New York is defined as the city that never sleeps and only after being there can I say that I really understood the reason. I can’t 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 from New York to give an idea: more than 8 million inhabitants, 5 districts, over 13 thousand yellow taxis, 34 underground lines and about 800 languages spoken in the Big Apple.
I think it is important for a first trip to New York to have an idea of what to see and visit. All of course based on your tastes and interests. I would advise you to dedicate at least a week to the city, it being understood that it will not be enough for you. What it will find the city has simply of incredible. In this article I enclosed all the experiences I lived in New York by collecting them in 25 things to see (and do), but also places to eat and I feel I want to recommend you!
1. Central Park
One of the most famous parks in the world, Central Park was my personal New York business card. The very first stage of my journey. For the uninitiated, Central Park is totally artificial and was created specifically to clean up 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 immense, rent a bicycle and start its discovery. Don’t miss The Lake on 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!
2. Times Square
I had read so many negative opinions about Times Square. Now, finally, I can have my say. It is true that Times Square is delirious, it is true that there is chaos everywhere, it is true that it jostles for walking and that the lights are blinding. But I seriously adored her. It made me feel small and at the same time very big, it is difficult to explain but it is as if I felt I was at the center of the world. LEDs project advertising without stopping, the air is warmer because of all the screens, but the atmosphere of Times Square cannot fail to upset you. And don’t forget to watch 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 passer-by, visitor or traveler. There are countless films and series that have been filmed here inside the Grand Central Station (I am 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 watches, shaking hands, sad eyes. It is a beautiful memory.
4. Rockefeller Center
Television studios (including NBC Studios), radio stations, theaters, restaurants, shops … within the 19 buildings that make up Rockefeller Center, connected by an underground grid called Concourse, there’s pretty much everything . The Rockefeller complex is famous all over the world, especially for the skating rink that comes to life in winter and that lights up at Christmas thanks to the more than 25-meter fir and its over 40 thousand lights. Among the shops, don’t miss the colorful Lego Store (which overlooks the well-kept Channel Gardens), but above all don’t miss the view from the top of the Top of the Rock!
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, I chose the latter for a reason: in the multitude of buildings in New York, I would have seen from above just the Empire. Personally, I was really moved by the breathtaking view of the Big Apple, thanks to the fact that I was there at sunset. In doing so I actually enjoyed the view with at least three totally different lights, all unique.
6. MOMA – Museum Of Modern Art
The wonder of this museum is simply endless. Get ready to watch many works of art you have studied in art history books: among the many artists present there are names like Monet, Chagall, Dalì, Picasso, Hopper, Degas with his dancers and Van Gogh with his Notte Stellata. The MOMA is simply not to be missed.
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 have to admit, I’m particularly fond of her. And the reason lies all in the history that it preserves and in the meaning it covers. To admire it, head to Battery Park and take one of the many ferries that connect New York to the islet where the Statue is located.
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8. Ellis Island
The ferry ticket to the Statue of Liberty includes the entrance to the Immigration Museum located in Ellis Island, a small island close to the one that houses Lady Liberty. The Museum is truly moving 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.
9. Brooklyn Bridge
Another symbol of New York is the Brooklyn Bridge that links Manhattan to the eponymous Brooklyn neighborhood. One of my favorites. The neighborhood exudes wonderful vibes 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 it twice on foot: the first from Brooklyn to Manhattan at dawn, when people are very little and the view of the New York skyline ever closer leaves you breathless. The second from Manhattan to Brooklyn at sunset, people will be great but the light on the East River is beautiful.
The Dumbo (acronym of Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is an area of the Brooklyn district that has become famous thanks to the view that sees the Manhattan Bridge nestled between the buildings of Plymouth Street in a curious game of perspectives. The area, once infamous, today represents one of the most beautiful and coolest in all of New York thanks to its very hipster cafés and boutiques and countless art galleries. It is also here that I ate the best (and most expensive) bagel of all those tasted in New York. If you are curious, read the next point!
11. The Bagel Delight
In New York one of my favorite meals was undoubtedly the bagel and as I mentioned a little while ago, the best of those tasted is certainly that of La Bagel Delight, a very small but super well-stocked restaurant located at DUMBO. The choice of filling is very wide and you can also choose the type of bagel from those proposed. The prices are high but the bagel will satisfy you: it’s huge!
Just one subway stop from Manhattan, the Williamsburg area is in effect a part of Brooklyn but over the years has conquered its own precise identity. It’s the hipster area of New York par excellence (and maybe that’s why I chose it as a base for exploring 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.
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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 bag is located, teeming with men in suits and ties. Certainly, you will see a long line of tourists nearby waiting to take a picture with the Wall Street Bull and my advice is to give him a quick look and then much 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 in progress. The exact point where the Twin Towers stood is today 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 marble slabs. This is also where the entrance to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is located, one of the most touching places ever visited in my life. I am sure that you too will never be prepared for the enormous emotional impact that this place triggers. 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.
15. Lincoln Center
I admit, I didn’t want to go to Lincoln Center on my first trip to New York. But I had to think again. The Lincoln Center is home to Art thanks to the locations of prestigious places 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 very elegant people ready to attend one of the shows and also the lights make the square even more beautiful.
16. Flatiron Building
The Flatiron Building is not only one of the buildings that in the past was among the highest in New York, but also one of the most famous of all. So much so that by now the entire area surrounding it has been called Flatiron District. Who have you ever seen at least once in your life the photo of this building in the shape of an iron? Think that the tip of the building is barely 2 meters wide!
17. Guggenheim Museum
I’m not at all a fan of modern and contemporary art, but the Guggenheim Museum deserves a visit just for the building that houses it, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Among the great names of artists that you will find inside, I mention for example Picasso, Van Gogh, Manet, Cezanne, Gaugain. Just remember that the museum is closed on Thursday!
18. Bryant Park
Nestled on 42nd Street, Bryant Park is a little piece of greenery in the middle of Manhattan. In summer, it is an open-air cinema while in winter it comes alive with small stalls and a skating rink. During my trip, it had become my little haven of peace.
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19. Public Library
More than 52 million volumes and 4 floors: the New York Public Library is immense and, above all, public. Entering it is like accessing a movie set. It is a truly unique place!
20. Match Of NBA at Madison Square Garden
This is a personal favor that I ask of 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.
21. High Line and The Meatpacking District
In the heart of the highly redesigned Meatpacking District stands the High Line, one of the most famous places in New York. These are old disused elevated tracks converted into a unique and very crowded urban park. Families with children, couples, groups of young people: the High Line brings everyone together thanks not only to its green spaces and art galleries, but also to the enchanting views it offers over the city. The High Line is then inserted in the context of the Meatpacking District, a decidedly industrial and terribly fascinating neighborhood, now taken by assault by high society.
22. Chelsea Market
Especially if, like me, you’re in New York during Halloween, head over to Chelsea Market! Stuck in the Chelsea district, his curiosity is that it was made 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.
Soho is THE neighborhood par excellence: here you will really find everything. Its atmosphere is super trendy: trendy bars, shops of all kinds, girls who carry huge shopping bags of the most disparate brands by the arm. If you fancy a shopping break, Soho is undoubtedly the right neighborhood.
24. Rosario Pizza
Are you hungry and after almost a week of travel 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 it will seem like being at home. Sal, finally, he will not be spared from telling you his incredible story that from Sicily took him to New York!
25. Greenwich Village
If the skyscrapers of 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 locations here in Greenwich, while Magnolia Bakery attracts the sweet tooth (including me!). There are so many things to do and see in this neighborhood between iconic shops and clubs; above all don’t miss the nightlife of Bleecker Street, the view of Washington Square Arch, a walk to observe the red brick buildings with the iconic external fire escapes and the crazy Halloween Parade if you are in New York this time of year .It’s spectacular!
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 but many more things to do and see. 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 remind you that one way to save on museum and activity tickets is to use the convenient CityPASS.