By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
With so many things to see and do in New York City, it’s tough to pick a few must-dos for a weekend Downstate. Although not all-inclusive, these are the top must-not-miss things to do:
The Statue of Liberty
Formally known as “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World,” Lady Liberty represents one of the most highly recognized symbols of New York and of the U.S. worldwide. Because of the site’s popularity, visitors may only visit the Statue of Liberty by obtaining tickets in advance through Statue City Cruises (www.cityexperiences.com/new-york/city-cruises/statue), the only authorized ticket source for Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. From New York, the departure point for the ferry is Battery Park.
Radio City Music Hall
Catch a live show at Radio City Music Hall. The Rockettes’ perennial Christmas Spectacular is a classic; however, outside of the holiday season, Radio City offers unforgettable shows in its iconic location.
Empire State Building
The meeting place of star-crossed and meant-to-be lovers, the Empire State Building has long been eclipsed by other structures as the tallest; however, it’s hard to deny its appeal. TripAdvisor ranked it as the No. 1 attraction in the US for 2022 and 2023.
In the heart of Manhattan, the bustle of Times Square is like no other spot on earth. Host of the New Year’s Eve ball drop and events all year long, Times Square is vibrant, dynamic and always on the move with shoppers, workers, and tourists.
Comprised of 843 acres, Central Park is home to programs and events all year round.
If it’s during the holiday season, you must see the 80-foot Norway spruce and take a few turns on the skating rink nearby. More than 50,000 lights twinkle from the tree’s limbs. The tree typically remains on display until mid-January. Any time of the year, the view from the “Top of the Rock” is spectacular. Check the website for special events.
Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
Plan plenty of time to stroll through “The Met” while in New York City. With a valid ID (which can include a library card or driver’s license), New York state residents may pay what they wish. The museum includes 490,000 works of art and an ever-changing circulation of new exhibits.
Museum of Modern Art (Moma)
In the middle of Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art displays works from the 1880s through current times. Check the website for special events and performances. Admission is $30. Save $2 on admission by purchasing online. Children 16 and younger are free.
The 9/11 Memorial
The 9/11 Memorial provides an open space for quiet contemplation and a renewal of hope in the enduring human spirit. Seventy feet below the ground level, visitors find the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where artifacts from the Twin Towers remain on exhibit in a 110,000-square-foot display area, including the final piece of steel removed from the site nine months after the attacks.
The High Line
This newer park (established in 2009) on the west side of Manhattan blends nature, architectural design and art in a public space meant for renewal and tranquility two stories above the sidewalk. Although foliage is limited in wintertime, the views from The High Line and the art on display still draw visitors year-round. Access for self-led tours is free, but docent-led tours are $250 for up to 10. Book at least three weeks in advance.
While in lower Manhattan, venture down Mulberry Street north of Canal to enjoy the ambiance and eateries of Little Italy. Emilio’s Ballato (www.ballatos.com), Parm (www.parmitalian.com), Peasant (www.peasantnyc.com), Lombardi’s (www.firstpizza.com), DiPalo’s Fine Foods (www.facebook.com/dipalofinefoods), and Ferrara Bakery (www.ferraranyc.com/) are a few examples of some of the great restaurants to try.
In lower Manhattan from Canal Street to Bayard Street, peruse the stores and restaurants of Chinatown. Authentic and varied Chinese restaurants abound in NYC, including Super Taste (www.noodle5888.com), Great NY Noodletown (www.greatnewyorknoodletown.com/), Happy Veggie (happyveggieny.kwickmenu.com), Joe’s Shanghai (www.joeshanghairestaurants.com), and Ping’s (www.eatatpings.com), to name a few.
How to Save
Consider purchasing a City Pass (www.citypass.com) while making plans, as this provides up to 40% savings on visiting five NYC venues, the Empire State Building and American Museum of Natural History, plus admission to three more attractions from among the following: Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, Intrepid Museum and Guggenheim Museum.