Written by Tanishka Khanduja.
What is something that appeals to your inner intrepid spirit? What makes you a traveller willing to explore the wonders of the world? For me, it is travelling to inexplicably overwhelming yet liberating destinations- something that can match the vivacity of that inner spirit and that adrenaline rush when I am beguiled by something truly fascinating.
One such destination that I instantly visualise when I think of excitement and euphoria would indisputably be the one and only New York City. I mean, what’s not to like? Concrete jungles, skyscrapers, delectable food, enchanting, vivid city lights and billboards, delightful parks, entertainment, history- The Big Apple has it all.
Here are a few things that you can do in the city with the largest metropolitan area in the world which will, without a doubt, kindle excitement in that inner intrepid spirit:
1. Times Square
Time Square is the first place I think of when I envision New York City or start listening to the song ‘Empire State of Mind’ by Jay-Z. Can you blame me? The brilliant, multicoloured lights that illuminate the city, the stores, the food, the billboards that are larger than life and the hubbub of this extraordinary destination are predominantly the reasons why it is popularly referred to as ‘The Center of the Universe’.
From the scrumptious hotdogs and pretzels to the delectable M&M and Hershey’s chocolate world on 7th avenue, the food served on Times Square is to die for. You can watch Broadway or late-night talk shows, check out Madame Tussauds, visit Gulliver’s Gate or even shop till you drop! It is truly stunning at night. I would highly recommend grabbing sumptuous, hot and crisp caramel churros, sitting on the Red Stairs and watching the city come to life in the late evening. It is undeniably dumbfounding.
The iconic Broadway street is home to the most iconic Broadway performances, comprising musicals and plays which is why it is referred to as the ‘heart of the American commercial theatrical industry’. Stellar Broadway shows like Hamilton, Lion King, Wicked, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child etc are utterly breathtaking and should definitely be on your bucket list whenever you decide to visit this mesmerizing city.
Some might argue that this sensational city is the cultural capital of the Western hemisphere because of the influential impact that Broadway has on ‘pop culture’. Go for a Broadway show and find out yourself! You will not be disappointed.
3. Empire State Building
Maybe the buzz of the city is too overwhelming for you. Where do you go? The Empire State Building, which is the 9th tallest (102 stories tall) building in the United States of America, is definitely the place you want to be. Imagine standing on the highest observation deck viewing the entire city from the Hudson River to the East River.
The tranquillity, the quiet and the ability to just be above the hubbub of this brilliant city is truly liberating. You’ve probably heard of this cultural icon built in the early 1930s in books, movies, shows etc but you will fall short of words when you try describing the wind that embraces you on the 86th observation deck when you actually do decide to visit this marvellous skyscraper that most people, including myself, would argue is The Eighth Wonder of the World.
4. Peter Luger Steakhouse
Peter Luger Steakhouse is a 133-year-old steakhouse in NYC located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, providing the most top-notch, deletable porterhouse steaks that I’ve ever eaten in my life and it is indisputably considered an institution in the American dining scene. The rustic and charming place will make you feel right at home because of its old-school, beer-hall style ambience that emanates a very comforting aura.
Their porterhouse steaks are succulent and flavoursome. If meat isn’t your thing their Luger’s Special “Holy Cow” Hot Fudge Sundae will leave you mind-blown. After you ask for the cheque, they give you their signature complimentary chocolate coins, a feature that adds to the elusive charm of this remarkable restaurant that definitely stands out as opposed to other restaurants in this metropolitan city for tourists and civilians alike.
5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
You’ve probably heard of the MET gala. Who hasn’t? It’s only the largest, most exclusive social event in the world! Well if you haven’t already guessed, the venue of this event is at none other than the Metropolitan Museum of Art located on 5th avenue, the largest museum in the United States of America.
It has the most priceless works of art from Asia, Egypt, America, Greece, Rome, etc. If you’re a history aficionado like me, you’re in luck! Do not hesitate to visit this phenomenal place.
6. Statue of Liberty
Visiting the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island may feel like a cliché but I can guarantee that it definitely lives up to his hype. A brief history session: The neoclassical, copper sculpture of Libertas was a gift from France to the US with the date of the US Declaration of Independence inscribed on the tablet that the Roman Goddess carries in her left hand.
It has a ton of symbolism but for me, the only symbolism that mattered was undying friendship and freedom. It is so inexplicably beautiful if you’re a history junkie like me because of its past and everything that it stands for. Taking a boat and encircling this prized possession of American History with a panoramic view of the New York City skyline is sensational. I would highly recommend visiting this one of a kind place.
7. Central Park
Imagine being curled up with a good book as you lay on the lush greenery of Central Park with a hot, crispy pretzel in your hand. Central Park is a great place to relax but it isn’t like any regular park. It has the Central Park zoo, Central Park carousel, and the Wollman rink for ice skating among several other attractions that tourists and civilians both enjoy! Apart from its attractions, the park is known for its serenity and scenic view because of its meadows, reservoirs, fields and hills that make it an exceptional place to visit with your family.
8. Bronx Zoo
This zoo located in Bronx Park, New York City is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States of America. It is accredited by the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and it is extremely reputed (for good reason). It has the largest and most diverse collection of animals I’ve ever seen, ranging from a plethora of wildcats, birds of prey, sea lions to bison, giraffes, reptiles etc.
Walking with a hotdog in your hand on a Sunday as you stroll past the bison range or aquarium is genuinely delightful. Apart from the myriad of animals found at the zoo, it is also renowned because of its awarding exhibitions, treks, Butterfly Garden, Asian Monorail, Zoo shuttle etc which is why visiting this Zoo must definitely be on your bucket list.
9. Madison Square Garden
Maybe you’re a sports enthusiast or you love going to concerts. Look no further. This multi-purpose indoor park is just the place you want to go to. From basketball to hockey and from boxing matches to impeccable concerts, Madison Square Garden has been designed for your entertainment.
The arena in Midtown Manhattan caters to NBA and NHL fans when it comes to sports. Having said that the arena is extremely versatile because of concerts and events held in it. Visit this brilliant city during summer and you may just get a chance to go for your favourite artist’s live performance in the arena!
The Hudson Yard Observation Deck (100th story) called Edge is something unconventional on this list of places to visit in New York City. This is because it opened only recently earlier this year.
That fact alone hasn’t stopped it from being the most modern, sophisticated and thrilling observation decks in the city. It has officially gone on to become the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. Unlike the Empire State building, Edge has angled glass walls and the 360 views of the city because of its state of the art design that gives you a feeling of being suspended mid-air, almost as if you’re floating in the air as you ‘lean’ out over the city. Edge is an 80-foot extension that juts out of the Hudson Yard building and the panoramic view of the city because of its unique design makes it a modern, immaculate feat of engineering.
You must definitely consider visiting this unique and modern place on Manhattan’s West Side that is incredibly underrated because it has only been opened recently.
I can only hope that this list of things to do in New York City has coaxed you to consider travelling to this one of a kind destination and if you’ve already been lucky enough to visit New York City I hope this article induced a sense of nostalgia and longing to visit this destination again.
Very few places in the world can match the endless excitement that the Big Apple offers. Cues ‘Empire State of Mind’ by Jay-Z.
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Tanishka Khanduja is a Content Writer at The Strong Traveller and for good reason! She is a free-spirited, effervescent and adventurous force to be reckoned with and loves travelling the world and taking inspiration from the beauty that the world offers. Being a student at OIS in Mumbai hasn’t stopped her from achieving her endeavours or pursuing her dreams that she strives to make a reality.