Don’t let that first picture fool you! This post will definitely not be focused around Times Square. Whether you’re in New York City for 24 hours or 24 days, there are a few places not to be missed. Quick disclaimer: I have not been lucky enough to visit every major attraction in the Big Apple (yet!) therefore I’m sure I’m leaving off some wonderful sights. However, these are my personal favorites and I’m confident they’ll charm the socks off of any tourist exploring New York City for the first time.
#1 Top of The Rock
This art deco skyscraper in Rockefeller Center is a wonderful alternative to the iconic Empire State Building. Hear me out on this one! While it is the same price to visit both buildings (slightly more money to visit both viewing decks at the Empire State Building), the lines are shorter at Top of The Rock and the view of Central Park is so, SO much better. Also, while you’re snapping away up there, you can actually get a great shot of the Empire State Building in your photos which is another bonus! Top of the Rock also offers a Sun & Stars ticket which allows you to visit twice in one day. I thoroughly enjoyed returning to see New York City magically lit up in the evening but don’t have any pictures to share because my battery ran out! This was a couple years ago before I had this blog so I can assure you I’ve learned from my mistakes since then.
#2 Lunch in Bryant Park
Less than a 10 minute walk from Times Square, give yourself a breather and enjoy lunch like a local under the shady trees in Bryant Park. Nearby you’ll find several options for lunch but I’d personally go with a wonderful New York City institution known as Shake Shack. The line is always out the door but it goes by fast so don’t let that scare you from buying a burger and shake. If you’re feeling a bit fancier, Dean and Deluca is another great option for a Bryant Park picnic. I still have dreams about a chicken pesto sandwich I bought there. If you happen to be visiting NYC in July and August, Bryant Park hosts Broadway in the Park which is a free concert event open to the public. Casts from several major Broadway musicals perform a few songs from their show which is great for those who don’t have the time or money to see a Broadway play!
#3 World Trade Center Memorial & Museum
This hauntingly beautiful memorial remembers the nearly 3,000 people killed in the September 11th attacks. This is not an enjoyable site to visit but it’s so important to remember and understand the immense loss New York City went through and how they’ve chosen to repair and rebuild as a strong community. When I visited a few years back, the museum was not finished but I was able to see the absolutely stunning fountains. Both memorial pools are located within the footprints of the Twin Towers and the water falling is supposed to drown out the city noise which works quite well. The enormity of these fountains and the names of the deceased engraved around create a powerful image of just how much was lost on that tragic day. The Museum just opened in May and tickets for adults are $24 with discounts for seniors, students, as well as free admission on Tuesday evenings. I’d highly recommend reserving tickets a few weeks in advance.
#4 Head on over to Brooklyn!
There’s so much more to New York City than just Manhattan. Take an easy subway ride across the Hudson River over to Brooklyn and enjoy exploring the quirky neighborhoods, cheaper cuisine, and stunning views of that famous concrete jungle across the water. I didn’t get to spend much time in Brooklyn but I definitely remember enjoying a more relaxed atmosphere. If you’re looking for an affordable place to dine, I’d highly recommend SEA Thai in Williamsburg. The interior is stunning with a small pool in the center of the restaurant. Despite the swanky decor, the prices are just right and I enjoyed a hearty lunch for under $10! You really can’t beat that.
#5 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There’s no shortage of incredible museums in New York City but if you don’t have the time to visit them all, let me help you narrow it down. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, otherwise known as The Met, should be at the top of every visitor’s museum list. With over 2 million works of art, making it the largest art museum in America, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this stunning museum located on the Upper East Side. The recommended admission price for adults is a whopping $25 but the key word is recommended. This means that you can name your own price. If you plan to spend all day in The Met then the $25 price tag makes sense. However, if you only want to spend a couple hours like I did, don’t feel as if you have to pay the full recommended price. I saw some people only paying $1 which I feel is a bit too cheap but I do understand. It’s hard to wrap my mind around $25 for a museum after living in London where 99% of museums are free. Also, don’t forget to pop on over to Central Park after your museum visit!
Have you visited New York City before? I’d love to hear about your favorite attractions! In other news, I’ll be leaving for Europe on the 4th of July where I’ll be spending the next 6 weeks in England, Spain, and Belgium. I’ll be blogging every week and am very excited to share my summer adventures with you!