Okay, that's a brave topic title. This is going to be so relative to the individual however I think that when people come to the big city, there is so much to do that many just end up wandering around and if you have a game plan then you can really get the most out of your trip. If you've come to my blog for these top things, that's wonderful but just wanted to also let you know that the main focus of my blog is help with nutrition, and here is my resource library for that if interested.
I know there are about 10000 things to do here, and this is more for first timers because you want to make sure to hit the tourist spots and the highlights. Yes, the regular life is fun but you want to do what NYC is known for.
I'm going to name some things I did the first time I came as an example of what we all get suckered into.
We went to the American Girl Doll store my first trip. I had an American Girl doll. But I was 20 years old and no longer into them. We stayed in Times Square and went to the M&M store as an actual event. We realized we wanted to do our own thing away from the group so we went to 5th avenue and literally spent an entire day just looking at all the fancy shops! I was jacked up about this, but I look back and there's a much more efficient way to spend your time in the city.
My best friend gives me a hard time because every time we would come, I wanted to pack out the trip. I have since learned I'm one of the only ones that would like to go from 8am-8pm with events so resting is good too. This is a very touristy list, and meant to be that way so take that with a grain of salt too.
On another note (I promise I'm going to eventually get to the reason you came to the blog post), you really should not bring heels unless it's wedges or chunkier that you can walk in. If you are coming from anywhere else in the nation, no matter if you are active, you aren't going to be prepared for the amount of walking you will do. It's not worth it. I brought heels my first time, I took this picture with them, and then I took them off ... (and that was the only time I wore them)
And now for the main event ... the cool thing is that the island is 13 miles long. Buy a week long subway pass ($30) even if you are only here for the weekend, and then you have unlimited rides and can just go all over.
1. Go to a broadway play
This is a given, so I won't go into detail but it's worth the money. If you are coming during the Holiday season and you have to choose between this or the Rockettes, I personally would choose a Christmas broadway play.
While you are in theater district which can be near Times Square, I would just pop over to Bryant Park. It's not something that you have to stay at for a long time, but it's a beautiful park and something worth seeing. They always have events though, and you can ice skate there during the winter.
2. 911 Memorial
It's iconic, and you have to see it. It's at the very bottom of the island so this is either a good place to start, or a good place to finish. They've opened up the museum now so you could go to that.
3. Statue of Liberty
You can spend an entire day going out to see Lady Lib, but you could also just head to the water before or after you go to the memorial, and see it just as good and then you have more time to do other things. This is also where we live so if you wanna pop in an NYC apartment, you just let me know :) With the statue of liberty viewing comes Battery Park, and this could probably be a number in itself but I'll combine it. Walk the boardwalk by the Hudson. It's absolutely gorgeous and most tourists never make it to our part of the city. They also have opened up Brookfield Place right on the water where you could have a nice lunch over looking it. There's a cafe there to visit.
4. Top of the Rock or Empire State
The best part about these is the fact that you are up really high and can see the entire city. You don't need to do both. Top of the Rock is cheaper but Empire State is obviously more iconic.
My personal favorite to tell tourists is Stardust Diner. It's where people who are trying to make it to Broadway could possibly start. It's a diner and they sing and perform while you eat so you basically get a show from very talented people during dinner. Anywhere in the city is going to be wonderful, but just make sure that you don't eat at like an Applebees. You can get that at home. Any nationality, any style of food will be found in New York City so just search your favorites. I would recommend doing research before you come on places you want to go or you're going to end up never being able to decide.
I was going to make this an item in and of itself but I'm going to put it under this umbrella of food. Cheesecake!!
DUHHH!!! We have been connoisseurs since we arrived and our top choice (and would be yours too is Juniors). You can find one in Times Square and that would be a good time to visit there if you aren't staying there. I would advice you NOT to stay there. There are much cheaper alternatives.
6. Central Park
Central Park is absolutely gorgeous and I'm really excited to run a half there in January when there is hopefully snow everywhere. I don't even care how cold it is (I may take this back haha). Go there, stop at Columbus Circle on your way up there, go inside FAO Schwartz, then make your way to the park. Make sure to look for the Boathouse which is right by the beautiful fountain!
7. China Town/ Little Italy
I put Chinatown on the list but only if you are wanting to purchase something. There isn't much to see, but you can haggle down prices for a fake purse that looks legit. Tell them, "I only have this much" and that seems to work to get the price you want. This is right next to Little Italy so you should go there for either pizza or Italian after you go to China Town
8. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
I feel as a first timer to the city, this is always something that is really fun. Once you cross, you can have lunch in Dumbo (I recommend Front Street Pizza for a great lunch spot--> They have amazing everything, not just pizza, they give you a lot of food and it's cheap so it's perfect). Then you can say that you've been to BK too! :)
This is where some really cool shopping is, and where all the celebrities go. There are some really expensive shops but there are places like Old Navy also that us normal people can shop at. If you are not a shopper, there's really not much to see in this area so just keep that in mind.
10. Grand Central Station
It's absolutely beautiful and free, and tons of shops to visit.
Many recommend Chelsea Market and while I think Chelsea is awesome, Chelsea Market is just a lot of different stores that you can't afford so it's up to you but I would say you could do other things. Many will recommend museums. Museums are awesome, and they tell a lot about history but just personalllllllly, I know that sometimes this can take half of your day and I'm not sure it's worth your time if you only have a limited amount of time here. The subway seems overwhelming but it's not. You find where you want to go. You find a subway close to that spot, then connect it to a line that's close to where you are currently. If you are here on a Sunday, you should totally check out Apostles Union Square and not because I go there and adore the church, but also because it's a beautiful cathedral with incredibly talented people that lead. That's the beauty of New York. Everyone is so talented.