Here it is … my Christmas present to you, dear readers, a three-part series on my list of personal recommendations for visiting family and friends. This list is a combo of resident, tourist and foodie ideas to give a taste of the variety that is NYC.

First up, some general things to do – separated by areas of town. Some free, some not. There’s obviously a ton to do in NYC and lots of other websites talk about them, so I kept this list top-line. I also know more about where to eat than things to do.

Next post will be about good eats, and the final post will be my personal NYC favorites.

Hope you enjoy and report back on your trip!



First, a good “NYC 101” website if you’ve never been.


Midtown area

  • TKTS booth – half priced Broadway show tickets – middle of Times Square – tickets are for day of
  • Empire State Building – recommend paying the extra fee to get the audio tour because it explains what all the buildings are OR you can go to Top of the Rock and have almost the same view and see the Empire State Building
  • Tour of Grand Central Station and nearby area – free and no reservations required; tours are Fridays at 12:30 p.m. for 90 minutes
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Going to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall is a staple, especially during the holidays – look for discounted tickets online



Southern part of ManhattanWTC

  • World Trade Center – must have a reservation (free online but you have to book in advance)
  • Staten Island Ferry – goes by Statue of Liberty and it’s free, unlike the Circle Line Cruise, but it doesn’t stop at Liberty Island (so it’s basically a cool drive/float-by)
  • Walk the Brooklyn or Manhattan Bridges – the Brooklyn Bridge is much more popular (they also say you can get pizza at Grimaldi’s after, but I don’t particularly think Grimaldi’s is that special), but the best views of the bridge and lower Manhattan are from its sister a little to the north, the Manhattan Bridge; both free
  • Another TKTS ticket booth location– line is shorter than Times Square location

Southern-ish part of Manhattan

  • Sleep No More – what I call a “film noir, choose-your-own-adventure theater experience” that takes place in a converted, abandoned hotel on the far edge of Chelsea. It is nothing like you’d experience on Broadway – it is not a bright and cheery show you enjoy sitting in an audience. A much more eloquent review of Sleep No More is here, but premise is that you are a passive (most of the time) observer IN the show. Be prepared to don a mask (a la Phantom of the Opera-meets-Eyes-Wide-Shut-meets-Venetian-mask), not speak throughout the entire show, explore and run through the hotel after characters. This last part is very important because it’s up to you to find the scenes rather than the other way around (mostly). To sum it up, it is awesome, but only for those with an open mind up for some adventure. My best advice if you go? Just go with it.
  • Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. There’s often musicians and artists there so you can hang out, people watch and listen to some great music – perhaps you’ll catch a swing band and some impromptu dancingWSP

Northern part of ManhattanCP_obelisk

  • Central Park – has free, guided walking tours (I even learned there’s an Egyptian obelisk in the park)
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Guggenheim Museum