After spending just four nights in Manhattan, I crossed quite a few things off my bucket list, and realized that it’s a place everyone should get around to visiting at some point or another. Even if you’re like me and are only able to go for a little bit, you can still fill your days with a hefty share of experiences if you plan accordingly.
With that said, here are some tips, tricks and must-do’s to make your Manhattan trip worthwhile:
Everything is expensive. When it comes to NYC, it’s important to keep in mind that pretty much everything probably costs a bit more than wherever you’re from. We’re not talking unaffordable, but taxis, attraction tickets, and food can add up quicker than you might expect.
The location of your hotel is vital. I was fortunate enough to land a pretty good deal at the Park Lane Hotel. It overlooks Central Park from the south side (if you ask nicely for a park view and a high floor), and it’s within walking distance from just about every activity I took part in. This practically eliminated taxi costs, which helped me accumulate some serious savings.
A wintery Central Park from my Park Lane room window.
Food: You certainly don’t have to feel pressured to have every single meal feature a New York delicacy, but I strongly encourage you to at least get some freakin’ pizza. After copious amounts of research, I decided to get my authentic pie from Joe’s. Twice. Getting it delivered to the hotel while on the way back from activities was a fun thing to look forward to, and a great way to relax before getting back out there. I can also advocate for Chinese and seafood being delicious in the area.
The MoMA: I’m pretty big on museums, so the Museum of Modern Art was stupendously enticing once I learned whose works were there: genuine Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and many, many more world-famous artists. Plus, you can knock most of it out in a few hours.
Van Gogh’s Starry Night on display at the Museum of Modern Art.
Shopping: Right off the southeast corner of Central Park are some of the most expensive and coolest looking clothing stores I have ever seen. I’m more of a “not buying anything but making a game of finding the biggest price tag” kinda guy, but if designer brands are your thing I highly recommend the whole area.
The Statue of Liberty: I would recommend not going to the actual island if you don’t have a lot of time in NYC, seeing as it can easily take up a whole day. Instead, hit up the Staten Island Ferry, which is completely free and gives you a great view of the statue in all her glory. Keep in mind that it’s a transport boat, so you’ll have to take it to Staten Island and back for the hour-long round trip, but there are plenty of tourists with the same idea in mind. Plus, you get some nice bonus views of the city from the water.
My view of lower Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry.
The Met: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is quite different from the MoMA, starting with the fact that it would take months to see everything in that place. It’s the largest art museum in the United States, and the fifth most visited museum in the world. I definitely got lost more than once, but luckily there are plenty of employees who can point you in the right direction. Inside is nothing short of a wondrous journey through time, from ancient Egyptian sculptures to genuine Medieval armor to a vast collection of musical instruments. There is so much more, of course, and it is an absolute must for anyone interested in anything.
Broadway/Times Square: If you’re willing to pay, seeing a show on Broadway is an unforgettable experience regardless of what you decide to see. Plus, it’ll be right by Times Square, which might be a nice touch to end your night after the performance. If you think about it, Times Square is just a bunch of pretty ads, but you should see it if you’re in the area, even if it’s just for ten minutes. There’s some pretty great street performers around, too- just beware of pickpockets in the dense crowds.
Top of the Rock: This, I feel, is an absolute must-do: a 360-degree, breathtaking view of the entire city from the 67th and final floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The Empire State building has a fine observation deck and all, but you can’t see the building you’re standing on. Also, wait times there seem pretty atrocious, but I was able to ride on up with no wait time at all after buying my ticket in advance online. With that:
Buy tickets in advance online. Doing so can save you valuable time that would normally be spent waiting in line to buy one. Every non-free attraction on this list offers online tickets, too.
The Empire State Building from the observation deck at Top of the Rock.
Just walk around. There’s no limit to what you might see while wandering the streets of NYC. There are so many historical landmarks in the area from history and pop culture that you’ll probably bump into your fair share in due time. You also might find some cool spots that you’ve never heard of!
Don’t expect to do everything. There’s simply too much. I came to this conclusion before I began my vacation, and was able to come up with a reasonable itinerary that involved almost every item on my list. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see more of the whole city when I make my inevitable return.
Manhattan, in my opinion, is a place that everyone should visit at least once. There’s so much of everything, and it’s simply a beautiful place. I strongly encourage you to hit it up sometime.4