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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My NYC Top Ten List

Okay, I'll tell you right now, I lied, this list is not a Top Ten, I just thought it was fitting since you know, the Letterman Top Ten list in kind of synonymous with New York City.  Anyway, After collectively living within 15 minutes of Manhattan for two years, I have learned the ins and outs of things to do in All of NYC.  I did not spend nearly enough time in Brooklyn or Queens in my travels but I am pretty sure I did almost all of the main touristy stuff in every borough.  So, if you are planning a trip to the Big Apple, as so many people I know are, take a look at my list.  Some of these things you have probably never heard of but totally worth the time if you have it, and some of these are uber famous HAVE to dos when you visit.  If you have nay questions while planning your trip, feel free to ask away, I love helping people plan!

*Please Note*  this list does not include restaurants.  It includes food, but unless it is a restaurant that has some other draw other than just being a restaurant, it will not be on this list.  I hope to do another list with my favorite restaurants on it soon as well.

*Another Note* I really tried at first to put these in an order but it was too hard, so I gave up, so these are in no real order of my favorites, they are all AWESOME.

Central Park, especially in Fall (and Spring), but anytime is amazing.

I have wandered for hours in Central Park aimlessly for hours in every season, and it is always breathtaking.  There are so many things to see and do, you can see something new every time you visit.  There is no way you can see everything in one day (even if you get a carriage ride, you will only see a handful of things) but at least wander around and explore a bit.  Some of my favorite spots are The Pond (this is very near the bottom entrance in front of the Plaza Hotel), Tavern on the Green (amazing lunches, try the chicken caesar salad or lobster roll at the walk up window), The Boathouse (famous from Sex and the City and many movies, a bit pricey but the view is worth it), Cleopatra's Needle in the spring when the Magnolia and Cherry blossoms are in bloom, The Rink (open like 6 months of the year), The Trump Carousel, The Central Park Zoo (a great zoo, even though I don't love zoos, hint, there are also some secret clean bathrooms scattered around in here!), The Sheep's Meadow (a giant meadow that used to have sheep, it really makes you realize how huge this place is) and The Bramble (makes you feel like you are miles from Manhattan in the woods).

You can also check out my blog posts about it:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

New york is filled with amazing museums, but a couple of them really have always stood out to me.  One of them being The Met.  There is something for everyone in this museum, and it isn't just art on walls, it is every kind of art you could ever imagine, from medieval suits of armor, to Egyptian Sarcophagus, to a Victorian home, plus, the art on the walls by the most famous artists that have ever lived.  This is one place that I would go back to every time I visit the city.  

The New York Public Library

The library is probably my favorite building in NYC.  Not only is it filled with so much history and millions of books, it also is just breathtaking.  It is solid marble with intricate designs and artwork covering the ceilings.  There are always new exhibits about something to do with American history and they are always very interesting and very well done.  It is also home to one of my favorite gift shops in the entire city.  Stop in and just take a quick walk around, if for nothing else than to get a picture with the lions on the front steps that you will recognize from Ghostbusters and Sex and The City, to name just a couple. Be sure to stop in at Bryant Park right behind the library too, it is one of the most beautiful parks in the city and has an amazing market in the winter and you can watch movies on the lawn in the summer.  

Go to a Broadway Show

I don't care who you are, or if you think a Broadway show would not be your thing, you are wrong.  There is a Broadway show for every single person, and I don't even think it matters so much what it is, because they are all amazing.  The actors are flawless and incredibly talented, the sets are amazingly built and realistic and you would not believe the magic that can be performed on a live stage.  I have been to only four shows unfortunately (they are expensive!) but all of the ones I went to left a lasting mark on my heart and I will never forget them.  I saw Rock of Ages (the original with Dee Snyder) and Phantom of the Opera with Josh, Aladdin with Miranda and Finding Neverland (with Matthew Morrison) with my mother in law Steph.  I highly recommend any of them.  Pictures are not allowed to be taken so I don't have many exciting ones to show, but you get the idea.  

The American Museum of Natural History

This is the other museum that in my opinion is a must see.  you could spend at least a whole day in here and again, there is something for everyone.  There are dinosaur skeletons and replicas, life sized animal dioramas, everything you could know about space and evolution and native american tribes and the rocks and the amazon.  It is also a very interactive museum so get ready to have some fun.  

Take a Bus Tour

I know when you think of a bus tour you think super touristy and boring.  Well, I haven't been on bus tours really anywhere other than NYC but all the ones that I did there were awesome!  There is a bus tour for everyone.  There are many different movie and TV show tours (I did the Sex and the City tour three times!),  tours where you learn about history, party tours and celebrity spotting tours.  Like I said, I went on the Sex and the City Tour three times and loved it every time.  Josh and I also did a nighttime Brooklyn and Manhattan tour, and we did a tour of pretty much the entire island of Manhattan with his parents.  On every tour I learned so many new things and saw things that I had no idea existed.  The your guides are always super informative and can pretty much answer any questions you have.  

Hit up a Baseball Game

In New York City, they are lucky enough to have two Major League Baseball teams, the Yankees and The Mets.  Both teams are so much fun to watch, even if you don't like baseball.  Both Stadiums are just a Subway ride away from Midtown Manhattan and totally worth the ticket price.  You can get Mets tickets for much cheaper than the Yankees, but it really depends on your preference of team who you go and see.  Really in either of the stadiums you can get decent priced tickets if you don't care if you are up in the 400 section.  My favorites are the Sunday afternoon games. You can enjoy the sun and the warmth and a beer tastes extra great.  Yankee Stadium has a Hard Rock Cafe and but honestly I think there are more food choices at Citi Field if that is a factor at all.  Yankee Stadium also has a great pre game tour if you are interested in the history of the team or the stadium.  If you are a fan it is totally worth it to go a couple hours early.  

Take A Tour

I did a ton of tours during my time in NYC.   Of buildings, food tours, walking tours and many more. Every tour I did was pretty awesome and there are hundreds of tours for everyone's interests.  If you want a food tour, just google food tours of NYC.  If you want a tour of haunted buildings, just google that, same with alcohol and architecture.  Seriously, you could find a tour for anything.  A lot of them are walking tours as well, so as you are walking from one stop to the next you see and learn a lot.   I do have a couple recommendations of companies that I loved:

Zerve- this site literally has thousands of hours of anything you could possibly ever want.  It really is your one stop shop for everything NYC.  I did find that some of the tours through Zerve were a bit expensive, but if you are only in NYC for a week or some they are totally worth it.

Free Tours By Foot- These tours are like it states, free.  You basically pay what you think the tour is worth.  I really find this gives the guides incentive to be awesome.  I did a couple tours through this company and they were super informative and lasted like three hours.

Also, there are tours of pretty much every building in NYC as well.  Rockefeller Center and Central Park have some great ones and the Woolworth Building and Grand Central Terminal and  are other favorites.  

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty is arguably the most iconic symbol of New York that there is, but did you know that it is actually the property of Jersey City, NJ?  Regardless it is something that you should make an attempt to check out when yo visit the city.  I know a lot of people that just take a boat tour past the islands, which is great if you have limited time, but if you have enough time, actually take the ferry out to both islands.  Looking up at the statue from the base really gives you a different perspective, and makes you appreciate the construction that went in to this massive work of art before modern machinery to build it up.  The view from the pedestal and crown are also totally amazing if you can manage to get tickets to go up!  

Ellis Island is also an amazing place, especially if you are a history buff like I am.  You can do an audio tour and walk around the entire building learning about what immigrants went through to come to America and Canada and what they faced when they got here.  You can also go onto their computers and search a record of everyone that immigrated through Ellis Island.  I found members from all sides of my family.  Pretty amazing!

The New York Botanical Garden and/or The Brooklyn Botanical Garden

I visited both the NY Botanical Garden in the Bronx and The Brooklyn Botanical Garden within a few weeks of each other, and there is no way I could tell you to go to one or the other.  The New York Garden is in the Bronx, and a little rougher to get to, but it has the most AMAZING annual Orchid show.  Seriously, just breathtaking.  I could have spent a week in there.  I went just a couple weeks too early to really enjoy the rest of the garden to it's full potential.  

The Brooklyn Garden is in a nice area, right behind the Brooklyn Museum, another awesome place.  The walk from the subway is lovely.  When I went there it was in the heart of Magnolia, Cherry blossom and tulip season, some of my favorites.  They have rows and rows of hundreds of different varieties of all of these.  They also have the most gorgeous Japanese Garden with Pagodas and a huge koi pond.  Either of these are so worth the trip.

The Cloisters and Fort Tryton Park

I had never heard of the Cloisters until this last spring, which is shocking, because it is massive and I would say my favorite place to go that is not in your normal lower-central Manhattan area.  It is really quite far away but if you have an extra day, or you have been to NYC a few times, it is a must.  It is in a nutshell, a massive Medieval castle in the idle of a huge quite, ancient looking park.  IN the museum there are items from mostly Medieval Europe with tombs, gardens, churches, sculptures and all sorts of architecture.  If you have the time, go to the MET in the morning and head up here in the afternoon.  the cloisters is an offshute of the MET so you are only required to pay once.  Also spend some time checking out the breathtaking views of The Hudson and the George Washington Bridge.

My New Favorite The Cloisters

The Highline 

The Highline is built on an old railroad track that runs along the west side of Manhattan for about 40 blocks.  It has been turned into a really cool elevated park with trees, grassy areas, vendors amazing views of the Hudson and of the streets running across the island.  It is a relaxing getaway and is a great way to relax during a busy day.  Go grab lunch and a popsicle and people watch and check out all the cool street art you can see from up above.  

Ground Zero and The Freedom Tower

This is one of those places that is not fun and cool, but I think it is a must see.  When you visit NY, inevitably, 9/11 will be brought up somewhere or you will see some sort of tribute to that day and the people lost.  Going down to the memorial at Ground Zero is really eye opening and will make you really realize the magnitude of what happened there that day.  I honestly had no idea the impact that the event had on the city and the people until I went down to that area, even before the memorial and Freedom Tower were built.  Josh and I had the honor of being some of the first people to go up in the Freedom Tower the day before it actually opened to the public earlier this year.  It was foggy so we didn't have much of a view but the whole experience is awesome.  The elevators have screens on all sides showing the evolution of Manhattan and at the top, a video of the city opens up to the 360 view.    There is also a nice little museum you walk through before going up.  I got to go up with Josh's parents a few months later and the Freedom Tower has by far the best view out of the tall buildings with observation decks.  

A Concert or Event at Madison Square Garden

There isn't much to say about this, but there isn't much cooler than being able to say you saw an event at MSG.  josh and I have been to several hockey games, concerts and PBR Rodeo events and it never gets old.  

A Concert or Show At A Small Venue

We also loved to go to shows at the cities smaller venues.  We saw some of our favorites, The White Buffalo, Corb Lund, Bryan Adams and Ryan Bingham at these small Venues.  Some of the really cool ones are City Winery, Starland Ballroom, Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom.  They are very intimate performances in some gorgeous buildings.  

Taping Of A Show

I had the awesome experience of being able to go to some of my favorite TV show tapings while we were in NYC this time.  Josh and I went to one of Letterman's last shows, Nicole and I went to Kelly and Michael, The View, The Chew and Rachael Ray.  If you know what days you have free in advance it is pretty easy to get tickets to any of these shows with a few exceptions like Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live.


Live With Kelly and Michael
Another Year Older

The Rockettes

While my parents were visiting last fall, we went to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  It was amazing for people of all ages and gave me goosebumps the whole time.  Like a Broadway show, the whole thing is perfected and flawless.  this is a must do if you visit in during the Christmas season or in the Spring for their Spring show.  

The Parents in NYC Part 1

Grand Central Terminal

Another one of the most iconic symbols of NYC is Grand Central Terminal.    Millions of people pass through here everyday but few actually take the time to look around and appreciate how amazing this building is. I explored on my own a few times, then did a tour this spring to learn more about it.  It is a gorgeous building with a really cool history.  Even if you just wander through it is worth it.  Have a drink at the Campbell Apartment from Mad Men or go downstairs and have the world's best cheesecake at Juniors. Don't forget to check out the whispering room.  They also have a very impressive holiday market starting around Thanksgiving.  


Touring Grand Central

Rockefeller Center

This is one of the tallest buildings in NYC and has a fantastic view of the Empire State Building and Central Park from the top.  But that is really only the tip of the iceberg.  Rockefeller Center always has really cool displays outside depending on the season.  Of course if you visit in the fall, winter or spring you HAVE to skate on the ice rink.  Its very cool, but careful the skates are really dull!  Inside there are a ton of restaurants and stores that are worth checking out.  If you are feeling really swanky, go up to the Rainbow Room for brunch.  There is a giftshop that has things from all your favorite NBC shows and there is a tour that takes you to the SNL, Dr. Oz and NBC Newsrooms.  you never know what famous people you might see too.


Miranda's Trip The first three Days
The Parents in NYC part 1

The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO

Obviously I had to have the Brooklyn Bridge on my list.  It is just so awesome.  I walked it a few times and it never got old.  I would suggest going early in the morning so that you can move on it though!  It gets so packed with tourists, a lot that are not so nice or considerate.  After you walk across you have to go down underneath it and have lunch hand a beer overlooking the Manhattan skyline.  There is some great shopping and some great coffee down there too.  There is Shake Shack, one of the most famous NY Burger places and Grimaldi's Brick oven Pizza, usually voted one of NYC's best.  


Christmas Time

Christmastime in NYC really is the definition of magical.  Everything is decorated and lit up and beautiful.  There is no better place to be for Christmas.  If you are lucky it is warm like it was right up until the day after Christmas like last year so it makes it easier to go out and enjoy.  There are also holiday markets with awesome food and crafts in almost every park.  I even got to see a showing of A Miracle on 34th Street, in front of Macy's on 34th Street last year.  Can't get much cooler than that.  

Christmas in NYC
Our Christmas Day

 Celebrity Watch

If you are a celebrity gossip fan at all, or like TV, you will probably see someone that you recognize if you keep your eyes open.  I saw Chris Noth from Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anderson Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rob Lowe, Andre Broward, Kalen Lutz, Meg Ryan to name a few.  

The Flatiron Building

 This is my favorite building in the city.  I can sit and stare at it for hours.  I don't know much about it, but I just love it.  There is also an awesome tea shop, Argo Tea in it if you want a good cup of tea.

Random Events, Festivals, Markets and Pop-ups

There is always something going on in NYC.  Some sort of festival or market or parade or food and booze event.  They are usually really awesome so make sure to keep your ears open and you can always Google NYC events for the weekend you are there.  Some that I love are Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, LIC Flea in Long Island City, right beside where we lived a few years ago, Lower East Side Pickle Day, NYC Coffee Fest, NYC Beer fest,  Pillow Fight Day, Central Perk from Friends and all of the holiday markets. During the summer there are also open air markets all over the city with tons of popular food vendors fro all over the city serving lunch and dinner from a select menu.  

Walk in Chinatown

Chinatown will totally transport you out of Manhattan.  It is dirty, smelly and shady, but in a good way, I swear.  It is a different atmosphere down here, plus you can get anything for cheap, as well as the famous knockoff handbags, watches and Tiffany jewelry.  but you didn't hear that from me ;)
Be sure to eat while you are here too, you can get a huge plate of noodles and dumplings for $5.

A Walk in SoHo and the Village 

Soho is I guess, the ritzier area of lower Manhattan.  All of your higher end stores as well as boutiques are located on these beautiful cobblestone streets.  This is a prime celebrity watching spot too.  There are cute little coffee shops and cafes as well.  

The Village is a little more rough, but really cool.  Lots of awesome bars, more eclectic people and stores and you never know what you might see down here.  So much fun and a great night spot.  

Walk in the Wall Street Area

The famous bull is located in this area which is cool to see , but there are also other things to see down here.  City Hall, the Woolworth Building, The Courthouse, Trinity Church along with some of America's oldest buildings.  Check out Fraunces Tavern which is a cool museum/restaurant.  It is great for a drink but has TERRIBLE service.    The streets down here are super skinny and there are lots of cool bars if you take the time to look.  There is also Battery Park and The Seaglass Carousel if you want to channel your inner child. take in the views from the waterfront too.  It is usually pretty nice and quiet away from Battery park where people line up to go to the Statue of Liberty.  

The Parents in NYC Part 2

The Chrysler Building and The Empire State Building

Another of my favorite buildings the Chrysler Building is one that you can view from a ton of areas in the city, it always is breathtaking , especially at night.  Same with the Empire State building.  See if you can guess what the colors mean because they are usually different each night.  I hate to say it, but I would not recommend that this be the building you go up to the top in.  It is always crazy busy and sometimes the wait can be hours.  Go up the Freedom Tower of Rockefeller Center so you can see the iconic building.  

Celebrate New Years Eve

We were lucky enough to get to spend two New Years Eves in Times Square.  But not the "stand out in the cold all day with out being able to pee and then not being able to see anything anyway", Times Square NYE.   Both times we booked tickets at restaurants in Times Square with bottle service and food included.  So much better.  You can watch the ball drop and the party on TV and stay warm and have a bathroom and drink.  It is a bit pricey but worth it.  it is also great to be able to do it with some awesome friends too, like we did both times.  

The most important thing when you visit this amazing city, is to explore and don't be attached to your guide book.  You will be amazed what you can just stumble upon because everything is in such a small area.  You will find some of the coolest things by just wandering and talking to locals and checking out what local events are going.  There is never a dull moment!

1 comment:

  1. what a great and comprehensive list! i've gone a few times, and haven't done all the things on your list. once my friend and i did a "diy you've got mail tour" and we went to many places that were in the movie. it was so fun!