If you're going to New York City for a few days and want to fit in the most experiences in the time you'll be there, use this bucket list and tips as a guide! These were my must-see places and must do things when I went to NYC for the first time.
*Pro Tip: I made a personal Google Map of all the locations I wanted to try to fit in. The map made it so much easier to navigate a city I didn't know my way around at all and definitely helped me to plan out my days by letting me see which places and things were clustered near each other.
Top Must-See Places in NYC:
- One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum - It feels like a responsibility to visit the Ground Zero, see the reflection pools and the thousands of names of those who were lost in the greatest tragedy our county has seen in the 21st century.
- The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - She's an iconic goddess, and Ellis Island is where many immigrants first entered America, including many of my our relatives.
- St. Patrick's Cathedral - I stopped and gazed awestruck at the architectural details of this gorgeous Neo-Gothic cathedral numerous times during my trip. Its construction ended in 1858, it has NINETEEN church bells and has so much beauty to take in both inside and out.
- Stroll through Central Park and look out for these landmarks:
- Bow Bridge - A beautiful cast iron bridge that makes for wonderful photos no matter the season. If its warm out, you're apt to see row boats pass beneath it.
- Alice in Wonderland group statue - So many beloved characters to pose next to.
- Hans Christian Andersen Statue - This statue of Hans is so endearing. The famous fairytale author is reading "The Ugly Duckling" to a duck)
- Shakespeare's Garden - Calming enough to sit and be inspired to write in iambic pentameter.
- Strawberry Fields - A tribute to The Beatles' John Lennon. Often you'll find people playing and singing their songs for the crowds.
- The Morgan Library and Museum - There are tons of major museums, but I recommend checking this one out. It started as the personal library and museum of Pierpont Morgan, J.P. Morgan's father, and is spectacular.
- The Brooklyn Bridge - This suspension bridge is a marvel. It opened in 1880 and is incredible; stroll across it and admire all the hard work that went into it's design and construction.
- The Empire State Building - "James and the Giant Peach", anyone? It decided to outshine the Chrysler Building's 11-month title of World's Tallest Building in 1931.
- The High Line - A former section of railroad that's been converted into luck trails and parks.
- Times Square - Bustling, bright and busy; essentially the epitome of NY.
- Grand Central Station - A historic spot with so much to take in and many tastes of NY in one place.
- Wall Street - The Fearless Girl, the Charging Bull, vendors hawking silly tourist chotchkies.
- The Chrysler Building - Its beautiful Art-Deco style is easy to spot on the skyline.
Things You Have To Do in New York
Naturally, many of the must-do items on this list will go hand-in-hand with the places above.
- If possible, tour the applicable places I listed above. Afterall, if you're visiting New York, you're a tourist. Do touristy things! *Pro Tip: Even with all the train rides, I walked an average of 7 miles each day—so don't do what I did and wear shoes that you thought you had already broken in. Thanks to my tennis shoes, I had blisters on my heels from day 1 and it was awful. They were huge, disgusting blood blisters by the end of the trip.
- See a show on Broadway. My sister and I saw "Anastasia" while there. You can read a bit about that here. It is such a fun show! And, of course, "Harry Potter and The Cursed Child" is now on Broadway!
- Eat pizza and other tasty food finds from street cart vendors. I love pizza, probably more than most people. I ate a slice from somewhere every single day I was in New York. I know the city is known for 5-Star restaurants, but that experience wasn't really something I wanted. *Pro Tip: Pizza is super inexpensive by the slice (as are hotdogs) and you can find them while walking around the city pretty much anywhere. Yay for yummy, cheap and convenient cheesy goodness.
- See the NYC skyline from the top of a realllllly tall building. The Top of the Rock (the Rockefeller Center), The Empire State Building and One World Trade Center all offer stunning observations of the city. I recommend The Top of the Rock since it has both indoor and outdoor observatories. *Pro Tip: Get a time slot for just before sunset so you can be there to see the skyline transition from daylight to night.
- Take the subway! Everyone refers to them as trains, and they will get you places far quicker than walking. *Pro Tip: Download the free subway app, it'll tell you which trains to take and their arrival times. Also, buy a 7-Day Unlimited MetroCard for your train rides. It's $32 and you won't have to think about paying each time you take the train the remainder of your trip. We weren't there for 7 days, so I gave my MetroCard away to someone who works at the airport when flying back home so it wouldn't go to waste.
- Take a boat ride, especially to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island up close. We didn't get a chance to tour them, but we did take a boat ride past them. The boat tours are pretty pricey, so *Pro Tip: Take the Staten Island Ferry for free, it's a 30-minute ride from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island and goes right past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
- Go to a comedy club. Everyone loves a good laugh and a couple drinks.
- Go to a Yankees' game. (Okay, so if you don't care for baseball, don't go. I like to see the different stadiums and happen to really enjoy going to ballgames.) My hometown team was playing while I was there, so it was extra fun for me to root them on in a different city and setting.
What are you top must-see places in New York? Tell me in the comments below!