I took my first trip to NYC last summer but unfortunately my ill planning combined with a working trip meant I didn’t get to experience as much as I would have liked.

It’s an amazing city and what I did experience took my breath away. If you’re only there for a short time, I recommend making sure to do at the very least these 5 things to get a quick but well rounded NYC experience.

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Times Square After 10 P.M.

This is an activity I recommend in the summer. During the day, Times Square is noisy and busy, but at night it’s electric.

There are street performers everywhere, people aren’t rushing to and from work, they’re looking to have a good time. I love the way you can just feel the liveliness.

While you’re there make, sure to go to the Top of the Rock. The New York City skyline is spectacular at night (and during the day too!).

The top viewing deck has a panoramic view of Manhattan. You can also see the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.

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Eat at A Food Cart

This is one of those things you just have to do.

You can’t miss them, the delicious aromas will surround you at every corner. I had the best hot dog ever – make sure to get it with all the works! 

Tip: They’re best to grab on your walk back to the hotel after a late night trip to Times Square.

Catch a Show

It’s New York City and you probably can’t make a bad choice, but if you’re looking for suggestions…

  • Kinky Boots on Broadway
    From Grammy Award-winning Cyndi Lauper and four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein comes a story about two people who discover that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.

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9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero

This place is indescribable.

It’s where new clashes again with old.

There is silence amidst chaos.

Sadness wars with hope.

I know that’s a lot of conflicting descriptors but they’re all accurate.

As I walked along the fenced off ground, there was rubble everywhere. But there was also a sense of hope and freshness as you watch the One World Trade Center and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum being built.

The construction crews are hard at work and they are noisy, but if you step back and look around, you’ll notice that many of the people watching are absolutely silent and almost mesmerized.

Just like I was.

The Tenement Museum

This museum is located in an actual tenement building and is dedicated to telling the immigrant experience on New York City’s Lower East Side. 

New York Tenement Museum

“The building at 97 Orchard Street was built in 1863. When first constructed, it contained 22 apartments and a basement level saloon. Over time, four stoop-level and two basement apartments were converted into commercial retail space, leaving 16 apartments in the building. Modifications over the years included the installation of indoor plumbing (cold running water, two toilets per floor), an air shaft, and gas followed by electricity.

In 1935, rather than continuing to modify the building, the landlord evicted the residents, boarded the upper windows, and sealed the upper floors, leaving only the stoop-level and basement storefronts open for business. No further changes were made until the Lower East Side Tenement Museum became involved with the building in 1988.

As such, the building stands as a kind of time capsule, reflecting 19th and early 20th century living conditions and the changing notions of what constitutes acceptable housing”

Bonus Free and Unique Experience

If you have an extra night, try camping out or stargazing in the big apple!

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19 comments

  1. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to NYC, but I would love to return and visit what I didn’t see the first time (which I’m sure is a long list). I love the energy of the city and I was thrilled to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I would love to see “Kinky Boots” on Broadway!

  2. Perfect timing for this post! Ashley leaves for NYC on Wednesday morning for a graduation gift trip. She’s staying at the Marriott in Times Square :) She already tickets to the Lion King, and she’s going to the 9/11 Memorial. I’ll have to tell her to be sure and grab something to eat from a food cart.

  3. My husband and I just watched a Netflix documentary about the top ten food carts in America, and one of them was the most incredible, authentic Belgian waffle cart. We were both drooling and wishing we lived in NYC by the time the show was over- lol. We promised each other that the next time we make it to the Big Apple, we WILL track down that cart! :) Thanks for this great list; the last time I was in NYC was back when I was in high school, so I would love to go again and experience it as an adult this time.

  4. My daughter has been begging for a visit to New York. She even showed e a pic of the NY skyline last night and said “I want to go there.” These sound like really fun ideas. We will do them if we get there this year.

  5. I absolutely agree about Times Square at night. The first time I went to New York, I was totally blown away that the party literally NEVER stopped. We’d be out at 1 or 2 in the morning and there was just as many (if not more) people there than in the daytime. We went out every night because it was just too fun to be out with so many people out and about!

  6. I’ve only been in NYC for 5 times, short trips, and there’s just so much to see :) I/m so happy we got to go to the top of the Empire State and Rockefeller buildings :)

  7. I was in NYC in 2012 for BlogHer and didn’t do a single one of these LOL!! (I was a smidge busy though…sigh….) This is a great list, one I must do!

  8. These are great! I’ve only been once (for BlogHer) and had my baby with me, so didn’t get to do too much. I’d love to go again with my husband one day, and do some of these!

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