NYC holds everyone in a kind of rapture, whether they’ve ever been there or not. Literature is littered with quotes about how it’s the best and the worst, the energy, the madness…
Over the great bridge, with sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money.
The city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
How much could I really contribute to this mess?
Not terribly much, I’m afraid;) Nonetheless, I’m going to try put in this list of things to do in NYC with the major tourist attractions I managed to hit.
I saw more than probably most would on their first visit to this glittering mess of skyscrapers, but I still only peeled off layer one of a city that, undoubtedly, has tens of thousands. Still, I crossed off several important must-see landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. After reading about it, I opted out of the Empire State building (no way in hell is that worth my $60).
Here are famous NYC landmarks you shouldn’t miss.
Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island
Visiting the Statue of Liberty is less than $20 (unless you want to go inside in which case you have to book ahead of time). Me? I just showed up at Battery Park around 9am on a Tuesday and was in and out of the line for tickets super quick.
Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close is cool and if you’re interested in the Ellis Island Museum totally worth the little cruise out into the harbor.
If you have no interest in the museum and aren’t going into the Statue, I think you’d be just as well off going to Governor’s Island or taking the Staten Island ferry. Both give you great views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty for a fraction of the price.
The iconic image of New York, Times Square is definitely one of the top NYC landmarks. Yes, I went there, but it wasn’t all that exciting. There are just tons of flashing screens yelling at you about products and hundreds of tourists standing in line for Broadway tickets. I went there once and will probably never go again.
Brooklyn Bridge + Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is another favorite and you can go from either the Manhattan or Brooklyn side. For the Manhattan side get off the metro at City Hall and you’ll be right at the entrance. Cross over to the Brooklyn side and you can hang out in the Brooklyn Bridge Park to get some amazing Manhattan views.
Just a short walk beyond is the Brooklyn Heights Promenade where you can escape most the tourists. This quiet strip is the perfect place to chill and enjoy the view of the city and the bridge. You can even see the sun setting on the distant Statue of Liberty.
View from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Rockefeller Plaza + Saint Thomas Cathedral
If you’re looking for an Empire State Building alternative, the Top of the Rock is a popular substitute with the same views and less waiting. I just walked around the plaza a bit, hoping I’d see Tina Fey, but then realized 30 Rock is totally over. I moved onto the Saint Thomas Cathedral.
Financial District + Trinity Church
Did you know the stone George Washington got sworn into the presidency can be found in NY’s financial district just across from the New York Stock Exchange? I didn’t either. Go inside the Federal Hall National Monument on Wall Street and you’ll find it. Check out the old Trinity Church and then walk down the most expensive street in the world and, please, while you’re at it maybe defile Trump’s building.
View of Wall Street from Federal Hall National Monument.
9/11 Memorial + One World Trade Center
Another possible Empire State Building replacement; this building is much higher and close to the water. I didn’t visit the 9/11 Museum, figuring since I still remember the day in school where we all spent the entire day glued to the TV, I didn’t need to be reminded of why or how it happened. I did walk around the memorial though… can’t believe how the years have flown by.
The best place to pop in for a breath of fresh air. Central Park is massive so you won’t run out of places to explore. Great for people watching or laying around on the grass.
NYC Public Library + Grand Central
Cool buildings to check out. Libraries are great just because and Grand Central is like some kind of crazy beehive (you can even visit the Apple Store).
New York Public Library
The Met, MOMA, Guggenheim, and More Museums
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a museum junkie and I probably spent most of my time in NYC visiting museums. I can’t manage to crash in and out of museums in 1 – 3 hours like most normal tourists.
For art, Paris is probably the only city that can rival NY. I spent seven insufficient hours at the Met, raced through (if you call 4 hour racing) MOMA’s free nights, 4 at the Guggenheim which is honestly just awesome to look at, in addition to extended visits to the Frick Collection, The Cloisters, the Bronx Museum of Fine Arts, and the Brooklyn Museum. Sadly, I didn’t make it to the Whitney Museum 🙁
But museums aren’t just for art. You can also spend days wandering the Museum of Natural History and admiring the beautiful dioramas, learn about the city at the Museum of New York, or enter the world of filmmaking at the Museum of the Moving Image.
The amazing Guggenheim has a dark sense of humor… I believe that’s Pinocchio drowned in the pool.