Spend a Day in New York City

It’s that time of the year again: you’re scrambling to find a friend’s house to decamp to for part of spring break, lest you get stuck at home without any of your high school friends to hang out with. Well, whether you have a couch to crash on or not, The Thrill‘s crack travel team has you covered. This is the last of five guides to cities around the United States that we’ve rolled out this week (check out Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Seattle as well). Safe travels!

New York, New York. It’s a hell of a town. The concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh, there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York. New York City, center of the universe, where they say the neon lights are bright. So if you’re alone and life is making you lonely ’cause you’re in a New York state of mind, just take the A train, and while you’re at it, take Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island too. Because while it might be cliché to say, I ♥ NY.

Food

Honestly, if you’re in New York, there are any number of great spots to eat depending on where you are. A good slice of New York pizza is definitely a must-have. I try not to be, but I’m a huge pizza snob and Chicago is the worst of the offenders. I actually like deep dish, but I’m sorry, that’s not pizza.

This is pizza.

If you’re going to have pizza, it’s worth it to find someplace good, like Grimaldi’s or maybe Lombardi’s, the first pizzeria in New York City! But pizza is not the only great street food that New York has to offer. If you want a hot dog, you can forget about Nathan’s Famous and go to Gray’s Papaya (the signs outside the door accurately advertise that you can tell a true New Yorker by her love of Gray’s Papaya).

New York also has great burgers, and nowhere is more popular for burgers than Shake Shack, which, though it has started showing up in other locations across the world, is still very much a New York institution.

If Shake Shack doesn’t do it for you, then you are a soulless monster … but there is still hope! Head over to Le Parker Meridian hotel. Don’t let the fancy schmancy hotel lobby fool you — if you follow the carefully-hidden neon sign of a burger, then it will lead you to an alleyway that houses great burgers and atmosphere. The wall is signed by all the celebrities who have been there, and you might just see someone famous (my first time there, I saw Kathy Griffin).

You also can’t go wrong in Chinatown, where you can eat a huge meal for almost no money. Definitely try to get some soup dumplings and then head over to Little Italy for some famous New York cheesecake.

As I’ve said, the possibilities for gastrodelights in NYC are endless (writing about food is the reason I agreed to do this post in the first place). I’ve recently become obsessed with No. 7 Sub,  a sandwich shop whose ever-changing menu features sandwiches that shouldn’t make any sense at all, but inevitably taste delicious (like one sandwich with fried clams and strawberries). Seriously, it’s like you have a mad scientist making sandwiches for you. If you are willing to pay a little extra, you have to go to Momofuku Noodle Bar. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Yes, this will be the most delicious thing you've ever eaten.

Museums

New York City is famous for its museums. The best part is that most of them are technically free. Yes, they advertise high-priced tickets, but these are actually “suggested donations,” so you don’t actually have to pay $15.00 to go in. Still, it’s nice to pay something to keep these world-class museums in business. I usually try to pay a reasonable $5.00.

My personal favorite museum is the Museum of Natural History. I’ve been going there since I was born (almost literally — when my dad got the news that my mom had gone into labor, he was standing under the museum’s famous blue whale) and I still probably haven’t seen everything inside this place. You could honestly probably spend the entire day there. And be sure to visit the attached planetarium!

If you’re an artist, definitely check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is great even for non-art lovers (I’ve dragged many a disgruntled visitor there who was convinced they wouldn’t like it … until they saw the suits of armor.) Don’t miss the Temple of Dendur — one of the museum’s more popular exhibits. And, if you have time to get uptown, see if you can get to The Cloisters, which serve as a beautiful example of Medieval architecture.

One of New York’s more hidden gems is the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, which features some incredible exhibits. I’m also a fan of the Sony Wonder Lab, a technology museum designed for children that is nonetheless enjoyable for adults (who doesn’t like watching an animated character mimic your dance moves?) and is 100% free– they don’t even ask for a donation.

Shopping

Meh … this isn’t really my strong suit. I don’t know much about the shopping scene in New York, but it’s obviously famous for this. My only advice — don’t buy things off the street. They won’t last. But if you’re there during a weekend in the summer, see if you can go to an outdoor street fair. There are a lot and there are some great crafts for sale.

Outdoor Spaces

Parks! New York has lots of parks! Obviously, Central Park is famous and beautiful and amazing, but I am also a big fan of the oft-forgotten Riverside Park that runs along the Hudson River. My favorite outdoor space is the High Line, a park built on a historic freight rail line above the streets of Manhattan. Walking along there makes you feel you’re in your own private garden amidst the bustle of the city (and it’s a great romantic spot for any lovebirds out there).

Battery Park is also a lot of fun with its whimsical statues and great view of the Statue of Liberty. You can also go to the World Financial Center, which features a view of Ground Zero that always makes me emotional. Also, it has giant palm trees growing in the front area!

Other Attractions

A great place to go to is the New York Public Library in Times Square, the one with the famous lions guarding it. The beautiful building is truly awe-inspiring and the collections inside are amazing (I am especially fond of the map room). And while you’re in Times Square, you might as well go see a Broadway show (I’m a drama major and would be remiss if I didn’t mention this). Yes, shows are expensive, but most offer reasonably-priced student rush tickets.

For any English majors out there (and, who am I kidding, you go to Kenyon, so you’re probably an English major), check out the Strand Bookstore and geek out to your heart’s content.

Lastly, if you have a choice, try to arrive in Grand Central Station when you come to New York. The space is beautiful, full of history and a destination spot in and of itself.

Warning: most NYC subway stations are not this nice.

I’m sure I’m leaving out a million things. Honestly, there’s a reason New York is called the center of the universe — everything’s there. If there’s something in New York you’ve been dying to see or do — go see it or do it! That’s what the city is there for. As long as you’ve got a Metro Card, nothing can stop you.

8 responses

    • It definitely is! The terminal is famous and rightly so. The architecture is amazing and the building has a pretty interesting history.

    • It *definitely* is. Go find the piece of the ceiling that they left uncleaned back in the late 1990s so that people could see how bad things had gotten before the restoration. It’s actually 2’x4′, if I remember correctly (one square of ceiling, one square of stone), but it looks like a postage stamp from the ground. Grand Central is one place I try to go to whenever I’m in the city. Also the High Line. Also all the bookstores, esp. McNally + Jackson.

  1. Pingback: Spring Break Travel Guide: NYC | The Thrill

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