If you’re looking for the top 10 things to do in New York City on a New York holidays vacation then you are like the nearly 50 million tourists who visit NYC every year, including 10 million foreign visitors. We’ve been there and we’ll let you know what to do to have a great time on your trip.
Places To Stay in NYC: NYC Hotels Luxury & Discount
With hundreds of NYC hotels to choose from, booking a hotel in New York is all about location. Prices vary from economy priced to very expensive in most locations. Look for weekend discounts or if you really want to penny pinch try one of a variety of New York City hostels.
Hotel Metro – Affordability, style, and quality, with complimentary Continental breakfast and NY Times. Moderately priced, with Art Deco interiors and comfortable rooms. Midtown Manhattan.
Amsterdam Court Hotel – A New York City hotel known for superior location and budget price makes the Amsterdam Court Hotel a great find. Just two blocks from Rockefeller Center and within walking distance of Times Square, Broadway, and Central Park.
Ameritania Hotel – A cheap NYC hotel with a great location, the Ameritania Hotel is the place to stay for the theatre crowd. Located in Broadway’s Theatre District it is very popular with the hip, theater-going crowd as well as business and vacationing travelers.
Best Western President Hotel – A complete renovation has upgraded the Best Western President Hotel into a modern classic. With 334 chic and comfortable guest rooms done in a modern and politically-inspired motif. Highly recommended for the frequent traveler who would enjoy something different. For the politically sensitive, be sure to specify a Republican or Democratic room unless sleeping with Reagan or Clinton memorabilia is not a problem. Located in the heart of Times Square and the Theater District.
Hampton Inn New York – Chelsea – New, but very basic, moderately priced, is within walking distance of Madison Square Garden.
nyma – the New York Manhattan Hotel (formerly Red Roof Inn Manhattan) – Very nice, recently renovated, budget priced, the nyma is well located near the Empire State Building, the fashion district, Macy’s, and Madison Square Garden.
Belvedere Hotel – Built during the 1920’s Art Deco period, it retains elegant ambiance with spacious, earthy toned, comfortable rooms. Budget to moderately priced. Located in the heart of New York City’s theater district, it is also convenient to Times Square and Rockefeller Center.
Clarion Hotel – LaGuardia Airport – Comfortable, clean rooms, close to the airport, a discount New York hotel.
Wellington Hotel – One of the most popular Midtown Manhattan hotels, the Wellington features one-bedroom suites with kitchenettes, perfect for vacationing families. Budget to moderate pricing. Situated next to Central Park near the Theatre District and Rockefeller Center, and just a block from Carnegie Hall.
New York City is divided into five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. For most though it is just about Manhattan; the others, while not without their charms, are mere bedroom communities. Most of the best things to do in New York City are in Manhattan including Wall Street, Broadway, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Macy’s, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park and the Juilliard School.
New York City Food Stops
With 18,696 New York restaurants to choose from which will you like the best? With New York perhaps the best answers are location, location, location and what type of food do I like? Here are a few good choices:
Amy’s Bread – Tasty, creative breads, pastries, and sandwiches served with great coffee. Best for breakfast or lunch. Three locations, Chelsea Market, Hell’s Kitchen, and the Village. A great discount new york restaurant for you.
Grimaldi’s – For the Best pizza in NYC try the legendary Grimaldi’s Pizzeria located under the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn. New York Style with thin, brick oven-seared crusts, mouthwatering homemade mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. No slices, No Cash, No Reservations – Just good cheap New York City pizza. Always a line, which adds to the fun.
Burger Joint – Best burgers in town, Le Parker Meridien Hotel, just south of Central Park.
El Malecon’s – Mouth watering Dominican-style rotisserie chicken, Best in NYC. Upper West Side.
Tartine – Inexpensive and delicious French Fare. BYOB to this corner-sized store where there is always a wait. West Village.
Chat ‘n Chew – BBQ, American, Southern/Soul food. Best place for Mac and Cheese. East Village.
Estiatorio Milos – Greek, seafood, Mediterranean – Theater District
Felidia Ristorante – Best NY Italian. Presided over by co-owner Lidia Bastianich, cookbook author and teacher to Julia Child. Midtown East.
Agave – Mexican Fusion – Best Mexican. Elegantly casual, voted one of the Top 10 Tequila Bars in the USA by Playboy Magazine.
Wo Hop – Best Chinese – Open 24 hours, serves Cantonese. Chinatown.
Tomoe Sushi – Best Sushi, always a wait. Greenwich Village.
Aquagrill – Best Seafood, fresh fish of course. SoHo
The Strip House – Best steaks with classy bordello backdrop. East Village.
Getting Around NYC
NYC is easy to get to by Amtrak, or airplane with three convenient airports to choose from; John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia. Once you’re there, NYC offers public transportation so you can get to the places you want to visit. The New York City Subway is the largest rapid transit system in the USA. With 468 stations, the subway stops near most attractions.
Parking is a nightmare in New York, so use of public transportation is highly recommended for your own convenience as well as for the environment.
New York City Night Life
THE CLUB SCENE – It’s open all nite!
Marquee – With its exclusive, see and be seen clientele, have a back up plan ready to get in. Great music, good-looking people. Hip Hop and House.
205 Club – Edgy crowd attracted by the freight elevator entrance, the upstairs re-creation of Andy Warhol’s Factory complete with tinfoil spray painted walls and a bar of broken down file cabinets. The DL keeps everyone dancing to classic rock and hip hop.
S.O.B.’s – is the abbreviation for Sounds of Brazil, a Latin American dance club blasting the beats of the rhumba, mambo, cha-cha, and salsa. Try the fresh fruit mojitos. SoHo.
Things To See In NYC
Endless choices await visitors to NYC, so start with some the most famous attractions.
Statue of Liberty
‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’ from Emma Lazarus’ famous poem at the base of the statue. A gift from France, the Statue of Liberty, Lady Liberty, is an icon of America’s democracy. View from shore, the Staten Island Ferry, or take a boat ride and climb the 354 steps to her crown when you visit NYC.
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Station, oops I mean Terminal, opened in 1913, was refurbished in the 1990s, and is used by 150,000 passengers each day. It has an abundance of shops and restaurants.
Now a National Historic Landmark, Rockefeller Center is just like you’ve seen it in movies and on TV. Located in midtown Manhattan, is known for numerous shopping and dining opportunities, both in the Center and in the surrounding area. Many consider a visit one of the top things to do on New York Vacations. Its magic fully comes to life at Christmas, with the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Ice Rink, and Radio City Music Hall with its Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes.
Perhaps the best known building is the GE Building, former home of Late Night with David Letterman, and home of Saturday Night Live, NBC News, and MSNBC; the Top of the Rock observation deck; and the famous Rainbow Room club restaurant. The underground Concourse, reaching from 47th Street to 51st Street and from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue, is filled with shops, restaurants and other fun things to do in NYC.
Comprising 19 buildings on 20 acres in mid-town Manhattan, Rockefeller Center is the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times. Built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. over the course of 10 years, the final building was completed in 1939.
Empire State Building
Feeling a little small surrounded by the giant skyscrapers of NYC? Ride up to the top of the Empire State Building and look down upon the city from the observation deck. Built in 1931, it is still one of the tallest in the world and will be a high light of your New York vacation visit.
American Museum of Natural History
What’s better than dinosaur bones, a giant blue whale, and a live butterfly exhibit? Opening to New York vacationers and residents in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History contains the most technologically advanced planetarium in the world, kid-friendly exhibits, and interactive learning displays.
Need some green space after touring the city? Then Manhattan’s Central Park is the place for you. Visiting Central Park is easily one of the top 10 things to do in New York City. Play in a pick up soccer or softball game. Sunbath, visit the Shakespeare Garden or take a Summit Rock climb. You can see and do it all in this National Historic Landmark first opened in 1859. Scenery includes lakes, ponds, trees, meadows, and bridges. Attractions include ice skating rinks, swimming pools, and walking tracks. You can watch concerts, shows, and street performers. It’s all contained in Central Park’s 843 acres. For a fee you can take a carriage ride, rent a boat, or visit the zoo, the rest is FREE. If you are looking for fun things to do in New York City then Central Park is for you.
Alive with tulips in the spring, chrysanthemums in the fall and roses in between, the Conservatory Garden is the only formal garden in Central Park. The Garden takes its name from a conservatory that stood on the site from 1898 to 1934. A natural experience and part of many New York vacations.
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, more commonly known as the Central Park Reservoir, is a favorite with aquatic birds as well as joggers and walkers. Surrounded by Central Park, the reservoir is 40 feet deep and holds over a billion gallons of water. It has a mile and a half trail around it. After 131 years of service providing fresh water to the citizens of NYC, it was it was deemed obsolete and decommissioned in 1993.
Fun Things To Do In New York City
The Best Of New York
Have lunch at the legendary Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, under the Brooklyn Bridge. Then take the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, above the traffic and into the Financial District. Visit the South Street Seaport. Then catch the subway for the short ride to Ground Zero, the World Trade Center site. Now on to your next stop on your New York vacation’s itinerary.
Take the Staten Island Ferry ride past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Enjoy the skyline. After arriving you must depart from the boat, but must return soon for the return ride. It’s FREE, operates 24 hours a day, and leaves every 30 minutes.
Bronx: The Bronx contains some fun things to do on your New York City vacation. It is home to the famous Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park. If you are in to art you can visit the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the European Middle Ages art and architecture. For baseball fans, take in a game at Yankee Stadium.
Bronx Zoo – Though outside Manhattan, it’s worth the trip to see this — the largest urban zoo in the United States. The Bronx Zoo is home to more than 7,000 species of animals in exhibits like the Congo Gorilla Forest and Jungle World.
Brooklyn: Visit the New York Botanical Garden, one of the premier botanical gardens in the world. Spread out over 250 acres it contains 50 individual gardens or plant collections. Also visit Prospect Park and the Prospect Park neighborhood, home to many fine restaurants, shops, and bars.
Queens: Top attractions are the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Zoo, and the American Museum of the Moving Image.
Staten Island: Visit the 83 acre Snug Harbor Cultural Center, home to the Staten Island Botanical Garden, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, the Staten Island Children’s Museum and the Noble Maritime Collection. Go to the Todt Hill Road/Slosson Avenue intersection, at 410 feet above sea level the highest point on the eastern seaboard south of Maine.
To get around New York it helps to understand its geography. Manhattan is the center of activity, on an island bordered on the west by the Hudson River and on the east by the East River. Across the East River, the Bronx is to the north and east, Queens directly east, and Brooklyn to the east and south of Manhattan. Staten Island is to the southwest of Brooklyn, across the Hudson River. Google maps gives a great visual.
Manhattan is the New York we all know. The most urbanized spot in the USA with 70,000 people per square mile, Manhattan is a world center of finance, culture, fashion, and entertainment. No matter what you see, there is always more around the corner. So take NYC as it comes. Be prepared, but be open to the new and unexpected in this travel destination.
Must See Spots in and around Central Park NYC
Just sixty feet long over the lake, the Bow Bridge is one of the most beautiful cast iron bridges in the world. The Bridge offers one of the best views of the park and Fifth Avenue Skyline.
A miniature castle of stone rising out of Vista Rock, Belvedere Castle is an unexpected find in Central Park and one of many fun things to do on NYC vacations. Truly a fantasy castle on a high point in the park, it provides many views. Inside are many displays of the natural world and Central Park birds.
Every kid loves the Carousel, and Central Park boasts one of the best. The Carousel features the largest wood carved figures ever constructed, all hand painted, and original 19th century music. A great attraction if you are visiting New York with your family.
The Central Park Zoo and the Tisch Children’s Zoo
Animal watching in the Central Park Zoo is a nice divergence from people watching in the city and the park. For kids 6 and under the Tisch Children’s Zoo features a petting zoo where the young can meet gentle creatures up close. Includes goats, sheep, cows, pigs and other furry creatures. Fee charged.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Just across the street from Central Park’s east side, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met as it is referred to by those in the know, is nearly a quarter mile long and occupies more than two million square feet, one square foot for each of its two million works of art. The Met houses its permanent collection as well as revolving exhibits. The met includes paintings and sculptures from every era and culture, musical instruments, weapons, armor and historical artifacts. The Met was founded in 1870 to bring art, education and culture to the people.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Several blocks south of Central Park lies the MoMA as the Museum of Modern Art is known. Founded in 1929 as the first museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art, the MoMA is considered to be the most influential entity in the world to the development, understanding, and appreciation of modern art. Beyond its extensive collection of paintings, sculpture, prints, furniture, photography, film, illustrated books, and electronic media, MoMA’s library houses over 300,000 books and periodicals on modern art. Be sure to plan lunch at its award wining, fine dining restaurant called The Modern.
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
On your travel to New York City Take the ferry to Ellis Island to visit the Immigration Museum. It features the, “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” documentary, a living theater which brings to life the experiences of the immigrants, and the American Family Immigration Center, which contains records of the 22 million immigrants who landed there between 1892 and 1924.
Staten Island Ferry
Ride the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Enjoy the skyline. After arriving you must depart from the boat, but most return immediately for the return ride. It’s one of the top ten free things to do in NYC and operates 24 hours a day leaving every 30 minutes.