The big apple. The city that never sleeps. The concrete jungle. New York, New York.
My favourite city in the world, and probably one of the hardest to see in just a day. But if you’re pressed for time or just want an easy guide on the best 10 things to see, here I have tried to provide 10 things to see in about 10 hours, so “10/10” that are also 10/10 in value. Get yourself a Metrocard and some walking shoes and get set for a busy day to check out these must-see parts of the city. Although if you have the time, stay as long as you possibly can!
1. Brooklyn Bridge
Start your morning with a walk over the famous bridge. Catch a train to the Brooklyn side to start from there so you can marvel at the skyline as you get closer and closer to it. Or better yet, wake up in Brooklyn as there are some amazing hotels, hostels and more on that side of the river that will be much cheaper than their Manhattan counterparts. If you have time, wander around the Brooklyn neighbourhoods – particularly Williamsburg – before your walk. Grab a coffee at one of their cool cafes, marvel at some graffiti finds or find cool vintage shops.
2. Ground Zero & One World Trade Centre
One of the most devastating tragedies of the 21st century was the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trades Centre. The memorial site is a beautiful tribute to all those lives lost, and glance up at the new One World Trade Centre next to it, towering at approximately the same height that the Twin Towers were. The observation deck of the new building only recently opened in early 2015 with marvellous views of the city as it’s the tallest in the city. The 9/11 museum next to the memorial is also a touching tribute worthy of a visit if you have a spare afternoon.
3. Statue of Liberty
Head to Battery Park next, where you can catch the ferry to this iconic landmark. Because if you go to New York City without visiting the Statue of Liberty, did you even go? Lady Liberty sits overlooking the lower end of the Manhattan Skyline so not only do you get to wander around her, but get great views of the city too. To skip the line you can pre-purchase tickets online. If you want to go up to her crown, with arguably the best views which will also let you go inside the statue to see all of the nuts and bolts, you need to pre-book online a few months in advance as they limit numbers per day. If you’re not too keen on walking around the island and think a close-up view from the water will suffice, then catch the Staten Island ferry which goes straight past it. And its FREE, 24 hours a day.
4. Flat Iron Building & District
One of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Manhattan is the Flat Iron District, complete with the famous Flat Iron Building. Take a walk down 5th Avenue and pretend you can afford to shop in the Chanel and Tiffany & Co. stores there or grab a bite to eat at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Shake Shack is home to the best burger I have ever eaten, complete with the best peanut butter thickshake I have ever tasted as well. You just can’t diet when you’re in this country.
5. High Line & Chelsea Markets
Walk along the most interesting park you will probably ever see. Built on an old abandoned railway track, the unique walk sits a few stories above the bustling streets of Manhattan with beautiful photo ops around every corner. Industrial elements and random art displays add to the greenery (I visited in winter, hence the photo looking not so green) and awesome views. Towards the south end of the track find Chelsea Markets, a unique hall filled with an array of delicious eateries, a great stop for lunch or a snack. Not only were there amazing food stores, but cool stalls featuring vintage jewellery, quirky souvenirs and everything in between.
6. Grand Central Station
Wander through a century old train station that is so familiar thanks to its featuring in many Hollywood movies. Stare at the constellation covered ceiling or the iconic four-sided clock atop the information booth in the centre of the main Grand concourse. There’s also a Shake Shack here… just sayin’!
7. Central Park
The perfectly rectangle park enclosed by tall skyscrapers on every side is filled with densely wooded parts, great lakes, sporting fields, cafes and even a Zoo. Take a walk through the stunning south end near Columbus Circle, or better yet, ride a bike around the park to see more. You can even hire a row boat and take it for a ride on one of the lakes.
8. Times Square
Day or night, Times Square is an interesting place. Crowded with tourists, it’s somewhere locals avoid like the plague. But it’s definitely somewhere you need to see. The illuminated lights and energetic crowd make any time of night feel like day time and this place still excited me even on my 12th visit. It’s beautiful, and if you didn’t hit up Shake Shack in the Flat Iron District there is one a block to the west on 8th street. It’s in the Theatre District so you’ll see the huge illuminated sign and theres always a line out the front because it’s that good, but it moves quickly. Sorry for the shameful plugging but you would hate me for not showing you the best burger in the city!
9. Top of the Rock
A lot choose to climb up the Empire State Building for views of the central part of Manhattan, but some chose the Top of the Rock (Rockafella Centre). I have done both, but prefer the Rock for a few reasons. The Empire State Building is iconic to the skyline, but you can’t see that if you’re standing on top of it. But the Empire State is closer to downtown if you want better views that way. The Top of the Rock is also closer to Central Park which provides for epic views and it’s also easier to see the lights of Times Square. I also love the ‘Sun and Stars’ pass that Top of the Rock offers. Pay only 45% more that a single pass and get a double pass to go up and view the city during the day, then gaze at the bright lights of a nighttime. Or go for sunset, which is very popular so you will need to book your times online as they only allow a certain amount of people up in every timeslot.
Finish your day by seeing a show on Broadway, something on a lot of peoples bucket lists! I’d never been a huge fan of shows myself, but this quickly changed after going to the famous Wicked stage show. Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe it and I highly recommend it. If you don’t want to fork out over $100 for a seat, head to a smaller more intimate show or a small comedy gig. Or if you want to see a show but too not fussed on which one, the discounted ticket store TKTS in Times Square sells up to 50% off tickets for same day shows. Just put time aside for that visit in itself as there is always a line out the front.
Let me know your favourite parts of NYC.