Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Today, I’m on a plane back from New York City – a city that I had the honour, pleasure and fortune to visit 5 years in a row now. No wonder they wrote so many songs about New York. This is the very centre of the universe, a city that never sleeps, a place to make your dreams come true, a city full of energy and ambition.
Although during my 1st visit to NYC and US I was more impressed by California, now – having travelled so much and knowing NYC a bit better – I must say this is the most exciting City in the world. There’s just so much things to do (I still have lots on my to-do list), people are so ambitious, hard-working and competitive, and the City just makes you feel so energized that it makes sleep useless. Whether you like art, sports, bars, parks, food or anything else – I’m sure you’ll find it here and it will be, without a doubt, world-class.
With that, let’s move to my top 10 things to do:
1. Top of the Rock
New York is the city of dreams, skyscrapers, success, influence and power. Top of the Rock (Observation deck at Rockefeller Center) offers the most amazing views over the city. You should definitely take your camera with you and make those unforgettable photos. Also, be patient as the queues to the Top may be long (quite random actually, there is an option to pre-book your time slot online), but it will certainly be worth it! Just do it! 🙂 2010 Concierge Choice Award Winner.
Address: 50th street between 5th and 6th Avenue & topoftherocknyc.com
2. Central Park
Central Park is the heart of New York City. It is so large and beautiful that you can easily spend the whole day here. In fact, you will most likely come back here multiple times, even if it’s just a short visit (around 40 million visitors a year!). If you like running, this is my favourite place in the world to run. There are so many fellow runners that it adds to the atmosphere and motivation.
The Loeb Boathouse is also a wonderful venue to have lunch or sip a drink. I attended a wedding there this time round and I must say it’s just gorgeous. Strongly recommended.
Another park that I really love in NY is Bryant Park – just hanging around in this much smaller park is one of favourite things to do for the locals and myself as well. The views are beautiful and there are many sitting places where you can grab a coffee or a drink.
Address: 59-110th Street between 5th and 8th Avenue & centralpark.com
3. The High Line
The High Line is a great example of “can-do”, “nothing is impossible” and “go get it” attitude of America and especially New York. This beautiful 2.3k km elevated park promenade used to be railway tracks…Yes, just tracks which were transformed to create a wonderful open space (opened in 2009) where people can walk, hang out and enjoy lovely skyline views and atmosphere of Chelsea and West Village.
The area has wonderful Art Galleries and Museums (e.g. Whitney Museum of Modern Art, Gagosian, Pace, and De Buck Galleries among others), so make sure you don’t miss this part of town!
Address: Gansevoort to W. 34th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues & thehighline.org
4. Grand Central Train Station
Wonderful Beaux-Arts architecture and historical importance of this place make it really Grand (750,000 visitors a day)! I remember visiting it for the first time – it literally made us stop and speechless. It’s my sister’s favourite place in New York and I even stay here – at Grand Hyatt – when I need to be in Midtown.
What makes this place so interesting is not only its beautiful architecture and the logistic importance, but also the commerce (68 shops, 35 dining options). You’ll find everything here, from famous Oyster Bar to Michael Jordan’s steakhouse. An absolute must-see!
Address: 42nd Street at Park Avenue & grandcentralterminal.com
5. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
This Museum made me totally fall in love with Art. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Top floor of the Museum was full of Paul Gauguin’s work with some of the best pieces of all time, which he painted during his time in Tahiti (did you know that the most expensive work of art in the world is/was Gauguin’s When Will You Marry?). The MoMA collection also includes Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lilies among its world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art. MoMA is arguably my favourite art museum in the world and I actually look forward to re-visiting it again on my future trips to NY.
During this visit to New York (April 2017) I also went to Guggenheim Museum and was so in love with the building architecture and the Quality of the works. What’s wonderful about both is that you’ll get to see all the masters under one roof – whereas in many other cities in the world you’d only see more local artist or a very few works of Picasso, Gauguin, Van Gogh etc. – here you have them all 🙂 Oh New York…<3
Address: 11W. 53rd Street & moma.org
6. Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
The Met is the Louvre of New York. It’s so large in size and art collection spanning centuries and geographies (permanent exhibitions include Greek, Roman, Egyptian, European, Easter and pre-21st century art) that you could easily spend a week here. I would definitely put it on top of the list during a day that you want to spend inside a building (e.g. due to weather). Having said that they also have a gorgeous café at the very top where you can admire some amazing sculptures with a wonderful view over New York City…
Have I already mentioned that there are maaaany things to do in New York…?!
Address: 82nd Street, 1000 5th Avenue & metmuseum.org
7. Roberta’s & Brooklyn Bridge
Apparently only locals know(knew) about this place. I must have read about it somewhere as someone famous said it’s their favourite restaurant in NY. I went there as I had it on my list and was so impressed! Tourist would never bump into it as it’s in a “hidden” part of town in Brooklyn and from outside it has metal doors and not a very visible sign…
Everything at Roberta’s is scrumptious, not only the pizzas. They have a very hipster crowd and design and are very correctly priced. The patio is a great place to hangout…so if you didn’t have Brooklyn on your list – you may re-consider and do Roberta’s and then go for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge – which absolutely must be on your list!
If you want something more upscale and romantic closer to Brooklyn Bridge – River Café is ticking all these boxes with remarkable ease and charm.
P.S. Many people recommend Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park and Brooklyn Museum (which I haven’t done) – so you might consider spending a full day in Brooklyn. If you did those – do leave a comment below and share your experiences! 🙂
Address: 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206 & http://www.robertaspizza.com/
8. Madison Square Garden
Whether you are a sport fan or not, you absolutely have to attend an NBA game (or another game / concert) at Madison Square Garden. It’s such a show and beat European (or any other nation for that matter) basketball in terms of entertainment heads down. You will feel like a true New Yorker (when they give you an orange “NY made” t-shirt) and enjoy the game to the fullest.
For whose who like basketball it will be an unforgettable experience. I attended the NY Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets – so a derby – and it was so good. If you’re not into basketball, this is Camp Nou of basketball – so you better attend anyway! 🙂
Address: 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001 & http://www.thegarden.com/
9. Drink at NoMad & dinner at ABC Kitchen
There are so many famous bars and restaurants in New York City and people there love to go out. Impressively, NY – similarly to Paris – is so competitive that many of the locals are always on the lookout for new and cool places to go out. Therefore, the bar and restaurant scene is really dynamic, diverse and world-class.
The NoMad is one of my favourite bars in the world. The design of the bar and space around it is an art in itself. Their cocktails are just fabulous. ABC Kitchen is a Jean Georges’ kitchen that comes with a regular-restaurant price tag. I had some of the best meals of my life there – I especially remember the scallops which I had with La Doix white wine to go with. It’s difficult to get a place so you need to book in advance.
Address: 1170 Broadway & 28th Street & The Nomad Bar
Address: 35 East & 18th Street & ABC Kitchen
10. Times Square
I know many people think of Times Square as the #1 thing-to-do in New York and that’s the reason I included it here also. It’s an absolute must-do – the energy of the place is unbelievable. It’s so busy, loud, full of lights, commerce, cars, people and everything else that you’d be fighting to hear your own thoughts.
That’s perhaps why I put it on #10 and not #1 – for me once is enough to do it, although everyone has to experience it at least once in their lives. This is a top spot for New Year’s Eve celebrations as well – with its famous ball drop… talk about energy!
Address: West 42nd to West 47th Streets, Broadway and 7th Avenue & http://www.timessquarenyc.org
I hope you enjoyed the above 10 tips. There are so many things to do in NY that it could easily be 20 or 100 tips, but it defies the purpose of this blog. These 10 are MY favourite and I did have to omit many others. To sum up, for me NYC and Paris (next blog post…stay tuned) are the places everyone absolutely HAVE-TO-VISIT in their lifetime, at least once (a year…:P).
Let me end with a quote about NYC:
“I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, “There’s no place like New York. It’s the most exciting city in the world now. That’s the way it is. That’s it.” Robert De Niro
Enjoy the Big Apple,
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