Having tons of friends in NYC, here are my top selections listed in priority order with their New York City neighborhood location in parentheses. Anything in italics is high on my to-do list. Special shout out to M. Wang who lived in Manhattan for 6 years and provided most of these recs!
($$, Liberty Island): You gotta take a cruise to visit Lady Liberty! If you want to visit the crown, don’t forget to book in advance. Don’t forget the Staten Island Ferry is free and gives the best view of Statue of Liberty.
2a. Times Square
(Free, Midtown): The famous major commercial intersection with giant digital billboards and advertisements everywhere is lined with Broadway theatres, cinemas, and tourist traps.
2b. Broadway Show
($$$, Times Square): Go see a Broadway show! My friends and I waited in line for hours to get super discounted standing tickets for The Book of Mormon and, man, were my legs tired! Get seats if you’re willing to pay the hefty price. Try to win the cheap discounted tickets at the lottery.
3a. Central Park
(Free, Uptown): New York’s most famous park. It’s huge and filled with mini attractions like gardens, sculptures, and cute dogs! Rent a bike – I used Bike and Roll – super friendly staff and affordable prices by the hour. There is also an amazing merry-go-around! Check it out!
3b. Bryant Park
(Free, Midtown): A public park that has seats for you to sit on. After all that New York walking? You’ll love the scenic view and cute chairs. Trust me, this park is urban bliss.
3c. Prospect Park
(Free, Brooklyn): Can you make it over to Brooklyn? Prospect Park is gorgeous and filled with activities for you. It’s where all the locals go and it’s less touristy but just as beautiful as Central.
(Free, Union Square): A historic intersection with a park and an ideal spot to sit, people watch, chit chat, and just enjoy life.
(Free, Midtown East): Iconic and simply stunning, this commuter railroad terminal is beautiful chaos with 44 platforms. The architectural detailing, decor, and ceilings above and below ground will leave you in awe.
(Free, Downtown): Completed in 1883, this suspension/cable-stay hybrid bridge is a US National Historic Landmark. You can walk and bike across it if you want but it might be really crowded.
(Free, Upper East Side): A beautiful museum, “The Met,” is a must! It’s the largest art museum in the US and one of the largest in the world. It’s suggested donation $20. Just donate for the sake of art.
($$, Upper West Side): A must-see museum with giant dinosaur exhibits and a huge whale that you can lie under! Check ticket prices before going.
($$, Midtown): I’m not a huge fan of modern art that makes it to these huge museums so “The MoMa” doesn’t appeal that much to me. That being said, I hear it’s still a worth a visit. It’s also free on Fridays!
($$, Meatpacking District): Known as “The Whitney,” the museum showcases American art and it is a nice trip.
($$, Upper East Side): Modern and contemporary art museum with super cool architecture.
(Free, Chelsea): A 1.45mi long public park built on a historic freight rail line. Drop by on a sunny day to sit and eat your lunch from the nearby Chelsea Market
(Free, Chelsea): Just like the ferry building in San Francisco, Chelsea Market is an enclosed urban food hall which little shops, fresh lobster (try a whole lobster or just a lobster roll), and nice decorations.
($$, Midtown): 102-story skyscraper with streamline moderne architecture, this beauty opened in 1931 and still gets pop songs written about it. It is a bit pricy (~$20) to go to the top.
10a. Chinatown and Little Italy
(free): These two neighborhoods are next to each other and are filled with good eats. Definitely check out these touristy neighborhoods!
(Free, East Village): An independent bookstore that has floors and floors of books. Or ride the 6 subway train all the way down to see a hidden subway station beneath city hall.
All listings available on the JoYo New York City Map.