Things To Do In New York - Quick Tips Part 2

This is part two of my quick tips for New York, after friends of mine asked for some advice. Part one covers things like hotel taxes, transport and tipping, you can read it here.

This part is going to cover my “top must do’s”.

Recommended Attractions

I could be here all day with this one, and my dog is waiting to be walked, so I shall try and keep it succint. These aren’t really off the beaten path attractions, rather they are things to do that you should not miss, in my opinion. For anything. 

So, in no particular order:

1. 9/11 Memorial & Museum

You have to do this. I know I just said there was no particular order but if there was, this would be at the top. Don’t do what we did though and almost miss “The Collection”.  We were walking round the museum and thought we had come to the end. About to exit we walked round a corner and realised there was more. Round the corner was this fire engine, and then just after this are the doors to The Collection.

The memorial and museum are humbling enough, but be prepared for some strong emotions if you go and view The Collection. I’m not going to write about it because it’s such a personal experience and everyone will have different feelings. When I came home, I was telling a friend about what I experienced in here and I cried. And I’m getting emotional thinking about it now. We spent about three hours here.

There is a shop on the way out where the proceeds go to helping keep the museum going. I bought a bag for life to use for popping to the shops, it reminds me of my trip every time I use it. It was a bargain at only $10. I’m not normally one for souvenir type goods but this is worthwhile.

Don’t miss it. It’s not a happy ride but don’t miss it.

HINT: Don’t do what some people do and pose for happy smiley selfies here, this is not the place to do that and it isn’t appreciated. You won’t be allowed to take photos in certain areas of the museum, and certainly not in The Collection rooms.

911 rescue dog Sirius
911 rescue dog Sirius memorial

2. One World Observatory

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center Dusk

I would recommend doing this after you have been to the 9/11 memorial and museum. 

Buy your ticket and then wait to be whisked up to the 102nd floor. 

One World Observatory Lift

You will get to look down on the memorial and the Oculus and process everything you have just observed. The queues and ticket prices are well worth it. Obviously there are beautiful views over New Jersey, Brooklyn and Manhattan from here, plus you can also poke the Statue of Liberty on the head 🙂 

HINT: If you want to do some shopping while here, Century 21 is near the Oculus. Lots of discounted designer stuff. Still kicking myself for not getting a Marc Jacobs bag!

One World Observatory View
One World Observatory View

3. The Whispering Gallery

Go and find the Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Station. I mean, you are going to visit Grand Central Station anyway aren’t you? So when you do, don’t miss the Whispering Gallery! You will find it on the lower floor, in the dining area, near to the Oyster bar.

Stand at opposite corners with your ear pressed up to the wall and you can talk to each other from across the way. Whisper sweet nothings that nobody else can hear apart from you. Perfect for two lovebirds who are not long engaged 🙂

You have to do this, it’s not a gimmick, it’s an actual phenomenon due to the shape of the ceiling.

This seemingly magical phenomenon can be explained by whispering gallery waves. When whispers hit the circular or semicircular surface of the gallery, those vibrations cling to the surface and “creep” along the gently curving path. The slight angle of the structure keeps sound waves from dispersing out to either side

Whispering Gallery New York

HINT: Be careful what you say if there are other people listening too, we heard some choice words from some cheeky teenage boys when we were listening! So funny, so cool. Do it!

4. Eat pizza slices from the pizza shops

When you are flagging from all the walking and need a quick pick me up, or something warming on the chilly winter days then pizza will help. Pizza helps everything.

Nip into any of the numerous pizza joints you will see and munch on a delicious slice of authentic New York pizza. Cheap and cheerful, it will fill you up without costing the world, and gives you a chance to rest your feet as well.

HINT: You must also get a bagel from a bagel cart – they are huge though, you could probably share one 🙂

New York Pizza
New York Pizza

5. Central Park

Central Park Lake
Central Park

Trying to condense all you should do in New York into just a few things is impossible. Central Park is going to be on everyone’s “To Do” list, but I am just going to emphasise a few things.

It is huge! It is bigger than you think it is and we only saw half of it. There is an information point you can go to (if you can find it) and pick up maps of the park. There was a lady working in here when we went who can tell you more about the park and recommend places to visit.

Personally I recommend picking some things you really want to see / do here and then just wandering and see where you end up. If you are going in winter then a must do here has to be ice skating on the Woolman rink! You can skate at Rockefeller and also at Bryant Park but it has to be the Woolman at Central Park right? It’s magical! Go at dusk so you catch all the skyscrapers lit up behind you, it’s like being in a fairytale. Find the ice rink – it has the current hours and prices on the gate or look on the Central Park website. Mondays to Thursdays are cheaper.

HINT: Look out for squirrels!


Central Park Squirrel
Central Park

You can take tours through Central Park – please avoid the ones using horses and get a pedicab instead, or you can rent bicycles. A good pedicab operator is called Frankie Legs – he is really popular and you can find him on Facebook to book a tour with him. 

There are a few eating options here and we found what we thought was a little gem – The Loeb Boathouse. It has a table service section and a self service section. We just sat in the (cheaper) self service section and took it in turns to go up and order our food. They did a lovely warm soup, a veggie burger and some lovely hot chips (and stuff for the meat eaters of course). It was just what we needed while we sat down to thaw out a bit and the prices were reasonable too. It gets busy, try and go out of usual eating hours, this might help! 

HINT 2: There is so much to do here and so many different things to see, I will leave you with the official Central Park website:

The Loeb Boathouse Central Park

6. The 9/11 Fireman Tribute Mural

This was on my list of things we must see. It is a tribute mural painted on the wall to honour all the firefighters that worked 9/11. It is painted by artist Eduardo Kobra and is seven stories high. It’s breathtaking to see it in real life. Even more so if you have been to the 9/11 site first.

If you are going to get the cable car across to Roosevelt Island then check this out on the way as it is on East 49th street near 3rd. You’ll know what that means once you’ve got used to the street layouts, it doesn’t take long.

HINT: round the corner from this mural is a lovely looking café – we didn’t get to try it but if we had time we would have.

911 Fireman Mural

7. Kellogg's!

If you like cereal for breakfast then you should go and visit the Kellogg’s café!

You can fill your bowl with all sorts of Kellogg’s cereals, complete with toppings! Grab a bowl, fill it to the brim, get a drink (look at the cute mug too!) and sit down by the window to watch the world go by as you munch away! There is plenty of comfy seating too if you want to lounge in a chair or sofa.

You can find Kellogg’s by Union Square on 31 East 17th street – it is about half a mile south from the Flatiron building.

UPDATE! Kellogg’s closed at the end of 2019, you can’t go there anymore 🙁

Kelloggs New York

8. Brooklyn

I don’t have to put this on here do I? But I’m going to because I loved Brooklyn. We took the subway into Brooklyn, found the famous photo spot in DUMBO and then wandered around before finding a really cute restaurant to go and eat in.

Prices are cheaper in Brooklyn and there are some stunning views over to Manhattan. It’s got a really nice vibe to it. If I went back to New York I would look at staying in Brooklyn.

Heading back we walked over the bridge – another must do! It doesn’t take too long and the views are stunning. If you want to have the bridge to yourself go really early in the morning – maybe 6am?! I planned to do that but when it came to it there was no way I was going out that early!

Brooklyn Bridge - travel puffin
View across Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges

And Finally...!

A few final words in this quick tip guide. People often ask which observation points they should do. Unless you have the money and time to do all three then which should you choose out of the One World Observatory, The Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. Pick whichever ones you want – my best tip is to do one during the day and one at night so you get the contrasting views. 

We did OWO during the day to see over Manhattan and New Jersey, and we did The Rock at night (went in just before dark) from where you can see south to the OWO and north to Central Park. Don’t fret about this too much, you can’t make a wrong choice.

We bought a city sightseeing pass to try and save a bit of money. It doesn’t save you loads but if you know you are going to do certain attractions then they normally save you a few dollars. There are a couple of schemes and they have slightly different attractions on them so do compare them both before deciding which is best for you. 

We went for this one – because it included skating at the Woolman rink.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick guide of things to do in New York and that it has been of some use to you! If so, please give it a share below. If you have other “must do’s” or want to know anything else drop me a message in the comments!

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