What to do in NYC?

Two of my Facebook friends from Sweden posted this question on Facebook yesterday: “We’r 2 girls from sweden going to NY now on the 13th March, You guys have any tips for fun stuff to do / see / eat *_* or just wanna hang? 😀 Cheers! /Maria & Ida the explorers.”

How in the world do I answer that question?

Lisa Weldon in New York

Lisa Stapleton Weldon in New York

It immediately took me back to my very first trip to the Big Apple in 1977 (read about it!). I get excited all over again – I know how giddy these two gals will feel when that plane comes in to land. In one way I hope they are flying in at night and can see the island bejeweled in all its lights. Oh, but if they land in the morning they can start walking the city the minute their feet touch the ground. { I’m so jealous! }

Either way, get a window seat.

Whether you fly into LaGuardia or Kennedy, hop on an airport bus to Grand Central Station. Anyone arriving in NY should arrive through this portal . . . sort of like the folks who came here through Ellis Island, this subway station is where all first-time visitors should get their first taste of America’s great city.

Find your hotel, dump your luggage and put on your walking shoes. I highly suggest merely walking that first day. Just enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells of this great city. You’ll get lost, totally turned around, but just ask someone. People in New York are SO friendly . . . and so interesting.woman naked and painted in Times Square

Get up early the next morning and walk back over to Times Square (@ 44th & Broadway) to the set of Good Morning America (be there by 7-7:30am). If you’d like to go behind the scenes, reserve a backstage tour online.

From there you MUST get an authentic New York bagel with lox and cream cheese . . . and may your adventure begin.

At night: Ride the tram over to Roosevelt Island. For a mere $2.25 you’ll get a spectacular view of the island. Can’t leave NY without a trip up the Empire State Building (there’s usually no wait on a weeknight). Then of course, everyone must see Times Square at night. Stores, restaurants . . . there’s plenty to keep you busy.

All visitors must visit the site of 9/11. Reserve tickets today. The new memorial is very moving, both during the daytime and at nightfall.

Central Park

Grab a picnic and plan to spend an afternoon in Central Park. Then wander down Fifth Avenue and see The Apple Store, FAO Schwarz, Tiffany’s, stroll through The Plaza like you can afford a room there.

Spend another day in Chelsea on the High Line, in Chelsea Market, then meander down to my favorite part of town, Greenwich Village.

Another day should be spent in the southern part of the island. Wall Street, the financial district is very interesting. Go further south to Battery Park and board a ferry to Ellis Island. Go up into the Statue of Liberty if you have time. Again, get tickets ahead of time.

As you head back north, make a stop in Chinatown and Little Italy, where you can get the best Italian food (Mulberry Street) and the cheapest Rolex watch (Canal Street) all within a few blocks.

On a lazy day, plan to walk up the Hudson River Park, which stretches almost the entire west side of the island. It’s nice in the morning and just as wonderful in the evening.

Want to see a Broadway play? Get 1/2 price tickets at the tkts booth in Times Square. I guarantee just about any show you see will be great.

graffiti in Harlem NYCIf you like graffiti and murals, don’t miss one of my favorite neighborhoods, East Harlem and Spanish Harlem. The urban art is incredible, better than any museum in the city. And free.

For shopping, hop over to the fun Limelight Shops ~ or get inexpensive designer finds in the 3-story Loehmann’s in Chelsea (101 Seventh Avenue).

Oh, I almost forget ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza or in Bryant Park! It’ll be cold in NY in March, but I’m sure you Swedish gals will be able to handle that.

Museums? I prefer the off-beat museums. The best art can be seen in the subway stations, in my opinion.

Restaurants? I’ll leave that up to Forbes’ reviews. I personally found it most fun to just wander into restaurants that looked interesting. I never was disappointed. One of the best meals I had while I visited NY was from a Halal a street vendor. Really!

Oh, I’ve only mentioned the hot spots, the places you should see on your first trip to New York. There are so many more . . .

Maria and Ida, I hope you two have the time of your life in New York. I only wish I could be there to personally welcome you to our country.

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{ Folks, chime in. What have I missed? Please add your recommendations in the comment box below }


  • Michele Stapleton
    Posted at 13:55h, 02 March

    I loved getting up really early, riding the subway to Brooklyn, and walking the Brooklyn Bridge back into NYC at sunrise. Very peaceful, very lovely.

  • lisaweldon
    Posted at 15:29h, 02 March

    oh, Michele. I knew there was a reason to go back. I still haven’t done that.