If there’s one thing that you must do while you’re on this beautiful planet, it’s visit the iconic New York City.
Also known as the Concrete Jungle, Big Apple or just simply NYC, New York is a place where dreams are made.
I’ve been a grand total of five times now and each and every trip has exceeded my expectations.
There’s nowhere quite like it anywhere else in the world. And if anybody says otherwise then they’re lying!
How to Get to New York City
First things first, NYC has three main airports: John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International (located in Newark, New Jersey but serving the greater NYC area) and La Guardia.
You can easily get direct flights to one of these airports from the following cities in the UK:
- Newcastle (seasonally)
How to Get Around New York City
Getting around NYC is pretty simple. You have the following options:
- Use the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway
- Runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Purchase a MetroCard, which can be used on subways and buses
- Initial card has a fee of $1.00 and can be filled with a single ride for $2.75 (but there’s a two ride purchase minimum) or you can use it unlimited for 7 days for $33 (or for 30 days for $127)
- Ride the Staten Island Ferry for FREE from theWhitehall Ferry Terminal
- Ride share through Lyft or Uber
Or, you could pretend you’re Carrie Bradshaw and flag down one of the city’s famous yellow taxis. (Eek!)
Top Things to Do in New York City
Now that you’re clued up when it comes to how to get there and get around, let’s get to the good stuff!
Read on for my top 10 things to do in New York City.
1. Have a Picnic in Central Park
Things to do in New York City 101: a Central Park picnic.
(This is obviously weather permitting as no one wants to sit on wet grass in the rain eating soggy sandwiches when they’re on holiday – or ever!)
Central Park goes on for blocks and blocks so there’s quite a lot of ground to cover. It surrounds a lake and, in the summer, it’s rather nice to buy an ice-cream, set up camp in the sun and just people-watch the day away.
In the winter, you can go ice-skating!
2. Sail Past the Statue of Liberty
A lot of tourists spend tons of dollars to go on the trip to Liberty Island. However, if you’re on a budget, you can just take the free Staten Island ferry.
This sails right past the Statue of Liberty which allows you to get some amazing full length shots without spending a penny! Then you can simply hop on the next ferry back to return to Manhattan.
3. Visit the One World Trade Centre and Twin Towers Memorial
When I was a young wee girl (aged nine) on my first trip ever to NYC, I was lucky enough to ride the elevator to the top of one of the Twin Towers before the 9/11 tragedy occurred.
This meant that when I visited Ground Zero for the first time post-9/11, I was even more overwhelmed with sadness for what happened on that devastating day as I remembered how the World Trade Centre was previously.
I’m not going to lie, visiting the memorial is heartbreaking. That said, it’s worth going to both pay your respects and learn more about what happened on that fateful day.
4. Shop Until Your Heart’s Content in Soho
Another one of my top things to do in New York City is shop around Soho.
The majority of the shops in Soho are all on one street and go on for about 26 blocks. Spoiler alert: you will end up spending all your money. Double spoiler alert: it’ll be worth it.
5. Take Your Camera to Seaport
Seaport is a cute little shopping district at the most southern point of Manhattan (hence the name Seaport as it’s right on the sea!).
From here you can see both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges which means there’s some pretty great photo opportunities.
You could even walk cross the Brooklyn bridge to check out this quirky, artsy area.
6. Go Up the Rockefeller Centre Skyscraper
You might have heard that going up the Empire State Building is one of the best things to do in New York City.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people do it and thoroughly enjoy it. Having said that, my advice is to not go up the Empire State Building. Go up the Rockefeller Centre instead.
By hitting the Top of the Rock, you get spectacular views of the city including the Empire State Building. Also, if you’re strategic with your timing, you can get incredible photos of both the daytime and sunset views, as well as seeing how pretty everything looks lit up in the dark.
Thank me later.
7. Stroll Down Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue caters to all your shopping needs, therefore, a hotspot for all tourists.
If you want to shop for luxury goods (a la Louis Vuitton), you can find them here. But if trashy souvenir shops are more your style, there’s plenty of them to go around too.
You can also check out Trump Tower on the way down/up. It’s rather cool both inside and outside – and they do nice coffee to boot.
8. Explore Times Square
Times Square is the best bit of the Big Apple (in my opinion). The fact that it’s the most visited place globally with over 360,000 pedestrians per day says a lot.
And the dazzling lights, skyscraper buildings and charged atmosphere are what the city’s all about.
Plus, you’re very likely to stumble across the next big premiere or marketing event right in the middle of it, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled.
When I visited Times Square for the fourth time, I walked right into the middle of the Transformers 3 premiere and got to see the cast and crew being interviewed on the red carpet.
9. Go to See a Broadway Show
To put it simply: the shows on Broadway are unbelievably amazing.
I’ve seen Peter Pan, West Side Story, Chicago and The Lion King and loved each and every one (especially The Lion King as that’s one of my favourite films of all time!).
Pro traveller tip: keep in mind that tickets can be a bit pricey, so make sure you ask your hotel Concierge for deals. Or you can wander through Times Square where a lot of show reps will approach you.
There’s also a ticket booth in Times Square where you can queue early in the day for discounted show tickets for the following night.
Whatever you see, I guarantee that you will enjoy it.
10. Have Lunch at The Plaza
Finally, are there any Home Alone lovers out there? I ask as the hotel where Kevin McCallister stays when he gets lost in NYC in the movie is right next to the south entrance to Central Park.
It’s a gorgeous building and a fantastic place for lunch.
It also has a food hall on the bottom floor, a bit like the food hall in Harrods, and there are plenty of yummy choices on offer. Bon Appetit!
NYC: Blink and You’ll Miss It
Whatever you do in NYC, try to make the most of your time there as the city is so fast-paced that you might blink and miss it.
Then you’ll be home before you know it, chewing your friends’ ears off, reminiscing about your time in the Big Apple and just wishing you’ll have a future opportunity to take another bite.
Have you been to NYC before? What’s your favourite thing to do?