There are probably a million articles on the internet that include what to see in one of the world’s most popular cities, New York City. However, mine has already eliminated the classics: Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central Station and 5th Avenue. All of those are already on everyone’s radar, so why not learn about some lesser known attractions?
1. Coney Island
During the day in the summer, this place is absolutely packed. Plan to get there around 5ish when everyone who’s been at the beach all day is leaving. A few items to have in your purse in case you decide to head that way: hand sanitizer and tissues (the bathrooms were few and didn’t have toilet paper or soap by the time I arrived). Once there you MUST have a Nathan’s Hot Dog. It’s not only a staple there but it’s absolutely delicious. Even if you’re saying, I’ve had Nathan’s somewhere else before. I am here to tell you, you haven’t had Nathan’s until you have it at Coney Island. Go enjoy the hot dog and the rides. But I am telling you right now, if you are terrified of snakes like I am, please keep your eyes open as people like to bring their pet pythons to show everyone else.
2. Belvedere Castle
Central Park has been in many movies and is an absolute must see while in New York City. And let me tell you, no matter how many times you visit you will never walk all of it. Unless you are really determined to do it, then by all means feel free. However, one spot within the park that is a must see besides The Mall and Literary Walk, this castle is a lovely point in the park for pictures and gorgeous views of New York City and Central Park. It is also a great location to visit in the summer, spring, fall or winter. Just be sure to bundle up if you plan on visiting it in the winter time.
3. Riverside Park & Bryant Park
Believe it or not, Central Park is not the only park in the New York City. There are actually many other parks, but here are two of my favorites. Riverside Park is along the Hudson River and is a lot less crowded. It is great for a morning walk or if you need to get away from the busy streets of NYC. The have long paths and play grounds. And sometimes they even have events for your dogs! Bryant Park is one of my favorite places to visit in the winter time for their Winter Village. From ice skating, to hot chocolate to a market you will find it all here. It’s one of my favorite places to see in the winter. But in the warm weather it’s just as great for a nice lunch or snack outside.
4. Rockefeller Center
This one is also a classic but I needed to include it. It’s a great place to visit year round. From the fancy stores, to show signs and to being right next to 30 Rock is just a jaw dropping experience. And this is a must visit if you are heading over to NYC in the winter. The most amazing Christmas Tree you will ever see is there as well as the ice rink, home to many proposals.
5. Museums: Natural History, MET, MOMA, Guggenheim
I could go on and on about the amazingness of these places, but that would just take all day. They are all truly worth a visit, even if museums aren’t your thing. Here are some tips to help you with your visit.
Natural History: the ticket prices you see online are suggestion prices, that means you can certainly pay less. Buy them at the admission desk and pay what you wish. It is a huge museum, so expect to spend a good amount of time in there.
MET: Just like the Natural History, the admission prices are recommended. Fridays and Saturdays the museum is open for a longer time, until 9pm as opposed to 5:30pm.
MOMA: For free entries you might want to try UNIQLO sponsored Friday Nights starting at 4pm. The line will get extremely long at that time, so they suggest stopping by at 6pm. You’ll have until 8pm, which is more than enough time to look around. A can’t miss in there is the sculpture garden.
Guggenheim: On Saturdays from 5:45pm to 7:15pm, it is a pay as you wish system as well. Also it is important to note it is closed on Thursdays.
6. Brooklyn Bridge
NYC may be known as the city that never sleeps, but it should also be known as the city that always walks. One of my favorite things about NYC is the fact that everyone walks everywhere. It is so refreshing to see everyone out and about. So, why not add to the experience and walk the Brooklyn bridge. Start from either end, and once you’ve completed you can proudly say you’ve crossed the Brooklyn bridge by foot. I have! And while you do that admire the beautiful NYC views.
7. 9/11 Memorial
Now this one is up to everyone’s discretion. This visit might just be another tourist attraction for some, while for others this really hits home. It is a beautiful memorial and if you have the time and the heart you should definitely stop by for a visit.
For more peaceful places to walk, try walking the Highline. It may be a popular tourist destination, but the strange sense of calm you will find there is quite the experience. People are walking and talking, yet it feels quiet and peaceful. Take a seat in one of the many designated seating areas and just watch the daily life go by right in front of your eyes. The Highline used to be train tracks, but now is covered in plants and a pathway. I definitely recommend heading over there to unwind after a long day, just before heading out for the night.
9. Ellen’s Stardust Diner
As you start winding down your night, may i suggest a true one of a kind experience you might only see in NYC? Ellen’s Stardust Diner, the place you go if you’re trying to make it on Broadway. All of their servers sing, and they will even take requests. Just imagine it, getting served dinner while the servers are singing and climbing on booths. It’s a fun experience and I recommend it for anyone headed to NYC.
10. Shake Shack
If a quick dinner is more your style, you should head to Shake Shack. While it is no longer only in NYC, it did start here! I am lucky to have a few of them here in Boston, but I had my first one in NYC and it was divine. Get ready for a wait whatever time you decide to stop by, but the line moves fast and it is so worth it.
If you want to try out a more intimate quiet dinner, SoHo is the place for you. While this neighborhood might be best known for the cheaper and trendy stores, it’s true beauty is in the night time. If you’re not sure where you want to eat, just start walking down the streets. I am sure one of the uniquely cozy restaurants will call out to you. It’s perfect for romantic dates, or a girls night dinner and drinks.
12. Dylan’s Candy Bar
If you are a sugar lover like myself, this store will make your jaw drop and mouth water at the same time. The amount of candy stored in one place is truly amazing. My suggestion is getting the small tub that has a set price and packing as much as you can, I mean like really stuff it. It’s also a perfect souvenir for the kids, guaranteed!
You cannot go to NYC and not go see a show! However, Broadway shows aren’t exactly cheap. Worry not, I have a suggestion! First thing in the morning, you should head to TKTS, a box office that sells tickets for half price. They have locations in Times Square, Brooklyn and South Street Seaport. I have only ever been to the Times Square and for that one you better get there early, 9am for matinée shows and 2pm for evening shows. I’d give the other ones a shot too since they are a bit more out of the way, they might not have as long of a wait. Either way, enjoy the beauty of Broadway.
14. Rooftop Bars
If you only have one night or many nights, I recommend finding a rooftop bar. There is nothing like ending your day staring out into the bright lights and lively NYC from above. It’s an experience many should have, and something that can be easily found in NYC. A few are Plunge and STK Downtown.
15. Meatpacking District & Hell’s Kitchen
One of the areas I have really enjoyed going out in is the Meatpacking District. It’s a great area with a diverse options of bars. For clubs you better head over to Hell’s Kitchen area. There they have clubs like Pacha and Hudson Terrace, to name a few.
I hope these were helpful for planning your trip to New York City! Enjoy the Big Apple, City that Never Sleeps and the City that Always Walks! Please let me know if I miss anything or if you know any secrets I don’t!
Enjoy your adventure!