Call it the Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, Gotham, or the Capital of the World, New York City is a place everyone should visit at least once (and many continue to come back for more for years to come.) New York is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the world: think the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Times Square. You can also experience some amazing restaurants, incredible nightlife, and art, museums, and sporting events.
I fell in love with New York the first time I visited the city at age 14, and am lucky to call it my home since moving here at 26.
I agree with many of BuzzFeed’s reasons as to why everyone should live in (or, at least travel to) New York once in their life:
Best Time to Visit NYC
It’s difficult to pick “the best month” to visit New York City because every season offers much to do and see in this energetic city. Personally, late summer/early fall is my favorite time of year in New York. Temperatures are cooler than in the summer months, but it is still warm enough to enjoy time outside. Fall in NYC is beautiful, whether you are spending the afternoon in Central Park, Prospect Park, or taking a quick train ride up the Hudson for a scenic hike (easily accessible by the MTA.)
If you enjoy the cold weather, maybe consider visiting NYC in December to partake in all of the holiday activities the city has to offer. Check out the tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skate for free at Bryant Park, and experience the world-famous Rockettes’ annual Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall.
What to Do in New York City
The amount of things to do in New York City is endless – regardless of when you are visiting, or where your interests lie. One thing I love about New York is that it is a very walkable city. The city’s grid-like layout makes getting around incredibly convenient, whether by subway or on foot.
Start your sightseeing in Central Park – America’s first public park, and the most beloved urban park in the world. Once you have spent a few hours exploring Central Park (check out the Great Lawn, Bethesda Fountain, Belvedere Fountain, and the Central Park Zoo), head over to Museum Mile. This nickname refers to a stretch of 5th Avenue, from 82nd street all the way to 105th street along the Upper East Side, home to 9 world-famous museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Musuem, and Museum of the City of New York.
Make your way over to the iconic Times Square, also known as the Crossroads of the World, and enjoy some shopping, a bite to eat, or a Broadway show. From there, head over a few blocks to Bryant Park, a 9-acre public park, and a New York City Scenic Landmark.
While many think of the Empire State Building as New York’s most famous landmark, it is an expensive, crowded, and very touristy spot to spend your time (especially if time is limited). Why not consider visiting the Top of the Rock Observation Center at Rockefeller Center, where you can enjoy 360 degree views from 70 floors up. You can also visit the Rainbow Room, a bar located on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center – drinks are pricey, but there is no cost to visit, and views are just as great as from the 70th floor.
Don’t leave New York before making the memorable walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Spend a morning in historical Brooklyn Heights, then stroll over to the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy the stunning views of lower Manhattan as you join pedestrians and cyclists on what is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Once you arrive in Manhattan, visit the Charging Bull, also known as the Wall Street Bull in the financial district.
End your visit in NYC by spending an afternoon in the West Village (Greenwich Village), one of Manhattan’s greatest neighborhoods. With the low buildings and tree-lined streets, the West Village is truly an oasis in the middle of the bustling city.
Where to Stay in New York City
New York City is divided into five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Each of these boroughs is made up of their own unique neighbourhoods with an array of cultural landmarks, restaurants, nightlife and shopping. Most people think only of Manhattan when they think of New York, and although the majority of tourist attractions and world-famous landmarks are located in Manhattan, the other boroughs have a lot to offer as well.
If you do end up staying in Manhattan, be prepared to spend significantly more than if you were to stay a short subway/uber/cab ride across the river from Manhattan. However, check out hoteltonight.com for last-minute deals if you’re a spur-of-the-moment type of traveler. If you like to plan but are looking to stay on the cheap, consider the Pod Hotel, a budget-friendly yet contemporary and conveniently located hotel. There are two Pod Hotels in New York, Hotel Pod 51 and Pod 39. The latter has an excellent rooftop bar, which is another great reason to choose it as a base for your stay in New York.
Consider Airbnb as an alternate option, since many New Yorkers, lucky enough to have their own apartment, are more than happy to rent it out when they go out of town.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up here and get USD $20 off your first stay!
If you don’t mind staying in one of the outer boroughs, consider a hotel in Long Island City, or downtown Brooklyn. You’ll save a significant amount of money and also get to experience a part of New York that many tourists don’t get to see.
Visit Time Out’s website for some of the best places to stay in Long Island City, Queens
Where to Eat and Drink in NYC
New York is definitely a city you can eat and drink your way through – whether by visiting a world-renowned restaurant or grabbing some street-meat for a snack. Check out Thrillist’s The Best Places to Eat in NYC Right Now for a few ideas to get you started.
You can also visit Time Out New York to see what restaurants and bars have just popped up on the NYC food and drink scene.
If you want to venture outside of Manhattan, Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s hipster hub, is home to some of the trendiest and tastiest restaurants around. Check out this article for some of Williamsburg’s (and the rest of Brooklyn’s) best restaurants
How Much Time Do You Need in NYC
Whether you spend 2 days or 2 weeks in New York, I guarantee, it is a city that will have you coming back for more. Although you can check out most of the city’s attractions in 3-4 days, it can take years to fully discover New York – there is a saying you aren’t a real New Yorker unless you’ve lived in the city for 8 years – I guess I’m nearly half way there.
New York is a city that takes years to discover but if you only have a long weekend, here are a few articles that will help you plan your New York getaway:
- Perfect Weekend in New York City by CN Traveler
- How to Make the Most of you Weekend Trip to NYC by USA Today
Author’s Bio: Diana Rosario is originally from Canada but has been living in NYC for the past 3 years. She is passionate about non-profit work, animal rescue, travel, and yoga. Diana has traveled to nearly 30 countries and completed her 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training in Costa Rica. Today, she’s a contributor to About.com’s USA Travel Section. You can connect with her by following wanderlust_yogi_nyc on Instagram.