1. Central Park
This beloved park would show up on any insiders tips. There’s nothing better than a picnic in the park on a sunny summer afternoon. I dedicated an entire post to its many facets which, you can explore more here. I filled this article with all the insider tips you could ever need. I even introduced a corner of the park to a New Yorker whose lived here for 6 years and never knew it excited.
2. Rockefeller Center
This is the ultimate insider tips, I worked in the Rockefeller complex, and it gave me the chance to find all its hidden nooks and crannies. Rockefeller Center consists of 19 commercial building’s several of which are connected by underground tunnels containing retail spaces. The tunnels are easily accessed by heading downstairs at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. There’s a lot to take-in around here from the ice skating rink/bar, depending on which season you visit in, to the taping of the today show. Head to Magnolia Bakery for truly delicious sweets at 1240 6th Ave, housed on the corner of the main building. I recommend the banana pudding! St. Patricks Cathedral, one of the most famous churches in the city is just around the back of the main plaza on 5th ave.
3. Times Square
Okay, so in all honesty, you would rarely find any local hanging out in Times Square, we tend to avoid it at all costs. The only exception to this would be if you work in the area or you’re catching a broadway show which, shows up on this list of classics. However, I remember when I first started visiting NYC, and I was convinced that Times Square was the epitome of the city. It’s quite a shock to the system on your first visit and something that should be seen. My insider tips would be to go late at night when the glare of the advertisements are particularly shocking or early morning before the crowds descend.
4. Take in a Broadway show
This could have gone with Times Square as well but it deserves its own section. A broadway show is fantastic at any time no matter how long you’ve lived or been here. Everyone saw the success of Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, etc… which by the way all started Off-broadway! A few insider tips, look for shows in smaller theaters across the city that offer tickets at a lesser rate. You might get lucky and see something like Hamilton, which originally opened at The Public Theater downtown. Also, look out for Broadway Week and Off-Broadway week which offers 2 tickets for the price of 1. Both events run twice a year for a bit longer than a week. Keep your eye out to purchase tickets a few weeks before it actually starts, the best shows sell out quickly.
5. New York Public Library
This building is iconic for a reason, the architecture is incredible and with this one-stop, you also get to hit up one of my favorite places in New York, Bryant Park. Located directly behind the library, this is a gorgeous green space that transforms between seasons. Every winter a Christmas village pops-up with ice skating and some of the best hot chocolate in the world. Then, when spring appears everything is taken down, and fresh grass is planted for outdoor movies and evening concerts. Make sure to head inside the library for an exhibit and to admire the architecture more closely.
6. Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is gorgeous and iconic, whether it’s your first time or you’ve visited 100 times. The historic grandeur of it all is incredible. Take your time to explore, head to the grand central market to enjoy fresh produce or chocolates to take with you to the park for a picnic. Head to the famous Oyster bar downstairs for lunch or The Campbell for drinks where you can sip cocktails in the beautiful former office space of a 1920’s mogul. The Campbell can be a bit tricky to find so I added a stop on the google map which you can access below or ask information for directions.
7. Empire State Building
The Empire State building is a beautiful representation of Art Deco architecture built in 1930 and a must for anyone’s first visit to New York City. It just seems to be something you have to check off the NYC bucket list. On a clear day, you can see up to five states from the top of the Empire State Building. One of my insider tips, If you don’t feel like paying the cost of a ticket to head to the top, make your way to 230 Fifth Rooftop bar for a drink and some incredible views looking over the Empire State Building.
8. One World Trade Center
I’m a bit protective of this location. I seen this become an attraction too many times when it should be a memorial. This is not a place to come smile in photos but a place to remember those who lost their lives. While, you’re in the area head over to The Oculus, a shopping center with some of the most fascinating modern architecture which was designed to resemble a dove taking flight.
9. Statue of Liberty
Lady liberty has been NYC’s symbol for the American dream for the past 134 years. If you’re coming to NYC on a budget, hop on the Staten Island Ferry for FREE to get great views of the Statue of Liberty, this is one of the ultimate insider tips. If you want to go on the tiny island, get a combo ticket to explore Ellis Island. Pay your respects to the many immigrants who came through the inspection station to start a new life.
10. Brooklyn Bridge
I’m not sure I can say enough great things about this bridge. The views are incredible, I never get tired of the city skyline. Whether you’re heading into Brooklyn or Manhattan you won’t be disappointed. The neighborhood just across the bridge heading into Brooklyn, called DUMBO, is a great place to spend a day. Head over on a Sunday to check out Brooklyn Flea under the Manhattan Bridge, just one bridge over. Make sure to stay on the pedestrian side of the bridge to allow for bikes to pass.
You can find a google map directing you to each location here. You can also download the map so it works offline!