The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. So nice they named it twice. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. The heart of civilization. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.
One of the greatest cities in the world, New York City is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. NYC has always been on my bucket list of places to visit and, after making the trip, I fell in love with the place.
The possibilities are endless in this enchanting city, and the place is so massive that you’d need weeks to properly explore it all. However, if you only had one day in this sprawling metropolis, how would you spend it? Again, the possibilities are endless, but here I’ll list my top three things for first-timers to do in NYC.
New York City is comprised of five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan. For the sake of time, we’ll focus on Manhattan, which is home to the most recognizable and iconic skyline in the world.
Although it may be the most cliche and touristy spot in New York City, Times Square is an absolute must-see, especially for first-timers.
Times Square is often referred to as the Crossroads of the World, and for good reason. One of the most visited spots on the planet, over 360,000 people walk through this hectic plaza each day. Neon billboards pulsating with crowds of people from all over the globe, there is an energy in Times Square unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life.
Times Square may be best known for the greatest New Year’s Eve Celebration on the planet. Thousands of people gather here every year on December 31 to watch the ball drop, a tradition that started in 1907.
Personally, one of my favorite things to do in Times Square is people watch. The red staircase above the TKTS booth on the north end of Times Square offers a great view for visitors to observe the surroundings. Grab a seat and soak in the vibe of one of the most electric and breathtaking spots on Earth.
The Statue of Liberty
A symbol of American opportunity and enduring freedom, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable monuments in the world.
For over 130 years, Lady Liberty has stood overlooking New York Harbor, welcoming travelers and immigrants to the United States. The famous monument stands at over 300 feet tall and is located on a 12 acre island just southwest of Manhattan known as Liberty Island.
Getting to the island is relatively easy. Ferries depart every 15 minutes from Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan. Once on the island, you can check out the museum located at Lady Liberty’s pedestal or catch an elevator to an observation deck at the top of pedestal. Going inside the actual statue and climbing up to Lady Liberty’s crown is a privilege only enjoyed by those who make reservations months in advance. Only 400 visitors per day are allowed to ascend to the crown of the monument.
However, just getting the chance to see this piece of history is an unforgettable experience. A great tip I learned from the locals: you can get an incredible view of the statue from the Staten Island Ferry, which passes close by Liberty Island, and it’s free!
9/11 Memorial and Museum
If I had to pick only one thing to do in New York City, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum would be it.
The unspeakable atrocities that occurred on this now hallowed ground have affected us all in some way. The monument and museum that now stand here are incredible tributes to the over 3,000 victims and their families.
For me, the terrorist attacks of September 11th were psychologically and emotionally scarring, and created a heaviness that still lingers. What transpired at The World Trade Center that day will be forever etched into my memory.
Visiting this sacred place was immensely sobering and emotional. Many times during my visit I was overcome with emotion and found it impossible to fight back tears. The museum is completely immersive and takes visitors down to the foundations of the towers. Videos and audio clips of eye witness accounts play throughout the exhibit and tell the story of what occurred that day. It’s indescribable.
You’ll never be able to fully grasp the scope and the magnitude of this tragedy, but the museum and memorial do a great job of paying respects to the victims of these heinous attacks. The museum was packed with people the day I visited, but it was so quiet at times that you could hear a pin drop. The museum is huge, so make sure to set aside at least five or six hours to get the full experience. I could’ve spent several days here.
A word of warning for parents: some parts of the exhibit may not be suitable for small children. However, for parents and children alike, the many stories of bravery detailed throughout the exhibit are awe inspiring and a reminder of why the United States is the greatest country in the world.
In my opinion, every American should visit this memorial.
No matter what you choose to do in this amazing city, New York is always an unforgettable experience. This is a place unlike any other in the world. Few things are as humbling as strolling down a Manhattan street surrounded by towering skyscrapers.
Admittedly, I was completely overwhelmed and intimidated by the vastness of this urban expanse at first. After spending a day or two in New York City, your only question will be “when can I go back?”. Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today….