Being a tourist in the Big Apple.
With the countless things to do in New York City, first-time visitors will surely find it overwhelming planning their trip. Fret not. In the city that doesn’t sleep, there is loads of time to explore the Big Apple.
First, take a selfie. Located between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and extending from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, Times Square is a New York icon and among the world’s most famous tourist attractions. It is also the location of the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop, which attracts thousands of revelers. Take in the bright lights from gigantic billboards and eye-grabbing signage around. For those with a sweet tooth, a quick trip to Hershey’s Times Square and M&M’s World is in order.
Take a walk. While Manhattan may be known as a concrete jungle, it is also home to one of the most loved city parks in the world. The 843-acre Central Park, situated in the heart of this island borough, has a lake and boathouse, a zoo, an open-air theater, a skating rink, tennis courts, and playgrounds. While some ride through the park in those famous horse-drawn carriages, others choose to simply lie on the grass and soak up the sun. But leave before sundown as crime is prevalent in the park at night.
Be a culture vulture. In rankings of the world’s best and favorite museums, New York figures impressively, with the most acclaimed and most visited being the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or The Met for short. Close favorites are the Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMa, and the Solomon R. Guggenhiem Museum, an iconoclastic gallery designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Haven’t had your fill, there is also the American Museum of Natural History, The Frick Collection, and The Cloisters.
Check out this lady – Liberty Enlightening the World, as she is formally known, was a gift from the people of France to celebrate the centennial of American independence in 1886. Standing on its own island, the Statue of Liberty is accessible via regular ferries from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Due to security reasons, access to Lady Liberty’s crown was made limited but can be arranged through pre-booked tickets bought months in advance.
Don’t look down – Once the world’s tallest building for the longest time (40 years), the Empire State Building is a New York icon. The Art Deco building, completed in the 1930s, has two observatory decks that tourists can visit. Depending on how high you want to go, the admission prices is $29 for the 86th floor, and $67 for the 86th and 102nd floors.
Look up –Take a ride on the subway and get off at Grand Central. Built in the early 1900s, Grand Central Terminal is the city’s main rail station. Tourists flock to the cavernous Main Concourse and gaze at the 19th century ceiling mural, which was restored and unveiled again in 1998 after the station’s 12-year renovation. Aside from the famous Oyster Bar, the Dining Concourse, one level below, also offers other dining options and a food market.
Walk the line. A public park with a twist, the High Line is a disused, elevated railroad track that was turned into a mile-long walkway. Rising 30 feet above street level, this innovative public space also provides a unique perspective of New York City. Head to Chelsea Market first to get some food and have a relaxing lunch on one of the many benches lining the park. Of course, the best time to visit is spring when the all the plants and flowers are in bloom.
All for show – The Broadway Theater District offers world-class entertainment, whether one prefers musicals or plays. Although pricey, catching a Broadway show is a must when in New York. Popular musicals include Book of Mormon, The Lion King, Wicked, and The Phantom of the Opera, and tickets can be bought online. For the budget-conscious, head to the TKTS booth in Times Square for discounted tickets (but be prepared to stand in line for hours).
Stop and smell the roses – Receiving around 900,000 visitors a year, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has several specialty gardens and plant collections that vary according to the seasons of the year. One of the BBG’s most famous gardens is the Cherry Esplanade lined with more than 200 cherry blossom trees, which bloom usually near the end of April. During cherry blossom season, sit under a tree and read a book. Take in the fresh air and savor the sight of falling cherry petals. In other times, visit the other botanic collections, such as the Shakespeare Garden, Osborne Garden, and Cranford Rose Garden.
Go grab a burger – A visit to New York City isn’t complete without trying a burger at the famous Shake Shack. With a few branches in the city, Shake Shack is said to serve the best burgers in town, if those lines of hungry customers are anything to go by. The chain, which started out as a food stall, also offers hotdogs, fries and milkshakes. You’ll stand in line for between 30 and 45 minutes, but the wait is worth it.