New York:
Bright lights, dazzling city

New York NYC so much to see and do

When the travel bug bites, there’s no sweeter salve for that pesky itch than a quick getaway to New York.

And so, when my husband and I sought an escape from the late fall ho-hums, we decided a long weekend in the Big Apple was exactly what the doctor ordered.

A direct, red-eye flight whisked us to New York, and we arrived only slightly wilted as the city — still dewy-fresh at this hour — was awakening.

Amid the raucous cries of truck drivers making their deliveries and the savoury smells wafting from breakfast pizzerias, we shlepped our bags to our hotel, which couldn’t accommodate early check-in but did offer a luggage storage service.

Determinedly shaking off our fatigue — sleeping on a plane is never optimal, especially in economy — we boosted our energy levels with a burger and shake at Schnippers, a New York favourite. And then we hit the ground running — via the 1 subway train — to the vertiginous One World Observatory, the city’s newest marquee attraction.

From floors 100-102 of One World Trade Center where the 360-degree observatory is located, it felt like we could see forever. We oohed at the splendour of Manhattan to the north and ahhed at the majesty of the Statue of Liberty to the south and then indulged in cocktails at One Dine, the restaurant on the 101st floor. Gazing over the city from this dizzying aerial viewpoint — the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere – was the ultimate pinch-me moment.

Best things to see and do in New York

The New York CityPASS, with admission to six iconic attractions at a 41-per-cent savings, is the best way to see any city. We used ours to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, next to One World Observatory. Take the excellent tour if you can; otherwise, download the app to guide you through the heart-rending exhibits. Tip: Bring Kleenex.

We used our CityPASS again to zip to the 102-storey Empire State Building at dusk, watching in awe as the Brooklyn Bridge twinkled below us and the terraced crown of the Chrysler Building began to glow ever brighter.Could New York be even more showy at night? 

It became a true trifecta of towers the next morning when we visited the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, shivering as a frigid autumn wind swept through. But oh, the views! Looking south, we could see the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. To the north, the golden-hued beauty of Central Park lay before us, a scene straight from every rom-com ever made. On a whim, we added the Rockefeller Center tour to our itinerary and we’re glad we did. The entertainingly gossipy look at how one of America’s premier families shaped New York was superb.

If you’re time-crunched, staying in Midtown Manhattan makes the most sense because of the neighbourhood’s proximity to Times Square, Broadway and Central Park. We did just that, and as we strolled to the Lyric Theater to see a production of Paramour, we were able to gawk at the lights and sounds of Times Square as hipsters, hustlers, taxis and tourists combined to reach peak cacophony.

best things to see and do in wonderful NYC

I had wondered how Paramour by Cirque du Soleil would incorporate the company’s signature bendy performances into a Broadway musical. Yet I was thoroughly razzle-dazzled: Paramour is sheer acrobatic awesomeness, woven into a song and dance about the Golden Age of Hollywood. Glorious.

Things to see and do in New York, the Big Apple

By our third day, we were running almost solely on adrenalin, but we were determined to complete the last two items on our “must” list: the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which are directly across from each other on opposite sides of Central Park.

You'll never run out of things to see and do in dazzling New York

When you visit the massive Museum of Natural History, comprising more than 33 million items, including a butterfly conservatory, two halls dedicated to dinosaurs, and everything in between, make sure you also set aside time for the fabulous Hayden Planetarium in the same building. 

From here we meandered across a vividly technicolour Central Park to the brilliant Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two million square feet (!) of furniture, musical instruments, weaponry, costumes, drawings and, of course a wealth of paintings and sculptures from the Greco-Roman era to contemporary times, are all on display. We will be back to see The Met properly.

What to see and do in New York

To end our day, we cheered on our new favourite team, the NHL’s New York Islanders, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Interestingly, because this venue was built to maximize the experience for fans at basketball games, there are some seats from which parts of the rink are not visible. Heresy for a Canadian! 

Sadly, all too soon, it was time to bid a reluctant farewell to this spectacular city. We didn’t have nearly enough time but we made sure every New York minute counted. In a city that doesn’t sleep, why would we?


Check out my Instagram, @JuanitaNg.


⇝ One World Observatory:⇝ New York CityPASS: (Empire State Building Experience, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum)
⇝ Broadway shows information: To buy tickets:
⇝ Information, trip-planning, maps: NYC & Company is the marketing and tourism organization for NYC.