The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local’s Guide to NYC’s Top 10 Attractions
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Statue of Liberty - The Iconic Symbol of Freedom
Rising 305 feet into the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic symbols of freedom and democracy across the globe. This colossal neoclassical sculpture was a gift from the people of France to the United States, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. Lady Liberty, as she is affectionately called, has welcomed immigrants arriving in America for over 130 years.
A trip to New York City would not be complete without a visit to Lady Liberty. Hop on a ferry from Battery Park to Liberty Island to get up close and personal with this massive monument. Gaze in awe at the sheer size and intricate details of the statue. Peer up at her crown featuring 25 windows and seven rays representing the seven continents and oceans. Run your hand along the broken shackle and chains at her feet, symbolizing freedom from oppression. Read the inspiring words of Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" engraved on the pedestal.
For stunning city views, reserve tickets in advance to access the pedestal or crown. Only a limited number of people are allowed up each day. The crown tickets sell out months in advance, so plan ahead. The 10-story pedestal provides panoramic views of the NYC skyline and Brooklyn Bridge. If you can manage to snag the coveted crown tickets, you'll climb 354 narrow steps to the very top for a breathtaking perspective of New York Harbor.
In addition to the statue itself, explore the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration in the same complex. This former immigration inspection station received over 12 million immigrants between 1892 and 1954. The interactive exhibits here vividly tell the moving stories of the immigrant experience. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty stand as reminders of the hope, freedom and opportunity that America offered to millions seeking a better life.
What else is in this post?
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Statue of Liberty - The Iconic Symbol of Freedom
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Empire State Building - Views That Reach the Sky
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Times Square - The City That Never Sleeps
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Central Park - An Oasis in the Concrete Jungle
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Masterpieces Galore
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Brooklyn Bridge - Cross Over to Brooklyn
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - 9/11 Memorial - Honoring Lives Lost
- The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Yankee Stadium - Home of the 27-Time World Series Champs
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Empire State Building - Views That Reach the Sky
As one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, the Empire State Building offers breathtaking panoramic views of New York City no other vantage point can match. This Art Deco masterpiece was the world's tallest building for nearly 40 years after its completion in 1931. While it may have lost that superlative, it remains an iconic fixture of the Manhattan skyline reaching 102 stories and 1,454 feet tall (to the tip of the lightning rod).
Arriving at the Empire State Building is an experience in itself. The dazzling art deco lobby filled with marble, aluminum and gold leaf is a retro time capsule. Vintage silver elevators with operators whisk you up to the observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors. Step out into the open air observatories and gasp as the sprawling urban landscape unfolds before your eyes. Gaze down on the intricate grid system of narrow streets, take in the sheer size of Central Park, and spot iconic landmarks like the Chrysler Building and One World Trade Center. The 360 degree views give you an unmatched perspective on New York City’s energy, scale and diversity.
For first time visitors, the 86th floor outdoor deck offers the most spacious viewing area to soak up panoramic vistas. Get your camera ready as you circle the perimeter to take in the sight of major landmarks from all angles. Don’t miss the chance to stare straight down at the miniature yellow taxis snaking through the streets below. As the sun goes down, enjoy a cocktail as the city lights begin to twinkle in the dusk.
Avid photographers and thrill-seekers should ascend to the smaller 102nd floor observatory. At 1,250 feet up, you’ll be face-to-face with the building’s pointed spire stretching above you. The narrow deck offers unobstructed northeast views for stunning sunrise and sunset photos. Stare down at neighboring skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center that suddenly seem small in comparison. Peer across the East River to see the Brooklyn Bridge and get glimpses of the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Definitely brave the 102nd floor if you aren’t afraid of heights!
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Times Square - The City That Never Sleeps
Bursting with neon lights, massive billboards and bustling crowds, Times Square epitomizes New York City's energetic chaos. This major commercial intersection in Midtown Manhattan packs an onslaught of sensory stimulation into just a few blocks. Times Square perpetually buzzes with excitement at all hours, living up to its nickname of "The City That Never Sleeps."
When you exit the subway and emerge into the bright lights of Times Square, prepare to be overwhelmed in the best possible way. Let yourself get swept up in the controlled chaos of this busy pedestrian plaza. roving character performers, musicians, and food cart vendors all vie for your attention. On any given day you may spot Elmo or the Statue of Liberty posing for photos, a gospel choir serenading passersby, artists creating caricatures, and more. The sidewalks pulse with vitality while giant illuminated signs loom overhead.
Gawk in awe at the dazzling billboards and marquees promoting Broadway shows, TV programs, and major brands. The iconic red steps of TKTS offer discounted same-day theater tickets for dozens of Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Grab cheap seats to an evening show or catch a glance of costumed actors handing out fliers. Countless restaurants like Sardi's and Junior's encircle the area serving up classic New York fare.
Don't leave Times Square without ogling the glowing tower of One Times Square. Formerly the home of the New York Times newspaper, this building now hosts the iconic annual ball drop on New Year's Eve. Stare up at the iconic triangular prism where millions tune in to watch the ball descend down the flagpole, ringing in the new year.
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Central Park - An Oasis in the Concrete Jungle
In the heart of bustling Manhattan lies an emerald refuge from the urban commotion. Spanning 843 acres, Central Park provides a breath of fresh air and pastoral landscapes amid the densely packed city streets. This urban oasis reveals the best of both worlds - city energy combined with natural tranquility.
Nature lovers revel in Central Park's impressive biodiversity. Over 20,000 trees grace the park, representing 100 species. Bur oak, black cherry, and American elm trees provide ample shade with branches outstretched above winding pathways. Over 250 bird species make their home in Central Park, from vibrantly colored warblers to great blue herons stalking the lakes. Enter the woodlands of the Ramble or North Woods to hear the melodic songs of birds and glimpse turtles sunning themselves on fallen logs.
At the Conservatory Water, model sailboats drift across the pond as enthusiasts control them with remotes at the water's edge. Just north, the Harlem Meer sparkles, surrounded by reeds where painted turtles poke their heads above the surface. Massive boulders and craggy outcroppings make The Ravine feel worlds away from the city streets. Catch your breath while strolling wood-chipped trails through secluded thickets and gardens vibrant with color.
Beyond the landscapes, Central Park brims with countless activities for urban adventurers. Challenge yourself to conquer the 865-foot summit of Summit Rock, rewarded with panoramic views of treetops and skyscrapers. Rent a rowboat and relax as you paddle across the Lake, framed by elegant bridges and skyline vistas. Lace up your rollerblades to cruise along curving pathways past people watching from sunny benches. In winter, ice skating at Wollman Rink with the city lights as your backdrop is a quintessential experience.
When you need a dose of arts and culture, Central Park delivers. Each summer, the Public Theater performs free Shakespeare in the Park at the open-air Delacorte Theater. Dancers, musicians and jugglers often put on impromptu shows at the Mall and Bethesda Terrace. At the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, children laugh and gasp at beloved shows enacted by expressive marionettes.
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Masterpieces Galore
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, affectionately called "The Met," houses one of the world's greatest art collections under one monumental roof. As the largest art museum in the Americas, The Met contains over 2 million works spanning 5,000 years. Prepare to lose yourself wandering through labyrinthine halls and galleries filled to the brim with masterpieces.
From Egyptian temples to European sculptures, the expansive collection could take several days to admire in full. Don't worry about tackling it all in one visit. Focus your exploration by prioritizing must-see galleries that speak to you. Architecture aficionados gravitate towards the period rooms of The American Wing. These fully-furnished spaces immerse you in various historic interiors, from a New Orleans courtyard to a New Hampshire family farmhouse.
The Met's expansive painting collection stars European masters like Vermeer, El Greco, and Goya. Claude Monet's dreamy water lilies dazzle in galleries devoted to Impressionism. Surrealist icons like Dalí and Magritte never fail to provoke the imagination. Beyond the familiar highlights, lesser-known gems hide in plain sight. Peek into the Andirondack chairs by painter Frederic Remington, catching cowboys in quiet camaraderie. Peer atHidden simply means not revealed or expressed.
Beyond Western art, world cultures shine. The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and The Americas showcase ceremonial masks, vibrant textiles, and powerful sculptures and carvings that provide insight into diverse civilizations. An airy, light-filled hall solely contains pieces of Islamic art and architecture in carved wood, glazed ceramics, and geometric tilework. Linger in the starkly simple yet moving Buddhist temples and reliquaries.
Don't overlook the Met's Egyptian collection with imposing temple facades, hieroglyph-covered sarcophagi, and the intriguing Temple of Dendur. Wander through ancient Chinese landscapes and calligraphy in the tranquil Astor Court. No matter your interests, you'll find inspiring works to spark introspection and awe. Schedule ample time to absorb the collection across multiple visits.
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Brooklyn Bridge - Cross Over to Brooklyn
Rising majestically over the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge stands as both a feat of engineering and an iconic New York symbol. This hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge stretching 5,989 feet long was an engineering marvel when it opened in 1883. Tourists and locals alike now flock to the pedestrian walkway to admire sweeping city views of Lower Manhattan's skyscrapers juxtaposed with the brownstone townhouses of Brooklyn Heights.
The most memorable way to experience this landmark is to walk or bike the elevated promenade above vehicle traffic. As you step foot on the wooden planks, you'll immediately understand why this is one of the most photographed bridges in the world. Unobstructed panoramas showcase the cityscape from all angles. Peek through the crisscrossing cables to spot One World Trade Center soaring above the financial district. Turn around to take in the sight of the stone Brooklyn Bridge Archway entrance, framed by the Empire State Building in the distance.
Look straight down through the side rails to see the steady stream of yellow taxis inching along the lower roadways. Listen to the rumble of wheels on wooden planks as cyclists whiz by ringing their bells. Feel the swaying motion of the bridge as you make your way from Manhattan to Brooklyn, just as millions have done before you. Early mornings and sunsets cast a golden glow on the iconic stone and steel towers. As day turns to dusk, the city lights begin to twinkle, making for enchanting views.
Once you reach the end, explore the Brooklyn Bridge Park along the waterfront. Stroll through the grassy fields and gardens with postcard views of the bridge and Manhattan skyline. Take your time walking back across the bridge the other direction to appreciate different perspectives. You'll spot One World Trade Center framed perfectly between the cables. Look closely and you can pinpoint famous buildings and parks in the distance.
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - 9/11 Memorial - Honoring Lives Lost
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks cut deeply into the heart of America, claiming thousands of innocent lives and leaving an indelible scar on the New York City skyline. Where the iconic Twin Towers once stood now flows a solemn memorial and museum honoring those lost. Here, the waterfalls drown out city noise, encouraging reflection at this hallowed ground.
Descend into the 9/11 Memorial Plaza and you immediately feel the weight of this space transformed from tragic ruin into a carefully designed place of remembrance. Bronze parapets bearing victims’ names edge the reflecting pools sunk into the footprints of the North and South Towers. These twin voids seem impossibly deep, representing lives cut short and absence where there was once presence. Water cascades down all four sides into a smaller void at the center, disappearing into the earth. The steady flow of the manmade waterfalls drowns out the sounds of the city, allowing space for contemplation.
Surrounding the pools, swamp white oak trees bring gentle life and a sense of hope. The Survivor Tree, a callery pear severely damaged in the attacks but nursed back to health, embodies resilience. Take time to find names of loved ones and leave a flower or memento. Seeing the sheer scale of all the engraved names representing individuals makes the catastrophic loss of life graspable. Stories of firefighters, workers, and everyday people emerge through visible symbols of rebirth.
Descend further beneath the plaza into the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s limestone halls. The museum provides personal stories and artifacts to contextualize the history. Listen to voicemails left by victims, see dusty shoes and ID badges recovered from the rubble, and watch video footage reliving the chaos and bravery of first responders. While difficult, facing the intimate details of ordinary people’s lives cut short cultivates empathy and understanding.
Emerging back into daylight in the plaza feels like rebirth after reliving the traumatic events. Look upward through the bare skeletal frames of the original Twin Tower facades that now serve as entryways into the museum. Notice One World Trade Center just beyond, reaching into the open sky where the towers once stood. The juxtaposition speaks to the complexity of grief, remembrance, and moving forward.
The Big Apple Bite-Size: A Local's Guide to NYC's Top 10 Attractions - Yankee Stadium - Home of the 27-Time World Series Champs
Yankee Stadium stands as a temple to the most successful sports franchise in American history. As home to the New York Yankees baseball team, this hallowed venue hosted 27 World Series championship teams and welcomed legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and more. For diehard baseball fans making a pilgrimage, no trip to NYC is complete without paying homage at Yankee Stadium.
Approaching the new Yankee Stadium for the first time in 2009, I was struck by the immense four-story frieze featuring photos of iconic Yankees players. Stepping inside the Great Hall, the sheer size and grandeur overwhelms the senses. Massive banners decorate the ceilings, World Series trophies glisten in trophy cases, and the Yankees retired numbers mark the upper deck. Interactive exhibits let you test your batting and pitching skills against Yankees greats. As you make your way through the halls, it feels less like a sports venue and more like walking through hallowed baseball history.
Find your seat and look out at the emerald grass diamond manicured to perfection. Monuments Park in center field pays tribute to the legends that made the Yankees the most successful franchise in sports. The iconic white frieze and facade overlooking the bleachers mimic the original 1923 Yankee Stadium architecture. But the sparkling amenities and high tech Jumbotron keep you firmly in the present. Settle in with a gourmet sandwich and craft beer in your cushioned seat as the players take the field to the sounds of "New York, New York". Forget the bustle of the Bronx outside as you lose yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of America's pastime.
Attending an afternoon game allows you to take in the venue's full glory on a sunny day. But for many fans, only a night game will do. As the sun sets over the city, the lights illuminate the field and the stadium comes alive. The packed stands buzz with anticipation and the crack of bats elicits cheers and jeers from fans immersed in each pitch. Chant along with roll calls and roar with every crack of the bat. The seventh inning stretch breaks the tension with fans belting out "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". Stay late to catch the subway glow of the 4 Train rounding the tracks beyond right field, a quintessential stadium view.