It takes less than a minute to fly over Manhattan on a plane, but packed into the tiny island is hundreds of years of history, millions of unique people and an unending list of restaurants, museums, shows, cafés, parks, stores and everything else you can imagine. You will never be bored in NYC - the city that never sleeps.
Let's assume you already know about the major draws- Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, China Town, Central Park and the Empire State Building. Don't get me wrong, these are important, beautiful and historic places to visit, but chances are you've already put them down on your list of must-sees. After you've exhausted your inner tourist, check out some of these (relatively) less visited places in the city.
(Flickr/ Chelsea N.)
Shake Shack- OK, OK a lot of people know about this one - if the hour long wait means anything - but for good reason! Located in Madison Square Park, it sells some of the best burgers and shakes in the city. The endless array of characters walking by will make the wait time fly by, and the outdoor seating is perfect for people watching in the park.
Food Trucks- Head straight to the nearest truck for every flavor of ice cream, chicken and waffles, waffles and dinges, Korean barbecue, gourmet coffee, frozen yogurt, organic smoothies, authentic Indian food, or delectable desserts. These trucks go way beyond hot dogs and halal food (although they're pretty awesome as well). And don't have any qualms about eating from a restaurant on wheels, the food is clean, quick, delicious and never far away.
(Flickr/ Sarah Ackerman)
Brooklyn Bridge- Don't just take pictures of the bridge that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn, walk over it. The two mile round-trip journey on the pedestrian and cyclist paths offers beautiful views of both boroughs as well and the Hudson River and nearby islands. Once you've reached the other side, you can hang out in BK (if you think you're cool enough) or head back across. The walk is also dotted with historical plaques and a timeline for the skyline of New York to take a look back in history.
(Flickr/ Rian Castillo)
Down Town City Hall Area- Speaking of History, the area around the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side is the oldest in New York. When the Dutch (and later English) settlers came to the island, the first major city center was in this area. National and historical landmarks like City Hall provide a glimpse of what the city looked like 300 years ago. If you're a history buff, there are plenty more landmarks around lower Manhattan to check out.
(highline.com/ Iwan Baan)
High Line- one of New York's most over looked gems, the High Line runs from Gansevoort Street to 30th Street over Tenth Ave. NYC's park in the sky offers beautiful views of the city and the water and features grassy areas, walking and jogging paths, food stands, public art displays, live music and much more. Rent a bike or take a walk from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day for a more relaxed New York.
(flickr/ Rob Young)
Museum Mile- Museum Mile is a beautiful stretch along 5th Avenue chock full of museums and cultural institutions. If you want to cram in as much history and culture is one day as is humanly possible, head here to visit El Museo del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York, Jewish Museum, Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design, National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), and the Goethe House German Cultural Center.
Boating in Central Park- If you're already uptown visiting museums, take a detour through Central Park and rent a rowboat on The Lake and hang out with the ducks and fish. Yes, there are a lot of other boaters, but the lake is so big, you'll be able to find your own niche in the water. And it's only $12 a boat for 30 minutes; a pretty good deal for New York. If you're famished from all that rowing, have dinner at the Boathouse right on The Lake.
(Flickr/ Bernt Roastad)
Battery Park- Located on the southernmost tip of Manhattan, this park will remind you, you are, in fact, on an island. The 200-year-old park is full of history. Also, if you don't feel like paying $35 dollars to see the Statue of Liberty, you can hop on the (free!) Staten Island Ferry, which docks at Battery Park, and sails right past "Lady Liberty" every half hour. Granted, you won't be as close, but the iconic statue is just as impressive from a distance.
(Flickr/ Paul Lowry)
South Street Seaport- After Battery Park, head east to the seaport for dinner, shopping or a show. Or, see the Peking, a German cargo ship from 1911 that's moored at the docks. The area is full of boutique shops, live entertainment and lots of walking paths right by the water.
Shopping in the East/West Villages - If you're looking to avoid the tourist trap that is SoHo, head to the left or right and spend a day wandering through the off-the-grid streets of the village. Both are packed with specialty and niche shops, cafes, bakeries, restaurants and galleries. You won't mind getting a little lost on the cobblestone, tree-lined streets.
Outdoor Flea Markets- If you're looking for some real New York vintage flair, check out one of the many weekend flea markets around the city. One of the biggest is the outdoor Hell's Kitchen Flea Market on 39th street between 9th and 10th Avenues. They have a huge selection of vintage clothing, books, furniture, knick-knacks, jewelry and much more. You can pick up unique souvenirs and presents for your friends back home.
Union Square Farmer's Market- Whether you're looking for locally grown organic ingredients for tonight's dinner, or you just like window shopping all the bright colors, fresh scents and yummy tastes, the green market is the perfect place to spend an early Saturday morning.
(Flickr/ Paull Young)
Apple Store- France has the Louvre, New York City has the Apple store. This great glass dome of hipster geekdum stands out amidst the brick and marble buildings of the Upper West Side. And, its right across from the Palace Hotel (which you don't even have to sneak into, they let you look around as much as you want).
(Flickr/ Sarah Ackerman)
MoMA- If Renoir and da Vinci are too stuffy for your taste, the Museum of Modern Art is the place to go to get your art fix. This huge museum is six floors of conceptual, modern art. The exhibits include film, sound, and light shows in addition to more traditional mediums to give you a whole new appreciation of modern art. After you've wandered around the museum, make sure to check out the gift shop where you can buy functional pieces of art by featured artists. And, its free on Fridays from 4-8 p.m.
(Flickr/ Paul Lowry)
Katz Deli- As one of the oldest, most famous delis in New York, the word has gotten out and you'll most likely be waiting in line for your tongue or liver sandwich. But, these larger-than life stackers are worth the wait to experience some authentic old-New York deli culture. You can pass the time by examining all the memoribilia, pictures and singitures covering the walls.
Cloisters- You'll have to travel a bit further uptown for this one (Washington Heights) but don't worry, it's totally worth it. As a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters are devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The perfectly manicured grounds and beautiful buildings are a great place to interact with a living museum.
Have any more suggestions? Feel free to share them in the comments below!