15 Things to Do in New York

New york is not a city, it’s world.

When I think about New York, no quote could convey more what one experiences when visiting this city. I just returned from a trip there, and I am still amazed by everything I did and discovered. It was my third time visiting, but I got to see a new face of the city.

So in this new travel post, I am sharing 15 Things to Do in New York. There are some more known attractions and also some off the beaten track. Enjoy!

1-Statue of Liberty

When visiting the Statue of Liberty, two main options are available for you. For free, the Staten Island ferry goes past the statue but does not stop on the island. If you want to go to the island where the statue is, you must take the ferry to Liberty Island. You can book your ticket in advance online or at the Castle Clinton Monument in Battery Park. An audio guide is included in the price, which is a great way to learn more about the statue while visiting the island.

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On the island, there is an interesting museum about the statue’s story. The museum presents a short film about the history of the statue’s construction and many objects from the construction, such as previous designs of the Liberty Statue. Then, the end of the exposition invites you to think about what liberty means to you and how it is expressed in the world.

I learned from this exposition that liberty is a concept known by every human being, yet we tend to all have a different conception/definition of it.

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On the way back, the ferry also stops at Ellis Island, which used to be the immigration inspection station in the USA. According to PBS.org, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924.

2-Winter Garden

The Winter Garden is a mall and dining area close to Battery Park, so it is the perfect place to grab a bite after visiting the Liberty Statue. There are some luxury shops for those who like shopping and a food court that offers a beautiful view of New Jersey’s skyline (yes, New York and New Jersey are that close!). If you’ve been craving American pizza or French delicacies, the Winter Garden has for every taste.

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3- Ground Zero

Ground Zero is a classic when visiting New York and is worth the detour to pay respect to the victims of 9/11. The site consists of the two holes where the towers were, now filled with waterfalls that flow through the void (see picture #5). There is also a museum, the 9/11 Tribute Museum, if you want to learn more about the memorial and 9/11. The museum also offers a guided tour. You can get your tickets for the museum or tour here.

4- Observation Decks

Next to the memorial, there is the One World Trade Center which has an observatory on its 100-102 floors. It is one of the places where you can get a 360 degrees view of New York.

The Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, the Edge, and the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt also offer the observatory experience. Note that it is a costly activity, so consider the different options the different towers provide.

Indeed, some places offer 360-degree views, other has a glass elevator, and other has a glass floor. If you are interested, here are the different prices for the different observatory decks for one adult (all in USD):

Rockefeller Center40$
Empire State Building – 86th floor44$
Empire State Building – 102nd & 86 floor77$
One World Trade Center – General Admission38$
The Edge – General Admission38$-40$
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt – General Admission + Glass ElevatorStarting at 59$
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt – General AdmissionStarting at 39$

5- The Occulus

The Occulus is an impressive architectural building that looks like a dove. It is situated right next to the 9/11 memorial. It is a shopping mall, dining area, and transport hub. It is a popular place to take pictures in New York because of its unique design.

6- Bicycle Riding in Central Park

Biking in Central Park is one of my favorite activities in New York. Central Park is known as the lungs of New York. With a surface area of 3.41 km2, Central Park is where New Yorkers go to take a city break. There are many bike rental stores nearby Central Park, offering different rates based on how much time you want to rent a bike. I found one hour to be the perfect length of time to make the complete loop* in the park and make a few stops.

*Note that the bike path is a one-way track, so once you are engaged, you can’t go the other way around to go back to the starting point. However, I do not consider myself very fit, and so except for one steep slope, it is more of a leisure bike ride than a sporty one.

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Make sure to stop at Bethesda Terrace and fountain, where many films/Tv shows such as Home Alone, Sex in the City, Gossip Girls, Elf, Friends With Benefits, were filmed. Some musicians also play in the arcade, which offers a fantastic acoustic.

7- The High Line

The Highline is another beautiful place I discovered on my most recent trip to New York. It is situated on the West Side of Manhattan, close to the Chelsey area. It is a boardwalk of about 2.30 km, which used to be a railway line. What makes this boardwalk unique is that it is 30 feet above the street, which offers a great view of the streets, skyscrapers, and Hudson River. Plus, it is even more beautiful during spring as there are some cherry blossom trees planted along the way.

There is also a big window with some seats, which offer you a unique point of view as if you were sitting over the road (see picture 2).

8- Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village is a neighborhood also situated on the West side of Manhattan. It can be described as the bohemian neighborhood of New York where different artists or people aspiring to an unconventional lifestyle live. It is a lovely area, with bricked-wall houses, small coffee shops, and French-inspired restaurants. Make sure to also make a stop at Washington Square Park to look at the Washington Square Arch!

If you are a fan of Taylor Swift, this is also where the famous artist rented an apartment a few years ago and wrote a song about the place: Cornelia Street. It is, therefore, possible that you see some “Swifties” taking pictures in front of the city name…like me;)

9- Times Square

What would be a New York Travel Guide without Times Square! Even tho it is very touristic, Times Square is just a fascinating place. There is also so much to do! Indeed, here are a few things you can do in the Times Square area:

  • Duffy Square: where the big red stairs are in the center of the billboards and where you can also find reduced-price TKTS tickets for musicals on Broadway!

  • Krispy Kreme: definitely worth the detour if you have a sweet tooth! You get to see the fabrication process of the donuts. Yummy!

  • M&M’s Store: also a must-see in Times Square. Columns and columns filled with M&Ms up to the ceiling! You can also get personalized M&M’s and buy M&M’s merch.

  • Hard Rock Cafe: Going to a Hard Rock Cafe is one of the fun things to do when going to the U.S., and the one in New York has some great memorabilia. Paul McCartney guitar, Adam Levine guitar, Eric Clapton guitar, Gene Simmons guitar, and many more!
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10- Broadway Shows

So as just mentioned in #9, TKTS offers reduced-price tickets to broadway shows. It is the perfect thing to do for a night out in New York. A few years ago, I went to see School of Rock at the Winter Garden, which was awesome, and now I’ve just seen Chicago at the Ambassador Theater.

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Here are a few shows that are currently presented on Broadway:

  • Moulin Rouge! The Musical
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • The Lion King
  • Beetle Juice
  • Aladin

To see the complete list of shows offered and get tickets, click here!

11-Harry Potter Store

Did you know that New York has the biggest Harry Potter Store in the world? There are three floors of beautiful Harry Potter merch, a wands shop, and…butterbeer bar! Note that the store uses a virtual queue system, so if you are planning on going during the weekend or other busy days, make sure to show up early to get a place in the waiting line. I went on a Tuesday, so I did not have to wait but in general, it is better to show up early.

12- American Museum of Natural History

If you love the film Night at the Museum, you need to go to the American Museum of Natural History. Indeed, it is the museum where the movie was filmed. You will get to see all the creatures that “become alive” when the night comes and a gigantic collection of dinosaurs’ fossils. You will get to see the famous T-Rex free-standing.

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I found the exhibition about human origins to be also very interesting. There is so much to see and learn, so you could spend a day there if not more. Make sure also to book your tickets in advance since a time-entry admission is required.

13- Wall Street

Another classic here! Some say that touching the balls of the Wall Street bull brings good luck and money. Would you dare?

Taking a walk in the financial district is great activity to do in New York. You can see iconic buildings such as the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall, and Trinity Church.

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14- Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is THE place where people want to take pictures in New York. Here’s my little tip…instead of taking pictures with the bridge, take pictures with the other side as a background. Less crowded, and you get pictures of New York skyscrapers!

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15- South Sea Port

Finally, it wasn’t until this most recent trip that I discovered that New York also has a unique costal side. South Sea Port is a historic area close to the Financial District. It has lovely coffee shops and restaurants, cute boutiques, and a pier right under the Brooklyn Bridge. It is the perfect place to take a little coffee break!

This is it for 15 Things to do in New York City! There are literally a hundred things to do in New York, so one cannot get bored. If there is something that you like to do in New York that I did not put on the list, feel free to leave a comment!

Follow me on Instagram to follow my adventures!

For other US destinations, click here!

À bientôt!

Juliette

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