New York City is a magical city, there is no denying that. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a handful of times: one was just before the 9/11 attacks, when my family skipped the Twin Towers to go to the Empire State Building (a move we deeply regret); and another was in 2006 when I took a busride around the city and embarrassingly slept through most of it (a cross-country trip will wear you out!)
So this year, as my parents were embarking on a cruise through the Panama Canal (which I couldn’t go on) I decided to head to New York with them to ring in 2019! Aside from getting punched in the face at Times Square (men are trash, what can I say) my time in New York City was spectacular. I had been on the road for three days before going to upstate New York, Boston, and a ton of states in between. So by the time I finally made it to New York City, I was EXHAUSTED. Added to that was the fact that I woke up at 5 a.m. one morning so I could deliver the weather report on Fox News – check me out! Once my parents boarded their cruise ship and abandoned me for tropical weather, I had two full days in New York just to myself.
So I started walking.
Even though New York City is home to an infinite number of things to do, you can still see some of the highlights in a few days. I spent a total of three days in New York and even though I was tired beyond belief (I walked an average of 12 miles each day) I know that I made the most of my time there. In my opinion, I can sleep when I’m dead.
What did I manage to do within those three days? A lot.
For those of you who are new to my excitement, I graduated from university in 2018 with a degree in broadcast journalism (check out my reel) and am now in law school. Watching Fox News when I was just a little kid motivated me to pursue a career as a legal correspondent and since I could literally see the studio from my hotel room, I decided to go see if I could get on television. It worked! I was able to give the weather report ON NATIONAL TELEVISION and if this resume-booster doesn’t help me get a job in this economy then nothing will.
Rockefeller Center is one of the main hubs of New York City. Not only is there NBC studios but you have the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, ice skating rink, shops, Top of the Rock, and everything quintessentially New York. It’s unbelievably touristy but you must at least check it out. My tip is to go to the Top of The Rock for the best views over Manhattan. Why? Well, everyone wants to go to the top of the Empire State Building. I’ve been, and I’ve even driven the elevator up to the top (circa 2000). The problem is that once you’re on top of the Empire State Building… you can’t SEE the Empire State Building. Instead, go to the Top of The Rock for views of the Empire State Building and it’s a lot less crowded.
If you don’t want to pay the $30+ to go, wait until after 5p.m. for the bar to open. It’s a few floors down from the Top of The Rock observation deck but it’s FREE and once you’re that high in the air, what difference does 30 feet make?
Staten Island Ferry
Everyone wants to go see the Statue of Liberty because she is one of the most iconic parts of both New York and America. I totally understand it – I have a completely weird obsession with the Statue of Liberty and I have ever since I was about two years old. Back before September 11,2001, it was very easy to take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, wait in line, and then begin the climb to the top of her crown. Now, 18 years later, it’s much more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.
It’s up to you if you want to take the actual Statue of Liberty tour. But if you don’t want to take the tour but still want to see Lady Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry is your key. The Staten Island Ferry departs every 30 minutes from south Manhattan and goes directly to Staten Island. Itgives you incredible views of the Manhattan Skyline and also gets you up close and personal to the Statue of Liberty. The best part is that it’s completely free! You’ll have to literally make a run for it if you want good seating, however. I was almost shoved to the ground by people who were trying to get tothe right side of the boat for the best views. It’s cutthroat but the rewards are well worth it.
Once you get to the Staten Island stop, immediately get off of the ferry and get on the next one that’s departing to Manhattan. There’s honestly not very much to do there in Staten Island and if you miss the next ferry then you have to wait another 30 minutes. So overall, you can get an hour-long boat ride for free PLUS incredible views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty!
Ah yes, the infamous Wall Street that literally drives our economy. Even if you don’t go inside of the NYSE, you should still walk by. At Christmastime, there is a huge tree out front and everything is lit up spectacularly. To the right of the NYSE is the Federal Building with a statue of George Washington in front of it. You might just think it’s a normal buildinghowever, it actually served as our nation’s very first capitol building. Inside is a museum that I’d only go to if you’re a big history fan. Otherwise it might not be worth your time. But the museum is home to the bible on which George Washington took his oath of office, which is pretty cool regardless.
Most people also want to take their picture with the Wall Street Bull. Surprisingly, the bull is actually a little further south from Wall Street. My best advice is to go at night if you want your picture with him. Otherwise, the lines are absolutely insane during the daytime. There’s even a line at night but it’s much more manageable.
You can’t go to New York City and not pay tribute to the lives lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks. There are two large reflecting pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers that are engraved with the names of those who lost their lives that day. At the bare minimum, youhave to at least visit the reflecting pools and see the 1776-foot tall Freedom Tower.
However, you should still definitely go to the actual museum and memorial. It details the events of the bombing in 1993 in addition to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The museum is so well-done and contains actual artifacts from survivors and victims. There are no words to describe how moving the museum is. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you were alive when it happened, if you’re an American or if you’re a foreigner. There is so much to learn from the museum regardless of your background. I’m gonna be honest with you… I know someone who lost her father in attacks and I myself remember sitting in bed watching the towers fall. This was so much more than just a history museum; this was reliving my past and was an incredibly moving experience.
Grand Central Station
Everyone has to at least pay a visit to Grand Central Station. There’s a reason that its name has become so synonymous with places that are packed and busy. You don’t need to spend a lot of time there but it is cool to watch tourists and locals hurry around their business. There’s also an Apple store overlooking the main hall. I hung out there and lived out my Gossip Girl dreams and watched a man get arrested. It’s all about balance.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I’m going to be completely honest with you… the main reason I went to the Met was because I wanted to see the infamous Met steps from Gossip Girl. Don’t judge. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much the actual museum had to offer. I absolutely LOVED the Egyptian and Greek exhibits. There were also several pieces on loan from other major museums like the Gate of Ishtar. If artifacts aren’t your speed the Met also has a large amount of paintings, including Van Goghs, Monets, and Renoirs. The overall layout of the Met was kind of confusing, so be prepared to double back and forth and get lost while finding your way around.
If you’re anywhere on the Lower East Side I recommend checking out the United Nations building. There’s a way that you can go inside but unless this is a top place you want to visit, I suggest that you walk past it, admire it for what it’s worth, and then continue along with your day.
Most people have seen pictures of the Flatiron Building in history books. It serves no real purpose in life except it is an apartment building with an awesome shape that looks like a flatiron. This is another location that is awesome to see if you’re nearby or if you really want to see it. But if you’re indifferent and are short on time, there’s not really much to do there. The morning is the best time to go so that the Flatiron is illuminated by the sun. I arrived late in the day and although the sun was setting beautifully, it made it harder to get a picture of the Flatiron.
You can’t go to New York and not take a stroll through Central Park. It’s the center of New York in my opinion and is beautiful at all times of the year. In the summertime, Central Park is home to concerts, picnics, and couples and families wandering through the foliage. It’s honestly no wonder that so many movies and TV shows have scenes filmed here in Central Park. Something about it is so magical and really needs to be experienced foryourself.
Central Park in the wintertime is a winter wonderland. If you’re fortunate and are there in the snow, count your blessings and admire the snow. I was just there in the bitter cold so everything was pretty dead. Of course. I cut through the park from the Met to get to a subway station and was still able to see beautiful bridges, parks, and Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient obelisk brought to New York from the Temple of Karnak.
Oh and for those of you who are huge FRIENDS fans, don’t try to find the fountain around which the entire gang dances in the credits. It was filmed at Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank and that fountain doesn’t actually exist in Central Park. I know, it’s rude how Hollywood crushes our dreams.
New York City’s subway is famous and it’s definitely worth taking at least one ride. As of the beginning of this year, each single ride was $3. If you’re planning on using the subway frequently you should look into getting passes that make each ride cheaper.
Subway stations are signified by a green post that has a green and white ball at the top. I did not know this and found myself walking right past all of the subway stations. My friend, a New York local, finally had to point them out to me. So if you’re looking for a big M or S like they have in most European cities, don’t waste your time like I did. I highly recommend getting a subway map or downloading a subway app for your phone. The app was extremely helpful for me as I navigated around the city.
If you ever get tired of taking the subway, you need to take a subway one direction from Manhattan to Brooklyn so that you can walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge. I made the mistake of walking across the bridge towards Brooklyn. It was a cold but chilly view, except the view was only of Brooklyn. The ideal way to do it is to walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan so that you can enjoy the Manhattan skyline the entire time. I was stuck turning around every so often to admire it. But, when you’re on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, I suggest going to the north side of the bridge at DUMBO and sitting and enjoying the view. I ate my lunch (a delicious New York bagel) and admired the view. My fingers froze but the view was completely worth it.
New York Public Library
As a book nerd, I really wanted to go experience the New York Public Library (and get a break from the bitter cold). It’s located on 5th Avenue and is very central to a variety of other things. The library itself was breathtaking. I couldn’t imagine actually trying to study there because I would get so distracted so quickly. Unfortunately, the library is very crowded – with both people studying and tourists. I feel like it is a bit overrun by the tourists but it’s definitely worth taking a peek inside and escaping the weather. Entrance is free, so you can’t beat the price!
Believe it or not, I was able to do allof the above in just three days. I was exhausted but I knocked out on the planeride home because my motto is “I can sleep when I’m dead.” It was all worth it,though!