New York is a big city and there’s a lot to do and it’s one of the best cities in the world for a holiday. The shopping, theater, food, nightlife, New York has it all. You could spend years in New York and still not see everything, so it was difficult to narrow my list down to just ten things. New York can easily be an expensive place to visit, so decided to make this list include some free activities.
I also recommend buying the New York Pass, it’s about $350 AUD. It seems like a lot at first, but if you’re planning to do all the touristy things, you could save a lot of money!
1. Empire State Building
The Empire State Building was once the tallest building in the world and gives you a fantastic view of manhattan. The main deck, on the 86th floor, has an outdoor area where you can have a 360-degree view of the city below. This is incredible and even better at night. It costs $34 to access but free with the New York Pass. The top deck, on the 102nd floor, is the highest point in the building and can only fit a few people at a time. It costs $54 and you can go to both floors. If you have the New York Pass you can pay the extra $20 to upgrade your ticket. When you plan your visit be sure to be wary of the time. The line can take two hours, so if you’re planning to see the sunset like I was, go early. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the main deck until it was night, but it was still worth it.
2. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is somewhere you have to go. It’s one of the most famous monuments in the world and if you’re going to New York you can’t leave without giving it a visit. We see it in movies, postcards, on the cover of magazines. Might as well cross it off your bucket list! The New York Pass doesn’t let you go inside the statue. The ticket that lets you do this is around $25. After you collect your ticket a ferry will take you to Liberty Island (and Ellis Island if you want). Then you make your way through security and trek it to the top of the statue (pro tip: wear appropriate shoes). And don’t forget to make your way to the area in front of the statue for a fab selfie.
3. Wollman Rink
The Wollman Rink is at the very south end of Central Park. It’s a gorgeous place to go ice skating, with the surrounding trees and the city in the background. I couldn’t go myself because of the rain but I’ve heard good things! The entry fee is $12/$19 depending on the day and $9 to hire skates.
[Photo Credit: http://www.centralparknyc.org]
4. See A Musical
Definitely a must for you broadway fans out there. New York City has some of the best theaters I’ve seen, and a lot of them too. While I’m not usually a fan of musicals, I went to see Wicked at Gershwin Theater and I loved every minute of it. It isn’t exactly a cheap activity but it’s definitely worth it if you can afford it.
5. Times Square
Times Square is a major intersection in Manhattan and I highly recommend visiting at night. Seeing everything lit up makes you feel like you’re in another universe entirely. Also, it’s free! Except for the money you’ll spend on shopping. There’s New York merchandise stores, M&M’s World, Sephora, and a Disney Store! And much more. I could have easily spent the whole night there.
6. Central Park
Probably the most famous park in the world and right in the middle of Manhatten, Central Park is beautifully designed with no shortage of things to do. It transports you from the city to nature within seconds. The park is huge and you can get around by walking, hiring a bike, or even a horse carriage. It’s totally free to get in but it is closed from 1:00am – 6:00am.
7. Brooklyn Bridge
The 19th Century bridge that connects Manhatten to Brooklyn. It’s a historic landmark, a symbol of New York and provides an amazing view of both sides. It’s free to walk across and takes about half an hour. Also if you have the time, take a walk around South Street Seaport (it’s on the Manhattan side). An old historic area with its stone roads and cultural atmospehere, it’s a nice place to spend an evening.
8. Barnes & Noble
Specifically the one on 5th Avenue. If you’re a book nerd and your home country doesn’t have Barnes & Noble then this is for you. The shop is so welcoming and adorable with a warm atmosphere, I could have easily spent hours there. Also, they were playing Disney songs and had a stand for Harry Potter merchandise! What more could you ask for?
9. Ellen’s Stardust Diner
Another one for the broadway fans: The Home of the Singing Waitstaff! This 50’s themed restaurant is a lot of fun because, not only is the food great, but you get a show with it! The staff are incredible performers who sing a variety of old classics and some Disney songs if you’re lucky! It’s only a few blocks away from Times Square and if you’re planning to see a musical that night like I did, going here for dinner makes it so much better.
10. Top of The Rock
The Top of the Rock provides the best view of New York City, in my opinion. From the top, you can see Central Park surrounded by the city and it’s gorgeous. I went when it was raining so the pictures weren’t the best, but it was incredible nonetheless, and it definitely has to be on your list. It’s $34 per person but it’s covered by the New York Pass if you have one.