I was always told that New York City had an energy, but that it was “hard to explain, you just had to experience it.” This became abundantly clear on my first trip and hit me like a brick, but my second visit, I embraced it. NYC will eat you whole if you let it, so it’s best to get an idea of what you want to see before you start traipsing around, otherwise you’ll probably be overwhelmed and miss some cool spots. Now don’t get me wrong, please wander the streets and get lost for a bit, but have an idea of some attractions you’d like to visit. Having a concept will point you in some sort of direction. After a few trips of my own, here are a list of highlights that I recommend.
1. Top of The Rock
On my most recent trip, I begrudgingly accepted the notion of spending $85 per person to get to the Top of the Rock. Although it was a lot of money for an elevator ride and a view, the view itself was pretty spectacular! When you take the elevator ride up, they play a video that shows the history of New York and the ingenuity that built the city. The Rockefeller building itself isn’t anything to write home about, but if you’re willing to cough up the money, you’ll get to see a birds-eye view of New York.
Christmas Tip: During the winter months, especially leading up to Christmas, you should go the base of the Rockefeller center and maybe even skate at the rink. It’s a very New York thing to do ;)
2. Central Park
A green oasis surrounded by a concrete jungle, Central park is a great place to just revitalize your senses and bring you back to nature. Go for a walk, feed the ducks, sit on a bench and people watch… just chill. If you’re interested, you could also take a carriage ride through the park. This might be a good idea if you’ve had your fill of walking around. The park is massive, you probably won’t see the whole thing on your first trip, but get a taste of it.
3. Time Square
It is hard to come to this city without seeing the famous Time Square. Every time I see the neon lights and the flashy signs, it continues to blow me away. The grandeur of capitalism screams at you through the screens and you realize that today’s Rome is right here, right now, right where you are standing. John Lennon was quoted saying; “If I’d lived in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome. Today, America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.” I think this quote speaks volumes when staring up at Time Square.
4. New York City Public Library
The New York City Public Library is a great place to stay dry and get warm during a rainy day. Aren’t all libraries? But fortunately for you, this dry refuge is packed full of interesting books, ornately designed rooms and impressive halls. Keep in mind this building is a secure building, so no pocket knives in your bags! One time, we were caught in a rainstorm and tried to get into the building for some shelter, only to be greeted by locked doors. So heads up, they don’t open until the afternoon. Check the timings prior to arriving so you’re not caught off guard.
5. Grand Central Station
On my first trip I wasn’t able to see Grand Central, so I was determined to see it the next time I was in the city. It’s a very busy train station, and it has a lot of history. Take a look at the ceiling and you’ll be notice the Sistine-like paintings with constellations scattered above. You’ll also notice this strange dark spot. The painters who restored the ceiling in 1996, left the swatch as a reminder of what a ceiling may look like if you smoke indoors. The ceiling was THAT dirty, covered in cigarette tar and nicotine!
6. Eat in Hells Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen has heavenly food! If you find yourself in this part of town, you’ll notice a myriad of hole in the wall places and great Thai. It is a “quieter” part of Manhattan, considering Time Square neighbors close by, but it has a lively night scene! I will say, you don’t NEED to hike all the way up to Hell’s Kitchen just to eat, but if you’re already seeing Time Square at night, might as well wander over, right?
7. Madison Square Park & Washington Square Park
I know! Another park, but if you’re walking around this entire city, you’ll want a place to just put your feet up. Madison Square Park, made famous by the Madison Square Garden sports arena, is a beautiful section of the city that offers some well needed rest. Washington Square Park on the other hand is a great place to snag a bench and people watch. You’ll also notice the Washington Square Arch, a famous NYC landmark. Walking through Washington Square park, you’re reminded of the beautiful mixing pot that is America, peacefully intermixing and celebrating a diverse range of cultures and traditions.
8. Walk around SoHo
SoHo is an eclectic part of the city. Up and coming artists, a wide selection of boutique shops from affordable to pricey and a multitude of cafe’s, pubs and eateries will not disappoint. The next time I’m back in town, I’ll be staying somewhere in the SoHo district. This area has become really expensive, so keep that in mind, but you’ll still be able to find some shops and restaurants that will appeal to any sort of budget.
9. Walk down Wall Street
Wall Street, the major reason why New York City is as prosperous and flourishing as it is. The drum beat of American wealth echoes off the marble halls. If you come to New York, you’ll want to see why New York is New York. Some might consider it the shining beacon of the American Dream, others might see it as the sleazy underbelly of American exploitation, but regardless… Wall Street is where the Big Green Dollar get’s a run for its money. Go see where the action is.
10. The Oculus
In the dust and debris of 9/11 arose the Oculus. A Mall. Or a proverbial middle finger to those who oppose American financial prowess. I love this thing. Not only is it gorgeous but the fact the Americans built a mall right near ground zero is American tenacity and stubbornness at it’s finest. You want to take down the World Trade Center? We will build an even better one, oh and… just for sh*ts and giggles… we’ll put a mall on it too. But really, this thing is quite beautiful… totally check it out, even the inside is stunning, modern and clean.
11. Union Square Holiday Market
If you’re in NYC at Christmas time, first… great idea! Second, wander around some of the Christmas markets. One of my favorites is the Union Square Holiday Market. They’ve got these adorable cabin like stalls set up, an ice rink, a bar, just all sorts of fun! This is a great place to buy a souvenir or a gift for a loved one.
Another option is the ABC home store on 888 Broadway. This store is fantastic year round, but at Christmas time it’s sparkling and joyous and everything you want Christmas shopping in New York City to be. Another huge pro about ABC is that they offer sustainable goods. Now of course they’re still a consumer retailer, but… at least they’ve stated they are “minimizing our collective environmental footprint”. You can also check them out online at www.abchome.com
These are only a few suggestions, New York City is a massive place and I did not cover all the places you should see. The only thing is, I haven’t even seen or done all the things you can do, so I can’t comment on those, but please, if you have, leave a comment down below and let me know what I should do next time!
If you’d like to plan your trip like us, submit your email and we will give you our entire trip layout including hotel information, daily schedule and logistical requirements of trip planning! Click on the link below for more information.
PIN ME PLEASE