As you might have gathered from my socials, I recently travelled to New York with my family and had a fabulous time! So I wanted to share with you some of the best things to do in New York if you have a week or less!
When I was planning my trip to NYC it was so overwhelming to decide what to see in New York and where to go in. And I thought to myself I can’t possibly do it all! But I am pleased to report that for a week in New York, I managed to tick most of what was on my list!
So here is a list of places that should show up on your New York itinerary!
- Places to see in Midtown Manhattan, NYC
- Places to see downtown in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York
- Places to see Upper East Side and in Uptown New York.
- Frequently asked questions
Places to see in Midtown Manhattan, NYC
New York is full of things to do and it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the options and must-see locations. But the best way to go about it would be to make a list of things to do in New York that are most important to you. Hopefully, this list will help you nail down your own list and will help you plan your New York itinerary with ease.
Times Square, NYC
Easily one of the most iconic things to do in Midtown Manhattan is to go check out Times Square. You must experience this place in daylight as well as in the night. It does get very busy at times square at any given time but you just got to experience it for yourself. It is so vibrant and bustling with life it has a vibe of its own! Which is why it makes up for a perfect thing to do in New York.
Tip: Instead of taking a picture at the busy Father Duffy Square, stop at this bench/seating area on 7th Avenue just before you reach the square and take your picture here without the massive crowd.
Bryant Park is one of the best hang-out spots in Midtown Manhattan. Just a few blocks from Times Square it boasts of some lovely views of the skyline around it. It is often bustling with live performances and often you can find some great local artistic stalls here. It also seems to be a popular lunch spot for people who work around the park. But one of the best things is that it is free to enter and you have some cool views of the Empire state building! Overall a great fun stop on your list of things to do in New York.
Grand central station
Grand Central is like a different place in time altogether. A must-see spot not just for catching the subway but also checking out the main concourse and the famous Whispering Gallery.
Grand Central’s main concourse is home to the famous Opal-faced clock in the Main Concourse just above the famous information booth. There is a common expression among New Yorkers where they choose to “meet under the clock”!
Moreover Grand Central is also a fantastic film/series location so you will find the main concourse being shown in many of the famous movies and series like Gossip Girl, Before we go, Friends with Benefits, Revolutionary Road, Men in Black, Kal ho no ho to name a few. Read more in the FAQ’s below.
“Grand Central Terminal stands as a universal symbol between New York City’s past and present.”
JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt observatory
If it’s a spectacular arty place you wish to visit that also offers amazing views of Manhattan then the Summit One Vanderbilt observatory is the place for you! Highly recommend pre-booking your ticket.
One of the prettiest buildings in New York- the Chrysler Building is located in the east side of Manhattan at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. This amazing building is a must-see when you are in New York. It was the tallest building in the world for 11 months after its completion in the year 1930. It is fascinating to spot the Chrysler building from various streets in Manhattan.
One of the best places to view the Chrysler building is from the Tudor city bridge – 399-321 E 42nd St, New York as pictured below.
Or you can very much go near to the building to get shots like this.
Empire state building
You don’t come to New York and not see the Empire State Building from all over Manhattan! Like that’s illegal in my opinion if you do not look for it in every street you go? The most spectacular building of all time the Empire State Building is not just an office building it also has an observatory lots of high-end/fine dining restaurants and art exhibits that you can visit. The views from the top are beautiful and this is also a highly recommended thing to do in New York
Another fantastic observatory to go to is Edge NYC this was one of my top two observatories in New York. The whole experience feels well thought out and there is this spectacular floral installation called Sky in Bloom which is currently on this observatory that you can see until 4th Sept 2023. This also makes for a fine instagrammable spot in New York.
The Rockefeller Centre is a prominent landmark located in the heart of Manhattan, New York City. Constructed during the Great Depression, it stands as a testament to human resilience and creativity. With its iconic Art Deco architecture and expansive plaza, the Rockefeller Centre serves as a hub for business, entertainment, and culture. It is home to the famous Radio City Music Hall, renowned art galleries, high-end shops, and several rooftop gardens offering breathtaking views of the city. They also have a fabulous ice rink that is also open in the summer! I quite enjoyed visiting the Rockefeller Centre just for the ambience and the beauty of the fountains.
Whether you’re visiting the observation deck of the Top of the Rock or enjoying the enchanting holiday decorations during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the Rockefeller Centre never fails to captivate visitors from around the world with its distinct charm and timeless grandeur.
Top of the Rock
The Top of the Rock Observatory is an iconic attraction in New York City, located at the top of the Rockefeller Center. Offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city, it is a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike.
From the observatory’s vantage point, you can admire the mesmerizing skyline of Manhattan, including famous landmarks like the Empire State Building, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty. The spacious observation decks provide ample space for visitors to enjoy the stunning vistas and capture memorable photos.
In addition to the astounding views, the Top of the Rock Observatory also offers interactive exhibits and informative displays that showcase the rich history and architectural significance of the Rockefeller Center.
Whether you visit during the day to witness the bustling city in all its glory or come at night to witness the city lights shimmering like stars, the Top of the Rock Observatory promises an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
I would highly recommend visiting during sunset as the views are truly breathtaking.
Places to see downtown in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York
Here are some key places you should visit in downtown Manhattan.
One World Observatory
One of the best things to do in downtown Manhattan is to go check out the One World Observatory. This is another fantastic viewpoint with its unique elevators called the sky pods that show you a view of the development of the New York skyline over the years.
Check out this Vlog video if you want to know more about the experience.
Another fabulous thing to experience in New York would be the Oculus Centre. When the PATH subway station was destroyed after the 9/11 attacks there was a need for another subway station. It was felt that people will need a beacon of hope and also something to look forward to along with their commute to work. Hence the idea of the Oculus was born which is a transportation hub that houses the PATH subway station as well as has this lovely array of shops and restaurants that commuters and tourists can enjoy.
The building itself is spectacular and looks like a dove leaving a child’s hands from the outside.
There is a certain calm and a feeling of contemplation when you visit the pools at the 9/11 memorial. There are two pools with a hallow centre depicting the void that was left behind for all the lives that were lost in the incident. Both pools are a symbol of what was and are built right where the twin towers once stood.
It is quite a peaceful but emotional experience to be there. One I would highly recommend experiencing.
There is also the 9/11 memorial museum here which is ticketed and is highly praised. But I don’t think I felt ready to see the devastation up close and personal that day.
Charging Bull, Financial District, New York
The Charging Bull statue, located in the heart of New York City’s Financial District, is an iconic symbol of strength, resilience, and the American spirit. With its powerful stance and fierce expression, the statue has become a beloved landmark and a must-see for tourists from around the world.
Standing at an impressive 7,000 pounds and measuring 11 feet tall, the bronze sculpture was created by artist Arturo Di Modica and unveiled on December 15, 1989.
Over the years, the Charging Bull has become more than just a piece of art; it has transformed into a symbolic gesture of the American Dream. Tourists often flock to the statue to touch its horns or pose for a photo, believing that it will bring them luck and prosperity. Did it bring me any luck? Time will tell!
Despite occasional controversy and attempted removals, the Charging Bull remains a fixture of the New York City landscape, serving as a reminder of the city’s indomitable spirit and the determination to overcome any challenges that come its way.
DUMBO Manhattan photo spot
The DUMBO Manhattan spot is a fabulous viewing point that you need to explore for sure. It is a lovely photo spot that is surrounded by these beautiful brown brick buildings with the Manhattan Bridge standing in the centre. Many mistake this to be the Brooklyn Bridge but it is in fact the Manhattan Bridge that runs next to the Brooklyn Bridge which you see here.
This viewpoint is on Washington Street just by Sweet Green in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn.
Places to see Upper East Side and in Uptown New York.
Central Park, New York
Central Park, located in the heart of Manhattan, is a beloved and iconic attraction that offers a relaxing and natural escape from the bustling cityscape. With its lush greenery, scenic ponds, and winding paths, Central Park is a haven for both locals and tourists alike. The park spans over 840 acres and is home to various landmarks, including the Bethesda Terrace, the Central Park Zoo, the iconic Central Park Carousel and various other landmark bridges. Whether you’re strolling along the tree-lined Mall, having a picnic on the Great Lawn, or exploring the hidden nooks and crannies, Central Park provides a serene respite from the urban chaos, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking solace in the heart of the city.
Personally, I would recommend exploring this beautiful park for one whole day. As there are so many things to see and so much to walk around. If you are coming here with kids, there are many play areas that are all over Central Park that you can stop at for the little ones to enjoy.
The MET Steps
The MET building, also known as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a renowned cultural institution located in New York City. It is one of the world’s largest and most influential art museums, which boasts a vast collection of artworks spanning over 5,000 years of human history.
The iconic MET steps, situated at the main entrance of the museum, have become a celebrated symbol of the city and serve as a popular gathering spot for visitors and locals alike. These grand stairs are the very ones that were shown frequently in the series Gossip Girl and they provide a picturesque setting for people to relax, socialize, and admire the stunning architecture of the museum.
I cannot write about the MET building and not mention the MET Gala, which is a famous annual event that takes place on the iconic MET steps. Each year, it brings together the who’s who of the fashion, entertainment, and art worlds. The MET Gala is not only a celebration of exquisite fashion but also a fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The grand staircase serves as the backdrop for the red carpet, where celebrities and influencers showcase their stunning and often avant-garde outfits. The combination of the MET Gala and the majestic MET steps creates a truly awe-inspiring spectacle that captures the attention of the world.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about New York.
Is the 9/ll memorial free to visit?
Yes, the 9/11 memorial site is free to visit. So you will be able to see and experience the North and South memorial pools completely free. However, entry to the 9/11 Memorial Museum is chargeable.
Is it worth getting a New York Pass?
As per New Yorker’s, it’s a no. But I would say that if you are going to see more than 3 observatories on your trip then it could be worth looking into as attraction tickets do tend to get expensive in New York.
It is a good idea to make a list of the things you want to see and tally up the cost if you were to buy them separately. Then compare the pass benefits. We personally didn’t use the New York pass as it felt like an additional expense.
Which movies were shot at the Grand Central station?
There are plenty of movies that were shot at the Grand Central Station here is a list of some of the most famous ones –
Which Bollywood movies were shot in New York?
Is there a free ferry in New York?
Yes! the Staten Island Ferry is a free commuter ferry that sails between Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan to St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island everyday almost every 15-20 mins. This is a free service provided by the city of New York and has the best free views of the statue of liberty from the water. Check out the video below to see the views.