What to See and Do in New York City

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By Mike DuBose, Debra DuBose, and Blake DuBose

Every year, over 50 million tourists flock to New York City to experience its extensive, diverse culture, arts, food, shopping, and theaters. It’s a place with many nicknames, like “Gotham” and “The City That Never Sleeps,” but “The Big Apple” is likely its most famous. Many people consider it the cultural center of America. Hundreds of songs have been sung about New York City, like Frank Sinatra’s classic “New York, New York,” and it has been the setting for countless movies and works of literature. To many people in the United States and around the world—even those living in remote areas—New York is well-known as a vibrant, dynamic symbol of the American Dream.

One of the most exhilarating things about New York is the hustle and bustle of so many different people living, working, and having fun in the same area. According to the US census, there are more than 12 million residents in the New York City metropolitan area, with 8 million in the city itself (an area of about 300 square miles). This makes New York the most population-dense city in the United States—in fact, more people live there than in 39 of the 50 US states! In addition, nearly 1.5 million people commute to the city each day.  

New York City is made up of five different neighborhoods, or “boroughs:” the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Most sights that tourists typically come to New York to see, such as Central Park, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Empire State Building, are in Manhattan. Therefore, you will probably want to stay there, and we have focused the majority of this guide on things to see nearby—unless otherwise noted, all attractions mentioned in the “What to See” section are located in Manhattan.

There’s so much to do in New York City that it would take many trips to see only a fraction of the offerings! Also, because it is so busy, one can get lost very easily in New York, so it’s very important to plan thoroughly in advance. This guide is a good starting point to planning a great trip. We also recommend using TripAdvisor.com as a resource (find the most reliable information by seeking out patterns within the comments) and researching through other reputable news sources and travel guides before your visit.

History

The first inhabitants of what is now New York City were Native American tribes who lived between the Hudson and Delaware rivers. Europeans first settled in the region in 1624 in the form of Dutch traders—hence the original name, New Amsterdam, given to the area in 1626. The English took over in 1664, renaming it “New York City” after their king’s brother James, Duke of York. By 1760, it was the second-largest city in the American colonies, and it even briefly served as the U.S. capital from 1789 to 1790.

New York City exemplifies the concept of America as a “melting pot” of different cultures, religions, and ethnic groups. Over 30% of the residents in NYC are foreign-born. More than 800 languages are spoken there, and roughly half of its residents over the age of five speak at least one language other than English. New York City is also home to the largest number of Jews anywhere other than Israel, and it has one of the largest Chinese populations in the world.

Traveling There and Getting Around

New York City is served by two primary airports: John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA). Of the two, JFK is more modern, but is located further from the city. Some airlines offer direct flights to New York City, bypassing hubs like the Atlanta airport. If your local airport doesn’t have such flights and the distance is reasonable, consider driving to another nearby airport to catch direct (and often, cheaper) flights.

Expect to wait about 30 minutes after obtaining your luggage in the New York airport to catch a cab. Transportation from the airport to Manhattan is pricey: taxis cost $52 (set fee) plus tolls and tip from JFK, and $45 from LaGuardia. Your ride will probably take about 40-50 minutes; prevent it from being longer by arriving after 10 AM or before 3 PM to avoid the crowded highways. You can also take the subway, which is cheaper, but a hassle if you have luggage. It is even possible to take a train from Columbia, SC to New York City, as some of our friends do!

We don’t recommend renting a car because traffic is so bad and parking fees are often $50 a day. (In fact, parking is so hard to find in New York City that tickets issued to UPS, FedEx, and other delivery companies generate millions in revenue for the city every year!) Another option is to use a smartphone app like Uber or Lyft to order a car, but beware that surge pricing can drive up costs higher than simply taking a taxi cab. We suggest installing the apps on your smartphone and learning how to use them before arriving.

In New York and all other major cities, we often get around by utilizing “hop-on, hop-off” buses in combination with taxis. It usually ends up being a more cost-effective route than taking taxis everywhere, and easier to maneuver than the bus or subway system. Plus, you get an audio tour of the city through headphones that you plug into an outlet near your seat! Our favorite provider is Big Bus Tours; see http://eng.bigbustours.com/newyork/home.html for rates and different packages offered (multi-day tickets, etc.). Once you buy a ticket, you can simply hop off at any site you want to visit; then, hop back on when the next bus comes by every 15-20 minutes (depending on traffic). We recommend obtaining a bus tour map prior to arriving to determine the different routes, what you desire to see, and the location of the drop offs. Any sights that aren’t directly on the Big Bus route are usually within walking distance. Enter the bus company’s 800 number into your phone in case of any issues, since some stops may close without warning (as we experienced when there was a rock concert during our trip).

Other ways to get around include walking or taking taxi cabs, the subway, or city buses. New York City has 772 miles of subway tracks and more than 10,000 cabs to help people travel from place to place! However, if you must travel by taxi, try to avoid bad times such as 8-9 AM, 11 AM – 1 PM, and 4-6 PM, when traffic is horrendous but the meter keeps running. When hailing a taxi, look for the ones with the light on top illuminated, which indicates that they are available for service. Stand on the side of the street where traffic is going in the direction of your destination and hold out your hand. Taxis accept credit cards, but it’s preferable to have some small bills so you can provide exact change plus a tip (if desired).

Safety

Be careful when crossing the street on foot, as traffic is very heavy most times of the day and night. When you are walking around the city, you may also run into homeless people or street performers soliciting change. There are even people dressed up like superheroes or other characters that will ask if you want your picture with them—but be prepared for them to demand payment if you do! Note: public bathrooms are rare; one has to usually go to a bar, café, museum, or restaurant and buy something to use their facilities.

Although there is some crime in New York City (as in any major city), rates have been steadily dropping since the 1990s. As of 2015, the violent crime rate was lower than the national average! Use common sense (for example, don’t put your wallet in your back pocket while riding a crowded subway, and don’t wander into bad-looking neighborhoods after dark), and you should have no problems. Wherever you go as a tourist, there will likely be many police officers present on nearly every corner, so if you run into trouble, ask them for help.

Where to Stay

Near Times Square is an ideal location because it’s near many points of interest and taxis are easy to catch. Prices tend to be higher, but you won’t spend as much on transportation to the sights! We like the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square at 790 Eighth Avenue between 48th and 49th streets. (Check Hilton.com for rates and specials; they offer a discount for seniors, AAA, and AARP). Some airlines also offer flight/hotel packages that you may want to consider.

When it comes to selecting a room, we recommend staying on a high floor on the side of the building facing away from the street. While they may lack a scenic view, you won’t hear as much honking (New Yorkers love their horns!) and sirens blaring all hours of the day and night. Try to stay away from elevators and ice machines, too, due to the noise they produce. Another thing to look out for: “concierges” at some hotels appear to be hotel employees but they are actually private sales agents for other organizations!

Wherever you decide to stay, grab a few of the hotel’s business cards and put its number in your phone. That way, if you get lost, you can just hail a cab and provide the card to the driver. However, because New York is such a large and popular travel destination, there will be many hotels—some within the same brand—near yours, and even seasoned taxi drivers can get confused (as they did on several occasions when they dumped us off at the wrong one and left), so stay alert!

What to See

If you are planning to see many of New York City’s most famous attractions, you may want to consider purchasing a New York CityPASS. The pass covers admission to three major New York City sights: the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For the remaining three passes, users pick between two choices: Top of the Rock Observation Deck or the Guggenheim Museum; the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or a Circle Line sightseeing cruise; and the 9/11 Memorial or Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum. The CityPASS costs $116 for adults and $92 for children under 18, which is about 40% less than if you bought individual tickets to all six attractions covered by the pass. CityPASS remains valid for nine days from the first time you use it. If you have limited time, there is also a “C3” option that allows you to pick three attractions at $71 for adults and $51 for children. See www.citypass.com/new-york for more details or to purchase passes.

However you choose to see the city, we recommend exploring near your hotel on the day you arrive in New York and keeping things relatively unplanned that first day. You want to rest up and gain energy for the following days, not stress yourself out! Some famous attractions you may want to consider visiting are:

Important Buildings and Monuments

The Empire State Building towers 1050 feet over New York, offering amazing views of the city. The Art Deco-style building is NYC’s second-tallest after One World Trade Center. It is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, although you will be able to see it from pretty much anywhere! It is lit up with different colors at night, and you can check www.esbnyc.com/explore/tower-lights to see the meanings and schedule. If you’d like to go inside the Empire State Building, there are two observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors that you can visit. Prices vary based on which observation deck you choose and whether you obtain an express ticket (which allows you to go to the front of the line) or regular; see www.esbnyc.com/buy-tickets for pricing and to buy tickets. The Empire State Building is open from 8 AM-2 AM, 365 days a year.

Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck are “a big-city experience worth having at least once,” according to US News and World Report. Rockefeller Plaza is located between Fifth and Sixth avenues and features shops, restaurants, NBC Studios, a Metropolitan Museum of Art store, and an iconic sculpture of Atlas. (The plaza is especially charming in the winter time, when ice skaters glide on a large rink in front of the building, the city is decorated for the holidays, and there is a huge lighted Christmas tree on display.) You can visit the Top of the Rock observation deck and look out over the city, but must buy tickets (www.topoftherocknyc.com/buy-tickets/). Going up the elevator can feel like experiencing space travel, with all kinds of graphics and flashing lights! Check the weather before booking since it can be cold, windy, and foggy up there, with poor visibility.

NBC Studios offers tours costing $33 for adults and $29 for children and seniors (see www.thetouratnbcstudios.com/ for tickets). Outside in the square, there are often famous musicians playing, and NBC’s TODAY show films Monday-Friday. If you’d like to see the filming firsthand (and maybe appear on television!) here are some tips from Today.com:

  • Enter the plaza at 48th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue
  • Pass through security
  • Register with a TODAY ambassador (Monday-Friday)
  • Find a great spot (and tell your friends watching at home where they can see you).

Radio City Music Hall is a large entertainment venue that is also located in Rockefeller Plaza. It hosts concerts, shows, and sports events and is where the famous Rockette dancers perform. You can even meet a Rockette if you take a tour! Tours run from 9:30 AM-5 PM and tickets cost $26.95 for adults, but check www.radiocity.com/tour for online specials and you may get a cheaper price. The Rockette dancers really put on a fabulous show, and we strongly recommend attending if they are performing during your visit! They perform both a New York Spectacular in summer and a Christmas Spectacular starting in November; see www.rockettes.com/ for more information and tickets.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral occupies an entire city block at Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st streets, sitting directly across from Rockefeller Center. It was built in the Neo-Gothic style and can hold up to 3,000 people under its towering ceilings. The church serves as the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and masses are held seven times per day. Hours are 6:30 AM to 8:45 PM daily, with tours at 10 AM. Tour dates may vary depending on the time of year and events being held at the church; see http://saintpatrickscathedral.org/schedule-of-tours to determine availability during your visit.

Carnegie Hall is one of the prestigious venues in the world for musicians to play. Pianist Emanuel Ax once called it “THE dream…the equivalent of pitching for the Yankees.” It contains three separate performance spaces, totaling over 3,600 seats in all, and many famous acts, such as the Beatles and David Bowie, have played there. The building (named after the man who ordered it built, wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie) turned 125 years old in 2016, and events are still being held today. See www.carnegiehall.org/ for a calendar of events and ticket sales. Tours are also offered ($17 for adults, $12 for students and seniors over 62, and $12 for children 12 and younger), but schedules vary based on the events taking place at the hall. Check the updated schedule at www.carnegiehall.org/Tours and then visit the Box Office at 881 7th Avenue to book a tour.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift to America from the people of France. It took years to complete, but was finally dedicated in 1886. Originally, the statue was a copper color, but reactions in the metal over the years gave it the green color we see today. Twelve million immigrants passed by the statue on their way to Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, seeking a better life for themselves in America. Today, you can visit Liberty Island via ferry from Battery Park and enter the statue itself. To go into the platform or crown areas of the Statue of Liberty, you must have reservations (crown tickets should be booked six months before your visit date because they are in high demand). The National Parks Service recommends booking your ferry ride and tickets through the official provider Statue Cruises (www.statuecruises.com), and warns that scammers may try to sell you overpriced or fraudulent tickets if you encounter them in Battery Park! If you do not plan to enter the crown or platform, there are still things to do on the ground on Liberty Island, and the statue is an awesome sight to behold (even if you just take a river cruise—often included in the Big Bus tour package—and gaze at it from a distance, as we did). See www.nps.gov/stli/planyourvisit/index.htm for more details on the monument and Liberty Island.

Notable Areas

Times Square (named after the famed New York Times newspaper) is closed to vehicular traffic in its center (Broadway between 42nd and 47th streets), which is a good thing—you’re likely to get distracted by all the dazzling lights and huge billboards shouting out at you from above! In fact, the largest LED sign in the world—the 37-foot-tall NASDAQ sign—is in Times Square, joined by many other flashing graphics. The area is very crowded with other tourists and pedestrians (330,000 people walk through the square on a typical day) so it’s a prime pickpocket area. Keep a close eye on your purse or wallet here.

Broadway is the heart of theater in America, so be sure to see some plays or musicals. All but one of the Broadway theaters (the Vivian Beaumont Theater, which near the Lincoln Center) are in or near Times Square, and many subway lines run to them. One TripAdvisor reviewer said, “When visiting New York—seeing a Broadway show is a must. Walking along the street with the lights and signs is mind-blowing.” Check online for reviews of current shows before going to decide which you want to see. Some good Broadway shows we have seen are Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys (the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons), The King and I, Beautiful (The Carole King Musical), Motown, and The Lion King. If you don’t mind standing in line at Times Square, the TKTS booth sells discounted tickets, or you can wait until a half-hour before the show begins and try to buy tickets at the theater (there are many of them!). You can also usually buy tickets in advance at ticketmaster.com.

Fifth Avenue is the place to go if you like to shop! High-end stores like Tiffany & Co. and Bergdorf Goodman mingle with some lower-priced options like Gap and Sephora, drawing shoppers in with creatively designed window arrangements. Look between 34th and 59th streets for the most popular stores. Debra, however, prefers street vendors and smaller shops for good deals and unique gifts.

Chinatown in Manhattan (there are other Chinatowns in different boroughs) is one of the oldest enclaves of Chinese people in the United States. It has a population of 100,000 people and many grocers, fish markets, teahouses, restaurants, and shops that proudly sell traditional Chinese products alongside other gifts and souvenirs. There are no official boundaries to Chinatown, but the borders are generally agreed to be Grand Street to the north (overlapping a bit with Little Italy), Worth Street to the southwest, East Broadway to the southeast, Allen Street to the East, and Lafayette Street to the west.

SoHo is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan whose name refers to its location South of Houston Street. It is home to many artists and galleries, and a variety of shops from chains to fancy boutiques are open there. It’s adjacent to Chinatown and Little Italy, so all three are within walking distance. While in SoHo, we recommend that you visit Georgetown Cupcake (111 Mercer Street) for some of the best fresh-baked cupcakes ever!

Little Italy once occupied a much larger area in the past than its current location—three blocks of Mulberry Street between Canal Street and Broome Street. In 1910, the area had a population of 10,000 Italians, but over the years, many have moved out of Manhattan to other boroughs like Brooklyn and Queens. There are now only a few authentic stores and restaurants left, such as the Ferrara Café, which was established in 1892.

Parks

Central Park, a wooded area spanning 800 acres, is one of the largest parks in the world and is visited by around 40 million people annually. It is maintained by the non-profit Central Park Conservancy and has its own NYPD precinct. Hours are 6 AM-1 AM daily, and it is free to enter. The surrounding streets are called Central Park North, Central Park South, Central Park West, and Fifth Avenue. Central Park is a beautiful place for a stroll, and many New Yorkers go there to take in nature when the noise and business of the city get overwhelming. There are many statues, monuments, and even a zoo; see www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/ for a complete list and their approximate locations (there are also information kiosks throughout the park). One of the most popular is the Strawberry Fields area, which contains a memorial to John Lennon of the Beatles and is located across the street from where he died in 1980. There are also many vendors in and around Central Park selling food and souvenirs.

Bryant Park is located at Fifth and Sixth avenues between 40th and 42nd streets. It is a public park, but is privately managed by the not-for-profit Bryant Park Corporation. In the summer, Bryant Park Summer Film Festival takes place there, and in the winter, there is a free ice skating rink. However, its most famous event is New York Fashion Week, which takes over the park for two weeks twice per year in late summer and early February. There is also free Wi-Fi here!

Museums

Museum of Modern Art (called “MoMa”) is located at 11 West 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues. From just eight prints and one drawing at its beginning in 1929, MoMa’s collection has grown to thousands of paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces, including works from Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso. It even has one of our favorite art pieces in the world: Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Starry Night!” MoMa focuses on art made in the 20th century or after and is open from 10:30 AM-5:30 PM every day except Friday, when it stays open until 8 PM. Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for seniors 65+, and $14 for students.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, often called “the Met,” is the largest art museum in the United States, with over two million pieces in its permanent collection. It features art from all over the world, ranging from ancient Egyptian objects to modern American photography, as well as costumes, musical instruments, and weapons. There are 17 curatorial departments, each with its own theme (such as Ancient Near Eastern Art, the Costume Institute, and the American Wing, to name a few). The Met, which is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue, is open from 10:30 AM-5 PM Sunday-Thursday and 10 AM-9 PM Friday-Saturday. If you buy tickets at the counter within the museum, you decide how much you pay, but the suggested donation is $25 for adults and $17 for seniors. You may also purchase tickets online at the suggested prices at www.metmuseum.org/visit/buy-tickets and avoid waiting in line.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is notable not only for the impressionist, post-impressionist, modern, and contemporary art it contains, but also for the very building that houses it, which was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Even if you are not a fan of modern art, it is worth walking by 1017 Fifth Avenue to see the huge cylindrical structure! If you wish to enter the museum, tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for students and seniors, and hours are 10 AM-5:45 PM Sunday-Wednesday and Friday and 10 AM-7:45 PM Saturday (closed Thursday).

American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world, with 32 million specimens (not all displayed at once) spread over 27 buildings at Central Park West at 79th Street. With 2 million square feet of space, you’ll have to pick and choose which exhibits you want to see—or plan to spend days or even weeks there! US News and World Report recommends visiting the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the dinosaur exhibit, the Hall of the Universe, and the Butterfly Garden (if you are visiting between October and May). As with many other popular New York City attractions, the best time to visit is during weekdays if possible (especially during the low season in fall or springtime). Hours are 10 AM-5:45 PM daily, except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. The suggested donation for tickets is $22 for adults, $17 for seniors or students, and $12.50 kids 2-12 (plus additional for special exhibits). If you contribute the full donation, you can buy tickets in advance at https://ticketing.amnh.org/#/tickets, or pay what you like at the ticket counter. See www.amnh.org/ for information about current exhibits.

National 9/11 Memorial and Museum commemorates the 2,977 victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. It is free to visit the memorial, which is open daily from 7:30 AM-9 PM. In it, two one-acre pools containing the largest manmade waterfalls in the US lay where the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the attacks, once stood. The names of the 9/11 victims, plus the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, are engraved on plaques that are placed around the pools, and trees—including one from the WTC grounds that made it through the attacks, called the “survivor tree”—provide shade in the area. The monument was dedicated on September 11, 2011, the event’s tenth anniversary, and the accompanying museum opened in 2014.

In the 9/11 Memorial Museum, you can see pieces of metal from all seven World Trade Center buildings, a fire engine wrecked by the collapse of the Twin Towers, and photographs of the day. There are also other types of media, including audio and video recordings of survivors, first responders, and 911 telephone calls, as well as oral histories of those killed that were given by their families. Although the memorial is free, tickets to the museum cost $24 for adults (visit www.911memorial.org/visit-museum-1 to buy). They can be purchased three months in advance which is advisable, given that 4 million people had already visited the museum at the end of 2015. The memorial and museum are both located at the former World Trade Center site at 180 Greenwich Street in lower Manhattan.

Neue Galerie is a museum for German and Austrian art that holds the famous “Lady in Gold” (“Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”) painting by Gustav Klimt. This painting was stolen from a Jewish family by the Nazis and ended up at a museum in Austria…until a niece of the rightful owner spotted the painting and fought to regain ownership! If you plan to go see this glimmering masterpiece, be sure to watch the movie Lady in Gold beforehand to learn more about its fascinating history. Neue Galerie is located at 1048 Fifth Avenue and 86th Street and is open from 11 AM-6 PM Thursday-Monday. Tickets cost $20 for general admission; $10 for students and seniors.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex showcases US military and maritime history by allowing visitors to interact with the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, the USS Growler submarine, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, a Concorde SST jet, and a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane. You can even board the aircraft carrier to see what life was like for those who lived and worked on it! Hours vary based on the season, but it is usually open during 10 AM-5 PM during the week (see www.intrepidmuseum.org/Plan-Your-Visit for exact times based on the date of your visit and for the various tours offered and their prices). The complex is located at Pier 86 at 12th Avenue and 46th Street, on the west side of Manhattan. If you are interested in World War II and airplanes, as Mike is, this is a great place to visit!

Tenement Museum chronicles the lives of people who lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in tenements—cramped apartments often housing whole families in poor living conditions. It is located at 97 Orchard Street in a five-story brick tenement building where 7,000 people from 20 nations lived between 1863 and 1935. Several businesses and apartments within the building have been restored to show what life was like for these people, who were typically immigrants of lower socioeconomic status. Each floor has a different theme focusing on a different group of people or aspect of tenement life. Tours are purchased separately for each floor, and walking tours of the neighborhood are also offered. See www.tenement.org/tours.php for current tours and to buy tickets.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden is located outside of Manhattan in the borough of Brooklyn at 990 Washington Avenue, within the Prospect Park neighborhood. Over 900,000 people per year come to see its specialty “gardens within the Garden,” including the Cranford Rose, Japanese Hill-and-Pond, Shakespeare, Native Flora, Fragrance, and Children’s Gardens. There is also a conservatory with tropical water plants, bonsai trees, and desert plants. Ticket pricing varies by date, so check www.bbg.org/visit/hours to plan your visit. Hours are 8 AM-6 PM Tuesday-Friday and 10 AM-6 PM Saturday and Sunday.

Where to Eat

New York has a bustling food scene. The ice cream cone, pasta primavera, and eggs Benedict were all invented here! Of its 12,500 restaurants, several are consistently ranked in the 20 best in the world. The food options are essentially endless. You can find any kind of ethnic cuisine you could ever want—Korean, Peruvian, or even Somali—cooked by immigrants from those countries. In fact, neighborhoods where people of a specific culture tend to congregate (Little Poland or Chinatown, for example) offer the chance to try authentic foods at very reasonable prices. Then, of course, there’s the Italian food that New York is famous for (some say it has the best pizza in the world), both in smaller, family-owned places and in upscale fine-dining eateries.

Below, we have compiled a list of some of the most critically acclaimed restaurants in the city (with some recommendations to make them more affordable for the average traveler), as well as some we enjoyed in our personal experiences. We also recommend that you conduct Google searches, search TripAdvisor.com, or consult a guidebook for other options in your price range and geographic area during your visit. If your funds are limited, consider ordering just a drink and an appetizer and enjoying the atmosphere of some of the finer restaurants. You might just have the best meal of your life!

Restaurant Name/Location

Cuisine Type

Comments

Jean Georges

 

1 Central Park West

European

Fine-Dining

This restaurant earned three stars from the prestigious Michelin guide, indicating that it has “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” You can get a two-course lunch for $48 per person, and many of the options are the same as those on the much pricier ($128 per person) dinner tasting menu!

Le Bernardin

 

155 W 51st Street

Seafood

Fine-Dining

As another three-Michelin-starred establishment, dinner at Le Bernardin is also very good—and very expensive. However, there is a lunch tasting menu offered on weekdays that runs $49 per person, which is a great chance to try fine dining at a more reasonable price.

Gramercy Tavern

 

42 E 20th Street

American

Zagat restaurant guide calls Gramercy Tavern a “landmark” that “never wavers,” and it has been awarded one Michelin star. Eat lunch in the Tavern and ask for its special off-menu Tavern Burger. If you’re up for a bigger (and more expensive) meal, they also offer lunch tasting menus for $65 per person and dinner tasting menus for $98 per person in the Dining Room.

Gotham Bar and Grill

 

12 E 12th Street

American

Thrillist.com recommends Gotham Bar and Grill as one of the “15 Best Value Michelin-Starred Restaurants in NYC.” A New York Times reviewer said his meal “deserved three cheers.”

Tavern on the Green

 

Central Park West and 66th Street

American

This restaurant was originally built in 1870 to house the sheep that were then living in Central Park! Since then, it has become a restaurant that has been featured in many movies, including Arthur, the original Ghostbusters, and Wall Street, due to its great location in the park.

Eataly

 

200 Fifth Avenue

Italian

Founded by famous chef Mario Batali, Eataly contains both a store (filled with imported Italian foods) and several restaurants, including La Pizza & La Pasta (serving, of course, pizza and pasta), Le Verdure (focusing on vegetables), and Il Pesce (emphasizing seafood). None of these take reservations, but other restaurants within the complex, like fine-dining restaurant Manzo and seafood restaurant Sabbia, do. TripAdvisor reviewers particularly enjoyed the pasta at La Pizza & La Pasta.

Otto

 

1 Fifth Avenue

Italian, Pizza

Also owned by Mario Batali, this Greenwich Village restaurant is decorated like an Italian train station. They serve upscale pizza (both exotic, with toppings like clams and garlic, as well as traditional, like basil and mozzarella with tomato sauce), fresh pasta, Italian meats and cheeses, salads, and gelato.

Hill Country Barbecue Market

 

30 W 26th Street

Barbecue

This is a Texas-style barbecue joint in the Flatiron area where you can get meats carved to order and different country-style sides. Several reviewers recommended the moist brisket, and one called the macaroni and cheese “ridiculously good!”

Mary’s Fish Camp

 

64 Charles Street

Seafood

It “makes you feel like you’ve found Cape Cod in Manhattan” said one reviewer of this New England-style seafood spot. In addition to the lobster rolls and steamed clams, many praised the shoestring fries that come as a side. They do not take reservations, so be prepared to wait if you go at a busy time.

Frying Pan

 

Pier 66 Maritime

Bar/American

This unique restaurant and bar is made up of three docked boats on the Hudson River. Reviewers particularly praised the view on the top deck, which you can access via spiral staircase, but beware that it can get windy! Basic bar foods like burgers and fries are available, as well as drinks like sangria and draft beer.

Club A Steakhouse

 

240 E 58th Street

Steakhouse

Yelp reviewers praised the steak at this “old-school,” red-decor-themed steakhouse. Sides must be ordered separately from the steaks; however, one reviewer praised“the best mac and cheese and creamed spinach we ever had,” so they are worth ordering!  There is also a piano player for entertainment. This is one of our favorite places to eat, and if you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary, they go all out! Ask for a table up front near the windows. It can be a little hard finding a taxi when leaving, so order one in advance.

Casa Bella

 

127 Mulberry Street

Italian

This reasonably-priced restaurant is located in New York’s famous Little Italy neighborhood. We like the meatballs and lasagna, and they also offer great pastas and Italian sandwiches. It’s our tradition to eat here anytime we’re in New York!

The Russian Tea Room

 

150 West 57th Street

Russian

We felt like we were eating in a Russian museum at this restaurant, and the food was good. It is located near Carnegie Hall.

Coffee Shop

 

29 Union Square W

Diner

This diner serves breakfast all day and is open late into the night—some days, until 5:30 AM! In addition to breakfast and brunch foods like French toast and huevos rancheros, there are also sandwiches and wraps available. Many people recommended sitting outside if the weather is nice to watch people walk by through Union Square.

Peter Lugers

 

178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Steakhouse

This is excellent restaurant, but is hard to get reservations unless you call months in advance. Located in the borough of Brooklyn, it’s a few miles from central NYC, but worth the time to get there. Note that they do not accept credit cards!

The bottom line: The city that some people call “The Capital of the World” is constantly evolving. You could visit New York City once a year for your whole life and never experience everything there is to see, try all its great restaurants, or take in every great show…but you’d still have an amazing time! We hope that the suggestions we have shared help jumpstart your trip planning. See you in The Big Apple!

About the Authors: Together, we have logged more than 2 million flight miles over the world in the last 40 years. Our corporate and personal purpose is to “create opportunities to improve lives” by sharing our knowledge, research, experiences, successes, and mistakes. You can e-mail us at katie@dubosegroup.com.

Mike DuBose received his graduate degree from the University of South Carolina and is the author of The Art of Building a Great Business. He has been in business since 1981 and is the owner of Research Associates, The Evaluation Group, Columbia Conference Center, and DuBose Fitness Center. Visit his nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com for a free copy of his book and additional business, travel, health, and personal published articles.

Debra DuBose has been married to Mike for 44 years and co-writes articles with him. She holds bachelors and graduate degrees from Winthrop University and Francis Marion University.

Blake DuBose graduated from Newberry College’s Schools of Business and Psychology and is president of DuBose Web Group (www.duboseweb.com).

Katie Beck serves as Director of Communications for the DuBose family of companies. She graduated from the USC School of Journalism and Honors College.

© Copyright 2016 by Mike DuBose—All Rights Reserved. You have permission and we encourage you to forward the full article to friends or colleagues and/or distribute it as part of personal or professional use, providing that the authors are credited. However, no part of this article may be altered or published in any other manner without the written consent of the authors. If you would like written approval to post this information on an appropriate website or to publish this information, please contact Katie Beck at Katie@dubosegroup.com

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