New York, New York; it’s a helluva town.
Besides being a lyric from the hit Broadway musical, On the Town, it’s true: New York is a “helluva” city. Some call it home, but most of us choose to visit and enjoy the culture, hectic streets, and big-city feel on a vacations-only basis.
If you’re about to visit New York for the very first time, there’s plenty to see and do. You might take the resident-approach: seeing New York from the perspective of a New Yorker, visiting the best hole-in-the wall restaurants, lesser known theater joints, and the many other hidden gems of the city. You may go full-on tourist, and see Broadway shows, a Yankees game, and enjoy plenty of other quintessential New York experiences.
Whatever way you’re hankering to see New York, if you’re a first-time tourist, you should hit up the big tourist sites, so you get them out of the way!. Most of them are known around the world and are some of the most famous locations in the US. If you’re in New York, you can’t afford to miss any of them!
First is the Empire State Building. It’s appeared in countless movies, and it’s still one of the most popular New York tourist destinations. It’s a bit of a wait, since it’s a popular site, but it’s worth it. The observation deck at the top of the Empire State Building is open from sunrise to 2am, and there’s even a live musician on most nights. You might head up for the view, a romantic moment a la Sleepless in Seattle or simply the experience of standing on top of the Empire State Building, the way millions of others have since the 1930s.
Second on your New York bucket list should be Central Park. While the park is free to anyone who wants to stroll around, you should take Central Park tours to get the full experience, since the park is incredibly vast and full of nooks and crannies and great history. Without guided tours, you might miss the Alice in Wonderland Statue, the “Imagine” mosaic, and all the other fountains, bridges, and gardens in this famous park.
Third on your list should be Times Square. It’s free, it’s crazy, and it’s the perfect chance to soak up the energy of New York. Whether you head to Times Square to eat, do some shopping, or just sit and admire the lights at night, Time Square is worth seeing. You won’t truly have seen New York until you’ve watched the city pass from this hubbub of culture and activity. It’s the site of famous moments like New Year’s celebrations, and it really is the “crossroads of the world.”
Fourth should be the museums, like the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or some of the more niche museums around the city. If you’re not a fan of most modern pieces, there’s still plenty to enjoy at the Museum of Modern Art, including work by Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, and the great Vincent van Gogh — of course, you could head over to the Met for more classical pieces. Fans of the family film series Night at the Museum will add an extra dose of fun to their visit when they tour the Museum of Natural History, since they’ll recognize some of the “characters” who came to live in the movies.
Last, but not least, should be the Statue of Liberty. A classic choice, it’s not a trip to New York without visiting Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France in the 1800s, but she’s welcomed immigrants decade after decade, especially while Ellis Island was still used as the entry point. Since it’s part fun experience and part celebration of immigration and the opportunities of American, no one should miss the Statue of Liberty. You can visit Liberty Island, but you can also take a free ride on the Staten Island ferry and pass right by her.