- New York City can be overwhelming, and you want to make sure you hit all the right spots on your next visit.
- After living in New York City for five years, author Adrienne Jordan discovered which places are worth visiting and which you should definitely skip.
- From active adventures to culinary hotspots, here are nine attractions you must see in New York City.
Visiting New York City is always a multi-sensory experience: from the hundreds of skyscrapers, the heady smell of street food, and the multitude of neighborhoods begging to be explored. However, narrowing down the best sights and attractions can be overwhelming.
After living in New York City for five years, I have found that some of the best places I’ve experienced have come from locals and insider recommendations. Here are 12 things I recommend people to do in the city, from visiting historic buildings, active adventures, to culinary hotspots:
1. Skip the Statue of Liberty — visit the 9/11 Museum at One World Trade Center instead
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The view of the statue is just as spectacular from Battery Park (a 10-minute walk from the museum) as going to Ellis Island, and you have a picturesque skyline as a backdrop.
The museum tells the story of 9/11 through interactive technology, archives, narratives, and a collection of artifacts.
2. Instead of buying a hot dog or sausage from a Manhattan food truck, try an egg cream
The food trucks are great for quick bites on the go, but you can take your time, sit down, and savor an egg cream at a restaurant.
The quintessential New York City soda fountain drink contains neither eggs nor cream and dates back to the early 1900s. You can find it at many iconic establishments in the city, such asKatz’s Deli, Russ & Daughters, and Yonah Schimmel’s.
3. Skip jam-packed Times Square, and head to Columbus Circle instead
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The crowds in Times Square can be overwhelming at times, but Columbus Circle is not as busy, and is adjacent to Central Park, so you can take a nature-filled walk after shopping around.
At Columbus Circle, you can browseThe Shops at Columbus Circle, have lunch at the French restaurant Landmarc, and burn calories with a day pass at Equinox.
If you do decide to head to Times Square, instead of taking a photo with one of the costumed characters, visitGulliver’s Gate, located in the heart of Times Square: the largest miniature world in the U.S. The permanent exhibition is 50,000 square feet of places around the world in miniature. You’ll get a key when you enter which allows you to interact with different parts of the display.
4. Instead of spending your entire vacation in Manhattan, visit the outer boroughs
Manhattan is the immediate borough that most tourists want to see, but Queens is the most culturally diverse borough in the city. Brooklyn and the Bronx have unique attractions worth visiting, like the waterfront DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn, and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Bike along the waterfront in Long Island City, Queens; tour the historic brownstones of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn; and have lunch at one of the seafood hotspots at City Island, Bronx.
5. Instead of going to the Bethesda Terrace and fountain overlook in Central Park, visit the park’s Conservatory Gardens
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The terrace and fountain are well known to visitors, but the Conservatory Gardens are a hidden gem.
The six-acre formal garden with beautiful fountains is located on 5th Avenue and 105thStreet.
6. Instead of breaking a sweat in your hotel fitness center, spend a few hours at Brooklyn Boulders
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The indoor rock climbing facility has 22,000 square feet of climbing surface, from basic climbing to slacklining (a type of tightrope walking that is popular with climbers).
7. Instead of having dinner at a restaurant at street level, take in the skyline with a rooftop dinner
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An elevated view of the city is spectacular, while many street-level restaurants offer limited views, especially if they’re located on congested blocks.
Upstairs at theKimberly Hotelis on the 30thfloor, with views of East River, Midtown Manhattan, and the Chrysler Building. It offers delicious food like tuna tartare, beet salad, and truffle mac and cheese.
8. Instead of going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, walk around Chelsea
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers many stunning permanent exhibits, including art from all over the world, but can get crowded and overwhelming. If you’re looking for more of an eclectic art experience, the Chelsea/Meatpacking area offers a broad range of cultural stops – from dozens of changing art exhibits to pop up shops – in a small radius.
Check out theThe Highline(an out-of-use railroad trestle that’s been converted to a public park), visit the new Whitney museum, and pop into a few galleries to get your fill of beauty and art.
9. Instead of going to a Broadway play, get tickets to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
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Popular Broadway plays can be in high demand, with soaring ticket prices to match.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre‘s extremely talented African American dance troupe has been performing across the country and around the world since 1958.
If you are lucky, one of their acts will be Revelations, which features moving, beautiful choreography to African-American spirituals like “Wade in the Water” and “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”