From the high rise buildings that leave you speechless when you first step off the subway, to the unbelievable food on every corner, New York really is a destination that you need to add to your bucket list. We stayed from 27-31st December, and while our stay was short and sweet, we packed tons of amazing attractions and sights in – lets just say, I could barely walk by the end of it! Planning this trip takes a lot of time and effort in itself, so I’ve made your job slightly easier by cherry-picking 10 must-see sights that you need to experience whilst in New York.
New York must-see number 1: One World Observatory
This wasn’t something I originally had on my to-do list and if I’m honest, I don’t think I even saw it come up on blog posts I’d read while I was planning. BUT, let me tell you, it was worth it. I got a voucher from my best friend which I could spend on any NY attraction and honestly, I can’t explain how spectacular the views were (see the photos for proof!). It’s the highest of the sightseeing attractions at 102 floors high which means you get to see the entire city from above. Once at the 102nd floor, you go into the See Forever Theatre, where you see an audio-visual video about the experience. What happened next was something I’ll treasure forever! The screen lifts which I totally didn’t expect and it’s the first glimpse you get to see of the city’s skyline and literally all I can say is WOW. Instantly, I had tears in my eyes because it was so breath-taking to see. 100% this experience should be a must-see for New York! Top tip: Go at night for the ultimate twinkly light view of the city!
Must-see number 2: Central Park
Central park is huge and when you’re in New York for a short period of time, dashing between different attractions, I think it’s kinda unrealistic to walk around the entire thing. Manhattan is such a bustling city and I must admit, if I wasn’t an excited tourist I’d probably compare it to a busy Saturday in Primark lol. Central park is a little escape from that, a little down time to stroll along and take in the surroundings. There’s nice fountains, statues, lakes and also the John Lennon memorial to see on your way round. While we were there, we went ice skating too at Wollman Rink which was fab and quite cheap for a fun-filled activity that I’d definitely recommend.
Must-see number 3: Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo
Going to start this one off with a big tip – get your bum outta bed hella early if you want to get good shots on the Brooklyn bridge! One night we ended up quite close to it and thought we’d try and walk across for sunset but we could see the crowds from afar so avoided it! Instead, we got onto the bridge around 6.45am and pretty much had the bridge to ourselves and got to see sunrise instead.
Dumbo is a neighbourhood in the borough of Brooklyn and you’ll most likely know it from the iconic pictures underneath the Manhattan bridge. It’s another busy little tourist spot, so if you want that photo for the gram then again, my advice is get there early.
Must-see number 4: Top of the Rock
This one still made it to my top 10 even though I will forever be fuming that we went for sunset and all we got was, as a wise man (Peter Kay) once said ‘that fine rain that soaks you right through’. Oh and mist – yay!. Regardless of the weather, I still really enjoyed this experience, partly because there’s three different viewing platforms you can look out from. You get to see central park and Manhattans midtown and downtown skyscrapers from this spot so it’s a worthwhile visit – just try to pick a sunnier day than we did!
Must-see number 5: Times Square
Have you even been to New York if you haven’t seen this iconic place?? The best time to go in my opinion is….*drumroll please*, yep you guessed it – very early in the morning! On the first day, we woke up naturally at 5am so took a short walk to take a look and wow, the lights at that time of day just seem 10x brighter! I’ll be honest, Times Square for me was the type of place that I wanted to see, more to say I’ve seen it, if that makes sense?. It’s not the type of place I’d say you re-visit tons over the holiday, it’s more something you just have to tick off!
Must-see number 6 – Greenwich Village
The Greenwich village and surrounding area is absolutely stunning. With its brown stone buildings and quirky bars/restaurants, it’s definitely somewhere I think I’d gravitate to if I lived there. First up, you should take a trip to Washington Park if the weather permits (if you watch Impractical Jokers, it’s home to many of their sketches!). It’s also home to the friends apartment and Carrie Bradshaw’s from SATC.
Must-see number 7: Empire State Building
Another one to add to the bucket list is the Empire State. The views from the 86th floor are fantastic and on the way up, there’s lots of information about the building which can keep you busy if there’s a queue. It’s an open air vantage point, with railings – so be careful if you pop your phone through to take a picture! Some say the top of the rock views are better, and I sort of agree – but the weather for us wasn’t great so it was difficult to tell!
Must-see number 8: Ground Zero; 9/11 memorial
Unfortunately, we had planned to see the 9/11 museum, but the queue was 3 hours long! In a place like New York, there isn’t much time for standing about, so we had to leave that out this time. Seeing the 9/11 memorial was a must for me though and it is a really moving tribute. The single rose you see in the photo below is lay when it is a victim’s birthday, which I think is such a lovely, heartwarming thing to do.
Must-see number 9: Chelsea High Line
If the weather is glorious, this is a lovely little walk. It’s a 1.45 mile long strip which was once a railway track. With little art installations and graffiti dotted along the line, it’s quite a quirky way to see the city. It runs from Hudson Yards to the northern edge of Chelsea.
Must-see number 10: ‘Get in loser, we’re going shopping!’
I’m kinda sad I never bought any little treats for myself while I was in New York I can’t lie! As we went around the Christmas period, it was lovely to see the display windows in the shops more than anything. A few we visited were Tiffany & Co (no ring, soz huns), Bloomingdales and Macy’s.
Final New York must-see: Grand Central Station
I know I said 10, but I had to pop a little extra one on for good measure! This place is perfect to visit if you experience a rainy day, as it’s huge inside and the building itself is absolutely stunning! If you’re a gossip girl fan, then you need to also nail that photo – ‘spotted in Grand central xoxo’ and all that jazz. I’ve never seen it (sorry guys) but I still got some shots for my pals who do!
There you have it! A whistle-stop tour of the 10 must-see things I think should be on your bucket list as a New York first-timer! I’ve got more shots over on my Instagram so head over there for more inspo and if you need tips on how to pack for similar holidays to this – head to this post.