New York City is just as much the hustling and bustling city it looks like in all the movies you see it in. Everyone is always moving, there is traffic and honking, and the crowds never seem to die down in certain places. That being said, my time in New York City has been so much fun so far. Even though the city can be something to get used to (for tips about managing NYC for the first time, read my last blog post “Beginner’s Guide to New York City”), there are so many great activities to do no matter where you look and experiences just waiting to be had. Today, in honour of all the great fun you can have while in New York City, and if you’re looking for inspiration to fill your itinerary if NYC is on your list of locations, here are a few fun things you can do while in the city. Most of them I have been able to do this trip but some I have done on others, and while some might seem more iconic or unusually simple, I promise that all of them have come together to form the great experiences and memories I have of New York City. Even street vendor food …
Empire State Building
I’m kicking things off by doing something nice and touristy, and big and flashy. And what fits that category more than the Empire State Building? Disclaimer right off the bat though, there can sometimes be monster crowds to get through to get your time at the top, but the view when you get there is entirely worth it in my opinion. It is just amazing how humble and powerful you can feel at the same time when standing on top of a magnificent building like that overseeing a great city like New York. So, if heights don’t terrify you (remember I am petrified of heights, and I loved being up there so even if heights aren’t your thing you can still manage) and you are willing to face the queues, then this is a great spot to add to your list.
P.S. You might have skimmed this list and be thinking why the Statue of Liberty isn’t there? Well, the reason I haven’t added it is that the ferry to Lady Liberty, unless that is the only reason you are coming to New York can be a bit of a waste. You have to pay a lot to fight with hordes of people to get a good picture when you can see Lady Liberty for free from other parts of the city. I’d go for the latter option, but if you really want to see her up close then getting the ferry option is still a good plan.
Who doesn’t love parks filled with towering picturesque trees, fearless squirrels, street artists and performances and even a few statues and famous fountains? That in a nutshell (pun was totally intended there) is Central Park. Central Park looks beautiful just about any time of year. The only time I haven’t seen it is in spring, but if it can still look beautiful in the middle of freezing winter, then I’m guessing it looks even more gorgeous in the spring. For anyone looking for a running location, a lovely green place to walk instead of through the lines of towering skyscrapers, or just a peaceful place to find a seat then Central Park is it. There is so much inside that park that you could wander through it for an entire day, and, if you get hungry or thirsty, the Boathouse is a great place to find a nourishing snack or cup of hot chocolate.
Carriage rides and sea lions
Did you think that all there was to Central Park was trees, squirrels and some interesting picture spots? I hope you answered no because then you would be 100% correct. Central Park has way more to it than the average park. Outside, you could be treated to a lovely carriage ride, which is the most fun. There is just something so charming about riding in a horse-drawn carriage in a city filled with yellow cabs. A romantic excursion, or just a fun family/solo activity, I’d definitely add getting a carriage ride to my daily plan. Not only that, but Central Park also contains the Central Park Zoo. Fair warning, it is not as big as the one in the movie Madagascar (and Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria aren’t there) but what the zoo lacks in size it makes up for in quality. The Central Park Zoo is by far the best zoo I have ever been to. The animals have beautiful, natural enclosures and look to be the happiest and most well looked after animals I have ever seen. Plus, the sea lion feeding is so exciting and adorable to watch.
Go shopping on 5th avenue
If shopping is your thing, even window shopping, then you have to make a stop on Fifth Avenue. The iconic fancy shopping street is undoubtedly a great spot to check out, even if your budget doesn’t entirely cover some of the more high-end stores like Channel and Prada. Mine certainly doesn’t. Even if you aren’t keen to do lots of shopping, Fifth avenue is more than just beautiful shops with seasonal window displays. Fifth Avenue has got some beautiful churches and buildings on it, the Rockefeller centre complete with breathtaking Christmas tree during the holiday season and much more. My favourite spot on Fifth Avenue is the Barnes and Nobles – because who could resist a multistory bookstore?? But, for those who aren’t bookworms like me, there are plenty of other options for you – it really is a cool street.
See a show on Broadway
If you’re an actor or actress, performing on Broadway tends to be at the top of the dream board. If you are a theatre lover, then seeing a show on Broadway might be a big one on your list. Well, whether you are a theatre lover or not I would still recommend seeing a show on Broadway. Live theatre is just such a fantastic experience, from the music to the snacks. Plus, there are so many shows on Broadway that I’m sure you can find the right fit. Disney fans have Frozen, Aladdin and the Lion King. There’s Chicago, Hamilton, Wicked and so much more so treat yourself to a show. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Eat the best cupcakes ever!
Okay, I hear you. The Best Cupcake Ever is quite a title to give a blob of cooked dough with icing on top. Well, I may be exaggerating a little, but these are certainly some of the most delicious cupcakes I have ever tasted. And I’ve eaten a lot of cupcakes. The place I am talking about is called Georgetown cupcakes. It may look small and underwhelming from the outside but once you step inside the mouthwatering smell of cupcakes takes over. What I love so much about this cupcake shop is not just that they have a fantastic variety of cupcake flavours and drinks. What I love is that even though it is a store that makes dozens and dozens of cupcakes every day, the cupcakes are still moist, and the attention to flavour and detail are perfect. So, if you have a sweet tooth and you are in the mood for an interesting cupcake, then Georgetown cupcakes should definitely be on your list of places to check out.
Do a movie locations tour
I’m actually writing this post write after doing a movie locations tour so I can advise what a good idea it is. NYC being such an iconic location, means that there are hundreds of movies that feature parts of New York. Doing the movie scenes tour makes you realise how many movies use little bits of the city. Did you know that Central Park has had 200 plus movies filmed in it, making it the most filmed location in the world? These are the kinds of fun facts you can pick up on a movie tour. What I loved about this tour is that they showed us the actual locations used in so many of my favourite films and shows (including the Friends apartment!). They also gave interesting facts about the movies and filming in the city in general. I’d highly recommend searching online for a tour like this if you are a movie fanatic like me and would love a picture at one of your favourite’s filming locations.
Take your picture in Times Square
Times Square? What is that? Whether you are a seasoned traveller or not, I’d hedge a bet that there are very few people who don’t know what Times Square is. Times Square is that big area in NYC with glowing advertising screens everywhere. Sound familiar? Well if you are in NYC, I highly recommend snapping a pic in the iconic Times Square. People will definitely know you were in NYC then. Once you’ve taken your picture, there are plenty of stores you can check out underneath the flashing screens. There are also some pretty impressive street performers in Times Square, a bunch of excellent restaurants I would highly recommend (do make reservations!), and the Broadway musicals are right at your fingertips.
Try street vendor food
Street vendor food may not sound like the most fabulous idea, especially if you are a picky eater. I know people get a bit suspicious when they think of eating food from a small cart on the street instead of a proper kitchen but eating from a street cart is just part of the New York experience. In fact, getting a hot dog from a street vendor was my brother’s first request when we were in NYC last year. So, if you’re feeling adventurous and aren’t afraid of eating food from a cart, why not try out some street food? You can’t go wrong with a hot dog, and I’ve had some great Asian dishes from street carts in Greenwich Village. Also, if you don’t want a ‘meal’, you could get a pretzel or those delicious candied/sugared nuts (I can’t get enough of those, and they warm you right up in winter). There are plenty of options that aren’t bad if you are willing to try.
Go somewhere other than Manhattan
I know I’ve been talking about a lot of things that are in the Manhattan area because hey, that’s where I’ve been spending a lot of my time and that’s where many of the iconic tourist spots are. But, what we tend to forget is that New York City is not just Manhattan. There are five boroughs to explore, and each has tons of fun activities, excellent restaurants and pretty sights to take in. There is so much you can lose out on if you restrict yourself to one borough so if you have the time, try and explore all of them. Who knows – you might discover that your new favourite restaurant or spot in NYC is in a borough/suburb area you’ve never thought to visit before. I never knew what I was missing out on until I actually went out and saw the rest of the city. If you can, I’d highly recommend it because you don’t know what you’re missing until you go out and stop missing it.
And so there you have it, folks! I hope that you all enjoyed today’s blog post. If not for the ideas and suggestions of fun things to do in New York City, then at least for the pictures of me looking like an Eskimo at some of the locations. Thanks for reading today, everyone.
If you have your own fun activities or things you like to do in NYC, please feel free to share them as well as any fun photos (so I don’t feel quite so alone looking like an Eskimo). As always, please don’t forget to hit that like button if you enjoyed the post (also because I worked really hard on those pics) and subscribe so that you don’t miss any future posts. You guys are amazing, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx