Ultimate Things To Do In New York

New York is an amazing city that has so much to offer its visitors from incredible landmarks, to museums and Broadway shows, to its hip and alternative cultures, to enjoying the simple pleasures of exploring any of its historic or up and coming neighborhoods.

New York can seem like a hard and intimidating place at first glance, but on closer inspection you’ll find its a melting pot of different cultures and ideas. It’s a place where uniqueness is embraced and cherished, allowing people to be fearless and take chances. This has created a dynamic world with unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

This is my ultimate list of things to see when you’re in New York.

 

Statue Of Liberty And Ellis Island

The Statue Of Liberty is the most iconic site in New York. She is a powerful symbol of all the aspirations immigrants carried with them when they came to America. The hope for freedom and a better future. Inscribed on the statue is the famous quote that captures the spirit of this new land:  "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

In "Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration" you'll learn the stories of these immigrants, from the colonial era all the way to present day, through numerous galleries containing artifacts, photographs, and taped oral histories.

Explore New York's Museums

As a rule, when I travel I avoid museums. They don't interest me. When I'm in New York, that's a rule I'm happy to break. The Big Apple has so many incredible and innovative museums, it would be a crime not to go to at least one. The hard part is deciding on which one to go to .

My favorite has always been MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). It has incredible galleries that are always evolving, provocative and inspiring. Then there's the annual "Museum Mile Festival"  where Fifth Avenue shuts down to traffic to become a walking lane. The streets are lined with live musical entertainment and the museum's doors on this route are flung open to the public for free.

Times Square and Broadway

Times Square and Broadway are two of the biggest tourist magnets in the city. Walking down Times Square is an attack on the senses. The frenetic traffic, tall billboards and megatron screens (which are splashed with colorful advertisements) will overload your senses. A visit to Times Square is a must at night, when the visuals of this area are most vibrant.
 
Next to Times Square you'll find Broadway's biggest theaters. "The Great White Way" offers the absolute pinnacle of the theatrical arts. There are lots of long running shows you can choose from like the Lion King and Wicked or (if you have the money) you can go to Hamilton, one the newest and hottest shows to debut in the city. 

Empire State Building 

The Empire State Building is another famous landmark in the city, immortalized in people's mind as a symbol for NYC. It was the tallest building in the world until the completion of the World Trade Center 41 years later. Visit the observation deck on the 86th floor for a bird's-eye view of the city. On clear days visitors can see for distances up to 80 miles, looking into the neighboring states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as New York.

The 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower 

The 9/11 attacks, which brought down the World Trade Center, was a devastating event. The city was faced with a daunting task of deciding how to rebuild the towers while memorializing those who perished that day. Somehow the architects who took on this seemingly impossible challenge succeeded. The moving 9/11 memorial fountains (which lists the names of all the victims) is a testament to the death and destruction that happened that day. While the Freedom Tower proudly stands as a symbol of the city's rebirth after the attacks. 

Central Park

Central Park is an oasis in a concrete jungle. It serves as a retreat for New Yorkers looking for relief from the crazy energy of the city. This is a very popular location with locals and tourists alike. You'll find lots social groups that meet up on the vast green lawns of the park and it's a great place to lay back and enjoy some people watching. The park has different areas inside of it to explore including:  Strawberry Fields, Central Park Zoo, the Conservatory Gardens and the Lake, which is used for skating in winter and paddling in summer. 

Explore New York's Ethnic Neighborhoods

The great gift of living in a multicultural town like New York is the ethnic neighborhoods that sprout up throughout the city. Once exclusive immigrant enclaves, Chinatown and Little Italy have changed with gentrification. Yet it's still possible to get a taste of the old country with strolls down Mulberry or Mott Street.

Fifth Avenue

Just like Ginza in Japan, New York's Fifth Avenue has a reputation for hosting flagship stores for many of the high end designers. This street attracts well heeled shoppers from around the world looking to splurge in Cartier, Tiffany, Bergdof-Goodman and more. Even if you have a modest budget, this is a fun street to explore and just window shop and marvel at the beautiful goods on sale. 

Brooklyn Bridge

When the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge of its time. Today, it's one of New York's many landmarks. This bridge offers its visitors a great walking path that you can cross by foot or bike. One of my fondest memories in New York was of biking across the bridge at night and taking in the panoramic views of city glittering in the dark.  If you visit make sure to make time to explore DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan and Brooklyn Overpass). This is a quaint little neighborhood with great galleries, restaurants and city views to enjoy. 

Take In A Sporting Event

New York really has it all, even when it comes to sports. This city is flush with teams to root for, including: the Yankees and the Mets (baseball), the Knicks and Nets (basketball), the Giants and Jets (football) and the Devils or the Rangers or the Islanders (hockey). Most cities would be happy with one team. Not the Big Apple, they believe in more is better. To top it off, the US Tennis Open is also hosted in Flushing Meadows. So if sports is your thing, then New York has you covered and then some.