As a city New York can be quite overwhelming and a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first trip to New York. There’s just so many things to do and so much space to explore and much like London some parts of New York are so spread out that you’ll need to sit on a train for an hour or two to get to them. I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York five times; three times with family, once solo and once with Luke but even then there’s still things on my to-do list that I still need to experience, most of them being seasonal or food related. If you’re thinking of going or have booked your first trip to New York here are eight things I think you need to do.
Explore the Ground Zero site and join a tour
There’s a lot to do around Ground Zero and while the museum and going up the new One World Observatory are great if it’s your first trip to New York I’d recommend joining a tour and exploring the site itself. There are a few companies that do tours and they will talk you through the events, show you where buildings were and the future for them and talk about some of the heroic people from the day. It’s quite an emotional tour but it’s so fulfilling and you’ll learn stuff you wouldn’t get from anywhere else.
Go over to Liberty Island to see Lady Liberty
To those people who say that getting the Staten Island ferry is enough to see The Statue of Liberty I have to disagree. The only way to get a great experience and see the statue properly is to take a boat over to Liberty Island. If you pre-book or get a combo pass it doesn’t cost much but there’s so much information around the statue about New York in general and the statue that it’s well worth the trip. Plus it’s so iconic it’s a definite must for your first trip to New York.
Eat a pretzel and hot dog from a street vendor
I have so many food recommendations but if it’s your first trip to New York you’ve got to do a staple and get a pretzel and a hot dog from a street vendor as it’s kind of tradition. Some people turn their noses up at the little stalls on street corners but they’re super traditional and every pretzel and hot dog I’ve had has been really tasty. Plus if you’re on a budget or pushed for time they’re a quick, cheap and easy option.
Head up the Rockafeller Centre
If it’s your first trip take an early morning ascent up the Rockafeller Centre and look out over New York’s glory and see The Empire State Building up close. You do get a different view of the city from each but I prefer the Rockafeller as you get to see the Empire State which in itself is a pretty impressive building.
Walk the Highline and get off at Chelsea Market
When I was on my first trip to New York, the Highline was a little under the radar but now it seems that everyone knows about it, but for good reason. The Highline is a disused railway line above Manhattan which has been turned into a pedestrian and cycling walkway so you can experience New York above the streets. I’d recommend a morning stroll as it’s a bit quieter and as you walk along you’ll see lots of street art which changes every time I go. If you get off at Chelsea Market there’s some lovely shops and food stalls and you can easily spend a few hours there.
Walk through Time Square early in the morning
Time Square is something you can’t miss on your first trip to New York but if you go anytime after 11am you’re likely to find it rammed with tourists so head there first thing in the morning to see what it’s like and take some photos. If you do head there later make sure you stay away after 9pm as when the theatres around Time Square let out it’s mental and I always make an effort to walk around Time Square as it’s always quicker than walking through.
Do a tour of Madison Square Garden (And catch some sport there if you can)
Madison Square Garden is an iconic venue right in the centre of Manhattan and it’s the home turf for The New York Rangers ice hockey team and the New York Knicks Basketball team among others. The venue also hosts concerts and other events and you can do a tour around the arena which is well worth it as it’s such an amazing space. If you’re there during the Ice Hockey/ Basketball season and you can afford it I’d definitely say go and watch a game as our Ice Hockey experience was one of a kind.
Go to the Sprinkles cupcake ATM
My final recommendation is another foodie one and it’s the iconic Sprinkles cupcake ATM which is located on Lexington Avenue by Central Park. Sprinkles cupcakes are one of my all-time favourites anyway but here you get the novelty of the pink ATM machine which works just like a cash ATM and you’re dispensed a freshly baked cupcake. If you love Red Velvet, theirs is one of the best.
Have you been to New York? Or are you planning on going?