I was looking at flights to London when my mom said, “Why don’t you fly through New York? Get out and explore the city a bit.” This was a brilliant idea. Reno had just launched a direct red-eye flight to JFK. I decided I would fly to New York City, spend the night and take a red-eye to London the following day. This was my first time to the Big Apple, and I was traveling solo. What was I going to do?
New York Stock Exchange
I arrived at my hotel around 8:30 in the morning. Too early to check in obviously, but I was able to drop off my baggage and hit the streets. My first stop – Wall Street. I had just ended a five-year career in the Brokerage industry, so this was a no brainer for me. It was Saturday (and 8:30 am), so the street wasn’t flooded with brokers, but I was still able to soak up the energy and nerd out in the financial center of the world.
The 911 Memorial
I was in the 7th grade when the Twin Towers collapsed. I remember my Grandma getting off the phone and running over to change the TV to the news. This is such an awe-inspiring memorial, and it gives me the chills every time I see it. Where the towers once stood, there are now two beautiful water fountains with the names of the men, women and children that were killed during the attacks inscribed along the edges.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of New York, the Statue of Liberty is a must for any New York first timer. I imagined myself as an immigrant woman who just left all of her family and friends behind to start a new life in America. I had just traveled by boat from Europe and after entering the New York Harbor there she was – Lady Liberty. A symbol of freedom, hope and my new life in America. Don’t skip out on Ellis Island. The history of the building and what the immigrants went through to start their new life here is astounding.
It’s a tourist destination, you’re a tourist, so check it out. It felt a bit like Vegas to me with all the lights, sounds and people. I had no idea that the NASDAQ was located in Times Square, so that was a bonus item for me. Check out the iconic stores, people watch, grab a drink nearby and take lots of photos. It really is a cool place and worth checking out.
Did you really go to New York City if you didn’t visit Central Park? I was staying at The Pod 39 Hotel near Grand Central Station and decided to run to Central Park. It was a bucket list item for me – to run in Central Park. It was the middle of winter, so the trees were bare, but the park was still beautiful. Because I was on a time crunch, I decided to run from my hotel to the National History Museum via Central Park. Kill two birds with one stone. And on my way back it started snowing! Snow in Central Park is New York City at its finest.
Natural History Museum or Top of the Rock
Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time to do both, and both are amazing in their unique ways. The Natural History Museum makes me feel like a kid again. I love going through the dinosaur exhibit and calling out all the Land Before Time characters – Littlefoot! Petry! Spike! Duckie!….Sharp Tooth!
The Top of the Rock is my favorite view in NYC. Everyone tends to go up the Empire State Building, but you can’t see the Empire State Building when you’re on it. 70 floors and 850 feet in the air, you have a Bird’s-eye view of Central Park in one direction and a stunning view of Midtown Manhattan (Empire State building included) in the other.
I ended up choosing the Natural History Museum but was fortunate enough to make it up the Top of the Rock on a subsequent visit.
Whichever direction you choose to go, you can’t go wrong. New York is an amazing city and the perfect weekend getaway!
What are your favorite things to do in New York? Tell me in the comments below! Until next time…
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