What to do in New York

New York is exciting! Just walking the streets of New York will give you a buzz not many other cities do. But New York can also be daunting. So much to see, so much to do and often not enough time to do it. Play it smart; rent and apartment, stay a week or preferably two and take your time exploring this wonderful city.

I had been New York quite a few times but on this trip, after a long time between visits, it was time to play tourist again and revisit some old familiar sights as well as a few new ones!


1.Walk the High Line

Walking New York's High Line

This walk on the restored elevated rail track that meanders from 30th street to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking district, shows you another side of New York. Start at 30th Street (after visiting the incredible B& H camera store at 34th & 9th Ave) and follow the walkway to the Meatpacking district where you will find shops, bars and restaurants to keep you busy. Nothing beats a drink at the bar on the roof of the Standard Hotel after the walk.
Read ‘Walking New York’s High Line’


2.Take in the best view in New York

The view from the Top of the Rockefeller Centre, New York

The jury is out as to whether the best view of New York is from the Top of the Rockefeller Centre or from the Empire State building. If time is on your side, visit both!  Sunset is a popular time to visit but the queues can be long and the viewing platforms crowded.
We headed to the 70th floor of the Top of the Rock  for these stunning views from the Statue of Liberty to Central Park and from the Hudson River to East River and further afield.

Book your ticket on line at www.topoftherocknyc.com. Download the free app ‘Top of the Rock’ so you know what you’re looking at!


3. Visit the 9/11 Memorial

9/1 Memorial, New York

There’s never a right time to pay your respects but the sensitive and reflective beauty of this memorial makes it easier. Until the buildings of the World Trade Centre are completed, tickets must be booked online or at the visitor centre in Vesey St
Read ‘The 9/11 Memorial in New York’. Details can be found on the 9/11 web site.

For the bargain hunters, Century 21 is close by where you can pick up a fashion label for less.


4. MoMA

Courtyard at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Let’s not forget the Museum of Modern Art, known around the world as MoMA, that showcases contemporary and modern art from the 1880’s to 1980’s, as well as photography and drawing.  Here you will find the paintings of Warhol, Mondrian, Kadinsky and many others. There’s always a special exhibit to see- for us it was the exciting work of  Cindy Sherman. Shoppers: Don’t miss MoMA’s famous gift shop.

There’s also two great restaurants at MoMA.  ‘The Modern‘ overlooks the beautiful MoMA courtyard offering superb dining but I loved our meal in the Bar Room at the Modern, the more casual bar and restaurant of the two. More about this soon!!


5. The stars of’ the Museum Mile

Museum Mile in New York

Fifth Avenue’s  ‘Museum Mile‘ is the name given to a tree lined section of  the avenue that is home to nine of New York’s museums. A cultural home base where the most famous shouldn’t be missed! For me they were:

Metropolitan Museum of Art at 82nd St. From the famous Egytpian collection to the newly renovated Centre for Islamic Art, it’s hard to take it all in in one visit. Think about booking a guide. During the summer months, the annual sculpture exhibition on the roof garden is not to be missed, if only for the fabulous views.
The Solomon R Guggenheim Gallery at 88th St. Follow the circular walkway in Frank Lloyd Wright’s incredible building that houses  modern and contemporary art. The architecture in itself is a masterpiece.

Seven to go!


6. Take a walk in the Park

Central Park, New York

Central Park; this green heart of Manhatten offers a fabulous escape from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Hire a boat on the lake, head to Strawberry Fields and see the memorial to John Lennon, join everyone lying in the sun or flying kites on the Sheep Meadow or walk around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. If you’ve got little ones, there’s the Central Park Zoo to explore.


7. Tour Harlem

Images of Harlem, New York

Harlem was not what I imagined! I not sure what I was expecting, maybe the Harlem of old movie days, but its wide open streets, beautiful brownstones, tree lined walkways and restaurants surprised me. History surrounds you so the best way to take it all in is to book a tour. There are different architectural styles to be explained,  history to explore and notable landmarks to be seen.
Book a seat for Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre, a Tuesday night institution where you get to tell the performers if they’re good or they’re not! On Sunday, you will be welcomed at one of the many churches to listen and enjoy some fabulous gospel singing. Afterwards book lunch or dinner at Red Rooster. It’s all about comfort food here- meatballs, mac and cheese or fried chicken appear on the menu but to start, don’t miss their delicious corn bread!


8Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Plan your day around this fabulous walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’re starting in Manhatten, head to City Hall (Park Row and Centre St) where the walk starts. The best views are back towards Manhatten, so if you’re not planning to walk back, don’t forget to keep stopping and looking back. Once on the other side, take the first exit and head to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Near here, you’ll find the The River Cafe, the perfect spot for lunch with a view or head to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria on Front Street for their famous pizza.


9.Visit Grand Central Station

Grand Central Terminal, New York

You don’t need to be catching a train to visit Grand Central Terminal. Many come to take in the grandeur of the building, to have oysters at the famous Oyster Bar and Restaurant or test the whispering gallery. It works!! Stand in one corner, whisper sweet nothings to the wall and your friend in the other corner will be able to hear! Glance up at the ceiling and let me know if the zodiac is facing the wrong way?
Grand Central Terminal is at 87 east 42nd St. Just around the corner at 405 Lexington St is the art deco Chrysler Building . Don’t forget to look up to see these two  icons together! Also on 42nd street is the New York Public Library. Here you can take a free one hour tour to learn about this amazing building.


10. Hang out Downtown.

Soho's Fire Escapes,New York

With so many bars and restaurants on our doorstep, staying in Soho was the place for us. I loved walking around the streets with its loft buildings and cast iron architecture, fabulous shopping and galleries. What I loved most was that it was an easy walk in all directions to New York’s ‘villages’. The tree lined streets of Greenwich Village were only ten minutes away and a little further on West Village beckoned. Food shops and restaurants kept us returning to the streets of the Lower East Side and East Village. More on this soon!


11. Visit the Cloisters

The Cloisters, New York

The Cloisters is a hidden museum in New York. In the northwest corner of Manhatten in Fort Tryon Park, this branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is devoted to medieval art from Europe. The architecture of reconstructed cloisters, the statues and priceless art that fill the rooms  and the beautiful  gardens are a pleasure to wander around.

Take the subway to 190th Street, exit by the elevator and follow Margaret Corbin Drive to the entrance.


12. Tick off some more icons.
See the Statue of Liberty, go to the top of the Empire State Building, stand in the middle of Time Square at night taking in all that flashing neon and book a Broadway show. No explanation required!



Love New York sculpture at 6th Ave & 55th St  

And the list continues……

See the Love New York Sculpture by Robert Indiana at 6th Avenue and 55th Street

Find the Flatiron Building on 23rd. There’s lots to do around here…visit Eataly , roam the Union Square Markets or have a burger at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park

Wander the Frick Collection  This beautiful old home houses a fabulous collection of art, furniture and sculpture. At 70th St between Madison and 5th

Check out the New Museum and its’ funky exterior.

Take in a performance at the Lincoln Centre, home to the New York’s philharmonic orchestra, NYC Ballet, opera , jazz and theatre.

See the city from above with a helicopter ride

Shop 5th Avenue

Listen to Jazz at one of New York’s clubs

Go to the other side and discover the secrets and street art of Brooklyn and Williamsburg


Eat, eat eat…….that’s a whole new post: Eating in New York



What do you like to do in New York



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71 Responses to What to do in New York

  1. Krista July 26, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Such incredible sights to see! 🙂 I’d especially love to visit The Cloisters at Fort Tyron Park. They look so quiet, serene and pretty. 🙂

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      There’s so much to see in NYC which is probably why a lot of people don’t make it to the Cloisters but they are definitely missing out on a wonderful museum. The azaleas were out Krista, so it was a beautiful time to visit and walk around the gardens

  2. Johanna July 26, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Looks such an exciting city to visit. I hope I get there one day. I also agree, the cloisters look so serene and beautiful – like a lung in the midst of a busy and boisterous metropolis.

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      I can just imagine you in New York Jo- you’d love it! The Cloisters were a great escape and something completely different to see. Hope you get her soon!

  3. Jackie Smith July 26, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Seems we walked until our feet nearly fell off in New York, but your photos remind me that we just touched the tip of all that is there to be discovered. Nice tour you provided us and great tips.

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

      I love walking in New York. We seemed to go for miles too Jackie, but it’s probably just as well with all the food stops you can make on the way!!Hope you get back soon to see the places you missed last time.

  4. Nancie July 26, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    I love New York and your tour is wonderful. I haven’t been since the late 1990’s. so maybe next year when I go home I’ll fly via NYC. I’m long overdue for a visit. I love your idea of renting an apartment and staying a while.

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      It was fifteen years since I had been back this time! Even the 10 days we had this trip was not long enough so an apartment and a longer stay is definitely the way to go. I hope you get here next year Nancie

  5. Amanda from Not A Ballerina July 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Beautiful post Jenny with many of my favourite NY spots. No doubt I’ve commented before that it’s one of my all time favourite cities!

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

      There’s something pretty special about New York isn’t there Amanda. I could go back tomorrow! Start planning your next visit! Thanks for the FB share

  6. jade July 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    What great shots! I love NYC- especially walking the HIgh Line. Well, any time but winter. We did it once in Feb and it was horrible! So, so cold!

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks Jade.I can imagine that the High Line in winter would be terrible. The wind must fly through there too! Thankfully we had a lovely day though some of the food carts etc had not yet appeared for the summer.

  7. Spencer July 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    This post reminds me why I love NYC so much. It is such an awesome place with so much to do!

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      Thanks Spencer. There’s so many areas to explore that you can keep you coming back time after time and find something new!

  8. Mary @ The World Is A Book July 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Beautiful shots and such a great list and tips. We were in NYC last month and last Oct. and I much preferred a Fall visit. We love NYC because there’s just so much to do. We’ve visited so many times and there are still quite a few things on this list we haven’t done. We did the Top of the Rock view and I think that has a better view – closer to Central Park and you get the iconic Empire State Bldg.

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      I could easily visit again….this time for longer than the 10 days we had! If only I lived closer! It would be great to see New York in the different seasons but unfortunately for us we can’t always choose when to travel. It’s a good point you make Mary in the Top of the Rock vs the Empire State Building view contest!

  9. Debra Kolkka July 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Great suggestions! I have done them all except the Highline, which was not open last time I was there. I’m going to send this on to some friends visiting NY soon.

    • [email protected] July 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      As I was writing this, I kept thinking that I must go back!!Thanks for forwarding it to your friends, Debra

  10. jan July 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Great Post – I have the exact Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central shots! You certainly have seen so much in New York. I am annoyed that I missed the high line and cloisters. Oh well – next time.
    This is a great resource for anyone going to NYC!

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      Thanks Jan. It’s hard to get a new angle on an old icon! We did see a lot but there’s still so much more to see. Time just ran out…I keep telling my husband we’re going for a month next time. I can dream…!!

  11. Sophie July 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    I haven’t been in New York City in more than 20 years. My children have never been, but have been pestering me quite a bit about seeing it lately. Also, even though I was there quite often way back when, I see there’s heaps of new and interesting to discover. Very nice guide here 🙂

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      It was fifteen years since we had been there Sophie, which is why we played tourist again. I loved going back to places we had been before and the new ones.The High Line wasn’t around last time – it’s one of the new ones that is great to do!

  12. Jessica July 27, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    We have a trip planned to NYC in September and many of these things are on the list. I might have missed the Cloisters if not for this post, though, so thanks. Also, I didn’t know NYC had a Love sculpture. I thought that was a Philly thing. I’ll be on the lookout for it.

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      You’ll love New York Jessica.I didn’t realise there was a love sculpture here either until I tripped over it! Unfortunately there was a fence very close to it and I couldn’t get a proper shot so hopefully you’ll have better luck. Have a great trip!

  13. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista July 27, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    I love NYC and, in fact, just returned from a long weekend! I think Lower Manhattan is my favorite for all its history. I find the East Village gives more of an “authentic” NY atmosphere – people sitting on the stoops and fire escape type of feel plus it is full of fantastic cafes! Enjoyed your pictures and they are must sees while visiting NYC.

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

      Thanks Debbie. Oh.. to live so close that I could go for a weekend visit! You obviously love NYC. Do you stay in East Village or Soho when you visit?

  14. Leigh July 27, 2012 at 4:02 am #

    This is a wonderful list. I have yet to walk the Highline Trail but will next time I visit. On my last visit to NYC I went to MOMA and got in for free on a Friday night. For budget travelers it would be worth checking to see if free Friday nights are still around.

    • InsideJourneys July 27, 2012 at 7:24 am #

      Free or pay what you can still exist at all museums, I think. It’s great to go then but it’s usually too crowded to see much.

      • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

        I agree Marcia. We though of popping back to MoMA on the Friday night but as it was quite crowded when were there, we decided against it. The suggested fee was $25 at the Met but you could pay what you liked.

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      The High Line is a great walk-much easier than you are used to Leigh! Thanks for the reminder about the free night at MoMA. Yes, Friday nights are free between 4pm and 8pm. I’ll have to add it in the the guide!

  15. InsideJourneys July 27, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Fabulous list. And you’re right: getting an apartment or a B&B is a great idea.
    I still haven’t done the Brooklyn Bridge and the GWB.

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks Marcia. The great thing about still having things to see is that it gives you a reason to go back! I hope you get to see the sights you haven’t seen soon!

  16. Dick Jordan July 27, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Nicely illustrated story.

  17. Cathy Sweeney July 27, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    I get a buzz just thinking about NYC and seeing your photos. One of my absolute favorite places in the world to be. I have to walk the High Line next time I’m there. All great suggestions!

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      It had been a while since we were last in NYC but the buzz was back the minute I stepped onto the streets! Now I can’t wait to get back there! You’ll love the High Line. I hope you get back there in the not too distant future, Cathy

  18. Andi at The Particular Traveler July 27, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Awesome round up of NYC activities! I swear, I could spend months there and still not see everything that I’d like to see. 🙂 Hope it’s ok that I am pinning this!

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Thanks Andi. I’m with you. Months wouldn’t be long enough! Thanks for the pin.

  19. Sabrina July 28, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Thanks for the tour! NYC is a place really high on my travel wish list. And now I know which points to go to when I get there 🙂 I saw that circular walkway of the museum on a TV series and again in a movie I think. Very neat!

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      Pleasure Sabrina. The design of the Guggenheim Museum- the one you saw on TV- is fabulous! I hope you get to see it and New York one day.

  20. Family Travels on a Budget July 28, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    We got to visit NYC for Thanksgiving a few years ago when my son’s high school band was in the parade. Much of our trip was planned, but the two days we had free were my favorite. My younger son and I enjoyed walking through the different neighborhoods, feasting our eyes on the wonders of the city while we munched our way from street vendor to cheesecake to deli! Three things that stand out, silly but true, riding the wooden escalator at Macy’s — we traveled back in time as we rode! Riding the carousel in one of the smaller city parks. And our impromptu photo shoot in Central Park. New York is one of the most amazing cities in the world — and I can’t wait to go back. Hopefully, next time, with my husband!

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Sounds like a great trip. New York offers so much but the best times are usually when you have the time to just wander and take in whatever you find. I hope you and your husband can spend time there soon!

  21. marina July 28, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    jenny! Tell me about Red Rooster. Did you go? What do you recommend?

    • [email protected] July 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

      Yes Marina, we went for lunch before going on a tour of the area.We started with the cornbread which was fabulous. I then had the Mac and greens and my husband had Helga’s Meatballs.If we hadn’t been going out for dinner, I would have tried the chicken which they are known for. The food was good without being fabulous! They have music nights during the week and a gospel brunch on Sunday which could be interesting- fun atmosphere.The cocktails are supposed to be fantastic!!! If you’re going to Harlem, it s a good place to try.

      • marina August 4, 2012 at 2:42 am #

        I am definitely going to make it there and will report back on the chicken for you. Thank you!

  22. Sensibletraveler July 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    I like that you put High Line first–it is such a cool use of urban space that used to be considered an eyesore.

    • [email protected] July 29, 2012 at 9:33 am #

      I didn’t really put them in order but because I enjoyed it so much and it is one of the newer attractions, I thought of it first! What they have done is so clever especially when you see the section above 30th street that is still to be done. I’m glad it is so popular.

  23. London4Travelers July 29, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    New York is a wondeful city that has a lot of interesting places to visit and see for travelers. People always find it interesting to travel around this city. It goes without saying that New York is one of the best world’s travel destinations.

    • [email protected] July 29, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      I agree. There’s so much to do in New York. You could not help but think it a great place to visit. Thanks for stopping by.

  24. Ali Franetovich July 30, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    Great guide… wish I had it when I was in beautiful NYC! Missed a few of these… will definitely have to go back. Such a special city.

    • [email protected] July 31, 2012 at 6:16 am #

      Thanks Ali. New York is the best! Having a reason to go back always makes it a bit easier! Hope you get back soon!

  25. Laurel July 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Great list. Checking out Amateur Night at the Apollo sounds really appealing, since I’ve never gone to anything like that before.

    • [email protected] July 31, 2012 at 6:27 am #

      Thanks Laurel. I love to do something different when we’re in a city. We also went to a gospel church service which was fun though these are now becoming a popular tourist attraction!

  26. Turkey's For Life August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Loved this list. There are only a few cities in the world that I’d really like to see (we’re more for hills and mountains 🙂 ) and New York is one of them. think we would aim high just to take in all the views!

    • [email protected] August 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      New York is a fabulous city, Julia. The views are amazing from the Top of the Rock so it’s certainly something you must do. If it all gets a bit overwhelming you could head to Central Park for a break!!

  27. Vicky August 2, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Great list! While I have not yet gotten to everything on the list I have been to most of the places and absolutely love the high line!

    • [email protected] August 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

      Thanks Vicky.I’m sure that the more you go to New York, the more there is to see. At least a never ending list gives us a reason to go back! The high line is great isn’t it- I’d love to see it again at another time of the year.

  28. Suzy August 6, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    This is a great list! I need to get back to New York as many of these are new to me. I always love a visit to Grand Central. I still need to do Top of the Rock.

    • [email protected] August 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks Suzy. It’s always great to leave something for the next trip so you have a reason to go back! I can recommend the Top of the Rock-sunset would be great!

  29. Leslie September 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    NYC offers so much excitement it’s hard to fit it all in! One of the best ways to see the sights is through a city tour. My kids had a blast on a double decker bus tour!

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      I agree, Leslie, a double decker bus tour is a great way for some people to see the sights, especially where there’s so much to see. I personally love walking tours. You learn so much on these.

  30. Suitcase Stories February 15, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    Looks like this is an old post but I just found it. We are heading to NYC in May so wanted soe fresh ideas of what to do. This post is perfect, thank you!

    • [email protected] February 15, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      Pleasure. There’s quite a few other posts on the blog that you may find helpful, especially the one on where to eat in New York. You’ll find them all under New York in the destinations header. Have a fabulous trip.

  31. Nicole @ Suitcase Stories May 2, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    NYC is my favorite place on earth! We are heading back for our third time in 21 days (yes Im counting!) and there are things on this list we didn’t do so will do this time! Thanks 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman May 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      I’d be counting the days too Nicole! I’m pleased that you have found things to do on the list that you haven’t done yet. There’s also a food post that you might be interested…lots of great restaurant suggestions! http://atasteoftravelblog.com/2012/new-york-restaurants/
      Have fun!

  32. Mike April 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Hi, I am from Canada and for our new year celebration me and my wife went 2 times to New York. During Christmas New York is great to visit. we visited the “Cloisters” and “9/11 Memorial”. Thanks for sharing these pics I hope next time I will cover other interesting places there. Thanks again.

    • Jenny Freedman April 1, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

      Hi Mike. You are so lucky being close to New York..I’d love to be able to pop back so easily! A lot of people overlook the Cloisters so it’s fantastic that you saw it. It’s a great city isn’t it!

      • Mike April 3, 2014 at 8:46 am #

        Yes indeed Jenny.

  33. Gayla February 19, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

    I’ve only been to NYC once, but immediately fell in love with it. Sadly, due to lack of time, I didn’t get to visit the museums or Harlem (hopefully I’ll return someday). I do remember the great food: Israeli from a little dive in Hell’s Kitchen, interesting Japanese, and some fantastic Dosas from the Dosa Man in Washington Square Park. I also really enjoyed visiting the UN. I <3 NY.

    • Jenny Freedman February 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

      There’s so much to do in New York, it’s hard to do it all in one of two visits. Harlem is certainly worth a visit…when you do, eat at the Red Rooster. I’d forgotten about the UN. I visited a long while ago and also found it fascinating. I definitely need to update this post Gayla!

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