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Are you planning a trip to New York City? Top travel bloggers share their best things to see and do in New York. The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to  Washington Square Park – rich with history, culture and life. At the heart of the Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is a gathering point for a diverse group of artists, musicians, students, New Yorkers and visitors.

I stayed at the Larchmont Hotel and the Washington Square Hotel, next to Washington Square Park, during my June visit to attend the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference. Of course, Central Park is also stop numero uno for visitors to New York.

When I crave New York cuisine, I turn to Johnny’s Pizza, Bleeker Street Pizza or Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn.

  • Grimaldi’s is famous for its brick-oven pizzas and so good that there is always a line around the block. It’s located right under the Brooklyn Bridge and is easily accessible by Water Taxi, Subway or car. In the summertime you can grab the Water Taxi to the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge Park, order some pizza and enjoy one of the best views of Manhattan’s skyline.

To escape work I go to Central park.Sitting on one of the park benches or – in the summertime – one of the lawns – is a perfect escape from work. Whether you want to soak up the sun or people-watch, Central park is the place to de-stress.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although it is one of the top visitor attractions in NYC, the MET has a lot of great areas within the museum to go and hide, relax and enjoy various art forms, masterpieces and sculptures. During the summer, the rooftop is the place to be with its annual outdoor exhibits.

If you come to New York, get your picture taken at Times Square. A popular area for visitors, one can have their picture taken with the bright lights and sky high advertisements in the background, or pose with a character, such as the Naked Cowboy, who frequents the area.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at Peter Luger’s Steak House in Willamsburg, Brooklyn, get the Porterhouse for Two (just be sure to bring a friend!)

New York  is my one stop shop for adventure, culture, diversity and vibrancy. “I want to wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.”

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to any local pizza joint. Blue 9 has delicious burgers that will only run you about $5. Sweet Spring Restaurant, located in Chinatown, is a small take-out restaurant that serves up Chinese appetizers. Nothing on the menu is more than $5.

For a huge splurge, I go to  Daniel on 60th Street and Park.Daniel, owned by chef Daniel Boulud, is elegant and delicious with seasonal French cuisine and a swanky bar/lounge.

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Radio City, one of the best things to see and do in New York

Photo ops in New York include:

–          Top of the Rock Observation Desk

–          Empire State Building Observation Desk

–          Central Park 

–          Times Square

–          Union Square

–          Brooklyn Bridge

The best vantage points are taken at Top of the Rock. At 70 stories up you can see a 360 degree view of Manhattan’s skyline.  The iconic Empire State Building is always a must-visit for an aerial view of NYC. From the 102nd Floor Observatory you can see for miles.

The most random thing about New York is the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island.  It is essentially a celebration of summer and one of New York City’s quirkiest events. Coney Island becomes packed and the boardwalk becomes filled with mermaids and various sea-creatures.

In New York an active day outdoors involves walking. You can walk anywhere in New York, including the streets and bridges. Newly sectioned off bike lanes also have made NYC more bicycle friendly.

My favorite walking route is either the Brooklyn Bridge or the Williamsburg Bridge. There is something special and unique on both side of both bridges.

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Best Things to See and Do is the Staten Island Ferry to see New York’s skyline. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

New York’s best museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)

–          The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located on Fifth Avenue, along “Museum Mile” – a stretch of 22 blocks that features 10 museums – and is surrounded by Central Park.

–          The newly renovated MoMA, located in Midtown, is an impressive space with its various floors, modern design and outdoor garden area.

For a night of dancing, go to  The Meatpacking District.

Katz’s Delicatessen is the spot for late night dining. It is one of the oldest delis in Manhattan. Located in the trendy Lower East Side, Katz’s is the perfect late-night spot. On weekends it’s open until 2:45am and on weekdays until roughly 10/11pm. 

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read NY Magazine, Time Out NY.

In the spring you should attend the Bronx Botanical Garden – filled with budding flowers and exhibits.

In the summer you should attend Summerstage – a series of free outdoor concerts in Central Park. Coney Island is worth a day for a fun filled adventure, circus-like experience. Bite on a Nathan’s hotdog while strolling the beach/boardwalk.

In the fall you should visit  Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

In the winter you should go shopping on Fifth Avenue and see all the festive lights Visit Rockefeller Center to see the annual Christmas tree lighting and for ice-skating.

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There are plenty of things to see and do in New York City – honking is not one of them. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

A hidden gem in New York is Governors Island – an outdoor sanctuary. The island was founded in the 1600’s by the Dutch and built for the exclusive use of Governors during the colonial times. The Island is now a popular outdoor destination for biking, outdoor exhibits, concerts, picnics, and tours of the colonial houses.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Balthazar. It’s a famous French café located in the heart of SoHo. You can sit, or take out. It’s a perfect place to gather some fuel for a day of shopping in SoHo.

Just outside of New York city you can visit City Island. It’s  the perfect day-trip. Located at the very tip of the Bronx, you can go the beach, take a swim in the Long Island Sound and eat local seafood at the Lobster Box.  

The best way to see New York is to walk or take the Hop on Hop off Bus. NYC is easy to walk; the Subway is also very easy and accessible throughout the five boroughs.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Brooklyn Bridge Park’s brand new Pier 6 Playground. One of the largest playgrounds in all five boroughs, the recently opened area is home to large rope swings, a sprinkler system, and mountains to climb. While at the park, you can also admire the views of lower Manhattan, the Hudson River, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What are your favorite things to do in New York City?

Thanks to Francisca Ovalle and NYC The Official Guide for assistance with this post.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

Thanks to these travel bloggers for their New York City Insider Tips;

Jennifer Miner and Kara Williams: The Vacation Gals

Sherry Ott: Otts World

Donna L. Hull: My Itchy Travel Feet

Wendy Perrin: Conde Nast Traveler magazine and Truth.Travel blog

Gary Arndt: Everything Everywhere

Sheila Scarborough: Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff

Tiffany Dowd: Tiffany Travels

Trisha Miller: Travel Writers Exchange

Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Mary Ann Grisham: Enchanted Travel

Johnny Jet: JohnnyJet.com

Jill Robinson: Jill Robinson.com

Best Things to See and Do in New York article, YouTube video and all photography by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown.