By Albert Yu
Here’s one New Yorker’s ideal itinerary in New York City—and it could be yours too. Enter our sweepstakes for a chance to experience this itinerary in real life, plus a free trip for you and a friend.
Out-of-towners often seek quintessential NYC landmarks during their first visit to the City. These are the places I take friends and family when they visit, including architectural gems, parks and interactive exhibits. —Albert Yu
The Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY 10460
The Bronx Zoo of the Wildlife Conservation Society is the premier place to study and appreciate the world’s many creatures. Home to more than 6,000 animals, the zoo spans 265 acres that re-create the diverse natural habitats of its numerous residents. Open year-round, it’s a great experience in any season. During the winter, be sure to stop by Tiger Mountain or Himalayan Highlands to see big cats enjoying the chilly outdoors—then head to World of Reptiles or JungleWorld for a warm up with tropical wildlife. (Some exhibits and attractions are seasonal. Go to BronxZoo.com to plan your visit in advance.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
New York, NY 10028
Located on the border of Central Park on Museum Mile, the Metropolitan Museum is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world. With over two million works of art spanning 5,000 years, the Met presents the best of human creativity from around the globe. From the splendors of ancient Egypt, to the spectacular New American Wing, to the Met’s beloved Impressionist paintings, a world of great art awaits you at NYC’s most-visited attraction. The collection and exhibitions are free with Museum admission. Plus, enjoy dining, the Audio Guide, and shopping at the Met Store.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
World Trade Center (museum: 180 Greenwich St.)
Manhattan, NY 10007
The National September 11th Memorial and Museum remembers and honors those killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and 2/26/1993, those who risked their lives to save others, and all who demonstrated extraordinary compassion in the aftermath through commemoration, exhibitions and educational programs. The memorial consists of two reflecting pools set in the footprints of the Twin Towers, with names of the victims inscribed in bronze around the pools.
The museum serves as the principal institution concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting their impact and exploring 9/11’s continuing significance.
Macy’s Herald Square
151 W. 34th St.
Manhattan, NY 10001
Located on bustling 34th Street, the world’s largest department store can seem like a universe all its own. With over a million square feet of space for merchandise, the ten floors offer practically everything you could want—cosmetics and fragrance, handbags, ties, shoes and much more—attracting thousands of tourists and locals who pass through its revolving doors daily. Macy’s recent renovation has added new offerings including Stella 34, a full service trattoria, and luxury shops from Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry and Longchamps. Stop by the full service visitors center located on the 34th Street mezzanine.
Empire State Building Observatory
20 W. 34th St.
Manhattan, NY 10118
Soaring 1,454 feet above Manhattan, the Empire State Building is one of the world’s most famous skyscrapers. Open daily from 8am to 2am, the 86th and 102nd floor observatories offer two of the highest vantage points in the City. Explore the newly-designed entrance featuring a two-story architectural model of the building, images of past celebrity visitors and a red carpet for VIP guests. Immerse yourself in the new interactive museum on your way to the top, and don’t forget to snap a photo with King Kong.
The Met Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Dr. in Fort Tryon Park
Manhattan, NY 10040
Discover the wonders of medieval Europe through the art, architecture, and gardens found at The Met Cloisters. Enjoy unparalleled views of the Hudson River, stroll through enchanting gardens and see masterpieces of medieval sculpture, stained glass, tapestries and more. The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from every corner of the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. Beside The Met Cloisters, the Museum lives in two other iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Breuer.
Sixth Ave. btw. 40th–42nd Sts.
Manhattan, NY 10018
Bryant Park is an urban oasis in the heart of Manhattan that features landscaping, monuments, Le Carousel, concerts, and free summer outdoor movie nights. The rink is the centerpiece of Bryant Park’s winter season, which also includes the annual Holiday Shops at Bryant Park. The rink offers free admission for ice skating, high-quality rental skates, ice shows, special events and other activities daily from late October to early March. Whether you’re looking to skate before work or through the lunch hour, with friends or with a date, or go for a spin under the stars, Winter Village at Bryant Park is the perfect destination. Note that the rink may be closed for special events.
Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
Ellis Island, New York Harbor
Manhattan, NY 10004
The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration is the country’s official museum chronicling all eras of American immigration. The Peopling of America Center bookends the Ellis Island years with post-Ellis exhibitions portraying journeys from 1954 up to today, and pre-Ellis galleries that highlight the earliest arrivals to this nation.
Luna Park at Coney Island
1000 Surf Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11224
No visit to New York City would be complete without a visit to the City’s most famous beach, boardwalk and rides. The boardwalk’s premier attraction, Luna Park, features 28 rides, 13 carnival-style games and an arcade for kids and adults, including thrill rides that will challenge even the most hardcore roller coaster fans. And, of course, no visit to Coney Island is complete without a ride on the grandfather of the American roller coaster—the legendary Cyclone Roller Coaster. Luna Park also offers eight food options, including a brand-new bar and grill.
Bike Rent NYC – Central Park Concession
Central Park at Columbus Circle
Manhattan, NY 10019
Visit famous Central Park landmarks and attractions on a Central Park guided bike tour, or explore on your own with an individual bike rental. Bike Rent NYC offers top quality Trek comfort hybrid bikes, children’s bikes, road bikes, and tandem bikes. All bicycle rentals come with a free helmet, bike lock, and NYC bike map. Child seats and trailers available. Recumbent and elliptical bikes are also available. They have three locations within Central Park: two locations at Columbus Circle (W. 60th St. & Central Park West; W. 59th St. & Central Park Drive), and a third location at Grand Army Plaza (Fifth Ave. & 58th St.). Official bike rental provider for Central Park.
Museum of Ice Cream
Manhattan, NY 10012
In both their family-friendly daytime experience and the nighttime experience (16+ recommended), your imagination will run free at the Museum of Ice Cream New York, a realm where anything is possible. From unicorns, to cookie carousels, to swimming in a pool filled with rainbow sprinkles, you can expect to be inspired to play, imagine and connect with those around you. Join the rotating experiences, explore the whimsical shop, and get a taste of the cafe.