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  • Mina

My Top 10 Things To Do in NYC (First-Time Visitor)

As a first time visiter in NYC I wanted to see it all. I wanted to walk through whole Manhattan, go to Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty, and I also wanted to do some Christmas shopping... But for one week, it was simply impossible.

To make the logistics easier, we've decided to stay close to Times Square.

(We actually chose a hotel designed by the super talented interior designer Phillip Stark. Although, the work he did in the there dates for like a decade ago, it was still a very cool experience for me, to have a close look at his work.)

And here comes the Top 10 of my favourite things we got to do in NYC:

10. Times Square - a MUST place to visit once. It's crazy and always too crowded. But it's very beautiful by night with all the lights coming from the screens around.

9. World Trade Centre Memorial - unfortunately this area was forced to change after the September 11th, 2001. But the memorial and all surroundings bring peace and tranquility. I was in awe. The timing I got to visit it though, was not so peaceful. It was just a few days after the terroristic attacks in Paris, in the beginning of November 2015, and everything was covered by flowers and french flags. It was a heavy environment.

8. Have a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at The Strand Hotel (West 37th Str.) - actually, everywhere in NYC a glass of Cabernet is always a good idea (in the winter). The Strand Hotel however has a glass-covered rooftop bar (opens at 6 p.m. I think) with a breathtaking view to the Empire State Building. You can almost touch it.

7. Visit Harlem - a comunity-like neighbourhood in Upper Manhattan. Harlem is the major African-American residential, cultural and business centre. It has great places for lunch and the look alike brick living buildings are very cool.

6. Sunset at Battery Park

And the Sphere - a large metallic sculpture by the German sculptor Fritz Koenig. It was once located in the middle of Austin J. Tobin Plaza, the area between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. After the attacks from September 11th, 2001 it was visibly damaged, but remained structurally intact. Around six months after the attacks it was relocated at Battery Park without any repair works done on it.

5. Have a walk at High Line Park - formally a New York Central Railroad, nowadays it is a very green and peaceful walking area, built on the disused southern portion of the West Side Line, running to the Lower West Side of Manhattan.

4. Go to a Broadway show - there are so many Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway theatres in NYC. It all depends on what show you want to see. Going to Radio City Music Hall for its special Christmas Show was amazing - this is the biggest hall in the World for this kind of shows (American Music Idol concerts also are happening there). A few days later we went to see Cats at another theatre and the experience was unforgettable.

3. Ride a bike or have a walk around Central Park - it's dimensions are 2 km x 0,5 km, so if planning on walking around, might be a good idea to arrange a whole day for it. Start your walk or ride by the entrance at the Columbus Circle and don't miss the opportunity of eating a hot-dog from the street stalls there. They are delicious.

Have in mind that by bike you are not allowed to leave the bicycle alley, so you are not able to see everything in the park. Depends on your speed, but on a normal pace, 1 hour was enough for us (with many stops to look around) to get back at the beginning - the alley is only one-way.

2. Walking on the Brooklyn Bridge - may be the most iconic of all NYC bridges. Its length is around 2 km. Starts just next to Civic Centre in Manhattan (the City Hall is also very close) and goes to Brooklyn Heights. If you have time (and strong feet) go through the whole bridge. The Manhattan part is very touristic and overcrowded, but the Brooklyn part is very calm. You may even find yourself alone there.

1. Watch the sun goes down at the top of the Rockefeller Centre - might be a good idea to buy the ticket in advance to escape the lines, although we didn't get any. However, we got there around 1:30 h before the sunset. And watching how the sun goes down over the entire city was unforgettable.

In case you still have time, here is a short list of some other great things to do in NYC:

Boat trip to Staten Island (it's free) to see the Statue of Liberty. Don't bother to go out of the port. Staten Island has nothing interesting to see.

Go to a Comedy Club and don't forget to take your ID with you. I had left mine in the hotel and they let us in, but didn't serve alcoholic drinks to our table. I was flattered of course, but still, it was hard to believe it. Check out the Flatiron Building - originally the Fuller Building, it is the triangular 22-story steel-framed iconic NYC building.

On your way to Brooklyn Bridge make a stop at the garden in front the City Hall - there are a lot of very cute and friendly squirrels, especially if you have nuts or other treats to give them.

Visit the Chelsea Market - not very big, but with very cool industrial style and with some cute shops. Oh, and warm, delicious soups for a quick lunch, too. It's very close to High Line.

If you are visiting NYC close to Christmas or even Black Friday, you should at least once pass by Macy's (the iconic shopping centre on 7th Avenue) and check the Christmas decoration. They surely take it to another level.

Go to the Grand Central Terminal - an iconic railway station with great architecture.

It's not an easy decision choosing to spend your vacation in the city. Specially, in a city so busy as New York is. But it's worth it. I personally, can't wait to go back there.

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