10 Best Things to Do in NYC Plus Places to Eat:

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do in NYC

Are you planning a trip NYC and are trying to figure out where you need to go and what you need to do? These are the 10 best things to do in NYC along with tips along the way that will give you the best trip whether it is your first trip or your tenth.

Walk, run, take a scooter, hop on a horse and carriage, do whatever you have to do but get thee to Central Park:

It’s a great place to work out and chill. Plus, depending on the time of year, you can attend a play, go to a concert, see all kind of animals at the zoo, various attractions (Strawberry Fields, Tavern on the Green, Bow Bridge), picnic, etc.

VTML Tip #1: In Columbus Circle, there is a Whole Foods in the bottom floor of the Time Warner building. A great place to grab picnic supplies.

VTML Tip #2: If you are in NYC during the summer, check online to see Shakespeare in the Park schedule. Tickets are free and some of Hollywood’s brightest could be on stage. This is one of the best free things to do in NYC!

Hours: 6a – 1a

Cost: Free

Washington Square Park:

There is so much to do or not to do here. You can sit in one of the many benches that are all of the park and chill, people watch, eat, etc. Of course, there is the nice open area in the center where there is tons of activity. Even with all of the activity and flurry of people it remains clean.

Address: 5th Avenue, Greenwich Village

Hours: 6a – 1a

Cost: Free

Note: While this is perfectly safe during the day, after dark the areas with the trees in this park can get a little sketchy.

VTML Tip: If you are a fan of the tv show Friends, run by the corner of Bedford Street and Grove Street to see their apartment.

Union Square:

If you want to go to a market in NYC, head here. From the middle of May until the end of November this is my favorite time to be here, there are great vendors here (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) 9am – 1pm.

Selling everything from fruits, veggies, alcohol, baked goods (even GF options), jewelry, paintings, and several of other incredibly talented artists and tons of food / drink options. It is larger than Bryant Park and the variety is larger too.

Address: 14th-17th Street, Broadway and Park

Getting here: Take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q or R train to Union Square – 14th Street station.

9/11 Memorial and Museum – World Trade Center Memorial Foundation: 

World Trade Center and surrounding area (including St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church Wall Street: St Paul’s: 209 Broadway and the Occulus: 33-69 Vesey St, World Trade Center)

There are 2 large pools / waterfalls of water that go into empty holes. It is quite eerie and moving all at once.

VTML Tip #1: Occulus – Shopping and good for a couple of images (check out the ceiling): This building is huge! Just when you think you have covered it, you find another pocket of shops and restaurants.

It is also a huge transportation hub (the Path to Hoboken is in here, many subway stops). Be care if you go here after it has rained / snowed, the floors get slippery.

VTML Tip #2: St Paul’s: Was a refuge for recovery workers for 9/11. It is now a popular tourist destination since it still keeps many of the memorial banners.

Address: 180 Greenwich Street

Hours: 24 hours / day

Cost: Free

Brooklyn Bridge:

Brooklyn Bridge up-close

This is probably one of my all time favorite things to do in NYC! It doesn’t take very long to walk along the Brooklyn Bridge but the views are totally worth it.

During the winter, be prepared because it does get cold and can be extremely windy. While walking across, mind the bicyclists.

VTML Tip #1: Grimaldi’s Pizza (1 Front St – no GF pizza) but the best pizza around. If you can’t make it over the bridge, there is one located near the Flatiron building.

VTML Tip #2: Dellarocco’s Pizza (214 Hicks St) This place has great GF pizza. Located only about 10 blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge, and it is really easy to find.

Hours: 24 hours / day

Cost: Free

How long is it: Just over 1.1 mile

How long does it take to cross: Depending on the time of day / year and how many times you stop to take pictures (so many variables), 30-45 minutes.

VTML Tip: There is very little coverage so make sure you have sunscreen, or a hat, water, and sunglasses.

Manhattan Bridge:

I have always loved walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. I think it is the prettiest one in NYC, but I am always looking for new views of it. When I was there in last fall, I decided I was going to go and get the DUMBO shot.

Instead of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, I took the Manhattan Bridge. It is a longer walk but so much less crowded!!! Best part, you get amazing and different views of the Brooklyn Bridge. ⁠

VTML Tip# 1: Getting to the Manhattan Bridge is as easy as getting to the Brooklyn Bridge. Pretty much when you see signs for one you see signs for the other. It is the same in Brooklyn. It is free to walk both bridges. ⁠

VTML Tip# 2: When walking across the Manhattan Bridge and you are freaking out that you wish that you could get a better shot of the Brooklyn Bridge, hold on. There are 5 points as you get closer to Brooklyn where there are holes in the fence that you can get your lens through to get amazing shots. ⁠ If nothing else, the view of Manhattan from here and of the Brooklyn bridge makes this one of the top things to do in NYC!

VTML Tip# 3: If you want that picture perfect shot of you and the Manhattan bridge in DUMBO, head to the corner of Front Street and Washington Street.

Hours: 24 hours / day

Cost: Free

How long is it: About 1.3 miles

How long does it take to cross: While there is less foot traffic on this bridge, I found myself stopping more to take pictures due to the amazing views. Anywhere from 30-45 minutes.

VTML Tip: There is more coverage the Brooklyn Bridge but you are still out in the middle of nowhere so make sure you have sunscreen, or a hat, water, and sunglasses.

View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Bridge, one of the top things to do in NYC
View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Bridge, one of the top things to do in NYC

Flatiron Building:

This is my favorite building in NYC. So much detail in a relatively small building. Look for the Medusa heads.  There are a lot of great shops close by on 5th Ave.

Address: 175 5th Ave, At 23rd Street

VTML Tip #1If you have never been to Eataly, I highly recommend it. There are only a handful of stores in the US (many in Europe). It is a store dedicated to high-end Italian food and things to do with it (cookbooks, cookware, etc). I can’t pass up the gelato here! They have various restaurants and you can also buy wine, and coffee. 

If this is not your thing, there are plenty of other places to eat in this area including Grimaldi’s Pizza (656 6th Ave).

VTML #2: There is a Lego Store here for the kiddos.

Eat your way through Chelsea Market:

This indoor food hall has just every kind of food being offered that you can imagine. They also have great shops. To see what they offer, click here.

VTML Tip: Check out everything first and then commit.

Bonus#1: Going to an event at Madison Square Garden (especially to see a Rangers game!)

Bonus#2: If it is during the Christmas holiday season, go to Rockefeller Center and skate on the rink, see the decorations and see the window displays in the department stores. Hands down this is one of my favorite things to do in NYC and if this doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will!

Address: 75 9th Avenue (between 15th & 16th St.)

Getting Here: Take the Subway A, C, E, or L train to the 14th Street (8th Avenue) station. Walk West to Ninth Avenue and 15th Street.

Hours: Monday – Saturday 7a, – 2am, Sunday 8am – 10pm

Cost: Free, unless you eat, of course.

Go to a comedy show:

Across the street from Pomme Frites, on Macdougal Street, is the Comedy Cellar. Many great comedians have performed here over the years including Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, Kevin Hart, and Patton Oswalt.

Make sure to get reservations online if there is someone here that you really want to see. When I went in September, there was a long line with a waitlist.

If you don’t care about who you see, just show up and see if there are tickets available. If not, wander around Macdougal Street as there are several comedy clubs located here. ⁠

Address: 117 MacDougal St #1267

Cost: Tickets were $10-24 depending on show. You must be 21 or older. There is a 2 drink minimum.

Check out all the street art NYC has to offer:

As always, it wouldn’t be a post from me without me including street art. This is one of the best cities to see street art in the world. Just walking around, you can see it all over the place, you just have to be looking for it.

Little Italy is a great place to start in your hunt and then you can head southwards. If you are looking for a specific artist, you can Google them to find out where their murals are located around town. Finding street art is definitely one of my favorite things to do in NYC!

Address: All around NYC.

Cost: Free

Bonus: Eating Your Way Across NYC:

Pomme Frites:

If you have ever had Belgian fries, you will understand why every time I come to NYC I head straight for this place. They put their own spin on it with a large variety of sauces that they offer. Served in the traditional cones, it sure does bring back memories!

Address: 128 Macdougal Street

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11am – 1am, Friday – Saturday 11am – 3am

Cost: $4 – 8

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC:

100% gluten free, vegan, kosher bakery. Hands down the best GF bakery I have ever been to anywhere! It is a small little bakery with limited seating inside and some additional seating outside but is so worth it!

Address: 248 Broome Street

Hours: Sunday – Tuesday 8am – 8pm, Wednesday & Thursday 8am – 10pm, Friday & Saturday & Sunday 8am – 11pm

H&H Bagel:

If you are a Seinfeld fan, or just want to try a classic NYC bagel, head here!

Address: 1551 2nd Ave

Hours: 6a – 7p


A quintessential Jewish deli known for their coffee. They have some gluten free options (don’t miss out on the chocolate rugelach!)

Address: 2245 Broadway

Hours: Monday – Friday 8a – 7:30pm, Saturday 8am – 8pm, Sunday 9am – 6pm

Bareburger one of the best places to eat in NYC.


Organic burgers with what I am being told awesome GF buns (from my husband). Hands down the best burgers and fries! They are now located in other places outside of NYC. For locations and menu, click here.

Address: 10 locations around NYC

Hours: May vary by location

Wo Hops: 

If you are craving Chinese food, this is the best place to get it and it is located Chinatown!  Make sure to save room for dessert for the next place on the list and it is only about 5 minutes away!

Address: 17 Mott Street

Hours: 24 hours / day

Ferrara Bakery & Café:

Plan on waiting in line for this place. Possibly the best bakery in NYC (sorry those with GF issues)! Do NOT miss out on the cannolis!!!

Address: 195 Grand Street

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 9am – 11pm, Friday & Saturday 9am – 12am


Great gelato in NYC! 

Address: There are a couple of locations around the city. For location information, click here.

Hours: May vary by location


A place that specializes in mac n cheese. Bet I made you smile and so will this place. If you are gluten free rejoice, because they provide options for you too!

Address: 197 1st Avenue

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11am – 11pm, Friday – Saturday 11am – 5a

Europa Café:

My favorite breakfast place in the city. Lots of options to eat and gluten free ones too!

Address: Several locations around NYC

Hours: May vary by location

New York Ranger’s Chris Kreider

BONUS: Must go places for New York Rangers fans:

MSG Store: 

Located inside the Garden, the best place to buy Rangers gear! They have a wide selection and it changes throughout the season.

Address: 4 Pennsylvania Plaza

Blarney Stone Bar & Restaurant: 

If you want a place to hang out with Rangers fans before or after games, this is the place to go! Also, if you can’t get tickets to a game in the Garden and you want to watch it, especially during the playoffs, come here.

Address: 410 8th Ave between 30th & 31st Street

Monday – Saturday 11am – 4am, Sunday 12pm – 3am


Has some of the best Rangers fan gear around town.

Address: 430 7th Avenue, One Penn Plaza, Next to MSG

Hours: Monday – Friday 7am – 12am, Saturday 8am – 1am, Sunday 8am – 12am

Gerry Cosby’s & Co:  

Located just up the street from MSG at 11 Pennsylvania Plaza, they have unique Rangers gear.


Address: 11 Pennsylvania Plaza

Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:30am – 6pm

NHL Store: 

Has team gear for all NHL teams. Certain times of the year are better than other. Rangers stuff is hit or miss.

Address: 1185 6th Avenue

Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am – 8pm, Sunday 11 am – 8pm

Canyon of Heroes:

Can see granite markers on the ground with a date and name. These stretch from Broadway to the City Hall and notate when the guest of honor had a ticker tape parade in their honor.

Some of the guests include: Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, 1996 NY Yankees, 1994 NY Rangers, and many more.

Location: In front of St Paul’s and to the left

Hours: 24 hours / day

Cost: Free

I hope these will help you as you wander you way across this amazing city that I love so much!

Now that you have wandered around and seen my favorite things to do in NYC, you might be interested in my blog on the best things to do in Paris.

Is your favorite thing to do in NYC on this list? Please feel free to leave your comments below and sign up so I can notify you when the next post is available.

I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz.

Nina Zee




© 2019 Nina Zee 

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