Question asked was to name 10 places not to miss when visiting New York City. Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, MET Museum, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, Broadway, the NYC Waterfalls, Central Park & Zoo, and Grand Central Station. Ok. Fine. Thanks for reading. Buh-bye!
What? Oh, all right. There’s something for everyone, depending on what kind of person you are. There’s food tours, and there’s geek tours and there’s free tours, and there’s nightlife, people-watching, festivals, family friendly attractions, shopping fests, fashion fests and God knows what else. Plus, even if you do want the exact same things as the 48 million other tourists who waltz into NYC every year, there’s still many ways you can ‘do’ the 10 must-visit things to do in New York mentioned above.
See, there’s New York vacations, and then there’s New York vacations. Where there’s a few tourists, there’s bound to be traps. And NYC has more than its fair share of tourist traps. What you need is some inside dope and some research to make sure you don’t end up in the ranks of people who visit the Big Apple and then cry about being taken for a ride.
Ok, here’s tip no. 1 – If you want to see the Statue of Liberty, you don’t need to stand in line and pay for your tickets and get jostled by Japanese tourist groups and European backpackers. All you gotta do is board the Staten Island Ferry. Its free, and the view of Lady Liberty from the Ferry as it passes Ellis Island is as good as watching it right up close. As a bonus, you also get to see the NYC Waterfalls and other attractions en route, not to mention the ones on Staten Island.
So, from the top 10 attractions list at the beginning of this hub, scratch off the Statue of Liberty and the NYC Waterfalls, and put in the Staten Island Ferry in their place.
Tip No. 2 – Normally, you gotta pay for admission tickets to the MET Museum, the Central Park Zoo, and the Empire State Building. What most tourists don’t know, though, is that most of the museums, zoos and gardens in NYC have pay-what-you-wish days.
The MET, the American Museum of Natural History and 32 other NYC institutions are part of the ‘Cultural Institutions Group’, which has a standing ‘pay what you wish’ admission policy on all days, at all times. The suggested admission fee is $20, but you can get in for a dollar or a few coins or just nothing at all, if you feel like it. Most tourists just assume you have to pay $20 and pay it. Not necessary. You see, the City provides 11% of the budgets for these Museums. You’re already a tourist, and you’re paying NYC a lotta money as it is, and taking very little in return, except maybe for some pictures and videos. Walk in free.
You don’t have to go to the top of the Empire State Building to get a good view of the Manhattan skyline. Walk up to the building, have a good look at it, take a few pics, and move on. There are other ways to get a good look at the Manhattan skyline, such as the many rooftop bars and lounges that sit atop many New York hotels. There’s a good list here. You buy a drink, enjoy the view, take a rest and walk out without the hassle of being a part of hordes of tourists at the Empire State Building.
Grand Central Station, Times Square, Broadway and Fifth Avenue are, of course, free. But other than Grand Central, the other three will end up fleecing you of more money than anything else on your trip. Simple word for it is tourist trap. Get out of Times Square as fast as possible without spending any money whatsoever.
Don’t do any shopping on Fifth Avenue (if you don’t want to finish off whatever’s left of your already battered investment portfolio), and off Broadway shows are more relaxed, and offer more experimental and edgy performances and shows than Broadway theaters, where the fare is pretty predictable. Same goes for pre-theater dinner. Any and all restaurants near the theaters in Broadway are usually crowded before shows and primed to treat customers like table numbers, instead of guests.
As for Grand Central, best way to see all of the wonderful architecture is to take the free Grand Central Partnership tour. There’s also a free Central Park tour, if you want.
End of the day, I believe more important than what you see, is how you see it. NYC has a lot to offer, some free and some you have to pay for. But the little things, like a cabbie who takes you on an unwanted tour of the city for a destination which is five minutes away, or the restaurant which charges tourists more than locals – these are the things that matter a lot. Be smart, and do some travel planning.
There’s plenty to see and do. You don’t need to restrict yourself to the top 10 attractions. There’s a lot more – Like the Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Brooklyn Bridge and the other islands – Roosevelt, Governors, Randall’s and City Island. There’s the New York Aquarium and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. You can hang out in the evenings in the MeatPacking District, go for food to Brooklyn and Little Italy and Astoria in Queens. So much to see and do…