The big apple. So much to do. So much to see! Whether you're an art connoisseur, foodie, theater fanatic, architecture admirer, or anything in between- you will love this city. If you only have a short amount of time, check out my 4-day guide to NYC. If you have more time, try to check out all of these awesome things to do:
Things to do
1. Times Square
One of the most iconic places in all of NYC. Go both during the day and at night to get two totally different perspectives on one cool place! And make sure to check out their calendar to see if any events are going on.
2. Empire State Building
Obviously another icon where you can get 360 degree views of the city. It costs $36 per person, which is pretty steep so I'd say just go your very first time in the city to say you've done it. After that, admire the city from a rooftop bar for free.
3. Top of the Rock
This is where you can go up to the rooftop of Rockefeller Center to admire another view of the city for $34 per person
4. MET Museum
One of the most famous museums in the entire world. Home to Blair's lunch spot in the hit TV show Gossip Girl, the iconic MET gala for all A-list celebrities every year, and of course the fabulous displays of art inside. It costs $25 for adults, $12 for students, you can purchase online here. And don’t forget rooftop gardens for amazing views!
5. Museum of Natural History
Another famous museum for all you history buffs out there. It costs $23 for adults and $18 for students. You can purchase online here
6. Central park
Take a nice stroll through the famous park and look for Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace, and Sheep Meadow. When the weather is nice out, take a picnic lunch and enjoy the views around you!
The Museum of Modern Art- probably my favorite museum in the entire world. I spent over 4 hours in here and had to force myself to leave in order to get other museums in! It costs $25 for adults and $14 for students- you can purchase online here
8. Battery park
You can head here to look at Statue of Liberty! No need to pay the expensive fee of $25 to take the boat ride over, just go to the park and you can get a great view of Ms. Lady Liberty for free.
9. New York Stock Exchange
It is by far the world's largest stock exchange! So take a quick walk around the area to just see
10. The 9/11 Memorial
Now obviously this one is a somber visit, but it's important to pay respects and homage to the fallen in this tragedy. The memorial is free, but the underground museum costs $28 per person.
11. Little Italy
Walk and explore the charm of this neighborhood and incredible food (Big City of Dreams famous mural located at 391 Broome St)
I mean, it's quite obvious. Walk around and enjoy the Chinese food!
13. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
A nice walk with gorgeous views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. I would recommend going early in the morning so there's less people and you can grab a great photo! Otherwise it gets super crowded with pedestrians and bicyclists. The total walk is about 1.1 miles each way. Check out my full Brooklyn guide here.
14. Walk The High Line
It's a 1.45-mile-long elevated park created on a former New York Central Railroad spur. Walk along the railroad tracks and admire the views of the water and the skyline at the same time. If you go in the spring/summer there is a nice green garden along the tracks as well.
15. Greenwich Village
Walk around Greenwich Avenue & West 4th Avenue for scenic houses, cafes, and shops. It's a super cute neighborhood!
16. FRIENDS Apartment
If you're a FRIENDS fanatic, make sure you go check out Monica & Rachel's apartment located at 90 Bedford Street at the corner of Grove Street. Great photo-op!
17. Washington Square Park
Great place to just people watch! Watch people playing chess in the park, playing with their dogs, and anything in between! It's a beautiful place.
18. NYU campus
NYU campus is spread out amongst lots of different buildings, and most things inside you can't access without an ID card. However, it's still cool to walk around and go sit in some of the buildings/small cafes they have. It's really nice when it's cold outside because you can still see nice views of Washington Square Park!
19. Madison Square Garden
Check out a concert or sports game in the famous Madison Square Garden. The energy in that arena is unlike any other!
20. Staten Island Ferry
It's free so why not! Get great views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty on your journey. (Definitely beats paying $25 for the Statue of Liberty ferry!)
21. Grand Central Terminal
This historic NYC landmark is not just a transportation hub! It has shopping, dining, and so much more. Lots of movies have been filmed here as well, so it's cool to just be there in person.
22. Attend a TV Show Taping
If you know your dates to NYC well in advance you can apply for free tickets to one of the several late night shows that are filmed in the city like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, or the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Food to Eat
The Halal Guys
Junior's: (About $15-20 for food, $7.50-10 slice of cheesecake) You can't leave NYC without having a slice of this famous cheesecake
Pizza beach restaurant
Grotto Pizzeria (About $4.25 per slice)
Artichoke Basille's ($6 per slice- you have to try the artichoke spinach!)
The classic New York bagel from any street vendor- just like a local!
- Metro is 2.75 each ride, so if you'll be there for a week get the week unlimited pass for $33. This averages out to only $4.71 a day, so it's definitely your cheapest option if you plan on riding the metro a lot! It includes buses too.
- Express v. Local Subway Trains (or Buses). Don’t get on the express subway or bus unless you’re sure that it’s going to stop off where you want it to. The regular train will stop at the majority of the stops, while the express trains will skip on average half the stops. So make sure you're aware before you hop on!
- Taxis are extremely expensive! I highly advise you walk or take the metro system described above. Even ride hailing apps will be too much money for the distance.
- From all 3 airports you can easily take public transportation into the city instead of paying $50+ for a taxi/ride hailing app. From JFK you can take the AirTrain for $5, which will connect you to the A, E, J, and Z trains to go into the city. From Newark, you can take the AirTrain for $5.50 which will connect you to the NJ Transit system. And from LaGuardia you can take either the M60 or Q70 bus for $2.75 which will connect you to nearly all of the metro lines at some point.
- Staying in Manhattan can be expensive. But, if you're willing to stay in a hostel there are lots of good options for about $40 a night like Blue Moon Hotel on the Lower East Side or International Student Center on the Upper West Side. If you want your own room, check out the Americana Inn right near Times Square for a private room with shared bathroom for about $60 a night.
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