New York City Guide Part 1:
Updated: Jun 9, 2018
Hi everyone! New York has such a big place in my heart so it's fitting that this should be my first post. I made this series of posts (this is number 1/3!) not only for everyone visiting New York City but for all my fellow New Yorkers as well. Sometimes when you live somewhere, you don't get to do everything it's known for because it's always "right there". I love being a "tourist" in my own city, and if you gain nothing else from this post, I hope I can inspire you to do the same! I am a BIG encourager of staycations. Don't let someone visiting your city for a few days do more than you have done in a lifetime!
Without further ado, here are my top 13 things everyone MUST do in NYC. Enjoy!
1. Walk the High Line
This is probably the coolest thing to do in the city, in my opinion. The High Line was created in 1934 as a means to transport goods by railroad throughout the city. It was remodeled and opened as a park to the public in 2009. The 1.45 mile long “park in the air” runs from Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking district through West 34th Street with many entrances in between (including 14th, 18th, 28th, etc.). It is seriously one of the coolest walks to take, you see the city from a very different angle alongside and sometimes even through buildings! You can grab a bite and everything on the High Line and experience the city in a new way. Definitely not to be missed! You can stop and have drinks at Le Bain or the beer garden at The Standard (West 13th) and near by there are many galleries to check out.
2. Visit Columbus Circle
I suggest spending a whole morning or night around this area. You can honestly spend the whole day around since there is so much to do. This is my favorite part of the whole entire city…year round.
You can grab a bagel or coffee and stroll through central park, and then do a carriage ride around if you'd like, visit the mall, and nearby Lincoln Center. In the Winter they have the best holiday market in the city (the Mall also has the best indoor decorations in the whole city during the holidays). You can grab a bite at Bouchon bakery then walk through the mall a little. The mall has some of the best shopping and the famous "Adam & Eve" statues by the artist Fernando Botero. And don't forget to check out the Hearst Tower a few blocks away! My favorite building in New York City architecture wise.
3. Walk through Central Park
Truly an amazing park with lots of history behind it (some controversial) and tons of activities to do, you can bike ride, go kayaking, visit the zoo, there’s a little amusement park, strawberry fields, and way too many other things to mention.
4. Visit Times Square…obviously.
Most New Yorkers are snobbish about visiting Times Square but I personally love Times Square. Where else could you go buy some jeans at 1 am?! (AE and Forever 21 close at 2 am for future reference). They also have many little booths now to grab some quick food if you get hungry (I had one of the best empanadas in my life in one!) but please for the love of God stay away from Sbarro by all means.
5. Visit some museums.
My favorite museum is the Brooklyn museum. They have amazing art, always have amazing new exhibitions and every first Saturday of the month they throw the coolest party where you can pass through part of the museum at night and enjoy some good music. Definitely check that out if you can. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is next door as well. The Whitney Museum is my other favorite. Some others that are not to be missed are: the New Museum, of course the Met, the Natural History museum, the New York Transit museum (which during the holidays has a nice train display) for fun for the whole family and cool MTA NY merch/souvenirs..even New Yorkers would wear. For some adult fun you can check out the Sex Museum. They have deals Groupon a majority of time. And they have a room full of bouncy boobs! Where else can you find that at?!
6. Try the banana pudding Magnolia's Bakery. - a MUST!
Yes, it is that good that I decide to include it on this list and not my following New York post in which I will be sharing all my favorite spots in the city. It's really famous (you've probably seen it on your favorite shows or on insta) and for good reason. I think everyone should try it!I'm pretty picky about red velvet but theres is really good as well!
7. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Something everyone needs to cross of their list! The most beautiful walk ever. Make sure to catch the sunset while you're walking. You can also stroll through Brooklyn Heights (near the Transit Museum) when you go to Brooklyn to catch some amazing views and pictures of Manhattan.
8. Statue of liberty
I almost left this one out believe it or not but it is definitely something that must be done. It is such a historic and symbolic figure of the city. It's always important to learn some history of the place you are visiting or live. Definitely one of the things you take for granted when you live here (and kind of far) but it is definitely worth the trip. Make sure to go up to the crown!
9. Spend a day Uptown.
And by Uptown I mean past the Upper West Side, in Harlem and Washington Heights. This is my area, so I definitely have to include this to complete your New York experience. It's less "touristy", and you will have some of the most amazing eats New York has to offer, see some amazing art, and see a part of New York that is not always mentioned in typical guides. Come back next week for my full Uptown New York guide!
10. Have a chopped cheese from a bodega. A lil NY staple. :)
If you somehow have never heard of a “chopped cheese”, you can get one at almost every bodega in the city and is sometimes referred to as “the Philly cheesesteak of New York”. Worth the try if you’ve never had one; definitely something I miss when I’m away from home a long time.
*Note: This and the following, you can’t do all year round so if you’re on vacation you might not get to do this… (just means you’ll have to plan another trip)
11. See the Rockettes!!! - This is very important! Maybe the most important. No matter what age or sex you are, you must see a Rockettes show once in your life and of course the Christmas spectacular is not to be missed. It is truly one of the most amazing things I have ever watched. I actually went for the first time 2 years ago (after living in New York all my life…see?) and I loved it so much that I want to make going every year a family tradition. You can even catch tickets at a steal on Groupon sometimes, especially if you have a coupon code (typically at the beginning of the season in November). If you go, and are not impressed, you can totally send me hate mail. Note: If somehow, I didn't manage to convince you to see a show…still pay a visit to the outside. Radio city and the surrounding area are beautiful around the holidays and right next to Rockefeller Center.
Bonus: Skate under the Rockefeller tree!
12. See the Bergdorf windows and the outside of Saks during the holidays.
Checking out the Bergdorf windows is a MUST, they are truly a work of art. I definitely try to make it out at least once if I’m in the city. Everything is planned for months and is intricately put together. There are documentaries about this! (See: Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's) If you are not able to make it during the holidays, Bergdorf's is still a great place to at least stroll through. You will definitely find everything you need in there (and lots of stuff you don't).
13. Last but certainly not least, Brookfield place (A.K.A. the only place you can see Palm trees in NYC) and the surrounding area.
They have an ice skating rink through this time which you can check out, definitely one of the nicest in the city in my opinion. And of course a very important part of New York: the 9/11 memorial and the Freedom Tower, all of which must be checked out. 9/11 is such a big part of our history now. Every New Yorker remembers where they were during that day and the memorial is a beautiful tribute to all those who we unfortunately lost.
This would also be the time to take the train or at least visit the Oculus station — an amazingly beautiful piece of architecture…as it should be...Costing around 4 BILLION dollars to build, it became the world’s most expensive train station ever! The Oculus has quickly become many New Yorker’s favorite place. It is all white, and incredibly stunning & stylish (definitely great for instagram pictures).
Bonus: a helicopter ride of the city! If you are not afraid of heights and have the funds to spare, this is something I highly recommend all throughout the year. This is where you will get the best views of the entire city. Something to try to factor in if you’re coming to visit!
1. My BIGGEST suggestion would be staying in the New York City area…in the actual city. Please do not "go to New York" and stay in Yonkers or New Jersey if you can avoid it, PLEASE. Not that there’s anything wrong with those places, it would just complicate your visit a little and I feel you would not get the most out of your NY experience. I recommend staying in lower Manhattan the most (I would suggest Union Square/somewhere around 14th or around Columbus Circle) and downtown Brooklyn second (easily accessible to the best locations). A hotel in lower Manhattan is definitely worth every penny, time management wise. Plus, everything you'd save staying farther from the city, you'd spend on transportation (and headaches) so there's absolutely no point if you don't have to. Some cool hotels to check out at are the Dream Downtown, the Dream Midtown, the Standard Hotel Highline, the Yotel, and the W Times Square :)
2. Take the train like a New Yorker! Or regular taxis…I would say avoid Uber unless you're on a special promotion. Uber is usually the same price or more expensive (and they take a cut from the taxi drivers pay). Just take regular taxis, you can catch one from the airport as well. If you're going farther (i.e. from the airport) you can call a car service. You can google the taxi cab companies phone numbers (some examples are Riverside, Kennedy, or High Class). If taking the train is not your thing, I suggest to take it at least once for just a few stops to complete your NY experience. There's really nothing like it. All the people from different places, stations filled with performers, it's a lot…in a good way. Though with all the terrible news and things going in the world…I can totally understand if you'd rather not. Safety first!
3. Make sure to plan! At least loosely. I suggest a little itinerary or at least plan the areas you want to hit each day. Don't take it too seriously but I feel like in a city as big as New York (with so much to do everywhere) it is smart to have at least an idea so you can get to do everything you want! I promise you there will be 5,000 you didn't know about but have to check out. When I travel, I like to schedule first day I get somewhere (if time permits), to get lost and just explore the city. I mostly explore the area I'm staying in, and try all the restaurants that look cool and go in all the shops my heart desires.
Hope you enjoyed this post! How many of these things can you say you crossed off your list? What are YOUR New York City favorites and must do's?!?!
If any of these have inspired you to book a flight to New York or if you check out any of the places I recommend, please share your pictures with me! Make sure to follow and tag me on instagram and twitter @theshaydeelife so I can see your posts. And most of all, hope you enjoy my city!
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