10 Things to Do on Your First Trip to New York

New York. The City That Never Sleeps. No matter what you call New York City, it’s a destination for many. Whether you are visiting for business or for pleasure, there are certain things that you want to do your first time in the Big Apple.

While we can’t cover everything there is to see and do in one of the most populated cities in the United States, we can provide you with a list of must-do things if you get the chance on your first trip to New York. We’ll also say that many of these are not on your typical “Must See in New York” lists.

1. Get Wild at Coney Island

It’s got everything: a bustling boardwalk, an amusement park, and a gorgeous beach. Mingle with locals and tourists alike, or simply bask in the sun. Ride the iconic Coney Island Cyclone wooden roller coaster or take in the views from Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Curb your hunger at Nathan’s flagship hotdog stand or grab a NY slice at Totonno Pizzeria Napolitana.

2. Hayden Planetarium

It’ll take about three hours with a lunch break, but if you’re into Sci-Fi, this is one of the most unique experiences in New York. The light show is an amazing experience, and I recommend bringing your own headphones and background music.

3. Wander around Times Square

One of the most popular tourist destinations in New York, Times Square is more than just the bright lights. Eateries abound to nosh, but don’t opt for the chain dining traps. Choose a local eatery, which may not be as brightly lit. If you’re in the mood to meet pop culture icons, stop by Madame Tussauds New York, the world-famous wax museum. Exhibits include Mike Tyson, King Kong, the Ghostbusters, and more. There’s also the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, too.

4. Take in a Broadway Show

Taking in a Broadway show is one of those things that you simply must do when you visit New York. You can also stroll through Manhattan’s Theater District. The hottest shows are always pricey, but you can get deals for same-day shows up to 50% off.

5. Chill out in Chinatown

Another iconic neighborhood in New York is the colorful Chinatown. Do yourself a favor and check out Nom Wah Tea Parlor. It’s inexpensive and laid back, which is just perfect for those on a budget. Places abound to score a full body massage for just $30-40, which will leave you utterly relaxed. Taking in the scenes can help you work off those pork buns and dumplings you just have to eat.

6. Catch the beauty of nature at the New York Botanical Gardens

Not everyone is up for crowds. If you feel the need for nature, check out the New York Botanical Gardens. 30,000 trees among 50 diverse gardens and a glasshouse with a rainforest and cactus display, it’s easy to get lost in nature here.

7. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

If the Hayden Planetarium has you wanting to go where no one has gone before, head on over to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. Stroll on deck and tour the inner works of a battleship. Visit the Space Shuttle Pavilion to take in the Spaceship Enterprise.

8. Central Park

Put on your most comfortable pair of walking shoes, pack some snacks, water, and perhaps a frisbee if you’re with friends. Another of the most iconic locations in New York, Central Park is a can’t-miss on your first visit. Follow the music to the Imagine Mosaic and pay tribute to iconic Beatle member and sometime New York resident, John Lennon. If you get hungry, there’s always Sarabeth’s Central Park South for some quirky eats, which include pumpkin waffles.

Related: Getting Around NYC


9. Catch Music at Bowery Ballroom

The city’s best sound system highlights the music of up-and-coming artists with an Indie sound. Hit up the downstairs bar to get revved up before the show. The Bowery Ballroom is the pinnacle of the Bowery Presents music venues, which include the Mercury Lounge, Terminal 5, and Webster Hall.

10. Get Artistic at the Met

Indulge the creative side that might be brought out by taking in the sights at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known locally as the Met. The largest museum in the western hemisphere, the Met has art and artifacts from 5,000 years of world culture. The Met has it all, from Greek and Roman statues to Egyptian hieroglyphics. They have Rembrandts and Vermeers among other European art, as well as African, Indian, Byzantine, and Islamic works of art.

This list comprises just a few things that you simply must do on their first visit to New York. We can’t cover everything that you can see and do in the Big Apple, but we hope we’ve highlighted some of the brightest and best.

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