Introduction: Located in the Southern-most part of New York State sits the bustling city that never sleeps. When thinking of New York, it is not uncommon for the mind to automatically wander to New York City and overlook the rest of the state. NYC is full of great attractions, shopping options, dining options, and nightlife. It is not difficult to see why one would be drawn to the city. You could spend weeks in the area and still not be able to do it all! If you are visiting NYC, be sure to visit these eight must sees in the big apple.
Highlights: Visit America’s symbol of freedom at the Statue of Liberty and climb to the crown, remember the lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, get great views of Manhattan and beyond at the top of the Empire State Building, walk across the world famous Brooklyn Bridge, have a picnic in Central Park, step foot into the Chrysler Building, and catch some waves or enjoyment an old fashioned thrill ride at Coney Island with these must sees in the Big Apple.
The Statue of Liberty
No trip to NYC will be complete without viewing the iconic landmark that sits in the New York Harbor and represents the life and liberty of the United States. Take a statue cruise out to Liberty Island where you will be able to stand at the base of the Statue of Liberty and if you choose to climb to the pedestal or crown. Most tours also include a stop at Ellis Island, the point where immigrants were brought before being cleared to enter the US. If you are looking for a unique experience at Ellis Island be sure to take the Hard Hat Tour of Ellis Island. This tour will take you into the abandoned and unrestored hospital complex of Ellis Island.
I have visited Liberty Island multiple times and one tip that I would give you is to visit early. The ferry and island can become quite crowded throughout the day, with ferries coming to the island from both NYC and New Jersey. I have found that earlier in the morning is the best time to go to avoid the crowds. You will also avoid the lines going through security before entering the boat!
Please note that if planning on climbing to the Pedestal or Crown advanced reservations are required and space is limited-plan ahead. While Pedestal tickets are fairly easy to get, Crown tickets will require reservations well in advance.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum
During your visit to NYC be sure to stop by the site of the 911 memorial honoring those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 as well as the 1993 attacks. The memorial features two reflecting pools with the names of all of the lives lost in both the 2001 and 1993 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center inscribed on the outer walls. You will also get views of One World Trade Center, which is the main building of the newly rebuilt world trade center. The building is unique in that it is the tallest building in the USA and Western Hemisphere. You can ride to the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center to get amazing views of Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and surrounding area.
You will also want to check out the 9/11 museum which sits next to the reflecting pools. The grounds of the memorial are free to enter, however a fee is required to enter the museum. The museum features artifacts from the World Trade Center buildings destroyed in the attacks, tells the story of that horrific day, features the faces of all those lost that day, and holds remnants of the attacks, such as the famous cross found standing at the site, firetruck and ambulances that arrived to assist that day, and even a store front littered with debris from that day.
Visit Times Square
Another one of the must sees in the big apple is Times Square. Whether to spend some time shopping or to just take in the sights Times Square is a must do! Times Square is a shopping district in the city well known for bright lights and entertainment. Spend some time shopping some of the famous outlets featured in Times Square such as Sephora, Old Navy, Gap, American Eagle, Footlocker, and Disney Store or go in search of locally owned, unique shops, take in the sight of the location of the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop, or see a Broadway show. There is something for everyone here!
While wandering Times Square be on the lookout for street vendors. Be smart about it, because they will try to pull you in and get you to buy something that you don’t want or need. Don’t let this deter you, however. If it is something you are interested, have a look! You can certainly find some unique items to bring home. I purchased a spray paint image of the Manhattan Skyline for $5, well worth the price! Be sure to try some of the food vendors lining the streets as well!
The Empire State Building
Stand at the bottom of the Empire State Building and see it towering over you or walk inside and take a ride to the top and observe stunning 360 views of the city. Be sure to take the time to stop and view the mini replica of the Empire State Building in the lobby and read the informational panels on your way up. Once you get to the top you will come to interior observation deck where you will have windows reaching to the ceiling that will give you some great views of the city, before your final ascent to the outdoor observation deck.
If you are going to ride to the top be aware of the weather condition as fog will greatly reduce visibility and limit views of the city. If you want to avoid the crowds the best time to go would be early in the morning when the building is first opening for tours. The night rides to the top tend to be somewhat crowded as well as people flock to get those beautiful lit up views of the city. Avoid weekends if possible as well as the attractions tends to be more crowded. A ride to the top is sure to give you an unforgettable experience!
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge crosses over the East River connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bridge offers walking and bike trails across the entirety of the bridge. Spend some time walking or bike riding on the bridge, even if you do not cross it completely. Enjoy some stunning views of Manhattan from on the bridge. Although the bridge can get crowded, it will likely be a welcomed break from the crowds of people filling the streets of NYC.
Central Park is the famous urban park located in the center of Manhattan. It is a much welcomed escape from the concrete jungle for locals and tourists alike. You can spend the day walking or biking the many trails throughout the park, let the kids get some energy out on one of the many playgrounds, catch some live entertainment, visit the Central Park Zoo, and in the winter go ice skating or snow shoeing. Guided and self guided tours are also available for those seeking to learn more about the park and its history. Central Park is truly one of the must sees in the Big Apple.
The Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building is another of NYC’s most famous skyscrapers and must sees in the Big Apple. View the building from the outside at the base, from afar, or step inside and view the lobby of this beautiful building. Please note at this time ride to the top tours are not available at the Chrysler Building.
Coney Island is a neighborhood located in Brooklyn and is definitely one of the must sees in the big apple. If you are looking to get away from the crowded streets, traffic filled roads, and tall skyscrapers for a day, Coney Island’s Luna Park is the place to go! It features classic thrill rides as well as some more modern amusement park rides, arcade games, and of course great food. You will also find the Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk where you can dip your feet into the Atlantic Ocean or build a sand castle with the kids! Along the boardwalk you will find street performers who will surely catch your attention!