The Best Touristy Things To Do In New York

The best things to do in New York

This is kinda a hard one to write. Because, in my eyes, New York City can do no wrong. In my eyes, everything you do in New York will always be ‘the best’. And that’s probably why the post-holiday blues are so bad when you go to New York that you then spend the next few years desperately saving so you can go back there. It’s a vicious cycle.

Anyway, after much deliberation, these are my recommendations.

Go up the Empire State Building at night 
That view was truly summin’ else. I mean, I basically cried. Seeing all of New York lit up before you is a real-life slice of magic that you ain’t gonna find anywhere else. Go out for dinner, go out for a drink and then get your ass up there around 10/11pm. You. Won’t. Regret. It.

Helicopter Ride
I’ll say ‘it’s worth the money’ over and over again whilst you’re looking at the, ahem, not so cheap prices if it helps you press ‘book’. Cos sweet jesus, it really was. You regret what you don’t do, not what you do, and honey you ain’t never gonna regret swooping over the big apple skyline in a flippin’ helicopter.

Top of the Rock 
The only problem with the view from the Empire State Building is that you can’t see the Empire State Building. The Rockefeller centre is your answer. Go up on a clear day and take in those dreamy views over 3 observation decks (the highest is the best). You can see for miles, including such a sexy view of the Empire State and all of Central Park.

Eat ShakeShack in Madison Square Park 
If there’s one thing I learnt in New York, it’s that ShakeShack is SO GOOD. Their SmokeShack burger, with bacon and sweet red pepper and those crinkly fries with cheese sauce and maaan the strawberry milkshakes… MY WHOLE MOUTH JUST FILLED WITH SALIVA. And yeah, whatever, they now have ShakeShack in the UK but it won’t be the same as eating it in the sun in Madison Square Park, with squirrels running about, and the Empire State just peaking out behind you and HELLO FLATIRON BUILDING YOU DREAMY THING YOU.

9/11 memorial and museum 
The memorial pools are quite something; even though you know they’re as big as the space of each tower, you still are stunned by the size of them. The water is calming as you take in the sheer amount of names etched into the stone; if there’s a flower in someone’s name, I think it means it would have been their birthday. The museum though, blew my mind. It sort of shocked me into this state of grief and disbelief. It’s all underground and vast. It covers the horrific events of that day, plus the history of the towers, the aftermath and hundreds of individual stories collected from survivors or victim’s families. We were there for five hours and I’m still not convinced we saw every section. The bit that stood out the most for me was the room that had a picture of every single person who died covering the walls from floor to ceiling. You could go to screens, click on someone’s picture and find out who they were, how old they were and see more pictures from their life. You’ll probs cry but that’s okay. I almost felt I couldn’t not go and pay my respects to this place when in New York.

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York


Mooch around Midtown 
You can see a lot of the classic sights of New York in Midtown, and they’re all free. Go see the lights of Times Square, the sheer beauty of Grand Central Station, the Chrysler and Flatiron buildings, and take a wander around the New York public library. That reading room was really quite something.

Go see the Friends apartment building 
Because if you don’t spend half your time making references to Friends, did you even go to New York? It’s in Greenwich at 90 Bedford Street, on the right hand side, at the corner of Grove street.

Have brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda 
Cos, holy moly, is their food good. We went for dinner in their Soho branch on our last night and loved it so much, we went back for brunch in the Greenwich branch the next morning. We firmly agreed that dinner was the best evening meal of the holiday but I preferred brunch on the whole because a) the whole place felt like it was meant to be seen in daylight with the big windows, marble bar and pastel colours and b) the poached eggs, halloumi and tomatoes with a cantaloupe juice was probably the best thing to ever enter my mouth. Plus we were sat next to David Schwimmer so there’s that.

Washington Square Park 
You have to take a wander in Greenwich because the vibe is so bohemian and it feels like Washington Square Park sums it up. Within about 3 minutes of being there, we’d seen two jazz bands, some street theatre, people doing chalk drawings on the floor, people playing chess, acrobats practising stunts, a guy with about 20 pigeons sat on him and a woman with a parrot. Plus there’s that famous white arch.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge 
Ideally both ways but if you don’t have time, get the subway over to Brooklyn and then walk back because that’s where the view is at. On one side, you’ve got the built-up shininess of the financial district with the Freedom tower towering above, and on the other you’ve got traditional New York with the Empire State. There’s just something pretty majestic about walking that bridge; it’s truly special. I mean there is a lot of people but if you went early, you’d probably avoid the tourists. I loved this so much that I insisted we went back on our last day and walk it again.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park and DUMBO
I would have liked to have spent more time in Brooklyn but I suppose something had to give. Basically if you’re walking the Brooklyn Bridge, then make time at the Brooklyn end to have a little wander round. Like, you have to cos the views are basically the best you’re gonna get. Walk along the promenade (which FYI has featured in approx. 200 films), then grab a ShakeShack and sit in the park and take in that view of the bridge and lower Manhattan. Wander into DUMBO; there’s a flea market there at weekends and you gotta go see the iconic Washington street view of the Manhattan Bridge. More about our day walking the Brooklyn Bridge here.

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York


One World Trade Centre 
Not gonna lie, if you're picking between the skyscrapers, pick the Empire State and Rockefeller before this cos in my opinion the views are better from them. But this is the tallest building in the western hemisphere so the view is still definitely something to shout home about; you get to look across the city from lower Manhattan and you can see the statue of liberty and far out across the horizon. I would recommend doing this after you’ve been to the 9/11 museum because it gives you a sense of the poignancy of the building and everything it represents.

Walk the High Line 
In a nutshell, it’s an old railway line turned green oasis stretching above 2 miles of the city. It was originally built high up because kids kept getting killed when the railway was on the ground so the history isn’t picturesque but it’s been turned into something that is. It’s like a super long garden with art and benches and fountains. We walked it twice and the first time was pretty busy in the sunshine but the second time was at dusk and we could enjoy that sunset in peace. Also it ends in the Meatpacking district which is full of sexy bars and restaurants. Speaking of which…

Eat pie at Bubby’s 
Sat at the end of the high line! The food, drink and atmosphere (including the old school playlist) were just perfect for an evening out. BUT the show stopper is the pie. That’s what they’re famous for. I had a full-on love affair with that peanut butter pie and don’t even care that I cheated on G. It was worth it.

Umpire Rock in Central Park 
Central Park is a special place; a lil oasis, but it’s also BIG. And, tbh, if I had to choose, there was a lot of other things I’d rather do when in New York. So, if short on time, go to Umpire Rock (around 62nd street). Essentially, tall, exposed rock bed where you can sit and just take in the park and all those surrounding skyscrapers. One of my favourite things in New York is the buildings contrasting against the trees. Also would recommend the Jacqueline Kennedy reservoir at the other end of the park; it’s stunning.

Rooftop Bar 
How the heck can you not do this in New York? It will make you feel all sparkly and sophisticated and maybe like this was the life you were always intended for. I recommend 230 Fifth. Because you can drink cocktails in the shadow of the glittering Empire State building and what sane mammal wouldn’t want to do that?

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York


Tick Tock Diner 
Cos it’s just so American, the pancakes are NOM and their bacon is as addictive as crack. We went twice and it wasn’t enough. Soz not soz.

Statue of Liberty 
There is just something about seeing this iconic gal up close. Ellis island is super interesting but if you haven’t got time to do the usual Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island trip, and aren’t too fussed about actually getting off at Liberty island, there are plenty of boat trips that take you as close as possible without actually docking.

Little Italy 
Maybe it was because the weather was so sweet, but I loved the feel of Little Italy. You really do feel like you’ve stepped into a different country with the beach-hol vibe and all the little tables on the street and the smell of pizza wafting about.

Eat pretzels, cheesecake & bagels, buy NYC sweatshirts from lame tourist shops, gaze at the Empire State lit up at night, go shopping in Bloomingdales, be the shiniest, sparkliest version of you, LIVE THE NEW YORK DREAM.


The best things to do in New York

The best things to do in New York


The best things to do in New York

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