Things to do in New York for your First Visit
What an amazing Summer trip we had to New York! I was a bit nervous with how the weather was going to be, however I was impressed with how cool the weather was. Dipping into the low-mid 80s. I’m sure it’s not always this way, so I feel we got lucky.
I shared on my Instagram that every other Summer, my in-laws plan a trip. When i first met Ivan, their Summer trip was always to go to Vegas. I had joined them on one Vegas Summer and my first time to Vegas was not the best. We have yet to do a “re-do” so that I am able to give it another shot! When Ivan visited New York for the first time almost 3 years ago, it’s a city he was never really quite interested in. Now, it seems that he has fallen in love with the city even more than I have. I love it, but I am not quite sure if I would be able to make New York my forever home.
This Summer, Ivan managed to convince his parents to go to New York. We planned a whole itinerary months in advance to ensure that they have a good time, that they get to see the things that make New York special and also what drew us to this city to come visit several times. Now that trip is over, I honestly feel we did a pretty good job as being their tour guide! For this visit, we 100% used the Subways and/or walked on foot depending how far our destination would be. Our last visits we realized that we used Lyfts, Uber, or Taxi’s way too many times that it got expensive. New York is an expensive city as it is, so we wanted to spend on the experiences while there, and less on how to get there. Below are the places, in no particular order, that we visited within a 3 day 1/2 visit to New York (FYI arrived Thursday around 3pm- and left Monday around 12noon).
Little Italy / China town
This area is a really cool place to visit! They have local markets and stores where you can shop for jewelry or souvenirs. We love authentic Asian food and also Italian. This has the best of both worlds. I am not sure if this is a weekend thing, but the street for Little Italy was blocked off allowing for everyone to roam freely and with ease. This made visiting this area so much more fun! We decided to revisit on our last day to have a nice dinner. It’s a great spot to go for late afternoon/evening or even at night. I recommend La Mela or La Nonna to dine in.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is well known for it’s arch that sits in the middle of the park. You may have spotted this arc in movies. You can find people sitting around playing chess, or waiting for opponents to join. People sitting by the fountain, laying out on the grass and a few street performers. This park is a place where it connects the community, and a good rest stop if you have been walking the area.
Empire State Building
A must visit! We enjoyed visiting the Empire State Building at night for the best views and scenery. Perhaps going when the sun is setting can be good too! The last time we were at the Empire State Building, it was FREEZING while viewing the city on the 86th floor. I’m talking very very cold. This time, the weather was cool and perfect. So just FYI the weather gets cooler when you are on the 86th floor! It’s about $40 a ticket for adults, and $38 for seniors.
Another must visit. Central Park is so important to New York City, the concrete Jungle. For various reasons I’m sure, but from my perspective because it’s the location with the most greenery, trees, large spaces for picnicking, dog walking, and family time. While at Central Park, you almost feel as if you are not even in the city and are on the outskirts. Running trail is almost 6ish miles or so. It’s a beautiful place to visit. There is an infamous area in Central Park that is used most in the movies that we walked through and sat on a bench for a while. So beautiful!
Statue of Liberty
For this trip we finally got to visit the Statue of Liberty where she stands! The past few times, we hopped on the Staten Island Ferry which is free, and got to see her at a distance (still great views). It was so cool to see her much more up-close. When I fist saw the Statue fo Liberty years ago, I gained a knot in my throat (a bit emotional) for everything this statue symbolizes. It was so humbling to see many cultures present while we visited this iconic place and a reminder of how our country is a melting pot of many cultures sharing the same space.
Plan ahead to see the best shows! We learned this time that the best shows are worth spending a little and planning ahead. In Times Square there is a Ticket center (which sits under what looks like bleachers) where you can purchase Matinée discounted tickets. If you don’t get your tickets early for the broadway shows you do want to see such as Lion King, then show up at this booth early to see if you can get tickets. I think Lion Tickets are purchased at another location though so please don’t quote me on this one! I do know that you can get tickets to see a show of choice for that same day. We saw Pretty Woman and it was a good happy medium type of show. For more theatrics, perhaps one of the broadway shows that are of a Disney movie could work!
Another must visit! This spot is filled with tourists which is why, or so i’ve heard, locals don’t like going into Times Square. But if it’s your first visit, go at night! Lots of large screens, and bright lights. You can’t visit New York without seeing Times Square for your first visit.
The High Line
The High Line is a cool place to sight see because it’s a park build on a historic freight train. You can literally see the rails as you are walking along the path. Along the way you get to see nature, designs of buildings and art sold by local artists.
The more “quieter” part of Manhattan, this neighborhood holds older (but charming) buildings, restaurants, bars, and cafes. When I had gone a tour on one of my past visits, our tour guide said that Greenwhich Village is expensive to live because people will pay more to have a little bit more of a quiet space, but still technically live in the city.
911 memorial / The World Trade Center Oculus
The 911 memorial speaks for itself in terms of significant and how much it changed America. Of course, while being there I personally felt this somber feeling of all the lives lost and what New York must of looked like the day everything happened. It’s a beautiful memorial that you must visit. Closely to the memorial is the World Trade Center Oculus which was Designed and created to Remember 9/11. It was my first time there and i loved it! They have shops inside, and the design is beautiful.
Brooklyn Bridge is so structural beautiful and connect Brooklyn with Manhattan. You also get nice skyline views of the city.
This was my first visit to the Bronx Zoo! My in-laws have enjoyed Zoos in the past, so we added this to the itinerary. I have to admit that the Zoo was ok. For me it’s probably the only time I’d go to this particular Zoo. They are going through renovations but also a lot of the rooms where animals were exhibited had a bad order, was humid or muggy inside, and some areas didn’t seem cared for as other Zoos I’ve been to. It was $38 for the overall experience ticket price, which allows you to see other exhibits that you wouldn’t see otherwise. It’s worth going if you want to get away from the city for a while. There were a few animal that’s i’ve never seen before like camels.
Some places that we would like to visit but didn’t get the chance to was the Museum of Modern Art, the MET, Rockefeller Center- On Top of the Rock, and a few other. We would love to explore New Jersey and Brooklyn. Perhaps next time!
I hope this list gives you guidance on what to do when you visit New York for your first time! We used the subway, and our feet to get around. Uber’s, lyfts and taxis are good options..only they do get expensive after a while.
Let me know your thoughts below! Happy travels!