New York is one of my all-time favorite cities to visit. I usually say I love it as a tourist, but at the same time, I would probably not enjoy leaving there. As for visiting, it is high in my rankings, together with Paris and Brussels. Top 3, for sure!
I’ve visited NY a few times throughout my years of traveling. My first time was back in 2006, and then again in 2015, 2017, and 2019. I’ve recently been back, in 2021, and this photoset spans the years 2015 through 2021, made of photos taken by 3 different cameras – my beloved Canon T3i, the Sony A6500 I used for so long, and my new love, the Sony A7C. And because of this, you’ll see here photos of different qualities and types. They are all dear to me and will help tell the story of the city that never sleeps.
As one of the most seen and visited places on Earth, New York was bound to have so many iconic buildings to see, those you get a quick look at and immediately know where they are from. I’ve been to my fair share of them, and of course, they are a must-do for first-timers. I’ll get started with this photoset by these iconic locations.
The Empire State Building
It is one of the earliest skyscrapers in existence, opening in 1931. It stood as the world’s tallest building for almost 40 years, until the original World Trade Center opened in 1970.
The views from its observatory are breathtaking, overlooking lower Manhattan and the financial district. North-facing views aren’t the best, as there are quite a few buildings in between the Empire State Building and the 30-streets-north Central Park. It’s located at 34th street, right in Midtown.
It is an impressive building, probably New York’s most recognizable one, and certainly one that you have to visit, if you can only do one.
But to get the best views of Manhattan and even see the Empire State Building itself, my advice is to go visit the observatory of the Rockefeller Center instead – the Top of The Rock! It’s located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and that’s where most of the photos in the next section have been shot, including those of the Empire State Building. That’s also where you are gonna be able to better see Central Park in all its 50-street length glory.
A tip is to schedule your visit to about an hour before sunset. You’ll have great views and photos during daylight, golden hour, watch a great sunset and then still be able to take some nighttime photos of the city.
The Rockefeller Center is also home to the NBC studios, where you can attend a studio tour, and houses a big shopping complex, including the Nintendo Store, the Lego store, and a few more fashion ones – and I guess you can see what I value and what I don’t.
One World Trade Center
This one doesn’t need an introduction. A tribute to the fallen World Trade Center twin tours, located in the same area but slightly offset, as the actual twin tours location are now place to the 9/11 memorial, a truly moving place. The actual One World Trade Center building is quite impressive as well. Its peculiar octagonal shape – near its middle the horizontal cross-section of the tower forms a perfect octagon – also gives the impression to those that look up from its base that it is much, much higher than it is. It is quite the sight.
I haven’t been to its observatory, but I’ve heard it is also a fun place to go, with breathtaking views. The ride-up is an attraction by itself, showcasing the history of New York throughout the times.
Parks are spread all over NYC. They are a breath of fresh air in the middle of this concrete jungle. And of course, the most famous and known one is Central Park. It is the most filmed location in the World, and easily recognizable. The park has many attractions, a Zoo, Museums, restaurants, pathways, and runways. It’s a place to relax, exercise and entertain, and be entertained.
You can check some iconic skylines and many famous attractions around it. One of the skylines below was taken from the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum, a great museum of ancient and contemporary history, located at 82nd Street and 5th Avenue, certainly worth a long visit.
On the west side of the park, you can find the American Museum of Natural History, also worth a day-long visit – or even more depending on how much you love natural history!
Lots of movie locations are also found in Central Park. The Naumburg Bandshell, shown in Breakfast at Tiffanys, the Bethesda Terrace, appearing in Stuart Little II and Home Alone 2, the Bow Bridge, romantically shown in Spider-Man 3 – and many more.
Located in Midtown, close to the Empire State Building and housing the New York Public Library, it’s a great location to decompress and have a hot cup of coffee – or hot-cocoa if that’s your jam – while sitting in a park and observing the life around you. The Public Library itself is a great place to study or do some quiet work, and the park is beautiful.
During the winter months, usually November to January, it hosts the main NYC Christmas Market, the Winter Village. I love to just go there, have a look at the stools, get a Belgium Waffle and a hot drink, and sit and watch people ice-skating. It’s also a great location for street photo shooting. People just look so happy!
The High Line
While not what we picture when speaking of parks by any means, it is a must-see. Built on top of an old raised railway, the High Line has been transformed into a vibrant walkway, spanning New York’s west side from the 12th Street up to the 34th Street. It’s an enjoyable walk on an elevated pathway where you can have nice views of the city.
Close to the High Line’s south entrance you can also visit Little Island. Recently opened – in May 2021, it’s a concrete structure made of many individual tulips, that together form an entirely artificial island in the Hudson River. One more spot to relax, get some coffee or wine – yes, alcohol is permitted inside, and enjoy a cold day or sunny afternoon.
You have nice views of the south of Manhattan, including the One World Trade Center, and it’s a nice space for kids to enjoy outside.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a 500m elevated promenade on top of the Brooklyn-Queens Express Highway, figuring some of the best views of Manhattan. On its north side, you can cross to the riverside and experience the almost 1km long Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway, with lots of space for kids and greenways to relax.
At its north-most point is the Brooklyn Bridge, crossing from Brooklyn to Manhattan, easily walkable, and a great way to go visit these two parks. You can cross from Manhattan, take great photos of the bridge, and arrive right at the Greenway.
Last but not least is the latest park I have visited in New York. The Roosevelt Island is a very narrow island in the middle of the East River, accessible by either the Subway or an elevated Tramway.
The island has had a lot of historical purposes, including being a prison, housing many hospitals – a smallpox one and an Asylum, and now is home to amazing parks and Cornell Tech.
You can still visit some of the historical sites and take a stroll along its shores and south points for amazing views and photographic opportunities.
I’ll also suggest that you take the Tramway at least in one way, if not both ways, and propose that you take it during sunset for breathtaking views of Manhattan. The Queensboro Bridge does stand in the way a bit, but it’s still worth it. I haven’t seen the sunrise view, but it might be worth it also.
There are so many museums in New York that it is hard to make a comprehensive suggestion list. I’ll tackle some of those I’ve been to and some of those I want to see. I few like museums are such an important part of a cities culture life that I want to include a brief list here, even if I don’t have photos of them – I don’t like taking pictures of museums, I like to enjoy them :) Some of the museums have suggested prices, but you can usually pay whatever you are feeling like.
American Museum of Natural History
In my opinion, standing right there with the Met, this is the go-to museum in New York. The American Museum of Natural History has enough stuff to last you an entire day, or even more. I’d suggest using a rainy day, if it happens during your visit, to go there and spend time! Dinosaurs, skeletons, science, and the universe. It’s all about life and nature, humans, and the development of civilization itself.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is even bigger than the Natural History Museum. In fact, it is the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere. It has ancient and modern art from all over the world, including sculptures, paintings, artifacts, and all kinds of objects. Take a day to visit it, or split your visit through multiple days so you can enjoy everything!
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim is an art museum holding impressionist to modern art pieces. Its building is also an impressive architecture piece by itself, certainly worth the visit!
The Neue Gallery is a quite small but interesting gallery located at 86th Street, holding German and Austrian art.
With great pieces of art, it is also home to the Café Sabarsky, inspired in the Viennese cafes, serving sweet and savory pastries and coffee to its visitors.
Museum of Modern Art
The MoMA is another of those classic visits in New York. Holding incredible pieces of modern art, it is more than worth a visit. It used to hold free days every month, but I’m not sure they are doing that anymore.
Whitney Museum of American Art
I still haven’t been to the Whitney Museum, but that’s one I really want to visit sometime soon. Focusing on 20th and 21st-century American art, its collection is comprised of many artists, such as Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum
That’s another one I still haven’t visited but want to. I’m not sure how good it is, but it was such an important moment in all our lives – those of us that were alive and even those who were not, that it is a must-see for the importance of the event.
Another great side of New York is the unique architecture you can see around. It’s diversified and buildings and structures span so many years that you can see the multiple styles within a couple of blocks of each other.
I love going around and looking at the buildings, some of which I’ve talked about earlier in this post, bridges, attractions, and structures.
You can find Art Deco, Modernist, Brutalist, Cast-Iron, Gothic, Art Nouveau, Renaissance, and High-Tech styles, and that’s why I love just walking around NYC. You can walk from Battery Park to Harlem and see so much in such a small length of land.
Eating and Drinking
Now for some of the things I love getting to know when I’m traveling. Restaurants and bars. While I’m not a big nightlife person – think nightclubs, I love getting out at night to eat well and have a nice cocktail, beer, or glass of wine.
I also enjoy good breakfasts and brunches, even if my concept of brunch is slightly different than the NYC one. For me, brunch has to have breakfast food – pancakes, eggs, bacon, and not just be any time of lunch held between 11 am and 2 pm on a weekend. Really, New Yorkers, that’s just lunch.
Some of the bakeries and breakfast places I’ve been to and highly recommend:
- Egg (109 N 3rd St, Brooklyn): awesome for a nice breakfast and tartines, including some expensive avocado toast just like New Yorkers love.
- Sullivan Street Bakery and Pizza (236 9th Ave, New York): great for sandwiches and breakfast in general.
- Pick A Bagel (891 8th Ave, New York): amazing bagels with so many choices of fillings and bagel types.
- Levain Bakery (351 Amsterdam Ave, New York): cookies for you to have sweet dreams after a nice dinner.
Regarding actual dinner and drinks, I would recommend a couple of places:
- La Bonne Soupe (48 W 55th St, New York): for great french cuisine, including one of the best french onion soups I’ve had!
- Butter & Scotch (818 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn): unfortunately they closed during the pandemic, but they still sell online and at a sister bakery Love, Nelly in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn. They had great drinks and desserts
- Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge (485 7th Ave 18th floor, New York): on top of the Moxy NYC, this rooftop bar has a great ambiance with a view to the Empire State Building – complete with a photo/selfie spot if that’s your thing. Good drinks, but overpriced. I didn’t eat there so can’t talk about the food.
But honestly, what I love to do in New York, as I’ve mentioned before, is to just walk around and see life. That buzzing busy life that never stops and never sleeps. There is so much to do and see that it is hard to summarize in a post – or photo gallery.
So, without any order or overarching categorization, some of the things I like to do and see whenever I visit.
With its 5 boroughs and different islands, New York is filled with beautiful bridges. You can see the Brooklyn Bridge from both sides, the Manhattan Bridge, especially beautiful from Brooklyn, and a great photo spot when looking at it from Dumbo – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, or around the riverside parks, where you can also find Jane’s Carousel and the Pebble Beach.
I’ve also mentioned the Queensboro Bridge before, great to see from the Roosevelt Island, and the Williamsburg Bridge is another great one, with nice views from Williamsburg – also a hyped neighborhood in Brooklyn worth a visit.
Seeing life buzzing is awesome. Just getting on the subway and watching people, or going to the parks during winter to see folks ice skating, taking a couple of minutes to walk through Times Square or the 5th Avenue.
There are always so many things happening that you can’t go wrong. You might bump into the finish line of the New York Marathon, or stand a bit in the Grand Central Terminal and just watch the movement.
It is the City That Never Sleeps and I love to visit it for this. I’m almost certain I would not live there, at least not in Manhattan, but it is still an amazing place to go.