What to See and Do During Your First Trip to New York City

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Read on to find out the top sights and activities in New York City that you shouldn’t miss once the city returns to post-pandemic normalcy.

New York, New York. It’s the city so nice, they named it twice. New York is chock-full of things to do; you could literally spend a lifetime living in this city and do something different each day. Because there is so much to see and do, it can sometimes be overwhelming to plan your trip in this sprawling metropolis.

Read on to find out the top sights and activities in New York City that you shouldn’t miss once the city returns to post-pandemic normalcy.

Consider Purchasing a New York City Tourist Pass

First things first. Like most tourist meccas, New York can be a very expensive city! As you’re planning you’ll likely notice that admission fees to popular sites can add up very quickly. Fortunately, there are a variety of tourist passes available that can help keep costs under control.

Two of the most popular passes include the New York Explorer Pass and The New York Pass.

The main difference between the two passes is that The New York Pass is day-based, meaning you buy the pass for a certain number of days, and can then visit as many of the 100+ available attractions as you want within the chosen number of days.

The New York Explorer Pass is valid for 30 days, but limits you to a certain number of free attractions. So if you buy a two attraction pass, you can only visit two of the 85+ included attractions.

Some of the attractions that are included in both passes are the Met Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Empire State Building and even a 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus (valued at $69). Some passes also feature skip-the-line access; which is a fantastic time-saver during the busier periods and for those short on time in New York City. Do a bit of research to determine which pass is the best choice for your needs and prepare for a busy trip!

Take in a Broadway Show

Everyone knows that Broadway and its headlining shows top the list of best things to do in New York City! Featuring majestic theatres, bright billboards, and dazzling lights, the Theater District makes for an unforgettable experience.

With 41 different theaters decorating Broadway, there’s no shortage of shows to choose from, and there’s something about the experience of watching performances live on a Broadway theatre that cannot be replicated elsewhere

With cheap Broadway tickets now available online, you can easily visit and enjoy some of the best shows in the city!

Stroll (or Bike) Through Central Park

Central Park has to be one of the most famous parks on earth. Comprised of 843 acres open to visitors, Central Park is America’s most-visited urban park. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and is full of picturesque ponds, massive lawns, baseball fields, playgrounds, and a ton of walking/biking/running paths. Some of the most noteworthy locations include the Great Lawn, Strawberry Fields (a memorial to John Lennon), the Ramble (a woodland walk), Alice in Wonderland (a sculpture inspired by Alice and her friends) and Bethesda Terrace (a beautiful and picturesque terrace overlooking a large fountain and pond).

You could spend days exploring the Park, but save time by renting a Citibike to ride along the bike paths of Central Park.

TLW tip: You cannot ride your bike on walking paths, so be careful to only ride where legal, or you will get a ticket.

See the Skyline

New York is a city that’s well-known for its skyline. Home to over 7,000 completed high-rise buildings of at least 115 feet (with more constantly being built), there’s no better way to take in this city than from above.

There are many buildings and rooftop bars (such as Harriet’s Rooftop & Lounge and Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge) that offer good view of the Big Apple, but two of the most popular views are the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building—both are part of the NYC CityPASS.

If you’re not a fan of heights, another good option is the Staten Island ferry, which is a great way to get look at Downtown Manhattan, and even a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The ferry takes about 25 minutes each way and is fare-free.

TLW tip: If you want to do a full on tour of Liberty Island and Ellis Island you will have to commit to taking a much longer trip on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry. Tickets for this amazing trip are $23.50 for adults; well-worth the price of admission.

Museum Hop

As one of the cultural centers of the world, New York City is home to countless museums, from the obscure (such as the Museum of the Moving Image, the Museum of Mathematics, and the Louis Armstrong House) to the world-renowned, like The MetMoMA (Museum of Modern Art), the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Natural History.

There may be many to visit, but the Met is definitely one of the top museums in New York City, if not the world. The largest art museum in the United States, the Met’s permanent collection contains over two million works, and is packed with all sorts of amazing exhibits. From Monet, Picasso, and Dali, to Ancient Greek monuments, and even a separate building dedicated entirely to Medieval arms and armour, the Met has something for everyone.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

This is probably one of the most impactful experiences you can have in New York City. Located where the Twin Towers once stood, these powerful tributes commemorate the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993.

Featuring the largest man made waterfalls in North America, you’ll find two reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of everyone who passed in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are engraved around the pools.

The museum is located at bedrock of the World Trade Center site, seven stories below the Memorial, the Museum’s core exhibitions allow visitors to learn about the history of 9/11 where it happened, at the very foundation of where the Twin Towers once stood.

Though a solemn experience, it’s definitely a must on your New York City itinerary.

Andrew Taylor

For Andrew, travel is so much more than just learning history or taking photos. Rather, the value of travel is witnessing a lifestyle, bonding with locals, and gaining rich cultural experiences. That’s why he founded the Luxury Wanderer; a place to share itineraries, offer advice, swap stories, and foster a like-minded community of curious travellers.

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