“New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, acts differently –they just don’t know what the rest of the United States is.”
– Henry Ford
I have often thought that New York is its own country, a sort of melting pot of the cultures from around the world. With this New York has so much to offer. There is so much to do, to see, and to eat, and although I am far from a New Yorker (I have only been here 2 years, the standard is generally 10 years depending on who you ask) here are a few of my favorite things the city has to offer.
Museums There are some really amazing museums in New York. Let’s face it though, it is hard to pick and sometimes the entry fees just don’t seem worth it. However, there are several museums here with a sort of “hidden trick.” Museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art advertise their prices with the words “suggested donation” in small print next to them. That means that the $38 advertised is only what they would like you to pay, not what you need to pay. It’s really up to you what you give and it is completely normal not to pay the whopping entry fee advertised. I have given as little as $2 on one occasion. Other museums like this are the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the City of New York, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and many more.
Skyline Another thing the Big Apple is know for is the breathtaking skyline. The trademark Empire State Building is a must do for most visitors. I must say it is quite an amazing view and historical building, however something practical to remember is that if you are on the top of the Empire State Building, you won’t be able to see/take pictures of this iconic building. Another option for seeing the skyline is the Top Of The Rock at Rockefeller center. It is slightly cheaper and lines are generally a bit shorter and you can see the whole skyline, including the Empire State Building. If you are looking to see the view on a budget, another option is going over to New Jersey in the other side of the Hudson River from New York.
Iconic Attractions One of my favorite things to do with people as I show them around this wonderful city is Wall Street, Ground Zero, and the Statue of Liberty. I usually take the subway down to Ground Zero and the New Freedom tower. It is quite an amazing sight to see. The entrance to the actual memorial is also a suggested donation, however the museum is still under construction, so it might not be worth your while. But a year ago I stumbled upon a little gem in that area that has become on of my favorite things in the city. Saint Paul’s Chapel at Trinity Church is a small church a few blocks away from the 9/11 site and was a sanctum for the first responders and has been turned into a fascinating and breathtaking memorial/museum. Right around there is also Wall Street and the famous bull. And to top it all of you can take the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The ferry is free and departs every half hour so when you get to Staten Island I would suggest stepping outside the terminal to look at the view before the next ferry leaves for Manhattan.
Central Park Central Park is definitely one the best things the Big Apple has to offer. Although it might not be ideal during the frigid and rainy winter months here, I would strongly urge you to visit it it you get a nice (or even just mild) weather day. Central Park is huge, so don’t expect to do it all in one day, and there is honestly no need to do it all. Just pick a part or two and go explore (I still to this day get lost in Central Park). Some of my favorite places are the Reservoir, the Great Lawn, and the Conservatory gardens.
A Few Helpful Tips If you have a smartphone I would highly highly recommended app Hopstop. You can put in your current location or any starting location, then your destination and it will tell you walking or public transit directions or estimate how much a cab will cost and the amount time it will take you to get there. The bus and subway system is slightly confusing, but also just a lot for a visitor to take in during a short stay here. I still use this every time I leave my neighborhood and it has yet to fail.
Except for the very bottom and tops of the island, Manhattan is composed of street blocks and avenues. It is helpful to remember that the street blocks are ordered in chronologically going from South to North. So if you are at say 13th street and need to get to 86th you need to go uptown because the numbers go up. If you are at 112th and need to go to 64th you need to go downtown.
New Yorkers are known for being stereotypically rude. Yes, I do encounter some unpleasant people but for the most part New Yorkers are generally very willing to help you out. So if you get lost or can’t figure something out, don’t be afraid to ask. Just don’t stop someone who looks like they are trying to get to work/home quickly.
New York City is divided into 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan is where most of the tourist attractions are found but if you are feeling adventurous exploring the other boroughs can be fun! I hope you enjoy your visit in the wonderful city of New York!
This travel guide was written by Ragan K.