Vibrant, historic and cosmopolitan! New York is a global city that puts a spell over thousands of globetrotters every year. Nicknamed as the Big Apple, New York City - one of the most developed cities in the world, is synonymous with fanaticism yet manages to be on the travel bucket list of every traveller visiting the United States of America. A close knit region of five boroughs, New York is brimming with countless attractions. When I got the opportunity to visit this spectacular city, it was sadly only for a couple of days. I found myself in the dilemma of so much to see in such a short time. Nevertheless, I felt it is best to cover the most popular attractions and iconic landmarks for which New York is exceptionally eminent. Not visiting these attractions means you will feel that your New York trip was an incomplete experience. Here’s my recommendation on what you ought to include in your trip if you are short on time and have just few days stay in New York.
A verdant oasis right in the middle of the concrete jungle - Central Park is a refreshing sight in New York City. This was my favorite redemption spot in New York when I felt overwhelmed by the city’s vigor and bedlam. Central Park set in Manhattan is not your typical park but a sprawling green landscape with loads of hidden attractions. The park is brimming with a collection of gardens, water reservoirs, grassy lawns and plenty of recreational areas. Spend some time under the shades of charming gardens themed on Shakespeare or marvel at spaces adorned with sculptures on Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen. There are plenty of picnic spots and pleasant sights such as the Scottish Loch, Pool Grotto, Bank Rock Bay to name a few. The lake is a perfect spot to indulge in a serene boating session and capture picturesque views. There is a Central Park Zoo, Ice rinks, a carousel and a number of playgrounds where families and kids can have a delightful time together. One of the fun things to do in New York is to explore the Central Park is by taking a ride on a Victorian Horse Carriage or a cycling tour. A must visit New York attraction; it is the perfect way to watch some of New York’s prettiest sights and get some fresh air as well.
Top of the Rock Observatory
There are different places where you can get a bird’s eye view of New York City. Top of the Rock Observatory is one amazing place to get a sight of the city’s dizzying aerial vistas. Set in Rockefeller Centre, the observatory located on the 70th floor is an alfresco podium that offers unobstructed stellar views of Central Park and Manhattan skyscrapers. Rockefeller Centre is one of the popular attractions in New York, so there is a slight chance that Top of the Rock Observatory is something you would want to miss. The best part is that after a memorable 360-degree view of the city skyline, you can shop, dine and get entertained while exploring Rockefeller center. Top of the Rock observatory is open from 8 am till midnight daily and the basic cost is around USD 34 for adult and USD 28 for child.
Empire State Building
An iconic New York City landmark, the Empire State Building is the second largest building in the city located in downtown Manhattan. Zoom up to the 86th or 106th floor and treat yourself with a sweeping 360-degree panorama of New York City skyline. This popular New York attraction is an architectural marvel and has stunning exhibits of art deco ceiling murals in its lobby. The Sustainability Exhibit provides information on revolutionary energy saving retrofit and the tale of this structure’s groundbreaking achievement in showcased in Dare to Dream Exhibit. Once you have experienced the views of New York, tuck into some delicious intercontinental food within the building premises. If you are visiting at night, watch the tower dazzle in spectacular illuminations. Empire State Building is open year around from 8 am till 2 am. Admission price for 86th and 102nd level experience is USD 54 per adult and USD 47 per child from the age of 6 and above.
An obvious inclusion in any New York vacation, no visit to the Big Apple is complete without experiencing the dynamic vigor of Times Square. Here’s where you get the feel of New York City being rightly referred as the ‘City that never sleeps’. Amid the giant billboards, dazzling neon lights and a swarm of bustling people is a world of street entertainment and Broadway shows, countless retail shopping outlets, vibrant nightlife and an array of culinary treats. For a real shopping experience in New York, head to the 5th Avenue shopping where you can shop for chic branded products. Catch some live shows at Shubert Alley or watch a fascinating Broadway play. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Discovery Times Square are some other must visit sights in Times Square.
Another not to miss New York City landmarks – The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the largest suspension bridges in the world. This historic bridge connects Manhattan with Brooklyn. What allured me so much to visit this bridge is the stunning scenic vista of the calm waters slowly fading into a magnificent city skyline? A guided walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge is a great way to explore its historic significance as well as enjoy the scenic views over the East River in New York. This guided walking tour takes about 2 hours to complete and costs around USD 40 per person. You can even explore the bridge on a cycling tour.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
Once where two iconic towers stood dominating the skies, that location is now a poignant reminder of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The 9/11 Memorial remains as a significant attraction to any New Yorker as a commemoration to the fateful day. Located where the World Trade Centre Twin Towers stood in the past, the memorial has twin pools with names of lives lost in the attacks inscribed into bronze panels on the edge of the Memorial pools. The Memorial Museum showcases numerous exhibitions and artifacts about the attacks and has dedicated spaces honoring the lives lost during the tragedy. A tour of the memorial and museum takes about an hour and gives you a deep insight into the tragedy, its aftermath, and global impact. The 9/11 Memorial is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is free of cost. The admission to the museum (basic tour) costs about 25USD per adult and USD 15 per child.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
For me, one of the main reasons I wanted to visit New York was to see the Statue of Liberty up close. Listing at number one spot in my top things to do in New York, I couldn’t wait to hop onto the ferry from Battery Park for a breezy ride towards the Liberty Island. Battery Park is also one of the popular spots in New York sightseeing which has well-maintained parks, waterfront precincts, blossoming gardens, fountains, and sculptures. The scenic view of Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is worth capturing in photographs as pleasant memories. Once you reach the island, the symbolic Lady Liberty statue dominates the breathtaking ambiance. The nearby Ellis Island has many exhibits that offer a peek into the country’s heritage and history. A must visit destination in the USA, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are a beautiful way to experience enthralling history and enchanting views of New York City. Admission to pedestal of the Statue of Liberty National Monument is around USD 20 per person and access to the Crown and Pedestal of the monument is around USD 22 per person.
One of the best New York city tour options if you are on a short stay here, is a hop on hop off bus tour which saves a lot of time, energy and money. It is a flexible way to visit all popular attractions and monuments at your leisure. The ticket is available for 48 hours and costs around USD 50 per person.
Another reasonable way to explore New York City is by taking a New York Explorer Pass where you can visit a number of attractions for one discounted price. The advantage is that you don’t have to wait in line to get admission tickets to attractions you want to visit and you end up saving time as well as money since the rates are at best valued rates.