New York City – “the city that never sleeps” – is a place everyone ought to visit at least once. It’s been one of the biggest cities in the world for well over a century now and is, some people might argue, more alive than just about any other place on Earth. Five Burroughs, countless cultures, innumerable businesses, books’ worth of attractions, and a population exceeding 8.5 million make the city pulse with activity and intrigue.
All of this can make New York overwhelming to visitors in some cases. What it really means though is simply that you need to have a plan when visiting the city. It’s one thing simply to explore and immerse yourself in your surroundings, and in fact, there’s something to be said for wandering New York aimlessly, so long as you stay safe. However, with so much going on you’re going to get the most out of the experience if you make yourself a bit of an outline first. My aim here is to help get you started with a few of the things you have to do in the city if you’re to get the most out of a single trip!
1. Visit The World Trade Center Plaza
While it’s still associated with the tragedies of September 11th, 2001, the World Trade Center remains one of the most incredible places in New York to visit and is now a sense of immense national pride for many Americans. Symbolizing perseverance and solemn remembrance, but also monuments to engineering and design, the World Trade Center and its surrounding plaza are simply breathtaking. And while WTC One, the main skyscraper, is the primary attraction (and has an otherworldly viewing deck), the plaza is packed with attractions including memorials and museums to the past. It’s really a part of the city that will make a lasting impression on you.
2. Spend Time in the Outer Burroughs
If you’re not familiar with New York, you should know that most of what you see in photos comes from Manhattan. A few specific attractions like Yankee Stadium (in the Bronx), the U.S. Open (in Queens) and Prospect Park (in Brooklyn), as well as the Statue of Liberty, tend to make the rounds in tourist recommendations. But most of the famous buildings, restaurants, streets, neighborhoods, and sights are in Manhattan. However, I’m recommending you spend some time in the so-called “outer burroughs” as well. Brooklyn has some incredibly charming residential areas and a thriving, youthful culture; Queens has become the leading area for international cuisine. There’s simply a lot to enjoy beyond Manhattan, and if you make an effort to do so you’ll wind up with a more comprehensive understanding of the city.
3. See a Show
“Broadway” is actually a street in New York, but it’s also a name that’s come to symbolize a sort of expansive neighborhood of famous theaters not far from Times Square. These theaters are known to be some of the best in the world, both as venues and because of the quality of the performances that pass through and, if they’re successful in the ludicrously competitive environment, stay for a while. What’s playing on Broadway in any given month can change, but this is more about the general experience than about finding the perfect show for you. There’s a special feeling of seeing a show on Broadway, and you’re likely to be wowed by the talent on display. Aside from one-off exceptions and possibly London, you won’t find the better theater on Earth.
4. Take a Carriage Ride
New York offers horse-drawn carriage rides, primarily around the Central Park area, and while it seems like a tourist trap (and is one, in a sense), it’s also worthwhile. Sure, you’ll feel conspicuously like a traveler, but it’s actually a great way to get off your feet, do something passively enjoyable, and simply take in the sights of one of the most impressive parts of the city. The beauty of Central Park and some of the surrounding neighborhoods make a real impression, and this is a great way to see it all.
5. Escape to Atlantic City
Atlantic City’s reputation has taken some hits over the years, but it’s on its way back to being an East Coast entertainment Mecca, and it’s just a short distance south of the city. New Jersey has unleashed a whole group of sites dedicated to sports betting and casino play, which has generated a lot of money that has contributed to Atlantic City becoming relevant again, and many of its regulars are simply getting out of New York for a few hours. This is not to suggest that you actually need an “escape,” so to speak, but if New York gets to be a bit much (and it can), and you’re looking for some entertainment, a little getaway to Atlantic City can be just the thing. The beaches, boardwalk, and casinos make it a whole lot of fun for a quick visit.
6. Spend Too Much on a Meal
You can get a lot of really incredible food in New York for relatively little money, despite the city’s reputation for a high cost of living. There’s just too much good food for all of it to be expensive. Indeed, one of the hottest culinary concepts in the city (the “Halal Guys”) is a restaurant that originated as a late-night food truck! At the same time, however, visiting New York means you’re surrounded by some of the best restaurants and most accomplished chefs in the entire world. Spending a bit too much on a meal, or at least more than you ordinarily would, can actually be worth it. And you haven’t gone to New York unless you’ve really enjoyed some food there!