brooklyn or do the reverse route. Both are great but many people prefer to take the subway to Brooklyn and walk towards Manhattan on the bridge, that way you are seeing the Manhattan skyline instead of Brooklyn the whole time.
Grand Central Station
Chances are you will go through Grand Central Station many times during your trip in New York City. Sitting at 42nd street and Park Ave Grand Central Station connects the Subway system with other forms of rail transportation. Hop off the subway and go to the main concourse. Look up at the ceiling and you can see the ceiling covered in the constellations; however notice that the sky is backwards because the artist followed the Medieval style where the sky is how God would see it. Also visit the whispering gallery near the Oyster Bar where you stand in opposite corners of the large arch entryway and whisper to each other facing the wall. It works believe me!
There really is an endless amount of activities you can do in New York but this list is a good place to start. Look for me to post later about some of the fun things you can do in New York City that will get you out of the more traditional touristy activities and let you see some great things like Highline Park or the Brooklyn Gardens.