10 million people. Thousands of buildings. A marvel of architecture and engineering. The most culturally diverse city in the world. New York City is many things. But boring is not one of them.
Only 300 square miles, you couldn’t fit the entire city in a week, let alone a day. It’s revolutionary design, beautiful creativity and wide diversity make it the most interesting place to be. It’s like visiting China, Italy, Germany and Texas at the same time. New York City is, literally, the center of the universe.
New York City is comprised of 5 boroughs, the most central of those being Manhattan. Manhattan has several neighborhoods, all very different, all containing different attractions, all having diverse culture. I will show you the best things to do in each neighborhood.
Upper West Side
The calm in the storm, if the storm is NYC, is the Upper West Side. Home to Central Park and Lincoln Center, the Upper West Side is much less known for tall skyscrapers, and more so for low-rises barely protruding out of the greenery.
Below is Central Park, viewed from the Rockefeller Center. The most visited urban park in the U.S., Central Park brings in a staggering 40 million visitors annually, and you can understand why. Along with it being one of the most filmed locations in the world, it lets New Yorkers take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Manhattan.
Another great view in the Upper West Side, which comes along with an (upscale) delicious restaurant, is from the Asiate, above the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Upper East Side
Architecturally, the Upper East Side is the way to go. Museum Mile, bordering Central Park, houses some of the most beautiful buildings in NYC, such as the Guggenheim Museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the latter of which I will go into more detail here, since it is most definitely the best thing to do all the way up here.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or as it is more commonly known, the Met, is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the most visited ones in the world, housing over 2 million works ranging from Ancient Greece to Modern Times.
My personal favorite collection is easily Ancient Rome and Greece, which hold beautiful sculptures portraying the natural form and the history in this time period. However, make sure you get here on time; the museum closes at 5:00 pm.
Downtown Manhattan and picture perfect New York sits right here in Midtown, where all the top sites are, including the Empire State, Times Square or the Rockefeller Center. The best place for shopping, sightseeing or standing in awe, Midtown has it all.
The largest intergovernmental organization in the world, the UN, houses itself right here in downtown Manhattan. The headquarters border the water, with member state flags covering the perimeter of the building.
A small walk away from the UN is the former tallest building in the world, the Chrysler Building. This Art-Deco high-rise is often named the most picturesque building in the US and can often be mistaken for the Empire State Building.
Another architectural phenomenon is Grand Central Station, a bustling hub for trains and subways alike. Always moving, this terminal is the busiest one in the country, with visitors arriving just to see the building itself.
For 40 years, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world. Now a site for tourists coming from around the globe, the building has long been in the public eye. Although the building itself is a feat to be recognized, the views from the tip are so much better. 360 views from 1,454 feet up mean you can see all over New York City, from Brooklyn to Staten Island.
Although the Empire State Building is great to go up, it’s even better to see from far away. So, you have to go up 30 Rockefeller Plaza, to the Top of the Rock, to get the full NY experience. Standing as the 39th tallest building in the United States is the centerpiece of Rockefeller Plaza, with views ranging from Central Park to the Empire State.
At 850 feet, The Top of the Rock Observatory Deck is 400 feet shorter than the Empire State. But that still makes for some great views. Here, we were gifted with some beautiful rays shining through the dark storm clouds moving in on the city.
One of the most well known areas in New York, the ‘Crossroads of the World’ is a major commercial crossing, tourist area and destination in Midtown. Times Square is a lit up advertising mecca, and is amazing at night.
Although short on sights, the Flatiron District still has it’s perks. The small, colorful neighborhood acts like glue, sticking the rest of Manhattan together. My favorite spot in this more quiet spot is the Flatiron Building.
What used to be a groundbreaking skyscraper and one of the tallest in the city, this 22 story triangular structure sits on 5th as a landmark and quiet photo spot, perfect especially in the mornings.
Since it is not in any one neighborhood, I would also like to give an honorary mention to the New York Subway, which offers transportation to and from, well, anywhere.
Wall Street, The Battery and the Financial District seem to stuff themselves in Lower Manhattan, with a wide variety of tourist destinations and culture.
Sitting on the tip of Manhattan is Battery Park, a 25 acre public park in New York Harbor, with views of the Staten Island Ferry or Statue of Liberty.
Everyone has heard of Wall Street. An 8 block street running in the Financial District, the road is home to some of the richest in America and the famed Stock Exchange, as well as the Charging Bull Monument.
On September 11, 2001, there was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, involving the Twin Towers to crumble. In their place today lies the 9/11 Memorial, a dedication to those who lost their lives during the event.
In New York stands the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the One World Trade Center. The 5th tallest building in the world stands at 1,776 feet tall, and the super tall structure was the replacement for the buildings lost in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Easily the best view I have seen in NYC was at the top of the One World Trade Center, although it was through glass. Definitely a highlight of my trip to NYC.
New York City is a city filled with wonder and awe. Get the City Pass and explore the metropolis!