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Things to Do in New York City

New York taxis

With great power comes great responsibility. The words of Spiderman, yes, but also the ethos of New York City. After all, for many travellers, visiting Manhattan is a bucket list item, the chance to celebrate a special anniversary or birthday, or even to pop that all-important question. Understandably expectations are high, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint – especially when you see its best bits. Make the most of your time here with these things to do:

See the icons

Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State and the Rockefeller Centre. These are the travel icons that all visitors should discover on their first jaunt to the Big Apple. All offer the chance to see the city in a unique way too – from above, from an island, and from within one of the largest urban parks in the world.

How to do it: Explore Central Park on foot or, if you’re feeling flush, in a pedicab or horse-drawn carriage. Particular highlights include Loeb’s Boathouse (featured in many a rom-com), the ancient bedrocks, Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields and the Central Park Zoo. After a busy day at the park, detour past Grand Central Terminal before heading down to Times Square at night to see all the buildings lit-up with neon.

If you get your hands on a New York CityPASS – which one of our Travel Experts can add to any of our USA or New York holidays – then you’ll be able to visit Liberty Island, the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock using that. It’s worth noting though that if you want to go inside the State of Liberty or book crown access (Ghostbusters style), you’ll need to book this separately, and several months in advance to avoid disappointment.

Shop ‘til you drop

Shopping in New York is a retail lover’s dream come true; nowhere else does it better. So many major designer labels were born here, so even when the pound to dollar exchange rate is a bit lacking, you’ll still avoid paying any UK/US import taxes. Explore Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue, and kit yourself out with a new wardrobe. Alternatively – if you really want to grab yourself a bargain – head to the outskirts of the city where malls like the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets live.

How to do it: Visit in late November (after Thanksgiving) or January for the very best of sales, and if you’re heading to the outlets, chat to one of our Experts about arranging a transfer.

Walk the High Line

A fairly new addition to the city’s offering, the High Line was opened to the public in full in September 2014. Following the path of an elevated freight line, it offers a higher vantage of the city, without the need for queues, elevators and tickets. But it’s not just about the views. Up here you’ll find an escape from the hustle and bustle below, a haven peppered with diverse plantlife and tranquillity. It also offers a quicker and more pleasant way to get from Gansevoort Street to West 34th – up here you don’t have to negotiate the abundance of yellow cabs or be panicked by crossing countdowns.

How to do it: Start the High Line at any of the entry points to the West: Gansevoort Street, West 14th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 26th, 28th, 30th or 34th. There are disabled access points at West 14th, 18th, 23rd, 30th and 34th. Walking the 1.45-mile route is completely free and is best enjoyed on a sunny day.  

Eat all the pizza

Neapolitan, Sicilian? One slice, two? Pure cheese, or with added toppings? We’d be lying if we told you the pizza in New York City is anything but out of the world. In fact, beyond Italy itself, there aren’t many places who do the cheese, tomato and dough combo quite as good as this. And it abounds too. The quality is generally good across the board and you’re likely to find a decent pizzeria on every corner. So prolific is the pizza provision in Manhattan, you can even takeaway your slice in a slice-shaped pizza box.

How to do it: Speak to us about adding the ‘A Slice of Brooklyn pizza tour’ to your New York itinerary. On this food-filled trip you’ll visit two of the best pizza joints in the city, not to mention the quirky Coney Island boardwalk.

Explore the neighbourhoods

From Chinatown to Tribeca, Midtown, Soho, Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side and Brooklyn (pictured) – to name a few – New York’s diverse culture is made in its numerous neighbourhoods. Each one boasts a different cuisine, unique attractions, a thriving arts scene or a charming bar, all just waiting to be discovered.

How to do it: It would be impossible to visit every New York neighbourhood in one visit – you’d struggle to even do it in two or three. That said, explore on foot and you’ll be surprised how many different regions you cross into.