7th Avenue - Image S. Korstrom
Central Park - Image S.Korstrom
Rockefeller Center - Image S.Korstrom

A Summer Visit to New York

In a word, FANTASTIC! After a 2 ½ year hiatus, I was able to travel to New York with my niece to celebrate several milestones in both of our lives. I especially enjoyed this trip as I saw the city through the eyes of a 17-year-old who had never been before.  

With the hustle and bustle of the streets, world-famous sites around every corner, iconic landmarks, fascinating museums, and talented Broadway performers, a person could spend years exploring the city and not see everything, and we had 6 days to do!  

Regarding arts and culture, it is arguable that no city does it better than New York.   For centuries the city has drawn artists of all kinds to its streets and institutions, and this trip did not disappoint. Here are a few ideas to help you plan an unforgettable journey.  

A trip to New York City – is a must for students of every creative endeavour, whether they’re aspiring dancers, actors, performers, singers, musicians, writers, painters, photographers, illustrators, architects, or fashion designers. If it’s arranging a unique experience for a small group or planning a multi-part itinerary for an entire school department, Open Doors Travel can help you create an unforgettable experience.  

When to Visit

There’s no wrong time to visit New York City. Whether you’re looking to celebrate Christmas in the city or prefer the warmer weather, there are tons of experiences for visitors throughout the year. TIP – in the winter, it can snow, so dress in layers. The summer will be hot and muggy, so be prepared to change 2 or 3 times a day.

Getting Around The City

The best way to move around the city is via the Subway. The trains run 24 hours a day, and it’s super affordable with a metro card and works on cross-town buses as well. Download a subway map, and away you go. Prepare to walk a lot! We got in over 15,000 steps each day which worked out to be about 8km each day. New York is a walkable city, and you’ll discover a few hidden gems along the way.  

Where to Stay in New York City

This will be a personal choice, and so many areas are great for first-timers visiting the city. For this trip, I decided on Midtown, close to Times Square and the Theatre District, for easy access to the theatres. A few blocks from our hotel was Hell’s Kitchen, where restaurants abound. Especially on 9th Avenue, we found many small-scale eateries at a reasonable price point. I recommend planning which of the most critical activities you wish to see and finding the best accommodation in these areas with easy access to a subway line.

Where to Eat in New York City

You will not go hungry! Many types of global cuisines are represented in the city, from fine dining to street vendors, from pizza, pretzels and bagels to cupcakes. Before seeing the Blue Man Group, we ate at Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery, located in the NoHo neighbourhood, where my niece declared the best pommes frites she has ever eaten. Chelsea Market is a must-visit for foodies. It’s full of vendors selling everything from baked goods and coffee to delicious plates of food. Come hungry! Open Doors Travel has compiled a list of favourite restaurants to check out when you travel with us. 

What to Do in New York City

No matter how often I visit NYC, I’ve barely put a dent in it. The trick is to prioritize. Narrow down your top 5 “must-dos.” It’s not about quantity but quality. It’s about enjoying the experiences in NYC. Stay flexible, as you might decide to do something completely different on any given day.  

My highlight every time I come to NYC is to see a Broadway show. From long-running classics to new additions, the live in-person feeling where actors take you on a journey full of heart, high-energy, and even suspense brings tears to my eyes each time.

Book a walking tour with a local professional guide. It’s a great way to see the city in a new light. As a movie or TV buff, you won’t go wrong with visits to Washington Square Park, Central Park,  American Natural History Museum, and the Friends Experience. Grand Central Station was another highlight for us. An iconic piece of NYC architecture, countless movies and TV series have shot scenes here. It’s free to visit and has a great food court. And do not forget to look up to admire the chandeliers and the incredible ceiling art.  

If it’s your first time in New York, splurge and purchase a ticket to visit the iconic Empire State Building. You’ll have a 360-degree view of Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and the East and Hudson Rivers.  

Finally, Times Square, the liveliest place in New York, deserves a spot on any itinerary. A place to visit once in a lifetime where you’ll never forget hundreds of people rushing by on the street, not paying attention to cross-walk signs, taxis are honking their horns, shopping at iconic brands and people lining up to buy Broadway show tickets. Flow through the area with its bright lights and skyscrapers plastered with digital billboards is a sight to behold. It’s electrifying.  

Cool Stuff to Check Out

NYC Ferry – the price of a subway ride. The commuter ferry connects New Yorkers and visitors to the city’s waterfront communities – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. An inexpensive way to see New York by water. 

Molly’s Cupcakes in Greenwich Village – “Molly’s Cupcakes is a bakeshop for the kid at heart.” Great little community cupcake bakery with many different flavours on offer, or build your own. A portion of the bakery’s profits is donated to schools in the community. 

Time Square Arts – Times Square is transformed by a monumental artist takeover across over 90 digital billboards. Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running public digital art program, synchronized on over 90 electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight, featuring a new artist’s work each month.

Brooklyn Bridge turns 150 this year. Walking across this iconic bridge is one of the best things to do in New York City. It’s fun, free and the perfect way to take in the city’s iconic skyline and river views.  

The Highline concludes at Hudson Yards. One of the city’s newest neighbourhoods. Hudson Yards is home to more than 100 diverse shops, culinary experiences, the Shed, a new arts centre, and the Edge, the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere.