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The Washington Independent

Top Things To Do In New York: All You Need To Know

Top Things To Do In New York: All You Need To Know

Many often describe New York City as a premier travel spot, with the city receiving close to 67 million visitors in 2019 alone! Many people haven’t been able to travel as much as they’d have liked due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with things gradually picking up, here are some activities you can’t miss if you’re planning to visit New York City, which isn’t too far from Washington, any time soon with family, or just for a getaway.

Karan Emery
Aug 20, 2021

Table of Contents

Many often describe New York City as a premier travel spot, with the city receiving close to 67 million visitors in 2019 alone! Many people haven’t been able to travel as much as they’d have liked due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with things gradually picking up, here are some activities you can’t miss if you’re planning to visit New York City, which isn’t too far from Washington, any time soon with family, or just for a getaway.

Take a walk down memory lane with museums

If you love to know more about the rich heritage, New York offers you many museums you can visit to take a walk down memory lane and explore historical milestones. To make your visit more fulfilling, you can schedule guided tours or visit the museums’ websites to identify some of the activities you can take part in. Some museums include the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is also located at the former World Trade Center site to encourage visitors to appreciate life by remembering everything during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The American Museum of Natural History isn’t too far from the famous Central Park. It presents visitors with a wide variety of things to see and do with your family, to the extent that you may not be able to see all the exciting things in just one day. The museum has many interesting artifacts and places, such as the Butterfly Conservatory, usually active between October and May, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space. 

If you’re an art lover, you could also try out the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has priceless collections from countries worldwide such as Egypt and Greece. You could also check out the Frick Collection, where you can view masterpieces from several centuries ago from famous artists such as Rembrandt and Manet.

Visit the Bronx Zoo

This activity is a family favorite in New York, especially for animal lovers, and is a subtle change from the hustle and bustle of the city center. The Bronx Zoo played a role as a site for people to get vaccinated from May to June earlier this year. This initiative was to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, after which they offered those who took the vaccine free admission for their next visit. 

The 265-acre Bronx Zoo has over 4,000 animals to see and offers visitors a wide variety of packages to choose from. It’s best to visit their website to find out their prices so you can plan ahead and also select the attractions you’d like to explore. Your kids are sure to have an exciting time at the children’s zoo, 4D theatre, and gorilla forest. The zoo is open on weekdays and weekends and offers discounts, especially if you arrive in groups. 

Enjoy nature

If you want to exercise, take a stroll or relax and breathe in some fresh air during your vacation, New York has the best to offer. There are parks and gardens such as the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which isn’t too far from the Brooklyn Museum. You can take in the beautiful scenery, explore the five conservatories, and spend some quality family time engaging in environmentally-friendly activities such as tree planting workshops. 

You can also try Bryant Park, close to New York Times Square, which has been around for many years. Tourists and locals love this spot, and it’s an ideal location for a family photo shoot or a relaxed lunch at their grill or cafe before you continue your tourist activities. It’s worth noting that this Park also offers activities that can help you revitalize and stimulate your senses, such as yoga and chess competitions. 

We can’t speak about parks in New York without talking about Central Park, a popular destination in the city. Located in central Manhattan, Central Park is surrounded by many other fun spots to keep you occupied and gives you the space you need to stretch, eat or take in nature.

Pamper your taste buds with some food

You can go on your culinary adventure in New York City, with many restaurants and menus to choose from, whether street food, local cuisine, or five-star restaurants. New York is known for signature dishes such as bagels, pastrami, cheesecakes, the Manhattan clam chowder, hot dogs, and buffalo wings.

If you want to experience different foods, one best way to try almost everything is by going on a food tour of your choice. There are several options to choose from depending on your budget and the time you have on your hands, including the New York Fun Tours, Urban Adventure, Free Tours by Foot, and the Manhattan Walking Tour. 

Get entertained

You can never be bored in the bustling city of New York, and there’s always something to do! If you love music, movies, sports, the nightlife, etc., there are several ways to entertain yourself and your family, such as the Radio City Music Hall. This place is popularly known for its sold-out concerts and music history tours. There are fascinating things to see, like what goes on backstage and how they set up stages for shows. It’s best to visit there early during the day, so you don’t have to rush through everything before any show that night. New York is also often synonymous with Broadway, with its variety of musical performances and plays for everyone, whether for adults only or family.

The Apollo Theatre is also another place worth visiting and is remembered as a significant step for many black musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. You can support new talents during the Theatre’s Amateur Nights on Wednesdays, experience live concerts, or watch movies at their box office either on weekdays or weekends.

Go ice skating

If you happen to visit New York during the winter season, why not add ice skating to your bucket list? Although most of the ice-skating venues were shut due to COVID-19, most of them are reopening and will be available from November through January, and it’s best to call in advance to book and make inquiries. Depending on where you’re staying in the city, there are many rinks you can visit. These include the Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers, the WWII Veterans War Memorial Ice Skating Rink, and the World Ice Arena. 

As you pack for an exciting visit to New York for Christmas, don’t forget to add ice skates and your winter coat for a memorable experience on the rink with your kids, and remember to observe all safety protocols.

Revive your love for reading

There’s something in New York for everyone, including the avid reader. If you want to inspire the love of reading in your kids or want to revive your passion for books, why not visit the famous New York Public library? Also known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, this spot is not too far from the city center and is a favorite for literature lovers. Aside from American and English works, there are activities for your kids and insightful lectures on many exciting topics. This library doesn’t only take you on a reading adventure but is also a lovely sight with its impressive building and is just the ideal place if you want to take a walk for a while.   

See the Statue of Liberty

Many people know New York City for one famous icon, the Statue of Liberty. The statue signifies freedom and attracts several visitors each year. Here are some interesting facts about this monument: the figure is a Roman goddess Libertas, representing liberty. Additionally, the crown is made up of seven spikes to represent the continents and oceans of the world, and Gustav Eiffel, known for the Eiffel Tower, is one of the people who helped build it.

You can either get there by ferry from 9 am to 3.30 pm, on a guided boat or helicopter tour. Going by ferry will also allow you to see Ellis Island, the US’ main entry point for immigrants, for about 62 years. It’s best to get there early to avoid long queues to make your visit to the Statue of Liberty as stress-free as possible. If you can’t make it on time, you can spot the statue from the High Line, situated on an old rail track in Manhattan, which gives you a 360-view from about 30 feet above the ground. 

There’s certainly a lot to do when you visit New York City, and if you need a decent hotel in NYC with free parking (like this one), there are many budget-friendly options to choose from. With the activities listed above, you’re sure to have a memorable time with your family and loved ones. Don’t forget to find out the relevant COVID-19 protocols for all the sites you visit, to keep you and yours safe.

Karan Emery | I'm a research scientist interested in learning more about how neural activity influences and shapes human behavior. Project design and management, data analysis and interpretation, and the creation and implementation of testing tools are among my specialties. I enjoy coming up with new ideas and coming up with practical solutions to issues that are widely applicable. My colleagues would describe me as a driven, resourceful individual who maintains a positive, proactive attitude when faced with adversity. Currently, I’m seeking opportunities that will allow me to develop and promote technologies that benefit human health. Specific fields of interest include data analytics, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.


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