The city that never sleeps. The centre of the world. Broadway baby. Known for its pizza, pretzels and cheesecake, there’s an endless supply of food to try. Then there are the five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, each with its own culture, local eateries, and cliches. Gossip Girl, Sex and the City and Friends: all iconic shows set in the city. As one of the top fashion capitals, a live theatre epicenter and financial centers, there’s a reason New York is one of the most visited and populated cities in the world.
No matter what season you visit New York, there’s always something seasonal to see and do. There’s always a new popup, a new gallery exhibit, Broadway show, and the next Instagrammable restaurant or cafe. Whenever you visit, there will be plenty of things to keep you busy, so whether you’re there for a couple of days or a week, you’ll never be bored of the roaring city.
Take a famous New York City yellow taxi or try the public transportation if you’re feeling adventurous. Avoid renting a car. Drivers make their own driving rules and you’ll struggle to find a single gas station in the city. It’s best to walk everywhere, as you’ll find unique shops and restaurants, but when in doubt take the Metro ($32 for an unlimited week pass) or Uber or Lyft to your destination (especially when it rains!)
Whatever form of transportation you take, getting around Manhattan is easy. If it’s your first time to the city, it’s best to visit these top tourist sights to get your bearings. understand the history of the city, and say “yeah, I’ve been there.” (In no particular order, the top 10 sights:
- The Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. For $36 (plus tax) this is the best view of the city. Although the Empire State Building’s observatory might be a more popular option, the clear glass at the top makes for better photos and includes the Empire State Building in your shot.
- Central Park. No matter how many times you visit this park, there’s always something new to see. The park is filled with a castle, zoo, picnic spots and a terrace. Central Park is located between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, ending at Fifth Avenue in the east and Central Park West on the west. Beloved by locals and tourists alike, the park is an iconic New York attraction.
- 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade Center. Pay your respects to those who lost their lives on September 11 and visit this monument and museum. Rebuilt after the attack, One World Trade Center has an observatory for one of the best views in the city and is a reminder of the horrific attacks in 1993 and 2001.
- The High Line. Built on old train tracks, the High Line is a public park on the west side of Manhattan. It has views of the city and the river and brings you to the Whitney Museum of American Art. It’s great for a photo, to sit and read on a bench, or a date.
- Museum of Modern Art. Take a gander (for $25) and see some of the most priceless art in the world. The museum features Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali and Matisse. As one of the largest modern art museums, MOMA offers a wide range of art and culture.
- Times Square. Get blinded by billboards and lights in Times Square. If you want to be 100 feet away from every American chain restaurant or get tickets to all the hottest Broadway shows, head to the most touristy spot in the city. You’ll spot Good Morning America filming or the Naked Cowboy – whatever your experience, you’ll remember it.
- The Statue of Liberty. Take a ferry from Battery Park or Liberty State Park in New Jersey and see Lady Liberty herself as she stands against the Manhattan skyline – but only if you get reservations in advance. After visiting the most iconic New York statue, visit Ellis Island and learn all about your heritage and immigration in the States. If you want a free visit: the Staten Island Ferry is free of charge while it doesn’t stop at the statue, you’ll get great views from the boat.
- Theatre District. Catch one of your favorite musicals or a celebrity on stage, on or off Broadway. Get tickets day of at the half price ticket booth in Times Square and cross your fingers for good seats. Catch the iconic New York Staples of the Lion King, Wicked or Chicago, or try a newer show like Hamilton, Mean Girls or Anastasia.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Known for its iconic Met Ball, The Met is one of the most popular museums in the world. It has a costume exhibit in the spring, but has over 2,000 art works in general, including Monet, Degas, Manet, Van Gogh, and O’Keeffe, perfect for any art lover.
- 5th Avenue. Pull a Holly Golightly and eat a croissant in front of Tiffany’s a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s. As one of the most famous fashion streets in the world, 5th Avenue has every luxury and commercial shop you could want or need. Start at the Plaza and continue until your feet hurt and you need a rest (or your debit card runs out of funds).
- Serendipity 3. If you ever read the Princess Diary books, Mia talks about going to Serendipity 3 for her birthday. What else needs to be said?!
- Buddakan. This chain restaurant might look familiar because it was featured in the first Sex and the City movie. Hidden in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan, this Chinese infusion spot offers everything you could want: dumplings, noodles, rice, seafood and stir-fry. Try a specialty cocktail or just chow down and see why SJP and the girls on SATC loved this place.
- Eataly. With two locations in Manhattan, Eataly brings authentic Italian markets, gelato and restaurants to New York. It offers cafes, restaurants, to-go counters and a raw bar in the heart of the city, made with high quality and fresh ingredients.
- Chelsea Market. Not a specific restaurant, but this food and shopping mall has something for everyone. Perfect for if you’re traveling alone or want a quick bite to eat, this urban market has currywurst, cafes, Italian food, Mexican, sushi and everything you could dream of for a fulfilling meal.
- Joe’s Pizza. If you search for the best pizza in New York, this is the first restaurant that pops up. It’s known for its quick counter service, which is sold by the slice or by the pie, and offers the best of New York (and hoagies). Enjoy the thin crust and fold your pizza like a New Yorker.
- Glossier. Visit the flagship Glossier store, now three stories filled with all your favorite products, to buy, test and take selfies. The online beauty brand’s first store is the biggest store to buy their products from and allows you play with them so that you can find what works best for you.
- & Other Stories. Created by the H&M brand, & Other Stories is a more luxurious fashion brand that draws its inspiration from Paris, Stockholm, and Los Angeles. Although it has locations worldwide, in the States it’s most prominent in New York with the biggest and best stores.
- Story. Every four to six weeks this Chelsea boutique closes its shop and reopens with a new theme. Past themes have included love for Valentine’s Day and a circus for The Greatest Showman. It changes like a gallery by bringing in new merchandise, but sells items like a store – cute displays and all.
- Canal Street Market. This takes the traditional street market and brings it indoors, combining a mix of food and shops in a small space. Filled with lifestyle shops, including jewelry shops, soaps, vintage clothing and paper goods, this is the perfect shop if you’re new to markets and boutique shopping.
- Artists and Fleas. This is a marketplace for both new and vintage finds. Located all over New York, there’s something for everyone from emerging talent and vintage curators.
A Night Out
- The Duplex. Catch cabaret and drag queens before they’re featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Featuring a piano bar downstairs with a nightly open mic and weekly and monthly events upstairs, this is perfect for a chill night out.
- Blue Note Jazz Club. This jazz club and restaurant features nightly jazz, with concerts at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Sit at the bar or get in line early for a table and enjoy the smooth live music.
- Friends and Lovers. Located in Crown Heights, this cash-only bar is constantly crowded for a reason. There’s theme nights, dance parties, live music, and DJs along with happy hour. Get here early before it’s too crowded to dance.
New York has so many things to try. Whether it’s your first time or twentieth, there’s something new to eat, see and do.