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New York City

What should be on my "Can't Miss" list on 1st trip to New York City?

Planning a trip with my husband to NYC for my 40th this summer. 1st time there! What do we have to do and see? Also, I would love recommendations on fav restaurants and food!

16 Answers

top answer by
Andy from San Francisco

I can't believe no one has mentioned New York pizza! That's definitely a can't miss thing to do in NYC. However, I won't go as far as to say that I know what the best pizza in NYC is. But I will say that Grimaldi's Pizzeria is a unique experience and goes perfectly with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge

Since you will be in NYC during the summer. I'll focus on a few of my favorite summertime experiences in NYC. 

1. Concert in Central Park

Central Park has a variety of free and ticketed performances throughout the summer. My favorite are the music in the park series. Bring a picnic basket and a blanket and relax on the grass on the Great Lawn while you listen to beautiful music and enjoy the warm summer air. 

2. A movie in Bryant Park

Bryant Park has regular movie screenings during the summer. Same as in Central Park, bring a blanket and some snacks and drinks. However, these are very popular so you'd want to arrive early. 3. A cruise around Manhattan. 

I think the best way to enjoy the Manhattan skyline is on the water. There are several companies that run cruises that go from the West side of Manhattan, around the southern tip, and then up the East river. The cruises will go past several of the main bridges including the Brooklyn bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, and the Williamsburg Bridge. On the way back it will also pass by the Statue of Liberty. The night time cruises are the best since it will be dark and the lights will be pretty. 

If you don't feel like paying for a cruise, you can also take the Staten Island Ferry which is free. You can purchase alcoholic beverages on board for a reasonable price. 

4. Explore the Frying Pan

The Frying Pan is a boat that has been turned into a bar and is one of the more popular destinations during the summer. You can grab a table on the pier and enjoy some drinks, food, and the view. When you're ready, you can climb up and into the boat and explore all the rooms and alleys in the boat. Hint: it's pretty easy to find a spot if you want a little privacy. 

They also set up bars inside the boat so you never have to be fully sober. 

5. Watch a baseball game

New Yorkers love their baseball, and especially the Yankees. If you have the time, go up to the Bronx and catch a game at Yankee Stadium. If you look early, you should be able to find cheap enough tickets. 

And if you don't like the Yankees or don't want to venture to the Bronx. You can always catch a Mets game at Citi Field stadium in Queens

6. Have a drink at Bohemian Hall

Summertime is perfect for outdoor drinking. And there is no place more iconic than Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria. Bohemian hall is the oldest beer garden in New York City, and it still preserves much of its character from the past. The place will be busy most nights of the summer, and there will be live music several nights a week. In addition, the food at Bohemian Hall is pretty solid. 

7. Go to Coney Island

Summertime means it's time to hit the beach! And the only beach worth hitting in New York City proper is Coney Island. Coney Island is a small stretch of beach all the way in southern Brooklyn, and is definitely worth a trip. Go there, walk down the boardwalk, check out the beach, and grab a Nathan's hot dog. Now your summer in NYC is one step closer to complete. 

There's a ton of other things you can do in the summertime in New York. But if you can manage the 7 mentioned above, you would have done more than most New Yorkers. Enjoy!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Grimaldi's Pizzeria (restaurant)
  2. Brooklyn Bridge (attraction)
  3. Central Park (attraction)
  4. Great Lawn (attraction)
  5. Bryant Park (attraction)
  6. Manhattan (attraction)
  7. Manhattan Bridge (attraction)
  8. Williamsburg Bridge (attraction)
  9. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  10. Staten Island Ferry (attraction)
  11. Frying Pan (attraction)
  12. Bronx (neighborhood)
  13. Yankee Stadium (attraction)
  14. Citi Field stadium (attraction)
  15. Queens (attraction)
  16. Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (attraction)
  17. Astoria (metro area)
  18. Coney Island (attraction)
10 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Regan from Brooklyn

I live here (in Brooklyn) and there is SO much to see, so this is just my perspective.  I LOVE Ellis Island.  It's one of the only touristy things I recommend as the history, the photographs, the view, etc. are awe inspiring.  And the ferry ride takes you right past the Statue of Liberty, which is one of the touristy things I DON'T recommend--snoozefest!  But the ride past is lovely and just enough.  If you're into it, the The Metropolitan Museum of Art is spectacular, but HUGE and so much to see, so plan a little and go on their website and see if there any specific exhibits you wish to explore and just do one or two.  Time it so that you can have an end of day drinkie poo on the rooftop garden of the Met.  And powder nose before you do because the view of the ENTIRE city surrounding Central Park is selfie-city.  It's also a total scene, so good for people watching. 

I would also plan an afternoon in Brooklyn and the best options are to either hit the Brooklyn Flea Market on Saturdays or Smorgasburgon Sundays.  They're both in great Brooklyn neighborhoods, great for wandering around checking out the different food they sell and a launching point to check out old Brooklyn.  Both have CitiBikes abound, so you could rent one right there to see more in a shorter time.

As for restaurants, again so many, but I take clients and send people to ABC Cocina and ABC Kitchen (two different Jean-Georges Vongrichten places) within ABC Home (a great home store) and it wows everyone.  I prefer Cocina slightly because I love Mexican and it's innovative and elegant food.  Try to make a reservation, but if they're booked, have a late snack, go put your name in and have a drink at the bar and wait.  Skip the touristy delis and go straight to Russ & Daughters, a legend with New Yorkers where everything is made in house.  They're known for their smoked salmon pastrami. A great brunch option is Hundred Acres in Soho.  We take our brunch seriously, so it's fun to do.  

For nightlife, there's Broadway shows, I love Von always for drinks in Noho--a cool bar, just a bar, no bells or whistles--and there are some hotel bars that are pretty beautiful like the Bowery Hotel, The Mondrian and some of the older hotels near the Park.  

Bring comfortable walking shoes, bring cool clothes--NYC is hot as hell in the summer--have fun and happy birthday!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ellis Island (attraction)
  2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
  3. Brooklyn Flea Market (attraction)
  4. Smorgasburg (restaurant)
  5. ABC Cocina (restaurant)
  6. ABC Kitchen (restaurant)
  7. Russ & Daughters (restaurant)
  8. Hundred Acres (restaurant)
  9. Von (restaurant)
10 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Alyce from Melbourne

Definitely need to go to Central Park - Rent a boat and ride around the lake and after grab drinks The Loeb Boathouse Central Park

Magnolia Bakery has the best cupcakes... West Village location is the best and keep your eye out for celebrities

La Esquina has a secret entrance if you go through the taco shop - knock on the door and ask to get dinner or drinks in that bar... very cool spot! Call ahead for reservations but make note you'd like to be downstairs.  Smart dress required

Great burger and fun outdoor atmosphere in Madison Square Park next to the Flat iron is Shake ShackShake Shack

Comedy Cellar

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Central Park (attraction)
  2. The Loeb Boathouse Central Park (restaurant)
  3. Magnolia Bakery (restaurant)
  4. La Esquina (restaurant)
  5. Shake Shack (restaurant)
  6. Shake Shack (restaurant)
  7. Comedy Cellar (attraction)
7 thanks

answered by
Adam from New Jersey

Narrow down what you are interested in (food, etc.) and then focus on a particular area.  Some of the suggestions below are great. 


One day you could focus on the Lower East Side and go to Katz's Delicatessen or visit Russ & Daughters.  Personally, I don't have the money to go to break the bank restaurants, so I'll leave that suggestion to others.  But while you are down there you can visit the Tenement Museumor the New Museum

Similarly, you can head over to Flushing which is the home to the City's largest Chinatown.  This url will give you some good ideas. . The Mets - Willets Pointplay in Queens.  There is also the Queens Museum and a few train (no one in NY calls it the subway) is the Museum of the Moving Image.


Just some thoughts off the top of my head.  Again, if it is food things - focus on one thing and then wander around the general neighborhood.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Katz's Delicatessen (restaurant)
  2. Russ & Daughters (restaurant)
  3. Tenement Museum (attraction)
  4. New Museum (attraction)
  5. Flushing (attraction)
  6. Mets - Willets Point (attraction)
  7. Queens Museum (attraction)
  8. Museum of the Moving Image (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

New York city is a vast metro area with 5 Boroughs of which Manhattan is the best known. Mid town Manhattan has amazing buildings such as 42nd st Library main reading room, Grand Central Terminal, St. Patricks Cathedral and Trump Tower : you can see them all for free in a walk up Fifth ave from 42nd to 57th. 

 The museum choices are endless, my favorites are @The Frick Collection and The Morgan Library & Museum both homes of wealthy industrialists and stunning mansions with lovely collections that won't take all day. 

 Each neighborhood has its own vibe: east village, west Village, Soho, lower Manhattan. In the financial district I love to visit Federal Reserve Bank of New York building and see our gold reserve. The tour is free, but you must book on line in advance. 

 If you go to the Theater District - Times Square

Have a drink at the revolving view bar New York Marriott Marquis, 43rd and Broadway. Another view bar opened at Rockefeller Plazacalled 65 Rockefeller Plaza.  

Get a Metropass right away. I enjoy taking buses for the sightseeing factor, but to get around NYC quickly, take the subway. NYC subways can be confusing, so always ask the guy in the booth.

 Have a great trip.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Grand Central Terminal (attraction)
  2. St. Patricks Cathedral (attraction)
  3. Trump Tower (attraction)
  4. The Frick Collection (attraction)
  5. The Morgan Library & Museum (attraction)
  6. Federal Reserve Bank of New York (attraction)
  7. Theater District - Times Square (neighborhood)
  8. New York Marriott Marquis (hotel)
  9. Rockefeller Plaza (attraction)
  10. 65 Rockefeller Plaza (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by
Lauren from California

Try to go see a Broadway show, although they are not cheap there are ways to get same day tickets more cheaply.

For museums, the The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must, along with the Museum of Modern Artand Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, but I also like the The Frick Collection.

You must go to a deli such as Katz's Delicatessen and get a pastrami on rye and some new York cheesecake.

If you like maritime history, the South Street Seaport Museum is also nice.

Greenwich Village is nice to walk around in. The Chrysler Building is a beautiful building in the art deco style.

More obvious things to do include the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
  2. Museum of Modern Art (attraction)
  3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (attraction)
  4. The Frick Collection (attraction)
  5. Katz's Delicatessen (restaurant)
  6. South Street Seaport Museum (attraction)
  7. Greenwich Village (neighborhood)
  8. Chrysler Building (attraction)
  9. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  10. Empire State Building (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by
Bonnie from United States

I would go to the Empire State Building Observation Deck at night. It's way less crowded and really beautiful. A ride on the Staten Island Ferry is a great and free way to see the Statue of Liberty.

If you're looking for places to eat Juliana's Pizza is run by the original owner of Grimaldi's. It is far superior and for now, the line is shorter. Go to Shanghai Gourmet Inc for soup dumplings or Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles for noodles. 

The One Brooklyn Bridge Park is a beautiful park in Brooklyn where you get beautiful views of Manhattan!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Empire State Building Observation Deck (attraction)
  2. Staten Island Ferry (attraction)
  3. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  4. Juliana's Pizza (restaurant)
  5. Shanghai Gourmet Inc (restaurant)
  6. Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles (restaurant)
  7. One Brooklyn Bridge Park (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Scott from San Francisco

You MUST eat a REAL bagel with cream cheese and nova at EssaBagel (this is $14, don't be shocked, it's huge, and it's the best bagel on the planet.  If you don't like Lox/nova, then a bagel and cream cheese is $3.50ish, and it's a whole lunch), have a gourmet donut at Doughnut Plant, eat what I believe is the best gelato anywhere including Italy at M'o Gelato, have a pastrami sandwich at Katz's Delicatessen (you MUST get it hand cut from the counter, this is the only way to do it, and make sure to tip your pastrami cutter, you'll get the hottest juiciest pastrami ever, and you'll understand what the fuss is about.  AVOID waiter service, your sandwich will be colder, drier and very disappointing.  Getting waiter service at Katz's is a rookie/tourist move), go to either Bouchon Bakery Bouchon Bakery and get an adult version of a Ho-Ho, and a Nutter-butter, visit Greenwich VillageSoHo, the original real Macy'sThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, and see a play.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. EssaBagel (restaurant)
  2. Doughnut Plant (restaurant)
  3. M'o Gelato (attraction)
  4. Katz's Delicatessen (restaurant)
  5. Bouchon Bakery (restaurant)
  6. Bouchon Bakery (restaurant)
  7. Greenwich Village (neighborhood)
  8. SoHo (neighborhood)
  9. Macy's (attraction)
  10. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Drew from Angelika Film Center & Cafe

Depends on time of year, but if you are able to go outside, I'd hit the High Line Park.  Gives you a unique perspective on the city, it's a beautiful view out to the Hudson, and that neighborhood is full of great restaurants.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. High Line Park (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Eline from Oirschot

Ground Zero! The museum is so overwhelming! 

Rent a bicycle and ride through Central Park, go to the Central Park Zoo, and maybe go to the obvious things such as Empire State Building

My friend and I really enjoyed eating at Blockheads Burritos (I don't remember the street, but it was a little restaurant with a terrace in the open air, and was not expensive at all!)

If you like to see musicals, you can of course go and see a show on broadway. Try one of the lotteries! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ground Zero (attraction)
  2. Central Park (attraction)
  3. Central Park Zoo (attraction)
  4. Empire State Building (attraction)
  5. Blockheads Burritos (restaurant)
3 thanks

answered by
Elena from Ontario (Canada)

Central Park! It's huge with so many highlights. Something for everyone. Download a map app, book a walking tour, or if you like photography, book a photo tour with NYC Photo Safari.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Central Park (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by

1.  9-11 museum and memorial at Ground Zero.

2.  Brooklyn Bridge--walk across for great views--free

3.  Staten Island Ferry--free

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ground Zero (attraction)
  2. Brooklyn Bridge (attraction)
  3. Staten Island Ferry (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Jeff from Brooklyn, New York

Hi Heather,

It depends on what you like to do, and what you like to eat.  And what your budget is.  If you like museums, we have too many!  If you like italian food, asian food, etc. we have too many.

My favorites with low costs:  The Noguchi Museum in LIC, Mezzrow Jazz Club in the village for jazz, and Ristorante Il Melograno for superb Italian food.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Noguchi Museum (attraction)
  2. Mezzrow Jazz Club (restaurant)
  3. Ristorante Il Melograno (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Steven from Winston Salem

There are soooo many great food places! However, for a foodie like me -- I would say you must eat a hot pastrami sandwich Katz's Delicatessen.  Stand in the line (don't get table service) and tip the slicer a few bucks for some extra extra meat (and a free sample) -- and don't ruin it!  Just the meat, rye, and mustard! :)  Katz's is an institution and adventure.  Just don't lose your ticket!  And get some Latke's and Egg Cream while you are at it. (you can easily split one sandwich for 2 people!) 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Katz's Delicatessen (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Perla from Alexandria (Virginia)

Go to see a a broadway show. I will recommend Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King and Wicked. Dont miss the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Empire State. I can recommend Patsy's ( Frank Sinatra's) favorite restaurant. You can also visit The Plaza food court hall. A bit expensive but worth it.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Patsy's (restaurant)
  2. The Plaza (hotel)
2 thanks

answered by
Jon from Alexandria (Virginia)

I highly recommend renting a bike and riding some laps around Central Park.  It is busy, and it is a touristy area.  However, I still think it is a must do.  Check the schedule ( and pick a time when the roads are closed to cars.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Central Park (attraction)
1 thanks

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