Now that you read Part 1 of our series, bought your airfare and hotel stay to New York City, time to start planning out your day-to-day activities. But where do you start? So many things to do and see in NYC! Here are the highlights from my trip and a list of all the attractions you need to see in NYC. If it’s your first time in New York, these are a must!
ICE SKATING @ WOLLMAN RINK
Growing up on movies like “Serendipity” and “Home Alone 2”, I knew that I had to go Ice Skating at Wollman Rink on my trip. We came here at noon on my birthday after having breakfast at Sarabeth’s which is just across the street from the park. We were told upon our arrival that the rink was closing down in 45 minutes due to the light rain, and if we wanted to stay we would be granted the child’s fare. Knowing that we wouldn’t have any time in our schedules to come back later, we agreed and hurried on in to get our skates. We ended up getting the entire rink to ourselves and saved some money! If you wanted to do ice skating in NYC, I would highly recommend this rink over the one at Rockfeller Center— cheaper rates and you don’t have to wait two hours in line! Plus, the views here are much better and you aren’t crowded shoulder to shoulder with the people on the rink.
ROCKETTES SHOW @ RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL
This one has also been on my list for quite some time. I bought the tickets to the show as soon as my husband told me about this trip. The show was absolutely magical! We were fascinated the entire performance and the hour and a half just flew by! I could not believe the show was over. Watching the Rockettes dancing in sync with such perfect unity in the majestic Radio City Music Hall was definitely one of the highlights from my trip.
While venturing to the financial district, we decided to head on over to the famous Brooklyn Bridge to take in the city skyline and of course, take pictures of the bridge itself. The bridge is a little over a mile long so you can cross it in about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. We didn’t want to cross the whole bridge just to get a good picture of the skyline so we decided to take the subway to Brooklyn and get on the bridge from there. That saved us about an hour of our time. We went on a nice sunny day so the walk was really enjoyable but if you would prefer to ride a bike instead, they rent them out near the entrance of the bridge.
BATTERY PARK CITY
The Park that sits on the southwestern tip of Manhattan was made known in movies such as Hitch, Friends with Benefits, Men In Black, The Adjustment Bureau, I am Legend, and Inside Man just to name a few. It is lined with park benches to take in the beautiful views of the Hudson River and walking paths that boast incredible city views as well. If you are visiting in the winter months, be prepared for the cold weather! We couldn’t stay as long as we had hoped because we weren’t dressed warmly enough. Definitely something I’ll keep in mind for next time and definitely a place I am planning to return to on our next visit!The damaged sphere that once stood in the center of the World Trade Center Plaza, was recovered after the 9/11 attacks and now stands in Battery Park.
WALL STREET/ CHARGING BULL
This didn’t take up a lot of our time, just a quick stroll down the streets while on our way to the 9/11 museum, but it was fun to see the spots that everyone talks about and movies are always being filmed in. We also got to see the beautiful Trinity Church that is located across the street from the New York Stock Exchange. It was so interesting to see such old historic architecture amongst all the modern skyscrapers.
9/11 MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM
Block out enough time for this one people. I originally thought two hours was going to be plenty of time to walk through the museum and be on our way, but after three hours I realized we still had a big chunk of the museum left and, unfortunately, had to rush through the rest.
The museum is located in the underground basement where the twin towers once stood. The steel beam structure is still in place, cut down to ground level, so viewers can see the perimeter of the fallen towers. The slurry wall that was built to protect the towers from the Hudson River still stands intact, now reinforced with steel beams. Plaques throughout the museum showed where the tower was first hit, where the steps stood that people used to escape the building, and where the bombing of 93′ occurred. Steel beams that once made up the structure of the building, were recovered and stood on display to show the damage the impact of the airplane made. Even after hours and hours of documentaries watched on television about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there was still so much to see and learn from this haunting and beautiful museum.
FLAT IRON BUILDING
Such a fun and interesting building to look at! I really enjoyed snapping lots of photos of this gem. Located right in front of the building is an open seating area where people can grab some lunch (or coffee) from any one of the surrounding restaurants and eat in the open air, admiring the building. Madison Square Park is right across the street so visitors, as well as locals, can enjoy the view from the park as well.
In the wintertime, this is where they display the famous 80-100ft Christmas tree that is decorated with 45,000 multi-colored lights as well as an ice skating rink. Definitely a must see if you are in New York at Christmas-time! Additionally, Saks 5th Avenue, which is located right across the street from the Christmas Tree, has their amazing light show running every 10 minutes in the evenings. This year they transformed the whole building to look like Disney World and it is tuned to the song “Carol of the Bells” sung by 200 choir members. The remarkable display took 10,000 hours and 250 individuals to put together. It brought the feeling of Christmas magic to the city and was one of the main reasons I’ve always wanted to see NYC during this season.
TOP OF THE ROCK
Located at the top of the Rockefeller center, as the name suggests, you can get an incredible view of the city. Although some argue you have to go to the Empire State Building to get a great view, I would have to disagree and point out that the Top of the Rock will give you a fantastic view of the ESB that the ESB just can’t give you. We decided to get a view of the night sky and paid $32/ticket, however, you can get a sun and stars pass which allows you to see the city during the day and once during the night for $47/ticket. Alternately, you can plan on coming right before sunset so you pay for only one ticket but get a view of both. This is what we originally planned to do but because I didn’t buy tickets in advance, we had to come back at a later time and I didn’t realize that it would take an extra 30+ minutes to actually get to the Top of the Rock. There is a long line to get tickets, then the security screening, and then the line for the elevators up. But once you finally do get there, the views are simply stunning. All the photos I’ve seen and the one I’ve taken don’t do it justice. It’s one of those things that you just have to see with your own two eyes!
So there it is folks– my top recommendations for what to do and see in NYC. As I mentioned in Part I, remember to buy any tickets you can ahead of time and plan in advance to make your trip run smoother.
PS- Don’t miss Part III (up next), where I finally get to talk about the FOOD!