Nearly 47 million foreign and American tourists visit New York City each year, but with five boroughs and 300 square miles to cover, it can be a daunting task to figure out just what to do when you get there. If you’re a first-time visitor, you’ll want to see the obvious tourist attractions: The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Central Park and Times Square. New York City is known for its cultural diversity, and the Museum Mile — a stretch of Fifth Avenue between East 82nd and East 105th streets — boasts one of the world’s densest concentrations of culture. Broadway theater productions are among the best in the world, and they’re ripe for the pickin’ here. Make this a weekend to remember with a trip to NYC you won’t soon forget!
Unless you plan to do heavy-duty shopping and need your vehicle to transport your goods home, Amtrak is likely your best bet for traveling to New York City. A train ride from 30th Street Station to Penn Station will only take about 90 minutes, and you’ll arrive in the Big Apple stress free. If you do decide to drive, be prepared for about a two-hour trek, unless you hit traffic. Find your way to the NJ Turnpike and follow that to I-78. From there, follow signs for the Holland Tunnel to enter the city.
What to Do
National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10006
The National September 11th Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center serves to honor the nearly 3,000 individuals killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and Feb. 26, 1993. The memorial consists of two memorial pools, each representing one of the Twin Towers. Each pool is surrounded by a bronze ring that contains the names of each man, woman and child killed in these attacks. Whether or not you were personally affected by the attacks, this is a memorial that should not be missed. But it can be an emotionally overwhelming experience, so have tissues on hand. Timed reservations are required.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn, NY 11201
One of NYC’s most iconic structures, the Brooklyn Bridge represents a critical piece of New York City history. Take home great pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge from either the Manhattan or Brooklyn sides, but this landmark is best experienced by strolling across its elevated pedestrian walkway. Once on the Brooklyn side, make a stop at the family friendly Brooklyn Bridge Park, which offers activities for all ages and tastes. The Manhattan-side entrance is at Park Row and Centre Street, across from City Hall Park, east of City Hall.
1208 Surf Ave.
Brooklyn, NY, 11224
Price: $6 per adult ride on Deno’s Wonder Wheel/$3 per kid ride/$19.95 aquarium tickets for adults/$15.95 for kids/$10 for adult sideshow tickets/$5 for kids.
Coney Island is actually a New York City neighborhood that features an amusement area with more than 50 separate rides and attractions. Visitors may enjoy everything from the New York Aquarium to a Circus Sideshow to a ride on Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Coney Island is a family friendly area, and you can easily spend an entire day here enjoying all of the attractions, especially if you packed the kids.
The Apollo Theater
253 W. 125th St.
New York, NY 10027
Click here for tickets.
Get ready for a party when you enter the doors of The Apollo Theater! Many talented musicians–including The Jackson 5, Dionne Warwick and Lauryn Hill–got their start at The Apollo on the syndicated television show, “Showtime at the Apollo.” If you’re in town on a Wednesday, be sure to check out Amateur night, a show that is sure to entertain. If you’re not interested in catching a show, tour the facility and learn obscure facts about one of the oldest, most famous music halls in the United States.
20W 29th St.
New York City, NY 10001
(212) 679- 2222
Price: $249 to $899 per night
The Ace Hotel is the perfect choice for visitors looking for something a little more hip than your typical Hilton or Marriott. This 12-story boutique hotel, located near the Theater District, is within walking distance of popular destinations including Times Square, Macy’s and the Broadway theaters, and a subway stop is located right around the corner. If you’re a fan of vintage, you’ll love the décor, which features turntables, SMEG refrigerators and bunk beds. This hotel can be on the noisy side, so if you enjoy a more serene setting, you may want to opt for a different location.
The Waldorf Astoria
301 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10022
Price: $339 to $2,425 per night
A stay at the world-renowned Waldorf Astoria will provide you with the ultimate luxury experience in the Big Apple. Each room features an original Art Deco motif, and no two rooms are exactly the same. Not only is the Waldorf an ideal place to rest your head after a long day, it is also a New York City landmark. Guests are encouraged to explore this beloved hotel.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 First Ave.
New York City, NY 10003
Momofuku’s is the perfect stop if you’re on a budget. Its pocket-size pork buns are a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Two come per serving and cost less than $10. Pair them with pickled vegetables for a completely filling meal. If you’re in New York with your friends, make a reservation for Momofuku’s fried chicken dinner. You and your friends will delight in a meal consisting of two fried chickens, one prepared by a traditional Southern method, the other fried with delicious Korean flavor. Your fried chickens will be accompanied by mu shu pancakes, vegetables, sauces and herbs, so you can create your own custom chicken wrap.
68 5th Ave.
A drive or cab ride to Brooklyn is well worth it when you taste the culinary delights at Convivium Osteria. Enjoy traditional Mediterranean cuisine including delicious olives, crusty bread and rich olive oil to get you started. If you don’t opt for one of the unique specials, the green apple and cinnamon duck ragu is out of this world. Convivium is only open for dinner, and reservations are strongly recommended.
Wafels and Dinges
You’ll need to check their Facebook page or website to find the exact locations of the Wafels and Dinges carts, but if you are in the vicinity of one, you must pay them a visit to enjoy a traditional Belgian waffle. Wafels and Dinges features the throwdown waffle, which is the waffle that beat the legendary Bobby Flay in a throwdown. The Wafels and Dinges carts offer both sweet and savory options, and silly daily specials include free dinges if you can tell them the meaning of life.
Maddie Wagner is a freelance writer covering all things Philadelphia. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.