New York, New York
The problem is that New York, the Big Apple, is simply too famous. There are just so many things to do in New York City: so many New York tourist attractions, so many possible places to go and potential things to see. There are a lot of free museums in NYC for example. There’s the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Guggenheim or the Morgan Library, or you might visit the New York Transit Museum.
In truth what you choose to see and do in NYC probably comes down to your own personal taste, so here are just a few New York vacation Ideas. This is just a small sample of some of the best places to visit in NY, and if you want to know about some other New York hot spots then I recommend you pick up one of the many New York City gig-guides
Free things to do in NYC
You will always be able to find lots of free things to do in NYC today. For example, although everyone knows and will at some time visit Central Park, New York (We will of course talk more about Central Park a little later.) one of the prettiest and most visited garden areas in New York is actually 91st Street Garden in Riverside Park. Never heard of it? Or does it perhaps ring faint bells?
Here are just a few ideas about things to do in NYC. Consider the number of movies or TV programs you might have seen featuring parts of New York City. If you liked DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street, perhaps Wall Street will be on your schedule. However, if you enjoy a weepy – perhaps with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan – then you might choose to revisit and relive the closing scenes from their 1998 RomCom, You’ve Got Mail, by visiting the 91st Street Garden. Just one of many cool things to do in New York.
Amazingly, tens of thousands of people every year come to New York City just to visit their favorite film and TV locations. The Shop Around the Corner (At 106 West 69th Street, Upper West Side.) and the 91st Street Garden in Riverside Park, both from You’ve Got Mail, are near the top of many people’s list. As of course is the Empire State Building itself, (See below.) the closing location for another Hanks/Ryan weepy, Sleepless in Seattle, but which also features in countless other movies. To help you to appreciate all of this you could also visit the Museum of the City of New York, New York.
New York vacation ideas
Some people come to New York for the movie locations, some for the shopping, some for the theatre and some just for business: but whatever their reasons, they just keep coming. Located in the extreme south-east corner of New York State, New York City is the biggest single tourist destination in the U.S, and the largest and wealthiest city in the country.
NYC boasts a population of around 10.5 million people in the traditional five boroughs: Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. If we include all of what is called the New York Metropolitan Area, then the population expands to well over 20 million, making New York one of the greatest megacities in the world. No wonder there are so many places to eat in New York City, and so many things to do in NYC itself.
All of this sprang from the original tiny Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, and the city grew so large primarily because of its position on one of the largest natural harbors in the world. That, and the fact that the safe and sheltered harbor itself faces due east, and so became the natural choice for vessels sailing from and to the Old World. If you want to understand more about how the city grew you might visit the New York Transit Museum.
5 Cool Things to do in New York City
#1 Go For A Carriage-Ride Around Central Park, New York
At two-and-a-half miles long and a half mile wide, Central Park is by no means the largest city park in the world. In fact Central Park is not even the largest park in New York City, trailing in behind such lesser known delights as the Staten Island Greenbelt, Flushing Meadows, Pelham Bay Park and even Van Cortlandt Park up in the Bronx.
But in this instance simple size is not important. Central Park’s location and history, it’s starring role in so many movies, and the fact that it has become the focal point of some of the most expensive real estate in the world, means that it is certainly the most famous park in the world.
#2 A Walk in Central Park
You can of course simply walk around Central Park in a couple of hours. You can stop at such New York hot spots as the Ramble and Lake, the Carousel, Central Park Zoo and even the Jackie Onassis Reservoir, while trying to side-step the mimes, living-statues and assorted troubadours which seem to infest the park whenever the sun comes out.
But for a truly memorable and super-romantic visit, book yourself and your partner a private carriage ride around the park in the early evening. It turns out that one of the best things to do in New York City is simply to sit back and watch the lights all around the park and the city come to sparkling life. Advanced Booking Recommended – available online.
#3 Free Museums in New York City
There are a lot of free museums in NYC, and it is always worthwhile putting a plan together to visit as many of them as possible in a single day, by planning your itinerary and working out the best and quickest route between them. In no particular order you might choose to visit the Museum of Arts and Design, or the Guggenheim and the Morgan Library.
There are so many things to do in New York City that it is sometimes difficult to decide what to do next, but if you can spare a whole day, then why not go on a total museum tour and visit the Hall of Science, and the Cooper Hewitt Metropolitan. If you are going to visit the Museum of Art then you should certainly also make time for MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art.
There are thousands of cool things to do in New York, but probably the coolest of them all is to spend a good half-hour looking around the great-grand-daddy of them all, the American Museum Of Natural History.
#4 Visit The Viewing Gallery at The Empire State Building
No trip to New York City would be complete without a visit to the Empire State Building. Once the tallest building in the world, it is now the building’s fantastic Art Deco shape and fabulous 30’s design flourishes which make the Empire State the single most iconic building in New York and probably the most pictured and filmed structure in the world – and that includes the Pyramids, the Great Wall, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.
But you can’t just go see the Empire State, you have to experience it. (It’s actually quite difficult to get a good view of the Empire State these days because there are so many other tall buildings around it.) So one of the great New York vacation ideas is simply to flag down a Yellow Cab, and, like so many of our film heroes and heroines, say “Empire State Building please, and hurry it up, Mac!”
The Observation Deck on the 86th floor is open from eight in the morning until two the next morning, so don’t worry too much – unless there is something special going on you should be able to get to the top without too much of a wait. If you go in the late evening you will be able to look-out for all the New York hot spots as they light up below you. (Costs around $40.00)
#5 Things To Do in New York City – Test The Battery
If you are going to make it out to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, then you are probably going to end up passing through The Battery. Unfortunately that is what usually happens with The Battery, people largely pass through – few tarry to investigate this hidden gem. There are a lot of free things to do in NYC, but going for a casual stroll around The Battery is one of the truly cool things to do in New York.
The problem is that New York City has never been quite sure what to do with The Battery. There was an old Dutch Fort there, which eventually fell into the hands of the British, who rebuilt it as an Artillery Battery, from which we get the name. Later this became Fort Clinton, but then, from 1940 on, the whole of Battery Park was to all intents and purposes closed down for 12 years, to allow for the building of the Brooklyn-Battery link tunnel and the development of the South Ferry Terminal. But there are very few New York tourist attractions in and around The Battery – which is what makes it so wonderful.
One of the best places to visit in NY
Battery Park (now once again known simply as The Battery) seems never to have fully recovered from a wild mish-mash of misguided ideas and underfunded redevelopments, and remains a place apart. So if you are looking for things to do in New York City, looking for somewhere which doesn’t really feel like it is part of the big city at all, then walk out of the ferry terminal or the subway station at The Battery, and simply go for a wander around the park and explore its surrounding oddities and memorials. The Battery represents one of the best ways to get out of New York City – whilst still actually being right in the centre of the metropolis – just down there at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Of all the free things to do in NYC, this is one of the most pleasant and relaxing. (Free)
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Of all the thousands of films made and set in NYC, the original Ghostbusters movie is not necessarily the one that comes in at the top of your list, but having been to the ultimate NYC film icon, the Empire State Building, perhaps you might consider going in a completely different direction and visit the original old firehouse, which became the headquarters for the protoplasmic trio – one of the many great free things to do in NYC.
All the exterior shots of the headquarters for the haunting comedy classic from the 1980s were filmed at this real on-call fire-station which still houses a working fire crew – Hook & Ladder Company 8. Although the building underwent a complete renovation a few years ago, largely aimed at keeping the floor from collapsing, the building still looks pretty much the same as it does in the movie. There are thousands of cool things to do in New York but finding your way to Ghostbusters Central at 14 North Moore Street in Lower Manhattan, must be one of the coolest – but try not to disturb the crews too much, they still have a real job to do. (Free)
FAQs About New York City
We’ve covered just five New York tourist attractions here, out of at least five thousand. And that is the real point. People go to New York City for many different reasons, and no guide of this sort can cover all of the possibilities. Many people go for the shopping, and we haven’t mentioned any of the great stores in New York City. Many go for the theatre, and we didn’t even mention Broadway – or Off-Broadway, or Off-Off-Broadway! Many go for the museums, or the art galleries or the restaurants, and we haven’t mentioned very many of them. Truth be told, there are as many different reasons for going to New York City as there are people who go there. All we can do here is to try to answer a few of their more common questions.
Where should I stay in New York City?
This is very easy. Get yourself a simple map of New York, mark on it the places YOU want to visit, identify the nearest subway stations, and then mark another spot which is somewhere in the middle of the pattern you have created. Then decide on how much you want to spend. In New York City you can find accommodation between $50.00 and $15,000.00 a night, so where you choose to stay is up to you.
Which Museums should I visit in NYC?
This really is a very silly question, because it depends entirely on what you want to go look at. However, at least you know that if you are in New York City you are in the right place. There are well over a hundred museums in NYC, of which we have mentioned only a few. But they include some of the best places to visit in New York, ranging from the American Museum of Natural History to the Museum of Sex. So, whatever you want to find out about, in New York City it will be right there at your fingertips.
Where should I go shopping in New York?
As above, it depends entirely on what it is you want to buy. However New York is one of the most cosmopolitan and multi-racial cities in the world so the chances are, no matter what you are looking for, you will (eventually) find it somewhere in NYC.
Of course if you want to sample the full New York City shopping experience then just go down to Fifth Avenue, which is still one of the best places to visit in NYC, or head over to the enormous Mall of America. You have to get to Bloomingdales of course, at 504 Broadway or FAO Schwarz, the world famous toy-store on Fifth Avenue. (Another great film location: from the 1988 Tom Hanks movie, Big.)
Where can I find good places to eat in New York?
The only possible answer to this question is: “It doesn’t matter.” There are only 195 different countries in the world, but it is estimated that the restaurants in New York offer at least 250 different cuisines, and that every country is represented somewhere in the dining maelstrom that is New York City.
Wander around almost any part of New York City and you will find something you have never tried before, or even heard of. My advice is – give it a go. It probably won’t kill you (Check for nuts of course!) and it might be the best thing you ever tasted.
New York is everything you expect it to be, and a great deal more besides. If you are looking for things to do in New York City, you will not have to look for long. NYC is served by many different airports, and you can fly direct to New York from almost anywhere in the world, and the yellow cabs will then take you anywhere you want to go – eventually.