New York is defined as the city that never sleeps and only after having been there can I say that I really understood why. I cannot even imagine how many days it would take to be able to say that I knew the city, even just a little bit. Some numbers of New York to make the idea: more than 8 million inhabitants, 5 districts, over 13 thousand yellow taxis, 34 subway lines and about 800 languages spoken in the Big Apple.
I think it’s important for a first trip to New York to have an idea of what to go and see and visit. All obviously based on your tastes and interests. I would advise you to dedicate at least a week to the city, provided that it will not be enough.
What it will find the city has simply of incredible. In this article I have enclosed all the experiences I had in New York, collecting them in 25 things to see (and do), but also places to eat and I want to advise you!
1. CENTRAL PARK
One of the most famous parks in the world, Central Park was my personal visiting card in New York. The very first stage of my trip. For those who do not know, Central Park is totally artificial and was created specifically to reclaim a swampy area of the city and thus give New York a lung to breathe in the middle of all the cement that covers it. Central Park is huge, rent a bike and start its discovery. Do not miss The Lake aboard a rowboat, Strawberry Fields, Shakespeare and the Conservatory Garden, but above all the incredible atmosphere of the place that in autumn, thanks to the foliage, becomes even more magical!
Info: There are many metro lines that stop near Central Park, the ideal stop is Columbus Circle served by lines A, B, C, D and 1.
2. TIMES SQUARE
I had read so many negative opinions on Times Square. Now, finally, I can say mine. It is true that Times Square is delusional, it is true that there is chaos everywhere, it is true that it jerks to walk and that the lights are blinding. But I seriously loved her. It made me feel small and at the same time great, it’s hard to explain but it’s like I felt like I was at the center of the world. The LEDs project advertising without stopping, the air is warmer just because of all the screens, but the atmosphere of Times Square cannot fail to upset you. And do not forget to attend one of the shows offered by the surrounding theaters. For me it’s thumb up!
3. GRAND CENTRAL STATION
44 docks and 67 tracks. But above all a centenary charm that hypnotizes every passerby, visitor or traveler. There are countless films and series that have been filmed here in Grand Central Station (I am a legend, Men in black, Gossip Girl just to name a few) and the ceiling of the structure literally leaves you breathless. The real show, however, in my opinion is the comings and goings of people: it was great to stand in a corner on the landing of the central staircase and start spying on passers-by. Intercepting hugs, fleeting glances at the clocks, hands clasping, and sad eyes. It is a beautiful memory.
Info: Located in Midwest Manhattan, 89 East & 42nd Street
4. ROCKEFELLER CENTER
Television studios (including NBC Studios), radio stations, theaters, restaurants, shops … within the 19 buildings that make up the Rockefeller Center, connected by an underground network called Concourse, there is practically everything. The Rockefeller complex is famous all over the world, especially for the skating rink that comes to life in winter and which at Christmas lights up thanks to the fir of over 25 meters and its more than 40 thousand lights. Among the shops do not miss the colorful Lego Store (overlooking the well-kept Channel Gardens), but above all do not miss the view from the top of the Top of the Rock!
Info: It is located not far from Central Park, overlooking the 5th Avenue, precisely at 45 Rockefeller Plaza
5. TOP OF THE ROCK
Between the top view of New York offered by the Empire State Building and the one offered by the Top of the Rock instead I chose the one of the latter for a reason: in the multitude of buildings in New York I would have seen from above the Empire. Personally I was very excited in front of the breathtaking view of the Big Apple, thanks to the fact that I was there at sunset. In doing so, in fact, I enjoyed the view with at least three totally different lights, all unique.
Info: Located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, it is always open and the admission ticket costs $ 34
6. MOMA – MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
The wonder of this museum is simply endless. Get ready to observe live many works that you have studied in the books of art history: among the many artists present there are names like Monet, Chagall, Dali, Picasso, Hopper, Degas with its dancers and Van Gogh with its Starry Night. The MOMA is simply unmissable.
Info: Located at 11 West 53 street, is closed on Tuesday and entry is free on Friday from 4pm to 8pm
7. STATUE OF FREEDOM
It is impossible to make a list of the 25 things to see in New York without mentioning one of its undisputed symbols: the Statue of Liberty. I must admit, I am particularly fond of her. And the reason lies in the history that it holds and in the meaning it covers. To admire it then head to Battery Park and take one of the many ferries that connect New York to the islet where the statue is located.
Info: Book the tour early, especially if you intend to get to the top of the Corona, the capacity is only 240 people a day!
8. ELLIS ISLAND
The ferry ticket to the Statue of Liberty includes admission to the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island, an islet near the one that houses Lady Liberty. The Museum is very touching and tells the story of the immigrants who have come here in search of the realization of their American Dream. Among these, the most famous names are for example Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Einstein and Sigmund Freud. Do not miss the feeling that you feel inside the Registry Room, really palpable.
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9. BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Another symbol of New York is the Brooklyn Bridge that joins Manhattan to the homonymous neighborhood of Brooklyn. One of my favorites. The neighborhood radiates wonderful vibrations with its cafes, green corners and beautiful industrial-style lofts. The Brooklyn Bridge, then, is simply 2.36 km of pure spectacle. The advice is to walk twice on foot: the first from Brooklyn to Manhattan at dawn, when people are very few and the view of the New York skyline closer and closer leaves you breathless. The second from Manhattan to Brooklyn at sunset, people will be a lot but the light on the East River is really beautiful.
The Dumbo (acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is an area of the Brooklyn neighborhood that has become famous thanks to the glimpse that sees the Manhattan Bridge nestled between the buildings of Plymouth Street in a curious game of perspectives. The area, once infamous, is today one of the most beautiful and cool in all of New York thanks to its bars and very hipster shops and countless art galleries. It’s also here that I ate the best (and most expensive) bagels of all the ones in New York. If you are curious, read the next point!
Info: Reach Old Dock Street and treat yourself to a ride on Jane’s Carousel, a beautiful and ancient carousel dating back to 1922! The ride costs only $ 2 and the view of the East River makes it even more carefree and romantic.
11. THE BAGEL DELIGHT
In New York one of my favorite meals was undoubtedly the bagel and as I mentioned a few moments ago, the best among those tasted is definitely that of La Bagel Delight, a very small but super-equipped place that is located at the DUMBO. The choice of filling is very wide and you can also choose the type of bagel among those offered. The prices are high but the bagel will satisfy you: it’s huge!
Info: Bagel Delight is located in 104 Front St, Brooklyn
Just one subway stop from Manhattan, the Williamsburg area is a part of Brooklyn but has gained over time a precise identity. It’s the hipster area of New York par excellence (and maybe that’s why I chose it as a base to explore the city). Lose yourself in its streets: they are full of bars, cafes with a bohemian flavor, artists, small art galleries and flea markets. I love it.
13. FINANCIAL DISTRICT
Located in Lower Manhattan, the Financial District is often deliberately excluded from sightseeing. In my opinion, a walk through the tall and ancient buildings of the neighborhood is really recommended! The most famous street in the neighborhood is undoubtedly Wall Street and it is here that the famous American Exchange is located, teeming with men in suits and ties. Surely you will see a long line of tourists waiting to take a picture with the Taurus of Wall Street nearby and my advice is to give him a quick look and then to prefer the visit of the historic Trinity Church and the Federal Hall.
14. GROUND ZERO – WORLD TRADE CENTER
The World Trade Center is always located in Lower Manhattan. Years ago it was a complex of 7 buildings, including the Twin Towers. After the 2001 terrorist attack, due to the damage, all the buildings were eventually demolished and today the reconstruction works of the complex are still ongoing. The exact point where the Twin Towers stood today is called Ground Zero: instead of the towers there are today two large fountains with the names of the victims of the attack engraved on large and dark slabs of marble. It is also here that the entrance to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is located, one of the most touching places I’ve ever visited in my life. I am sure that you too will never be prepared for the enormous emotional impact that this place unleashes. If after the long visit you will then want to have an incredible view of New York, head to the One World Trade Center: it is the sixth tallest skyscraper in the world.
Info: The Oculus, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, was inaugurated exactly 2 years ago. It is a huge station that manages the huge influx of people leaving and arriving at the World Trade Center and Financial District connecting 11 metro lines. The architecture of this building, which bears the signature of Calatrava, undoubtedly deserves a visit.
15. LINCOLN CENTER
I admit it, I would not have wanted to go to Lincoln Center during my first trip to New York. But I had to change my mind. Art at Lincoln Center is home to prestigious venues such as the Metropolitan Opera House, the New York Philharmonic or the Julliard School. Go there if possible in the evening: you will see a parade of elegant people ready to attend one of the shows and also the lights make the square even more beautiful.
Info: It is located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan
16. FLATIRON BUILDING
The Flatiron Building is not only one of the buildings that was once among the highest in New York, but also one of the most famous ever. So much so that now the entire area surrounding it has taken the name of Flatiron District. Who have you ever seen at least once in a lifetime the picture of this iron-shaped building? Think that the tip of the building is barely 2 meters wide!
Info: On Saturday there are organized tours that include a visit to the Flatiron Building, located at 175 of 5th Ave.
17. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM
I’m not a fan of modern and contemporary art at all, but the Guggenheim Museum is worth a visit even just for the building that houses it, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Among the great names of artists that you will find in the interior I mention for example Picasso, Van Gogh, Manet, Cezanne, Gaugain. Just remember that on Thursday the Museum is closed!
Info: It is located at 1071 5th Ave so take this opportunity also for a walk on the most famous street in the city! Saturday is open until 19.45 and from 5.45 pm you can enter with a free offer of minimum 10 dollars
18. BRYANT PARK
Set on 42nd Street, Bryant Park is a green corner in the middle of Manhattan. In summer it is an open-air cinema, while in winter it comes alive with small stands and an ice rink. During my trip, it had become my little oasis of peace.
19. PUBLIC LIBRARY
More than 52 million volumes and 4 floors: the Public Library of New York is immense and, above all, public. Entering it is like accessing a movie set. It is a truly unique place!
Info: Access is free and is also open on Sundays. It is located at 476 of the 5th Av, a stone’s throw from Bryant Park
20. NBA’S MATCH AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
This is a personal favor that I ask you: since I could not go there, would you like to realize this dream for me? Going to New York without attending an NBA match is a sacrilege, I know, and I hope to redeem myself in the future. Meanwhile, I suggest you to book the game to watch!
21. HIGH LINE AND MEATPACKING DISTRICT
In the heart of the redeveloped Meatpacking District stands the High Line, one of the places in New York that I loved the most. These are old disused elevated tracks converted into a very singular and very crowded urban park. Families with children, couples, groups of young people: the High Line agrees all thanks not only to its green spaces and art galleries, but also to the enchanting views that it offers on the city. The High Line is then included in the Meatpacking District, a decidedly industrial and terribly fascinating district, now stormed by high society.
Info: Located in the southwest area of Manhattan, between Greenwich Village and Chelsea
22. CHELSEA MARKET
Especially if, like me, you’re in New York during the Halloween period, take a trip to the Chelsea Market! Stuck in the Chelsea District, his curiosity is that it was taken from the former factory of the famous Oreo biscuits. The Chelsea Market is simply the perfect place for a break with cookies and cupcakes, a stone’s throw from the Meatpacking District.
Info: Located at 75 9th Ave, in the Chelsea district of the same name
Soho is THE district par excellence: here you will find really everything. Its atmosphere is super trendy: trendy clubs, shops of all kinds, girls who carry arm-in-arm enormous bags of the most diverse brands. If you fancy a shopping break, Soho is without a doubt the right neighborhood.
24. ROSARIO PIZZA
You are very hungry and after almost a week of traveling feel the nostalgia of good Italian food? I have never been a supporter of pizza abroad but that of Sal, the nickname of the landlord Rosario, is worth a visit. And not just for goodness. From Sal you will find all the Italian hospitality and genuineness and you will feel like you are at home. Sal, finally, will not spare himself from telling you his incredible story that brought him to New York from Sicily!
Info: Located in the East Village, at 173 of Orchard Street
25. GREENWICH VILLAGE
If the skyscrapers in New York have given you a stiff neck and you want something more on a human scale, Greenwich Village is the right place. Sex and the City and Friends have found most of their settings here at Greenwich, while Magnolia Bakery attracts the sweet tooth (including myself!). There are so many things to do and see in this neighborhood between iconic shops and clubs; do not miss the nightlife of Bleecker Street, the view of the Washington Square Arch, a walk to see the red brick buildings with the iconic outdoor fire escape stairs and the crazy Halloween Parade if you are in New York at this time of year .It’s spectacular!
Info: Greenwich Village is nestled between the districts of Chelsea, East Village and Soho
With these 25 things to do, see and taste I really hope to have given you an idea of what awaits you in New York, it being understood that there are still many things to do and see and many more. I sent them back to my next trip to the Big Apple. Now there is nothing left to do but to book your trip to New York, with the new low cost flights there are no more excuses and I also remind you that a way to save on admission to museums and activities is the use of the convenient CityPASS.