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This quick New York City insider travel guide for sightseeing Manhattan will take you through Things to Do, Eat and Neighborhoods to check out. It will guide you through the top attractions in NYC. Activities are listed by neighborhood so you can tackle this itinerary easily.
I’ve lived in New York City (Manhattan) for close to nine years. If you think this Big Bad Apple is exciting, charged and quick-paced, then you’re right! The city doesn’t sleep and for its ladder-climbing-strap-holding citizens, that’s a good thing. Life is lived on the run. Just like the way Manhattanites like it.
Anything I miss? Leave it down in the comments section below.
40 Things to Do in New York City
Note: Relevant character information is in the video and details summarized below.
Downtown Manhattan is the financial and business district. The home of Wall Street, the wharf, World Trade enter towers. You can take the ferry to Staten Island, pass the Lady Liberty and look back at the New York City skyline.
1. 9/11 Outdoor memorial to the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers C
Subways: A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers Street; A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trains to Fulton Street; 2 or 3 trains to Park Place; E train to World Trade Center
2. 9/11 Museum, Admission: $24, Tuesdays Free after 6pm, Website
3. Wall Street Charging Bull., Broadway and Morris Street
4. Wall Street, Location: Between Broad and Wall Street
5. Federal Hall Memorial, Location: 26 Wall Street
6. Walking Brooklyn Bridge. From Manhattan, enter the bridge near City Hall/ Centre Street. Subways: 4, 5, 6, J, Z and R lines.
7. Statue of Liberty, Governors Island
8. Staten Island Ferry
Hours: 7am-11pm Duration: 25 minutes. Admission: Free. Subway: Whitehall Terminal / 4th South Street in Lower Manhattan. Lower East Side
9. Katz’s Famous Delicatessen, 205 E Houston St / Allen Street. Subways: 2nd Ave, Delancy, Essex
New York City harbors one of the grittiest Chinatowns you’ll experience in fishy smells, budget eats and a Chinese community and culture, which can make you feel like you’re in China. The typical subway stop is Canal Street (yellow line). Neighbors: Little Italy and Soho.
10. Explore Chinatown. Canal is the main street. Head east and the off-shoot streets house restaurants, parks and small Chinese grocery marts. Nearest Subway: Canal Street
11. Try Boba Tea in Chinatown
Oh Mama Mia! If you’re looking for a bit of pasta, canoli and a little Italian flavor, then Little Italy has got a lot of character for you. It’s the hub of Italian restaurants and delis. If you’re in the city during September then check out the San Gennaro Festival, one of the liveliest religious festivals in Manhattan. Little Italy stretches from Mulberry Street to Chinatown.
12. Explore Little Italy. Much of it is on Mulberry Street, with a couple of off-shoot streets. Nearest Subway: Canal Street
13. Try Cannoli. Cannoli is a Sicilian dessert, which looks like a deep fried crusted tube filled with sweet ricotta cheese.
Cafe Palermo, 148 Mulberry St (btwn Grand & Hester St)
Ferrara Bakery, 195 Grand St (btwn Mott & Mulberry St)
Soho is recognizable by its cast iron facades and cobblestone streets, Soho’s playground has been the background for several New York film locations. The famous shopping district is known for its high-end boutique shops, art galleries and shopping. If you want to experience the trendy side of New York, with lots of people and fashion watching, Soho is it.
14. Shopping. Subways: Spring St, Prince St., Broadway-Lafayette
15. Soho’s famous cobblestone streets and most filmed neighborhood (Mercer, Greene, Bond & Wooster Streets)
If you’re looking for upscale small boutiques with a bit of old money charm or a quiet brunch cafe with an air of upper class, the West Villlage holds a quiet and subdued atmosphere.
16. Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes. Touted as one of the best cupcakes in town, for years, this bakery had lines out their front door. 401 Bleeker Street/11th St
Union Square or 14th Street/Broadway is one of the main transfer hubs on the subway. It’s ‘the gathering place’ for many with a fresh market, dog park and lots of people watching. If you’re staging a peace rally, demonstration or event you want to voice, this is the main park to do it at. The park square is surrounded by restaurants and shopping, a Whole Foods, Best Buy and more.
17. Union Square Park, West 14th & Broadway
Meatpacking District to Chelsea
Warehouses, designer boutiques and art galleries stretch these west side districts starting at 14th Street and 10th Avenue, alll the way to 23rd Street. At night the meatpacking district is alit with restaurants and bar/clubs. You’ll also find the High Line Park, an old raised railroad renovated into a raised urban walkway.
18. High Line Park, Gansevoort St to West 30th St/9th-11th Aves)
19. Take a Sex & the City film location tour
20. Take a New York Food Tour (Read my review of Ahoy New York Food Tours)
28. Subway performances
Midtown Manhattan isn’t the prettiest, but quite possibly one of the busiest. Sharing activity from the fashion, shopping and business districts, it’s a place you go with a purpose.
22. Empire State, Location: 350 5th Ave
23. Shop cameras and technology at B & H Photo and Camera Store, Location: 34th St & 9th Ave
24. Surf free internet at the New York Public Library
25. Bryant Park (especially during Fashion Week!)
26. Chrysler Building
27. Grand Central. 89 East 42nd St , Grand Central Metro Station
29. Times Square. Location: Broadway Ave/ West 42nd- 53rd St, Getting There: Times Square metro station
30. See a Broadway Show in the Broadway Theater District. Location: West 40th-54th Streets, 7th and Broadway, Getting There: Times Square metro Station.
32. Rockefeller Center, 45 Rockefeller
33. Top of the Rock
AO Schwartz (next to the giant Apple Store)– Closed
Central Park is one of the biggest, most visited and most filmed urban park in the U.S.. It offers a range of free outdoor events from concerts in the summer, Shakespeare in the Park and more. Stroll, rent a bike, hire a horse carriage or take a jog through the park.
35. Columbus Circle, West 59th & Broadway
36. Central Park, West 59th -110th Streets/ 5th & 8th Aves,
37. Bike Rentals & Park Tours at Central Park (Cost ranges from $15+)
38. Horse Carriage & Pedicab Tours (Costs start at $155+)
39. John Lennon’s “Imagine” Memorial, Central Park West & 72nd St
Lincoln Center is the home of the high arts such as opera, symphony concerts and ballet. It’s also the home of Julliard School and the New York Public Library. During the summer, Lincoln Center sports an outdoor event program, showcasing the most popular dance companies the Big Apple has to offer… for free!
40. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza (62nd-65th Streets)
Getting Around New York City
The Big Apple is a pedestrian city, where residents commute by subway, bus, taxi, Uber and foot. Vulnerable to weather, other people and its zealous ambitions, makes New Yorkers survival based.
Jaywalking is absolutely acceptable and you’ll always find yourself standing a foot -or ten- into the street when waiting on the corner for the light to change. It’s about getting that extra edge into your day; a way to slice time. Got your running shoes on?
The subway operates 24 hours a day. Cost per single ride as of 2017 is $2.75. You can purchase a single, day unlimted, 7 day, 30 day and year unlimited pass. The unlimited passes work on the public buses as well.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers
Having lived in New York City, I’d say there’s a medium amount of crime that goes on towards locals and tourists. I learned my travel street smarts just by living there.
Manhattan is okay for night activities as people are on the streets at all hours. But a populated city like NYC has its share of scammers, pickpockets, sexual predators and violence. Tourists are easy to pick out in New York City– they’re not focused on where they’re going, smile at everything, and they don’t pay attention to their belongings. Be the opposite of what I just mentioned.
Metro stations: Do not let anyone stand too close when helping you buy tickets at the metro card dispenser. Hide your Pin number when entering a debit card. Better yet, use cash and buy your ticket at the ticket window.
To avoid pickpockets, always put a hand on your belongings and look straight ahead. Always be aware of your environment and pay attention to your surroundings.
New York City metros operate 24 hours but late evening/early morning, metro services slow. Be aware of occasional homeless, drunks or crazy folks waiting in the metro or sleeping in the trains. Winter time, homeless sometimes ride the trains for a warm sleep. They’re not violent but they can get rowdy. Read Dealing with Touts, Scams, Beggars
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