Best 5 Ways to Experience New York City

New York City. Gotham. The Big Apple. A pr­­­oper visit to this amazing “city that never sleeps” is an experience that won’t be forgotten any time soon. For a truly memorable visit, here are five of the best ways to experience New York City.

Explore Central Park

When you visit New York City, you’ll want to spend time in Central Park, one of the world’s greatest urban parks. Set aside at least half a ­­­­day or maybe cherry-pick a few of its many attractions: Belvedere Castle, the Bethesda Fountain, the Carousel, ice skating on Wollman Rink, or strolling the 36 acres of winding trails – and that’s just scratching the surface (the park is spread across 843 acres!). If you’re visiting in late autumn, the park will be beautifully dressed in its fall colour regalia of red and amber leaves. The best time to go is during the week, when there won’t be as many people, leaving more room for a romantic stroll or to wander aimlessly.

Near the park’s south end, you’ll find the Central Park Zoo, perfect for families, with the ever-popular sea lion pool and the penguins. There’s also the new Tisch Children’s Zoo, where kids can get up close with goats, sheep, cows and a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. At the centre of the Children’s Zoo, the Enchanted Forest is theirs to explore.

When you need to stop for a rest, head over to the west side of the park to the tranquility of Strawberry Fields, the memorial to former Beatle, solo artist and peace activist, John Lennon; a perfect place for quiet contemplation or an impromptu sing-along in honour of one of the world’s most beloved artists who we lost too soon.

For everything to see and do in Central Park, check out the park’s official website.

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Skate at Rockefeller Center

When The Rink at Rockefeller Center (5th Ave. between 49th and 50th Streets) opens in October, it launches a fall and winter tradition that generations of New Yorkers and visitors have enjoyed. Take a twirl while keeping an eye out for celebs, admire the figure skaters, and glide together beneath the base of the gigantic Christmas tree, which will be lit for the first time this year on November 30. After you’ve worked up an appetite skating outdoors, grab a bite at the Rock Center Café, Cucina & Co or The Sea Grill. Check the rink’s website for special packages.

Watch Manhattan light up

If you want to get the best views of New York City, the Empire State Building is the most iconic choice, offering views from the 86th and 102nd floors, but it also has the longest line-ups. One World Trade Center offers a stunning view from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. But Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is your best choice. Even though the observation deck is a little less lofty than the others, it has some distinct advantages: looking south gives you amazing views of Lower Manhattan, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center. And looking north you see the green expanse of Central Park and the verve of Upper Manhattan. Also, Top of the Rock typically has shorter wait times and is less expensive.

Try to time your visit so you get to the top a little before the end of daylight hours. That way you enjoy the incredible day vistas of the city and its surrounding environs, and you get to witness the magic as the evening descends and the lights of New York City slowly come alive; a truly extraordinary experience.

See a show

Broadway shows are a part of what makes New York one of the showbiz capitals of the world, but if you’re paying full price for tickets, you’re doing it wrong. Here’s what you do: Pick a show you want to see, then head to Times Square to the TKTS vendors on the day of the show. Make sure you get there around 9:00-10:00 a.m. or 2:00-3:00 p.m. You may have to line up for a while but you can likely get your tickets for about half price!

Broadway is fantastic, but it’s not the only show in town. The Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular happens at Radio City Music Hall between November 11, 2016 and January 2, 2017. The Rockettes have been a New York City holiday tradition for more than 75 years. With up to four shows daily on weekends, there are lots of opportunities to see their signature kick line, high kicks, meticulous choreography and roof-raising production numbers.

If you’re in NYC in late November, a show of another kind will be taking to the streets: the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! The world-famous parade will be held this year on November 24, celebrating its 90th anniversary! Seeing it on TV is one thing; seeing it in person is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a great family event that anyone can enjoy. And if you’re planning a little further ahead, don’t forget that New Year’s Eve in New York City is a show unto itself.

Discover the wonders of NYC museums

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, aka the Met (1000 5th Ave. at 82nd St. on the eastern edge of Central Park), is the most popular attraction in New York City. This humongous museum houses over two million items covering 5,000 years of civilization. You can spend days at the Met and still only see a fraction of what it has to offer, which also includes several restaurants and a rooftop garden where you can relax and discuss what you’ve been seeing, as well as live music and other special events.

The American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at W 79th St.) is a favourite of New Yorkers. Among its most popular attractions are the dinosaur fossil exhibit and the 429-seat planetarium, where you can see the amazing space show “Journey to the Stars,” narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. Museum admission is $25 for adults, $19 for students and seniors, and $14.50 for children.

The Museum of Modern Art, aka MOMA (11 West 53rd St. in Midtown), hosts more than 150,000 pieces of contemporary and modern art, from sculptures and paintings to photographs and films. Some of the famous works you’ll see include van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory. Admission is $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for students and free for children 16 and under.

Many of the city’s museums are free, while others ask for a “suggested donation” to help support their non-profit endeavours. Quite a few also have admission-free or “Pay-What-You-Wish” days. Calendars for such days can be found here and here.

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Do you have any tips for visiting New York City? Favourite experiences there? Please share them in the comments below!

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