10 Best Things to Do in NYC Plus Places to Eat

By NinaZee | Jan 15, 2020
North America > United States > New York > New York City

These are in no particular order but some of the my favorite things to do in NYC:

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do in NYC

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do in NYC

1. Walk, run, take a scooter, hop in a horse and carriage, do whatever you have to do but get thee to Central Park

It’s a great place to work out and chill. Plus, depending on the time of year, you can attend a play, go to a concert, see all kind of animals at the zoo, various attractions (Strawberry Fields, Tavern on the Green, Bow Bridge), picnic, etc.

VTML Tip #1: In Columbus Circle, there is a Whole Foods in the bottom floor of the Time Warner building. A great place to grab picnic supplies.

VTML Tip #2: If you are in NYC during the summer, check online to see Shakespeare in the Park schedule. Tickets are free and some of Hollywood's brightest could be on stage. This is one of the best free things to do in NYC!

2. Washington Square Park (West 4th Street, Greenwich Village)

There is so much to do or not to do here. You can sit in one of the many benches that are all of the park and chill, people watch, eat, etc. Of course, there is the nice open area in the center where there is tons of activity. Even with all of the activity and flurry of people it remains clean.

VTML Tip: If you are a fan of the tv show Friends, run by the corner of Bedford Street and Grove Street to see their apartment.

3. Union Square (14th-17th Street, Broadway and Park)

If you want to go to a market in NYC, head here. While around Christmas is my favorite time to be here, there are great vendors here all year round (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays).

Selling everything from fruits, veggies, alcohol, baked goods (even GF options), jewelry, paintings, and several of other incredibly talented artists and tons of food / drink options. It is larger than Bryant Park and the variety is larger too.

4. 9/11 Memorial and Museum - World Trade Center Memorial Foundation

(180 Greenwich St, World Trade Center) and surrounding area (including St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Church Wall Street: St Paul's: 209 Broadway and the Occulus: 33-69 Vesey St, World Trade Center)

There are 2 large pools / waterfalls of water that go into empty holes. It is quite eerie and moving all at once.

VTML Tip #1: Occulus - Shopping and good for a couple of images (check out the ceiling): This building is huge! Just when you think you have covered it, you find another pocket of shops and restaurants.

It is also a huge transportation hub (the Path to Hoboken is in here, many subway stops). Be care if you go here after it has rained / snowed, the floors get slippery.

VTML Tip #2: St Paul's: Was a refuge for recovery workers for 9/11. It is now a popular tourist destination since it still keeps many of the memorial banners.

5. One of my favorite things to do in NYC is the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge up-close

Brooklyn Bridge up-close

This is probably one of my all time favorite things to do in NYC! It doesn't take very long to walk along the Brooklyn Bridge but the views are totally worth it.
During the winter, be prepared because it does get cold and can be extremely windy. While walking across, mind the bicyclists.

VTML Tip #1: Grimaldi’s Pizza (1 Front St - no GF pizza) but the best pizza around. If you can’t make it over the bridge, there is one located near the Flatiron building.

VTML Tip #2: Dellarocco’s Pizza (214 Hicks St) This place has great GF pizza. Located only about 10 blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge, and it is really easy to find.

6. Manhattan Bridge

I have always loved walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. I think it is the prettiest one in NYC, but I am always looking for new views of it. When I was there in last fall, I decided I was going to go and get the DUMBO shot.

Instead of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, I took the Manhattan Bridge. It is a longer walk but so much less crowded!!! Best part, you get amazing and different views of the Brooklyn Bridge. ⁠
⁠⁠
VTML Tip# 1: Getting to the Manhattan Bridge is as easy as getting to the Brooklyn Bridge. Pretty much when you see signs for one you see signs for the other. It is the same in Brooklyn. It is free to walk both bridges. ⁠

VTML Tip# 2: When walking across the Manhattan Bridge and you are freaking out that you wish that you could get a better shot of the Brooklyn Bridge, hold on. There are 5 points as you get closer to Brooklyn where there are holes in the fence that you can get your lens through to get amazing shots. ⁠ If nothing else, the view of Manhattan from here and of the Brooklyn bridge makes this one of the top things to do in NYC!

VTML Tip# 3: If you want that picture perfect shot of you and the Manhattan bridge in DUMBO, head to the corner of Front Street and Washington Street.

View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Bridge, one of the top things to do in NYC

View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Bridge, one of the top things to do in NYC

7. Flatiron Building (175 5th Ave, At 23rd St)

This is my favorite building in NYC. So much detail in a relatively small building. Look for the Medusa heads. There are a lot of great shops close by on 5th Ave.

VTML Tip #1: If you have never been to Eataly, I highly recommend it. There are only a handful of stores in the US (many in Europe). It is a store dedicated to high-end Italian food and things to do with it (cookbooks, cookware, etc). I can't pass up the gelato here! They have various restaurants and you can also buy wine, and coffee.

If this is not your thing, there are plenty of other places to eat in this area including Grimaldi's Pizza (656 6th Ave).

VTML #2: There is a Lego Store here for the kiddos.

8. Eat your way through Chelsea Market

This indoor food hall has just every kind of food being offered that you can imagine. Tip: Check out everything first and then commit.

Bonus#1: Going to an event at Madison Square Garden (especially to see a Rangers game!)

Bonus#2: If it is during the Christmas holiday season, go to Rockefeller Center and skate on the rink, see the decorations and see the window displays in the department stores. Hands down this is one of my favorite things to do in NYC and if this doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will!

9. Go to a comedy show

Across the street from Pomme Frites, on Macdougal Street, is the Comedy Cellar. Many great comedians have performed here over the years including Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, Kevin Hart, and Patton Oswalt.

Make sure to get reservations online if there is someone here that you really want to see. When I went in September, there was a long line with a waitlist.

If you don’t care about who you see, just show up and see if there are tickets available. If not, wander around Macdougal Street as there are several comedy clubs located here. ⁠

10. Check out all the street art NYC has to offer

As always, it wouldn’t be a post from me without me including street art. This is one of the best cities to see street art in the world. Just walking around, you can see it all over the place, you just have to be looking for it.

Little Italy is a great place to start in your hunt and then you can head southwards. If you are looking for a specific artist, you can Google them to find out where their murals are located around town. Finding street art is definitely one of my favorite things to do in NYC!

Special Call Outs to Eat Your Way Across NYC

1. Pomme Frites (128 Macdougal St): If you have ever had Belgian fries, you will understand why every time I come to NYC I head straight for this place. They put their own spin on it with a large variety of sauces that they offer. Served in the traditional cones, it sure does bring back memories!

2. Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC (248 Broome St): 100% gluten free, vegan, kosher bakery. Hands down the best GF bakery I have ever been to anywhere! It is a small little bakery with limited seating inside and some additional seating outside but is so worth it!

3. H&H Bagel (1551 2nd Ave): If you are a Seinfeld fan, or just want to try a classic NYC bagel, head here!

4. Zabars (2245 Broadway): A quintessential Jewish deli known for their coffee. They have some gluten free options (don’t miss out on the chocolate rugelach!)

5. Bareburger (there are 10 location in NYC): Organic burgers with what I am being told awesome GF buns (from my husband). Hands down the best burgers and fries! They are now located in other places outside of NYC. From locations and menu, click here.

6. Wo Hops (17 Mott Street): If you are craving Chinese food, this is the best place to get it and it is located Chinatown! Make sure to save room for dessert for the next place on the list and it is only about 5 minutes away!

7. Ferrara Bakery & Café (195 Grand Street): Plan on waiting in line for this place. Possibly the best bakery in NYC (sorry those with GF issues)! Do NOT miss out on the cannolis!!!

8. Grom: Great gelato in NYC! There are a couple of locations around the city.

9. S’MAC (197 1st Avenue): A place that specializes in mac n cheese. Bet I made you smile and so will this place. If you are gluten free rejoice, because they provide options for you too!

10. Europa Café (several locations around NYC): My favorite breakfast place in the city. Lots of options to eat and gluten free ones too!

BONUS: Must go places for New York Rangers fans:

New York Ranger's Chris Kreider

New York Ranger's Chris Kreider

1. MSG Store: Located inside the Garden, the best place to buy Rangers gear! They have a wide selection and it changes throughout the season.

2. Blarney Stone Bar & Restaurant (410 8th Ave between 30th & 31st Street): If you want a place to hang out with Rangers fans before or after games, this is the place to go! Also, if you can’t get tickets to a game in the Garden and you want to watch it, especially during the playoffs, come here.

3. Modell’s (next to MSG): Has some of the best Rangers fan gear around

4. Gerry Cosby’s & Co (11 Pennsylvania Plaza – just up the street from MSG): They have unique Rangers gear.

5. NHL Store (1185 6th Ave): Has team gear for all NHL teams. Certain times of the year are better than other. Rangers stuff is hit or miss.

6. Canyon of Heroes (In front of St Paul's and to the left): Can see granite markers on the ground with a date and name. These stretch from Broadway to the City Hall and notate when the guest of honor had a ticker tape parade in their honor.

Some of the guests include: Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, 1996 NY Yankees, 1994 NY Rangers, and many more.

Hopefully, these will help you as you wander you way across this amazing city that I love so much!

I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz. If you are interesting in more tips, check out

Nina Zee

© 2020 Nina Zee

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Written by NinaZee
Hi, I am Nina!! I love to travel and love to share my knowledge with others to help them make their travels seamless. I have been traveling to Europe since 1990. I have completed many of my bucket list items like staying in the Ice Hotel, dog sledding, hot air ballooning, and a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon just to name a few. I went to art school and have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, so I love pulling in my love for the arts, especially street art, as I make my way across the world. If you are interested in seeing more of my blogs, check out my page at www.viewthrumylenz.com/

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