It can seem overwhelming when planning a trip to New York, finding the best flights, hotels, getting a good deal on your dollars, so planning an entire itinerary may be the last thing on your mind. There is so much to do in New York that we struggled to visit everywhere we wanted to, even in 8 days. While we definitely recommend using a travel planning app such as UGotIt, bookmark some of these attractions on our hits list to help narrow down your must-sees.
Depending on the weather you really can spend a whole day roaming around this enormous green mass oddly found in the middle of this concrete jungle of skyscrapers and glass. Whether it be ice skating in the winter, picnics in the summer, a horse drawn (or person drawn) carriage, bike hire or watching the street acts in the mall there is so much do to do in central park, just wear comfortable shoes and something you can move in. There are also plenty of trucks selling hot coffee, pretzels or hot dogs as well as hundreds of cafes and restaurants bordering this massive park, so don't think you'll be short on snacks or places to eat. Bring your camera because you can never expect which street acts will be performing each day and any cash or change as there are also souvenir or arts sellers throughout the park.
No admission fee
Open 6am-1am everyday
An icon landmark of New York, Times Square is unmissable. There are so many shops, bars and restaurants around the square so it really is hard to miss visiting this area. It can get very busy here but there isn’t really a time to avoid that. Visit during the day and in the evening to get the full effect of the hundreds of billboards bordering the square. Be aware that alot of the souvenir shops sell the same thing, so shop around and compare prices before you make any final purchases. You can also buy discounted last minute theater tickets at the TKTS booth which is in the middle of the square, so check out their boards which advertise which shows are on offer and what price the tickets are.
With 7 million visitors annually, the 9/11 memorial is an extremely popular attraction in New York and there’s good reason why. The twin fountains laid in the footprints of the twin tower buildings are surrounded with hundreds of trees, making this a calm and green area within busy Manhattan. I would 100% recommend visiting the memorial, even if you don’t visit the museum as the queues for this second attraction can be lengthy.
Memorial Museum 9am-8pm
Tickets $26 for adults $20 for students
Let me start by saying that it took around 3 hours to walk on and off a PUBLIC BRIDGE. So by all means AVOID this place during peak times! I’ve visited Brooklyn Bridge many years ago and I distinctly remember having a lot of space to roam around the bridge at our leisure. This was not the case this time around. The bridge was absolutely packed and whilst only making it a quarter across the bridge, it took us an eye watering 2 hours just to get back from the spot we had so painfully crawled to. Perhaps it was the season (a few days before New Year’s Eve), perhaps it was the time of the day (sunset), but I have never been so painfully packed in a crowd like it, and be so agonizingly tortured by how long it takes the public to get off a bridge. It is however a stunning sight of both Manhattan and Brooklyn but I would look at strategically planning this attraction.
Empire State Building
Another iconic landmark in New York the Empire State building is a classic attraction that should not be missed. Whilst it is vast and pretty seeing the city lit up at night, the visibility is inevitably better in the day so it may be best to visit on a sunny day around first thing in the morning when the queues are smaller. Avoid at the weekend at all costs, we saw an ENORMOUS difference in queues between Saturdays and midweek. If you have done the Empire State before however I would perhaps recommend trying another panoramic viewpoint in the city such as the Rockefeller Center or One World Trade the latter of which is significantly taller than the Empire State.
Tickets start from $38 each for adults
Be aware there is airport style security in here!
Empire State Website
Statue of Liberty
A visit to statue of liberty is again unmissable when in New York, but if this is something you've already been to see it is not ESSENTIAL to plague yourself with that enormous queue again. We visited Long Island during our trip to go to the New York winter lantern festival and we were able to get a great view of the statue from the free ferry to Long Island.
If you’re going to visit the Statue of Liberty get in the queue VERY early, we waited around 2-3 hours to get on a boat around the Statue and Ellis island so make sure to get into queue as soon as the ticket office opens.
Statue of Liberty Info
Brunch at 230 5th Avenue
Whilst the Brits have attempted to establish Brunch as a Sunday mid-morning staple, no one goes quite as over the top of the Americans. Moreover what better place to enjoy a huge buffet of french toast, poached eggs, crispy bacon, chicken and waffles than rooftop on 5th Avenue with an incredible view of the Empire State building? Even if the weather is pretty gloomy, there are adorable heated 'igloos' with seats and tables inside.
For $35 unlimited brunch buffet I found this to be really good value given the view, and the food was pretty good too! You cannot reserve tables online for brunch so make sure to get there early to get a good view and miss any queues, however we arrived around 12/1pm and didn't have any wait.
230 Fifth Ave Rooftop
Unless you’re planning on visiting the museum of American finance, there isn’t anything to do on Wall Street. Although the architecture is impressive of this area, there isn’t anything momentous that you would miss by avoiding this landmark. There are other attractions in this area such as the 9/11 memorial and museum.
Grand Central Station
Whilst this is one of those classic New York attractions, other than take a few photos there really isn’t much to do at Grand Central. If you’re nearby it’s worth just popping in to have a look at the huge hall (and have a gossip girl moment) but I wouldn’t be disappointed if you missed this place.