Monday, February 1, 2016

N is for New York City

New York City is one of my favorite places to visit.  There is so much to do there!  I've had the opportunity to visit four times, but, unfortunately, all of them were very short visits of 1-2 days.  That said, with some energy and a willingness to sacrifice "experiencing sites" for just "seeing" them, you can see a lot in New York in a day or two.

The first time I went, I was in college and buried myself in the travel book on the way.  By the end of the day, I think we had seen Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, Castle Clinton, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the World Trade Center, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, Times Square, Grand Central Station, eaten at a street vendor, taken the ferry to Staten Island, played the Big piano in FAO Schwarz, shopped in Macy's, strolled down 5th Avenue, and seen Phantom of the Opera.  Whew!

On subsequent visits, I've added in a few things that I missed originally, like the UN, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, and the East Side Tenement, while keeping some of the things you just can't miss on any visit, like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Central Park.  Still, there are some things I can't believe I've missed in all my visits -- like Federal Hall, where Washington was inaugurated, or Gen Grant National Memorial (Grant's Tomb) -- so I guess I still need to go back!  On one visit, my family went for a weekend with a few other families that had young daughters with the primary purpose of going to the American Girl store.

Addison in front of American Girl
 I don't think I have ever seen a bigger smile on my daughter than when she first laid eyes on that store (this was back when there were only three in the entire country).  She was having fun, but this put the entire trip over the top for her!  We didn't miss anything either:  We shopped in the store and had dinner in the restaurant.  Then the girls went to the show, while the guys went to Times Square to see the Toys R Us with the ferris wheel.

Toys R Us Ferris Wheel
 Of course we saw many other sights, too.

Lower Manhattan from the Empire State Building.  If you look closely, you can see the Statue of Liberty.
Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island
Lower Manhattan from Liberty Island
Central Park
Central Park
Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Ice Skating in Central Park
Just a plain ol' playground in Central Park
FAO Schwarz
Playing the Big Piano in FAO Schwarz
Times Square
Radio City Music Hall
On my most recent trip, I had only one very short day.  Consequently, I didn't get to see nearly as much as I wanted, but I made the most of it, taking in as many sights as possible while also taking in a matinee of Newsies.  One thing on my must-see list from that trip, though, was the new World Trade Center memorial.  On my first trip, I had stood right beside it.  I even had a really neat picture of the two towers soaring above me.  My next trip was sadly after 9/11, but I visited the site because I had to see it.  This last time with the memorial in place brought a closure of sorts -- as best it can for anyone who has been there when those iconic buildings stood.  It was very well done and a must-see for anyone visiting New York.

The New World Trade Center
World Trade Center Memorial
World Trade Center Memorial
Any trip to New York City requires planning, but if you don't have the luxury of a several-day stay, planning is absolutely essential to maximizing your experience.  Below are my top travel-planning tips:
1)  Get a travel book and make a list of the sites you most want to see with a cut-line between the can't-miss and the would-like-to attractions.
2)  Next, map them out and marry that up with a subway map so you'll know where you need to get on and off, and you can plan the most efficient route.
3)  Buy as many tickets ahead of time as possible.  Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island and Empire State Building, tickets can be purchased online.  Unfortunately, the subway does not have Internet purchasing, but if you would like to get an idea of your options, you can click here.
4)  Seeing a Broadway show is a must, but there's a huge trade-off.  If you want to maximize your time, and you know what you want to see, buy your tickets ahead of time.  If you're flexible on what you want to see, and saving money is a must, go to the TKTS ticket booth in Times Square.  You can get deeply discounted (up to 50% off) same-day tickets for many of the musicals.  The cost is standing in line when you could be sightseeing.
5)  Plan what you want to see in Central Park.  If you want to hit all the big sights, it's very doable, but you need a plan.  If you just want to say you've seen Central Park, you'll at least need an exit strategy to pick up your next sight or a subway station to get there.
6)  You can usually save a lot of money on a hotel if you're willing to stay 30+ minutes outside of the city in New Jersey and take the train in.

New York City has so much to offer.  There's something to please everyone, and it will be a memorable experience no matter how much time you have to spend, so put it on your bucket list and get there! 

Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=


  1. You'll have to come back, and we'll all go together! I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and it truly has my heart, but New York is my most favorite city in the world. I'd move there in..well, a New York Minute! I think you could spend six months of doing nothing but wandering neighborhoods just in Manhattan, and you'd still not see it all.

    1. I definitely want to go back and spend at least 3 days there. I think I could see enough in that time that I felt like I saw what I wanted to without having to rush everywhere, which is what my other trips have felt like.

    2. And, yes, we could go together! BTW, there are also a couple of things in Philly I still need to see! :-)

  2. We've never been to New York City, but I think it would be a really fun trip! Thanks for sharing all your photos.

  3. On my bucket list has always been the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade :-)

  4. I have been to New York City a few times, but my youngest two have never been. That is at the top of our list in the next few years.
    Blessings, Dawn