You can never truly say a trip to New York is complete without visiting the Statue of Liberty or if you haven’t ventured underground and took a subway ride just like the millions of other New Yorkers who do so on a daily basis. Every city has its must-see sights and must-do activities so just like the former Late Show host David Letterman’s famous segment, let’s countdown the top 10 essential New York City experiences.
Top 10 Essential New York Experiences
10. Buy and eat a hotdog from the street carts
Many will caution against it due to health and safety reasons, but ask any New Yorker around and they’ll tell you that some of the best hotdogs come from street cart vendors that litter the streets of New York. Add a bit of mustard, pickles, onions, and sauerkraut, and all is right in the world.
9. Get on a yellow cab
It’s true that there are certainly cheaper and more efficient ways to get around New York like Uber, Lyft, or good ole’ rental cars, but nothing beats a ride in a New York taxicab. Hailing itself in an art form and the drive can sometimes feel like roller coaster ride. What’s more, the drivers themselves are some of the most knowledgeable and fascinating people you’ll meet on your vacation.
8. Have a drink at a rooftop bar
New York City is best seen from an elevated platform. That’s why the most expensive real estate listings in the city are located on top floors. Fortunately for meager salary earners like you and me, we can still admire the city from some of the best rooftop bars like Skylark and Berry Park. The drinks might run you $20 a pop, but that’s cheap…comparatively speaking.
7. Hit a $1 pizza joint and fold it when eating
Who cares that the topping is just cheese? The fact that you can eat a perfectly adequate meal for a mere dollar in New York City is one of the many essential New York experiences worth writing about. Just remember to fold your pizza when eating to blend in with the local crowd.
6. See a show
Hollywood might be the place where movies are made, but New York certainly triumphs when it comes to stage production. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an elaborate Broadway musical or a simple live comedy skit by the members of the Upright Citizens Brigade; you’ll always have a great time.
5. Head Uptown
Most visitors tend to forget that Manhattan goes beyond the twinkling lights of Times Square. In fact, Uptown, on both the east and west sides, provide such contrast that you’ll likely forget you’re in New York City. Check out The Cloisters on the Upper West Side for a great collection of medieval art and spectacular views of the Hudson River.
4. Visit Central Park
Central Park is every New Yorker’s playground and urban oasis. It also happens to contain a number of interesting attractions including a memorial to the late Beatle, John Lennon, a giant ice-skating rink with unbeatable views of the city, a zoo with penguins, and a disused castle that now serves as one of Central Park’s visitor center.
3. Bargain shop
The Big Apple is a bargain shopper’s paradise. Forget the flagship stores on Fifth and Madison Avenues and seek out the giant discount stores like Loehmann’s, Century 21, and Conway instead. You’ll find designer label clothing, shoes, and accessories for a fraction of the price of high-end department stores. New York also has a number of flea markets and specialty vintage stores located in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District neighborhoods.
2. Ride the subway
One of the essential New York experiences involves learning how to work out the intricate network of subway lines and utilizing it as your main mode of transportation. Outside of sitting on the Great Lawn at Central Park, the Subway is one of the best places to people watch in New York because you’ll see all walks of life pass through its turnstiles. Some underground stations also have entertaining musical or artistic performances and beautiful works of urban art.
1. Pay Lady Liberty a Visit
The Empire State Building might be New York City’s most famous landmark but paying a visit to Lady Liberty tops my list of top 10 essential New York experiences. You’ll truly get a sense of what it meant for the thousands of migrants that passed through and ended up staying in the city. Make sure you take some time to explore the adjacent Ellis Island as well where you will see artifacts and a number of interactive displays that chronicles the island’s role as an immigration complex for over 50 years.