New York City is the perfect vacation destination for those who just can’t decide what to do. When you stay at one of many incredible New York City vacation rentals, you’ll be close to world-class shows, fine dining, shopping of every type, electrifying nightlife, and great museums. Look forward to admiring towering skyscrapers, gorgeous parks, and landmarks from nearly every era of American history. Having a good time requires little more than stepping outside of your vacation rental and absorbing the excitement. Here are some of the top things to do in New York City to help you plan your getaway itinerary.
1. Take a Stroll Through Central Park
Central Park provides a nice change of pace from the bustling streets of Manhattan. Take a stroll along its paths, and enjoy the sites, from the iconic Alice in Wonderland statue to the formal Conservatory Garden. On a sunny day, pack a picnic lunch at your vacation rental, and eat in the grass at Strawberry Fields in the park’s lower west area while people-watching and enjoying the views. If you have kids, be sure to stop by Tisch Children’s Zoo for hands-on exhibits and plenty of animal-themed pretend play.
2. Experience a Broadway Musical
For theater lovers, a trip to New York City isn’t complete without taking in at least one Broadway musical or play. From family-friendly shows suitable for preschoolers to serious plays with adult themes, Broadway is the place to broaden your theater horizons. Be sure to reserve tickets early, because the shows sell out fast.
3. See a Show at the Metropolitan Opera House
The Metropolitan Opera House offers ballet and opera fans a chance to see top performers at a beautiful venue. Although tickets can be hard to get, same-day tickets are sometimes available when cancellations occur. Even if you don’t plan on seeing a show, stopping by to see the stunning architecture and landscaped courtyard is a wonderful experience too.
4. Savor the View From the Top of the Rock
For spectacular views of the city and interesting presentations about the history of Rockefeller Center, put The Top of the Rock Experience at the top of your list of must-see New York City attractions. Start your experience by admiring the three-story Joie chandelier from the Grand Atrium, then explore the historical exhibits in the mezzanine. The high-speed sky shuttle takes you up to the top stories of the building with both indoor and outdoor viewing areas to match your party’s preference.
5. Shop Your Way Down Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue is a shopper’s paradise. Peek into high-end stores, including Bergdorf Goodman, Armani Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany, for your dream purchases, or spend some time browsing state-of-the-art technology at the Apple Store. Sephora is the place to go to fill out your makeup collection, and if you have kids in tow, be sure to take some time out for the LEGO Store and the American Girl Place.
6. Stroll the High Line
The High Line, a gorgeous park with a view, runs for about 20 blocks on top of a converted historic elevated railway line. Walk through the lush elevated landscape enjoying beautiful flowers and integrated viewing areas, including the 10th Avenue overlook with a view of the Statue of Liberty. Let your kids work off some energy in the Pershing Square Beams play area, and when you get hungry, sample the wares of the many food carts located along the park’s walkways.
7. See a Piece of the Past at Ellis Island
Most families have at least one ancestor who passed through immigration at Ellis Island. Remember their journey with a stop at this historic site. The Immigration Museum has exhibits giving insight into the immigration experience and tools for researching your own family tree. Get your tickets before you arrive to avoid waiting in lines and ensure availability.
8. Have Lunch at Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is more than just a train station; it is also a great place to shop and eat. Be sure to admire the architecture from the outside before entering its beautiful main gallery. The dining concourse offers over 30 places to eat with a focus on local cuisine. From the Chirping Chicken to Frankies Dogs on the Go to Hale and Hearty Soups, the wide variety of choices makes it easy to please everyone.
9. Take in the Exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
If you love art, it’s easy to spend a day or two or three at the Met, so spend some time planning your visit before you go. Start by sampling any visiting exhibits that interest you, then hit the permanent collections in order of interest. Don’t forget to take a look at the rooftop gardens and the second-floor collections, which include many works by great masters. Kids enjoy the large armor exhibit, the Egyptian temple, and exhibits of clothing from days past.
10. Tour the Frick Collection
For those who find the Met a bit overwhelming, the Frick Collection offers an opportunity to view great works on a smaller scale. Located in a mansion formerly owned by steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick, this selection includes art from the Renaissance to the 19th century. See works by Vermeer, Degas, and Rembrandt in a cozy setting while also enjoying the architectural details of the Frick mansion.
11. Spend a Day or Two at the American Museum of Natural History
Like many New York City attractions, this museum is oversized and comprehensive. Located off Central Park West, this huge museum offers many things to do including exhibits on diverse science topics, such as ecology, marine science, outer space, and human and animal origins, giving you a chance to explore those topics that interest you the most. Learn more about space in the Hayden Planetarium, and take your kids to the Discovery Room for hands-on exploration in science, from anthropology to zoology.
12. Visit the Statue of Liberty
Get up close to a piece of American history with a visit to the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Ferries operate from Battery Park in Manhattan to Liberty Island and Ellis Island regularly during the day. If you want to take in the views from the pedestal or crown of the statue, purchase tickets in advance, because they do sell out, especially during the summer months.
13. Enjoy Authentic Cambodian Sandwiches at Num Pang
From fabulous five-star restaurants to food trucks that take mobile cuisine to a whole new level, New York City eateries tempt your taste buds on nearly every block. For something a little different, stop by Num Pang and order one of the specialty Cambodian sandwiches or salads. With fresh ingredients and delicious combinations, such as coconut tiger shrimp and roasted cauliflower, Num Pang offers something for nearly everyone in a casual atmosphere with fun street decor. Six convenient city locations, from Times Square South to Battery Park City, make it easy to add this restaurant to your itinerary. Try the Nomad location on Broadway, and carry your lunch outside to enjoy the amazing view of the historic Flatiron building while you eat.
14. Take the Multimedia Tour at the Empire State Building
One of New York City’s most recognizable landmarks, from its lobby to its 102nd-story observation deck, the Empire State Building gives you an expansive view of New York. Step into the Art Deco lobby and raise your eyes to admire the restored ceiling murals. Then explore the second-floor exhibits to learn more about the Empire State Building’s history and its award-winning sustainability efforts. Finish your tour by taking the elevator to the upper-level observation decks. Download the coordinated app for information about every part of your experience, from the glorious lobby to the 360-degree views.
15. Ride the Staten Island Ferry
Take the 25-minute ride on the Staten Island Ferry for scenic views of the New York Harbor, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The last remaining portion of the New York City ferry system that dates back to the 1700s, this ferry still provides regular commute service to many New York City residents.
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