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Top 10 Things to do in New York City

Top 10 Things to do in New York City – From a small townTexas girl’s perspective 

There are a lot of lists out there, and if you are like me, you’ll scour the internet researching before you go. So, I hope this helps someone in some way.

First of all, I think it goes without saying, but you never know, New York City is crowded and noisy. I am not a fan of crowds, lines, and people in my personal space. But, to enjoy the city, you may have to step outside your comfort zone. It is totally worth it though. And, a valuable lesson I learned early on in my years of travel.

Also, comfortable shoes are a must. According to my trusty GPS watch, my longest walking day was 20 miles. That includes some cab rides and subway rides as well.

I am horrible with remembering the get the names of places I eat, but I ate pizza at least 6 times in the City. What can I say? I like pizza. I didn’t have a bad slice at any of them. Also, the place that I totally thought was Whataburger…that’s actually a bakery known for its New York Cheesecake. Yum!

After visiting the city twice, it’s time to share my top 10 things to do in New York City. Back in 1998, I was wide eyed girl from Texas, never before in a city so big. I remember flying into Newark to meet up with our host. The drive from there to Greenwich Village was a fabulous display of sights I had only ever seen in pictures and read about. The Statue of Liberty, The Twin Towers, The Empire State Building just to name a few.

I was a film photographer in college back then. Unfortunately, my college apartment caught fire and I have no negatives left from this experience. So, I will start with the most touching of places to visit today.

1. The National 9/11 Memorial: The Twin Towers mentioned above was the site of a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. The memorial consists of 2 pools right where the towers stood. The names of the nearly 3000 men, women, and children who died that day are inscribed on the structures surrounding the pools. Of the top 10 things to do in New York City, this is number 1 easily.

From there, walk across the street and visit FDNY Ladder Company 3. This is the fire department closest to Ground Zero and the one with the most casualties on 9/11. On that day, 343 fire fighters lost their lives, along with countless more first responders.

Also worth the view while there, The Oculus. A $4 billion transportation hub and high end shopping center. The design is by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and is unlike anything else you’ll see. Also, One World Trade Center is an architecture site to see.

Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

Top 10 Things to do in New York City 9/11 Memorial with Oculus in background

9/11 Memorial

Top 10 Things to do in New York City 9/11 Memorial Waterfall

9/11 Memorial and The Oculus

Top 10 Things to do in New York City One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center looking up toward the sky.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City The Oculus

Inside the Oculus

Top 10 Things to do in New York City 9/11 Memorial Flight 175 HonorTop 10 Things to do in New York City 9/11 Memorial Flag FlyingTop 10 Things to do in New York City The OculusTop 10 Things to do in New York City The OculusTop 10 Things to do in New York City The OculusTop 10 Things to do in New York City Memorial to the 343 Fire Fighters who lost their lives on 9/11Top 10 Things to do in New York City FDNY Ladder 3Top 10 Things to do in New York City FDNY Ladder 3 MemorialTop 10 Things to do in New York City FDNY Ladder 3 MemorialTop 10 Things to do in New York City FDNY Ladder 3 Memorial

Top 10 Things to do in New York City View of One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial

Standing Outside FDNY Ladder 3 looking across the street toward ground zero.

2. Central Park: There is so much to see and do here, it’s impossible to do all at once. This is an easy top 10 things to do in New York City place to see. Honestly, I could do a top 10 things to see in Central Park post. With over 843 acres in the heart of Manhattan, you can explore to your hearts content.

The Alice in Wonderland Statue is fun to climb and play on for the kids, and fun to view (or climb) for the kid in all of us.

The Mall, whose elms are one of the parks most photographed features. So, of course I snapped a picture even though the leaves were bare. This is the parks largest pedestrian pathway.

Wollman Rink, a winter ice skating tradition in the city. Plus, so much more. It’s a great spot to walk, explore, and play like a kid.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Conservatory Water Central Park

Conservatory Water in Winter Central Park

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Wollman Rink with skyline in the background

Wallman Rink – I spent a lot of time ice skating in the city. One day, I will skate here.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Gapstow Bridge Central ParkTop 10 Things to do in New York City Gapstow Bridge Central Park

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Gapstow Bridge Central Park

Gapstow Bridge – one of the iconic bridges in Central Park

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Skyline from Central Park

Top 10 Things to do in New York City The Mall in Central Park in Winter

The Mall

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Bethesda Fountain and Terrance Central Park

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Bethesda Fountain and Terrace in Central Park

Bethesda Fountain and Terrace in Central Park – Largest fountain in NY and most well know fountains in the world.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Trefoil Arch Central Park

Trefoil Arch Central Park

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Alice in Wonderland Central Park

My hands were too cold to take real pictures. But, I wasn’t too cold to play. Alice in Wonderland

Top 10 Things to do in New York City fall leaves in Central Park

Fall Leaves in Central Park

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met: For the inner art nerd in all of us. Or the secret Monet fan that is yours truly. This is the most visited museum in the city, and covers over 5000 years of art. A great place to explore, dream, learn, see and experience. Or, to geek out over all the pictures you never thought you’d see in real life. Am I sharing too much of my inner nerd? If you couldn’t tell yet, you will once you see the pictures. They may only include Monet’s work. Sorry, not sorry.

But, promise, there is so much more to see in this museum.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Monet anyone?

Top 10 Things to do in New York City The METTop 10 Things to do in New York City Monet painting in the MET

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Monet in the MET

Can you not see why there is so much to love?

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Monet at the METTop 10 Things to do in New York City gallery room in the Metropolitan Museum of ArtTop 10 Things to do in New York City Monet in the METTop 10 Things to do in New York City Monet at the Metropolitan Museum of ArtTop 10 Things to do in New York City Monet at the MET

Top 10 Things to do in New York City in line to enter the MET

Waiting in line to enter the MET

Top 10 Things to do in New York City the MET

Does happiness show?

4. St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Wow…was about the only word that came to mind. After more time, breathtaking also came to mind. If you’re lucky enough to catch a Christmas Service there, do it. It is well worth it. No tickets are required for that. However, if you prefer midnight mass, plan early. Like really, really early. Even if it’s not Christmas, it’s worth the view. The architecture is stunning.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City inside St Patricks Cathedral New York City at Christmas

Absolutely beautiful.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City view of St Patricks Cathedral from Rockefeller Center

Atlas stands in front of Rockefeller Center. Directly across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City St Patricks CathedralTop 10 Things to do in New York City view of St Patricks Cathedral from the street.

5. The Rock: Also know as Rockefeller Center, and directly across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Take a ride to the top and get 360 degree views of the city. Or, if you visit in December, you can see the world famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree and ice skate under the tree. Dreams can come true, and witnessing this was definitely one of them. There is nothing like Christmas in the City. But, I am not one for lines, so I did not make it to the top of the Rock. I did do some shopping and ate plenty inside the Rock.

Don’t let the numbers of my post fool you. Of the top 10 things to do in New York City, this one was the childhood dream come true.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rockefeller Center with the Christmas tree

A view of a lifetime. And if you wake up early enough you can beat the crowds, even in the City that never sleeps.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rock Center Christmas TreeTop 10 Things to do in New York City Atlas and Rockefeller Center

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Atlas and Rockefeller Center

Atlas standing guard over Rockefeller Center from the main entrance.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rockefeller Center ice skating

Ice skating anyone?

Top 10 Things to do in New York City ice skating at Rockefeller CenterTop 10 Things to do in New York City Rock Center Christmas treeTop 10 Things to do in New York City Rockefeller Center and the Christmas treeTop 10 Things to do in New York City famous Rock Center Christmas treeTop 10 Things to do in New York City famous Rock Center Christmas Tree

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Christmas in the City

Just love all the pretty Christmas details at the Rock.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rock Center Christmas

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rock Center Christmas

Can you see me?

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rock Center ChristmasTop 10 Things to do in New York City the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

6. Manhattan Skyline and Brooklyn Bridge: From Battery Park you can take a short walk for some incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge. You can even walk across the bridge which provides some incredible views of the Manhattan Skyline. I was lucky with gorgeous sunshine, although very cold weather. The sun setting and the beautiful colors of the sky reflecting off the buildings was a sight in itself. As happens this time of the evening, the colors were constantly changing, so like a good photographer, I was constantly photographing.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Brooklyn Bridge view from Battery Park toward Brooklyn

Walking toward the bridge from Battery Park.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Brooklyn BridgeTop 10 Things to do in New York CityTop 10 Things to do in New York City Brooklyn BridgeTop 10 Things to do in New York City United States flag flying over the Brooklyn BridgeTop 10 Things to do in New York City Brooklyn Bridge

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Brooklyn Bridge

Couldn’t really get enough of this view.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City walking across the Brooklyn Bridge

So many people. It was like herding cattle.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City flag flying over Brooklyn Bridge while walking across the bridgeTop 10 Things to do in New York City lines above Brooklyn Bridge

Top 10 Things to do in New York City golden sunset over Brooklyn Bridge

That light though! Golden and soft.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Manhattan from the Brooklyn BridgeTop 10 Things to do in New York City Manhattan from the Brooklyn BridgeTop 10 Things to do in New York City Manhattan Skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Manhattan Skyline from Brooklyn Bridge at sunset

Those colors made my camera happy. Manhattan Skyline.

Top 10 things to do in New York City lady in red coat taking pictures of Brooklyn BridgeTop 10 things to do in New York City lady in red coat walking across Brooklyn Bridge with camera

7. Grand Central Terminal:  My hotel, the Grand Hyatt New York City happened to be right next door to this one, literally. Grand Central was the view from my hotel window. Obviously this is a train hub, but is is also so much more. There is an Apple Store in here. It is also home to Grand Central Market where I ate…a lot. And, the Food Court in Grand Central has a Magnolia Bakery. The banana pudding is a must!! They are famous for it. However, if they have the banana cream pie, try it. Actually better, in my opinion. And if they have more than 1, get it. They run out and you’ll never find it again. Or maybe that was just my bad luck.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City inside Grand Central Station time exposure

Loud, busy, and amazing. Inside Grand Central Station.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Grant Central Terminal

Outside view at night, all lit up. The Chrysler Building is in the background.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Grand Central Market

So many shops inside Grand Central Market. This is the New York Transit Museum.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Grand Central Subway

The subway inside Grand Central. Where do you want to go?

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Magnolia Bakery banana pudding

Showing off my banana pudding.

8. Times Square: Times Square, where to begin? Let’s start with the structure that is the focal point of Times Square. This was the original Times Building. You know, The New York Times. That famous newspaper I was published in earlier this year. Shameless plug. 🙂 This building went up in the early 1900’s, and is still the focal point, but The Times has since been relocated.

Times Square is in central New York City and is full of lights, billboards, shops, places to eat, and is home to Broadway. One of my top life experiences so far has been watching Les Miserables on Broadway back in 1998. Les Mis no longer runs, but seeing a show is still a top 10 things to do in New York City. You won’t pick a bad show. And just to show how naive I was the first time I visited the City, I honestly had no idea shows on Broadway were musicals. So just a heads up to those who have never before left small town Texas and just didn’t know any better. I was lovingly, although publicly shamed in line when I learned this fact. But, to this day, I can sing along to every single song from the Les Mis soundtrack (which I do own).

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Time Square with taxi

I have this as a print and framed up on my wall. It’s gorgeous.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Times Square

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Times Square

Have you heard “don’t look up when you visit the city”? I say, always look up, and all around for that matter. The sights and sounds are worth it.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Times Square

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Times Square

Even better at night with all the lights.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Times SquareTop 10 Things to do in New York City Times Square

Top 10 Things to do in New York City lady in red coat standing in the middle of Times Square

Hey! It’s me! In the middle of Times Square

10. Battery Park and The Statue of Liberty: There is so much more to see and do other than my top 10 things to do in New York City. I will list some more below. But, to round off this list, we’ll finish up with Battery Park and The Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty Park was closed while I was in the city, so I didn’t go out. You can always ride the ferry to get a closer view if it’s not open. This is where you would go out to see her if the Park is open. But, you can also see her just fine from Battery Park.

The Universal Solider Monument is also in Battery Park. This is the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Statue of Liberty and a ferry in the water

Ferries were running between the burrows.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Statue of Liberty

Top 10 Things to do in New York City pretty grass in the wind in Battery Park

Just thought this was pretty as I was taking pictures in Battery Park.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Universal Solider Monument in Battery Park

The flags of all the countries that participated are at the base of the monument.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Universal Solider

These may not have made the list of top 10 things to do in New York City. But, they are still must sees and things to do: Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, New York Public Library, Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, Empire State Building, the list goes on and on. The City has so much more to see and do, but hopefully my list of the top 10 things to do in New York City is a good starting point.

If you haven’t noticed yet, my visit was over Christmas. Both of my visits were actually over Christmas, so it’s all I know of the city. The lights, shows, trees, everything is magical this time of year. The Rockettes are kid friendly and the Christmas show is actually the Christmas story of Jesus. Highly recommend this. Also, 5th Avenue is a feast for the eyes. All of the department stores have amazing Christmas window displays. If you can make it during Christmas, this list of top 10 things to do in New York City is even more magical.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City 5th Avenue Christmas light display

5th Avenue Christmas displays are incredible. I wish I had some more pictures.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at Christmas

Radio City Music Hall

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at Christmas giant Christmas balls

These are iconic at Christmas…promise. And, I was a little obsessed with them.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at Christmas giant balls

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at Christmas giant balls

Twinkling lights

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at ChristmasTop 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at ChristmasTop 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at ChristmasTop 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at Christmas giant balls

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at Christmas giant balls

See, obsessed.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Radio City Music Hall at Christmas giant lights

These giant Christmas lights were also cool!

Top 10 Things to do in New York City corner of Broadway and Wall Street

The corner of Broadway and Wall Street.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Federal Hall

Federal Hall

Top 10 Things to do in New York City New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange, Wall Stret

Top 10 Things to do in New York City New York Stock ExchangeTop 10 Things to do in New York City New York Stock Exchange

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Charging Bull Wall Street

The Charging Bull of Wall Street

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Empire State Building at night lit up for Christmas

Empire State Building from a distance.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Empire State Building Christmas lights

Empire State Building lit up in Christmas colors.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Empire State Building pretending to be King Kong

Playing with perspective. I was being King Kong in this one. Yes, I am a dork.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Empire State Building and girl with a camera

Top 10 Things to do in New York City inside Nike Flatiron District with quote on wall

Had to post this one. I am a runner after all. “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human Heart.” Such true words

Top 10 Things to do in New York City New York Public Library Albert Einstein

The New York Public Library was closed the rest of my visit so I only have a few cell images that don’t do it justice. It is worth the visit.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City New York Public Library lobby with Christmas Tree

The lobby of the New York Public Library.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

The world famous Rockettes

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Rockettes New York Christmas Spectacular

Inside Radio City Music Hall. Such a pretty lobby.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City in line of Radio City Music Hall

Waiting in line to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

Top 10 Things to do in New York City Gregorys Coffee

Finally, Gregorys Coffee. Where I got my daily coffee fix.

*All images are available for purchase if you are looking to add some art to your home or office. Contact me for details.

Top 10 Things to do in New York City

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