Never Having Been to New York City

The other day I was shocked to discover that a close friend of my son and daughter-in-law has never been to New York City.

“Holy cow!” I exclaimed.  “You have to be kidding me?”  I said.

“My o’ my,” I followed.  “You have to go to NYC.  It is a must.”

To provide a little background.  The friend is a very accomplished father of three great youngsters, the oldest of which is five.  Married to a nurse trained wonderful wife.  They are in their mid 30’s.  They were brought up in the Bay Area of California. Part of a great family.  Both have college degrees.  He has worked for years in the medical technology field, and is now the CEO of an electrical construction company with operations in the Bay Area and in San Diego California.

He and his wife have traveled extensively, having visited Costa Rica, Mexico, Indonesia, Ireland, Iceland, Morocco, England, Spain, Italy, Singapore, and China.

But he has never been to New York City!!

Why, you may ask, is it important to have traveled to NYC.

It is one of the greatest cities in the world, much less the United States. It has a vibrancy and diversity that is unmatched.

You need to see it, feel it, eat in it, sleep in it, walk in it, take a taxi in it, and take a subway in it.

You need to spend time in the September 11th memorial, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other museums, go to a Broadway play, ride a bicycle around Central Park, experience the different boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx.

You need to take the Staten Island ferry, visit Coney Island, go to Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, go to the top of the Empire State Building, visit the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Soho, Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem, the Upper Eastside, Spanish Harlem, to name a few.

You need to see a baseball game in Yankee Stadium, take a walking tour of Little Italy, see Wall Street, go visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Cathedral of St. John the Devine, and Trinity Church near Wall Street.

You need to walk up and down 5th Avenue and Madison Street, go to a real New York deli, spend time in Grand Central Station, fly into LaGuardia Airport and fly out of JFK Airport, take a Circle Line cruise around Manhattan, take a tour of the statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, spend time in Bryant Park, explore Times Square, go inside the NY Public Library, visit the Plaza Hotel, sit on a bench in one of the city’s parks and take in the scene, go to the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center and watch the Today show live, go to a concert or ballet or play in Lincoln Center, walk or ride a bicycle across the Brooklyn Bridge, find a way to experience the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, the George Washington Bridge, and see City Hall.

I just rattled these off the top of my head.  With a little more thought I could add dozens more.  I am sure others will add to this list in the comments.  What are the musts in your first trip to the Big Apple?

There is so much to see and experience.  The iconic landmarks and attractions, the unique neighborhoods and districts, the world-class dining and cuisine, the shopping and fashion, the Broadway shows and performing arts, the historical and cultural institutions, the architectural marvels, and the vibrant nightlife and entertainment.

As phenomenal as all of this is, to me the most important reasons to visit the Big Apple are to experience its:

  • Cultural Diversity and Exposure: New York City offers a cultural tapestry unlike anywhere else in the United States. It’s a melting pot of cultures, languages, and traditions, providing visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich and diverse environment.

  • Energy and Spirit: Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit New York City is to experience the energy and spirit of the city itself. From the hustle and bustle of Times Square to the tranquility of Central Park, New York City has a palpable energy that is both exhilarating and infectious. It’s a place where dreams are made and anything feels possible, making it an essential destination for travelers seeking adventure, inspiration, and unforgettable experiences.

It is this last point that is so true for me.  As overwhelming as New York City is, I always find that whenever I visit the Big Apple, I find that I am energized.  It pumps me up.  I gives me energy.  I feel more alive.

Full disclosure. I spent most of my youth in a suburban community some 50 miles from New York City.  I worked and lived in New York City for four years in the 70’s.  My daughter went to college in the City and lived in the city for several years.  She and her husband and two small children now live in a suburb of the City.

In my mind, everyone has to spend time in New York City.  It will be an unforgettable experience.


7 thoughts on “Never Having Been to New York City”

  1. This Canadian totally agrees. Unfortunately Liz and I need another 2 weeks to get to more of your list there and probably our time to do so. has passed, However having stayed at the Marriott on Times Sq for 9 nights on one of the trips we got to experience the bulk of your recommendations. I might add in addition to the cruise around the Island, a first day Gray Line Bus Tour helped to quickly orient and get us up to speed. We experienced a couple of things not on your list. We were mugged (not violently) near Grand Central and we’ve driven our motorhome towing a car across the George Washington Bridge.(not by choice, but by dumbly following GPS as the shortest route from New Jersey en route to to Lincoln New Hampshire). That was a harrowing and jarring experience! Not recommended! We enjoyed the very talented street buskers. Indeed every North American ought to get a taste of The Big Apple as it plays such an important part of all that happens on this continent. We also enjoyed visiting The Waldorf Astoria and a tour of the United Nations Bldg as well as the view from the top of the Twin Towers when they were still there. Attending Easter Service in the Marble Cathedral was a once in a lifetime experience due to it’s magnificent choir and Easter Lilly decoration which was over the top!

  2. Neil,

    I would add a few suggestions:

    1. Walk the High Line

    2. Stroll along the Esplanade in Brooklyn Heights, and then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge over to City Hall.

    3. Visit the site of the World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens.

    4. Take the tour of the new Freedom Building in lower Manhattan.

    5. Ride over the Verrazano Bridge

    Another former New Yorker (Forest Hills Gardens, Queens)

  3. Thanks Neil for giving great suggestions. I would add the NYC Public Library. In my earlier years I would travel from LA at least every other year to get a jolt of the adrenaline. It was invigorating!

  4. I have been to about half the places that you recommened. The only thing that I would add is that it’s the people of NYC who make the city what it is. . No matter the race, sex, or creed, they are collectively the most authentic people I have run across. Ask a question or an opinion and you will get a direct and honest answer.

  5. Great list!! Not sure it was mentioned, but I would add the American Museum of Natural History! Been to this city multiple times and always something new to discover!

  6. NYC has the only subway in the nation where I am almost always offered a seat. New Yorkers know how to take care of each other.

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