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Between all the skyscrapers is Central Park, a lush and wide-open retreat for locals and a must-see for visitors. Each landscape throughout the park has been revived, refreshed, and restored to preserve the park’s history. Stretching from 59th Street to 110th Street, the 843-acre green space is the green heart of New York City. Don’t forget to check out some of the memorial landmarks including The Pond, Central Park Zoo, Sheep Meadow, Bethesda Terrace, Strawberry Fields, and Belvedere Castle.
Madam Tussauds is a museum displaying the waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters. You are encouraged to interact and even embrace these surprisingly realistic wax figures. Though this place isn’t just for those figures–there are a number of interactive exhibits including making music, walking down the red carpet, being in a movie, and walking down a fashion runway. It’s the only place in Times Square where you can meet A-List celebrities, relive famous NYC moments, and be a superhero all in one day!
While you won’t find Ben Stiller on guard here as a night watchman, you have to see the Tyrannosaurus skeleton up close in person! The Museum of Natural History is one of the largest in the world comprising of 26 interconnected buildings. Collections include an array of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, and cultural artifacts. There are also different special exhibitions or planetarium shows, but be sure to arrive early because they fill up fast.
The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street (more than 15 blocks). This elevated park opened in 2009 and has since been a must-go in the city. Grab lunch and shop at Chelsea Market, play games at Chelsea Piers, go to a show at Highline Ballroom or at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre or lounge on the roof at the Whitney Museum of Art. With featured art installations, colorful murals, and viewing platforms overlooking the city, you won’t ever find yourself without anything to do at this park.
Yes – we’re on our own list, but how could we not share one of the most immersive experiences! Escape games are good for your brain and a great way to spend an hour. The Escape Game is a live 60-minute adventure where you and your team will find clues, overcome challenges, and complete a mission. Missions include trying to discover hidden gold, escaping from a 1950’s prison, or saving the world from a secret plot. Don’t worry, you’re not really locked in there!
Kat’z Deli is a staple in New York CIty’s food spots. Known for its pastrami and corned beef in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, regulars will tell you it’s better to choose the self-service option that is the most popular. Servers even greet you with “Do you want to do it the fun way or the easy way?” when you first walk in. However, if you don’t like crowds or waiting in different lines, grabbing a seat in the full-service section might be your cup of tea.
This multi-level 1950’s-themed diner has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day long since 1987. Decor includes retro-themed memorabilia such as photos of many past Miss Subways on the walls, an indoor train, and a 1956 Predicta television. Ellen’s Stardust Diner is notable for their singing waitstaff and extensive menu of American classics. You don’t need to head over to a Broadway theatre to hear from the biggest voices in the city. Let us warn you first about the wait time because sadly, they do not take reservations.
Think about Charlie’s Angels and James Bond…but what if you could jump into a spy adventure of your own? Spyscape immerses you in the real-world stories of hackers, code breaks, and double agents. The interactive museum experience will help you determine your own spy profile through challenges like the Encryption Gallery, Deception Gallery, and reviewing surveillance on multiple cameras. The fan favorite is the Special Ops Challenge hitting as many buttons as you can on the tunnel’s walls but while you avoid the lasers. You might even feel like Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible!
Also known as “The Met,” this art museum is one of the most visited in the world. It’s also known for the yearly Met Gala which is the grand opening of their annual fashion exhibit. Right along the eastside of Central Park, it’s permanent collection includes works of art from ancient Egypt, sculptures from Europe, and works of American and modern art. The museum is also home to an encyclopedia collection of musical instruments, costumes, and weapons and armor from around the world. Lunch is a must on the steps of The Met – when it’s a nice day of course! Don’t forget there are two more locations including The Cloisters and the Met Breuer.
Joe Pozzuoli, who started starving pizza here in 1975, still owns and operates this restaurant! (He’s in his 70s in case you were wondering.) This place has been on the lists of New York Magazine, Time Out, and GQ as one of the best places for an authentic New York slice. The menu is classic and simple: plain, fresh mozzarella, and Sicilia. You’ll always find a line out the door, but you can get your slices pretty quickly.
Donuts are not just to eat here, they’re the decor too! From the walls, embellished pillows, painted on bench seats, you can easily call this place Doughnut Heaven. Some flavors include Strawberry Sourdoughnut, Meyer Lemon & Poppy Seed, Vanilla Bean & Blackberry Jam, Coconut Cream, and Valrhona Chocolate. What brought this shop to the map was it’s sign that reads: no trans fat.They keep the recipes secret, but the workaround is impeccable. PS -They even have gluten free and vegan options!
NYC’s nickname is the Empire State so you have to visit this iconic building! The 102-story (1,454 feet) art deco building stands as one of the tallest buildings in New York and the United States. More than just heading to a spectacular view up top, the Empire State Building is an immersive experience with floors of different exhibits and an observation deck (86th floor) which provides a 360-degree view of New York. The best time to beat the crowds are between 8am and 11am.
When you see a big crowd outside of a restaurant, you can’t help but wonder what it is that they have to offer that’s so special. In Koreatown, Let’s Meat is an all-you-can-eat (AYCE) Koreon barbeque spot with hospitable service and great food. This restaurant’s take on Koreon barbeque allows diners to try different varieties of meat without having to worry about portion, price, or how to cook. You’ll select what you want (and as much as you want) from a pre-fixed menu and your server will cook it for you on your table. Your AYCE is good for 100 minutes so be sure to plan and time your meal just right!
At Harlem’s famous theatre is one of New York’s most famous popular live entertainment experiences. It’s a competition known for its “tough” audience. At Amateur Night (Wednesdays), you’re the judge on who will “be good or be gone” to win the grand prize. The theatre houses 1,500 seats and gave birth to the slogan “Where stars are born and legends are made.” Some legends include Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, and Lauryn Hill.
Search for “the best cheesecake in New York” and you’ll be brought to Junior’s homepage. It’s long list of VIP visits of athletes, presidents, singers, and movie stars should be reason enough to come to this restaurant. Their original location is in downtown Brooklyn, but there are two in the theatre district on Broadway in Times Square. Their menu includes steakburgers to seafood combos and Romanian tenderloin. Don’t forget to save room for their World’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake for dessert!
One World Trade Center is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center. It is the tallest building in the United States, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the seventh-tallest in the world. The elevator ride to the top climbs 102 stories in 47 seconds and reveals the transformation of New York City from unsettled lands to now the forest of skyscrapers. In addition to the 360-degree view or New York City (and beyond), you can enjoy dinner at ONE dine, experience the taste of Italian coffee illy, and learn more about history and culture with a Tour Ambassador.
Rockefeller Center is filled with tons of things to do that it could probably take about half, if not your entire, day. From shopping, tours, and restaurants, you’ll get a different experience depending what time of year you visit. During the winter months–the busiest time for NYC–snap a picture in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and grab some skates and take it to the ice at The Rink. For activities indoors, take a NBC Studios Tour or a breathtaking view of the city is at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Nearby sites include Radio City Music Hall, Legoland, American Girl Place, and Nintendo NYC.
As the capital for fashion in the United States, most people know New York City is a global hub for shopping. Fifth Avenue is the city’s most famous shopping street, and probably the most famous in the world. Here, you can find flagship stores for nearly every high-end designer like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Gucci, and Prada. The specific shopping area starts at 42nd Street by Bryant Park and goes through 59th Street at Central Park. Fifth Avenue is where you’ll find all the lavish window displays that are updated each season. Even if those high-end designers are not your style, it’s also a great spot for stores like H&M, Zara, and Ann Taylor.
While you’ll find Dylan’s Candy in other cities, New York is home to its Flagship location. The owner of this boutique candy shop wanted to combine fashion, art, and pop candy culture and that’s what you’ll get at this candy emporium. Get a scoop of ice cream, fudge, and over 7,000 candies in what people call the modern-day Willy Wonka Factory. This is not your average candy shop. You can print your own 3D gummies, get personalized gifts or favors, or even enjoy food at the cafe and bar. Note that the flagship location is in the Upper East Side on 3rd Avenue, not Times Square.
Bryant Park is known as Manhattan’s Town Square. Right behind the New York Public Library, this park has seasonal gardens, free activities, and world class restrooms. What you can do here depends on the time of year. The Winter Village at Bryant Park is what they call Manhattan’s winter wonderland with an ice skating rink, shops, and a bar and food hall. During the warmer months, you can find free art classes, play ping pong, join group fitness classes, or simply pack a lunch, a good book and enjoy the open air on the green.
You might attend a performance in your hometown, but attending a performance on Broadway is something special. With millions of bright lights on theatre marquees and billboards, Broadway is a major factor in why so many visitors head to this city each year. Theatrical performances are presented in the 41 professional theatres in the city, most of which are musicals. The city is home to some of the nation’s greatest playwrights and created some of their best work here. When researching for a show, be sure to review the age recommendations listed for each performance. Purchasing them ahead of time makes a huge difference as more popular shows sell out months ahead of time.
This visit is twofold. First, the memorial plaza consists of two square reflecting pools where the two towers once stood. The names of the victims of the attacks are inscribed on the parapets surrounding the waterfalls. No matter when you come to see the memorial, chances are that you’ll run into large crowds (because it’s free), but the visit should only take about a half hour. You should then head over to the museum. After purchasing tickets, guides take you through the museum sharing facts about each piece included and its significance in the events of 9/11.
Experience 500+ artifacts and interactive exhibits at the largest Ripley’s location in the world. This is an activity fun for everyone in the family as you all come together to experience the unbelievable mysteries of the world. This is one-of-a-kind attraction perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the unusual, the unexpected and the unbelievable. There is a new exhibit called Ripley’s Relic. This adventure transforms visitors into explorers to solve puzzles and decipher strange symbols to unlock the secrets of Ripley’s Relic.
Ellis Island afforded the opportunity for millions of immigrants to attain the American dream for themselves and their descendants.Walking through the halls and learning the history of these now quiet halls bring a sense of pride and appreciation. Be sure to secure a reservation for your visit here! You’ll only be able to arrive by ferry, and tickets include your visit to the Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. A separate ticket is required to actually walk up the statue itself.
This is the original shack. The modern day version of a roadside burger serves delicious burgers, chicken, hot dogs, shakes, frozen custard. From the humble beginnings of Danny Meyer, the Union Square Hospitality Group Founder and CEO, this fast casual restaurant started off as a hot dog cart and has now boomed in popularity. Their most famous product is the ShackBurger (single or double) containing all your burger usuals with the addition of the Shake Shack secret sauce. While rainy or cold weather might keep you away from this location, you can find several more throughout the city.
The Halal Guys are the pioneers of American Halal Food. Their food features a flavor profile that can’t be replicated in any other cuisine format, featuring flawlessly cooked, premium quality Halal meats that are seasoned to perfection. What started as halal carts on the corners of busy streets in the city has now transformed to storefronts as well. Once you have a taste of their melting pot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, you’ll see why they have the longest food cart line. Head to their website to find the nearest location to you.
A museum, amusement park, and a wine bar all in one? That’s right! Rosé Mansion is an interactive wine tasting adventure that combines a wine bar, an Insta-worthy amusement park, and a science museum into one epic dreampark. Upon showing up with your crew, you’ll be immediately immersed into your self-guided tour. With a complimentary cup in hand, get tastings of different wines while also learning the history of rosé and why our taste buds are the way they are.
Less than 2% of players have actually beat the bomb! If you’re not that lucky get ready to put on hazmats suits, dodge lasers, and try to avoid the paint bomb. In this live-action experience, you’ll play 5 unique video-games earning more time to defeat the bomb in the last part of your adventure. Participation is required by all players and will have you use communication, coordination, and listening.
Color Factory is an interactive exhibit that celebrates the discovery, serendipity and generosity of color. Come to pink of it, this is another really great Instagrammable venue in the city. The exhibit helps you explore the fun and importance of color. There are 16 rooms to explore throughout the 20,000-square-foot space which showcase immersive artwork from local writers, poets and musicians. Oftentimes we’re so focused on taking photos that we forget to enjoy the moment. At the Color Factory, you can go phone-free (if you choose) and utilize a scan at each experience. You’ll then get those photos directly emailed to you.
What’s not to love about eating ice cream AND learning about it? Museum of Ice Cream transforms concepts and dreams into spaces that provoke imagination and creativity. This is a self paced experience allows you to take as much time you’d like in each exhibit. Their sprinkle pool is beyond your wildest creams (but obviously not edible). The installations are a sweet tooth’s wonderland. Keep in mind tickets are sold by a specific time slot. (They are closed on Tuesdays.)
In addition to being a transportation hub, this historic landmark is also a cultural destination with shopping and dining. You can see the most famous Terminal in the nation up close and personal on a grand self-guided tour. Upstairs has upscale dining, while downstairs has places for a quick bite. In all, there are 44 platforms for 67 tracks, along which 700 trains run in and out daily. The “whispering” Guastavino-tile arches are probably one of the most interesting things to catch while here. Whispers can travel from one corner to another diagonally opposite.
From its inception, Magnolia Bakery has been cherished for its classic American baked goods, vintage decor and warm, inviting atmosphere, but most importantly … it’s banana pudding. They say the banana pudding here is addicting and it might be since it happens to sell out often. If bananas are not what you’re into, they have also serve heavenly-tasting cupcakes. C’mon, they even have a cupcake calendar which has different cupcakes depending on the day!