• Seeing the City from on High: And it doesn’t really matter if you do so from the Top of the Rock, Summit One Vanderbilt (see below), the Empire State Building, or one of the many other venues where one can get a bird’s eye view. What’s important is that you get a feeling for the immensity of the city, with its wonderful order of the grid system of streets (which plays off the chaos on the streets themselves), and the dizzying variety of building types (many of which can’t be adequately seen from the sidewalk). Try and get somewhere high early in your trip as there’s no better way to orient yourself.
  • Summit One Vanderbilt in New York City
  • Walking the Brooklyn Bridge: The bridge, too, offers glorious views of the city. But that’s not the only reason you stroll here: walking the span allows you to see this marvel of engineering up close. (It was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was build in 1883.) And it gives you an excuse to stop by Jacques Torres scrumptious ice cream store in Brooklyn for a post-walk treat.
  • Going to a splashy, big Broadway musical: When they’re done right—and they’re not always—there are few experiences as life-affirming (no, truly!) as seeing ridiculously talented people sing and dance their hearts out in a show that makes you laugh, cry, and think about your own life story.
  • Staying out late: The city changes its face after dusk. All the people who were rushing by you during the day, slow down and take to the city’s bars, restaurants, and clubs to socialize. Even if you’re not normally a nightlife person, try it while in NYC. If you’re outgoing, you may be rewarded with some great conversations (despite our reputation, this is actually one of the friendliest cities on the planet); and if you’re shy, well, the eavesdropping can be informative, too.
  • Touring Ellis Island: You’ll see the Statue of Liberty first (also a thrill) and then spend several hours in the place so many of our ancestors passed through in order to settle in the “New World.” Hearing the tales of what went on here is a tremendously moving experience. Photo of the Great Hall at Ellis Island below.
  • Ellis Island New York City
  • Traveling Underground: Don’t be afraid of the subways! Not only will they zip you anywhere you need to go at nearly the speed of light (okay, maybe not that fast, but they’re usually efficient), but there are few better places to feel the intense energy of this always-on-the-go metropolis. The people-watching is primo, too, and some of the musicians who perform underground are darn good, meaning you get a show with your ride.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.