America’s real big city. There’s enough to do, winding pathways and city sights that you could go on forever and never repeat your steps. That’s the beauty of a big city, the permission to get lost. Going back to New York felt the same as it did the first time I wandered those streets over 5 years ago. Last time I was barely more than a child, but the unique feeling of the streets of New York stuck with me. It’s a place where you can go about your business completely unnoticed, but still be surrounded by more people than you’ve ever laid eyes on before. For someone who grew up in a small suburb, where everyone knows who you are and what you’ve done and all the potential for who you could be, there’s a certain romantic quality to the ability to be unknown. Breathe it in.
1. Central Park
A bit of green in the middle of a the city. Central park is two and half miles long (59th - 110th), and half a mile wide (5th Ave - Central Park West). It's worth taking a stroll through all of the park if you have time, although the Southern part is more recognizable to visitors. If you grab a spot to stay near here you can also enjoy a nice run with the locals!
2. MoMa: The New York Museum of Modern Art is truly a must-see. The U.S. has somehow managed to steal/borrow a good number of the most famous art pieces in modern history, and many of them are here. At the time of my visit, the first two floors contained very-modern art (we're talking cardboard spread around a room art) and astounding architecture miniatures. You may find yourself tired by the time you reach the third floor, but don't give up! Ahead are pictures you'll remember from textbooks -- even if you've never laid eyes on one called "art history". A few to look out for: Starry Night (Van Gough), Campbell's Soup Cans (Warhol), a good number of Picasso's and even some Water Lillies (Monet).
3. The High Line: An awesome mix between city and nature. The high line was originally a train rail turned public space. It's a great place to go for a walk, grab a snack, or relax for some light reading. Take your time and look around at the new architecture and enduring brick buildings. It's also conveniently located right next to Chelsea Market. I recommend this podcast for more insights on the High Line's origins.
Markets, Bookshops, Coffee
Chelsea Market: An indoor market located right next to The High Line. It's home to a bunch to-go eateries, groceries, and a nut-free bakery (my nut allergic friend was super enthusiastic). There's also a bookshop and jewelry made by local artists. In general, good vibes from hanging out here and a great opportunity to pick up some authentic souvenirs.
Eataly: Tastes like it looks. A huge indoor Italian market/restaurant. Go. Eat. Be Merry.
Brooklyn Bridge: One of the most tourist-y things to do, but also lovely on a warm day. Walk across the bridge to see Brooklyn and claim you've set foot in another borough. The best views come on the way back, as the Manhattan skyscrapers can be seen just above the bridge. The walkways are not very wide and I get the impression it's almost always crowded, but worth the trip!
Late Night Shows: Line up outside the 30 rock building to get passes for extra tickets to Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers. Beware that on popular days, aka when Ariana Grande will be on, people line up in the early morning and sleep on the sidewalk to get in. Or just reserve them ahead of time, I've heard there's a way to do this.
Dominique Ansel Bakery: The creators of the CRONUT (that's a croissant donut). The bakery serves only one flavor a month. They open at 8am, but the line starts around 6am and often wraps around the corner. Get there early to make sure you get one before they sell out! They often bring out madeleines and lemonade for those waiting. There's a max of 2 per person, but the DKA is also delicious. If you're stealthy, you can try to order online and swoop in to pick 'em up at a more reasonable hour.
Absolute Bagels: Check out this place for a really good New York bagel. Fresh fruit cream cheeses or egg sandwich toppings, or both, make a great breakfast. I'm a big bread fan and this place made my list, but given more time I'd have to do a larger sample size.
In, Out, & Around
NYC has three major airports. All of them have transportation into the city. Super Shuttle is great for picking you up but not great for getting out of the airport. Consider taking/sharing a taxi/Uber or figuring out public transit. You can do it!
The Metro covers almost all of Manhattan. It's a little expensive at $2.75 per trip, but it's reliable and can help avoid getting stuck in frustrating traffic jams.
Taxis, Uber, and Gett (a NY-only ride share company) can also be a good way to get around, especially at night. Avoid them during rush hour.
Manhattan is generally safe. As always, use common sense. Consider taking a taxi or car sharing service if it's late at night.
*I only got the chance to explore Manhattan on this trip. I'm sure there are many more places in the rest of NYC that deserve a shoutout too!