New York 10 things to see your first visit Here’s what I saw.
The Naked Cowboy in Time Square
1. Times Square
Yes the locals hate Times Square for it’s gaudy rip off stores and strangely colourful characters, but love it or hate it, it is a must see. People watching here is rated at 10/10. There are all kinds of scams going on to part you from your money, so be careful . Watch out for folks selling expensive tours ( buy somewhere else or before you leave your own shores- nycgo.com. This is also a well known place to pick up Broadway Theatre tickets at SLIGHTLY less than box office, info HERE. While here make sure you climb the giant stairs and look out over Times Square.
Some of the more exotic scams operating on Time Square
2. Statue of Liberty
So, have you always wanted to get a glimpse of that iconic grand old dame, The Statue of Liberty? Well why not ? Don’t spend a whole day cruising and part with a lot of money. Catch the subway to Whitehall Station and catch the free Staten Island ferry . It cruises past the statue and back about every hour. The ferry is quite full so station yourself on the statue side there and back!
Staten Island ferry Terminal with the Brooklyn bridge behind
Can you see the hundreds of people over there at the bottom of the statue?
3. Financial and Historical Manhattan
Walk through the historic district of Wall street and through some of the oldest parts of New York on your way to the Staten Island Ferry. This includes some of New York City’s most famous landmarks like the Wall Street Stock Exchange, the Federal building and Trump Tower. Visit the Wall Street Bull and if you can get even any where near it (because of the crowds) it is supposed to be good luck to touch it. I skipped this but I did visit the Trinity Church graveyard. Where some of the founding Fathers of the US are buried.
George Washington on the steps of Federal Hall, 26 Wall St, Financial District- New York City
The Financial district is busy. It’s patrolled by security and is heavily barricaded to keep the area safe (since 2001)
You can take a FREE walking tour of the Financial District and most other districts of N.Y.C check it out here
4. Chelsea and the Meatpacking district
Wandering this area brings back memories of the iconic New York based Sex in The City. It’s an exciting area full of bars and restaurants and includes The Chelsea Market. (check out my food tour). Find a roof top bar, they are all over the place around here. There are swimming pools and places to kick back during the hot New York summer (I visited Gansevoort Meatpacking NY Hotels’ Zerzura bar). This is one cool bar full of hot people. If you are a keen art lover visit the Whitney Museum of Modern Art.
The High Line starts here, too. This is a very successful attempt to preserve history and create community green space by reclaiming the old railway line that once carried goods into and out of the Meatpacking district, it stretches for blocks above the city. Best of all its FREE to visit. You can walk for blocks 30 feet above the ground. Check the opening hours.
You can see the greenery of The High Line in the background
5. Central Park
Don’t be surprised if you only see one tiny corner of Central park. It is 843 acres or 3.4 sq km. 2 1/2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide (US measurements). A great place to start is Strawberry fields, the monument to John Lennon constructed by the City Council 4 months after his death. It is just across from the famed and fabulous looking Dakota Apartments where he lived. Strawberry fields covers 2.5 acres. There is a constant out pouring of love here and palpable feeling of sadness, even after all this time.
There is much more to see in Central Park, so take a map and don’t worry if you don’t see as much, it’s big.
6. Grand Central Station
It’s a big bustling city inside that station. In the sixties it was earmarked for demolition until Jackie Kennedy started a movement to have it restored. It was meticulously cleaned and brought back from it’s blackened deteriorated state. When visiting look up and try to find the tiny square on the ceiling that was left uncleaned . It’s a black square high above the big windows. While waiting for a train or just wandering around with your mouth open….you can have your shoes shined, get some retail therapy ( food,clothing, jewellery, electronics, gifts), stay in the hotel above the station (Westin) and spend your holiday here. Wander the food hall or search out the Grand Central Oyster Bar. This is a must. Oysters from all over the US freshly shucked along with a huge seafood menu. It is old world with a multitude of choices all in one place. Eat at the bar or in the grotto or in a red and white checked cloth room or perhaps in the Saloon Bar. It’s all there in the one place.
Grand Central- see if you can find that patch that was left black and dirty.
This is one of my most favourite Neighbourhoods. Nolita is short for North of Little Italy. I love Nolita where the streets feel quaint and small and there isn’t an abundance of high rises. There are restaurants and bars and bakeries and a street called Mulberry street where you will find stylish boutiques and even Ruby’ Cafe owned by a couple of Australians. Walk the length of Prince Street (a personal favourite of mine) from the well known Dean and Deluca food store in SOHO (on the corner of Broadway) through Nolita. Head south of Prince Street on Mulberry to get to Little Italy and China Town, they lay side by side. Little Italy is definitely worth a wander but the streets are full of restaurants with plastic menus outside and people trying to lure you in for an expensive bowl of creamy pasta. Find out the best places to dine before going. There is something on every corner in this area!
Dean and Deluca Food Store
Parm Restaurant and The Grey Dog
A green space just off Mulberry Street
Little Italy borders onto China Town too. Both just south of Nolita bordered by Broome Street.
You will know when you are in China Town
A gorgeous face outside Little Cupcake Bake Shop, Prince Street
8. 9/11 Monument and Freedom Tower
Ground Zero it’s a must visit place. A place of introspection that brought me to tears, and made me want to make sure I live life to the fullest, let everyone know how much I love them and help people in need. Yes, all those things all at once. The huge Memorial features two waterfalls and reflecting pools, each about an acre in size, within the footings of the original Twin Towers. More than 400 trees surround the reflecting pools, the leaves rustle in the breeze and in Spring when the leaves start to appear after the winter it feels like renewal, beginning again, life. Be warned it’s an emotional roller coaster, confronting but a must. St Paul’s Chapel, across from the memorial, miraculously stood firm, after the bombing and served as a place where the emergency services based themselves, slept ate and prayed and it is surreal. Tickets for the museum start at $24. Check prices here.
Pools and the shiny Freedom Tower
9. LES, Lower East Side
This is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in New York sandwiched between Nolita, China Town and East Village. There are bars, restaurants (like every neighbourhood here) and mostly low story housing. Live music venues and some of NYC best known restaurants are in this neighbourhood. The area has changed a lot with new and vibrant buildings and businesses emerging. try Doughnut Plant, Momofuku and Russ and Daughters (Bagels and Lox) and Katz’s deli. We just happened to stumble upon it. Most people have heard of Katz’s and even though the lines of people file in here for a Reuben Sandwich with a plate of famous pickles, it is old and worn and “original”.
There is so much more but………………
No .10 of my 10 things to see your first visit to New York. Are a couple of sights that I just loved and want to share with you.
Old and new in the most spectacular way
St. Patrick’s is the largest Neo-Gothic-style Catholic Cathedral in North America. It’s near Sacks Fifth Avenue between 50 th and 51 st streets and faces the Rockefeller centre. I love stained glass windows, I can’t tell you how many photos I have of them…from everywhere.
There’s a farmers market on the forecourt of the Rockefeller Centre Wed- Fri in the summer. It was fantastic to see some of the local produce including seasonal plumbs, breads and NYC rooftop honey
Luckily Bouchon Bakery is right here too. The studios where Good Morning America is filmed is right along side if you happen to want to see it live. Just around the corner on Avenue of the Americas you will also find Radio city music Hall and more importantly Magnolia Bakery.
The Flatiron building in the Flatiron district, one of, if not my favourite sights. You can visit Eataly while you are here too.
Could this be Ghost Busters …or at least in my imagination anyway.
There’s something to see around every corner. So if you are going to New York or it is your first time there, check out some of these sights. There’s more to come. I’ll be travelling in New York State, the food (and wine) bowl of New York City.
Take a look at the sign below and then keep in mind that we drove past it 4 times to get this shot. It’s not easy being a tourist, it takes dedication and a lot of petrol.
Have you been to New York. What are some of your favourite sights?
New York 10 things to see your first visit.