I have not lived in NYC, this list is from a friend who lives there, and ideas from my own visits:
Things To Do:
– Times Sq, 34th Street (and Empire State Bldg), Central Park, Crysler Bldg, Flatiron Bldg
– Take a walk on the Highline (closes at 7pm in the winter). It used to be an elevated railway for transporting goods to/from warehouses in chelsea up to penn station where it could be delivered across the country. The shipping industry used to be huge in NYC on upon a time…
– Baumann’s Rare Books (535 Madison Avenue): have 1st editions of a lot or really rare books…some even signed by the authors!! Authors such as Albert Einstein, Issac Newtown oh and a 1st edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species
– Big Onion Walking Tours – cheap but super informative, you learn about the history of the neighborhood, the buildings, the people, etc. I’ve been on almost 10 of their tours, and have loved them all. They have about 25 different tours and rotate through a schedule – so check out their website to see what tours are running while you are here.
– There`s lots of walking tours out there, Movie tours, Architecture tours, Historical tours…but they are pretty fun and educational!
Museums: MOMA (Modern Art), Metropolitan (artifacts, archaeological finds), Natural History (from the movie “Night at the Museum”), Museum of the City of New York (all about the history of the city), Skyscraper Museum, Transit Museum (Brooklyn), Gangster Museum, are just a few I recommend. Check out their websites if you want to see prices for entry (some have discounts on certain days or free days!).
– Check out the lobbies of the Plaza and Waldorf Astoria.
– Statue of Liberty (they recently opened up the crown so you can go all the way to the top!) and Ellis Island
– Top of the Rock Observation Deck (much better view than from atop the Empire State Building, because the ESB is in your view and you’re not looking through a fence) – check online for coupons before you arrive, usually you can get $2 off adult price
– New York Public Library & Grand Central Station – located only a few blocks away from each other, it`s free to go inside and they are absolutely beautiful buildings! The whispering gallery at Grand Central Station is also a lot fun! Physics rules!
– Shopping on Canal Street – this is where all the knock off name brand accessories (sunglasses, purses, watches, etc.) are sold. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s fun to just go and see all the bargaining!
– City Hall Park, WTC, Wall Street & surrounding area – This area of Manhattan is where many of the famous skyscrapers are located, so it’s nice to walk around a little and gawk at the buildings. The streets are super narrow, it’s awesome! Check out stone street (not far from Wall St) it’s got cobble stone and cute little bars, feels like you’ve walked back into the 1800’s!
Theater (Musicals and Plays), check their websites ahead of time and see if they have rush or lottery tickets. You may be able to get them for $20-30. If you are too lazy, just go to the TKTS booth (there’s one at Times Sq, South Street Seaport, and Downtown Brooklyn). If you get there when they open, they have discounted tickets for same-day shows. They also have an iphone app you can download.
- Grimaldi’s Pizza (uses coal, which is rare these days, so you get a little of that flavor in the crust, so it’s delicious) @ 19 Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn – followed by a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge AT NIGHT (it’s one of the most amazing views and one of my all time favorite NY experiences)
- Lombardi’s Pizza or Grimaldi’s (NY style – thin crust, minimal toppings, cooked in a super hot brick oven.
- Chelsea Markets! (after 4:30 or 5pm on weekdays, most places there sell remaining food products at 50% off) p.s. the building that the Chelsea market is housed in was the old Nabisco factory and is where the Oreo Cookie was invented/made!
- Definitely stick to the villages for good food that’s good value. These tend to be tiny, hole-in-the-wall places, loud, crowded, but unique menus with really tasty options.
- Some places I recommend: Café Habana, Cafe mogador, momufuku, ippudo, pommes frites, s’mac, the meatball shop, the spotted pig, corner bistro.
- For cupcakes, everyone tends to recommend magnolia bakery, but I don’t really like it. Instead try butter lane, babycakes, or crumbs.
- Some other restaurants that I recommend (these are more upscale and tend to be pricey, so check out menus and such ahead of time):
Delmonico’s or Peter Luger’s for steak (both are AMAZING)
Bar Americain (Bobby Flay’s place, not as pricey as the others but delicious)
Babbo (italian – pretty hard to get a dinner reservation)
Craft (new american)
Esca (italian seafood)
Gotham bar and grill (new american)
Morimoto (japanese – I love this place!)
- If you are willing to go a little further, check out Melba’s in Harlem and try the waffles with fried chicken. I know, I know, it sounds wierd and gross, but it’s just AMAZING! Make sure you go hungry, and check ahead if they take reservations. When I went, we had to wait an hour because it seemed that other people had reservations.
- Smorgasburg outdoor Flea/Farmers Market