New York City for the Sightseer: 10 First-Timer Must Dos

New York City for the Sightseer: 10 First-Timer Must Dos

New York, New York… what a wonderful town! I have posted of some of my NYC adventures before, but I was longing to put out a more holistic overview of some of my favorite things I have done in NYC and what I think everyone should see at least once! Yes, this list is probably going to have some of the most basic New York City things out there – but as a first timer, you should want to hit all of the famous sights before moving on to local pleasures.

  • Ride a Bike Through Central Park — Anything Central Park is an absolute MUST for a first time trip to NYC! Just to put a little twist on it – maybe go for a bike ride! I know the carriage rides are pretty popular, but if you want to see a lot and create some adorable, picturesque insta-posts then opt for a bike ride! Warning: Central Park is hilly, so this requires some athleticism – but it is worth it!!

  • Take Pictures at the New York Public Library — I have realized that a lot of these must-dos also result in optimal photography settings, like much of New York City. However, it seems the NYPL has picturesque beauty around every corner. The marble, the gold and the amazing ceilings provide a perfect backdrop for your portraits.

  • Sit on the Steps of the Met –– In essence of my recent Gossip Girl obsession, you can’t go to New York without visiting the Met. It is iconic for what’s outside and what’s in, so whether you’re recreating a B and S moment sitting on the steps or longing to lose yourself in a massive museum, you’ll enjoy the Met.

  • Window Shop on Fifth Avenue — I love to shop and, even with champagne taste on a beer budget, I do not hesitate to dream about the clothes on the mannequins or the Tiffany jewelry behind the glass when I am in NYC. There is something magical about strolling past the most illustrious window displays and big brand names that makes you feel empowered to be in New York.


  • Go to the Top of a Skyscraper — No matter what, going to the top of a skyscraper in NYC is worth the views. The Empire State Building is probably the most popular, but I have only been up to the top of the Freedom Tower at the One World Observatory – and it was the best thing ever! You get a view of the entire island of Manhattan and of the Hudson Bay. Be patient when at the top, because lots of others will be there too – don’t give up on getting your pictures!

  • Embrace your inner-New Yorker at a Yankees Game — One of the most fun things I have done in NYC was attend a Yankees game! I love baseball but it typically isn’t the first thing I would pick to do when traveling or on vacation, but a night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is full of energy and excitement.

  • Ride the Subway — Going to New York City and not riding the subway is like living on an island and never going into the ocean. It is all around you – rather, underneath you – and it is a New York rite of passage. It can also be the most confusing thing ever, but after awhile it gets easier to navigate! Plus, those MetroCards make great scrapbook souvenirs.


  • Harness your Hipster in Greenwich Village — Manhattan can be as illustrious as the Upper East Side or as youthful and chill as Greenwich Village, a personal favorite neighborhood of mine. With my heart set on NYU, I have always adored the hipster vibes here and there are some fun corridors and restaurants that cater to your inner-hipster. Check out DŌ for cookie dough served like ice cream or Washington Square Park for an iconic photo near the fountain or under the arch.


  • Channel your inner-performer and See a Show on Broadway — There is no memory I will treasure more than seeing Hamilton in New York City. I think whether you are a theatre-freak or the hater of all things theatrical, you have to go see a show on Broadway. There is something magical about being packed into a building that looks small and sometimes dingy on the outside and completely ornate and grand on the inside. The magic continues when the curtain rises and the entire audience takes a breath before a show transpires before their eyes. The talent is unreal, the setting is from a dream and I guarantee it won’t stop being talked about by anybody who sees one.

  • Times Square — It’s not New York City if you don’t spend at least one night under the obnoxiously bright billboards of Time Square. Yes, this is the busiest, craziest part of the city but in order to get the NYC experience, you have to feel the energy of a late night in Times Square.

New York City is one of my favorite trips to make – I do something new every time that I go, whether it is exploring a new neighborhood, knocking another tourist attraction off my list or spending a little bit too much on “souvenirs” (aka Tiffany jewelry). Do you have any New York City must dos?

If you want to read about some of my NYC adventures, follow the links here:

NYC Day 1: A Big Skyline and A Little Italy…

NYC Day 2, Part 1: Macarons, Midtown and More

NYC Day 2, Part 2: Let’s Play Ball

NYC Day 3: Exploring Chelsea and Greenwich Village

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— M



  1. carrieemann
    April 4, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    I’ve been to NYC probably 100 times and still never done most of the things on this list! I didn’t realize the New York public library was so beautiful on the inside. I’ve only ever walked around the building. And that skyline view is ridiculous! usually I just end up hanging out in a bar in the East Village when I go.

    • airplanemary
      April 4, 2018 / 10:14 pm

      I only recently started taking lots of trips to NYC and so far, I feel like I’ve done mostly touristy things so I am definitely trying to branch out for future trips! But yes, the library is insanely gorgeous and a great place for pictures too if you can get around the people! Thanks for reading!!

  2. Carly |
    April 4, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    The public library looks amazing (and a little bit like the post office in Mexico City, if you’ve ever been!).

    • airplanemary
      April 4, 2018 / 10:12 pm

      It is gorgeous!! I’ve never been to Mexico, but it is definitely on my bucket list! I’ll have to check that out!

  3. Ruth
    April 4, 2018 / 10:03 pm

    Oh my! How I miss New York! There are way too many places from your list I still need to visit. My sister lives in the city so, I visit often. Last time, I spent some time exploring The Bronx and Brooklyn. Next time, I have to spend some more time in Manhattan.

    • airplanemary
      April 4, 2018 / 10:11 pm

      You’ve done what I really want to do! I have mostly explored Manhattan but on my next trip, I definitely want to hit the outer boroughs! Thanks for reading!

  4. April 5, 2018 / 1:00 am

    As a first timer I’d definitely love first to go the Top of a Skyscraper to enjoy the breathtaking city views while capturing lot of photos, heheh. Next loving the window shop idea on Fifth Avenue. There are lot to see & do in NYC!!

    • airplanemary
      April 5, 2018 / 11:08 pm

      Yes, the views are stunning! I loved the One World Observatory at the Freedom Tower! You’re right there’s so much to do and I could go ten more times and probably still not hit everything on my NYC bucket list!

  5. josypheen
    April 5, 2018 / 1:29 am

    I’ve never been to NYC. The main things I *thought* I needed to do there are art museums, eating all the things and just walking around for hours. I really like your list too though. You lucky thing to get tickets to see Hamilton. I’d LOVE that!!

    It seems like you had a good instagrammable trip!! 😉

    • airplanemary
      April 5, 2018 / 11:10 pm

      You have to experience NYC! Especially the first time, it’s like none other! And yes, I was super lucky to see Hamilton… probably one of the most amazing experiences in my life!

  6. Shutterbug Sage
    April 5, 2018 / 8:53 am

    Since I usually travel to NY for work and my daughters haven’t gone yet (but keep asking) this guide is JUST what we need to spend a long weekend in the Big Apple!

    • airplanemary
      April 5, 2018 / 11:15 pm

      That’s awesome! I hope you all get to go together soon and that it’s a great trip!

  7. April 5, 2018 / 2:12 pm

    Love this! I agree with every single thing on this list. I especially loved the Gossip Girl reference. Last time I went to NY I had to sit on the met steps for that exact reason lol

    • airplanemary
      April 5, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      Thanks!! I only just watched Gossip Girl for the first time this past fall and didn’t know what I was missing! I haven’t been back to NYC since I binge-watched the series, so my next trip I’ll most likely be dressing up in colorful coats and pretending I’m from the Upper East Side…

  8. April 5, 2018 / 3:44 pm

    NYC is such a dream city and I have visited so many times yet there is still so much more to see. Even from your list there are a few things I still need to check out 🙂 Great list for first timers though!

    • airplanemary
      April 5, 2018 / 11:14 pm

      Thanks so much! That’s totally how I feel too… I don’t think I could ever hit absolutely everything I want to see! Each trip brings new experiences!

  9. April 5, 2018 / 11:17 pm

    Yess! Love all these – just went to DO for the first time a few weeks ago! The public library is pretty incredible… I was skeptical at first but its a really nice place to explore (especially on a cold or rainy day!)

    • airplanemary
      April 7, 2018 / 11:50 pm

      Thanks so much! As soon as I saw there was a place that sold cookie dough like it was ice cream, I knew I had to visit. I waited in a 40-minute line, but it was so worth it! I’ll probably be getting a smaller scoop though next time… and yes, I really enjoyed the library. I loved that you could really make your visit as short or as long as you wanted. So, like you said, if you needed to spend more of your time indoors you could totally do it there!

  10. April 6, 2018 / 8:32 am

    I love NYC!! I never made it to the library but I am dying to go in and spend some time with all those gorgeous books!

    • airplanemary
      April 7, 2018 / 11:47 pm

      Yes, I honestly didn’t even know that you could utilize the library as a study/reading space until I walked in! It is such a gorgeous atmosphere!

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