Trying to work out what to cram into your time in New York is a difficult task. With so many things to see and do it’s hard to filter through where to spend your precious time.
I’ve listed my must sees in New York as well as a few itineraries below.
When you’re planning your trip make sure you group sights that are together, this will save your precious feet and also use your time well.
The other thing I would recommend is buying the city pass. If you plan on doing a lot of sight seeing this pass has all the major attractions in NYC and saves you time in lines too. Whilst the city pass is not great in every city, in NYC it is amazing, and I used every single coupon.
THE VIEW FROM TOP OF THE ROCK- Rockefeller Center
The view from The Top of The Rock is the best in the city, yes even better than the view from the top of the Empire State Building. There’s a few reason it’s the best view in NYC but to put it simply from one side you can see the incredible expanse of Central Park and on the other side you get a great view of the city and it’s skyscrapers – including the Empire State Building. Be prepared to take plenty of photos if you’re there on a nice day!
Central Park is gorgeous, you could easily spend a whole day here, walking, exploring and people watching this is the place to do it. But if you are pressed for time here are some of the highlights that you can see either on foot or by hiring a bike in the park.
-Jackie Kennedy Lake, going for a run around the lake on a Saturday or Sunday morning is an experience in itself, avoiding all the upper east side women walking their dogs is enough cardio for the day. The lake does provide one of the prettiest views back of the city.
-Ice-Skating in Central Park, if you can, be sure to tick this one off the bucket list. Ice Skating is always fun, and being able to do it in the middle of the busiest city in the world is a must.
-Strawberry Fields, see the area where John Lennon was shot, pay your respects and see the world-famous Imagine mosaic.
-Alice in Wonderland Statue, climb over the shrooms and enjoy your time being a child when you visit the statue that is dedicated to the children of NYC.
-Climb the steps of Belvedere Castle, take in the views of the Great Lawn
MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY- The museum of Natural History is a highlight for everyone – kids, nerds, adults. There is plenty to see and do, dinosaurs, forests, the animals (think night at the museum) and some pretty cool earth displays.
You could spend multiple days here but to condense it a tad here are the must sees:
-The Prehistoric Hall: This is where you will find the incredible dinosaur skeletons.
-The Hall of Ocean Life: A variety of exhibits including a pretty cool Blue Whale.
-The Hall of African Mammals: This is where you will find two floors of African Mammals, and you may feel like you’ve just stepped into the movie Night at the Museum.
-The Rose Center for Earth and Space: Check out a show at the planetarium here.
MOMA: This art gallery has some of the most incredible artworks in the world. Just to name a few of my favourite: The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, Monet’s incredible Water Lillie’s, plenty of Picasso, Dali’s persistence of memory, and Warhol’s soup cans. Entry is expensive but worth it, my suggestion though would be to go on a Friday night 4-8pm when entry is free. It will be crazy busy and the line massive, so be sure to get there early!
9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM: This museum is heart wrenching and definitely will have your emotions running high. But the museum is well done with so much history, so many stories and so many important pieces from that day. The museum pieces together the day and provides a great timeline of events as well as some very emotional stories.
WALKING OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE TO THE BROOKLYN WATERFRONT: This was one of the highlights of my trip. On a nice sunny day the view from the bridge of the water and back on the city is incredible. Go early in the morning to see the incredible sunrise, or not as early but early enough to avoid the crowds. If you walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn take the first exit on the left to walk to the waterfront which in summer is full of activities, water parks and picnicking spots. Then get the ferry from the waterfront back to Manhattan.
GRAND CENTRAL STATION MARKET- Whilst Grand Central Station itself is an amazing sight to see, stop and take some time to look at the roof and the gorgeous artwork of constellations that I am sure you have seen in plenty of movies. But worth more of your time is the market inside Central Station. The food you will find in here is gourmet, fresh, tasty and probably some of the best you will find in central NYC. Get some pasta, bread, meat and cheese to cook up an incredible dinner at your air b’n’b.
THE CROWN AT THE STATUE OF LIBERTY: Be sure to book this months in advance, going to see the statue of liberty is one thing but its not that cool just looking at it from the ground. I booked my ticket 3 months ahead of time to get into the crown. They only let 50 people an hour up there so get in early. Whilst it is also cool to go to the pedestal and look back on the city, if you can walk up to the crown the experience is one that will stay with you forever. Looking out lady liberty’s crown back onto the city and hearing all the amazing stories from the lovely park rangers in the crown supervising was amazing. Be sure to get close and look down to read her book. Just beware the stairs are very narrow and definitely one of the scarier points in my life, but it is all worth it to get to the top.
TIMES SQUARE AT NIGHT: Times Square is great in the day, but at night is when it comes to life. You can’t even tell it is night there, the lights are so bright that you feel as though you are in your own little world. Check out some of the shops, most are just touristy spots, but they are good fun.
THE HIGH LINE- The High Line in summer is a wonderful spot to walk, just be sure to wear sunscreen. The old rail-road track has been converted into a 1 1/2 mile-long landscaped park that is set up 30 feet above the streets of New York City. The walk along the high line provided me with multiple little stops of food vendors including one of the best ice-cream sandwiches I have ever tried as well as art instillation. With several nice spots to stop along the way and shade from the sun, the high line provides some interesting views of the city and a great look into the Hell’s Kitchen area which is slowly becoming more expensive real estate.
SHOPPING (DUH!): The shopping strips are endless. So there isn’t an obvious place I would say to go, just explore and spend to your hearts content!
Also worth a look is:
BRYANT PARK: This park is great with a lovely reading area and shows movies in summer. The NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY is also in the park which is also worth a look.
THE WHITNEY MUSEUM: This museum is something different, newly renovated the building is incredible with the art inside even more astounding.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK SMORGASBORD: Food trucks upon food trucks this is the place to go for a fun feed, to see the local New Yorkers congregate and to take in the great views. If you can’t get across to Brooklyn Park try get to the Smorgasbord at South Seaport.
MOVIES IN SUMMER: Movies over summer in the great outdoors are a great way to have a nice night out, in the warm summer nights. Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, The Yotel, the list of places to go is endless.