Naming 10 of the coolest things to do in NYC is like trying to name which kind of ice cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory reigns supreme: At the end of the day, it’s all awesome, so why do we have to choose? But if you need a little more structure to your trip, make sure to cover these major city sights.
1. Catch the view.
NYC is home to one of the world’s most iconic skylines, and no trip to the Big Apple is complete until you’ve seen it from a few different angles. The Empire State Building is the classic trip, but head to the Top of the Rock for a panoramic view that includes the ESB in all its glory. For the full silhouetted effect, spend sunset at Astoria Park in Queens, or The Ides at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
2. Get a little green.
New York isn’t just made up of skyscrapers and bridges — there are dozens of parks and quiet spaces to enjoy. Central Park is a staple, with its Great Lawn and Sheep Meadow (no sheep, just folks hanging out tossing disc), but also check out the undulating hills of Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, or the oldest slice of Manhattan at Inwood Hill.
3. Explore another borough.
Manhattan is awesome, but there’s so much more to this city than just what the island has to give. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy the view from the Brooklyn Heights promenade. Take the 7 train through Queens and taste excellent Sri Lankan food in Jackson Heights. Discover a truly local arts scene in the Bronx’s newly titled “Piano District,” or travel by ferry to Staten Island and see the city from a different point of view.
4. Eat all the things.
No need to book a round-the-world adventure: NYC has enough ethnic eats to keep you satisfied. Aside from the dumplings of Chinatown and the cannolis in Little Italy, we’ve also got Pio Pio’s Peruvian food, German eats at Zum Schneider, and so much more. Just make sure to sink your teeth into a bagel from Absolute Bagels, a slice of pizza from Ray’s Original, and a “dirty water” hot dog from a street cart before you skip town.
5. Walk the entire High Line.
Once an abandoned elevated freight line, urban planners have taken the green space of the High Line literally to new heights. Now stretching from 34th Street at Hudson Yards, the nearly two-mile walk gives you access to street art, boutique shops, and unobstructed views of the East River.
6. Buy something awesome.
You can admire the designer shops along 5th Avenue, but for a true taste of New York seek out the boutiques of up-and-coming designers (we are home to FIT, Parsons, and LIM, after all). Check out In Support Of in the Meatpacking District, or The Rising States in the Lower East Side.
7. Get your culture on.
You’ll never be bored so long as there’s a NYC museum to check out. The Met’s classic and contemporary art selection, or the mix of science and technology found at the American Museum of Natural History, will always deliver, but try the Museum of the Moving Image, El Museo del Barrio, or The Museum of Sex, for something completely different.
8. Enrich your inner theater geek.
Thousands of people move to New York in the hopes of landing on Broadway, meaning quality theater is easily found. You could splurge on tickets to The Lion King or The Book of Mormon, but don’t overlook Off-Broadway productions, like Drunk Shakespeare, or the quirky new projects coming out of Clubbed Thumb.
9. Hear something new.
It’s a rare occasion when a big-name artist like Katy Perry or Jay-Z will pass up a trip to New York City. These influencers make NYC one of the top destinations for music fans, with everything from classical compositions at the New York Philharmonic to Billy Joel’s monthly concert series at Madison Square Garden. Rock out to new groups at the Bowery Electric or the Rockwood Music Hall, or discover the next big thing at the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night.
10. Feel like a real New Yorker.
There are tons of Meetup Groups where you can get in on the NYC scene, with everything from informal kickball games to a group for those too shy to meet people under normal circumstances. Or check out the listings on Thought Gallery; it rounds up the best lectures open to the public. When in doubt, people watch at one of the city’s hundreds of coffeeshops, like Maman Cafe or Madman Espresso.
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