Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to work in NY for the summer. Before and after my work program I spent some amazing time in New York City. Everybody has different favorite things to do in every city. Here are my top 10 for Manhattan. I will also be writing blog posts about how UK University students can work in the USA and my personal experiences with the different companies I have used such as BUNAC and now Yummy Jobs. This is my list of ‘must do’ things to do, However I will also do a list of more unusual things to do in New York and Brooklyn and my favorite things to do in Long Island in the future as I develop this blog.
Central Park Central Park was the first thing I did in New York City. I stayed in the West Side Y, so this amazing park was right opposite me. On my first day in the city, I messaged my friends, ‘Had breakfast at Wholefoods, no museums open yet, going for a walk in Central Park’ And so I did. I had many more walks in Central park during my 5 nights staying at the Y. Being on a budget I didn’t pay for any tours, I just walked around myself, However I heard plenty of facts from Bike tour guides when I was passing. My favorite time to go to Central Park was the mornings before it was too hot (It was June after all) However due to an abundance of dog walkers and joggers I did not feel uncomfortable in the early evening whatsoever. The huge boulder like rocks in Central Park are actually how the whole of Manhattan would have looked like at some point and is 1.1 million years old.
Empire State Building For me this was a must do! Many people say ESB is not worth visiting, that Rockefeller Center has a better view. However I remembered back to my many trips to Paris, People always said to to to Montparnasse Tower and have a better view. But I ignored them and I have actually been up the Eiffel Tower 4 times now and I still love it. This is about a destination being iconic, It may be touristy yeah but most things are in a big city such as Paris, London or New York. This was my first ever trip to New York so damn right I was going to pay nearly $40 to go to the Empire State Building. I went for sunset which was just amazing. It was great to be in a building so prevalent in pop culture too! ‘King Kong’, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, ‘Elf’ And that’s just a few examples of movies featuring this building. I couldn’t possibly not go! For the record! The view is stunning!
Greenwich Village OK OK. This is one of my favorite places in Manhattan. I took a free tours by foot tour (see below) of Greenwich village which was awesome and I would totally recommend. However I also explored on my own. I loved seeing the Iconic ‘Friends’ building of sitcom fame, Stonewall Inn and of course Washington Square Park (Which again is in many movies, For example ‘When Harry Met Sally’) The Greenwich Village area is full of nice brunchy cafes and vegan food, but also I was told has some of the best pizza and some of the best and oldest falafel in the city. I would 100% say to take a visit to the village for some filming spots you will recognize, some great food and a really pretty area generally.
Go on a Free Tours by Foot tour and Get a Big Apple Greeter I have so much love for both of these companies, I did a night tour of the city which focused on inside Grand Central, New York Public Library (outside), Times Square, Bryant Park and Rockefeller center and also pointed out many other notable places such as The Flatiron Building and the Chrysler Building which was excellent, The guide was really great. And also Greenwich Village tour with a great guide from New Jersey. Both of these were with Free Tours by Foot. They are ‘pay as you feel’ so just give what you want to tip. Still $10 is much less than a non free tour. I also had a Big Apple Greeter while I was in the country. This non for profit organisation is amazing. They match you with a tour guide depending on your interests and my guide the lovely Gabriella from New Jersey was amazing. We went to the Financial District, China Town and Little Italy together, I even met her family friend who owns a store in Little Itally we had. We are still in touch as she also loves travelling and is well on her way with her goal of visiting every US state! If you love to meet new people then Big Apple Greeter is for you!
AMNH One of the things I was really excited for in NY was the American Museum of Natural History, Mainly due to its ‘Night at the Museum’ fame but also because I love Dinosaurs, Animals and Ancient History. It was a huge museum and I didn’t see everything in a day. However I would 100% recommend the Planetarium paid show to anyone visiting. I love Planetariums and it was the best! (And no Ross and Rachel did not have a date there- again that was a lot in LA the same as the fountain ahahaha. https://www.amnh.org/
Financial District If you love movies or history you have to take a visit to the financial district and Wall Street. You can also visit the grave of Alexander Hamilton in this area, and walk up to the site of 9/11 where they have a gorgeous memorial and the new observatory tower. Across from this you will find the church which became a haven after the disaster.I also loved seeing the famous bull statue and the opposing little girl who was installed.
American Indian Museum – While you are in the area mentioned above visit this free museum! I found it so interesting as I have a limited knowledge on Native American history and heritage. They also had a great Art exhibition on, full of immersive installations. https://americanindian.si.edu/visit/newyork/
Shopping Shopping in NYC is incredible. An experience not to miss. Its cliche and touristy but it really is awesome. There are great independent stores and bookshops which I loved, vintage stores, food stores and of course huge department stores and chain stores. I love Sephora so I made sure to go there! I also made sure to visit Times Square Disney Store! Something a Disney fan would not want to miss! My favorite book store was Strand if anyone was interested, its pretty famous but it was really good. There are some smaller independent book stores around though if you have a google. (Just watch out for creepy stalker managers)*
See Frozen on Broadway OK, this may only be relevant if you love Disney and Frozen. But it was AMAZING! I sat in the front row as it was cheaper than the other low down seats due to the stage being an obstruction for some peoples viewing, However I was fine! Honestly if you like Frozen even the slightest, you have to see it and if not still see it as a show in its own right if you have spare money! I also went to the stage door and met everyone except the actress who played Elsa. The song Monster is actually the best-est!
Statue of Liberty On my second to last day in New York before I left to Florida in September. I wanted to see lady liberty a bit closer. I had not booked in time to go on an excursion to Liberty island or inside the statue so I just used the free Staten Island ferry. This is a commuter ferry which leaves from Battery Park area to Staten Island every day, passing the statue on its journey. Make sure you secure a spot on the right side of the boat if you want to take a photograph! It will get busy! You can also explore Staten Island at your leisure before returning to Manhattan.
You may hate all the ‘tourist traps’ on my ‘must do’ list but I loved them! I did not include Art Galleries as they are an acquired taste but I can write about them in the future. I will also be writing posts about the UK, Paris, Florida this year, then California and Mexico when I go there as I have visits planned.
*Joke about TV show ‘You’ no offence meant to any Bookstore owners or managers who may be reading
- I took all of these photos, they aren’t great but I would never steal a photograph, Its disgusting.