There can’t be many people out there for whom a visit to the Big Apple does not feature high up on their bucket list of things to do before they die. Renowned for its cosmopolitan feel and vibrant art, fashion and food scenes, New York is truly one of the world’s most diverse megacities. Whether you are coming for a weekend break or staying for a couple of weeks, working out what to do in your limited time is a challenge. With so many possibilities, we have decided to put together this list of unmissable sights and activities that you should do your utmost to squeeze into your trip.
Note: If you hold a British or EU passport, you are entitled to a 90-day stay in the USA via the ESTA waiver scheme. Remember to organise this before you travel to avoid any complications when you touch down at JFK. If you want to learn more about the scheme, check out this brilliant ESTA guide for more info.
1. Visit the Statue of Liberty
Towering over New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is undoubtedly New York’s most iconic landmark. No trip to New York would be complete without a visit to this neoclassical statue as given as a gift from France as a symbol of friendship and freedom between the two countries.
2. Take a Stroll in Central Park
Located smack bang in the middle of Manhattan Island is Central Park, the most visited urban park in the United States. Covering an area of 778 acres, the park is crammed full of sculptures, playgrounds, walking trails and jogging trails. You can also often find concerts, outdoor movies, educational programs and guided tours taking place inside the park gates.
3. Peruse the Exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History
If you find yourself in the vicinity of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a few hours spent in the American Museum a must. The museum is one of the largest of its type in the world and houses a whole host of fascinating exhibits, among which are the enormous Great Blue Whale and the remains of an animal which may well be the missing link between reptiles and mammals.
4. See the Empire State Building
There is no better place to gain an aerial view of New York than from the observation deck of the Empire State Building on the 86th floor. The deck spans the entire perimeter of the building, offering 360-degree views of the whole city.
5. Check Out the Guggenheim
Of the many great art museums in New York City, the Guggenheim is possibly the most iconic. The quirky yet timelessly tasteful architectural design of the interior of the museum is almost as interesting as the exhibits themselves. If you know your art, you will not fail to be captivated by the incredible exhibitions of some the most famous modern and contemporary artists that are always on show at the Guggenheim.
6. Visit the Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is probably the most recognisable street in the whole world. Stretching north from Washington Square Park to West 143rd Street, its neon signs are one of the most enduring trademarks of New York. Here, you can some of the most upmarket designer clothes stores anywhere on the planet, but many people go just to experience the signature hustle and bustle of downtown New York.
7. Take In the Sights at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is a large park the lies along the Brooklyn side of the East River. From here, you have an amazing view of both the Brooklyn Bridge (the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was opened in 1883) and the New York skyline, the skyscrapers of which are reflected beautifully on the surface of the river. The park is full of wildlife and aims to be completely sustainable.
New York is somewhere that everyone should visit once if they can. However, if you are a US citizen who loves New York but is looking for somewhere similar in Europe, you might consider visiting Milan. The Italian city is often said to be the closest European city to New York due to its thriving fashion industry. If you like the sound of the idea of a trip to Italy, be aware that from January 2021, you will need to apply for the new ETIAS visa exemption scheme to gain permission to enter countries in the Schengen Zone for a stay of 90 days.