First Bite of The Big Apple: 14 Things to Do in NYC

Last year Scott’s youngest sister Raynie graduated from Middle School and in celebration, we took her to New York City.  Scott had been once before, but Raynie and I were first-timers.  We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan ( which was an incredibly convenient and central location.  As it was our first time, we wanted to do everything!  I think we did a pretty fantastic job of experiencing the city and seeing the sights using the following New-York-City-Newbie Itinerary:

  1. Central Park:  I know this one sounds cliché, but it really is top of everyone’s list for a reason!  Central Park is massive and incredible.  We visited it several times during our trip.  I later found out that this was Scott’s original choice of places to propose, and I can definitely see why.  Our first visit to Central Park took us ALL day.  We began at the Southern most end of the park and walked the entire length of it, ending on the Northern side where we decided to get pizza in Harlem.  Although Harlem is not usually recommended as a tourist neighborhood, the pizza we had was worth the adventure.DSC_0005DSC_0008DSC_0013 (1)DSC_0015DSC_0020DSC_0030
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    The view from the tower of a castle inside of Central Park

    DSC_0037The next time we visited Central Park, we decided to check out the zoo that is in the park.  We got to sea the sea lions at feeding time and it made our day.DSC_0083 (1)DSC_0090DSC_0094Each time we visited Central Park, Raynie and I would try to become acquainted with the resident turtles.  There is a larger number of animals in Central Park than one would expect in such an urban setting.  It’s like an isolated little world.DSC_0075.jpg

  2. See A Broadway Show: While in New York, we got to see two Broadway shows.  One of my life-long dreams was to see Phantom of the Opera.  I never saw it in another city when I had the opportunity because I wanted to see it on Broadway in its original theater.  Although it was hard to hear the dialog and Raynie and Scott were a little lost, I LOVED IT.  When you know a show by heart, you don’t need clear dialog.  However, if I’m being honest, the better experience was seeing Something Rotten.  I had never heard of this show and it was amazing: good music, great comedy and expert production.  We had so much fun!DSC_0102IMG_3074
  3. Carnegie Deli: It’s breaking my heart to write this, but Carnegie Deli closed four months after our visit.  However, you can still order their food to be shipped nationwide (, also there was a restaurant competitor across the street (whom sold the same sandwiches and cheesecake, but didn’t have the notoriety of Carnegie) which might be worth a try.  We went to Carnegie Deli late at night after experiencing Broadway and it was incredible!  Their hot pastrami sandwiches and strawberry cheesecake can’t be beat.
  4. Brunch in The Upper West Side:  I was lucky enough to have an old friend living in New York for an internship while we were visiting.  We wanted to see her and we wanted to do brunch, so we asked her for a recommendation.  We ended up going to Jacob’s Pickles in The Upper West Side ( and it was awesome!  Super creative drinks and delicious southern style food.
  5. The 9/11 Memorial: If it’s your first time in New York City, I would not miss this attraction.  You can feel how New York City has been shaped by the horrific events of 9/11 as you’re walking the streets, but you really understand it when you see these exhibits.  The monuments outside are one thing, but the museum itself really takes you back to that day.  We all left feeling awe-inspired, melancholy and full of thoughts and questions.DSC_0042DSC_0044 (1)DSC_0046
  6. The Museums:  The museums throughout New York City are incredible!  During our time here we visited a few of them (including the 9/11 Memorial Museum), but we spent the most time in the American Museum of Natural History.  There was something about the fossils of ancient creatures that kept us enthralled for hours.DSC_0056 (1)DSC_0060 (1)
  7. SHOPPING!: Raynie and I love to shop when we get together and New York might be an expensive city, but it is also a city of bargains!  We shopped on 5th Avenue and in Times Square and can’t wait to go back.
  8. Times Square at Night:  Times Square is a chaotic place.  It definitely feels hectic and urban and isn’t a place in which we wanted to spend a ton of time.  That being said, it is a place everyone should see if they’re in New York.  It’s captivating and you never run out of new characters to look at.  Some of the street performers have been doing the same thing for generations and have a “classic” act while others are constantly changing and updating to shock the public.  IMG_3053IMG_3073
  9. Walk The High Line: The High Line is a repurposed rail road that has been turned into a park.  You get incredible views of the city, run into plenty of interesting New Yorkers and get to stretch your legs in a beautiful setting.  We never would have done this if my friend, Katie, hadn’t recommended it and I’m so glad she did.  One of the coolest things we did during this trip.DSC_0223 (1)DSC_0229
    A sculpture that tricked our minds on The High Line 

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  10. The Empire State Building:  This might seem like another “duh”, but don’t miss this!  The inside of the building feels like it’s frozen in time and is a relic of a glamorous era.  The view from the observation deck is simply the best view of the city you can get: 360 degrees of unobstructed Manhattan.DSC_0166DSC_0200DSC_0170 (1)DSC_0206DSC_0173DSC_0215
  11. The Statue of Liberty: Confession:  We didn’t even get off of the boat when we took a ride out to the The Statue of Liberty, but we didn’t need to.  The view from the tour boats is as good as it gets and we were getting exhausted with crowds.  In person she is more impressive than we could have thought.  Her power isn’t in her size, but in her presence and it is a formidable one.  Plus, the boats give you a new perspective on the New York City skyline.DSC_0255DSC_0259 (1)
  12. Make a Pit-Stop at a Pret A Manger: We first discovered Prets when we were in London and were ecstatic to find them all over New York City.  If you want delicious, organic coffee and a plethora of healthy lunch and breakfast choices, this is your spot.  Walking the streets of Manhattan is exhausting and we found ourselves grabbing quick bites at Pret throughout our time here.
  13. Sip Cocktails at a Rooftop Bar: We only got to do this one during the daylight hours since Raynie was only 14, but we definitely got to see the draw for rooftop bars in the city.  Our next trip will be full of glamorous night caps at these stunning locations.
  14. Explore the Streets:  Finally, just see the city!  Whether you see the city by foot or take a bus tour, explore as much as you can.  The architecture, people and artwork are amazing (and have been seen in so many movies) and there’s never a shortage of sights.  We happened to walk and ride a bus tour during our visit and each method gives a different perspective.DSC_0098DSC_0127DSC_0150DSC_0134DSC_0121 (1)DSC_0152IMG_3065

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