Touristy Things to Do in New York
Even after living in New York City for more than a decade, on occasion, I get a wild hair and like to pretend that I’m a tourist. Each item on this list embodies the essence of the city in one way or another, and sometimes even as a local, I long for a fix. Here, 12 New York things I love to do no matter how touristy.
Go to the top of the Empire State Building.
Admittedly, I’ve visited the ESB once since I’ve lived in NYC, but made the trek to the observatory several times before I moved here. I think I’m overdue for another trip to this stately landmark.
Ride the Staten Island Ferry.
I’ve ridden the ferry a few times since moved to New York, and I place this attraction at the top of my list to suggest to tourists. Why? It’s free, and the views are marvelous.
Gaze at the Chrysler Building.
Whenever I’m in Midtown and I can sneak a glimpse of this famed beauty – no matter how much of a rush I’m in – I do it. In actuality, a glimpse turns into a gaze, which turns into a minute or two of taking pictures. Can you blame me? She is gorgeous.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Another favorite of mine, walking over this iconic bridge is a pleasant activity after brunch or dinner, or at any time of day or night, really. I love strolling from Brooklyn into Manhattan, particularly in the evening when it’s a bit less crowded.
Attend a Broadway show.
I’d go to a Broadway or Off-Broadway show every week if time and budget allowed. For me, there’s nothing as satisfying or motivating as watching a cast of talented individuals acting, singing, and dancing on the Great White Way. These people work their whole lives for a shot on that stage, and when they make it, I feel privileged to support them as well as their art.
Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Since the cathedral underwent a 75 million dollar renovation, the building has taken on a new life. Don’t get me wrong; St. Patrick’s has always been extraordinary, but now this church for all people shines even brighter.
Stroll through Rockefeller Center.
If I visit St. Patrick’s, I have to visit nearby Rockefeller Center. I adore the flags on the plaza, the ice skating rink, the grandness, and the endless energy of that area of town. It feels classic to me. Like no matter how much the city changes, the area surrounding Rockefeller Center and the complex itself will always feel quintessentially New York.
Take photos of the city from the High Line.
This elevated park in Chelsea offers some of New York’s best photo ops, so I can’t resist when I’m in this part of town. Yes, the High Line gets packed, but weekday crowds tend to be a little thinner, with a bevy of locals relaxing and soaking up the sun.
Stare at the Washington Square Arch.
Washington Square Park remains a meeting place for locals and visitors, and the green space’s majestic main entrance paves the way for the offbeat Bohemian musicians and artists who still frequent. I look at the arch as a gateway to one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Manhattan. Even though Greenwich Village continues to evolve, that grandiose arch is a reminder of its history and what the area once was.
Stand at the base of One World Trade and look toward the sky.
I find it almost miraculous that Lower Manhattan has undergone such a revitalization since September 11, 2001. One World Trade is a symbol of New York City’s strength and determination to continue no matter the obstacles. A look at that building makes me feel like anything is possible.
Dine at Balthazar.
That is if I can get a seat. Keith McNally’s SoHo hotspot remains one of the toughest tables in town even after its opening more than two decades ago. While the food is excellent, Balthazar offers a lively bar scene and a high chance of celebrity sightings, which can be fun whether you’re a local or a tourist.