Updated: Dec 30, 2021
The first thing I want to say is although I love immersing myself in other cultures and traditions when I travel, I also love being a tourist. I can learn more when I am both a tourist and a "temporary local." One place that I like doing touristy things and living like the locals is New York City. Here is a list of my favorite touristy things to do in the Big Apple:
• Go for a Walk around Central Park
Central Park, an 843 acre park located in the middle of NYC, welcomes around 40 million visitors every year. The park, which was completed in 1876, is home to two ice-skating rinks, Belvedere Castle, the Central Park Zoo, lakes and ponds, Strawberry Fields (a quiet area established as a tribute to John Lennon), multiple playgrounds, grassy areas, tons of fountains, and much more! I highly recommend going for a stroll through the park and/or having a picnic!
• Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral, a beautiful church located in the heart of New York City, officially opened in 1879. Visitors can enjoy the stunning church for free during non-Mass times or they can soak in its beauty while attending a Mass (schedule is on their website if you are interested).
• Visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The 9/11 Museum educates visitors about the tragic event and presents personal stories. The Memorial is an 8-acre site featuring reflecting pools and waterfalls to honor the 2,977 people killed in the 2001 attacks and the six people killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
• Walk around Grand Central Terminal
Completed in 1913, Grand Central Terminal sees around 750,000 visitors every day. You can't visit the terminal without admiring its magnificence and famous clock. You don't have to catch a train to admire the building's beauty!
• Go to the top of the Empire State Building
Construction of the 102-story, 1,454 foot (443 meter) building was finished in 1931. Over four million people visit the iconic building each year, which is understandable given the views of NYC from their 102nd and 86th floor observatories. Various ticket options are offered to visitors who wish to see the incredible views. There are even ticket options to watch the sunrise from one of the observatories!
• Ride the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
You can't go to NYC without visiting the Statue of Liberty! A gift from France in 1886, the Statue of Liberty is a sign of freedom and democracy. If you'd like to climb the stairs through the pedestal or to the crown of the statue to see incredible views, buy tickets ahead of time!
Between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island saw 12 million immigrants pass through its halls. Visitors can explore exhibits and buildings to learn about Ellis Island's history and the history of immigration in America.
• Walk through Times Square
Times Square, formally known as Long Acre Square, was not always known for its glittering lights and showy signs. It was just a large open space surrounded by apartments in the late 1880s. Once electricity was installed, Long Acre Square was filled with street lights and theater ads. After New York Times' publisher moved the company's headquarters to Long Acre Square in 1904, he persuaded New York City's mayor to rename the square "Times Square." Today, billboards and electronic advertisements surround the square.
The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball is also extremely popular! The first Times Square NYE Ball was introduced in 1907 and there have been a total of 7 different versions used for the drop. The first NYE ball was made of iron & wood and decorated with light bulbs. One was made entirely of iron and another one was aluminum with white light bulbs. The aluminum one was redecorated to look like an apple for several years. The aluminum ball was converted back to its original style with white light bulbs. The next one had aluminum skin with strobes and rhinestones. In 2000, the new Times Square NYE Ball was created with crystals and lights and for the 100th anniversary a LED crystal ball was implemented.
• See a Broadway Show
Broadway is in NYC's theater district and consists of 40 professional theaters. There are so many different shows/musicals you can see; from The Lion King and Wicked to Mary Poppins and Chicago. There is a show for everyone!
P.S. I've seen Mary Poppins on Broadway and it was amazing!! I highly recommend!!
• Shop (or Window Shop) on Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue is a NYC street that features some of the world's most expensive stores. The street is home to stores like Armani, Cartier, Apple, FAO Schwartz, Tiffany & Co., Bergdorf Goodman, and (I bet you could've guessed this one) Saks Fifth Avenue. Even if you're not able to afford the stores, it's fun to admire the products!
• Visit the Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum opened in 1959 and began as a private collection. Today, there are several different collections housed at the Guggenheim Museum with different art mediums on display. Not only will the art intrigue you, but so will the architecture of the building!
Although these are very touristy things to do while in NYC, they are also must-dos and should be on everyone's list of activities to do in "The City That Never Sleeps."