Last month was my fourth visit to NYC and it still felt brand new.
Truth be told, it’s not for everyone – if your ideal city break doesn’t involve an organized mess that’s full of character and non-stop variation of extremes, then the combo of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx won’t make your ‘fondness’ list.
Yet, it’s not considered one of the greatest cities in the world (contestable, I know) for nothing. If you haven’t been, here are my favorites that are worth ticking off that ‘why not’ tourist list. If you’re the quintessentially cynical ‘that’s so touristy and I’d rather take the off the beaten path’ kind of traveler though, stop right here since you might find the list offensively touristy. But if you want to indulge and take that happy travel pill, read on and start your vicarious travel.
1. STATUE OF LIBERTY
Undoubtedly, Lady Liberty is the face of USA’s most populous city. A gift from France, the towering statue is best seen up close by taking a ferry ride (roundtrip costs USD 18 per adult) from Battery Park to Liberty Island. Hear the rich and historic story by taking a free audio guide, strolling around the island’s pathway and checking out the new interactive museum by the main entrance.
2. WORLD TRADE MEMORIAL AND THE OCULUS
The remnants of the 9/11 tragedy is now a serene and modern space that honors the unfortunate victims and silent heroes of the terrorist attack in 2001. In addition to the two memorial shrines and the museum, it is fascinating to see the new World Trade Center tower in its full glory and a new modern building called The Oculus which houses retail spaces and connects subway stations. Also, don’t miss the ‘instagrammable’ murals within the vicinity – worth taking a few snaps.
3. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY (NYPL) AND THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART (THE MET)
Just two of the stunning buildings in Manhattan that embody that ‘authentically old feel’ architectural façade. Both over a century old, they boast with permanent and seasonal well-curated pieces that can feed everyone’s desire for a culture fix. It was also interesting to see that NYPL keeps its relevance with the current times – when I paid a visit, they have a special exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and NY World Pride.
4. TIMES SQUARE AND BROADWAY
The busiest stretch of midtown Manhattan, West 42nd to West 47th streets is where you’d find the iconic Times Square. The energetic vibe of the area that beats with the rhythm of its digital billboards and eclectic street artists is an experience of its own. I’d highly recommend watching a Broadway show too to appreciate the city’s real talent and love for musical theatre – my top picks for the classics are ‘Wicked’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Miss Saigon’, ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Jersey Boys’. On this trip, we’ve watched ‘The Prom’ – simple, yet definitely outstanding, I can’t wait to see its movie version with Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman next year!
5. ROCKEFELLER CENTER AND TOP OF THE ROCK OR EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
If you’re a 90’s kid, you’ll always remember this spot at ‘Home Alone 2’ where Kevin was found by her mom under that huge Christmas tree as backdrop to the open-air skating rink in the middle of the city. Apparently, there’s no ice rink during summer, yet the area’s still a nice spot to explore as it’s filled with cafes and pop up shops. If you’d wish to also see the city’s skyline, Top of the Rock and Empire State Building viewing decks are your best bet.
6. SAINT PATRICK AND SAINT THOMAS CATHEDRALS
A few blocks away from each other, these two churches are sights to behold inside and out – whether a Christian or not, they’re worth a visit. Not a typical scene in the US, it’s lovely to see an old church in the midst of office and commercial buildings. Saint Thomas is a smaller and more serene Gothic style church where you can kneel down and pray. Saint Patrick is fairly crowded and touristy though. If you’re a La Sallista from the Philippines, you’ll be happy to see Saint John Baptist De La Salle’s altar here.
7. CENTRAL, BRYANT AND BATTERY PARKS
A trip to New York will not be complete without strolling around Central Park. Not only does this offer a green space to jog around or relax under its trees, but also a spot to simply sit still and watch the world go by. There are also tons of activities to do – ride the horse carriage or gondola, watch buskers, buy affordable art, etc. If its size is too intimidating, Bryant or Battery Parks are smaller versions to consider.
8. MEATPACKING DISTRICT, THE HIGH LINE AND WHITNEY MUSEUM
Transforming an industrial area to a contemporary, artsy and stylish neighborhood is such a cool urban development story which is Meatpacking district. The location’s currently a high street nestled with high fashion brands and artisan restaurants. Enjoy walking through its cobble stone streets til you reach The High Line which is also a unique attraction – a railway turned to a narrow yet far reaching park. Feel free to also stop by Whitney Museum for your modern American art fix before walking through the High Line.
9. THE VESSEL AT HUDSON YARDS
The newest New York attraction that opened just this year. The Vessel is a honeycomb-shaped structure and a soon-to-be landmark composed of 2,500 steps equivalent to 16 building floors. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps and height, you need to take only a few steps to reach the top which has a breathtaking 360-view of the city and the bay.
10. BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Crossing Manhattan and Brooklyn (or vice versa for nicer photos as your background will be the Manhattan skyline) is best experienced by walking or cycling through the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’re planning to leave love locks on the bridge – sorry, you can’t do that now (reserve that for Paris instead) unless you want to pay a fine if you get caught. Suggest going to Lombardi’s Pizza at the end of the bridge instead which claims to be the birthplace of the now famous New York pizza. Or if you’re taking the opposite side, end the walk in Chinatown for an interestingly diverse route.
And there’s literally hundreds more to explore and do in the city that never sleeps.
This is just your lead, so find your dig and enjoy every moment of it!
Inspired Travel, Fitness, Career, Lifestyle
16 JULY 2019
WHY NOT NEW YORK?
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