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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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I’ve NEVER been to NYC – can you believe that?
But it is on my list, especially now I’m living in North America.
Thank you! I can’t wait to visit all the places you mentioned!
I know you’ll love it!!! Visit the Nike store in the FlatIron District. That’s where I found that running quote…and got a few cute tops.