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New York City is extraordinary. With a population of approximately 8 million people in a land area of just 789km squared you’ve got to wonder what all the fuss is about! The big apple has so many different attractions it can be overwhelming when deciding which ones to go see! I had five days to explore all New York had to offer and whilst I visited all the main attractions we certainly didn’t have time to do everything – In one visit that’s damn right impossible! That said I’ve put together my Top 10 Things to do in New York City!

Top Tip: Have four full days AT LEAST to make the most out of your trip to the most vibrant city in the world!

1. Times Square

Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

Times Square: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

They weren’t lying when they said that New York is the city that never sleeps! Times Square is one of the only places I’ve been in the world that is still bustling with bodies and animation at 1 am!

It’s the entertainment hub of NYC filled with restaurants, shops, street food and of course the gateway to Broadway! The bright lights of Times Square attract more than 50 million tourists annually! Definitely worth a visit to grab some amazing New York street food and smuggle some gifts for your loved ones back home – (who are insanely jealous that you’re in New York and there back in Blighty) If you’re prepared to queue then hit up the TKTS box for discounted theatre tickets daily!

Tip: any time of the day you go WILL be busy so be prepared for some pushing, shoving indefinitely strangers in your selfies!

2. Grand Central Terminal

Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

Grand Central: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

‘Spotted in Grand Central Station’

So how long did you think you’d have to wait until the gossip girl quotes start coming in? Yes, I spent quite a lot of this trip pretending I was Serena and Blair but Grand Central Terminal was the one landmark that took me by surprise! After all, it’s just a train station right? Wrong! Grand Central Terminal is an experience! I felt like I’d been swept up into a million movie scenes the moment I walked onto that shiny concourse. From the buildings fascinating architecture, American flags, endless rows of shops and a locally sourced food market, it’s a far cry from a train station.

It’s the Dorchester of train stations. With its astronomical mural on the ceiling, Grand chandeliers and an Oyster Bar that first opened its doors in 1913! Grand Central Terminal is not to be missed. Our hotel was on 42nd Street, Lexington Avenue which meant we walked through the terminal twice every day and it took my breath away every. single. time.

With the mix of luxury shops and a whole floor dedicated to the dining concourse its hard to know whether to shop or eat! Being the foodie I am I opted to eat! It was a hard choice with 22 eatery’s to chose from! Do we go sweet or savoury or both! We opted for a chicken gyros from Eata Pita which were to die for & Finished with a muffin from Magnolia Bakery (the best cake makers in the state of New York – I think!) But there’s much more to choose from including coffees, pizza, ice cream and bagels! Grab something to go whilst taking the exit via the Grand Central Food Market. And better yet if your exploring New York on a budget the terminal is free!

3. Top of The Rock!

There is only one word to describe the view from the top of the Rockefeller Centre: spectacular. You can see the whole of the city beneath you at 360 degrees! It’s incredible and not even great writing could justify how special it is! I guess you’ll just have to go and experience it for yourself! A lot of tourists head straight for the Top of the Rock Observation Deck which granted is on the top floor but costs $40 each so it ain’t cheap.

On my visit to New York thanks to my blog savvy mum who had done her research, we did things a little differently! We booked a swanky table at Bar 65 just three floors down from the observation deck. With a cocktail in one hand, we headed outside to enjoy the view for as long as we wanted! There was no obligation to buy food and certainly no rush to kick us out – we were there for hours! Go just before sunset and see the view in all its glory in the daylight, sunset and at night time when the skyscrapers are glowing. This is a brilliant option if you’re looking to get a little bit more for your money!

Tip: The bar is swanky so make sure you’ve got a cocktail dress in your luggage for the occasion! You never who you might bump into!

4. Central Park

View of Central Park from the Rockefeller Centre

Beautiful views over Central Park: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

The thing that I love the most about this city is its ability to surprise! In a city full of skyscrapers located on fifth avenue is over 800 acres of greenery! Madness right? It’s the biggest park in the city of New York and is incredible! Better yet it’s absolutely free! Of course, true to 21st-century fashion there’s a ton of activities in the park which could rob you blind if you let them! But the best way to explore Central Park is on foot taking in the scenery!

Once inside the park, there’s a mountain of fun to throw yourself into! Anything from the Central Park Zoo, a rowing boat on one of the many lakes, visiting Alice in Wonderland herself or pay tribute to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields! Something to note – the park is huge and you will need all day if you plan to see the whole thing! Luckily if you’re strapped for time you can hop on and off the subway or hire a cycle!

Tip: Buy a map from one of the guides inside Central Park! They will only set you back a couple of dollars and you will get lost if you don’t get one! Especially if you’re on a time limit! Also, they are a great souvenir!

5. Brooklyn Bridge

Connecting the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic piece of New York history. Originally built in 1869 and finished a further 14 years on the Brooklyn Bridge has been a gateway into the city for years! The architecture itself is stunning and the views of the city miles ahead of you are breathtaking.

The only way to get the full experience of the Brooklyn Bridge is to walk it! Yes, you can get transport across but you can’t appreciate all it has to offer! The pedestrian walkway is above the road so you can walk or cycle across without worrying about traffic! The walk itself is just over one mile so depending on your ability it will take around 25-30 minutes (depending on how many times you stop for those all-important snapshots and selfies!). Go when you don’t have to rush, take a leisurely stroll across the bridge to admire all that’s going on around you! Believe me, you won’t regret it when you’re walking towards a dazzling Manhattan across the water!

Tip: Comfortable shoes! I’ll say it time and time again be comfy! And take water! You wouldn’t want sore feet covered in blisters ruining the moment!

6. 9/11 Memorial Museum

9/11 Memorial New York

9/11 Memorial: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

You will need your tissues for this one. This experience as devastating and heart wrenching but the museum is it’s defiantly worth a visit. You need to get a subway to the World Trade Centre, now a newly built singular tower. Surrounded by skyscrapers between the World Trade Centre and its neighbours lays space, emptiness and heartbreak. The foundations of the twin towers still remain as a memorial to its victims the architecture is stunning and signifies all that was lost on that dreaded September morning back in 2001.

It is free to visit the memorial but entry is charged for the museum. Inside your taken back in time to hear the stories of those involved, those who lost loved ones, the services first on the scene and even voice messages from those on the plane. As I said you leave the museum with a very heavy heart and a lump in your throat but it’s worth a visit.

7. Broadway

Broadway, New York

Broadway: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

Bright lights, glamour, shows, big names? That’s what New York is famous for right?! So why not indulge in a performance on Broadway! I can certainly say you will not regret it! The only downside to shows on Broadway is that they can be a little to very pricey! When we were headed to New York we knew that we wanted to catch a show on Broadway and in-fact we knew exactly what show we wanted to see! The Lion King! (Of course!) The show itself was everything and more than we had imagined it would be. It was truly sensational! And even though this was probably our most expensive splurge in the city we got a discounted rate using the site Attraction Tix! Keep an eye out for a whole post dedicated to how you can save on theatre tickets!

Another great way to get discounted tickets for a Broadway show is making the most of the TKTS box office in Time Square. They have daily deals where they discount theatre tickets up to 50% every day! The only disadvantages of this are you could be waiting in a long ass queue, for a long ass time AND you don’t get a choice on what show is discounted! It’s different every day! So if you’re a risk taker and mega bargain hunter go for this option! But if like me you have your heart set on a particular show I can vouch that it will be worth it!

Be Aware: The Lion King is rarely discounted via the TKTS box office!

8. The Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry

Statue of Liberty: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

Standing tall on Ellis Island, of course, is the very impressive Statue of Liberty! Brought to the big apple by the French as a gift in October 1886 she’s been the trademark of the city ever since! There are so many ways to go and see The Statue of Liberty from boat tours that dock at the tip of the island to tours that let you disembark and even climb into the statue herself!

But if you’re like me and aren’t bothered about getting up close and personal with her then see the statue via the Staten Island ferry! Why? Number 1 it’s free! Number 2 its gets very close to the statue so you can too see her in all her glory! The ferry departs every 20-30 minutes from Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan and vice versa from Staten Island. As said before its free! This is the ferry that commuters use to and from work in the city! When you leave Manhattan you want to be situated on the right-hand side of the ferry and on the return you want to be sat at the left! The return journey is where the ferry gets the closest to the statue!

Tip: Avoid early mornings and 4 pm onwards (angry commuters waiting to get home) opt for a weekend if you can or middle of the day! Be warned on a weekend it will be full of tourists! But hey that’s what we are so who cares?

9. Bryant Park

The lawn in Bryant Park

Bryant Park: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

My absolute favourite park in New York City! Yes better than Central Park and Madison Square Park! Located behind the New York public library and only a ten-minute walk from Grand Central lies Bryant Park. A tranquil peaceful garden fuelled with laughter and life! The park is home to a range of daily activities day and night and some great eatery’s! The park hosts something for everyone, adults, young people, children, foodies, exercise junkies and even reading enthusiasts! To the north of the park lays the South West Porch a decked area strung with fairy lights looking out onto the lawn! (A great area to grab a drink, a bite to eat and people watch!). If you’re looking for somewhere a little more upmarket head to the Bryant Park Grill for a more sophisticated dining experience!

As well as dining options the park offers board games that are available to hire, exercise classes on the lawn including yoga and Pilates – a great way to let off steam and re-energise! In the winter months the lawn doubles up as an ice rink and in summer brings small music festivals and artists to the stage! If you’re a bit of a book worm like me then don’t miss the historic Reading Room. Originally founded in 1935 as an open-air library. The Reading Room was initially established to give redundant businessmen and the homeless somewhere they could enjoy literature for free. Its been running ever since! With poetry readings, aspiring authors and published authors amongst some of the speakers its somewhere I wish I had spent more time!

10. The Empire State Building

Ariel view of the Empire State Building

Empire State Building: Top 10 Things to Do in New York City

Last but not least in my top 10 must see’s of New York City is The Empire State Building. Now I apologise in advance to you Empire State lovers out there but from the bottom, I was massively disappointed! Located on fifth avenue the Empire State Building is still the third tallest building in New York. Unfortunately, it didn’t scream out amazing as I thought it would! From the bottom, it looked like any other building! We decided not to venture up the Empire State as we chose the Rockefeller Centre instead to get the views of Central Park from above!

That said, we did venture up a rooftop bar showering us with magnificent views of the top of the Empire State Building! Which I have to say were mind-blowing! The detail in the spire of the building is amazing. I have to say it changed my views on the Building (no pun intended!). Even though not my favourite site in New York it’s definitely one to see and decide about yourself!

There you have it! My top ten favourite places you must see in New York! If you’re only in the city for a few days and are wondering how you’re going to fit everything in see my post: ‘Four Days in New York on a Budget’ to give you some ideas!

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